It’s that time again. In the spring of 2007, we told you all about the marvels of the 2008 and 2009 Entry Drafts. Now it’s the fall of ’08, and it’s time to talk a little about 2010. Is the amazing talent pool entering the league every day finally about run dry? Don’t bet on it.
Taylor Hall, LW
Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
6’0, 178 lbs 11/14/1991
2008-09 Stats: 8 GP, 4-9-13, 6 PIM
The Scoop: We initially referred to him as a Guy Lafleur clone, but let’s change that to Gretzky. Has the same effortless acceleration that can leave opponents standing still, the same passion for the game. But Hall’s most priceless gift is his vision. Like The Great One, Hall will hang in the background, and step into the play at the exact microsecond required to intercept a pass or make a pass no one else can see.
The Future: Hall is a 1.6 PPG player now, and was hovering right at 2 prior to a couple quieter games. His numbers may not be as mind-blowing as Tavares’ at 16, but his game is as good in some respects- and better in others. 2 PPG seems to be the standard for high-rate talents in the O, but the Spitfires have a lot of talent in the next couple of seasons that could rival what the London Knights assembled. He could have 100 points next year, and 50+ goals.
Jordan Weal, C
Regina Pats (WHL)
5’8, 158 lbs 4/15/1992
2008-09 Stats: 8 GP, 3-8-11, 4 PIM
The Scoop: Weal is the most electrifying player in the WHL as a 16 year-old. A tremendous skater with great acceleration, Weal loves to dart in and out of traffic to find seems. He’ll often fly into a crowd, draw a couple defenders to him, and calmly dish the puck off. He’s also a pretty handy goal-scorer, but he won’t see many until he’s a bit stronger.
The Future: The WHL has seen a couple of smaller guys enter the league as underagers and post ridiculous numbers: see Hamill, Zach and Boychuk, Zach. But Weal just exudes energy and star power neither did at the same age. He was the undisputed league MVP through the first couple of weeks, continuing to perform unbelievably well under pressure. And unlike Hamill, who had Peter Mueller and Kyle Beach to finish for him, Weal had little options until the return of Jordan Eberle from Edmonton’s camp. His size makes him prone to a nasty decline as teams adapt to his style of play; the only way to combat that is more height and weight.
Austin Watson, RW
Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
6’3, 171 lbs 1/13/1992
2008-09 Stats: 8 GP, 3-4-7, 4 PIM
The Scoop: On the other end of the scale, American-born Austin Watson is one of the two pieces that are helping revitalize hockey in Windsor (see Taylor Hall). Watson is both one of theOHL’s biggest forwards and one of its most skilled players. His great hands and sense of timing fuel fine dishes from the right boards. Away from the puck, while not mean, the big winger can absorb hits easily and deliver good ones in return.
The Future: Watson just needs to keep developing. He needs muscle- lots of it- and maybe a touch of nastiness. He’s got all the tools to be a star power forward in the NHL. In the O, look for 75 points this year, and 90-95 next year.
Erik Gudbranson, D