by Corey Pronman
During the course of pre-writing the top 10 prospects, I had to remove a few profiles due to some of the prospect eligibility additions I added this year which I decided to do late in the process. I will post them here.
After the Rick Nash trade, here is how their organizational top 10 looks:
1. Ryan Johansen, Center
2. Tim Erixon, Defense
3. Ryan Murray, Defense
4. David Savard, Defense
5. John Moore, Defense
6. T.J. Tynan, Center
7. Matt Calvert, Left Wing
8. Boone Jenner, Center
9. Michael Chaput, Center
10. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Left Wing
I mentioned on Twitter that I felt Erixon was slightly better than Ryan Murray and got some “feedback” on that remark. I should mention for the purpose of that individual ranking it was somewhat of a coin flip and I gave the edge to Erixon due to his age and pro experience/success even though I think Murray has a tad more upside. When my Top 100 NHL Prospects are posted, the small difference in this decision will be reflected.
Tim Erixon, Defense
2010-11 Rank: 1st (NY Rangers)
Date of birth: 02/24/1991
Statistics: 52 GP, 3 G, 30 P (Connecticut-AHL)
Acquired: Trade from NY Rangers, drafted first round, 23rd overall in 2009 by Calgary
The Good: Erixon logged a large amount of minutes in the AHL this season and showed effectiveness at both ends. He’s a high-end thinker and passer who can be a very effective two-way possession weapon in a quiet way. He’s a great defensive player who makes all the right reads in his own end and tends to play a mistake free game in terms of his assignment coverage. Erixon also is a good playmaker who hits his outlets accurately and consistently. He has decent mobility as well.
The Bad: Erixon needs to bulk up as his body still isn’t ready to play an effective physical brand of hockey in the pro game. While he’s a solid offensive player he also lacks a dynamic offensive element to his game.
Projection: He could be a tough minutes top pairing defender who is used on a second power play unit.
Cam Atkinson, Right Wing
2010-11 Rank: 4th
Date of birth: 06/05/1989
Statistics: 51 GP, 29 G, 44 P (Springfield-AHL)
Acquired: Sixth round, 157th overall in 2008 by Columbus
The Good: Atkinson has a tremendous combination of offensive abilities, showing high-end ability between his skating, puck skills and shot. His skating is his best tool, as he is ridiculously agile and can burn past defensemen as well. Atkinson has the puck creativity to make opponents miss regularly and he has the ability to wire shots past the goalie from way out. He’s a versatile offensive talent who Springfield has used on the half wall and point on the power play to make use of all his talents. He’s also a very gritty player who competes hard in battles.
The Bad: Size is the obvious weakness to Atkinson’s game as despite his grittiness his physical game projects to be well below replacement level. Although it isn’t a major issue, he could use his team mates a little better as well.
Projection: He could be an above average 2nd line forward.
Kristians Pelss, Left Wing
2010-11 Ranking: Unranked
Date of birth: 09/09/1992
Statistics: 63 GP, 28 G, 50 P (Edmonton-WHL)
Acquired: Seventh round, 181st overall in 2010 by Edmonton
The Good: Pelss is an above-average to plus skater who accelerates very quickly and can push the pace quite well. He is a skilled puck handler who knows how to make defenders miss regularly showing above-average ability in that area. He also has a great shot that is pretty accurate and he has the ability to score from mid-distance. Pelss works hard on the ice at both ends and has gotten more physical this year.
The Bad: Pelss is a small player who despite his best efforts will likely not be able to perform well in the physical game against NHL defenders. His hockey sense isn’t bad but he could use another gear to elevate his value to be a legit scoring prospect. His production is also a concern for someone who likely will not make it as a bottom six player.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a league-average forward.
Aaron Palushaj, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: 3rd
Date of birth: 09/07/1989
Statistics: 35 GP, 15 G, 35 P (Hamilton-AHL)
Acquired: Trade from St. Louis, drafted second round, 44th overall in 2008 by St. Louis
The Good: Palushaj is a smart playmaker who regularly shows above-average vision. Over the years he has improved his skating from very poor to pro level and times showing even above that. He’s got very desirable intangibles in regards to his on ice work ethic as he’s an energy bug who pressures well on the fore check, and gets involved in physical play.
The Bad: Palushaj’s strength and body are a major question mark as his strength level is not where it should be considering his age and pro experience. He can easily be outmuscled and will struggle to be the kind of physical player in the NHL that he is in the AHL barring improvement in that area. His puck skills are ok, but not top six forward caliber. Palushaj is kind of caught between a tweener area where he may not be good enough for top six, or be able to fit into a prototypical third line role.
Projection: He could be an average NHLer.
Nazem Kadri, Right Wing
2010-11 Ranking: Graduated
Date of birth: 12/05/1992
Statistics: 48 GP, 18 G, 40 P (Toronto-AHL)
Acquired: First round, 7th overall in 2010 by Toronto
The Good: Kadri is a high-end puck handler who can dazzle with his in-tight coordination and ability to maintain puck possession. He’s a very creative forward who also is able to slow the game down and control the play from the sideboards with solid playmaking skills that have improved over the last year or two although he has a shoot-first mentality. He’s a hard-working player who hustles well, plays physical, and drives the high percentage areas.
The Bad: His skating isn’t a weakness as it’s average, but he lacks a true above-average top gear that could really elevate his stock. Although he works hard, his physical game needs work as his strength level isn’t where it needs to be and he’ll struggle in that aspect of the game at the top level.
Projection: He could be a good second line forward. Despite being listed at center, he probably ends up on the wing.