Sean Couturier's stock slips

Updated: November 16, 2010, 11:31 AM ET
By Gare Joyce

For top prospects there are two types of games: those against your own talent level and those where you step up in class. A lot of nights in the CHL and in U.S. National Developmental Program Team (USNTDP) games versus USHL teams, top prospects (age 17 and 18) face older, more physically mature players. It's a big handicap to face an opponent two years older. And it's even more true of draft-eligible NCAA players -- boys against men.

But in those situations, you can get a better read on a player of interest. And that's what last week provided for a number of 2011 draft prospects.

Last Wednesday in Drummondville, Quebec, a young QMJHL all-star team took on a touring Russian under-20 squad. The size and strength advantage was pretty clear over the last 40 minutes. Almost all the '91-birthday Russians hadn't been drafted when eligible the last couple of seasons, but that was a byproduct of signability issues -- there were plenty who would have been middle-rounders or better if all things were equal.

NHL execs fresh off the GMs meetings and a legion of scouts made it to the second of two Q versus Russia games. And they may have glimpsed the first down-tick in the stock of our No. 1 prospect, Sean Couturier.