Hockey’s Future Top 50 Prospects Fall 2005: Best of the rest

By HF Staff

Below are players who just missed Hockey’s Future’s Top 50 NHL prospects list for Fall 2005, as well as position by position rankings of drafted prospects.

All players were chosen by a committee of staff members from among those drafted prospects meeting Hockey’s Future’s prospect criteria.

The Best of the Rest

Marek Schwarz, G, St. Louis Blues
Heading into the 2004 draft last summer, Schwarz was generally regarded as the top goaltender available. A surprising draft day slide saw the Czech netminder drop all the way to St. Louis at the 17th selection, making him the third player taken at his position. This year, Schwarz made the decision to play against WHL juniors in Vancouver as opposed to against professionals at home. Surprisingly, Schwarz struggled most of the year in the new setting, posting very pedestrian numbers, including a save percentage of .900. The highlight of his season was definitely the WJC, where he was named the top goaltender of the tournament. There is little doubt about Schwarz’s talent and pure athleticism, but he remains quite raw and is still several years away from the NHL.

Ryan Whitney, D, Pittsburgh Penguins
The first four selections in the 2002 draft, Rick Nash, Kari Lehtonen, Jay Bouwmeester and Joni Pitkanen, have all been talked about as potential franchise players. But the player taken fifth overall has had little recognition. While Whitney’s three-year college career was inconsistent and perhaps underwhelming, the talented blueliner had a strong rookie campaign in the AHL this past season. He tallied 41 points in 80 games, and unlike many prospects in their first year out of college, Whitney did not seem to tire at the end of the year or in the playoffs, where the Boston University graduate notched nine points in 11 games. Whitney is blessed with great size and impressive offensive potential, but has to improve his decision-making.

Igor Grigorenko, RW, Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings have proven themselves to be very capable of finding good young players from the draft, despite not having had a top 20 pick since 1991. In 2001, they did not make a selection until No. 62, at which point they grabbed Igor Grigorenko, an undersized sniper from Russia. After a spectacular 2002-03 season, when Grigorenko starred both at home and at the WJC, he was in a very serious car accident, and lost the bulk of the 2003-04 season. He struggled early this year with his regular club team Lada Togliatti, tallying only one assist in 11 games. A transfer to Salavat Yulayev allowed Grigorenko to blossom, with 18 points in 30 games. Grigorenko is a dynamic offensive player, with great hockey sense and a willingness to go into dangerous areas of the ice.

Denis Grebeshkov, D, Los Angeles Kings
At first glance, Denis Grebeshkov’s 2004-05 season appears to have been a very successful one. The 21-year-old blueliner put up 49 points with a powerhouse club in Manchester, his second season in the AHL after a freshman campaign marred by injuries and inconsistency. Where Gresbeshkov struggled, however, was defensively, where the supposedly poised defenseman became known for coughing up the puck. A native of Yaroslavl, Russia, Grebeshkov could also stand to improve his strength, as he is outmuscled too easily for a player expected to play big minutes at the next level. There remains a lot to like about this young blueliner though, and he is considered very coachable. More developmental time is needed, but he still projects as a good top four blueliner.

Marc Antoine Pouliot, C, Edmonton Oilers
Pouliot had a magnificent season alongside Dany Roussin and Sidney Crosby of the Rimouski Oceanic. He scored 45 goals and added 67 assists for a total of 114 points in 70 games. Once tagged as an “injured-prone player,” he stayed healthy all year long to help lead his team to its second Memorial Cup appearance. He is not expected to return to Rimouski for his overage year. Wherever he ends up, he will bring leadership and offensive abilities to his new team. Some might say that Pouliot’s success was because of Crosby, but be sure that the young Quebec City native won’t have any problems making a name for himself in the pros.

Below are the other top prospects in their respective positions, with their rank on the Top 50 list in parentheses.

Goaltenders

1. (3) Kari Lehtonen, Atlanta
2. (7) Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh
3. (18) Hannu Toivonen, Boston
4. (27) Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers
5. (40) Cam Ward, Carolina
6. (49) Al Montoya, NY Rangers
7. Marek Schwarz, St. Louis
8. Ray Emery, Ottawa
9. Josh Harding, Minnesota
10. Carey Price, Montreal
11. Jeff Deslauriers, Edmonton
12. Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton
13. Pascal LeClaire, Columbus
14. Yann Danis, Montreal

Defensemen

1. (6) Dion Phaneuf, Calgary
2. (9) Ryan Suter, Nashville
3. (11) Cam Barker, Chicago
4. (14) Braydon Coburn, Atlanta
5. (16) Jack Johnson, Carolina
6. (17) Fedor Tjutin, NY Rangers
7. (32) Nik Kronwall, Detroit
8. (35) Anton Babchuk, Chicago
9. (39) Brent Seabrook, Chicago
10. (42) Andrej Meszaros, Ottawa
11. (48) Shea Weber, Nashville
12. (50) Shawn Belle, Dallas
13. Ryan Whitney, Pittsburgh
14. Denis Grebeshkov, Los Angeles
15. Carlo Colaiacovo, Toronto
16. Trevor Daley, Dallas
17. Tim Gleason, Los Angeles
18. Steve Eminger, Washington
19. Ladislav Smid, Anaheim
20. Mark Stuart, Boston
21. Matt Greene, Edmonton
22. A.J. Thelen, Minnesota
23. Christian Ehrhoff, San Jose
24. Mike Egener, Tampa Bay
25. Brent Burns, Minnesota
26. Boris Valabik, Atlanta
27. Matt Carle, San Jose
28. Jeff Woywitka, St. Louis
29. Brian Lee, Ottawa
30. Marc Staal, NY Rangers

Forwards

1. (1) Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
2. (2) Alexander Ovechkin, Washington
3. (4) Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh
4. (5) Nik Zherdev, Columbus
5. (8) Thomas Vanek, Buffalo
6. (10) Jeff Carter, Philadelphia
7. (12) Nathan Horton, Florida
8. (13) Alexander Semin, Washington
9. (15) Zach Parise, New Jersey
10. (19) Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim
11. (20) Andrei Kostsitsyn, Montreal
12. (21) Milan Michalek, San Jose
13. (22) Dustin Brown, Los Angeles
14. (23) Corey Perry, Anaheim
15. (24) Benoit Pouliot, Minnesota
16. (25) Alex Perezhogin, Montreal
17. (26) Patrick O’Sullivan, Minnesota
18. (28) Eric Fehr, Washington
19. (29) Rob Schremp, Edmonton
20. (30) Mike Richards, Philadelphia
21. (31) Gilbert Brule, Columbus
22. (33) Lauri Tukonen, Los Angeles
23. (34) Anthony Stewart, Florida
24. (36) Bobby Ryan, Anaheim
25. (37) Mikko Koivu, Minnesota
26. (38) Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles
27. (41) Antoine Vermette, Ottawa
28. (43) Andrew Ladd, Carolina
29. (44) Rostislav Olesz, Florida
30. (45) Mike Cammalleri, Los Angeles
31. (46) Petteri Nokelainen, NY Islanders
32. (47) Alexander Steen, Toronto
33. Igor Grigorenko, Detroit
34. MA Pouliot, Edmonton
35. Marcel Goc, San Jose
36. Steve Bernier, San Jose
37. Chris Higgins, Montreal
38. Jiri Hudler, Detroit
39. Alex Picard, Columbus
40. Jack Skille, Chicago
41. Alexander Radulov, Nashville
42. Dan Fritsche, Columbus
43. Derek Roy, Buffalo
44. Jeff Tambellini, Los Angeles
45. Scottie Upshall, Nashville

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