NHL Rookie Rankings: Grading Taylor Hall and the Top 15 Picks in the 2010 Draft

Name NameCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2010

NHL Rookie Rankings: Grading Taylor Hall and the Top 15 Picks in the 2010 Draft

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    With the 2010-11 season about one third finished, the 2010 NHL Entry Draft seems like ages ago.

    The draft is largely remembered for the controversy between the first and second overall pick, Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. In the end, Hall went to the Oilers and Seguin went to the Bruins, and that was pretty much the end of any controversy.

    Both Hall and Seguin are currently enjoying their rookie NHL seasons for their respective teams.

    However, just because those two names have found success, does not mean they are alone. A handful of other 2010 draftees have prospered since being drafted, whether it be in the NHL or the minor leagues.

    On the other hand, there are also a number of players who have failed to impress.

    After judging their performances, here are the grades for the Top 15 Draft Picks of the 2010 Draft.


15. Derek Forbort, Los Angeles Kings

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Grade: C

    Derek Forbort is currently playing for the Fighting Sioux at the University of North Dakota. He has tallied eight assists and a plus-two rating in 13 games so far this season. Those totals put him in second among league defencemen in assists, as well as his team's leading rookie scorer.

    Forbort, 18, was one of 10 defencemen invited to tryout for the United States National Junior Team.

14. Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Grade: B-

    Eighteen-year-old forward Jaden Schwartz is currently enjoying his freshman year at Colorado College. In 15 games, Schwartz has amassed an impressive 11 goals and 26 points, which leads all NCAA rookies.

    This season isn't the first time Schwartz has posted a large amount of points in a small time span. In 2007-08, he broke the scoring record held by Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards by leading the Midget AAA league with 39 goals and 111 points in 44 games.

    After being invited to tryout, Schwartz made the Canadian National Junior Team's final roster.

13. Brandon Gormley, Pheonix Coyotes

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Grade: C+

    Defenceman Brandon Gormley has progressed decently since the 2010 NHL draft, but he has since injured his knee.

    Gormley has posted nine goals and 23 points in 20 games for the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). The 6'2", 187-pound blueliner was invited to Team Canada tryouts for the World Juniors, but his injured knee will cause him to miss the tournament.

12. Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Grade: B+

    Defenceman Cam Fowler, who was projected to go in the top five of the draft, slipped into the hands of the Anaheim Ducks at the 12th spot. That slide has seemingly worked out well for both sides so far. Fowler's arrival perfectly coincides with veteran Scott Niedermayer's retirement, which could be seen after 19-year-old made the team out of training camp.

    In 28 games so far, Fowler has recorded three goals and 16 points. Those numbers put him in eighth place among rookies and 23rd place among NHL defencemen for points.

    Fowler plays an average of 22:08 per game, which gives him the third highest ice time average on the team.

11. Jack Campbell, Dallas Stars

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    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Grade: B-

    Goaltender Jack Campbell is widely considered to be the goaltender of the future for the Dallas Stars. Since they drafted him, Campbell has been showing signs that he will be the go-to guy for years to come.

    Campbell suits up for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and currently owns a record of 8-7. 

    Campbell, 18, won a gold medal with the United States National Junior Team last year, and has been invited back to the team this year. He will likely be a key cog in the American Junior team.

10. Dylan McIlrath, New York Rangers

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Grade: C+

    Many thought Dylan McIlrath was drafted a little high for a player of his ilk. The 6'5", 215 pound defender is known for the tough, hard-hitting side of his game.

    In 26 games this season with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL, McIlrath has notched three goals and nine points, as well as 52 penalty minutes.

    The Winnipeg, Manitoba native, suffered a knee injury in November which forced him to miss six games.

9. Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild

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    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    Grade: C+

    Mikael Granlund was invited to play for the Finnish National Junior Team, but whether or not he actually will remains undecided. The 18-year-old center suffered an concussion on October 14, and hasn't played a game since due to post-concussion syndrome.

    The Finnish team will lose an integral part of their club if Granlund is unable to play.

    In the games previous to his injury, Granlund totalled three goals and nine assists as a part of HFIK Helsinki in Finland.

8. Alexander Burmistrov, Atlanta Thrashers

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    Grade: B

    Center Alexander Burmistrov is playing for the Atlanta Thrashers this season. Thus far, he has posted five goals and eight assists for 13 points, as well as a plus-two.

    Once Burmistrov made the team out of training camp, many wondered if he would stay past the 10 game mark. Was he really developed enough to stay in the NHL and play out the first year of his Entry Level contract?

    Well, apparently so.

    Burmistrov, 19, has played a solid game so far. I would suggest you watch the attached video to see one of his incredible goals. This beautiful dangle is considered by many to be the goal of the year thus far.

7. Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Grade: A+

    Jeff Skinner has come into the NHL this year and has surprised nearly the entire hockey world. After joining the Carolina Hurricanes as an 18-year-old, the Markham, Ontario native's play has impressed all.

    Although listed as a center on NHL.com, Skinner has played the majority of the year on the wing.

    Skinner's 22 points puts him in first place among rookies, setting him ahead of many other highly touted freshmen such as Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Logan Couture and Jordan Eberle.

    The youngster has also posted eight goals, setting him in third place among rookies in that category.

    Skinner has notched these numbers while playing a solid, well-rounded game and only taking four minutes in penalties. Considering that he's only 18 and wasn't even expected to join the NHL this year, his play has been remarkable.

6. Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    Grade: A-

    When the Tampa Bay Lightning took right winger Brett Connolly sixth overall, they were making one of the biggest gambles of the 2010 Draft. Although incredibly talented, Connolly has had a recurring hip flexor injury that limited him to 16 games in his draft year.

    Some even considered the injury a threat to his career.

    However, with a new-found confidence, Connolly has returned to the WHL and has been playing like he was never injured. The 18-year-old suits up for the Prince George Cougars, and after 30 games, he has posted 22 goals and 14 assists for 36 points.

    Of course, those numbers aren't spectacular. What's spectacular is the fact that he's posting those numbers after returning from a major injury, which is why he received the grade he did.

    It's starting to look like the gamble Tampa Bay made on him is going to pay off.

5. Nino Niederreiter, New York Islanders

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Grade: C+

    Right winger Nino Niederreiter became the highest drafted Swiss player ever when the Islanders drafted him fifth overall in the summer.

    Niederreiter played nine games with the New York Islanders before being returned to the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL). In those nine games, Niederreiter posted one goal and one assist, as well as a minus-one.

    In the WHL, Niederreiter has registered 13 goals and 26 points in 23 games.

    Nino will be returning to the Swiss National Junior Team this year to play in the World Juniors in Buffalo.

4. Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Grade: B

    Center Ryan Johansen has continued in his regular scoring ways since being drafted in the summer. He's playing for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL for the 2010-11 season.

    Thus far, he has recorded 17 goals and 36 points in 31 games, putting him in the 28th slot in the league for points and 17th in goals.

    Johansen, like others on this list, was also invited to tryout for the Canadian National Junior Team, and successfully made it onto the final roster. This will be his first time donning the red and white for his country.

    Johansen, 18, looks to continue his strong play into the World Juniors.

3. Erik Gudbranson, Florida Panthers

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Grade: C

    Erik Gudbranson has been slightly shaky since being drafted third overall by the Panthers last summer.

    In 21 games with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, Gudbranson has registered three goals and 11 points, as well as a minus-four rating. He recently received a five-game suspension from the league for a hit to the head of Ottawa 67's player Cosimo Fantana. During the game, he received a head major, a 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct.

    It also seems as though Gudbranson hasn't adjusted to the spotlight of the NHL yet. Panthers GM Dale Tallon said Gudbranson was "greedy" in contract negotiations, which is often frowned upon for 18-year-olds.

    However, the 6'4", 195-pound defenceman has been selected to play for Canada at the World Juniors. This will offer the youngster a chance to redeem himself.

2. Tyler Seguin, Boston Bruins

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Grade: C+

    Tyler Seguin has done exactly what most people expected him to do this year; join the Boston Bruins and be completely average. One could even argue that his play could be considered below average.

    The 6'1", 182-pound center amassed a total of five goals and 10 points, which leaves him in 17th place among rookies. However, those totals could be a result of a lack of ice time, as Seguin has only seen an average of 12:34 ice time per game.

    Although the 18-year-old has a very bright future, the present seems to be very average. Seguin hasn't played bad, he just hasn't hit his stride yet. We have seen flashes of brilliance every so often, so it shouldn't be much longer until he breaks out.

1. Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers

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    Dale MacMillan/Getty Images

    Grade: A-

    Wonder-boy center Taylor Hall has been the light at the end of the tunnel for fans of the Edmonton Oilers. The highly touted rookie has posted 10 goals and six assists in 30 games so far this year.

    Hall, 19, currently leads the Oilers in goals and sits at sixth on the team in points. Among NHL rookies, Hall's goal total shifts him into second place, and he comes in at fifth in points.

    On most nights, Hall is the best and most dynamic player on his weak Oiler team. He plays an average of 17:38 a game, significantly more than Tyler Seguin, the player he will forever be compared to, does.