Sunday, June 15, 2008

2008 Wrap - Saskatoon

Saskatoon Blades

This team is loaded with young talent and should have at least three drafts, and there's an outside chance they could even have as many as six names called in Ottawa.

Jyri Niemi: I doubt the big Finn has a chance at the 1st round, but he seems like a solid bet for the 2nd. Outside chance he slides to the 3rd, but I can't see him sliding much further than that.

Braden Holtby: A bit of a wildcard, as the second tier goaltenders often are. If there's a surprise run on goaltenders in the late 1st through early 2nd rounds, it's not inconceivable that Holtby goes somewhere towards the end of that run. Otherwise I think he's likely a 3rd rounder.

Teigan Zahn: Not high on my list, but I know there are plenty of NHL teams who like him as a middle rounder. Could go anywhere in the middle rounds.

Travis Toomey: Big scoring outburst late had scouts scrambling to see the big Blades centre before his season was over. Serious wildcard - he could go anywhere after the 3rd round. But I also wouldn't be stunned if he lasted until the 7th round - his skating is that big of a flaw.

Kevin Philp: Scouts love massive players like this, but he's no Garrett Klotz - just does not offer the toughness. But he could still go in the last couple of rounds, drafted solely on his size.

Derek Hulak: Passed over last year, but a late growth spurt and a nice jump in production this year could put him on the end of some teams' lists.

Sam Klassen: Another second year eligible, and he showed terrific improvement this season. Competes and has some size. Could go in the last few rounds.

Others: Gaelan Patterson might turn into a good junior player, but I don't think he's a draft this year. Ryan Funk is still walking that line between good junior d-man and almost being a prospect, but he probably gets passed on again. And scouts probably didn't get to see enough of Brendon Wall for him to get on any lists.

Looking Ahead to 2009: The Blades have an interesting group for next year, headlined by Stefan Elliott. Elliott is a late first rounder on my list right now. He may need to develop a physical game to stay there or move up next season. Mitch Berg has not yet lived up to the high expectations, and he may need a breakout season to get much interest.

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