Below are players 11-25 on Hockey’s Future’s Top 50 NHL prospects list for Fall 2005. Players ranked 26-50 are found here.
All players were chosen by a committee of staff members from among those drafted prospects meeting Hockey’s Future’s prospect criteria.
25. Alexander Perezhogin, RW, Montreal Canadiens
Many questioned the impact that Perezhogin’s actions and one-year suspension would have on his career. But his ban might have been a blessing in disguise as the young Russian made his way on Omsk Avangard third line and went on to produce 33 points in 43 games in the stacked Russian SuperLiga. Not only did he show his offensive flair, he also maintained his defensive play at a very good level. Perezhogin’s play helped him secure good ice time on the Russian national team. He couldn’t take part in the World Championships, however, healing an injury. Perezhogin could see himself in the NHL as soon as this fall.
24. Benoit Pouliot, LW, Minnesota
Coming into the 2004-05 season having only played a handful of games at the major junior level, few had Benoit Pouliot on their radar screen. Cut by the Sudbury Wolves previously because he had almost no muscle on his 6’3 frame, this year, a stronger, bulkier Pouliot won the CHL’s rookie of the year award. An effortless skater, Pouliot was the most dynamic player on a defensive Sudbury squad. His offensive production should improve significantly in his second full season in the league considering his array of skills. Although he struggles with consistency, Pouliot thrived in the playoffs. With some consistency and more bulk, the sky is the limit for Pouliot.
23. Corey Perry, RW, Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Perry started his memorable year as a vital part of Team Canada’s championship, registering seven points in six games. Back with his London Knights, Perry produced a grand total of 168 points in 78 games (season and playoffs combined). He was deservedly named the OHL Most Outstanding Player of The Year and Memorial Cup MVP. Like many 2003 draftees, he doesn’t have anything left to prove in the CHL. If he can’t make the Ducks roster, he will earn plenty of ice time with Portland, the new Anaheim affiliate.
22. Dustin Brown, RW, Los Angeles Kings
Brown spent his entire rookie season in the NHL, playing 31 games. Injuries and youthful inconsistencies did not discourage the gritty forward as he battled to stay on the NHL roster. The work stoppage would force Brown to the AHL for the first time, where he would prove to be one of the top forwards in the league. Displaying top scoring skills, strength on his skates and a nose for the net, Brown bullied his way to 74 points in 79 games. Brown’s time in the AHL will be short lived as he will be competing for top ice time with Los Angeles this fall.
21. Milan Michalek, LW, San Jose Sharks
Michalek was poised to be Patrick Marleau’s winger of the future, but the jury is still out on whether he can regain his form. Michalek has missed two years of hockey due to right knee injuries including a torn ligament. The Czech native has played only nine games in North America – two with the Sharks and seven with Cleveland (AHL), but his speed and hustle as well as his two-way play gave San Jose hope of a possible Selke winner for the future. Getting back on track at 100 percent after long injuries is difficult, and his future scoring potential is even harder to predict.
20. Andrei Kostitsyn, RW, Montreal Canadiens
Andrei Kostitsyn made his North American debut with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2004-05. His 24 points in 66 games might be less than what is usually expected from first rounders, but the Belarussian took his time to adjust to the tougher game while working with Doug Jarvis on his defensive skills. His progression was excellent as shown by his time on the penalty kill late in the season. Kostitsyn amazed hockey fans at his fifth World Junior Championship, with a three-point performance in a 5-3 win over Team USA. With the possible departure of Chris Higgins, Tomas Plekanec and Jason Ward to Montreal, Kostitsyn will get his chance to play in every situation with the Bulldogs and should contribute at both ends of the ice.
19. Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Getzlaf scored 54 points in 51 games for the Calgary Hitmen in 2004-05, down from 75 points in 49 games the year before. But he continued to assert himself as a top power forward prospect, something that NHL organizations covet. With his 6’4 frame, Getzlaf dominates in traffic and close to the net. At the conclusion of the WHL season, this physical offensive talent earned himself a contract with Cincinnati of the AHL where he had a solid five points in ten playoff games. In the upcoming season, he’ll be auditioning for a spot with Anaheim.
18. Hannu Toivonen, G, Boston Bruins
Toivonen is part of current high quality crop of the Finnish goaltending prospects. Posting his second spectacular season in the AHL and leading Providence deep into the playoffs, Toivonen has developed the reputation for coming up big in big games while still only 21 years of age. Unfortunately for him, he is stuck behind the young and equally talented Andrew Raycroft on the depth charts for the Boston Bruins organization. But if he continues to flawlessly produce in the AHL, it will only be a matter of time before the organization is forced to make a move to find him a spot on the roster or make a trade.
17. Fedor Tyutin, D, New York Rangers
In an organization that has not had much patience for developing youth in the past, Tyutin has made stops in Europe, major juniors, the AHL and the NHL in his quest for playing time with the New York Rangers. Tyutin started the 2003-04 season with the Rangers AHL affiliate but earned himself a call-up by mid-season. Due to the work stoppage, Tyutin ended up back in the AHL but shortly returned to his home team in Russia to continue his development against more veteran competition. Tyutin is very mature for his age and shows tremendous poise and instincts on the ice. Not likely to impress the opposition with offensive skills, he is better suited to anchoring the blueline and shutting down the opposition’s top forwards.
16. Jack Johnson, D, Carolina
Johnson debuts on the Top 50 list at No. 16 due to his immense all-around skills and high potential. There is little that Johnson does not do well. A smooth skater with good vision and anticipation, Johnson is rarely found out of position and can anchor any penalty kill. His great passing, solid shot and ability to jump into the offensive play at the right times make him a dangerous weapon at even strength and on the power play. Even with all the skill, Johnson is still a physical presence and doesn’t mind playing with toughness when called upon. Johnson will join the University of Michigan this fall.
15. Zach Parise, C, New Jersey Devils
Leaving the University of North Dakota following his sophomore season, Parise jumped into the starting line-up for the Albany River Rats of the AHL. There he demonstrated top playmaking ability and puck distribution skills while centering the top scoring line. Parise is a flashy offensive prospect with good defensive skills despite his diminutive size, listed at 5’11. Selected 17th overall in the deep 2003 Entry Draft, Parise will battle for a roster spot with the New Jersey Devils in 2005-06.
14. Braydon Coburn, D, Atlanta Thrashers
Three of the top defensive prospects in all of hockey were selected in the first ten choices of the 2003 Entry Draft. Coburn, like Phaneuf and Suter, demonstrates well-rounded talent. Large-framed but not overly physical, Coburn can beat the opposition with the puck or with solid play in open ice. An unmovable anchor on the blueline for Portland of the WHL, Coburn brought his game to the AHL upon the completion of his junior season in 2004-05 and just in time for Chicago’s long playoff run. Despite scoring only one point in 18 playoff games, the addition of Coburn to the blueline was key during the Calder Cup playoffs.
13. Alexander Semin, LW, Washington Capitals
Offensively, few compare to Semin with his combination of scoring, skating and playmaking ability that often leave defenders flat-footed. Semin returned to Russia to score 19 goals in 50 games in 2004-05 after getting his feet wet in the NHL and a controversial stint in the AHL. Semin has the misfortune of playing on the left side which, with Ovechkin in the Washington system, may push him to the second line.
12. Nathan Horton, C, Florida Panthers
After a solid 14 goals in 55 games while skating for the Florida Panthers in 2003-04, a shoulder injury limited Horton to just 21 AHL games in 2004-05. The injury dropped him out of our top 10 as any major injury will raise questions on whether the player can return to his former self, especially one as physical as Horton. The 6’2 center can look to this coming season to answer these questions back on the Panthers. A good skater with a strong shot, Horton is the kind player up the middle that NHL teams crave.
11. Cam Barker, D, Chicago Blackhawks
The highest drafted defenseman in 2004, Barker returned to Medicine Hat of the WHL where he was arguably the best two-way defenseman in all of junior hockey behind Dion Phaneuf. Barker is a rare combination of scoring ability, physical play and shut-down caliber defensive skills. Despite a drop in production this past season with 48 points in 52 games, it is obvious that all the talent is there. Together with Brent Seabrook and Anton Babchuk, the Blackhawks have a good collection of prospects on the blueline.
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