International Scouting Services presents their top 10 2005 NHL Draft Prospects for the month of April, 2005:
- Sidney Crosby, Center
- Benoit Pouliot, Left Wing
- Jack Johnson, Defense
- Gilbert Brule, Center
- Bobby Ryan, Right Wing
- Anze Kopitar, Center
- Marc Staal, Defense
- Ryan O’Marra, Center
- Alex Bourret, Center
- Marek Zagrapan, Center
Team: Rimouski (QMJHL), Height: 5-11, Weight: 180
Team: Sudbury (OHL), Height: 6-3, Weight: 183
Team: NTDP Under-18 (USA), Height: 6-1, Weight: 197
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: Sudbury (OHL), Height: 6-3, Weight: 197
Team: Erie (OHL), Height: 6-2, Weight: 182
Team: Lewiston (QMJHL), Height 5-9.5, Weight: 209
Team: Chicoutimi (QMJHL), Height: 6-1, Weight: 195
Travis Fuller / Barrie (OHL)
Position: Left Wing Height: 6-1 Weight: 197
Fuller came into the OHL last year in his actual draft year as a rookie and made some progress. Although he made an occasional contribution he was never really seriously considered for the draft. This year with the coaching change from Bud Stefanski to Marty Williamson, Fuller may be the most improved player in the OHL. He has continued to fill out his solid frame while becoming one of the key offensive performers on the loaded forward crew of the Colts. His skating is exceptional, his offensive instincts are very good, he has a pro shot and he seems to understand the game very well. It may turn out that the second time around for the draft may be fruitful for this ever-improving sniper.
Guillaume Latendresse / Drummondville (QMJHL)
Position: Right Wing Height: 6-1 Weight: 215
It has been a long road for this highly touted star from Quebec. Latendresse’s performance in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs against Moncton has been spectacular. His exceptional play and confidence is largely the reason for his team’s success against the Wildcats. He unquestionably has been the best player in the series. Latendresse’s overall game is well known but his ability to put it all together has been a concern in the past. It appears that Latendresse has answered those questions once and for all.
T.J. Oshie / Warroad HS (MN)
Position: Center Height: 5-11 Weight: 190
Oshie is a skilled, hard-nosed forward who can score. He will play any style you throw at him. Oshie played with Niskanen in the same all-star game. He was the best forward on the ice in this game, as he contributed offensively, played with great determination, was physical and was a one-on-one threat whenever he was on the ice. He had an outstanding tournament and will be attending the University of North Dakota. Oshie has a great work ethic and is well coached.
Todd Perry / Barrie (OHL)
Position: Defense Height: 6-3 Weight: 215
It’s very seldom that a player can make both the Rising and the Falling portion of our list in the same year but Todd Perry has managed to do just that. Although he has a pro frame and his confidence is improving, it is difficult for us to justify Perry as a good prospect when he handles the puck like a hand grenade and has no offensive upside. In addition, he has a poor shot and is spotted behind younger players on a very young defense corps in Barrie. If he was to play a bit more consistently, he might be given consideration but thus far, that consistency has been absent.
ISS April Release
Sidney Crosby – Rimouski Oceanic
What more needs to be said? The kid has been a phenom since the age of 13 and he continues to mystify us to this day. His vision and ability to produce offensively is unparalleled in the CHL since the days of a kid named Lemieux. Although some have questioned whether he will be able to produce in the NHL because of his size, remember that although he isn’t tall he is extremely strong. In fact, his low center of gravity helps him to be stronger on the puck because of his tremendous core and leg strength. Full of charisma, loaded with talent and a tremendous work ethic, Crosby appears ready to become “The Next One”.
Benoit Pouliut – Sudbury Wolves
Pouliot continues his rise in our rankings by continuing to improve and displaying abilities that should make him a superstar in the NHL. His effortless skating, offensive instincts, size and creativity all remind us of Vincent Lecavalier. The playoffs will be an interesting test for Pouliot, as he will be mauled throughout the post-season. It is our strong opinion that he will make the adjustment quickly and efficiently. The sky is the limit for this talented young star.
Jack Johnson – US NTDP
Johnson is a throwback to the earlier days of a big physical defenseman who is hard to play against while still having the ability to contribute to the offense. His skating, defensive abilities and smarts are top notch. Although it will take some time for Johnson to become an impact player in the NHL, the next few seasons playing for the University of Michigan for Red Berenson won’t hurt.
Gilbert Brule – Vancouver Giants
Gilbert Brule is a warrior when he steps on the ice and that was extremely evident by his performance at the CHL Prospects Game in Vancouver. He has continued that play ever since. We were concerned about his ability to play that same nasty style in the NHL. Our reasons were his size and at times lack of discipline observed prior to Christmas. His improved discipline and performance in the second half now has us believing he will make the grade, however. His gritty style, offensive skills and the ability to rise to the occasion will make some team very happy at the next draft.
Bobby Ryan – Owen Sound Attack
Ryan continues to impress all those who see him by simply dominating games and imposing his will. All of this in the competitive OHL and only recently celebrating his 18th birthday makes his performance even more impressive. The baby-faced man-child has improved his skating to the point where it is serviceable, and it will only improve with greater leg strength. But the real genius with Ryan is his ability to handle the puck and create instant offence. These assets will allow him to score a boatload of goals in the NHL.
Anze Kopitar – Sodertalje
This big center is a stud prospect. Kopitar has the physical tools and instincts, and he doesn’t need much room to operate. He can score in a variety of ways, including beating defenders off the rush or using his accurate shot and great touch around net. Kopitar always seems to get open in scoring territory at the right moment. He was a dominating force in the Superelite league, leading the league with 45 points in only 29 games. He displays good character both on and off the ice, is humble and has no ego problem. Kopitar is truly a great teammate.
Top 3 OHL
Logan Couture – St. Thomas Jr. B
Couture is a big kid with solid offensive awareness who skates very well for his size. He has demonstrated all year why there has been tremendous hype surrounding his ability. Couture is poised beyond his years and has that goal-scorer’s knack of getting to open ice and capitalizing on his opportunities. His size and skating ability make him a potential high selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Mark Katic – Timmins Midget
Katic is one of the best skaters in the OHL. He has uncanny vision and passing ability, and so much talent that we believe he is the top prospect available for the 2005 OHL Priority Draft. Katic will step into the League and be more than effective quarterbacking the power play and by the time his junior career is over, he will amass tremendous point totals as a defenseman.
Zack Torquato – Stratford Jr. B
Torquato walked into a very competitive Junior B league this year where he dominated the majority of the time. As a result, he finished the season with great numbers (fourth in scoring). Torquato has exceptional vision, distributes the puck well and will probably end his OHL career with 400+ points.
US Top 3
Nick Petrecki – Captal District Jr.
Petrecki is a big rugged defenseman who will jump into the rush and does not hesitate going nose-to-nose with opponents. Although he will have many options, we feel that the OHL will, and should, be his choice because of his aggressive demeanor and pro style of play. Choosing this option will undoubtedly lead to Petrecki being a high pick in 2007.
Tristan Llewellyn – Indiana Ice, USHL
Llewelyn was invited to play for the Indiana Ice in the very competitive USHL as their #6 defenseman. As a 15-year-old, he indeed impressed his coaches with his exceptional play, so much so that he earned playing time on both the power play and penalty killing units. His overall skill set is very impressive and, although he recently had his orbital bone broken in a fight, we are impressed with his ability to become physically involved as well.
Matt Smythe – Markham Islanders, Minor Midget
This Florida native took his game north of the border to play in Toronto for the Markham Islanders in the GTHL. This move proved to be a worthy decision as he has become a consensus top 10 pick. He has explosive skating ability and great hands that have enabled him to dominate games at the Minor Midget level this year, which should translate into a great junior career.
WHL Top 3
Kyle Beach – Kelowna Bantam AAA
Beach is a dominating power forward who can skate, shoot and has good hockey sense. He has enormous upside and will definitely be a high pick in the next draft. Beach has good puck skills and a rocket of a shot. He seemed to waver as the season went on, but he can’t allow his emotions to get the better of him on the ice. If he ever puts it all together, look out!
Colton Teubert – Semiamhoo Bantam AAA
Teubert has size and skates well. He is a similar to Colton Gillis in style. He plays with energy and passion, and can play both forward and defense. Teubert uses his body well, can carry the puck out of his own zone, and is a good, all-around package. He does tend to try to cover a weaker player’s position, and, as a result, can take himself out of the play as a result.
Blaine Tendler – Notre Dame Bantam AAA
Tendler is a poised, stay-at-home defenseman that moves the puck well, makes the safe play, and has a good shot from the point. He will be a steady defenseman in the WHL for many years. Tendler made the all-star team at his level. He knows when to jump up into the play and does the simple things well at both ends of the rink. Tendler does need to work on his foot speed and lateral movement, however.
Two other top WHL prospects to watch:
Dale Hunt – Macdonald
Size, strength & speed- Hunt has all these tools going for him, and has the tools to be a first overall pick. He has tremendous outside speed and a hard shot, and plays a physical game, as well.
Neal Prokop – Winnipeg Sharks Bantam AAA
Prokop has great goal scoring ability, which he proved in the Bantam AAA League this season. He has good vision of the ice, as well, and is efficient at utilizing his teammates. For a big boy, Prokop needs to focus a bit more on the power game, using his size to punish opponents and getting to the front of the net to create more scoring opportunity for himself.
QMJHL Top 3
Angelo Esposito – Shattuck-St. Mary’s HS
One of the best 89’s in N. America. Esposito has a great combination of size and skill. He is a scoring threat whenever he is on the ice. He is truly a tremendous talent. Esposito is one of the fastest 89’s we have seen and supports the puck extremely well. He always wants the puck, and the best players always do. The one question scouts have is whether he can he handle a physical game. At any rate, it looks like Esposito will be playing his college hockey in the Northeast – if he can fight off pressure from the QMJHL. Word is that the family is committed to the NCAA route.
Alex Grant – Antigonish Jr. A Bulldogs
Grant is a smooth skating offensive defenseman. This poised underage rearguard is a revelation every time we see him. Grant is a tremendous pro-style package of size, skating, puck movement, and hockey sense. He moves puck very well and is not afraid to jump up into the play and create odd-man rushes. His one-on-one play is very solid, as is his defensive zone coverage. He makes terrific outlet passes, always firm and on the tape. Grant is simply a natural. He plays big minutes in all situations. Grant played at the April 8th Prospects tournament in Toronto with the East Coast Selects program.
Brad Malone – US Prep School Cushing
Brad started out as a bit of a mystery man by not playing for either of New Brunswick’s U15 or U16 teams in the past two years. He is not unknown to scouts in the Atlantic region, though. Malone, the son of Jim Malone and nephew of Pittsburgh Penguin’s draft pick Greg Malone, showed promise at a young age and earned the reputation as one of the Maritimes best prospects in his age group. There has been a lot of interest in this young player and rightfully so. Currently playing for the U.S. prep school Cushing, Malone has the combination of size and skill to be an excellent pro player. Power forwards are one of the scarcest commodities in hockey. Brad possesses good playmaking skills, he reads the play well, makes good decisions, is strong on the puck and a good passer. If Brad decides that the CHL route is his best option, look for him to be selected as one of the top 5 picks.
John Tavares – Height: 6-0, Weight: 180 (Toronto Marlies, Minor Midget)
In the scouting business, it is difficult enough to evaluate what an 18-year-old kid will be like at the NHL level in 4 years. So you can understand our reluctance to do so with a 14-year-old player who has just entered high school. When the player is John Tavares, though, well that is another matter.
The 14-year-old nephew and namesake of Lacrosse superstar John Tavares is so special that the Ontario Hockey League is considering changing it’s drafting policies to allow him to play in the OHL. Although we are in favor of increasing the draft age to 16 years of age, we can’t help but agree with their thinking on Tavares. He is already over 6 feet tall and, despite playing a full year with the impressive Toronto Marlies Minor Midget team, he has played 16 games with the Junior A Milton Icehawks and averaged 1.5 points per game in a league that is generally dominated by 20 year olds. In fact, during the playoffs he played for Milton against the Georgetown Raiders who are stacked with 20-year-old OHL veterans, and Tavares was simply the best player on the ice. He is exceptionally talented in the offensive end while understanding and taking pride in his defensive game. The only knock on him is his skating, but his stride is fine so we think that with increased leg strength, he will become adequate in that area as well. Forecasting the future is difficult in this industry but we are confident in stating that he is the most impressive prospect that we have seen since Sidney Crosby.