I have to admit being a little perturbed by SVEN's exclusion from the pre-season version of Hockey Prospectus' Top 25 prospects - or maybe just disappointed as Calgary Flames faithful (myself included) had been heaping loads of praise and expectations onto the young Swiss product, easily the Flames organizations top forward prospect.
However, after checking out the names, it would've been hard to actually include SVEN at that time as the list is actually quite impressive.
Today when I came across Corey Pronman's revised projection for mid-season, I was eager to see two things: 1) where did SVEN land, if at all? And, 2) where would he place incumbent #1 prospect Mikael Granlund this time after seeing him play several times at the World Junior tournament in Calgary?Sven Bartschi saw a huge jump, up 35 spots from his pre-season ranking from 61 to 26 and I couldn't agree more. SVEN is dominating the WHL this year and as Arik pointed out last time he updated the Flames prospects - his NHL season equivalency more than warrants his selection as the 26th ranked prospect in hockey.
The two lists are here:
I'm interested to hear what others think of SVEN's ranking - but I'd find it very hard to rank him any higher than those above him. Frankly, after seeing him at the World Juniors - albeit in limited action - I was surprised he even jumped as high as he did. I heard him described by a friend who watched both of his games with me as "cocky and entitled, skates around like he's a 10-year NHL vet." Maybe a bit harsh, but I couldn't disagree either.
Still, it's nice to see Bartschi nearly crack the top 25 and let's hope he continues to develop and we can all be thankful Jim Playfair is gone as I'm sure he would've been salivating at the chance to turn SVEN into a 4th-line checker.
Mikael Granlund (Wild) remained at the #1 position in the mid-season rankings and I, for one, was floored. I watched him play 4 games at the WJC and not once, not even for a shift, did he look like he was even capable of being a first-round pick, let alone someone's top overall hockey prospect. Now, I did miss his one 3-point effort which was his best game, but I saw a lot of others and was disappointed to say the least. I can say with complete confidence that he wasn't even one of the top 10 forwards I saw at the tournament. But, you can't argue with his 43 points in 35 games in the Finnish Elite League (the next best on his team is 28 points... in 42 games).
Just a couple other notes on the list of players I'd juggle around - but keep in mind my judgements come almost solely on the WJ tournament.
I'd easily rank Jonathan Huberdeau (ranked 3rd - Panthers) and Evgeni Kuznetsov (ranked 4th - Capitals) above Granlund. In fact, I don't even think they can be mentioned in the same breath. Huberdeau dominated shifts for Canada and Kuznetsov, despite doing all of his damage in only a handful of games, was always his teams most dangerous player.
I never saw much of anything out of Ryan Strome (ranked 7 - Islanders), other than the fact he was carried by being on a line with Huberdeau at the WJ. Jaden Schwartz (ranked 8 - Blues) was a HUGE disappointment to me - he must be dominating in the NCAA to see such a large jump in his ranking.
There's no way Dougie Hamilton (ranked 15 - Bruins) is currently a better defenseman than Brandon Gormley (ranked 19, who should've been in the top 10-12 - Coyotes, drafted with pick acquired from Calgary in Olli Jokinen trade), however, Pronman takes into account "upside" so you could use that to get away with having Hamilton higher as his size and tools makes scouts and fans rave about him.
Jonas Brodin (ranked 20 - Wild) is better than both Hamilton and Gormley and I agree with Pronman's assessment that he should be ready to make the jump to the NHL.
Tomas Jurco (ranked 23 - Red Wings) was probably my favorite player to watch at the tournament and impressed me the most, given my limited expectations for him. He played on a weak Slovakian team and made something happen every time he stepped on the ice. No surprise that the Detroit Red Wings snagged him in the 2nd round at the 2011 draft and I think if the draft were re-done today he'd go in the top 7-10.
Johann Larsson (ranked 24 - Wild) doesn't impress with dazzling skills but he is incredibly smart with the puck, captained the gold-medal winning Swedish team and looked to be more important to the Swedes than Mika Zibanejad (ranked 16 - Senators).
Finally, it's nice to see Tyson Barrie (ranked 25 - Avalanche) crack the list. He was very impressive for Canada at the World Juniors in 2010-2011, put up huge offensive numbers for the Kelowna Rockets in the dub and currently has 26 points in 42 games for the Lake Erie Monsters in the AHL.