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Riley Holzapfel Turns Heads as well as Tongues

Recent Thrashers draft pick Riley Holzapfel who was one of my favorite prospects at camp received some praise from The Thrashers Director of Scouting Dan Marr in Ben Wright's Q & A on the team website. I thought he looked very good for an 18 year old player but his name was seldom mentioned by team management until recently, so I'm happy to see he has impressed them.

Prospects mavens should be in heaven with all the recent write ups. Craig Custance over at the AJC recently profiled Bryan Little, Nathan Oystrick, Brett Sterling, Boris Valabik and Mark Popovic.

Hockey's Future has an end of the year survey that looks at Thrasher prospects in junior hockey, the ECHL, and Europe. There is also a rookie review and outlook and an updated Top 20 Prospects. Here Holly Gunning's Top 20 from early March.

1. (3) Ondrej Pavelec, G, 19
2. (4) Bryan Little, C, 19
3. (14) Brett Sterling, LW, 22
4. (5) Mark Popovic, D, 24
5. (6) Grant Lewis, D, 22
6. (7) Boris Valabik, D, 21
7. (8) Riley Holzapfel, C, 18
8. (10) Andrei Zubarev, D, 20
9. (11) Nathan Oystrick, D, 24
10. (19) Tobias Enstrom, D, 22
11. (13) Chad Denny, D, 19
12. (18) Jordan LaVallee, LW, 20
13. (12) Tomas Pospisil, RW, 19
14. (nr) Mike Vannelli, D, 23
15. (17) Michael Forney, LW, 18
16. (nr) Mitch Carefoot, C, 22
17. (nr) Joey Crabb, RW, 23
18. (16) Guillaume Desbiens, RW, 21
19. (nr) Dave Caruso, G, 24
20. (15) Andrew Kozek, F, 20

I'd probably move Valabik lower and move Holzapfel, Zubarev and Enstrom up the list. It sort of depends on what you are ranking. If we were going on potential Zubarev might be higher than Popovic, but if you ranking based on who is ready for the NHL Popovic should be near the top of the list. I'd also move Grant Lewis down a couple mainly because he missed almost an entire year of development due to injury. I like the potential of Lewis long term though.

One thing about the current list is that in some ways it lacks star power at the top but there is probably more depth right now down around 10-11-12 spots than at any point in franchise history. Of course not all of these guys will make it, in fact a majority of the top 10 probably will not become NHL players. But I expect that several players on this list will be on a NHL roster in the next 2-4 years.