The leaves have changed, the days have shortened and the cold temperature have arrived — all the signs that the month of October has officially ended. It is one of the most important months for player evaluations for the year, as the sample size is now officially large enough to fairly determine how players stack up to each other after a summer of hard work, dedication and experimentation with their craft.
The 2006 group is one we’re long familiar with, monitoring their progression for years now. Last month’s update served to reflect the changes we noticed based on the first few games of the season, as well as any summer performances; however, as already mentioned, October is where we really start to get the full picture as to how these players taking the ice all across North America stack up to each other. As a result, this is one of the most substantial updates we will have all year.
With lots of movement comes a larger number of big risers than usual. These players are October’s standouts, who may continue to climb even higher as the year progresses with the way they’re currently playing.
Porter Martone | Forward | Mississauga Steelheads | #15 > #9 |
To say that Porter Martone has been anything short of a complete monster would be a massive underselling of his performance so far this year. Martone has always been an exciting player, oozing potential since before Sarnia selected him in the OHL draft due to the handling ability he had along with his size. Now that time has passed and Martone has had the chance to really grow into his frame, develop his skills even further and really start to understand how these traits can layer together, he has simply become one of the best 2006’s on the planet. His production — a laughable eleven goals and seven assists in a mere eleven games — has already started to exceed the expectations that people had of him next year, as he’s not eligible for the NHL Draft until 2025. He has rightfully earned his spot in the top ten.
Cayden Lindstrom | Forward | Medicine Hat Tigers | #29 > #11 |
Few players have wowed us with the progression they’ve taken more than Cayden Lindstrom has. The tools were never in question, a big body with tons of reach complimented by the maneuverability, balance and quick handling to really capitalize on the size advantage, plus a noteworthy shot to boot. How all these separate pieces complimented and built off each other has always been the deciding factor as to how good Cayden could be. The brief preview that is the Hlinka hinted that there was a lot of progress made over the summer, and the WHL season confirmed as such — Lindstrom has been an absolute force. He has full access to his reach, being able to protect the puck from pressure with his stick fully extended in situations that call for it, while also being able to bait incoming defenders with seemingly exposed pucks at a distance before snapping it back close with complete control to bypass their momentum. Of course, handling skill alone can only take this so far, and that’s where Lindstrom’s skating, particularly his small area agility, really starts to elevate his game. Combined, Lindstrom is one of the most competent players for taking the pucks off the perimeter and carrying them inside, and he has the shooting ability to really punish any defenders leaving him space while he takes middle-ice. Cayden’s vision, passing and off-puck movement have all improved as well, and further improvements here may raise Lindstrom to contend with only the top tier names on this list.
Teddy Stiga | Forward | U18 NTDP | #33 > #15 |
The list of those on the U18 NTDP more dynamic than Teddy Stiga is very short, which says a lot given the talent currently rostered for the American program. Teddy is fun personified, willing to craft any number of wild solutions to whatever problem comes his way. I’m not sure if I’ve personally seen any other player this year attempt so many between the legs attacks in the slot than Stiga did during just the few games of the year. This approach comes with its inefficiencies at times, but also creates an overall trend of efficiency when defenders end up plagued with hesitation as to what to do when Teddy comes attacking. His deception is a testament to his shiftiness as well as his handling ability.
Kamil Bednarik | Forward | U18 NTDP | #32 > #19 |
There are many shifts where Kamil Bednarik looks like the heart and soul of the U18 NTDP. It doesn’t seem to matter who his line mates are as Bednarik is able to fill in the gaps, accounting for whatever the weaknesses of his line mates may be. The foundation for this is found in his off-puck moving and anticipation, both constantly supporting each other, causing Bednarik to route himself close to the play whenever his presence is necessary. He can play the grinder, fighting in the corners for loose pucks to spry them free for teammates in space, or he can play the give-and-go puck mover and work well off line mates to punch holes through the opposing defense. His adaptability is arguably his biggest strength, and will continue to serve him well as Bednarik scales the pro-hockey ladder.
Liam Greentree | Forward | Windsor Spitfires | #37 > #21
Greentree has been one of the lone bright spots on the Spitfires this year, who have struggled mightily to start the season. He possesses a very intriguing blend of size and skill from the wing. Greentree uses his speed to create separation very well and uses the leverage of separation to make decisive plays in tight or exploit his long reach to get around opponents. This season I have seen growth in his assertiveness. Last year it looked like Greentree thought he could be a major contributor at the OHL level, but this year he’s playing like he knows he can be a real contributor. When he gets up to top speed, with the confidence he has been showing this season, he becomes a real scoring threat. Off the rush he has been effective delaying and finding teammates entering the zone, as well he has shown improvement with his release. He always could shoot it well, but it’s getting off his stick faster this year. Greentree has been a nice defensive contributor when engaged. He is hard on his stick, and does well to disrupt cycle plays, and movement along the wall. His defensive game could take an additional step with more engagement, and better positioning off the puck by closing off passing lanes and shrinking the ice.
Gavin Cornforth | Forward | Dubuque Fighting Saints | #80 > #33 |
After putting up 10 points in 49 games last season, Cornforth has already surpassed that total with 14 in 12 games this year. He is such a lethal threat on the powerplay where 5 of his 8 goals have come so far. He loves to work the perimeter and use his strength around the net to clean up rebounds around the crease. His feet are always going which allows him to find space to open up to get off his quick release. He has the ability to be a premier scorer in the USHL this season.
Michael Barron | Forward | Dubuque Fighting Saints | NR > #52 |
Barron’s transition into a full time USHL player has exceeded all expectations so far this season. He has exploded for 11 points in his first 12 games and earned himself a commitment to Arizona State University to top it off. He has top tier speed on the outside to gain zone entries and gives himself the option to use his deceptively good shot or be a bit more creative and drop it off to a teammate then look for open ice. Despite his undersized stature, Barron is not afraid to mix it up at both ends of the ice.
Check out our full 2006-born rankings to see all the changes from this major update.