Friday, June 26, 2009

And the Rest

Just some short takes on some of the guys on the rest of my list while I'm at the hotel waiting to head down to the Bell Centre...

Tommi Kivisto, Red Deer

Strengths: Outstanding skater. Good skill level, and a hard shot. Was a fierce, hard-hitting player last season in Finland.

Weaknesses: The hockey sense here is seriously lacking. Never adjusted to the WHL this season and got worse as the season went.

Summary: Went from looking like a certain first-rounder, to continually sliding as the season went. Just never adjusted to the WHL. People who saw him last season are scratching they're heads. Where is the aggressive two-way guy from last season? Will draw a lot of late round interest because of the hope he rediscovers last season's form.

Adam Hughesman, Tri-City

Strengths: Good shooting touch.

Weaknesses: Skating is rough. Not sure there's a lot of hockey sense. One dimensional. Bad second half.

Summary: Is not really a 7 round interest for me. Skating seemed to regress a bit this year. He's got a nice shot, but just doesn't get himself into position to use it much.

Hayden Rintoul, Kootenay

Strengths: Some untapped offensive upside. Decent skater. Good improvement this season.

Weaknesses: Tweener size. Struggles against forechecking and the physical game.

Summary: Probable camp invite if he doesn't go. Worth watching next year as a possible 2nd year draft.

Giffen Nyren, Kamloops

Strengths: Lots of skill and puck rushing ability. Good skater. Thinks the game pretty well.

Weaknesses: Seems to be still learning his new position. Backward stride and pivots need to improve. Overall d-zone game isn't great.

Summary: I'd argue a bit to grab this guy with a late pick...or at least push for a camp invite. His transition to defence has been a pretty good one, so there's a chance he could improve his d-zone play yet.

Mark Isherwood, Medicine Hat

Strengths: Smart and has good two-way ability. Produces points from the back end. Willing to drop the gloves. Good mobility.

Weaknesses: Another older player, again may be limited upside. Smallish.

Summary: Same story as Nyren, but overall game is more advanced than Nyren's. This is a guy I'd argue strongly for a late pick or camp invite.

Brandon Herrod, Prince Albert

Strengths: Good smarts, competes. Pretty good skater. Surprisingly effective in heavy traffic and against bigger opponents. One of the youngest players in the draft.

Weaknesses: Somewhat smallish. Skating only slightly above average. Not as much improvement this season as I hoped.

Summary: A guy I really liked last season, but just had a hard time noticing this season. Good character guy and worth a very late pick or camp invite. Could still be quite a bit of upside since he's one of the youngest players in this draft crop.

Chase Schaber, Calgary

Strengths: Lots of hidden offensive ability. Competes despite being undersized.

Weaknesses: So-so skater. Smallish and has underachieved so far in his WHL career.

Summary: If you saw him at the U-17 last season, you know this guy has a lot of raw ability and could turn into quite a scorer yet. Kind of got stuck in 3rd/4th line duty on that deep Calgary team, so he could break out if he moves up to the 2nd line next year. Good low-risk, potentially high-reward late pick player.

Dalibor Bortnak, Kamloops

Strengths: Very good size, big frame. Good work ethic. Competes hard and will battle physically.

Weaknesses: No hands. Needs to get much, much stronger to be effective physically.

Summary: I wish I could graft Stepan Novotny's hands onto this guy's body and heart - that would be a real prospect. Bortnak was a scorer back in Slovakia, so there could be some hidden scoring potential here. More of a next year follow than an invite in my mind.

Evan Bloodoff, Kelowna

Strengths: Excellent skater. Competes. Good on the forecheck.

Weaknesses: Limited skill level. Not much of a passing touch. Not going to get much bigger.

Summary: Thought he'd produce a little bit more this year, but he competed physically better than I expected. I think both him and his brother are worthy rookie camp invites.

Cameron Abney, Everett

Strengths: Huge frame. Excellent fighter. Actually pretty decent skater. Can throw some big hits.

Weaknesses: Has trouble contributing to the game with the gloves on. Hasn't shown much ability to do anything but fight yet.

Summary: Never a bad idea to bring a 6-4 guy who can drop the gloves to your rookie camp. At least he'll stir things up.

Tayler Jordan, Portland

Strengths: Another huge frame and tough fighter. Showed some rare intriguing flashes of well-rounded ability.

Weaknessess: Generally has not shown much skill.

Summary: Same as Abney...although I give Jordan the slight nod just on a couple fleeting glimpses of skill I saw this year.

Willie Coetzee, Red Deer

Strengths: Smart and pretty decent skill level. Competes. Not afraid to mix it up with bigger opponents.

Weaknesses: Smallish and probably just a good junior player.

Summary: I think someone will draft this guy, but I'd only offer a camp invite. Don't dislike this player, just other players I'd rather roll the dice on.

Jeremy Boyer, Seattle

Strengths: Good creativity and skill level.

Weaknesses: Can't skate, soft, and smallish. The unfortunate three strikes combination.

Summary: But he is going to be a very good junior player.

Luke Walker, Portland

Strengths: Really competes. Gets the most out of his limited skill level. Improved skating.

Weaknesses: Hands are only okay. Doesn't see the ice real well offensively.

Summary: One of the most improved 2nd-year eligibles in the Dub this year. Not sure he's worth a late pick, but I'd really argue to give this guy a camp invite.

Neil Manning, Vancouver

Strengths: Good puck ability. Good point production from the back end.

Weaknesses: Average skater at best. Smallish. Slow release on his shot. Just not enough jump in his game.

Summary: A very good junior blueliner, but I have a hard time getting excited about his pro possibility. But NHL teams like drafting from winning teams, so there are very likely to be some clubs much higher on Manning than I am.

Tyler Maxwell, Everett

Strengths: Good shooting touch. Smart.

Weaknesses: Very, very small. Not much of a skater. Doesn't really like contact.

Summary: Another three strikes player, but he can shoot the puck pretty well. Should get an invite if not a late pick.

Tyler Halliday, Prince George

Strengths: Good fighter. Has a little bit of skill.

Weaknesses: Only average size for a tough guy. Not much upside.

Summary: Another "if you need/want a fighter" guy in your rookie camp.

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