The 2010 Draft isn’t even in the books yet, but it’s time to look ahead to 2011… and further. In short: if you’re ruing missing out on Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin this year, don’t sweat it; next year’s edition is shaping up to be the one of the best all-time when it comes to the top five. And 2012 looks pretty good, too.
1. D Adam Larsson (Skellefteå, Elitserien)
Chasing the Elitserien’s record for points by a U20 player throughout most of the year, it would come as a shock to anyone not familiar with Swedish mega-talent AdamLarsson to learn he’s not the puck-rushing demon you’d expect. While a respectable skater for his 6’3, 209 lbs frame, Larsson is simply the safest player you’ll ever see play the game at his age. Don’t take that to mean he takes the easy way out; rather than merely work to get the puck out of his end safely,Larsson will constantly make the right play- be it a break-out pass or quick sortie out of his zone- in order to get the puck safely to a teammate. If he can’t, the 16-year-old is content to use his big frame and deceptive agility to protect the puck while waiting for re-enforcements.
Compared to Ray Bourque by a noted Swedish commentator, Larsson proved earlier this year that he’s capable of playing his game on smaller ice. He was a dominant factor in Tre Kronor exhibition games against Canadian universities, drawing praise from the commentators to the players themselves. Defensively flawless, he was also leaned on to provide offense during thepowerplay and proved he could move the puck effectively. Larsson is perhaps the best pro prospect to emerge on defense in twenty years- with him, there’s no talk of potential, of improving this or that area. He’s simply ready for the NHL, and may have been last year.
Upside- Superstar defenseman, 10-45-55
2. LW/C Sean Couturier (Drummondville, QMJHL)
You could call 2011 the Battle of the Big Men. Like the now-infamous 2008 Draft, next year’s edition will feature a heated battle between a future stud rearguard and a forward capable of winning the Richard. At 6’4, 193 lbs, Sean Couturier gives up nothing physically toLarsson , and boasts his own impressive array of skills. Initially a poor skater who struggled with playing a two-way gam