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McKenzie: TSN survey ranks Hall as the top prospect

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Bob McKenzie
4/12/2010 7:12:06 PM
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The NHL Central Scouting Bureau released its final rankings last week and tabbed Plymouth Whaler centre Tyler Seguin as the No. 1 prospect for the 2010 entry draft.

Well, we have found some people who think otherwise. Seven of them, to be exact.

Seven of 10 NHL team scouts surveyed by TSN last week ranked Windsor Spitfire winger Taylor Hall as the top prospect for this year's draft.

The survey was designed to come up with a current TSN Top 10 ranking on the eve of tomorrow's NHL entry draft lottery, the results of which will be announced live from TSN's studios at 8 p.m. (Eastern).

Seven scouts chose Hall No. 1; the other three chose Seguin. No prospect other than Hall or Seguin was able to crack the top two.

It really is a two-horse race and it's close. Perhaps too close to call, depending upon which team ultimately ends up with the No. 1 pick.

Edmonton has a 48 per cent chance of retaining the first overall selection. Only Boston (from Toronto), Florida, Columbus and the New York Islanders have a shot at securing the top pick. No team may fall more than one place in the order of selection.

There is no question some NHL teams do have Seguin ranked ahead of Hall. But what's also clear is that as close as the two players may be, and allowing for the possibility of Seguin being selected first, Hall is the consensus top pick amongst scouts. And that hasn't changed all season long.

Hall was No. 1 in TSN's pre-season rankings in September, garnering eight of 10 votes.

Hall was No. 1 in TSN's mid-season rankings in late January, getting 10 out of 10 votes.

And he's No. 1 again, although Seguin's three No. 1 votes represent his most significant intrusion into Hall's mantle.

Actually, there wasn't a huge amount of change in this flash edition of the Top 10 compared to the mid-season rankings from January.

Hall, Seguin, Windsor defenceman Cam Fowler, Prince George forward Brett Connolly and Kingston defenceman Erik Gudbranson were the top five at mid-season. This time around, Fowler hung onto to his No. 3 spot, but just barely.

Fowler is being challenged heavily by hard-rock blueliner Gudbranson, who moved up from No. 5 to No. 4, effectively swapping spots with Connolly.

Gudbranson and Connolly, who only played 16 regular season games for Prince George because of hip issues, will get a chance to show what they can do starting this week at the World Under-18 championships in Belarus. Gudbranson is the captain of the team. It is a testament to Connolly's abililty and good standing for what he did last season that he has remained in the top five all season long, in spite of playing such a limited number of games.

Those five players - Hall, Seguin, Fowler, Gudbrandson and Connolly - were the only players who were slotted in the Top 10 by all 10 NHL scouts surveyed.

Moncton defenceman Brandon Gormley is No. 6, the same ranking he held in January. The Wildcat blueliner is perceived to be in the same class as both Fowler and Gudbranson.

Portland winger Nino Niedereitter, who starred for Switzerland at the World Junior championship, moved up one spot, from No. 8 to No. 7.

Gormley and Niedreitter were mentioned as Top 10 picks by nine of the 10 scouts surveyed.

After that, the field opened up considerably. In all, 18 players received Top 10 consideration.

The shooting star of this edition of the rankings is big Portland centre Ryan Johansen, who went from No. 19 on the TSN mid-term rankings to No. 8 on this pre-lottery list. Dynamic Russian forward Alexander Burmistrov of the Barrie Colts slipped a little from No. 7 in January to No. 9 now.

U.S. Under-18 defenceman Derek Forbort went from No. 18 on the January list to No. 10 this time around.

Former Moncton forward Kirill Kabanov was No. 9 in January but didn't get a single vote this time. His stock plummeted after leaving the Wildcats to return to Russia, where he was initially expected to play for Russia in the Under-18 championships this week, but the Russians sent him home and he's not part of the team.

Finnish forward Mikael Granlund was No. 10 in January, but rated an honorable mention this time around, as did Russian forward Vladimir Tarasenko, who was No. 11 in January.

TSN will have its final draft rankings in the week leading up to the NHL entry draft in June.

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