It was a little under a year ago that DobberHockey first brought you an exclusive look at the 2008 and 2009 draft classes. With the next draft just one season away, it's time to see how the favorites are doing and who else has appeared on the scene since. Part one of this series takes a look at the names you need to know now.
John Tavares, LW
Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Height/Weight: 6'0, 183 lbs
2007-08 Statline: 59 GP, 40-78-118
What We Said Then: "How good is John Tavares? Last year, he might have been a top-ten pick. This year, he'd go #1. In 2008? Same story. However, we'll have to wait until 2009 to see his name called. Tavares is a goalscorer of the rarest level, with the ability to find the back of the net like only Mike Bossy and Brett Hull could. A 200-point season is not out of the question by the time Tavares is draft-eligible. An underdeveloped skater, that facet of the 16 year-old's game is his only weakness."
What's Going On Now: Prospects can be immediate game-breakers upon entering any level of hockey, but to progress to the highest level, improvement is always necessary. Unfortunately, in the case of John Tavares, that improvement has not come. Despite being a goal shy of cracking the OHL's all-time list in that category, Tavares has performed at a level some might call disappointing. A heavy schedule and heavy demands on a young man have clearly taken their toll. While the phenom deserves credit for trying to develop his playmaking game, his offensive toolkit was never in question. Skating was the question then, and it is now with virtually almost no progress coming in this category.
Is Tavares' first overall status in doubt? It will ultimately come down to two things: the needs of the team drafting #1, and Tavares' 2008-09 season. But even the idea that a consensus generational talent would drop to a maybe first overall pick speaks to the plunge his stock has taken.
What's On Tap: If Tavares can return to the ice focused and ready to play 100% every single shift- and with the necessary rest time required to do so- he could still have a season unseen in junior hockey in a long, long time. It may not be 200 points, but an 80-goal season would be a sight to behold and would shoot him right back up to #1.
Magnus Svensson-Pääjärvi, C/LW
Timra IK (SEL)
Height/Weight: 6'1, 198 lbs
2007-08 Statline: 35 GP, 1-2-3, 2 PIM
What We Said Then: "Another 15 year-old playing at a relatively high level, Magnus Pääjärvi suited up for ten games in a league meant for 18-20 year-olds. All things considered, he did a-okay, potting 3 points. A dynamic forward with incredible hands and offensive instincts, Pääjärvi is a prodigy not seen in Sweden since Peter Forsberg."
What's Going On Now: The prodigy label gets thrown a lot- and so do comparisons to Forsberg. So let's foil Pääjärvi's accomplishments with that of a more recent Swedish star, Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom's November birthdate made him one of the oldest players in the 2006 class. As a 17/18 year-old the year prior, Backstrom netted 34 points in 29 games (1.17 PPG) on the Swedish J20 circuit. Pääjärvi was 16 for the majority of the 2007-08 season, and notched 22 points in 17 J20 games for a PPG rate of 1.22. He also played 35 games