For those Bruins fans still trying to get over the fact that their team has Tyler Seguin to build around for the better part of this decade, keep on salivating.
Today the NHL Central Scouting Service released its midterm rankings for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and it sounds like Boston will be in great position to get another stud player come June.
The Bruins, of course, own Toronto’s first-round pick this year just like last, when Boston was able to select Seguin with the Maple Leafs’ selection that was acquired in the Phil Kessel trade. Currently, Toronto ranks 27th in the NHL — which would place the Bruins’ pick at fourth overall.
Kitchener (OHL) power forward Gabriel Landeskog was ranked No. 1 among North American skaters by CSS, but as NHL Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire told NHL.com, a handful of players could be challenging for the top spot by the time the next rankings come out.
“I would say at this point, with the number of viewings our scouts have had, as many as eight players could be taken first,” McGuire was quoted as saying. “The depth goes right through this draft. A cynic or somebody who’s characterizing this as a non-Sidney Crosby draft year only needs to know that whoever emerges in April at No. 5 on our list (Central Scouting’s final rankings), and in St. Paul as the No. 5 pick, could eventually be a better NHL player than No. 1. That said, this isn’t a Crosby draft year.”
Even better news for Bruins fans is that Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli expressed similar sentiments as McGuire about this year’s draft class in a chat with TheBruinsBlog.net last week.
“I think it’s actually seven or eight deep,” Chiarelli said.
Landeskog was able to rise to the top of the rankings despite missing the World Junior Championship with an injury. Sean Couturier, a center for Drummondville (QMJHL), skated for silver-medal-winning Team Canada and is ranked No. 2 behind Landeskog. Defenseman Adam Larsson, who skated for his homeland Sweden at the WJC and plays in that nation’s elite league, is the top-ranked European skater according to CSS.
Chiarelli had a chance to catch both Couturier and Larsson at the WJC.
“I thought Larsson got stronger as the tournament went on. Good poise, a very good passer, good size,” said Chiarelli. “Couturier, I think he was buried a little bit in the lineup, but you could see his poise with the puck and his size.”
While Chiarelli expressed some regret Landeskog was injured for the WJC, he noted that the Bruins have had plenty of chances to view him skating for his Kitchener.
Landeskog stands 6 feet tall, 200 pounds and has put up 45 points (25 goals) in 32 games this season. Now the captain of the Rangers, Landeskog was on the OHL All-Rookie First Team last season after he put up 46 points (24 goals) in 61 games.
The 6-foot-4, 193-pound Couturier has been tearing up the ‘Q’ to the tune of 53 points (16 goals) in 33 games so far this season.
Larsson, 6-3, 200 pounds, has one goal and eight points in 28 games for Skelleftea. He led all Swedish defenseman with four points (one goal) at the WJC.
For those hoping the Bruins will go for a defenseman after years of drafting forwards with their high picks, there are three in the CSS North American top 10 and three more in the European Top 10.
Barring a major second-half surge by the Leafs, the Bruins should be able to cash in with another prime-time player in St. Paul this June.