Friday, May 30, 2008

Niemi, Jyri - D - Saskatoon

Jyri Niemi / Saskatoon Blades WHL
D-L / 6-2, 190 / 15-Jun-1990

Skating: 40 / Skill: 65 / Sense: 60 / Compete: 60 / Tough: 50

Strengths: Tremendous shot. Makes quick and confident decisions.

Weaknesses: Pivoting and backward stride are a problem.

Loved him the first time I saw him in October, but it was all downhill after that. Battles physically but is only marginally effective with the body. Still tend to think there's good upside - deserves some late-bloomer hope because he's a June birthdate and a recent convert to defence. Just his shot alone could carry him a long ways, even if only as a PP specialist. Or maybe moving him back to forward might be the best option for his career.

Summary: Like the confidence and hockey sense, and obviously the hard shot is nice.

Target/Want: Would definitely argue heartily for this player with a middle 2nd round pick.

Sbisa, Luca - D - Lethbridge

Luca Sbisa / Lethbridge Hurricanes WHL
D-L / 6-1.75, 190 / 30-Jan-1990

Skating: 60 / Skill: 55 / Sense: 55 / Compete: 60 / Tough: 60

Strengths: Well rounded. Good with the puck. Plays a gritty style.

Weaknesses: Not sure where the upside is here. Needs to work on gap control. Tweener size and skill set.

Not as high on Sbisa as many NHL guys I know. Is a lock 1st rounder, but I don't know what kind of player he'll be in the NHL. Offensive? Stay at home? Just lacks a little something extra in my book. And then there's the Swiss question, but naturally he deserves credit for coming over to North America.

Summary: Saw this player a lot, but not sure if I'd even get a better read on him if I would have seen him 80 times this year.

Target/Want: Would not slot anywhere near as high as it would take to get him.

Beach, Kyle - RW - Everett

Kyle Beach / Everett Silvertips WHL
RW-R / 6-3, 203 / 13-Jan-1990

Skating: 35 / Skill: 65 / Sense: 65 / Compete: 80 / Tough: 65

Strengths: Ultra competitive and physical. Excellent hands. Very good hockey sense.

Weaknesses: Skating is a problem. Very questionable character and tends to be a huge distraction off the ice. Concussion history is a serious concern.

Has the dream package of size, hands, and competitiveness. Does not get enough credit for his skill level. Excellent goal scorer's instincts and can create as well. Skating is not good and will have to improve. Added 22 pounds from last season. Horrible finish to season - but was stuck on a bad line in second half. I don't understand why Becanic split Hamill and Beach onto different lines - perfectly complementary players who should have both been on the first line all season.

Summary: The ultimate home run swing pick. Either going to be an NHL All-Star or bounce from team to team burning bridges with coaches.

Target/Want: Concussions drop him quite a bit for me. But you can't let this guy get past the 20th pick.

Ennis, Tyler - C - Medicine Hat

Tyler Ennis / Medicine Hat Tigers WHL
C-L / 5-8.75, 146 / 06-Oct-1989

Skating: 70 / Skill: 65 / Sense: 65 / Compete: 60 / Tough: 35

Strengths: Great quickness and elusiveness. Possibly the best turns I've ever seen. Good hands. Lots of energy, loves to play.

Weaknesses: In trouble if the defenceman has the skating ability to catch him. Tiny and looks even smaller than listed size.

Might end up being a steal. His struggles at the Top Prospects Game were illuminating - could not beat defencemen with speed and quickness like he could in a regular WHL game. Have to wonder how his style is going to work in the NHL, where all the defenceman can skate well.

Summary: Despite the questions, I still think he'll contribute in the NHL. Just not sure it will be on the top 2 lines.

Target/Want: Mid second round, but there will probably be other players there I'd rather have.

Robak, Colby - D - Brandon

Colby Robak / Brandon Wheat Kings WHL
D-L / 6-3, 194 / 24-Apr-1990

Skating: 70 / Skill: 60 / Sense: 55 / Compete: 45 / Tough: 30

Strengths: Great skater, smooth stride. Can carry the puck or move it equally well. Good decisions with the puck.

Weaknesses: Very little physical presence. Shot gets blocked a lot and doesn't seem to have good velocity.

Excellent combination of size and skating. Problem is, he doesn't use the size. Great balance and long stride. Does not initiate contact much. Has good strength but still loses a lot of battles. Can rush the puck, but vision improved this season to the point where he rarely carries it himself anymore.

Summary: Size and skating are awfully tempting, but the lack of grit is a worry.

Target/Want: Have gone back and forth on this player. Soft play is a bit of a dealbreaker for me. Would not take in the 1st, which is where he'll go. He'd be worth an early 2nd to me.

Eberle, Jordan - C - Regina

Jordan Eberle / Regina Pats WHL
C-R / 5-10, 174 / 15-May-1990

Skating: 60 / Skill: 70 / Sense: 60 / Compete: 30 / Tough: 45

Strengths: Great sniper's touch. Knows how to find scoring chances. Quick hands. Will take a hit to make a play.

Weaknesses: Casual player - effort level is never there. Tends to stick to the perimeter.

One of the best natural goal scorers in the draft. I'd like him a lot more if he ever broke a sweat. Skating seems alright, but almost never uses what speed he has. I'll say one thing for him, he's not scared. I'd rather have a lazy player than a scared one.

Summary: Light a fire under him and you might have a 1st/2nd line scorer.

Target/Want: Would think about him late in the 1st if other players I like are gone. Hard to find this kind of scoring touch late in the 1st.

Pickard, Chet - G - Tri-City

Chet Pickard / Tri-City Americans WHL
G-L / 6-2, 210 / 29-Nov-1989

Quickness: 55 / Glove: 60 / Reads: 65 / Technique: 70 / Poise: 70

Strengths: Steady improvement the last two seasons. Extremely economical and calm. Good leader.

Weaknesses: Can get handcuffed on shots up high. Does not have great quickness. Puckhandling is mediocre at best.

Just kept getting better all season. Good size and in top physical condition. Plays big. Rebound control improved a lot. Squares very well and comes out to challenge. Very competitive, but never gets rattled. Obviously learned a lot from playing under Carey Price last two seasons.

Summary: Liked him the more I saw him. Looks like a possible #1 in the NHL.

Target/Want: Anywhere in the last half of the first round.

Dalpe, Zac - C - Penticton

Zac Dalpe / Penticton Vees BCHL
C-R / 6-0.5, 170 / 01-Nov-1989

Skating: 60 / Skill: 65 / Sense: 70 / Compete: 70 / Tough: 40

Strengths: Outstanding hockey sense. Laser of a shot and can pick the corners on the move. Very high intensity level. Clutch performer.

Weaknesses: Late growth spurt means he's very slightly built. Durability is a concern. Does not initiate contact. Somewhat inconsistent.

Has been a late bloomer, which gives a lot of hope for even more improvement. Good skating speed, but not a lot of lateral quickness. Dangerous shooting touch and can score in a lot of ways. Loves the transition game and plays at a high tempo. Lots of energy.

Summary: A bit of a high risk, high reward player. Will require some patience, may take a little longer to develop.

Target/Want: Another favourite of mine. I'd think about him in the late teens.

Boychuk, Zach - C - Lethbridge

Zach Boychuk / Lethbridge Hurricanes WHL
C-L / 5-9.5, 175 / 04-Oct-1989

Skating: 75 / Skill: 65 / Sense: 65 / Compete: 60 / Tough: 60

Strengths: Very shifty and has blazing speed. Great scoring and playmaking instincts. Plays much bigger than his size and is fearless.

Weaknesses: Size is the only real concern.

Has all the ingredients you look for except the big frame. Does everything so well at top speed. Good hockey sense, always makes quick decisions. Skating actually seemed to get better this season. Not afraid of taking a hit to make a play and will battle physically.

Summary: Should be a pretty safe pick to contribute in the NHL despite smallish size. Has first line upside and no worse than third line downside.

Target/Want: Once the second tier of top forwards like Hodgson, Wilson and Tedenby are gone, Boychuk is the way to go. Should go in the low teens.

Teubert, Colten - D - Regina

Colten Teubert / Regina Pats WHL
D-R / 6-3.5, 185 / 08-Mar-1990

Skating: 75 / Skill: 60 / Sense: 55 / Compete: 65 / Tough: 70

Strengths: Terrific skater. Angry, mean, and wants to hurt opponents.

Weaknesses: Will need to learn to play more positionally sound in d-zone. Not as much progress offensively as I'd hoped this season.

Competes physically. You can't teach the kind of aggressiveness he has. Very good strength despite slight build, should get even stronger. Underrated puck skill. Needs to improve defensive reads, especially in transition. Aggressive style leads to a lot of chasing in d-zone. Some have questioned his hockey sense, but I don't see a problem with it.

Summary: Big, aggressive defender who can skate = very good NHLer.

Target/Want: Forget pounding a fist on the table, I'd flip the whole table over to get this guy. I love this player. He should go about 8th overall, but will probably slip until the teens.

Myers, Tyler - D - Kelowna

Tyler Myers / Kelowna Rockets WHL
D-R / 6-7.25, 204 / 01-Feb-1990

Skating: 70 / Skill: 60 / Sense: 55 / Compete: 50 / Tough: 50

Strengths: Amazing skating stride for such a big player, no awkwardness at all. Long reach and good poke check is a difference-maker in the d-zone. Moves the puck well.

Weaknesses: Wild inconsistency tells us he's still quite raw. Some bust potential.

No defenceman in this draft has more upside. His peak is as a perennial Norris Trophy contender. Lots of ups and downs this season, and was downright awful at times. Best performances were at the Top Prospects Game and in the playoffs. Not a puck rusher or great PP quarterback. Is at his best when he makes disruptive play in his own end, skates it towards his own blueline and makes a short, crisp pass to a forward in the neutral zone - just keep it simple. That's all you need him to do in the NHL to be a really valuable player.

Summary: Might take until his mid-20s to reach full potential. Slight chance of becoming a complete bust, but is very much worth the risk.

Target/Want: Anywhere from 5th to 8th. I'd take him right after Schenn.

Schenn, Luke - D - Kelowna

Luke Schenn / Kelowna Rockets WHL
D-R / 6-2.25, 216 / 02-Nov-1989

Skating: 60 / Skill: 65 / Sense: 70 / Compete: 70 / Tough: 65

Strengths: Thinks the game very well. Has underrated puck skill. Very advanced and won't need much development time.

Weaknesses: Not many. Somewhat limited overall upside, but who cares when he's already this good.

Does not get enough credit for his offensive ability. Should be at least a 2nd PP unit guy in the NHL. Has a very good shot. Rarely rushes the puck because he's so good at making the first pass. Decision making is outstanding. Plays a ton of minutes. Physical game and toughness is slightly overrated - not the angry head-basher many armchair scouts think he is. Best word for his phyiscal game is "effective" rather than "punishing".

Summary: About as safe a pick as they come.

Target/Want: If the big 3 Ontario d-men are gone (Bogosian, Doughty, Pietrangelo) then this is the one to get. Only forwards I'd take ahead of him are Stamkos and Boedker. Pound your fist on the table for this guy if you're drafting about 6th overall.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tokarski, Dustin - G - Spokane

Dustin Tokarski / Spokane Chiefs WHL
G-L / 5-11, 185 / 16-Sep-1989

Quickness: 30 / Glove: 45 / Reads: 60 / Technique: 40 / Poise: 60

Strengths: Good making the first save. Good play reading. Calm. Wins wherever he goes.

Weaknesses: Plays small and too deep. Rebounds can be ugly. Poor recovery. Mediocre quickness and glove. Has holes up high.

Looked awful everytime I saw him through the first 3/4ths of the season. And after that, okay at best. Positions well for initial save. Comes out to challenge. Does not have good body control. I see too many holes up high that will get picked apart at the pro level. Reminds me too much of Kelly Guard and Brent Belecki. Then again, he reminds me of Cam Ward as well.

Summary: Problem player for me. I'm either way right or way wrong on this one.

Target/Want: Would not want until last couple of rounds, if at all. Obviously will be off the board long before then.

Stone, Michael - D - Calgary

Michael Stone / Calgary Hitmen WHL
D-R / 6-2.5, 200 / 07-Jun-1990

Skating: 35 / Skill: 60 / Sense: 45 / Compete: 50 / Tough: 35

Strengths: Big shot and loves to use it. Plays with a lot of confidence. Good frame.

Weaknesses: Treadmill stride, somewhat awkward pivots. Often an adventure defensively.

Inconsistent this season. Has some good PP upside, but is a long ways from fulfilling it. Does not move the puck smartly inside in the o-zone. Looks to shoot too much. Quick feet. good balance, but really needs to lengthen his stride.

Summary: Good offensive upside, but regressed a bit this season. Skating worries me. Gamble pick.

Target/Want: Will go higher than I'd want. Mid to late 3rd round is where I'd consider him.

Schultz, Ian - RW - Calgary

Ian Schultz / Calgary Hitmen WHL
RW-R / 6-1.25, 179 / 04-Feb-1990

Skating: 30 / Skill: 30 / Sense: 50 / Compete: 70 / Tough: 70

Strengths: Very rugged and competes. Good fighter, drops the gloves frequently. Some goal scoring touch.

Weaknesses: Can't skate. Limited skill.

High effort level all the time. Not an end of the bench goon, usually gets regular shifts. Stiff hands but finds a way to contribute offensively. Fierce along the boards. Wins battles for the puck. Fighting majors: 18 + 1 playoff. Did not fight any of the older league heavyweights, but still very good in scraps I saw.

Summary: Best fighter in the WHL draft crop in a down year for tough guys. If not for skating, would be a top 60 pick.

Target/Want: Toughness always goes higher in the draft than you think. If I'm reaching in an early round for a WHL tough guy, this is the one to get. May go surprisingly high, but I'd consider in the 4th.

DeSerres, Jacob - G - Seattle

Jacob DeSerres / Seattle Thunderbirds WHL
G-L / 6-1.5, 195 / 18-Mar-1990

Quickness: 50 / Glove: 55 / Reads: 55 / Technique: 60 / Poise: 60

Strengths: Excellent rebound control. Good reads and comes out to challenge. Good size and sees through traffic well. Calm. Plays big.

Weaknesses: Very odd footwork. Does not shuffle across the crease well. Average overall quickness.

Outplayed Riku Helenius at times this season. Good middle rounder. Needs some coaching on footwork. Debatable whether Holby or DeSerres is the 2nd best Dub goaltender after Pickard. Holtby is more athletlic, DeSerres is more technically sound.

Summary: Could turn into decent NHL backup.

Target/Want: Would rather have Holtby, but only slightly. End of 3rd, early 4th. Not likely to last until there, however.