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June 2, 2011
Top 100 NHL Draft Prospects
31-40

by Corey Pronman

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For a description of the methodology in these rankings, including the Projected Peak and Statistical Comparables (courtesy of Iain Fyffe), please see the Introduction. We'll be revealing more of the Top 100 every few days leading up to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Full list of Top 100 NHL Draft Prospects

31. Zakhar Arzamastsev, Defense, Novokuznetsk-KHL

Zakhar Arzamastsev had a decent year over in Russia, and got a significant amount of minutes for an 18 year old defenseman in the KHL. He's a below-average skater, which is apparent whenever there is a lane to burst up into, but his all-around mobility is fringe-average and he'll be able to stay with his checks. His puck skills are solid, not really a dangler by any stretch of the imagination, but is effective and consistent with his first pass and how he moves the puck around at an above-average level especially in the offensive zone. His shot is decent too and he gets it through legs well. His physical game is fringe and likely won't be better than below-average and it's rare to see Zakhar engage a forward and come out with the puck in a one-on-one battle. He also doesn't really close his gaps with his body much, instead relying on stick checks, although he is quite good at it. Zakhar leans on his hockey sense to drive his value, as it is currently an above-average tool but arguably beyond that. He defends well as he covers his assignments effectively, keeps the play in front of him, and very rarely makes a mistake. If his physical game comes along, he has the potential to have a defensive game that reaches well above-average level. His hockey sense is what helps him create the offense he does, as he sees the ice well, makes quick decisions and overall is productive in the possession game.

Projected Peak GVT: 7.9

Statistical Comparable: Andrei Markov

Ranking Explanation: While Zakhar is not the flashiest of players, he in my opinion is deserving of this ranking because of the advanced play he's displayed in Russia and how well he controls the possession game. He's an extremely smart player, who plays sound defense, and moves the puck at a notable level. He doesn't skate at a pro-level, and he's not that good in the physical game and those are legitimate holes in his game, but he's the kind of defenseman who just manages to consistently be a positive asset whenever he's on the ice. He'll never be on a highlight reel, but he could be one of those defensemen who analysts rave about when they check behindthenet.ca.

32. Boone Jenner, Center, Oshawa-OHL

Boone Jenner is a player who bleeds intangibles and gets regular reviews about his non-stop motor and how much he exerts himself on every second of every shift. He excels in the physical game and projects as above-average to plus in that regard as he's a bull in the corners and when he has the puck on the sideboards off the cycle. His defensive game at even-strength and the penalty kill is solid and he's a player who a coach can trust to put out for defensive and late game situations. His puck skills touch average and while I've seen him display solid vision and execution of passes, if he tries to do anything beyond his means it usually ends up with him looking bad. His main offensive skills are around the high percentage areas when it comes to finishing, protecting the puck and driving it to the net. His skating tool grades at around the 35-40 range as unlike with most players who have skating issues and have some positive aspect to build around, the skating tool as a whole for Jenner is fringy.

Projected Peak GVT: 5.6

Statistical Comparable: Peter Sarno

33. Matt Puempel, Left Wing, Peterborough-OHL

Matt Puempel is one of the better goal-scoring prospects in this draft class, but one who after the shot/finishing tool has a lot of aspects that need to be fine-tuned. He has terrific mechanics and accuracy on a shot that is above-average and flashes plus potential. The word "quick release" is sometimes overused in scouting circles, but with Puempel his release is something that separates him from other goal-scorers and his ability to get quality shots off in motion and without having to set his feet is a very desirable trait. He anticipates the play well coming out of his own zone and finding gaps in the offensive zone to slide into scoring position. His puck skills are solid with the ability to handle the puck well in tight and he displays solid passing ability. Puempel's skating tool grades as below-average with average speed when he gets going in a straight line. While he does show decent balance and grit on the puck, he has to put on a fair amount of strength to continue playing his style of game at the next level. He has the hockey sense to play a decent defensive game, but like most young players, that aspect of his game isn't as consistent as one would like it to be.

Projected Peak GVT: 6.2

Statistical Comparable: Raffi Torres

34. Alexei Marchenko, Defense, CSKA-KHL

Alexei Marchenko has flown under the radar with limited International play and has gone undrafted once, but this Russian rearguard really shone this year, and by late season he was playing top four minutes in the KHL right after his 19th birthdate. His skating bounces between fringe-average and a 50 grade, but he is mobile enough to stay with his checks on the rush, shows good agility, and does fine when he's going straight. His puck skills are pro-level, and look a grade beyond that at times. Even in the KHL as a young defenseman he was frequently the player leaned on to bring the puck out of the zone, even at times showing moments of flash when doing so, and he was a primary distributor on the power play. He projects as an average physical player, and already has a decent frame but has room to fill out as well. Marchenko plays fine in front of the net and in the corners, and should he choose to cross the pond, he will transition fine. His hockey sense is an above-average tool, and while there are times he tried to go outside his means offensively with the puck, his advanced play in one of the world's best leagues, especially seeing a solid defensive game from Marchenko, is reason to like how he processes the game. His stick work is good, and his lane and man coverage on the penalty kill is impressive. I have seen some mild concerns from an intangibles perspective, but it's nitpicking more so than a legit concern with Marchenko's skill set.

Projected Peak GVT: 5.0

Statistical Comparable: Daniil Markov

Ranking Explanation: I can understand that for those unacquainted to the draft if Marchenko is an unfamiliar name, but after seeing him play in the KHL even as second year eligible I was very impressed by the well-rounded game he possesses. I donít' see him being an above-average player as aside from his hockey sense no tool really stands out. However, he has so many abilities that I think will fit right into the NHL game at an average level that it's not a stretch to see him on a second pairing in a few years. Heck, he was already doing that in the KHL at times and by Robert Vollman's League Equivalencies study in Hockey Prospectus 2010-11, the KHL really isn't that far off from the NHL.

35.Tomas Jurco, Right Wing, Saint John-QMJHL

Tomas Jurco is one of the most skilled puck-handlers in the 2011 draft class with well above-average puck skills. He is a very coordinated player who shows refined technique and impressive hand-eye coordination. Jurco is a very hard player to check one-on-one as aside from the flash he shows with the puck, he shields it well and once the defender commits one way to try and go after the puck, he has the agility to slide out and into open ice and he has the balance to handle physical contact. His speed is average but there are times when it seems below that level. There doesn't seem to be anything mechanically wrong with his stride and because of how well he turns and eludes checkers it doesn't seem to be a liability for him. Jurco has the ability to be an above-average goal scorer in regards to his shot and finishing ability, but he needs to find ways to get more opportunities in the high percentage areas. His effort level is wavering as he shows good effort on the forecheck and when he has the puck, but outside of the offensive blue line he looks disinterested. Jurco has a top half first round skill set in some aspects, but the hockey sense and drive need to take a few steps forward before his prospect stock can get to the next level.

Projected Peak GVT: 4.5

Statistical Comparable: Juraj Kolnik

36. Robbie Russo, Defense, USA Under-18-USHL

While Robbie Russo didn't have the year he wanted to have, a strong Under-18 and some notable skills still has this defender on the draft radar. He's an above-average to plus puck-mover who can carry it up the ice well. He's very calm and poised with the puck and Russo waits for the lanes to open and hits his targets accurately. He really excels on the power play where he can get space on the left side of the blue line and make plays to every part of the offensive zone. Russo can make opponents miss with solid stick-handling ability, and will on occasion flash beyond that and I've seen him make defenders look bad when they try to get too close to him along the offensive blue line. His hockey sense is above-average, as offensively he makes the right calls with the puck, knows when to pinch up or back off, and is decent defensively especially with his stick-checks. He's fringe physically though and even though he works hard and attempts to engage, he doesn't project well in that area. The skating also looks below-average and while he is somewhat agile and good on his edges, he's not that notable in a straight line and will need to back off a bit for NHL forwards to manage the gaps.

37. Albert Yarullin, Defense, Kazan-MHL

Albert Yarullin is a prospect who has flown under the radar in Russia's Junior league, and while he doesn't put up the counting numbers (his terrific Under-18's not withstanding), those who have followed him know about the possession assets he brings to the table. He's a decent skater who doesn't bring a pro-level top speed, but is somewhat agile and his all-around mobility is at an average level. His puck skills are average but his passing is solid-average, as Yarullin makes a good first pass and can distribute well on the power play, but you won't see him stretch the ice or try to squeeze a distribution between a tight lane. His shot is hard, but his technique is poor on his slapper as he takes a while to wind it up. His physical game is fringe, but could get to below-average as he is pretty gritty, works hard and makes forwards earn their territory if they go in the crease area. He's listed at around 6'0", 200 lbs., but in regards to his muscle mass he looks pretty small out there. Yarullin thinks the game at an above-average level and rarely makes a mistake on the ice, relying on a conservative game, but his calm plays and smarts translate well as a power play quarterback. His defensive game is also notably advanced and the last few years he has played beyond his age group. If he's drafted, the team that takes him will have to wait for his body to develop and ideally the skating, but his smarts and to a degree his puck-moving skills are good enough to take him to the pro game and excel there.

Projected Peak GVT: 3.5

Statistical Comparable: Maxim Galanov

Ranking Explanation: Like with Kucherov, I should point out that this ranking is not based on Yarullin's strong Under-18 tournament; in fact I feel that tournament was an outlier performance for him as bringing the kind of offense he did is not what Yarullin will typically do. However based on his play in Russia and in several International tournaments the last few years, I have become quite impressed with his game. He's an average skater, and has below-average size but moves the puck well, plays sound defense and thinks the game at a high level. I'm sold on him and I think he can be one of those players who won't play the power play but will eat key defensive minutes on a team's top four.

38. Connor Murphy, Defense, USA Under-18-USHL

Connor Murphy missed most of the season due to a back injury, but his play since his return has helped his stock rise quite a bit. He doesn't have a true standout tool besides his hockey sense, but he has a decent all-around game. Murphy can move the puck at an average level, making quick decisions with and hitting his targets well. His offensive potential is average, but he's not a slouch either, as he's been used on the power play and has the ability and wherewithal to pinch in and get involved. He thinks the game at an above-average level, showing very impressive defensive positioning and stick work. On the other side of the puck, he picks his spots on when to rush up or come in lower from the blue line, but usually he does it at the right times. Murphy projects as an average to solid-average physical player as despite his good frame he doesn't really take the body all that often, although he is strong and if a puck carrier tries to go through him they usually end up without the puck. His strength is also apparent when he brings the puck into the offensive zone, as he protects it at a notable level. His skating is below-average in regards to his speed and acceleration and I've seen him get turned around numerous times by the opposition. However, he has good balance and the stride is decent and with work in that area, the tool could get a little better.

39. T.J. Tynan, Center, Notre Dame-CCHA

T.J. Tynan went undrafted after playing well in the USHL 2009-10, but this season he played very well and was one the best players on one of the nation's best college teams. He's an above-average skater whose top speed can touch plus and can when he gets going in a straight line he really jets up the ice. His mechanics are a little shaky, but he's made significant strides in that area since the start of last season. Tynan's puck skills are plus and it's evident on a consistent basis. He's tremendous in open ice, with a real flashy element to his game and is very hard to strip off the puck unless you can physically engage him. He's an above-average distributor as well, and if the defense backs off him, Tynan can find his teammates and hit their sticks with crisp passes. His shot is decent, and will suffice at the pro game but he won't score an above-average amount of goals from a distance. Tynan's physical game is his major liability as he has well below-average size at around 5'8", 165 lbs. and while he works hard, goes to the net and pesters opponents on the forecheck, he gets manhandled by bigger players in tight. Last season, teams physically keyed in on him and it wore Tynan down, but that wasn't the case as much this year. Tynan has tremendous upside, with his improvements in skating and conditioning being good signs, and if he hits, he'll be one heck of a player but is a risky prospect to go after. He will have to become a winger likely as well.

Projected Peak GVT: 12.0

Statistical Comparable: Mike Cammalleri

Ranking Explanation: per Iain Fyffe's projections, T.J. Tynan actually came in as the fourth-best player in the entire draft class. While I don't share such lofty feelings about Tynan, I also don't think he's the same old, same old small and skilled NCAA player who won't be able to thrive in the pro game, as Tynan has some unique qualities to his game. If he was just a good, not great skater, puck-handler, etc. then I would likely have to drop him lower because of his major size issues, but that is not the case. His skating tool has shown significant improvements from last year where he went undrafted to where I think it can be a plus tool. When you combine that with his high-end puck skills and offensive ceiling, it makes me optimistic about his future. The horrid physical game tool is taken into account, but like with Grimaldi, I look at the whole package and see where the final picture leads me instead of writing off a prospect because of one major deficiency. After doing side by side evaluations with the rest of the prospects in this ranking range, I felt Tynan fit right in at 39.

40. Mario Lucia, Left Wing, Wayzata-Minnesota High School

Mario Lucia enters the draft as the top high school prospect this year. While his skating isn't a pro-average tool, he moves very easily with a smooth glide in his step and signs all point to the fact that he can project to move at a pro level in time. His passing skills are decent, but in regards to his puck skills, I see it presently as a fringe tool as he seems awkward and uncoordinated with the puck. He anticipates pressure well, attempts to makes moves to evade pursuers and can see the ice to make the right distributions, but I have a difficult time seeing him doing that effectively at the pro level. Lucia looks like he will be able to score goals, with very good wrist shot mechanics and weight distribution in motion and from a standstill. His shot also comes off with solid accuracy. While listed as a LW, he lined up at RW if his coach sensed an opportunity to get him a shooting chance. His physical game is fair, and at the high school level he succeeded during engagements and screening in front of the net and there was the odd time he was able to level an opponent, but for a big winger his college and future pro team will need him to get a lot of gym hours in. Lucia's hockey sense is very impressive for a high school kid. He showed solid awareness and anticipation that you tend to see in goal-scorers. He consistently comes back to help on defense and covers his checks well.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Howe and Why (06/01)
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Top 100 NHL Draft Pros... (05/30)
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Top 100 NHL Draft Pros... (06/03)
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Premium Article From Daigle To Datsyuk (06/02)

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