Next Staal impresses

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Jordan Staal is trodding once where his older brother has gone before him and NHL scouts figure he will do it again.

Staal, the third of the four hockey-playing Staals from Thunder Bay who are fronted by eldest brother Eric of the Carolina Hurricanes, is shaping up to be the first player from the Ontario Hockey League picked in the 2006 NHL entry draft. Eric, who has been tearing up the NHL this season, spent three seasons with the Peterborough Petes prior to being drafted second overall by the Hurricanes in 2003.

Jordan Staal has seven goals and 13 assists in 16 games for the Petes.

NHL Central Scouting will release its preliminary rankings later this month. Also near the top of the OHL will be forward Bryan Little of the Barrie Colts.

"Right now the team is my No. 1 priority, and I'm not going to lie, but I haven't really talked to Eric much about (performing well in his draft year)," Jordan Staal said. "The draft is far off. I just want to stay consistent throughout the year."

Others in the OHL who have been attracting scouts' attention include defencemen John de Gray of the Brampton Battalion and Bob Sanguinetti of the Owen Sound Attack.

American Phil Kessel, a freshman at the University of Minnesota, leads the pack in a year that not many scouts, overall, are too excited about. Not far behind Kessel is Winnipeg native Jonathan Toews, who is in his first year at North Dakota. Both are forwards.

Jordan Staal is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound centre. Another brother, Marc, a defenceman with the Sudbury Wolves, was picked 12th by the New York Rangers last July.

The youngest, Jarred, plays minor midget in Thunder Bay.

BRIEFLY

St. Michael's Majors leading scorer Justin Donati, who has 24 points in 12 games, could return tonight against the Kingston Frontenacs after missing six games because of a shoulder injury ... The Saginaw Spirit, whose best season since moving to Michigan from North Bay was 18 wins a year ago, has 12 victories. One reason is the play of former Wolves first-round pick Ryan McDonough, who has 34 points in 16 games. McDonough was acquired from the Wolves in the off-season ... Goalie Matthew Spezza, who played for Kingston, Ottawa and London in the OHL, has joined St. John's of the QMJHL.


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