Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Red Line Report's Top-5 For October

Just got the October issue of the independent scouting service Red Line Report's monthly bulletin. Chief Scout Kyle Woodlief and his staff do terrific work- I've been a subscriber since the 1999-00 season.

Interesting surprise at the top of Red Line's list for this month: Plymouth Whalers star Tyler Seguin has taken top honors given his outstanding performance at the Ivan Hlinka (Eight Nations) Tournament in Slovakia back in August in leading Team Canada's Under-18 to a gold medal (a dominant performance by any standard, as the Canadians outscored their opponents 27-7), and then his torrid first month in the OHL, leading the league in scoring with 14 goals and 25 points in just 10 games. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound center can do everything well and has the leadership and character to boot. Obviously, if he keeps this up, he'll be rated as a franchise cornerstone-type talent. Oh, and he's apparently doing all of this without the help of linemate R.J. Mahalak, who had shoulder surgery and will be out for upwards of 2 months.

The highly-touted, uber-skilled left wing Taylor Hall, the preseason consensus favorite to go 1st overall has been outstanding in his own right (10-12-22 in 11 games; not quite Seguin-outstanding) with the stacked Windsor Spitfires, the favorite to defend their Memorial Cup title, is 2nd on Red Line's rankings. And again- they're not doing it to knock Hall- they're just giving credit where due. I loved what I saw of this guy in last year's Memorial Cup, and he's still an obvious favorite to regain top billing before the season is over with his pure speed, hands and top-shelf hockey IQ and vision.

American defenseman Cam Fowler, who bailed on a commitment to Notre Dame University to join Hall and the rest of the high-flying Spits, is 3rd and playing well with 15 helpers and 17 points in 11 games in his first OHL season. He'd be the perfect kind of marquee defenseman for Boston if the Bruins could somehow land him: he's an explosive skater with top-end speed and agility, excellent size and the vision/offensive hockey sense to be a point producer at the highest level.

Given Toronto's slow start, B's fans at least right now can look at these three as the definitive trio to have on their wishlist next June. We'll see how it all shakes out- the Leafs are destined to start winning any day now, but from this perspective at least, Brian Burke did that team no favors in terms of how they are constructed, so a lottery pick for Boston is not out of the question.

Whither Seguin, Hall or Fowler? All three look like sure bets at the next level and you can't go wrong with any of them!

Rounding out Red Line's top-five are a pair of Russian players: RW Vladimir Tarasenko who skates for Novosibirsk and LW Kirill Kabanov (who has not yet played for the Moncton Wildcats pending an appeal for release from the IIHF). More on these guys later, as the season goes on.

Next post will be a tribute to the many blood lines/son of former NHL players who are going to be available in the 2010 draft. Sons of Scott Bjugstad and Mark Tinordi are projected to be first-round selections, and there are several more names you'll recognize as the list goes deeper.

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