Christmas may be nineteen days away, but here's an early present: a look at the 2009 Entry Draft and its risers and fallers through the month of November.
1. Atlanta Thrashers
C John Tavares (Oshawa, OHL)
Statline: 29 GP, 22-25-47, 30 PIM, +6
Summary: Thrashers GM Don Waddell has made it clear who his pick is. During Game 2 of the ADT Canada Russia Challenge, Waddell said in an interview that if it were up to him, Johnny T would be his pick. And with the way Atlanta is playing, it looks like it will be his choice. Currently 2nd in the OHL scoring race, Tavares has continued to play like a top-two pick.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
D Victor Hedman (MoDo, SEL)
Statline: 22 GP, 2-6-8, 24 PIM, +14
Summary: The only way Tampa doesn't pick the son of owner Len Barrie is if they're up here. Hedman is the franchise-calibre D the Lightning have been looking for since they selected Roman Hamrlik with the very first pick in franchise history. Paired with former NHLer Mattias Timander on MoDo's top defensive unit, Hedman sees upwards of 22 minutes a night in the second-best league in the world.
3. Dallas Stars
RW Jordan Schroeder (U. Minnesota, WCHA)
Statline: 14 GP, 7-12-19, 10 PIM
Summary: The newest entry to the top-three is Jordan Schroeder, and for good reason. The only notable college product eligible for the 2009 Entry Draft, the Minnesota-born winger is second on the University of Minnesota roster in scoring with an incredible 19 points as a freshman. The last Gopher to crack the top five was Phil Kessel, who scored at a 1.30 PPG rate- slightly less than Schroeder's 1.35 PPG pace. The Stars could easily go for defender Jared Cowen as a future replacement for Sergei Zubov, but they could use a dynamic forward to replace Mike Modano just as much.
4. New York Islanders
D Jared Cowen (Spokane, WHL)
Statline: 29 GP, 4-6-10, 21 PIM, +6
Summary: As a consequence of Schroeder's rapid rise and the steady production of Magnus Paajarvi, defensive defenseman Jared Cowen may be on the edge of the top five come June. Nothing has changed in his play- the Saskatchewan native brought his faultless, mature defensive game against the Russians during the ADT Challenge, and played a big part in simply stifling them. Cowen would be the picture-perfect addition to the Isles, as we said last month; they lack a franchise piece on the back-end.
5. Ottawa Senators
LW/C Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi (Timra, SEL)
Statline: 28 GP, 3-7-10, 4 PIM, -8
Summary: Forget what NHL Central Scouting says about Sweden. Two-way forward Jacob Josefson has been good, no doubt, but 'MSP' is still the class of the class from Sweden. Ten points may not look like a lot for a top prospect, but Paajarvi is actually 7th in team scoring. Josefson, by comparison, is 13th. The Senators have begun to rally around their Swedish captain, using their 2008 first-rounder on Erik Karlsson and their last pick on potential steal Emil Sandin. Paaarvi not only is the BPA, but he fits the Detroit-esque culture the team is building.
6. St. Louis Blues
C/RW Brayden Schenn (Brandon, WHL)
Statline: 28 GP, 14-17-31, +8, 35 PIM
Summary: As we've stated a number of times, the Blues value character and leadership more than almost any other trait when it comes to the draft. It's their way of building an accountable, competitive core, and it's worked quite well to this point. Brayden Schenn may not have as much pure ability as fellow WHL '09er Evander Kane, but he's exactly what the Blues need. Schenn can either support a line or carry it on his own, and his intangibles could make him the captain of a Cup contender one day.
7. Los Angeles Kings
C Evander Kane (Vancouver,