Last week we looked at a few of the top rated defensemen who will be selected in the NHL Entry Draft this month, now let's check out a few of the top rated forwards. At least a couple of these guys should still be available when the Hurricanes make their selection at number 12.
Later this week, we'll see if any of the scouting services updated their ratings after attending the combine and whose stock has risen, or fallen. Then we will have a Canes Country mock draft and will also follow along with the SB Nation mock draft, as every blog manager will be making the selections for his/her respective teams.
We also expect to have some interviews coming up, as well as a few surprises along the way. I will be working at the draft again this year, so mark your calendars and follow us for up to the minute coverage throughout.
- Ryan Nugent-Hpkins - C - Red Deer - 6'0 164 This kid seems to be the consensus number one and most definitely won't be around at number 12. He's another prototype center who could make an impact in the NHL next year. But take notice, he's not the biggest guy in the world.
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- Gabriel Landeskog - LW - Kitchener - 6'0 207 The former teammate of Jeff Skinner would look awfully good in a Carolina jersey, but the Canes would have to make a trade up to get him. He's physical and he does everything well. The left winger could go anywhere between first and fourth.
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- Jonathan Huberdeau - C - Saint John - 6'1 170 Another natural center who is good at setting teammates up to score as well as scoring himself. He really showed his stuff in Memorial Cup action and will be long gone by time the Hurricanes reach the podium.
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- Sean Courturier - C - Drummondville - 6'4 197 This center is known for his two-way play as much as his offensive prowess, which is excellent. Again, it's likely his name will be called before the Hurricanes make their call.
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Mika Zibanejad - C - Sweden - 6-2 191 The center played most of last season in the Swedish Elite League and he is the number 2 CSS rated European skater behind Larsson. Scouts say that he is a true power forward, with soft hands, good vision, and excellent skating ability. Right now ranked in most everyone's top 10, I could see him slipping to the next grouping.
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- Ryan Strome - C - Niagara - 6'0 175 Strome is a physical player who isn't afraid to battle in front of the net. He's also a fast skater and is creative with the puck. Depending upon how many defensemen are picked in the top 10, he could slip to 12, but it's unlikely.
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Sven Bartschi - LW - Portland - 5-10 181 The winger led all WHL rookies in scoring and has been called by one scout as the draft's most creative skater with the puck. Would he look good at Staal's left wing, or is he too small?
NHL Central Scouting's Blair MacDonald
"Bartschi is a finesse player. He has very quick hands and is a deft puckhandler. His radar vision probably makes him the best in the WHL at distributing the puck."
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- Mark McNeil - C - Prince Albert - 6'2 201 McNeil has moved up a lot since the mid rankings (from 22 to 14) and could move up higher, although none of the mock drafts on NHL.com have him in the top 12. He's got decent size though and could fill a need.
NHL Central Scouting’s Blair MacDonald
"One thing I like about him is that he's a right-handed center, which is good to have. He's really composed and has a real pro-style game. He has a nice touch, can dish, and has nice, soft passes. His on-ice awareness is very good and he's paid attention to detail at both ends of the rink. He has good defensive-zone coverage as well as being offensive at the other end. All around I think he's got a real solid game I think his offensive game will improve the older he gets and the more confident he gets. I think he'll be a better offensive player than he's showing right now. He's good at both ends of the rink. He comes down low and helps out defensively."
From Mike Morreale NHL.com "Another part of McNeill's game that has scouts salivating is his willingness and success rate when dropping the gloves."
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- Joel Armia - RW - Finland - 6'3 190 The winger has good size and great moves. He played in the top line for his Finnish team. The CSS has him as the fourth best Euro skater overall and second best forward. For more info, see his writeup at Hockey's Future.
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