Victoria Times Colonist article (Royals players see rankings soar, plummet)April 10 2012 at 7:02 AM
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Response to Vancouver Sun article (Yakupov named top NHL prospect)
Royals players see rankings soar, plummet
Nelson climbs, Hodges falls in scouting report
By Cleve Dheensaw, Times Colonist
April 10, 2012 3:02 AM
Hockey rankings can sometimes seem like that old board game Snakes and Ladders.
Just ask a pair of forwards with the Western Hockey League Victoria Royals as they looked over the final ratings for the 2012 NHL draft released Monday by Central Scouting.
Logan Nelson climbed 35 spots, from 108th to 73rd, while Steven Hodges plummeted 30 positions, from 55th to 85th, from the mid-season rankings of North American skaters.
The NHL draft takes place June 22-23 in Pittsburgh.
Nelson was lightly regarded and not on many people's radar when he arrived in Victoria last September after recording only six goals and nine points the previous season with Des Moines of the USHL.
But you could see his maturity level evolve almost weekly during the WHL season. The sixfootone centre not only broke out with 23 goals and 62 points with the Royals, but he also played with bruising abandon to give his game a physical dimension that scouts liked.
"I had confidence in my ability, but I didn't know . . . to this extent," said Nelson, from his home in Rogers, Minnesota.
"This helps me out further with confidence. It feels really good. Not a lot of kids get to be in this position, and I'm happy and lucky to be in it. [Royals GM and head coach Marc Habscheid] went with me and stuck with me all year, and it ended up paying off. I did my job on the ice and what I had to do. You can't plan it [being ranked]. You just go out and do your best."
Nelson is also grounded enough to realize the ranking comes with a note of caution.
"I can't let it get to my head," he said. "It's just a number for now."
Indeed it is. It guarantees nothing. Pretty much every player who came through Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre during the Victoria Salmon Kings era in the minor-pro ECHL was an NHL draft pick.
Hodges, a quicksilver forward, had 21 goals and 46 points for the Royals and wasn't concerned about his drop in the rankings.
"There are a lot of good players, and it's one of those things that happens," said Hodges, a native of Yellowknife who lives on the Lower Mainland.
"You can't take too much away from it. It's nice to be recognized and really humbling. I had a bigger role this season - having to produce points while taking on more leadership. It's a two-way game, and I'm working hard on being a two-way player. That's what they are looking for at the next level."
Habscheid said keeping an even keel is integral.
"It's good that [Nelson and Hodges] are ranked, but Central Scouting is a guide," said the Royals boss.
"NHL teams have guys higher and lower. It's an individual decision by the teams, and I'm sure it will shuffle around. Every team views players differently. It's not an exact science. And then there are others not officially ranked who may get picked and yet others who may not get picked and still make it in pro hockey. You take it with a grain of salt. It's not the end; just the beginning."
Nail Yakupov of the OHL's Sarnia Sting is the top-ranked North American-based skater. Wade Murphy of Victoria, who amassed 36 goals and 91 points for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL, is ranked 142nd.
ICE CHIPS: Both Habscheid and Royals president Dave Dakers dismissed a report in the Edmonton Journal speculating that Doug Soetaert, released as GM of the Everett Silvertips, might end up as GM of the Royals with Habscheid concentrating solely on coaching. But Habscheid and Dakers responded identically: "There is nothing to it [the Journal report]."
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