Here are the top 5 prospects for the 2004 NHL Entry Draft (WHL). 1. Cam Barker(Medicine Hat)- Deserves this ranking as he is the best defenseman on one of the best WHL teams this year in Medicine Hat. He combines skill with grit and a good solid two-way game. Very few defensemen have a better grasp of their position offensively at such a tender age than does Cam Barker. A smooth skater with an impressive stride and good balance, he displays surprising agility and speed for his size. Has a great low shot from the point, but needs to use it more as he often elects to pass the puck to a teammate even if he is in a great shooting lane. Good vision and puck handling skills allow him to create a lot of offense when he is quarterbacking a power play. He also has an innate hockey sense to know when to pinch in from the point and or stay back. Barker can beat a forecheck either by making a crisp pass up to an open forward or by personally carrying the puck out of the defensive zone. Displays tremendous confidence on the ice at all times and rarely panics. A great leader that doesn’t let his team get down after a goal against. Barker clears the front of net, plays aggressive along the boards and is capable at throwing some bone jarring hits, but at times can be a defensive liability. Cam has scored a very impressive 20-43-63 this year for the medicine Hat Tigers. At 6'3 210 pounds, every scout is drooling with the possibility of landing Cam in June. 2. Andrew Ladd(Calgary)-Quite simply the real deal. Forget him going undrafted in the WHL, forget last year's stats - forget everything and remember one thing: he's arrived. After slowly establishing himself last year as a checker, Ladd has exploded into an all-around force with the Hitmen this season. He plays every game as if it's his last. In terms of pure scoring talent, Ladd is not top-five, and probably not top-ten either, but this guy gets it - his understanding and passion for the game far exceeds that of either Robbie Schremp or Wojtek Wolski and this is important. Ladd has an uncanny affinity to create space for himself and others with a wide stride, a considerable first step and a willingness to use the body. A prototypical team player who gets his nose dirty, drives the net and when the puck is loose, he's there to bury it. Ladd's nay-sayers point to Ladd's linemates - especially the gifted Ryan Getzlaf. We counter this by saying that Ladd is a complimentary guy who makes his linemates better and does that like no other North American player in this draft. We point to his unselfish propensity to create space for his teammates like a linebacker. He uses his body like a true warrior - just watch him give an NHL General Manager something to think about at camp next fall. Andrew is 6'2 210 pounds and may be ready next year to crack an NHL roster. He has also put up 25+ goals and over 60 points in his rookie season in the dub. 3. Kyle Chipchura(Prince Albert)- An all-around player, Chipchura doesn't dominate at any specific aspect, but does everything well regardless. More orientated as a playmaking center, Chipchura's real strength lies in his assets that also impact the team off the ice, most notably his leadership and desire to win. "Kyle is a wildcard," says our WHL scout, "He's one of only a few guys in this draft that can potentially round out into a 'complete package' player. What sets him apart is his ability to make plays at full speed. He can really get around the ice, throw his frame around and forecheck like mad. The problem is, he doesn't really do this as consistently as we would like. Sometimes he's a tad too hesitant and doesn't really turn on that second gear, but he's not lazy - we think that moxie will be there as he develops confidence. "We're not talking about an elite talent, but this kid is the kind of project who could be a rock-solid pro if the pieces fit. His passes are excellent, his hands are better than we expected and he has a presence when he steps out on the ice. You either love him or hate him - but those who like, they like a lot." 4. Mike Green(Saskatoon)- Commentary from McKeen's Hockey Prospects: 01/28/2004 - Just keeps leaping up our charts. A rare specimen of a defenseman - mobile, skilled and one tough s.o.b. physically. The only thing that really works against him is the fact that he doesn't have imposing size to complement his meanness. Strong legs, very dangerous on the rush, comfortable playing the point with a confident playmaking game. A player who seems to have an answer for every question. 5. Devon Dubnyk(Kamloops)- All in all, one should be satisfied with Devan's play - he's had his down moments, but has shown the ability to bounce back strongly. However, improved play from the likes of Andrew Ladd and Kyle Chipchura has lowered his stock, while Dubnyk has been good and not great. Consistency is still at times a problem and on his worst nights, he's made us rather nervous. But there's a reason to be optimistic about his progress - Devan's desire and attitude are exceptional and he drives himself to improve at all times. According to our scout in Kamloops: "He's extremely well spoken and has a boatload of heart and desire - and you always hear him say just how much he hates to lose and expects 110% from himself and his teammates. It should also be taken into consideration that the Blazers have been in a state of some turmoil this year as the team has had its moments under-achievement, where many of the veterans showed a consistent lack of focus. Looking at all of these factors, Dubnyk has handled himself rather impressively." Here are the top 5 WHL prospects for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. 1. Gilbert Brule(Vancouver)- IF he were in the 2004 NHL Draft he would ranked up with Chipchura and Ladd already. That just go's to show how much of a slam dunk pick this is. He plays with grit, and has tonnes of skill as well. Will be a star in the NHL one day and play on a teams top line at the NHL leval. Gilbert has 24-34-58 with 94 pims which is fantastic for a 16 year old in this day and age. 2. Chris Durand(Seattle)- Has really put together a very strong 2nd half of the season in Seattle this year. Chris is fastly narrowing the gap between himself and Brule but still has aways to go yet. At 6'2, Chris has a little more size than Gilbert but is a step below in terms of overall talent and desire. Chris will be a top 10 pick very likely in 2005. His 17-23-40 in 56 games is a nice start to a great junior and pro career and should be one of the WHL's leading scorers by the time he's 18. 3. Devin Setoguchi(Saskatoon)- Playing on the one of the worst teams in WHL history, Devin has been perhaps one of the only bright spots this season along with Mike Green. Devin has a nice combinations of skill and roughness to his game and is the one of th leaders in checks amongst rookies in the WHL. His 12-18-30 points is very good considering the circumstances in Saskatoon. He will be a sure fire first rounder in 2005 with the likelyhood of a top 10 selection if he takes his game to the next leval in 05 which many know he will. 4. Mike Gauthier(Prince Albert)- Being used as a 6th defenseman this year on a strong Prince Albert team. Mike has good size at 6'4 220 for a 16 year old. His skating is above average and also has a nice mean streak as well. Mike is the top rated defenseman for the 2005 draft from the WHL. Mike will one day be a good 2nd or 3rd defenseman in the NHL and an all-star at the junior leval. 5. Nick Drazenovic( Prince George)- The top set-up from the WHL amongst '87 born players. Nick has good speed and vision but will have to leaern to shoot more to become more effective down the road. He is slight of build and will need to add bulk in the future as well. His 7-30-37 are good numbers and he could turn out to be another Tyler Redenbach which isn't a bad thing is it? Top 5 2006 WHL Draft eligable players. Supposing all players report next season. 1. Jonathan Toews (Tri City)-1. Tri-Cities, Jon Toews Toews is playing this season for Shattuck St Mary’s Prep School team. He is one of the most highly regarded 1988’s in all of North America. After a bit of a slow start, Toews started to play better when he was given a little more ice time about a month into the start of the season. Toews is a pure sniper with great hands. Plays a lot like Markus Naslund of the Vancouver Canucks. End of the season analysis: Toews is the real deal. An outstanding pick by Tri-Cities, he will be a first line 100 point man one day. 2. Jason Reese (Vancouver)- A LW, a 01/28/88 birth date, who hails from Gresham, OR. Reece is 5'11 and 180 pounds. Reece has his share of supporters and his share of skeptics. Some believe that Reece will not be big enough or strong enough to take the heavy hitting of the WHL. The 15 year old is sitting on the sidelines with an injury and is not expected back for a while. Reece had a strong camp with the Giants, scoring two goals in one game against Kelowna. We think he could very well be the best player in this draft if he continues to work on his strengths, which some see as his downfall. Reece is a left handed who has 142 goals, 121 assists, 263 points and 167 minutes in penalties last season playing bantam hockey. Reece is a smart hockey player that is very heady on the ice – his mannerism’s on the ice look like Mark Messier (without the power or strength yet). Reece has the upside to be the best kid picked in this draft, but he has to stay healthy and really work on his hockey strength to be as good as we have touted him to be. Reece has 35 points in 30 games this season. 3. Zach Hamill (Everett)- A center, a 09/23/88 from Port Coquitlam, BC, who is 5'11 and 170 pounds. The adaptation to Junior B for Zach Hamill has been an easy one this season. He has not show the stagnated development that the experts predicted for him last season. Hamill is not the biggest kid, and he won’t blow you away with his size, but his speed makes up for all of that. If you had to compare him to an NHL’er he is a cross between a Tony Granato and a Chris Drury. Has met or exceeded expectations so far this season. End of the season analysis: At the worst Hamill will be a second line Chris Drury/Tony Granato style of hockey player 4. Logan Pyett (Regina)- Top defenseman in the draft. Logan has developed into the top puck carrying defenseman for his age group in Western Canada over the past year an the Regina Pats have themselves a steal of a player here. Logan one day will be an NHL player and a cross between Sergei Gonchar and Brian Leetch which must have Pats management drooling. His over point per game average this year in Midget AAA is astonishing. 5. Keegan Dansereau (Calgary)-Keegan is a right winger, he is a 01/01/88 birth date from Saskatoon, SK. He is a 6’0" and 175 pounder. Dansereau is probably the most controversial prospect in all of North America, you either love the kid as a player, or you hate him. Keegan Dansereau is the player that people love to hate, and the player that they love to question. Some scouts think he will be the next Donovan Hextall while others think he will, one day, be a NHL player. Dansereau is a player that has some major league ability without question, in the 1988 age group there is no one who can drive the puck to the net like Keegan, he has an accurate bulls-eye shot and is unstoppable, if given a lot of time and space. Dansereau finished the season with 17 goals in 38 games. End of the season analysis: Dansereau, while not as talented plays like a young Brett Hull, you don’t see him, and then bang the puck is in the net. Our take on Keegan? You never know. He is a conundrum. He is a player that will be boom or bust. He could be the next Kimbi Daniels or a legitimate NHL First Rounder in 2006. It's up to Keegan. Do you guys agree or disagree with these picks?