04/15/2009 11:08 AM - From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)
TORONTO (April 14, 2009) – Center John Tavares (Oakville, Ontario) of the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights and defenseman Victor Hedman (Ornskoldsvik, Sweden) of the Swedish Elite League's MoDo retained their respective top-ranked status among North American and European prospects for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, according to NHL Central Scouting Bureau final rankings released today.
This season, Tavares won his second consecutive World Junior gold medal with Canada and set an OHL scoring record with 215 career goals after finishing the regular season with 32 goals in his last 24 games. Hedman, a mobile 6'6" 220-pound defenseman, collected 21 points (7-14--21) in 43 games against much older competition in the Swedish Elite League to earn Rookie of the Year honors in 2008-09.
The NHL club that will hold the coveted first overall Entry Draft selection, and the opportunity to claim Tavares or Hedman, will be determined tonight in the NHL Draft Drawing. The announcement will be made live on TSN at 8 p.m. ET in Canada, on VERSUS in the U.S. and will be streamed live on NHL.com and TSN.ca. The show will be re-broadcast at 9 p.m. Eton NHL Network (U.S.).
Joining Tavares among the top North American skaters are four skilled centers: #2-ranked Matt Duchene (Haliburton, Ontario) of the OHL’s Brampton Battalion, #3 Evander Kane (Vancouver, British Columbia) of the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants and a teammate of Tavares on Canada’s World junior gold-medal team, and #4 Brayden Schenn (Saskatoon,Saskatchewan) from the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. Schenn is the brother of Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Luke Schenn (selected fifth overall in 2008); no family has had siblings claimed among the top five in consecutive years. Jordan Schroeder (Burnsville, Minnesota) from the University of Minnesota, rounds out the top five.
Hedman is followed in the European rankings by seven countrymen, a first for the European rankings. Second-ranked Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (Norrkoping, Sweden) and #3-ranked Jacob Josefson (Stockholm, Sweden), Team Sweden teammates at the 2009 World Junior championships, are joined in the top five by #4 Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Karlskrona, Sweden), a 6’2” puck-moving defenseman, who moved up from his number eight spot at the mid-term and #5 Tim Erixon (Port Chester, New York), the son of former New York Rangers forward Jan Erixon.
Matt Hackett (London, Ontario) from the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League is the top-rated North American goaltender. He is the nephew of former NHL goaltender Jeff Hackett, who played in 500 NHL games over 15 seasons. Frolunda’s Robin Lehner (Göteborg, Sweden) is ranked first among European goaltenders.
The final ranking features the top 210 skaters and 30 goaltenders in North America and top 200 skaters and 13 goaltenders from Europe.
In its 33rd year of operation, the NHL Central Scouting Service provides scouting and evaluation of draft-eligible players to NHL member clubs. Headed by Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire, NHL Central Scouting employs eight full-time and 15 part-time scouts throughout North America. To report on prospects playing in Europe, the NHL employs the services of Goran Stubb and his staff of six scouts at European Scouting Services based in Finland. Combined, the NHL Central Scouting and European Scouting Service will combine to see in excess of 3,000 games this season.