1/ Cole Caufield (1)*
2/ Nick Suzuki (2)
3/ Ryan Poehling (4)
4/ Alex Romanov (3)
5/ Cayden Primeau (5)
6/ Jesse Ylonen (7)
7/ Josh Brook (6)
8/ Noah Juulsen (8)
9/ Jordan Harris (9)
10/ Cale Fleury (11)
11/ Jayden Struble (10)
12/ Mattias Norlinder (13)
13/ Gianni Fairbrother (14)
14/ Otto Leskinen (HM)
15/ Rhett Pitlick (12)
16/ Jake Evans (15)
17/ Lukas Vejdemo (20)
18/ Jacob Oloffsson (17)
19/ Michael McCarron (18)
20/ Gustav Olofsson (NA)
*September rankings are in brackets
Not a lot of movement in the top ten this month, with Cale Fleury replacing Struble, Poehling flipping spots with Romanov and Ylonen jumping just ahead of Brook. What those one-spot movements indicate more than anything is that the players in question were very close when last month’s rankings were released.
Poehling didnt hurt his stock with his training camp performance. In fact, had he not suffered a concussion, there is a possibility that he would have started the sesson with the Canadiens. Poehling has settled in pretty comfortably in a first-center role in Laval – his last three games have been pretty solid, and his faceoffs appear to be improving. Romanov dropped one spot because he still is not producing any offence at the KHL level.
Romanov is not expected to be a scoring star at the tender age of 19 in Russia’s top league, but if he does indeed have first-line NHL potential, he shouldn’t be collecting just three assists in 18 games, either. Regardless – the real litmus test for him will come at the World Juniors. If he comes close to replicating what he did last WJC, he could move into the top 2 in Recrutes January Rankings. Conversely, if he looks ordinary, it is possible that he could drop another spot or two.
Jesse Ylonen looks to be reaching another level in his sophomore FHL season. A little bigger, a little stronger, a little faster…which means he’s a little more confident. The scoring chances are coming, and so are the points. On pace for an improvement from 27 points to 35 or so… if the opportunities start going in more regularly he may even crack 40. Considering that he started the season as a teenager and turned 20 just two weeks ago, those are impressive numbers for a 6-1 winger blessed with terrific skating ability playing in Finland’s top league
Brook’s preseason had some ups and downs. Unfortunately, when you are a young defenceman, fans remember the downs more than the ups. He is fresh out of junior; he is already making strides in Laval, but Bouchard is sheltering him pretty well; not much PP or PK time so far. He and Ylonen were in a virtual tie in Sepetember rankings, so Ylonen squeezing ahead of him shouldn’t be viewed as a negative – Jesse has simply had a more impressive autumn so far, and thus edged ahead of him.
Fleury made the Canadiens at 20 years of age, and tonight appeared in his fourth game for the big club……Struble has yet to play a game at Northeastern due to groin injuries. Given those factors, it was not that difficult to move Fleury ahead of the second-rounder even if he remains highy regarded in the organization.
The big move in the top 20 was Otto Leskinen going from Honourable Mention (21st) to 14th in the rankings. Why such a jump? Well..anyone who has been following me on Twitter knows how impressed I have been with his game in Laval.
He has NHL skills and mobility…and he is just 22. Leskinen looks like he may be one of those undrafted European gems that blooms in his early 20s. What is perhaps most impressive is how quickly he has adapted to the North American game. He has made at least one highlight reel play in each of the past three Laval games – be it a jaw-dropping shimmy at the blueline, a between-the-legs back pass to a teammate or a Brian Leetch-type pass to a a teammate for a one-time gimme.
It is too early to get overly excited or overly critical either way. His defence has looked fairly solid to me, but let’s see if that continues as the games get more important.
Rhett Pitlick and Omaha looked like world beaters in the USHL preseason, yet thus far the team has struggled, and while Pitlick has a couple of goals….two points and eight shots on goal through Omaha’s first six games is, in a word, disappointing. Throw in the impressive starts for Fairbrother and Norlinder, and Pitlick slipped a few positions in favour of some promising defencemen. This is by no means a condemnation of Pitlick – he is ranked behind some very solid prospects, and still ranked higher by Recrutes than anyone else I suspect.
Gustav Olofsson makes his first appearance in the ranking as he has finally gotten healthy and is offering a glimpse of his potential. A former top-50 selection of the Wild in 2013, Olofsson is a rangy 6-3 blueliner that covers a lot of ice. Decent mobility, decent offensive instincts, relatively steady in his own zone….if he ever does get another NHL shot, it is likely to be on a third-pairing role. When all is said and done, though…if you can get some regular NHL time out of your organization’s 20th-ranked prospect, that is a pretty good testament to the depth.