Mika Zibanejad, C – Djurgarden (Swe.)
The Swedish kid with Finnish and Iranian roots is one of the hottest prospects around right now. He was first star of the game in a recent win over Frolunda and launched John Klingberg into the bench for good measure. The fact two dozen NHL scouts were in attendance means the youngster has great timing, too. Draft eligible in 2011.
Gabriel Landeskog, RW– Kitchener Rangers (OHL)Not only is Landeskog the first European captain in Kitchener's illustrious history, but he earned the ‘C’ by doing all the things leaders need to do, not just by being a high-scoring winger. The Swedish national throws stiff hits, blocks shots and even fights when the time is right. All part of the job, according to him.
"It's about doing whatever it takes to win the game," Landeskog said. "If I have to drop the gloves to protect a teammate, that's what I'm going to do. And blocking shots is a big part of our penalty kill."
Landeskog is in his second OHL season and with this being his draft year, the initial foray allowed him to get his feet wet in the North American game. With no learning curve to navigate, he's proven to be a quick study with 36 points in 24 games this year, putting him among the top-15 in the league.
"I think I'm a strong, powerful guy," Landeskog said. "I have a good shot, I know how to score and I have good speed down low and know how to protect the puck and play physical."
The Swede, who speaks English with no accent, considers his language skill just another element to be efficient at.
"I try to do little things, like watch movies without subtitles," he said.
Plus, some of the other Rangers have him listening to country music. Hits, fights and country? Guess Landeskog is just another good ol' boy. Draft eligible in 2011.
8. D David Musil (Vancouver Giants, WHL)
The WHL’s biggest surprise in 2009-10, Czech import David Musil managed to not only match the hype built up about him in his home country, but somehow exceed it. On the radar of scouts ever since debuting at the men’s level at the age of 15, Musil was so highly sought-after that the WHL had to hold a special lottery just for his rights. The son of former NHLer Frank Musil, David posted a stunning +33 rating along with an equally impressive 32 points.
Based on that, how could he possibly not be in our top five? The 6’3, 191 lbs rearguard is an excellent prospect, don’t get us wrong; he compares favorably to the likes of Luke Schenn and Karl Alzner. However, the 2011 class is much deeper than expected.
While he looks like Bambi at times on the ice with his long, awkward skating style, Musil can generate a reasonable amount of speed. In addition, his body is almost always in the right place and he quietly, reliably does an excellent job of clearing out the puck.
However, one needs to look at the context of his team to understand where his points came from. No fewer than three players on the Giants potted over a point a game. In addition, regardless of whether Musil was on the first or second pairing, he was inevitably paired with a very strong offensive defenseman- either Kevin Connauton, who posted 72 points, or Neil Manning, a 59-point player.
Generally shy about engaging much in the offensive side of the game and perhaps not blessed with anything more than average offensive acumen, Musil will be strongly tested this upcoming season; Connauton (VAN) and leading scorer Craig Cunningham (BOS) may opt to jump to the AHL this year, meaning he will be relied up on to not only play in his own zone but move the puck. If he succeeds, there’s a possibility a team will like him as much as Florida liked Erik Gudbranson.