The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau released their mid-term rankings for this summer's draft. The North American skater rankings are here, and you can navigate to the other lists from there. This is the first real public list that integrates all the North American players together, so it's always interesting, and always good for a few surprises. This year's list doesn't disappoint, even if the quantity and quality of prospects is definitely underwhelming.
Here are the things that stick out to me at first glance on the list:
-Tyler Biggs at 5th in North America, and the top American ranked is a huge surprise. I like Biggs. There's a lot to like about the way he plays. But as a potential top 10 draft pick? That's stretching things a little too far for me. It reminds me a bit of the 2002 Draft, which was a little thin on talent(I don't remember much about it at the time, but looking back, it was really weak), where another big forward with great leadership abilities from the NTDP, Eric Nystrom went 10th overall. Again, Nystrom is a solid NHL player, but he never really had that explosive talent you'd expect out of a top 10 pick.
-JT Miller is a little higher than I would put him at 13th, but there's a lot of kids who I feel have dropped, while he's been pretty steady, so I guess that played to his advantage. Rocco Grimaldi is at 25th, which isn't bad, but I'd still put him higher.
-I'll repeat my same refrain again. It's a shame this is the draft that gets held in Minnesota because it's going to be an absolutely embarrassing year for Minnesotans in the draft. Seth Ambroz continued his slide down to 28th. At this point, I'd be very surprised if he ended up in the first round. Mario Lucia, on the other hand, is at 30th, and I wouldn't be surprised if he snuck into the first round of the draft, if only for lack of better options.
Holy Angels Joseph LaBate is at 60. LaBate reminds me a lot of Dan DeLisle, who was taken at 89th overall two years ago, so I guess you could say that ranking isn't way out of line, but I thought that was way too high for DeLisle at the time, and he only has six career points through his first year and a half of college hockey. In any case, even taking future potential and all that into consideration, I don't see how Central Scouting can put someone like DeLisle over a Michael Mersch, who has 14 points playing in the WCHA this year.
Max Everson is at 81st, and Steven Fogarty is at 133, and then there's a couple other kids that are so low that they're unlikely to be picked. There's a few other kids that have left the state like Dan Carlson, Craig Duininck, Andy Welinski and Sam Windle(who graduated from Osseo, but could be picked his second time around) that are likely to be selected as well. Overall, I'm sure someone will run the numbers on this as we get closer to the draft, but this could be the fewest number of Minnesotans picked in some time.
-Lucas Lessio at 44, Shane McColgan at 102(!), Ben Thomson at 104, and Collin Suellentrop at 117 all draw the infamous sarcastic #PaulKellyCries hashtag from me. It's not that any of these players in particular would have been better off sticking with the college route, but more that their signings with the CHL were deemed huge blows for college hockey at the time, and now, meh. I think NCAA hockey will survive without a couple extra fifth round draft picks floating around the game.
-John Gibson is the top ranked goalie, and potentially the only University of Michigan player taken in the draft. I'm not sold on Gibson as a great goalie yet, but you could say the same about just about every 18-year-old goalie, and Gibson certainly has the size and potential. Matt McNeely is fifth, some kid from Connecticut is sixth, and there's about a dozen other kids listed but unlikely to be picked.
-As far as guys I selected last year, possibly getting picked in their second time around, Aaron Harstad checked in at 149 and Brendan Woods at 156. They're probably still pretty unlikely to get drafted, but it's still a tiny bit of vindication. I'm pretty surprised Tanner Kero didn't get a little more recognition, since he's continued his scoring touch with Fargo, generating about a quarter of the offense on a pretty decent team.