November 18, 2005 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Kessel Tops CSS Rankings

CHN Staff Report

TORONTO — The NHL's Central Scouting Service has released its Preliminary Rankings for the 2006 NHL Draft.

Minnesota's Phil Kessel, widely hailed as the probable top overall pick in next year's draft, is No. 1. Jonathan Toews of North Dakota, who McKeen's Hockey lists as the probable third overall pick, is ranked second among NCAA skaters. They are followed in the top five by Mark Mitera (Michigan), Ben Street (Wisconsin) and Zach Jones (North Dakota).

Three goaltenders are listed. In order they are: Billy Sauer (Michigan), Jeff Zatkoff (Miami) and Mark Dekanich (Colgate).

The Preliminary Rankings contain different lists for each of the three Canadian Major Junior Leagues — the OHL, QMJHL and WHL — and one for the NCAA. A separate document ranks Europeans. (view NCAA list)

In the final list that will come out next spring, all North American skaters will be grouped into one list.

The Players to Watch list, which came out two weeks ago and was revised on Wednesday, contains names of players the Central Scouting Service is keeping an eye on from various other leagues in North America. The Canadian Jr. A and Jr. B leagues, the United States Hockey League, U.S. High School, and the U.S. National Program, are all leagues where players can perform and maintain their college eligibility, unlike the Canadian Major Juniors.

As a result, most players on that list are either already committed to colleges for the future, or will be. The list is broken down into 'A' Players and 'B' Players. 'A' Players are defined as those most likely to go high in next year's NHL Draft, while 'B' Players are a potential later round selection.

Not all of the players listed will decide to opt-in to the draft, although there is no longer an NCAA restriction against doing so. Players who will be 19 or older as of Sept. 15, 2006 are automatically eligible. Those who are still 18 must opt-in. It used to be that 18-year-olds who decided to opt-in relinquished their NCAA eligibility. But that rule was discarded two years ago.

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