Crosby tops ranks

TERRY KOSHAN, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 12:18 PM ET

Sidney Crosby and a Slovenian teen playing in Sweden are tops in the eyes of NHL Central Scouting. In its mid-term rankings for a draft that will happen only when there is a new collective bargaining agreement, Central Scouting has Crosby as No. 1 among North American skaters and Anze Kopitar at No. 1 among European skaters.

Crosby, an offensive whiz who demonstrated at the recent world junior championship that he is more than defensively sound, led the Canadian Hockey League in scoring with 81 points going into last night's game for the Rimouski Oceanic.

LED IN SCORING

Kopitar plays for the Sodertalje juniors in Sweden and led the world junior championship (Division 1, Group B) in scoring with 10 goals and three assists in five games last month. Slovenia just missed being promoted to the 2006 world junior in Vancouver when it lost to Latvia.

Four Ontario Hockey League players -- left wingerBenoit Pouliot of the Sudbury Wolves (No. 2), right winger Bobby Ryan of the Owen Sound Attack (No. 3), defenceman Ryan Parent of the Guelph Storm (No. 7) and defenceman Matt Lashoff of the Kitchener Rangers (No. 10) -- cracked the top 10.

Daren Machesney of the Brampton Battalion is ranked third among goaltenders in North America, but is highest in the OHL.

Forty of the draft-eligible players in North America will gather in Vancouver this week for the annual top prospects game on Wednesday. Unfortunately, they are preparing for a draft that no one can say when it will actually occur.


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