Hockey’s Future Top 50 prospects, Fall 2010, 11-25

By HF Staff

11. Jordan Eberle – C – Edmonton Oilers
Height: 5-10, Weight: 174

A late first-round selection by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Eberle has been moved from center to right wing for his NHL debut season. Not an unexpected move as Eberle scores as much as he creates plays, he is a smallish forward, with great vision and good hockey smarts. Experienced with international tournament play as a junior, Eberle was the tournament MVP in the 2010 World Junior Championships. He spent four seasons with the WHL Regina Pats (where last season he was second in WHL scoring), and is expected to be on the Oilers roster this fall.

12. Nikita Filatov – LW – Columbus Blue Jackets
Height: 6-0, Weight: 185

After a year of turmoil, tension, and questions, Nikita Filatov returns to the NHL for the 2010-11 season hoping to become the dynamic offensive force many scouts considered him prior to the 2008 NHL draft. While Filatov is far from being the complete package, he has been gradually bulking up over the past few season and has been improving his play in the defensive end. It’s Filatov’s package of raw offensive talent however that has the Blue Jackets envisioning him as a top line forward in the NHL; he’s a strong skater with top-flight speed, has above average puck handling skills, soft hands, and most noticeably, a dangerous wrist shot. Filatov is expected to a major factor as to how well the Blue Jackets offense performs this season.

13. Erik Gudbranson – D – Florida Panthers
Height: 6-3, Weight: 195

Though Gudbranson has shown little in the way of offense in his first two OHL seasons, there are certainly many reasons the Florida Panthers made him the third overall selection in this June’s draft: he is a poised, smooth-skating defenseman with a physical maturity years beyond his age of just eighteen. He has a knack for handing out punishing hits but also has the intelligence to know when to pinch in order to create such a hit. He’ll also be the first to drop his gloves in order to stand up for a teammate or to fight his own battles. Gudbranson has some ways to go offensively before being considered the complete package as far as defensemen go, but with early comparisons to Chris Pronger, it isn’t a stretch to say he’ll be a solid NHL defenseman in the near future.

14. Erik Karlsson – D – Ottawa Senators
Height: 5-11, Weight: 165

If his first year in the NHL was any indication of young Erik Karlsson‘s potential, the Senators are going to have a gem of a defender on their hands. In the 60 games he saw NHL action in this season, Karlsson put up a solid five goals and 21 assists. His most impressive stint of the season came in the playoffs, where he was Ottawa’s go-to defender registering six points in six games and averaging well over 20-minutes a night. While he doesn’t possess ideal NHL defender size, Karlsson makes up for it in his ability to control the pace of the game. He has immense talent and poise that sets him apart from his peers. He’s likely to be a cornerstone on Ottawa’s blue-line for years to come.

15. P.K. Subban – D – Montreal Canadiens
Height: 5-11, Weight: 200

Rocketing up the prospect charts this past year was P.K. Subban. The 21-year-old, charismatic defender had a spectacular season posting impressive numbers on Montreal’s farm team – the Hamilton Bulldogs. In 77 games with the club, Subban scored an eye-popping 18 goals, and finished with 53 points which was first in rookie defensive scoring (third in league defensive scoring). With his flash for the dramatic, and ability to move the puck up the ice, Subban has a great chance to secure a full-time role on the Canadiens blue line this fall. He’s quickly establishing himself among the league’s top defensive prospects.

16. Cody Hodgson – C – Vancouver Canucks
Height: 5-11, Weight: 182

Still one of the top two-way center prospects in the game, 20-year-old Cody Hodgson has to hope his 2010-11 season will go better than the previous one, where upon high expectations the forward struggled through training camp and ended up missing most of the season because of a back injury. The early signs are not promising as he has already had injury problems leading up to training camp. Regardless, he remains a player with an exceptional hockey IQ and a deft scoring touch. With a rebound season in the AHL, there would be no reason to think Hodgson can not once again vault himself among the elite young prospects of the game.

17. Nazem Kadri – C – Toronto Maple Leafs
Height: 6-1, Weight: 177

After failing to secure a spot on the Maple Leafs roster in 2009-10, Kadri returned to the OHL looking to prove that he was one of the top players among his peers. The 19-year-old started the year off slowly, but Kadri was able to find his stride in the second-half of the season and never looked back. He finished the year fifth in the OHL with 93 points and had a whopping 105 penalty minutes even though he only played in 56 games. In the playoffs, Kadri took his game up a notch scoring an impressive 27 points in only 12 playoff games. With his OHL career behind him, Kadri will have big expectations this fall. While most are expecting him to grab hold of a top-six spot out of camp, there is a good chance Kadri starts the year with the Toronto Marlies given Burke’s track record for developing prospects.

18. Ryan Johansen, C – Columbus Blue Jackets
Height: 6-2, Weight: 192

Johansen is a prototypical puck-distributing center with size, at 6’2 and 192lbs. He uses his size to his advantage in protecting the puck and battling in the corners for possession. It is his vision and playmaking skills, however, that had scouts raving about Johansen as a potential top five pick in the 2010 Entry Draft. His shot is average at this point, but he’s elusive enough to beat defensemen one-on-one and can create chances for himself with his size. Moreover, he’s an intelligent center with the potential to be effective on both the powerplay and penalty kill. Johansen recently signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Blue Jackets and will get a look in training camp, but will likely spend another year in junior with the Portland Winter Hawks before turning pro.

19. Nino Niederreiter – LW – New York Islanders
Height: 6-2, Weight: 205

For many it was a bit of a surprise seeing the Islanders select Nino Niederreiter from Switzerland with the 5th overall pick. The 18-year-old is most likely going to return back to the WHL for the upcoming season, but he might get an initial stretch in the NHL before returning. Niederreiter is definitely one of the top prospects for the Isles, but he is still a couple of years far from the NHL. The highest-drafted Swiss ever, he raised his stock considerably after a standout performance at the WJC where he posted 6 goals in 7 games.

20. Tyler Ennis – C – Buffalo Sabres
Height: 5-9, Weight: 164

There isn’t much left that Ennis can do to establish himself as a top prospect. He dominated the WHL in his final two seasons posting back-to-back 43 goal seasons, he’s been a productive player on the international stage capturing a gold medal with Canada’s junior squad, and now has a very successful AHL season under his belt. In 69 games for Portland, the diminutive Ennis tallied 23 goals and 42 assists which were good enough to capture AHL Rookie of the Year honors. While size may prove to be factor down the line, the 5-9 highly skilled forward hasn’t let it deter him yet. In 10 games with the Sabres, Ennis continued his strong play scoring three goals and assisting on six others. Should his play continue where it left off last season, Ennis could be a dark-horse for the Calder Trophy in 2010-11.

21. Luca Sbisa – D – Anaheim Ducks
Height: 6-1, Weight: 190

After playing a half-season with the Flyers in 2008-09 and establishing himself as one of the top prospects in the team’s system, a trade in the summer of 2009 saw him traded from Philadelphia to Anaheim as a part of the package for Chris Pronger. Rather than banking on Sbisa to make an impact, after an eight-game tryout, the Ducks sent him back to the WHL for a full season to develop his all-around game. Sbisa spread his 2009-10 campaign between two WHL teams and Team Switzerland at both the Olympics and World Junior Championships. Though he showed the poise, puck-moving ability, and two-way play that make him a top defensive prospect, injuries ultimately derailed his season. Healthy and done with junior hockey for good, Sbisa will be looking to make the Ducks out of training camp this year, but may find himself working his way up as the top defender for AHL-affiliate Syracuse.

22. Jamie McBain – D – Carolina Hurricanes
Height: 6-2, Weight: 197

One of the more underrated prospects in the league, McBain proved in his first professional season that he has legitimate top-pairing potential. Establishing himself as a consistent offensive threat from the blue line, McBain was the top point-producing blueliner for Albany in the AHL and scored at an even better clip in his brief stint with the Hurricanes. Though he’s not the most physical player, McBain took only 10 penalty minutes in the 82 games he split between the two teams, illustrating his discipline. After his impressive rookie campaign, McBain is poised to make the jump to the NHL permanently this fall, and is a dark horse candidate for the Calder Trophy.

23. Chris Kreider – LW – New York Rangers
Height: 6-2, Weight: 201

A prototypical power forward, with excellent speed and good hands, Kreider was a 2009 first round selection of the New York Rangers. At the time of the draft, Krieder was playing prep school hockey, and in one season his game improved by leaps and bounds. Kreider went from playing prep school hockey to the 2010 World Junior Championships, the 2010 NCAA Championships, and the 2010 Men’s World Championships. He has returned to Boston College for his sophomore 2010-11 season, but it is likely that Kreider will become a professional next fall, and compete for an NHL roster spot at that time.

24. Mikael Granlund – C – Minnesota Wild
Height: 5-10, Weight: 179

The this year’s ninth overall pick decided to skate in Finland for the 2010-11 season with the Helsinki-based team HIFK. The Minnesota Wild prospect has been awarded with Rookie of the year honors last year in the Finnish SM League and will have to fight the sophomore slump now. He’s a great prospect for the Wild and has the potential to be a cornerstone for the years to come. Granlund, whose brother is 2011 eligible, is expected to star at the 2011 WJC and most likely he’ll cross the pond during the next summer as his contract with HIFK will run out.

25. Vladimir Tarasenko – RW – St. Louis Blues
Height: 5-11, Weight: 202

The skilled Russian winger was maybe a little surprise at 16th this June, when the Ottawa Senators dealt d-man David Rundblad to the Blues to their first round pick. Tarasenko decided to stay another year in Russia, playing for the Sibir Novosibirsk of the KHL and already scored his first few goals of the season. Tarasenko is a very skilled winger with excellent goal scoring abilities and has all it takes to become a first line player. Despite the reputation of many young Russian players, Tarasenko is also able to play a more grit role, even if it surely isn’t his forte.