The great Prospects Website called Hockeys Future are in the process of updating their Top 20 Prospects for every NHL Team and so far, 2 of the 3 NHL Teams that have Southwest Prospects have been featured and the good news is that the news seems to be positive that the Southwest Prospects continue to make their way to the NHL.
Austin Smith & Matt Donovan have already been featured while Chris Brown's assessment with the Phoenix Coyotes will be coming soon. The big thing with Chris Brown is to see if he cracks the top 5 after being ranked #6 back in the spring during the CCHA & NCAA Tournaments.
Also with Collin Jacobs and possibly Jeff Mcminny in the 2011 Draft, plus Seth Jones in the 2012 Draft Year. The Future of big time hockey talent coming from the Southwest looks bright.
For Austin Smith, even he dropped 2 spots on the Dallas Stars Top 20 from 10th to 12th. The team still seems to like his progress as he looks ahead to his Junior Year at Colgate University as he will be looking to make a much bigger impact after one of the big offensive linemates in David Mclntyre to help out with the offense.
Here's the Official Hockey's Future Comments on Austin Smith
Ranked #12 with DAL: Another strong season for Austin Smith for Colgate University is certainly enticing to the Stars brass. He led his club in points with 41 points in 36 games. Smith will have a challenge ahead of him in 2011-12 as he will no longer able to rely on older linemate and friend David Mclntyre for offensive support. He will likely have the services of Brian Day but even more of the offensive load is going to fall on the speedy Juniors shoulder.
Smith is a ball of energy and should meet the challenge quite well. He seems passionate for the game and displays an excellent compete level. In terms of translating his skills to the next level, Smith will need to continue to put on some size without sacrificing his speed and agility. Its likely that Colgate will live and die with the talents of Smith for the next two seasons.
Matt Donovan had a stellar year for the University of Denver which included scoring 5 points (2G 3A) at the World Junior Championships in the road to winning a gold medal. Overall the offensive defensemen which is starting to fill out on his physical ability to play and create opportunities for his teammates along the boards.
He moved up 3 spots from 17-to-14 since the last rankings back in the spring and with another strong year while avoiding the sophomore slump, and any remaining doubts about his NHL Chances should start going away.
Here's Matt Donovan's Comments from Hockey's Future
Ranked #14 with NYI: Donovan had a stout freshman season with the University of Denver, leading all WCHA Rookie Defensemen with 7 goals and adding 14 assists for 21 points in 36 games. He also played a key role for the USA at the 2010 World Junior Championships, posting three goals and two assists in five games. The 6'0" 195 LB Oklahoma Native is good all around defensemen with good mobility, strong offensive instincts, and a hard shot from the point.
Despite his size, he isn't afraid to get physical is often willing to get dirty in the corners and along the boards. The upcoming season is important for Donovan as many young players are prone to the dreaded sophomore slump. If he can continue playing at a high level, he should erase any lingering doubts about his NHL Potential.
Chris Brown right now to me is the closest of the Southwest Prospects from making his debut at the Pro Ranks (Esp. the AHL) as he was ranked #6 in the last rankings in the Phoenix Coyotes organization. After a strong freshman year for the Michigan Wolverines that saw him take a huge step up in his hitting ability.
He could bring the perfect match of scoring ability and physical ability to be a high quality NHL Prospect and possibly being the first Southwest Player to reach the pro ranks and possibly the NHL. After my discussion with San Antonio Rampage Head Coach Ray Edwards, some on his staff think he may not be that far off towards at least making his AHL Debut.
He had 28 points (13G 15A) last season, but he had 58 PIM last year and he will need to improve on that part of his game to be in the box less. And he had the same issue during the World Junior Camp earlier this summer in Lake Placid, NY.
Here's Chris Brown's from Hockeys Future.
Ranked #8 with PHX: A team-mate of Summers at the University of Michigan, Brown enjoyed a very successful freshman season in Ann Arbor. Brown was one of the top scoring freshman in the nation posting 13 goals and 28 points in 45 games. Those 28 points were the fourth highest total on the team as Brown became a go-to-guy for head coach Red Berenson as the season progressed.
A rare hockey prospect hailing from the State of Texas, Brown heads into his sophmore season looking to become a top player in the country for the Wolverines who will look to return to national prominence.
Brown is a prototypical power forward on the wing with great size and strength with good speed and an ability to find loose pucks around the goal area. The 19 year old is also unafraid to mix it up was one of the team's most aggresive players on a consistent basis.
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