Thursday, November 23, 2006

Comparison of "Future 'Notes" Hot Lists to CSS Preliminary Rankings

Here are the criteria used by “Future ‘Notes” to winnow through the extensive lists of draft-eligible players in order to create the “Hot Lists” for the Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, and Sweden.


1. Bigger is better than smaller.
2. Higher scoring totals are better than lower scoring totals.
3. Younger is better than older.
4. Higher plus/minus is better than lower.

Also, a center or defenseman with a right-handed shot was more likely to be chosen over a left-hander with comparable size or statistics.

The criteria were not necessarily applied in this order, so with the caveat that we don’t have the opportunity to see these players perform live, there were a number of instances where a bigger player with lesser scoring totals was chosen for the “Hot List” over smaller players with higher numbers, or where a younger player with a higher plus/minus was chosen over an older player with better scoring numbers.

Without further ado, then, here’s a look at how the “Future ‘Notes” Hot Lists compared to the Preliminary Rankings that NHL Central Scouting just put out.

Czech Republic: “Future ‘Notes” identified five of the 25 skaters on Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings (20%), including the CSS top Czech prospect, Vladimir Ruzicka (Slavia Praha, C/L, 6-01, 180). “Future ‘Notes” also identified three of the four Czech goaltenders on the CSS listing, including the number one (Tomas Vosvrda, Vitkovice, G/L, 6-03, 172) and number two (Marek Benda, Karlovy Vary, G/L, 5-11, 167).

Ruzicka’s primary assets are his hands, as in his ability to create offense, to make nifty passes, and win faceoffs. His downside is a lack of defensive awareness, but that’s a correctable flaw. Vosvrda, one of the youngest players who will be eligible for the 2007 draft (born 12 Sep 1989), is 12-6-0 with a 3.29 GAA and 90.15% save percentage for Vitkovice as of 22 November 2006.

Radim Ostrcil (Vsetin, D/L, 5-11, 198) was the highest-ranked player by CSS (2nd Czech) to not make the “Future ‘Notes” Hot List for the Czechs. He has offensive upside (2-5-7, plus-3, 41 PIM in 10 games as of 22 November), but is only an average skater and can be beaten one-on-one.

Overall, Central Scouting’s Czech list was composed of 12 defensemen (12/25 = 48%), four centers (4/25 = 16%), and nine wings (9/25 = 36%). The “Future ‘Notes” Hot List was made up of nine defensemen (9/30 = 30%), three centers (3/30 = 10%), four wings (4/30 = 13.33%), and 14 “forwards” (14/30 = 46.67%).

There were no Czech players ranked by Central Scouting who were not first-time draft eligible (born after 15 September 1988). "Future 'Notes" Czech Hot List included nine players who were draft-eligible in 2006, including D Marek Troncinsky, the 55th-ranked European player by CSS in 2006.

Finland: “Future ‘Notes” identified 12 of the 28 skaters on Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings (42.86%) and six of the top 11 skaters on the CSS list, including the CSS top Finnish prospect, Harri Ilvonen (Tappara, D/L, 6-03, 196) and the number two Finn (Lassi Kokkala, TPS Turku, C/L, 6-01, 189). “Future ‘Notes” also found the only Finnish goaltender on the CSS listing, Juha Metsola (Ilves, G/L, 5-07, 150).

Ilvonen has good size, and his offensive upside is evident in his 5-11-16 numbers through 17 games in the Finnish junior circuit. He’s also a plus-1, and has 14 minutes in penalty time (all minors). Metsola, like the other first-time draft-eligible Finnish goalies on our Hot List, is small at 5-07, 150, and his numbers are only average (6 GP, 2-3-0, 2.76 GAA, 89.76% save percentage) while playing behind Jarno Laitinen, who’s almost a full year older than Metsola.

The best draft-eligible goalie in Finland might just be a player who’s looking at his last go-round of draft eligibility. Antti Härmä of Blues Espoo is a January 1987 birthdate who was passed over in 2005 and 2006. He’s bigger than Metsola at 5-11, 185 pounds, and his numbers this year have been outstanding (18 GP, 12-3-0, 1.59 GAA, 93.32% save percentage).

Niklas Lucenius (Tappara, C/L, 6-00, 187) was the highest-ranked player by CSS (3rd Finn) to not make the “Future ‘Notes” Hot List for the Finns. He has offensive upside (7-4-11, plus-5, 14 PIM in 10 games as of 22 November) and is an excellent puckhandler, but his skating is suspect and his game can be too one-dimensional.

Overall, Central Scouting’s Finnish file was composed of 12 defensemen (12/28 = 42.86%), five centers (5/28 = 17.87%), and 11 wings (9/25 = 39.27%). The “Future ‘Notes” Hot List was made up of 12 defensemen (9/30 = 30%), no centers, five wings (5/30 = 16.67%), and 13 “forwards” (13/30 = 43.33%).

There were four Finnish players ranked by Central Scouting who were not first-time draft eligible; “Future Notes” had 12 players on the Finnish Hot List who were born before September 15, 1988. There were two players common to both lists; Nico Aaltonen of Lukko, and Jonne Virtanen of Sai Pa.

Slovakia: “Future ‘Notes” identified 13 of the 20 skaters on Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings (65%), and three of the top four skaters on the CSS list, including the CSS top Slovak prospect, Juraj Mikus (Dukla Trencin, D/L, 6-03, 176) and the number three Slovak (Ondrej Rusnak, Bratislava, W/L, 6-03, 176). “Future ‘Notes” also identified all three of the Slovak goaltenders who made the CSS listing, beginning with the top Slovak goalie in this age group, Tomas Hiadlovsky (Dukla Trencin, G/L, 6-01, 163).

Mikus has an NHL-sized frame, although some filling out may be necessary, and he seems to be especially proficient on the power play. Through 22 November, he was 3-11-14 in 21 games played, and 1-9-10 on the power play. He also has a shorthanded goal.

Rusnak is a smart player who has a presence in all three zones on the ice, but has some work to do with his skating. In 18 games played as of 22 November, Rusnak is a solid 6-10-16 with a plus-10 and 18 PIM. He contributes at even strength and on special teams, with two game-winners, two PPG, and a shorthanded goal.

In 12 games played through November 22, Hiadlovsky is 8-3-0 with two shutouts, a 2.08 GAA, and 92.14% save percentage. He's a poised and confident goaltender who stays square to the shooter and plays his angles well. Look for Hiadlovsky to represent the Slovaks in the U-18 tournament this year, as he did last season.

Martin Dulak (Spisska Nova Ves, D/L, 6-00, 183) was the highest-ranked player by CSS (2nd Slovak) to not make the “Future ‘Notes” Hot List. His offensive upside is limited, but he does play a solid physical game despite only average size (3-5-8, plus-18, 52 PIM in 21 games as of 22 November). Steady and unspectacular, Dulak is projected as a stay-at-home defensive defenseman.

Overall, Central Scouting’s Slovak list was composed of eight defensemen (8/20 = 40%), two centers (2/20 = 10%), and 10 wings (10/20 = 50%). The “Future ‘Notes” Hot List was made up of 11 defensemen (11/30 = 36.67%), six centers (6/30 = 20%), eight wings (8/30 = 26.67%), and five “forwards” (5/30 = 16.66%).

There were no Slovak players ranked by Central Scouting who were not first-time draft eligible; “Future Notes” had five players on the Slovak Hot List who were born before September 15, 1988, including the top three scorers in the Slovak junior league as of 22 November 2006: Richard Smotrila (Spisska Nova Ves, 03-14-88, LW/R, 5-11, 165, 23 GP, 16-20-36, 18 PIM, plus-16), Matej Cesik (Banska Bystrica, 06-26-88, F/L, 6-02, 176, 24 GP, 20-13-33, 65 PIM, plus-22) and Radovan Hubler (Spisska Nova Ves, 06-25-88, RW/L, 6-02, 183, 24 GP, 15-15-30, 34 PIM, plus-15).

Sweden: “Future ‘Notes” identified eight of the 30 skaters on Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings (26.67%), and four of the top five skaters on the CSS list, including the CSS top Swedish prospect, Mikael Backlund (Västerås, C/L, 6-00, 194) and the number two Swede, Joakim Andersson (Frölunda, C/L, 6-02, 198). “Future ‘Notes” also identified both of the Swedish goaltenders who made the CSS listing, Mark Owuya (Djurgården, G/L, 6-01, 191) and Christian Engstrand (Linköping, G/L, 5-11, 191).

Central Scouting ranked twelve Swedish players on this season's Preliminary Rankings who were draft-eligible in 2006, with D Kristofer Berglund (69th European in 2006) the highest-ranking repeater (6th Swede 2007 Preliminary). The "Future 'Notes" Hot List was geared towards first-time draft-eligible players, with only three 2006-eligible players ranked (none of whom appeared on the CSS listing). "Future 'Notes" correctly identified eight of the 18 first-time draft-eligible players on the Swedish compilation, a 44.44% percentage. Also, "Future 'Notes" identified the top Danish-born player on the CSS listing, Lars Eller (20 GP, 9-17-26, 24 PIM, plus 13), who is Andersson's teammate with Frölunda.

Backlund (1-2-3, 12 PIM, plus-1 in 11 GP with Västerås' Allsvenskan squad) has been ranked among the top 2007-eligible players since late last season, and is a solid two-way player with good offensive instincts and decent skating ability. His main weakness is a tendency to play more often outside of the main traffic areas, and he is inconsistent in his willingness to play along the boards.

Andersson (20 GP, 9-11-20, 38 PIM, plus-17) is a very good skater for a big man, and a playmaker with the ability to make crisp tape-to-tape passes. He is willing to help out defensively, but needs to improve his defensive awareness and intensity.

Owuya (5 GP, 0.60 GAA, 95.77% save percentage, three shutouts) has seen limited action behind Islanders' draftee Stefan Ridderwall, but is a butterfly goaltender with good fundamentals and focus, a good glove hand, and decent puckhandling ability.

Engstrand (15 GP, 1.66 GAA, 93.06% save percentage, two shutouts) is among the leaders in every measured statistical category in the J-20 Superelit league this year.

Niklas Torp, who has yet to appear for HV-71 this season, was the highest-ranked player by CSS (3rd Swede) to not make the “Future ‘Notes” Hot List. The 5-11, 191-pound left-shooting defenseman was 4-2-6 with 57 PIM in 13 games played with HV-71's U-18 squad last season, and 0-0-0 2with 34 PIM in seven games at the U-20 level.

Overall, Central Scouting’s Swedish list was composed of 13 defensemen (13/30 = 43.33%), six centers (6/30 = 20%), three wings (3/30 = 10%), and eight "forwards" (8/30 = 26.67%). The “Future ‘Notes” Hot List was made up of 11 defensemen (11/30 = 36.67%), eight centers (8/30 = 26.66%), and 11 wings (11/30 = 36.67%).

As noted above, Central Scouting ranked 12 Swedish players who were not first-time draft eligible, while “Future Notes” had three players on the Swedish Hot List who were born before September 15, 1988 -- Henrik Eriksson (HV-71, 02-07-88, RW/R, 5-11, 183, 18 GP, 12-10-22, 14 PIM, plus-9), David Laudius (Rögle, 08-05-88, LW/L, 6-00, 207, 23 GP, 14-13-27, 22 PIM, plus-8), and Viktor Sundström (Malmö, 08-12-88, RW/R, 6-01, 198, 21 GP, 3-3-6, 16 PIM, plus-4).

Two of the goaltenders on the "Future 'Notes" list were also 2006-eligible -- Jesper Backlund (Timrå, 04-16-88, G/L, 6-01, 165, 13 GP, 1.65 GAA, 92.34% save percentage, no shutouts) and Anders Lindbåck (Brynäs, 05-03-88, G/L, 6-05, 185, 19 GP, 1.60 GAA, 92.81% save percentage, five shutouts).

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