Prospects Rambling: Several youngsters rocket up scouts’ rankings

David McDonald

2016-05-07

Cam Dineen of the OHL's North Bay Battalion rose from 117th to 39th among North American skaters, as

ranked by NHL Central Scouting.

 

 

Welcome back to my weekly Prospect Ramblings column! This week I’ll look at some of the big risers in the NHL Central Scouting final rankings.

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While the European rankings remained relatively stable, the North American saw a few major jumps from the mid-term rankings in January.

Most notably, although not quite as celebrated, North Bay Battalion defender Cam Dineen (2016) made a massive move up the rankings. Slotted at 117th of North American Skaters at mid-term, Dineen now finds himself positioned at a far more attractive position of 39th – ahead of such notables as Adam Mascherin, Will Bitten, and Simon Stransky. While it certainly does not guarantee draft position, this type of a rise up the meter is certain to bring a smile to the young man’s face.

The most productive of North Bay’s defense corps, Dineen is a defender who relies on his mobility and his skill in driving the play. Though lacking in size and strength, as he struggles to win battles in the corner, the New Jersey native displays sound positioning in his own end. This is encouraging – while he can add strength to his 5-11 frame, which time and dedication should bring, having a head for the game is a more difficult trait to acquire.

Likely to find himself drafted somewhere in the third or fourth rounds, the Battalion rearguard should bring a sound defensive game that will take some time to round to form. Though capable of putting up solid offensive numbers, it is a continuing aspect of his game that he will continue to improve upon. At first blush, his ceiling seems to land him as a second-pairing defenseman in the NHL after some years learning his craft. A spot in North Bay will benefit him, as they look to remain a solid OHL team next season, when he will be relied upon in all situations.

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Another big-time mover has been Chilliwack Chiefs’ defenseman Dennis Cholowski. Playing in the BCHL, Cholowski’s performance has allowed him to turn the corner despite playing in a lower-tier (though highly respected) league compared to the WHL. Sitting at 48th in January, the Langley, B.C., native soared up the rankings to sit 23rd among North American skaters.

 

Dennis Cholowski of the BCHL's Chillwack Chiefs scores with a wrister to finish a nice individual rush:

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While playing in the BCHL may scare off some teams, it is clear that the young man’s skill-set is more evolved than others in the league. A prototypical puck-mover who is responsible in his own zone, the young defender is also a scintillating skater with great positioning. Lacking any perceivable grit to his game, he possesses the intelligence required to play a cerebral game. His offensive game could continue to use work – though putting up respectable numbers with 11 goals and 39 points over 48 games, to see him at work shows that his shot (particularly his wrist shot) could use work.

Despite the sudden jump, do not expect to see his name creep into the first round of the draft. At most generous, a draft spot in the latter half of the second round seems possible with a spot in the third or fourth probable. This could be a great pick for a team, but he would benefit from finding a spot on a WHL club to put himself against the best junior competition there is.

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Last but not least, a review of risers wouldn’t be possible without acknowledging hulking centerman Logan Brown.

Though rising seven spots since mid-term may not always be a big deal, it certainly enters the conversation with Brown. Taking the position of the top North American pivot available in the draft, the massive forward has usurped the role from the likes of Michael (The Mississauga Missile) McLeod. It is worth noting, however, that this role is in consideration that now top-ranked North American skater Pierre-Luc Dubois is listed as a left winger rather than center.

Brown’s jump in rank has not been without merit. The native of Raleigh, N.C., was a massive part of the Windsor attack this season. Using his shot and offensive awareness, Brown also began using his most natural gift more efficiently – his hands. Though effectively mobile, he will need to continue to work on his skating as most young forwards do. If this issue can be addressed, there is a high ceiling for this young man that could help him reach his potential as a top-line center in the NHL. This shouldn’t be rushed, though – while he may be polished, it would benefit the young man enormously to go back to Windsor next season and try to dominate.

While most of the hometown boy discussion has revolved around top pick Auston Matthews, this may be a strong secondary storyline. Could Brown end up playing on his hometown Hurricanes?

He sure would look good as a potential replacement for that Staal guy they traded.

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Thanks for reading! Join me next week, when I assemble a team of my fellow members of the scouting community for a full 2016 first-round mock draft!

And feel free to give me a follow on Twitter @HOCCA_Scouting.

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