Monday, August 17, 2009

HF's Top 20 Prospects, Fall 2009

Hockey's Future is releasing their Fall 2009 top 20 prospects for each NHL team, and here are the teams so far with Badgers in the top 20. Nice to see previously unranked guys like Drewiske and Dowell make the jump into the top 20.

Anaheim Ducks
2. Jake Gardiner, D - 8.0C
6'1, 173 pounds
1st round, 17th overall, 2008

As a late convert to the blueline, Gardiner displays everything a team could want in a puck-moving defenseman. He has all of the size, as well as vision, hands, and a quickness on his feet that allows him to play strong positional defense. Now that he's at the back of the play most of the time, he has the opportunity to display his vision and awareness by developing plays. Most forwards that transition to defense have issues in their own end, but Gardiner is developing into the kind of defenseman that a team would want on the ice for all situations.

In 2008-09, Gardiner joined an already solid defensive unit at the University of Wisconsin. By the end of the season, he finished third in points among defensemen with three goals and 18 assists in 39 games and tied for fourth in plus/minus among all skaters with a plus four. He will return to the Badgers.
20. Justin Schultz, D - 6.0C
6'2, 162 pounds
2nd round, 43rd overall, 2008

After his stint as top defenseman in his conference in the BCHL, Schultz is ready to move on to the Wisconsin Badgers for the 2009-10 season. His offensive potential is high, with extraordinary puck-moving abilities and the skills to develop plays from the back end which is sought after in all power-play quarterbacks. At 6'2, but just 162 pounds, he needs to put on some muscle in order to play professional hockey. With Wisconsin, he will look to prove he can handle bigger competition.

LA Kings
16. (NR) Davis Drewiske, D
Signed as free agent, 2007

On the other end of the spectrum in terms of potential is Drewiske, who is never going to be an offensive player and not one to physically dominate an opposing forward. The 24-year-old has good feet and positioning to keep himself between the forward and the goaltender and subsequently the puck out of the net. While he has been penciled in as a possible starter on the third defensive pairing for Los Angeles to start the season, he has likely leveled off in terms of his potential. The Kings are not likely to get much more than a third-pairing defenseman out of Drewiske, which is fine for an organization looking for a “bridge” player to fill the gap between the now and when one of the more talented defensemen are ready to step in. While Drewiske is an important piece for an organization to have, his long-term contribution to the Kings will be limited and so is kept in the bottom half of these rankings.
Joe Piskula and Podge Turnbull are among the "Other Notables".

Chicago Blackhawks
7. (8) Jack Skille, RW - 22, 7.0C
6'1 208 lbs
Drafted first round, 7th overall, 2005

After opening the year on the Blackhawks’ roster, Skille spent a majority of the year with the IceHogs. He managed just one goal in his eight NHL games but fared much better in the American league. In 58 matches, he scored 20 goals and 25 assists to finish fourth on the team in scoring with 45 points. Skille’s speed fits well on Rockford’s top line and he’ll likely remain one of the first offensive options for the ‘Hogs. While he may be ready for another shot at the NHL, both the number of forwards already signed by the Blackhawks and Skille’s substantial cap hit may keep him in the minors.
16. (NR) Jake Dowell, C - 24, 6.0C
6'0 197 lbs
Drafted fifth round, 140th overall, 2004

Dowell has 20 games of NHL experience under his belt from his first two pro seasons. He spent 75 games in Rockford last season and scored six goals, added 14 assists, and earned 128 PIMs. A strong defensive forward, Dowell was generally used to center one of the bottom lines for the IceHogs. Though his role will likely remain the same, he remains a strong candidate for a call-up in the right situation. He is capable in both zones and especially strong in the faceoff circle providing some defensive depth at the center position.

Columbus Blue Jackets
4. (3) Cody Goloubef, D
Grade 7.5C Projection: Top-three defenseman
Age: 19 Height/weight: 6'0, 195
Drafted 37th overall, 2008

Goloubef plays a solid, unspectacular game, but is highly regarded. Goloubef has shown the ability to chip in offensively, but doesn’t have the power play potential that Moore displays. Instead, Goloubef has ample potential to become a top defender on the penalty kill.

He will enter his third season with the University of Wisconsin next season, after posting five goals and eight assists in 36 games last season.