The mid-season Central Scouting list is out, and it offers fans a chance to introduce themselves to all kinds of future NHL players. Sons of former NHLers, young men who are ripping up the blacktop in exotic cities like Prince Albert, Barrie and Cranbrook.
If your favorite NHL team is sucktastic this season, the upside is a shiny new star at the summer entry draft. If your team wants a 200-foot center with enough skill to project as a 1line C down the line, then Sam Bennett is your man. If you're looking for a big, tough, beastly defenseman who also has some skill, then google Aaron Ekblad and prepare to read a lot of entries—he's really famous already.
The WHL has Sam Reinhart—who could go number one and if he doesn't its skating—along with the man Drew Wilson calls the Deutschland Dangler, Leon Draisaitl. Leon is my pick for #1 overall at this summer's draft, there's just too much, he's a big man with soft hands and a motor, and that my friends is all good.
The underside of the top 10 offers some wonderful options, too. Michael Dal Colle is a big forward who can help with puck protection and the cycle, while also having enough skill to play on a top line. Nick Ritchie goes him one better, offering size and speed although he's a little shy in the skill area.
Hayden Fleury is the best player in the draft no one knows about (but that'll change), William Nylander is the top Euro and a fascinating prospect with insane skill and pedigree (his Dad is former NHLer Michael Nylander, who is still playing in Sweden in their top league at age 40), Kasperi Kapanen represents Finland with speed and skill, and Jake Virtanen got a slower start but is coming on like a house on fire.
That's my 10, although not in that order (I will begin ranking these guys in April and supply lots of coverage on the 2014 draft). Many of these young men will be at the Top Prospects Game tomorrow night in Calgary, and I'll preview the game with Guy Flaming tomorrow morning at 11:25 Edmonton time on TSN 1260.