ISS top 15 2006 prospects for January

By Int'l Scouting Services

International Scouting Services (ISS) presents the January edition of their rankings of the top 15 prospects for the 2006 NHL Draft:

  1. Erik Johnson, Defense
  2. Height: 6-4, Weight: 222, Current Team: USNTDP (USA)

  3. Jonathan Toews, Forward
  4. Height: 6-1, Weight: 195, Current Team: University of North Dakota

  5. Phil Kessel, Center
  6. Height: 6-0, Weight: 189, Current Team: University of Minnesota (WCHA)

  7. Jordan Staal, Center
  8. Height: 6-4, Weight: 209, Current Team: Peterborough Petes (OHL)

  9. Peter Mueller, Center
  10. Height: 6-2, Weight: 200, Current Team: Everett Silvertips (WHL)

  11. Michael Frolik, Right Wing
  12. Height: 6-1, Weight: 187, Current Team: Kladno (CZE)

  13. Nicklas Backstrom, Center
  14. Height: 6-0, Weight: 183, Current Team: Brynas (SWE)

  15. James Sheppard, Left Wing
  16. Height: 6-2, Weight: 201, Current Team: Cape Breton (QMJHL)

  17. John DeGray, Defense
  18. Height: 6-4, Weight: 202, Current Team: Brampton Battalion (OHL)

  19. Bryan Little, Center
  20. Height: 5-10, Weight: 194, Current Team: Barrie Colts (OHL)

  21. Bob Sanguinetti, Defense
  22. Height: 6-2, Weight: 182, Current Team: Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

  23. Kyle Okposo, Right Wing
  24. Height: 6-0, Weight: 195, Current Team: Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)

  25. Alexander Vasyunov, Left Wing
  26. Height: 6-0, Weight: 187, Current Team: Yaroslavl (RUS)

  27. Derick Brassard, Center
  28. Height: 6-0, Weight: 174, Current Team: Drummondville Voltiguers (QMJHL)

  29. Nigel Williams, Defense

Height: 6-4, Weight: 226, Current Team: USNTDP (USA)

 

RISING:


Eric Johnson / USNTDP

Position: Defense, Height: 6-4, Weight: 197

Eric Johnson was absolutely phenomenal throughout the WJC tournament and has thus risen to the lofty height of #1 in our January rankings. He was the best defenseman on a solid core from the US and outshone the #3 pick in last year’s draft, Jack Johnson. He has excellent feet that he can use in both offensive and defensive capacities and is nearly impossible to beat in 1-on-1 situations. He quarterbacked the power play at times and was very good at controlling the play and getting his shot through. He also displayed general nastiness that was indeed impressive and as a result it allowed him to gain extra space around the rink. A tremendous performance that has ISS believing he will continue to get better.

Julian Walker / EHC Basel (SWI)

Position: Right Wing, Height: 6-2, Weight: 209

Julian Walker has gone through 2 separate drafts without a sniff. But he was awfully impressive throughout the WJC tournament, leading the surprising Swiss team to a tie against the Americans and, as a result, nearly a Medal-round berth. Walker outplayed Julian Sprunger in each game and was an absolute physical force all over the ice. He combined that style with good offensive skills and a heavy shot. He seems to have bulked up since our last viewing. If Walker isn’t selected in this June’s draft, we would assume there would be a clamor to sign him as a free agent in the summer, which is a decision we would whole-heartedly agree with.

Niklas Backstrom / Brynas IF Gavle (SWE)

Position: C/W, Height: 6-0, Weight: 185

Backstrom has had a tough start throughout the 1st half of 2005-06, but his play in the WJC tournament was impressive and very spirited. He played at times like a much older player and displayed the type of characteristics that warrant top 10 consideration. Backstrom went hard into traffic, shot the puck like a pro and was a force in the offensive end. His defensive play was sound but most impressive was his passionate play, which rubbed off on his teammates helping make them a better team.

Kevin Crane / Exeter Academy, Phillips HS (USA)

Position: Defense, Height: 5-11, Weight: 175

Crane had a very good Exeter Tournament. He is a good skater with mobility and a good, long stride. Good edges and quickness. Good Hands. Sees the ice well. Makes hard on target outlet pass. Strong on the rush, able to get the puck into the offensive zone. Has his head on a swivel in his zone – reads the play well. Knows how to contain his man down low. Stands up at the

blueline forcing the play – confidence in his mobility. Makes all the correct decisions in his defensive positioning. Only downside is his lack of size and his lack of physical play. A smart defensive defenseman with good puck moving ability. Princeton University 2006-07 (Verbal)

Frazer McLaren / Portland (WHL)

Position: Left Wing, Height: 6-4, Weight: 225

We continue to enjoy watching McLaren play. He encompasses all facets important to the game. He skates well for a big man, is physical, and competes hard along the wall. He is tough and will not hesitate to drop the gloves. The only glaring area for improvement would be his puck skills. Frazer will probably never score an abundance of goals, but he fits the role of a professional. His growth and maturity as a hockey player has certainly been impressive this season. He will certainly be monitored closely during the second half of the season.

Reto Berra / Zurich Sr. (SWI)

Position: Goaltender, Height: 6-4, Weight: 194

Berra was exceptional throughout the WJC tournament and was right in the same context as Justin Pogge (CAN) and Tuukka Rask (FIN). He helped keep the Swiss in the running until the end. He was the highest ranked goalie from last year’s ISS draft rankings that went undrafted. This is another testimonial why we like him so much and he continues to get better and better.

Trevor Lewis / Des Moines (USHL)

Position: Center, Height: 6-1, Weight: 192

With his excellent play at the recent Viking Cup, Lewis convinced ISS scouts that he is the complete package, meaning he has the size and skill to make him a high draft pick. Lewis is fearless cutting to the net, and likes to cut in off the wing. He has good speed in the neutral zone with or without the puck. He has a hard snap shot and gets it away very quickly. He is a very good skater and is tough to slow down considering his size. He competes hard for the puck in the corners and along the wall.

FALLING:

Phil Kessel / U. of Minnesota (WCHA)

Position: Center, Height: 6-0, Weight: 190

Let’s be clear in that Kessel’s WJC tournament wasn’t as bad as many have suggested. The fact is he continues to display a number of attributes that make him a legitimate candidate to become a superstar in the NHL. He displayed a few tendencies that have given us cause for some concern, however. His unwillingness to venture into tough traffic and the fact that he tried to generate everything with speed when that avenue was obviously shut down were bothersome. Also, Kessel seemed confused at times, which raised some eyebrows. He still has a bundle of skill and his skating may be the best in the draft. But, whereas we once thought he was a surefire superstar, now a few doubts have obviously crept in.

Jesse Joensuu / Assat Pori (FIN)

Position: Left Wing, Height: 6-4, Weight: 209

Joensuu was the kind of player in this tournament that showed flashes of brilliance but always left you wanting more. We love his size, strength and skating but we have to question his desire and his offensive skills. We aren’t sure that he has potential as a second-line winger, and there are a few other guys in the draft that can fill that role that we like more.

ISS Top 5 2007 NHL Draft

1. Gillies, Colton – Center, 2/12/1989, Shoots: L, H: 6-4, W: 182, Saskatoon (WHL)

2. Esposito, Angelo – Left Wing, 2/20/1989, Shoots: L, H: 6-1, W: 170, Quebec (QMJHL)

3. Katic, Marc- Defense, 5/9/1989, Shoots: L, H: 5-11, W: 179, Sarnia (OHL)

4. Petrecki, Nick, Defense, 7/11/1989, Shoots: L, H: 6-3, W: 205, Omaha (USHL)

5. Gagner, Sam, Right Wing, 8/10/1989, Shoots: R, H: 5-10, W: 182, Sioux City (USHL)

World U-17 Championships


Yann Sauve / Quebec

Subjective

– A top QMJHL prospect with pro potential

– Displayed tremendous foot speed

– Moves the puck up the ice efficiently and effortlessly

– Proved he could handle himself physically

– Confident in his mobility

– Defensive zone read needs improvement

Comments: Despite being the only ’90 defenseman in the tournament, Sauve was solid in all facets of the game. He has good size. With maturity will come strength. He will be an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on for the 2008 Draft.

James VanRiemsdyk / USA

Subjective

– Very impressive tournament

– Great frame

– Uses body very well to shield the puck

– Excellent offensive awareness

– Great hand/eye coordination

– Able to find puck in traffic

– Sweet hands

– Beats guys with his stick, not his feet

Comments: Was USA’s best player in this tournament. Big, playmaking winger, plays both ends of ice… maybe better suited at Center? Not a big physical presence yet makes room for himself and uses his body and reach well.

John Tavares / Ontario

Subjective

– Tremendous performance

– Natural goal scorer

– Tremendous skill and hockey smarts

– Finesse player

– Long levers

– Great hand/eye coordination

– Handles puck like pro

– Needs to improve his overall strength

Comments: Potential superstar, is always two steps ahead of everyone else on the ice. Fantastic puck skills and hands. A scoring threat whenever he is on the ice. Humble kid, well liked by his teammates.

Tomi Karhunen / Finland

Subjective

– Was the best player on team Finland

– Made some unbelievable stops throughout the week

– Extremely flexible

– Covers the lower half very well

– Challenges well

– Rebound control was phenomenal

– Quick hands

Comments: Top goaltender. Excellent reflexes, cuts the angles well and has a

quick glove. He gave his team a chance to win. Very calm; doesn’t get flustered with

traffic in front.

Logan MacMillan / Atlantic

Subjective

– Tremendous performance

– Handles the puck like a pro

– Good vision/playmaking skills

– Good distribution skills

– Soft hands / tricky stick

– Needs to improve his overall strength

Comments: MacMillan enjoyed an excellent tournament and displayed a host of attributes that will make him a solid 1st round NHL pick in 2007. His vision for the ice and ability to find the open man made him an offensive threat every shift.

Colton Gillies / Pacific

Subjective

– Hit guys hard and often

– Good skills to match his physical play

– Very mean

– Quick stick in front of the net

– Dominant at times

– Very few could handle him

– Still needs defensive commitment

– Loves to go into traffic

– Tremendous performance

Comments: Excellent tournament. Great size and vision, is the total package. Plays hard, finishes his checks, and is a mature player well beyond his years. His understanding of the game is exceptional and he is very adept at using his body to create advantages in the offensive end. Tremendous performance that has ISS believing he will challenge Angelo Esposito for #1 overall.

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The ISS Future NHL Stars Report is designed to fulfill the needs of all hockey fans and fantasy draft participants. Our monthly bulletin will provide you with in-depth material. We publish nine issues per year (minimum eight pages per issue) beginning October 15th and ending in June.

Features include:
• Ranking of the Top 50 NHL 2006 Entry Draft prospects
• Ranking of the Top 50 NHL Prospects (Under age 25)
• ISS profiles of the top 50 prospects for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft
• Inside information from the hockey scouting community
• Future Watch – spotlight on top prospects for the 2007 NHL Entry Draft
• Spotlight on upcoming 2006 CHL Priority Drafts (OHL, QMJHL, WHL)