NHL notes: Seth Jones stays atop NHL draft rankings

Team Orr's Seth Jones gets ready to pass while in front of his goalie Philippe Desrosiers during...

Team Orr's Seth Jones gets ready to pass while in front of his goalie Philippe Desrosiers during the third period of the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game against Team Cherry at the Metro Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, January 16, 2013. Team Orr won 3-0. (REUTERS/Paul Darrow)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:34 PM ET

The team that wins the NHL draft lottery will have to choose between Portland Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones and Halifax Mooseheads forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.

But as far as NHL Central Scouting is concerned, Jones is still the top prospect for this summer's draft.

Jones topped the final ranking list of North American skaters for the draft released Wednesday, followed by MacKinnon and Drouin. There was no change to the order of the top three from the mid-term rankings.

"These are players you can build your team around, so what kind of player do you want to build with?" Central Scouting director Dan Marr said on NHL.com. "Do you want to build from the back-end out, or do you want to build up the middle? There's no steadfast answer, so the projection is what the player will mean to the team.

"We think Seth's game is still going to develop, as are MacKinnon and Drouin, but we had no reason to remove Seth from that No. 1 spot. We do feel Nathan will get stronger and continue to develop."

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defenceman Darnell Nurse made the jump from ninth on the mid-term report to fourth while Ottawa 67's centre Sean Monahan slipped one spot to fifth.

There was also some big movement -- up and down -- later in the rankings. Owen Sound Attack winger Zach Nastasiuk moved up 20 spots to 13th while Guelph Storm centre Jason Dickinson dropped 14 spots to 30th. Rimouski Oceanic defenceman Samuel Morin climbed from 76th at the mid-term to 23rd on the final list.

Tappara (Finland) centre Aleksander Barkov topped the list of European skaters, with Chelyabinsk (Russia) winger Valeri Nichushkin and Brynas (Sweden) centre Elias Lindholm rounding out the top three.

Halifax's Zachary Fucale was the top-rated North American goalie while Juuse Saros of HPK Junior (Finland) was No. 1 among Europeans.

The draft is scheduled for June 30 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

THREE'S COMPANY

The Staal family will join select company in the NHL Thursday when the Carolina Hurricanes take on the New York Rangers.

The Hurricanes called up Jared Staal from Charlotte of the AHL Wednesday and the 22-year-old will make his NHL debut against the Rangers, joining brothers Eric and Jordan in the Carolina lineup. It will be just the fourth time in NHL history, according to the Hurricanes, that three brothers play for the same team in the same season.

"I think it's pretty special for my parents," Eric said on the team website. "I don't think they ever would have imagined that having us four boys running around the house like crazy men, and now being all grown up and playing a professional spot for a living and being on the ice surface at the same time. That's pretty special. There's no question about that."

The Bentleys (Max, Doug and Reggie) played for the 1942-43 Chicago Blackhawks, the Plagers (Bob, Barclay and Bill) played for the St. Louis Blues in the late '60s

and early '70s, and the Stastnys (Peter, Anton and Marian) played for the Quebec Nordiques in the early 1980s.

Jared Staal, a second-round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008, had just four goals and three assists in 52 games with Charlotte this season.

BRODEUR PLANS TO PLAY

New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, the NHL's all-time wins and shutouts leader, expects to play again next season.

The 40-year-old has one year left on his contact and he says he will honour it. Next year would be Brodeur's 20th season in the NHL.

"I had a fun year," Brodeur told The Bergen Record. "I felt really good playing again. I'm just looking forward to playing a full season next year and see what's that's going to bring us. But I haven't changed my mind. I still have that passion to play the game."

The Devils failed to make the playoffs this season. Brodeur has a record of 13-9-7 with a 2.22 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in 29 games.

HARDING NOMINATED

Goaltender Josh Harding is the Minnesota Wild's nominee for the Masterton Trophy, awarded annually to the player who exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Harding was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last fall but has played for much of the season, taking time off only when he had a reaction to medication he was taking to combat the effects of MS. He's been a backup to Niklas Backstrom this season.

"I think if anyone was in my situation, they'd do the exact same thing," Harding told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "You've been playing hockey all your life and to let something come in the way of it, you usually don't -- you'll find a way to make it happen. Obviously it took a little bit of time to get everything dialed in. Every day is going to be different. You can't predict the future, but I think everybody in my position would do the same thing."

Harding, 28, is 1-1 with a 2.92 goals-against average and .885 save percentage this season.

KEITH DOES SOME 'SPLAININ'

Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Duncan Keith's comments to a Vancouver reporter Monday were made out of frustration, not sexism, he says.

"Sometimes, especially after a loss I can be fired up," Keith said Wednesday. "I don't like to lose. I can be frustrated when I lose. Call me a sore loser, maybe.

"There was no intent from my point. I respect everybody. I respect everybody's job."

Keith angered some with an exchange he had with Team 1040 reporter Karen Thomson after a 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. When asked about an unpenalized slash by Thomson, Keith eventually said "First female referee. Can't play probably, either, right? But you're thinking the game like you know it? OK, see ya."

All is forgiven, as far as Thomson is concerned.

"Hockey is an emotional game and things are often said in the heat of the moment," she tweeted. "I think this is what happened (Monday) night. I've moved on."

SCHNEIDER INJURED

Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider is out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, the team announced Wednesday.

Schneider last played Monday in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

"Cory has a body injury that's day to day," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "It happened last game. We're hoping he'll be ready for playoffs."

It appears Roberto Luongo will get the start Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks. The Canucks close out the regular season against Edmonton on Saturday.

Vancouver's final two games don't mean anything in the standings so this could simply be a case of Schneider being rested for the playoffs. But Vignault admitted that Schneider likely wouldn't be able to play if the playoffs started Thursday.

To take Schneider's spot, the Canucks called up Joe Cannata from Chicago of the AHL.

CAP'N KING SITS

Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown will sit out the final two games of the regular season after being suspended by the NHL Wednesday.

Brown was suspended two games for elbowing Minnesota Wild forward Jason Pominville in the head during Tuesday's game in Minny. The Kings played the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday and close out the regular season Saturday against the San Jose Sharks in L.A.

"As Brown attempts this counter-hit, he extends his elbow directly into Pominville's face, causing an injury," NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan said in explaining the suspension. "Brown sees and feels the Minnesota player approaching, he's in control of this play and is timing his counter-hit. That part of the play is legal. What isn't is how Brown makes this contact. This was not an inadvertent elbow caused by Pominville's sudden movement."

Brown has 18 goals and 11 assists in 46 games this season.

The Kings called up Tyler Toffoli from Manchester of the AHL to take Brown's place in the lineup.

BRIEFLY

The Washington Capitals re-signed forwards Eric Fehr and Aaron Volpatti to two-year deals Wednesday. Fehr's contract averages out at $1.5 million while Volpatti's is worth $1.15 million total ... Detroit Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi is expected to play Thursday against the Nashville Predators. Bertuzzi, 38, has been out since Feb. 7 with a pinched nerve in his back.


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