The great thing about mid-term rankings is the discussion it brings about. There are a lot of folks out there who might look at this list and say, well he’s way too low, or he’s too high. That’s part of the reason for releasing those rankings.
The more people talk about it, the better. There’s a lot to look forward to for the NHL, and while this year projects to be one of the weaker draft years in recent memory, overall, there are still a ton of players worth watching out for, especially Americans.
Remember, there’s still half a season, so a lot can, and probably will change.
After the jump, I list some of the American prospects that found themselves outside of the top 30, but are still worth keeping an eye on. I also note which players are most likely to rise from the mid-term rankings:
No. 32 Michael Paliotta – U.S. Nat’l U18 Team (NTDP/USHL) — Big, mobile defenseman has had an improved season in Ann Arbor. His size and ability to move the puck are what many will point to as positives. He could afford to be a little more physical. I think the ranking is fair and we should see him go early- to mid-second round.
No. 35 Shane Prince – Ottawa (OHL) – Second in OHL scoring with 74 points. Some point to his linemates as a reason for success, but production like that can’t be ignored. I think he was ranked fairly and don’t anticipate much change.
No. 38 Nick Shore – Denver (NCAA/WCHA) – The playmaking center got injured during the season, but could sneak into first-round conversation late with strong 2nd half. He’s an NTDP product and brother of former 2nd round pick Drew Shore. I think he’s a safe bet to go early in round two.
No. 40 Colin Jacobs – Seattle (WHL) – Once thought to be one of the top American prospects in the 1993 birth year, Jacobs is still chasing that hype. Until we see more out of him, I believe he’s in the second or third-round range.
No. 42 Vincent Trocheck – Saginaw (OHL) – He’s almost reached his point total from all of last season already and sits at a plus-20 rating. I don’t see enough that makes me think he’ll jump over some players to make it to the first round, so an early- to mid-second round projection seems fair.
No. 47 Stefan Noesen – Plymouth (OHL) – The Texas native continues his rise up the rankings in the middle of a stand-out season with Plymouth. He’s looking like a mid-second round lock, but could rise if he continues torrid scoring pace.
No. 55 Matthew Nieto – Boston U. (HEA) – Nieto went from a projected first rounder to a late-second round type guy. His speed and scoring ability haven’t had a chance to be on display as much against NCAA competition. A strong second half might skyrocket his draft stock. He might be one of the fastest players in this draft.
No. 56 Sean Kuraly – Indiana (USHL) – This guy is just a year removed from midget hockey, but has fared well in his rookie USHL season. An offensively gifted player, he’s not really gotten in going stats wise, but his ceiling is a high one. I’d see him more as a mid-third than a second-rounder.
No. 61 Adam Clendening – Boston U. (HEA) – Another guy many thought would be in first round contention. He just missed out on a spot on U.S. Junior team and that didn’t really help. His offensive ability and puck handling are elite. High second round capability, with a chance to sniff the first round if he turns it up a notch or two.
No. 63 Michael Mersch – Wisconsin (WCHA) – Mersch went from getting cut (in favor of underagers Tyler Biggs and Rocco Grimaldi) from the U.S. U18 Team for the World U18 Championship last year, to a breakout freshman season at Wisconsin. I think he’ll settle in to the 3rd round, but his first half was a pleasant surprise. Loads of skill, deadly accurate shot.
No. 72 Robbie Russo – U.S. Nat’l U18 Team (NTDP/USHL) – It’s been a dramatic fall for Russo, and I’m not sure its entirely fair. Paliotta might have more upside, but I’ve long thought Russo was the best American 1993 defenseman. Has he peaked already? I don’t think so. He’s a gifted puck-moving Dman with a killer shot. I see him going no lower than late second round, so don’t be surprised if he turns up a lot higher in the final rankings.
No. 102 Shane McColgan – Kelowna (WHL) – McColgan was thought to be one of, if not the best 1993 American forward. When he chose the WHL over the NTDP, many thought it was a big loss for the Ann Arbor program. It was then, but its less so now. Another guy who’s still trying to live up to his hype. No question, he’s gifted and we should see him go higher than ranked.
No. 206 Reid Boucher – U.S. Nat’l U18 Team (NTDP/USHL) – I think this was one of the most shockingly low rankings I saw. Boucher is second behind Grimaldi for scoring on the U18 team with 25 points, including 11 goals. He’s got a gift for scoring, but has not produced well against the NCAA competition. That could be a reason for the low rank. He needs to improve his skating a bit, but I still don’t see how he’s so low on this list. Due to his low ranking, he could be a rapid riser. I think Boucher has late-third, early-fourth round possibilities.
LV (Limited Viewing) Connor Murphy – U.S. Nat’l U18 Team (NTDP/USHL) – Murphy was listed as limited viewing because for the second straight season, he’s been injured for just about all of it. His injury woes could scare many teams away, making Murphy a late selection. Still, when he plays, he’s a top-three guy for the NTDP. His size and mobility are very attractive to scouts. Still, his injury woes are concerning. It’s a shame its all but derailed his young career. He’s the son of former NHLer Gord Murphy and over the summer captained the U.S. Select U18s to second place at the Ivan Hlinka, the best American showing in a while. If healthy, he’d probably have been at least a 2nd rounder.
I don’t have too many gripes with the rankings, since we’re only mid-season. There’s a lot left to be decided. However, I’m guessing you have some gripes with the rankings. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, American prospect or not.