Evan McGrath, C – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Height: 6.0, Weight: 192 lbs, DOB: January 14, 1986
McGrath centers Kitchener’s top line and is currently fifth in league in scoring with 41 points in 19 games. Posting 19 points in the first five games, McGrath earned player of the week honors in late September. The third-year Ranger is performing this season like he did last season, establishing himself as one of the league’s top forwards and reserving the chance to represent the OHL in the ADT Canada/Russian Challenge in late November. Drafted in the fourth round after a disappointing 2003-04 season, McGrath has the skill of a top-round pick. He is -7 on the season.
Tyler Haskins, C – Toronto St. Michael’s Majors (OHL)
Height: 6’1, Weight: 177 lbs, DOB: May 26, 1986
Haskins’ third season with the St. Michael’s Majors needs to be better than his second, and so far it is. Scoring 25 points in the first 18 games, the captain has increased his production from .52 points per game last season to 1.39 this year. Toronto is among the leaders in scoring, due in part to the offensive production of Haskins and line-mate Justin Donati. Haskins is known for his gritty, physical, two-way play. He will win battles along the boards and fights through traffic. With increased offense, the Red Wings hope their fifth round daft pick in 2004 will develop into a third or fourth line role player in the NHL. He is +5 on the season.
Jakub Kindl, D – Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Height: 6’3, Weight: 202 lbs, DOB: February 10, 1987
Fifteen games into his second season, Kindl has already matched his rookie numbers, and is beginning to show the offensive flair that made him the Wings’ 19th overall pick in 2005. He has 17 points in 19 games, compared to 14 points in 62 games last season. Kindl’s plus/minus rating, however, trails most of his teammates at -6 and raises concerns about his defense. The young Czech has an outstanding offensive skill set that afforded him the label of top underage European prospect in 2004. Yet, Kindl’s transition to North America has been shaky. He’s strong on his skates but needs to be more physical. Kindl is still quite far from realizing his position as a top four defenseman but has progressed this season.
Darren Helm, LW – Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Height: 6’0, Weight: 182 lbs, DOB: January 21, 1987
Leading the Tigers with 25 points, the 18-year-old left wing has already surpassed his rookie season total of 24. Responding well to more ice time and responsibility, Helm has helped the Tigers remain a first place team despite last season’s departure of several top-line players to the pros. Helm is a checking forward that plays well through traffic and is capable of agitating opponents’ top lines. Though Helm has a limited offensive upside at the pro level, he has played well since being drafted 132nd overall in July and was recognized for a strong training camp with the Wings in September. He is +8 on the year.
Jeff May, D – Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Height: 6’1, Weight: 183 lbs, DOB: April 4, 1987
May, Detroit’s fifth round selection in last July’s draft, is steady and solid stay-at-home defenseman. With 10 points in the first 20 games, he continues to improve his numbers. May contributes on the power play with solid positioning and well-placed passes. The Raiders’ blueliner isn’t flashy and won’t score a lot, but has impressed his coaches and teammates with fundamentally sound hockey and a level head under pressure. With the size to punish opponents and the consistency to defend his own zone, May is developing his role with the Raiders and should continue to log hefty ice time. He is -5 on the season.
Bretton Stamler, D – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Height: 6’1, Weight: 202 lbs, DOB: March 10, 1987
Though Stamler will never produce much offense, he plays a simple, disciplined game that has made him one of the Thunderbirds’ top defensive defensemen. Stamler has the size and skill to defend his own zone and, though not looking for it, is willing and able to drop the gloves. Stamler’s development is facilitated by a second-to-none work ethic. He had only 13 points in 74 games last season, and three this year in 16 games. The seventh round pick in 2005 has the potential to be a physical presence and should get the experience to improve his overall ability this season. He is even on the year with 27 penalty minutes.
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