LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 10: Seth Jones #7 of Team USA skates against Team Sweden at the Lake Placid Olympic Center on August 10, 2011 in Lake Placid, New York. Team Sweden defeated Team USA 4-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The NHL released their preliminary "Players to Watch" list for this summer's NHL Draft--we're at least still doing that, right? Here are the listings for North Americans.
The grading may seem a little harsh, but Central Scouting has tweaked the designations a bit, with an 'A' prospect being considered a potential first round pick. In all 39 players from around the globe received the vaunted 'A' rating including North Dakota recruit Luke Johnson, Michigan recruits JT Compher and Michael Downing, Minnesota recruit Hudson Fasching, and Ian McCoshen, who is being highly recruited by North Dakota, Minnesota-Duluth, and Nebraska-Omaha, but has yet to make a decision.
For comparison's sake, you can compare the NHL's list to the list I put together back in late June. Other than the NHL being a bit more bullish on a few prospects than I am, I think it was reasonably close. With the season starting, I've made a few changes to the list, and I'll post an updated version later today.
It's also important to remember that we're still extremely early into the season. The CHL is just ending their preseason. The USHL just begins their season kick-off showcase today. There's only been two weeks of Elite League play. Expect many more players to emerge, especially those just starting their first season of junior hockey. This is a pretty good start though, with what looks like a pretty exciting draft class.