Centre John Tavares of the Ontario Hockey League and defenceman Victor Hedman of the Swedish Elite League were named the top NHL 2009 draft-eligible skaters from North America and Europe as the NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its mid-season rankings on Monday.
Check TSN.ca soon for the full rankings.
The debate over which player will be selected first overall at the NHL Entry Draft in June began more than a year ago when each represented his respective country at the 2008 World Junior Championship.
Speculation has intensified since Jan. 5, when Tavares led Canada to a gold medal victory over Hedman and Sweden, and is sure to increase in the countdown to NHL Draft day on June 26.
Tavares, now playing for the London Knights after a deadline-day trade from the Oshawa Generals, has 28 goals and 55 points in 33 games and was a driving force behind Canada's fifth straight gold medal at the 2009 World Junior Championship. The Oakville, Ontario native led Team Canada with eight goals, finished second in the tournament with 15 points and was named tournament MVP.
Hedman, trying to become the first Swedish player since Mats Sundin (Quebec 1989) to be claimed first overall, hails from Ornskoldsvik - the town that has become famous for producing Markus Naslund, Peter Forsberg, Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The 6'6", 220-pound blueliner, playing his second season with MODO, was a towering presence for Team Sweden at the 2009 World Junior Championship, leading his country to a second consecutive silver medal.
Joining Tavares among the top North American skaters are No. 2-ranked Matt Duchene of the OHL's Brampton Battalion, No. 3-ranked Evander Kane of the Western Hockey League's Vancouver Giants and a teammate of Tavares on Canada's World junior team; No. 4-ranked Jordan Schroeder (Burnsville, Minnesota), a freshman at the University of Minnesota and No. 5-ranked Brayden Schenn from the
WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings
Edward Pasquale from the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League, is the top-rated North American goaltender, while Team Sweden teammates Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson and Jacob Josefson are ranked second and third respectively among European skaters.
The mid-season ranking features the top 210 skaters and 30 goaltenders in North America and top 148 skaters and 12 goaltenders from Europe.