Sunday, April 24, 2011

THN Future Watch 2011

The Hockey News' Future Watch 2011 is on newsstands now and both North Dakota and the WCHA are well represented. Below is a summary of relevant content:

Top 50 Prospects:
Ranking - Player - Position - NHL Team - (WCHA Affiliation)
#17 - Brendan Smith - D - Detroit (Wisconsin)
#21 - Nick Leddy - D - Chicago (Minnesota)
#23 - Jaden Schwartz - C - St. Louis (Colorado College)
#26 - Nick Bjugstad - C - Florida (Minnesota)
#33 - Justin Faulk - D - Carolina (Minnesota-Duluth)
#45 - Joe Colborne - C - Boston (Denver)
#46 - Beau Bennett - RW - Pittsburgh (Denver)
#49 - Derek Forbort - D - Los Angeles (North Dakota)

Team-By-Team Top 10 Prospects (UND Only):
Derek Forbort - Los Angeles - #3
Danny Kristo - Montreal - #3
Brad Malone - Colorado - #7
Mark MacMillan - Montreal - #9
Brock Nelson - NY Islanders - #10

There is no surprise in finding Kristo and Forbort among their organizations' top young talent. They are both high-level prospects expected to make significant NHL contributions following their collegiate careers.

It was perhaps a bit surprising to find neither Matt Frattin (Toronto) nor Jason Gregoire (NY Islanders) among the top 10 prospects for their respective organizations. Frattin, with his combination of size, strength, and ability to bury the puck from virtually anywhere inside the offensive zone, is about as NHL-ready of a collegian as you will find. My surprise over the omission of Gregoire is as much a product of two other players' inclusion on the list as it is Gregoire's own outstanding two-way abilities: Winger Rhett Rakhshani and defenseman Aaron Ness are ranked #5 and #9 respectively, and I have a hard time seeing either of these two ever being able to stick on an NHL roster. Brock Nelson is the real deal, and as his 6' 3" frame begins to fill out, he's going to be a big-time player.

I'm also excited for the arrival this fall of recruit Mark MacMillan (Penticton, BCHL). He, like Nelson, has a big frame and will benefit greatly as he fills out physically. In limited viewing, he's been pretty smooth with the puck and I expect that he will take over as the team's resident stick handling wizard now that Evan Trupp has completed his eligibility. It may be a bit surprising to see Brad Malone ranked seventh among Colorado prospects, but as Adrian Dater points out for The Hockey News, the prospect cupboard is not as full as it might be were Colorado not the League's youngest team. Malone is a skilled face-off man who also brings a significant physical presence to the ice.

THN's Future Watch also revisited its Top 50 list from five and ten years ago. North Dakota's presence:

#41 - Lee Goren
#50 - David Hale

#16 - Drew Stafford
#21 - Travis Zajac
#22 - Brian Lee
#33 - T.J. Oshie
#50 - Brandon Bochenski

10% of the 2006 Top 50 NHL prospects made significant contributions playing at North Dakota. Not too shabby...

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