International Scouting Services (ISS) presents their top ten 2005 NHL Draft prospects for the month of March 2005:
- Sidney Crosby, Center
- Jack Johnson, Defense
- Benoit Pouliot, Left Wing
- Gilbert Brule, Center
- Bobby Ryan, Right Wing
- Anze Kopitar, Center
- Marek Zagrapan, Center
- Ryan O’Marra, Center
- Jakub Kindl, Defense
- Marc Staal, Defense
Team: Rimouski (QMJHL), Height: 5-11, Weight: 180
Team: NTDP Under-18 (USA), Height: 6-1, Weight: 197
Team: Sudbury (OHL), Height: 6-3, Weight: 183
Team: Vancouver (WHL), Height: 5-10, Weight: 187
Team: Owen Sound (OHL), Height: 6-1, Weight: 213
Team: Sodertalje (SWE), Height: 6-2, Weight: 200
Team: Chicoutimi (QMJHL), Height: 6-1, Weight: 195
Team: Erie (OHL), Height: 6-2, Weight: 182
Team: Kitchener (OHL), Height: 6-2, Weight: 199
Team: Sudbury (OHL), Height: 6-3, Weight: 197
Justin Abelkader / Cedar Rapids (USHL)
Position: Left Wing, Height: 6-1, Weight: 196
Abelkader has flown far beneath the scouting world’s radar because of his strong desire to play high school in his hometown of Muskegon, MI. But the Michigan State recruit has opened a number of eyes with his play in the USHL with the Cedar Rapids Roughriders this year. Abelkader has been dazzling everybody this season with his wide assortment of skills and ability to read the play. Those attributes combined with a great skating stride, deadly sense around the net and vision has everybody in the hockey world taking notice, and ISS is no different. In a recent game, we were pleasantly surprised at the improvement in his game and that bodes well for both the Spartans and whichever team selects him in the next NHL Draft. We see great things for this young man.
Jack Skille / NTDP Under-18 (USA)
Position: Right Wing, Height: 6-1, Weight: 200
Like fine wine, Jack Skille continues to get better and better with time. His recent performance at the Under-18 Five Nations Tournament in Sweden was his best yet. After leading his USA teammates to a perfect 4-0 record, and leading the tournament in points with 8, he has vaulted up ISS’s March rankings to 11th overall. Skille is tough to contain one-on-one, is very strong on the puck, and drives through checks along the walls.
Evan Brophy/ Belleville (OHL)
Position: Center, Height: 6-1, Weight: 195
Brophy is blessed with a tremendous amount of ability and skill, but ISS continues to question whether he has the heart to make the transition from junior hockey to the NHL. His offensive instincts and skills combined with a great shot and scoring ability make him an attractive package. In our analysis, however, his inability to play in traffic and unwillingness to take hits makes us believe that he may be the next in a long list of previous junior stars that will be unable to adapt to the NHL.
Brian Sosa / Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Position: Right Wing, Height: 6-5, Weight: 220
Sosa is a player with NHL size whose only real attribute is that size. Sosa’s skating will be a problem, and he doesn’t see the ice particularly well. He may be a player with a large frame, but Sosa still needs to increase his strength while bringing some real toughness to his game. At this time, it does not appear that Sosa is a legitimate draft prospect.
Height: 6-2, Weight: 200
ISS Ranking – 6th overall
Kopitar has been absolutely dominating in the SuperElite league since his return from playing with his Slovenian Senior National Team. He is a dangerous force every shift, able to get hard shots off with checkers draped all over him. Kopitar displays good character both on and off the ice. He is a humble individual and has no ego problem.
Height: 5-11, Weight: 182
ISS Ranking – 95th overall
Chorney uses his great skating ability to corral loose pucks and skate the puck out of trouble. Although we are slightly concerned about his size, Chorney’s hockey IQ is very high. He understands the game very well and continues to improve at every viewing while playing for the powerful Shattuck-St. Mary’s team.
5 Nations ’87-Born Tournament – Ronnang, Sweden, February 9th, 2005
For a complete recap of this tournament, check out ISS’s March Issue of Future NHL Stars at www.internationalscouting.com
Andrei Zubarev, Defense
Team: UFA 2 (RUS), Height: 6-1, Weight: 184
Zubarev has excellent size, strength, and natural aggression. He likes to play physical and, as a result, brings comfort to his teammates when he is on the ice. He’s tough to beat in one-on-one situations. Zubarev is a good passer but he tends to telegraph his passes. He possesses a hard shot, and is a very strong skater both forward and backward. Zubarev is a defenseman that has the tools to be a good one, so he should be a high pick in the draft.
Jiri Tlusty, Left Wing
Team: HC Kladno (CZE), Height: 6-0, Weight: 187
Tlusty is a player with a lot of potential. He controls and protects the puck well, and exhibits a solid two-way game. Tlusty is a good one-on-one player who likes to challenge opposing defenders. He plays well without the puck and shows good patience. If Tlusty improves his game even more next year he could be a top ten pick in the 2006 NHL Draft.
Jack Johnson, Defense
Team: NTDP Under-18 (USA), Height: 6-1, Weight: 200
Along with Zubarev, Johnson was probably the best all-round defenseman in the tournament. He was dominant, especially in the defensive zone. It is very tough for forwards to beat him. Johnson played against the opponents’ best forwards every game and did a great job. He positions himself well on the ice, which gives him an advantage. He seems to be a step ahead with his vision and decision-making, which contributes to his good passing game. Johnson has a heavy shot from the blue line, but he could stand to work on his stick handling.
Nicklas Bergfors, Right Wing
Team: Sodertalje (SWE), Height: 5-11, Weight: 191
Bergfors was one of the top five forwards in this tournament. He is a hard working forward with a lot of offensive skills. He likes to drive to the net, and is very dangerous around the net. Bergfors protects the puck very well and showed good stick handling skills. He doesn’t need many chances to score. Although Bergfors at times shows a little bit of laziness on the back-check, he nevertheless is a good all-round forward that should go high in the draft.
Phil Kessel, Center
Team: NTDP Under-18 (USA), Height: 6-0, Weight: 185
Kessel was the best forward of the tournament. He has a great offensive game and shows good defensive skills, as well. He is a player that can make the difference in a game. His timing is excellent. He has a very nice natural shot, and can do that little extra with the puck. Kessel is very tough when he is permitted space. He is a great scorer and passer, and he doesn’t need many chances to score. Kessel’s weakness appears to be his mental game, in that he can get irritated easily if an opponent plays him tough. He did some dirty things behind the referee’s back, which shows poor leadership.
Jeff Frazee, Goaltender
Team: NTDP Under-18 (USA), Height: 6-1, Weight: 180
Frazee was the best goalie in the tournament, finishing with outstanding numbers, including a 2.00 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage. He was very consistent throughout the tournament. Frazee has good balance in both the stand-up and butterfly positions. He recovers quickly when he goes down and stays square to the puck. Frazee came up with some big saves when he had too, and looked confident in doing so.