For a description of the methodology in these rankings, please see the Introduction. We'll be revealing more of the Top 100 every few days leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Full list of Top 100 NHL Draft Prospects
41. Stefan Matteau, Left Wing, USA Under-18 National Team-USHL
Matteau was one of the hardest players for me to rank. Between my own viewings and talking to many scouts, he was very polarizing in regards to his pure upside and what to degree each of his main tools were. He's an above-average skater who gets a lot of power generated from each stride. He's improved his acceleration and he's surprisingly quick now I would say for a power forward. I personally have been 50/50 on his skating when I've watched him, but just about every scout I've talked to has praised it. Matteau also has pretty good hands, showing the ability to make plays in tight spaces with the puck and create some offense at even strength. I don't see him as a particularly instinctive and awe-inspiring offensive player, but he has enough to his tool kit to make some things happen. Matteau is a pretty physical player, who despite average size, looks to be able to win battles against 6'3" or 6'4" opponents as he shows good physical effort, is very strong, and loves to throw his weight around. He has racked up a lot of penalty minutes this year due to his physical style and a few incidents where his emotions got the best of him. He has defensive value as well and can project to bring notable effectiveness on the penalty kill.
42. Nathan Walker, Left Wing, Vitkovice- Czech Extraliga
Nathan Walker is quite a unique player, having a British and Australian background while suiting up for Australia in international competition. He is the first Australian to play in a top Europeans men's league. He's an above-average puck-handler who certainly has the skills to make things happen with the puck. Walker is also a pretty advanced thinker for his age, a big factor to the ice time he's gotten playing in the Czech Extraliga, as he's a responsible two-way thinker who knows where he needs to be in his own end and makes good, quick decisions with the puck. Walker has impressive vision and can certainly move the puck around well. He is an above-average skater who ideally would have an extra gear as a 5'9" player but can move around the ice just fine and is quick on his first few steps. He has a somewhat forward lean that gets him a little lower than you'd like a 5'9" player to be though. Despite his smaller stature, Walker is pretty strong and is very aggressive and physical. He takes his assignments with the body in the defensive end, and shows no fear from driving the high percentage areas. He lines up at left wing at even strength, but on the power play I have seen him play right wing to take advantage of his shot that can score from a distance.
43. Troy Bourke, Left Wing, Prince George-WHL
Bourke was the leading scorer on his team with 52 points in 68 games which tells you about how little help he had generating firepower this season. This hurt him at times as scouts who were watching him said, "He would be a step ahead of his teammates trying to set them up, but they wouldn't catch up." Bourke is a pretty intelligent forward who excels as a playmaker. He's a very creative thinker who knows how to make time and space for himself, and when lanes open up, he hits his targets quickly and effectively with his combination of puck skills and offensive sense. Bourke plays the point on the power play due to his sense, but also has a very good shot that is accurate and flies off his stick. Bourke is a quick skater, who can certainly get to a good top speed, but is more elusive and agile. For a smaller forward, he could use that one more gear to really become a legit all-around offensive weapon. He's a tough little guy who will throw his body around, but his strength level is underwhelming and he doesn't tend to have much success against bigger players.
44. Arturs Gavrus, Left Wing, Owen Sound-OHL
Gavrus is yet another case of a relatively obscure prospect transferring to the CHL establishing a more legitimate stock for himself. Playing on a team with potential top-50 picks who are bigger names in the likes of Jarrod Maidens and Gemel Smith, Gavrus has looked equally impressive. Gavrus is a high-end skater with a pretty smooth technique and gets up to a tremendous top speed. He gets up to top speed very quickly, and also is very good at rapidly changing gears. He's a pretty skilled puck-handler whose main puck possession skill comes from his individual ability. He can make plays to others, but aside from his skating, the bulk of his offense will come from his puck abilities. Gavrus is a small forward with a pretty slight frame, but he still works hard on the forecheck and has some grit to his game. He doesn't necessarily carry that over to the other end, though, but considering his intangible base, I could see that improving during the course of his development.
45. Mike Winther, Center, Prince Albert-WHL
Winther had a fine year in Prince Albert and the small center shows a good all-around game but with no true plus skill. He's a pretty good skater with quick feet off the line who accelerates well and gets to an above-average top speed. Winther doesn't carry much weight and it's clear when you see him move as he glides pretty freely up the ice. He's skilled with the puck and gets regular praise within the industry for his creativity and ability to make plays either one-on-one or as a creative distributor. Winther has pretty solid hockey sense from an instinctual and vision standpoint. His positional play is fine, and while he can make plays, he shows a bit of a sniper's instincts in terms of finding open space in the high percentage areas. He combined that with a solid shot and can finish from outside the blue paint. Winther also plays fine defense according to several scouts, but I have few notes on him in that regard. While Winther does play with energy and isn't a perimeter player, his physical game will be his biggest liability due to his size/strength combo.
46. Jordan Schmaltz, Defense, Green Bay-USHL
Schmaltz had a very successful 2010-11 season, earning first team honors in the USHL; he continued his offensive prowess this year as well. He's a gifted puck-mover who is certainly above average in that area and flashes a tick beyond. Schmaltz's technique with the puck is a fine combination of flash of smoothness, as he makes crisp, accurate outlet passes, but can also stretch the ice well, and quarterback a power play well. He is very calm and poised with the puck, showing great patience and awareness in all three zones, and he has a very high panic threshold. Schmaltz is a decent skater with nice fluid four-way movements, good lateral agility, and fine overall footwork, but he doesn't generate a whole lot of power from his stride. He also has a bit of a mechanical flaw as he's a bit of an upright skater and doesn't really burst through his straight away rushes as much as he could. Schmaltz can hit an average top speed and will join the rush frequently, but his speed certainly isn't his best asset. He has the ability to be okay defensively, but he's pretty timid physically, which contributes to a fringe physical game as his frame needs a ton of work.
47. Gemel Smith, Center, Owen Sound-OHL
The best way to describe Smith is as one Head Scout calls him, "A ball of energy who just flies all over the place." He has tremendous intangibles coupled with above-average if not better speed; considering his low muscle mass, he's the kind of forward who literally jets up and down the ice every shift. He's a tenacious forechecker who pressures the defense very well and regularly forces bad decisions with how quickly he closes in on the puck off shoot-ins to the zone. Smith also works equally hard on the backcheck, and despite his size projects to be a fine defensive forward. He's not an all-energy player, though, as he has a decent combo of puck skills and vision to make plays by himself or for his teammates. He's more the kind of player who can handle the puck well in tight spaces and make nice one-touches as opposed to a dangerous puck controller. Smith doesn't just chuck the puck at the net when he gets it, though, as he has some vision and instincts to make plays, and his overall hockey sense is pretty impressive.
48. Brian Hart, Right Wing, Phillips Exeter, US High School
Hart is a pretty toolsy player from a physical and athletic standpoint, as he's a big, bulky forward with pretty good strength and conditioning for an 18-year-old. Hart is a talented athlete who is very coordinated all-around, both with his hand skills and with a good ability to control the puck with his feet. His skating isn't the best, as I would likely grade it as below average, especially due to his heavy feet on his first few steps, which are fringe although he can flash average skating ability in that area when he gets going in a straight line. Hart is a good puck-handler who can control and maneuver with the puck quite well for a bulkier type of player. He also brings a plus shot to the table that he can really lean into that gets boards and goalie masks rattling when he puts his weight into his blasts. Hart has solid hockey sense, maybe even flashing above-average as he can make plays to his teammates well. For a man who can do a lot in the physical game, he doesn't always exert himself well in that area. That isn't to say he's never physical, but he definitely has an on/off switch that he flips with regularity.
49. Austin Cangelosi, Center, Youngstown-USHL
Cangelosi had a tremendous first season in the USHL being one of the top-scoring draft-eligible players in the league. He has a tremendous skill set although it is compounded within an extremely small frame. Cangelosi is a burner who shows legit high-end skating ability and can simply fly up the ice. The other aspects of his skating aren't as high-end although still good, but his speed is a very dangerous weapon. Cangelosi combined that with above-average puck skills and above-average to plus vision. It should suffice to say from a raw talent perspective he's a great offensive player who can create chances in a variety of ways. He has the puck abilities to dangle from a standstill and to maneuver well at full speed. His vision flashes high-end on a couple of occasions as he is certainly a creative player who has the hockey sense to make the difficult plays. Despite all these positive aspects of his game, his clear area of concern is his physical game. Cangelosi comes in at 5'8" and despite even his best efforts, he would be a well below replacement-level physical player at the top level. Small guys can make it, but he would be a risk though to take, however, he has top-six potential if he pans out.
50. Austin Czarnik, Center, Miami University-CCHA
Austin Czarnik entering his second draft-eligible season, had a very impressive Freshman year at Miami and and an impressive World Junior performance. He's an above-average skater who's very shifty in regards to his off-the-line and standstill movements on top of being able to maneuver well while in top gear. Czarnik has a good top gear and with his work ethic and hustle, it lets him cover some extra ice. He has a pretty desirable possession skill set, as he handles the puck well and has above-average vision. Czarnik is dangerous on the rush, with his ability to handle the puck dangerously while moving, and also has the hockey sense to slow the game down and make notable distributions. His size is his most significant weakness as he's listed at a somewhat generous 5'8"but he has the intangibles to overcome it. Czarnik still needs some refining on his even-strength defensive positioning, but the work ethic is clearly there in his own end and he has earned PK duties. He also gives a good effort on the forecheck, but there's only so much physical pressure a player his size can generate.
Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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