Vanek Tops CSS Rankings Among College Players

Minnesota forward Thomas Vanek, the Most Outstanding Player of this year’s Frozen Four, remains the top-ranked NCAA player by the Central Scouting Service, headed into this June’s NHL Entry Draft.

Vanek is ranked third among North American skaters, as the top three was unchanged from the midseason rankings. No. 1 is Eric Stahl, a center for Peterborough of the Ontario Hockey League. No. 2 is American-born Dustin Brown of Ithaca, N.Y., who plays for Guelph (OHL).

Vanek led Minnesota to its second straight championship in April, scoring 24 goals in 37 games this season.

Maine’s Jim Howard is ranked No. 2 among North American goaltenders, up one spot from his midseason ranking. No. 1 among goaltenders is Marc-Andre Fleury of Cape Breton (QMJHL), who was the starter for Team Canada at the World Juniors this past year ahead of Cornell’s Dave LeNeveu.

Defenseman Ryan Suter, who is in the U.S. National Developmental program and is headed to Wisconsin next fall, is ranked No. 7, up three spots from the midseason rankings. Suter is the first beneficiary of a change in NCAA rules that no longer requires players to give up NCAA eligibility if they opt-in to the NHL Draft at 18 years old.

The change only affects players prior to enrollment in college; 18-year olds currently in college would still lose their eligibility if they opt in. As a result, no college 18-year olds, including Michigan goalie Al Montoya, ranked No. 4 among North American goalies, have decided to opt in.

A player must turn 19 by Sept. 15 of their draft year to be eligible without opting in. Montoya just turned 18 in February.

North Dakota forward Zach Parise jumped two spots to No. 9 among North American forwards. Others in the Top 30 are Ohio State’s Ryan Kesler (16), Colorado College’s Mark Stuart (17), Dartmouth’s Hugh Jessiman (20) and Michigan’s Jeff Tambellini (21). For Jessiman and Tambellini, it marked decisive jumps up from the January rankings, 15 places and 16 places, respectively.

The complete list can be found at the Central Scouting Service site.