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.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

2009 Index of Scouting Reports

Here's a table with links to the reports on players in my area. Grades (in the reports) are on the 20-to-80 scale.

This table will be updated as I add reports.

1 Brayden Schenn C-L 22-Aug-91 6-0.0/198 Brandon WHL
2 Evander Kane LW/C-L 02-Aug-91 6-1.25/176 Vancouver WHL
3 Jared Cowen D-L 25-Jan91 6-5.25/220 Spokane WHL
4 Carter Ashton RW-L 01-Apr-91 6-2.5/205 Lethbridge WHL
5 Scott Glennie RW-R 22-Feb-91 6-1.25/177 Brandon WHL
6 Landon Ferraro C-R 08-Aug-91 5-11.25/165 Red Deer WHL
7 Dylan Olsen D-L 03-Jan-91 6-2.25/206 Camrose AJHL
8 Cody Eakin C-L 25-May-91 5-11.25/176 Swift Current WHL
9 Ryan Button D-L 26-Mar-91 6-0.25/185 Prince Albert WHL
10 Levko Koper LW-L 05-Oct-90 6-0.0/180 Spokane WHL
11 Curtis McKenzie RW-L 21-Feb-91 6-1.5/192 Penticton BCHL
12 Stefan Elliott D-R 30-Jan-91 6-0.5/180 Saskatoon WHL
13 Linden Vey RW-R 17-Jul-91 5-11.25/176 Medicine Hat WHL
14 Jimmy Bubnick RW-R 19-Jan-91 6-2.0/194 Kamloops WHL
15 Nathan Lieuwen G-L 08-Aug-91 6-5.0/180 Kootenay WHL
16 Tomas Vincour C/RW-R 19-Nov-90 6-2.0/203 Edmonton WHL
17 Byron Froese C-R 12-Mar-91 5-11.0/191 Everett WHL
18 Tyson Barrie D-R 26-Jul-91 5-10.25/190 Kelowna WHL
19 Brayden McNabb D-L 21-Jan-91 6-3.75/200 Kootenay WHL
20 Ryan Howse LW-L 06-Jul-91 5-10.75/195 Chilliwack WHL
21 Brennan Yadlowski D-R 17-Jun-91 6-0.5/174 Lethbridge WHL
22 Justin Dowling LW-L 01-Oct-90 5-9.5/182 Swift Current WHL
23 Mitchell Callahan RW-R 17-Aug-91 5-11/175 Kelowna WHL
24 Spencer Bennett LW-L 31-Oct-90 6-3/185 Surrey BCHL
25 Brett Ponich D-L 22-Feb-91 6-5.75/204 Portland WHL
26 Wes McLeod D-L 30-Sep-90 6-1/185 Prince George BCHL
27 Garrett Mitchell RW-R 09-Feb-91 5-10.0/180 Regina WHL
28 Kris Foucault LW-L 12-Dec-90 6-0.5/202 Calgary WHL
29 Stefan Ulmer D-R 01-Dec-90 5-9.0/160 Spokane WHL
30 Collin Bowman D-R 13-Jun-91 6-2.25/200 Kelowna WHL
31 Cass Mappin LW-L 19-Dec-90 6-0.0/186 Red Deer WHL
32 Stepan Novotny RW-R 21-Sep-90 6-1.5/190 Kelowna WHL
33 Brodie Melnychuck D-L 13-May-1991 6-3.5/196 Brandon WHL
34 Alexandre Peck G-L 28-Oct-90 6-4/185 Victoria BCHL
35 Andrej Kudrna LW-L 11-May-91 6-2.25/203 Vancouver WHL
36 Kellan Tochkin RW-R 15-Feb-91 5-9.0/176 Everett WHL
37 Burke Gallimore RW-R 08-Jan-91 5-11.5/195 Saskatoon WHL
38 Brenden Dillon D-L 13-Nov-90 6-2.25/202 Seattle WHL
39 Sena Acolatse D/RW-R 28-Nov-90 5-10.75/209 Seattle WHL
40 Mark Isherwood D-R 31-Jan-89 5-11.5/186 Medicine Hat WHL
41 Giffen Nyren D-L 18-Apr-89 6-0.25/185 Kamloops WHL
42 Tommi Kivisto D-L 07-Jun-91 6-1.25/195 Red Deer WHL
43 Brandon Herrod RW-R 11-Sep-91 5-11.5/176 Prince Albert WHL
44 Adam Hughesman LW-L 28-Feb-91 5-10.5/185 Tri-City WHL
45 Hayden Rintoul D-L 02-Feb-91 6-0.0/181 Kootenay WHL
46 Chase Schaber C-L 03-Jan-91 5-10.5/180 Calgary WHL
47 Dalibor Bortnak C-L 17-Feb-91 6-3.5/185 Kamloops WHL
48 Cory Kane LW-L 15-Sep-90 6-3/190 Vernon BCHL
49 Evan Bloodoff LW-L 21-Nov-90 5-11.0/190 Kelowna WHL
50 Brandon Kozun RW-R 08-Mar-90 5-7.75/162 Calgary WHL
51 Willie Coetzee RW-R 07-Nov-90 5-9.5/186 Red Deer WHL
52 Tayler Jordan LW-R 08-Feb-90 6-6/195 Portland WHL
53 Cameron Abney RW-R 23-May-91 6-4/192 Everett WHL
54 Jeremy Boyer C-R 28-Sep-90 5-9.75/153 Seattle WHL
55 Luke Walker RW-R 19-Feb-90 6-0/174 Portland WHL
56 Matthew MacKay C-R 27-Nov-90 5-11/174 Moose Jaw WHL
57 Neil Manning D-L 12-May-91 5-11.0/175 Vancouver WHL
58 Tyler Maxwell C-L 13-Apr-91 5-8.0/174 Everett WHL
59 Tyler Halliday RW-R 11-Mar-89 6-1/184 Prince George WHL
nv Corban Knight RW-R 10-Sep-90 6-1/180 Okotoks AJHL

Acolatse, Sena - D - Seattle WHL

Sena Acolatse / Seattle Thunderbirds WHL

D/RW-R / 5-10.75, 209 / 28-Nov-90

Skating: 45 / Skill: 40 / Sense: 40 / Compete: 40 / Tough: 70

Strengths: Rugged and a very good fighter. Tremendous strength for a 5-11 player.

Weaknesses: No improvement over last three seasons.

Here's a case of a (late birthdate) guy who looks like a decent prospect at 16, but drops because by the time his draft year rolls around, he's the same player he was that first season. It's even arguable he took a step backward this season, but getting shuffled to forward didn't help. Two seasons ago I thought there was a little puck upside, but it just hasn't come through (yet). You have to hope this guy is a late bloomer, but I would question that, given he physically already looks like he's in his mid-20s.

Still draws interest for his toughness and fighting ability. He's one of the toughest guys in the Dub, and that's got to be worth a look for NHL teams, even with the smallish (well, short at least) size.

Summary: Lack of improvement in his game means he's probably a what-you-see player. Don't know if there's any aspect of his game in its current state that suggests a pro player - but for one: that's the fighting ability. Probably wouldn't argue at all for this player unless I completely missed out on getting a fighter in before the last pick.

Draft Day: I don't know if this guy will be on anybody's list, I would think the fighting ability would be worth some interest. But flip a coin on whether he'll go at all.

Dillon, Brenden - D - Seattle WHL

Brenden Dillon / Seattle Thunderbirds WHL

D-L / 6-2.25, 202 / 13-Nov-90

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

Strengths: Good upper body strength. Competes. Reasonably solid in his own end.

Weaknesses: Limited overall upside. Not much skill level.

Skating improved quite a bit this season, but still only average skater at best. Not a lot of puck skill. Sometimes shows a good first pass, but it's too frequently erratic.

Best qualities are good size and strength and a consistently high effort level. Uses the body effectively. Usually reliable in the d-zone, but does wander at times. Just isn't physically aggressive enough to draw much interest for me as a prospect - I prefer stay-at-home prospects who have at least some toughness. A supposedly big, rugged blueliner better drop the gloves more than twice in a whole season if you ask me.

Summary: This is a very good junior stay-at-home d-man, but that's all I see. I would argue for a camp invite on this guy, but it wouldn't matter - he's going to get drafted.

Draft Day: I'll be awfully surprised if he lives up to Central's mid-term ranking and goes in the early rounds. He'll slot closer to their Final ranking. Likely be a mid- or late-rounder.

Gallimore, Burke - RW - Saskatoon WHL

Burke Gallimore / Saskatoon Blades WHL

RW-R / 5-11.5, 195 / 08-Jan-91

Skating: 45 / Skill: 50 / Sense: 50 / Compete: 40 / Tough: 30

Strengths: Overall decent skill level. Consistent, if not especially passionate, effort level.

Weaknesses: Very soft. Probably not going to get much bigger.

This guy just didn't do anything worthwhile every time I saw him. There was some good production from this guy this season, so I know there must be some nice puck ability there. But I have to see it with my own eyes, and I just didn't.

Average skater at best. Seemed to be on cruise all the time and didn't do any of the dirty work. Seems to have no physical game at all.

Summary: This is a problem player for me. I just can't get on board with this guy - he was very bland in every viewing I had of him. I acknowledge he's almost certainly going way higher than I have him.

Draft Day: The Combine invite should mean he's no worse than mid-rounder...5th round or so.

Kudrna, Andrej - LW - Vancouver WHL

Andrej Kudrna / Vancouver Giants WHL

LW-L / 6-2.25, 203 / 11-May-91

Skating: 50 / Skill: 60 / Sense: 50 / Compete: 30 / Tough: 35

Strengths: Quick hands and good overall hand skill. Good size.

Weaknesses: Effort level is often pretty low. Is still very much a raw talent.

Deceptive speed and some lateral quickness, but overall skating isn't great. Some pretty good scoring and playmaking ability. Has good vision and a decent passing touch.

Doesn't play with any fire most of the time. Won't go battle in the corners at all. Only physical part of his game is that he will battle for position out in front of the net. Just does not seem to have a passion for the game. Don Hay had to try motivating him by healthy scratching him a few times this season.

Summary: There's some good raw ability here to go with a nice sized frame. But it would be hard for me to spend even a late round pick unless every other player I had any interest in were gone.

Draft Day: He'll probably go late if at all.

Tochkin, Kellan - RW - Everett WHL

Kellan Tochkin / Everett Silvertips WHL

RW-R / 5-9.0, 176 / 15-Feb-91

Skating: 40 / Skill: 55 / Sense: 60 / Compete: 35 / Tough: 35

Strengths: Excellent vision and creativity.

Weaknesses: Small, and plays small. Rough skater, especially for his size.

Lots of playmaking ability and real nice passing touch. Tends to be a perimetre player. Skating is not at all what it needs to be for a player this size to become much of a pro prospect.

Summary: This is going to be a outstanding junior player, but the size and skating combination is just too much of a problem. Barely misses being a last round interest for me, but I might advise a camp invite.

Draft Day: Decent enough chance he is a late pick. He'll be a camp invite at worst.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Melnychuk, Brodie - D - Brandon

Brodie Melnychuk / Brandon Wheat Kings WHL
D-L / 6-3.5, 196 / 13-May-1991

Skating: 35 / Skill: 35 / Sense: 55 / Compete: 60 / Tough: 45

Strengths: Good size. Consistent effort level and good character. Thinks the defensive game well and is reliable down low in his own end. Offensive game showed some progress this season.

Weaknesses: Skating needs improvement. Struggles with the first pass and will not carry the puck at all. Could be more physically aggressive.

Is certainly a guy you need to see a lot to appreciate, but still is a long ways away from being a high end pro prospect. Good strength and he uses it effectively at times. As easy as it is for him to win 1-on-1 battles along the boards, you'd think he'd use that big frame more often. But lacks that little bit of nasty edge you want to see from a stay-at-home guy like this.

Not much puck skill, but has an accurate shot - release is a little slow, however. Pivots alright and doesn't get beat with speed or quickness too often in his own end at this level. But his straight line stride is very lacking and will have to improve for him to succeed against faster competition.

Summary: Has two of the unteachables: size and decent hockey sense. But you have to hope for a lot of improvement in every other aspect of his game over the next two years. Pure projection pick.

Target: Only a late round interest for me. He's a reasonable value in the 6th or 7th, but any earlier than that seems like a reach to me.

Peck, Alexandre - G - Victoria BCHL

Alexandre Peck / Victoria Grizzlies BCHL

G-L / 6-4, 185 / 28-Oct-90

Strengths: Big, long limbed and has good raw quickness.

Weaknesses: A bit raw. Doesn't have great feet and is a bit slow moving around the crease.

Huge frame and has good reactive quickness. Seems to have a pretty good glove, but needs to use it more.

Summary: This guy is one of my sleepers, but there's some risk that I'm manufacturing a player since I only saw him once. But the size and raw athleticism is pretty evident. If I'm at a draft table and it's down to a late round pick, I'd argue for this low-risk, potentially high-reward player.

Draft Day: Was a bit hard for scouts to see this season - so it may be no one got a real good read on him. May not go at all, but could get a late look.

Ulmer, Stefan - D - Spokane WHL

Stefan Ulmer / Spokane Chiefs WHL

D-R / 5-9.0, 160 / 01-Dec-90

Skating: 65 / Skill: 60 / Sense: 55 / Compete: 55 / Tough: 40

Strengths: Excellent skater and has a good shot. Good skill. Competes.

Weaknesses: Awfully small. Struggles a bit to be effective in his own end.

Very good skater with excellent lateral quickness, and good stop-starts. Really underrated PP skill - moves the puck smartly and quickly and has pretty darn good shot velocity. Okay moving the puck out of his own end but is not really much of a puck rusher.

Thinks the game well at both ends, but his size hurts his physical effectiveness inside his own zone. Doesn't make many bad plays in the d-zone, but really doesn't make a lot of good ones either. I do like his consistent effort level - his head is always in the game and wants to win. Really stepped up after the Cowen injury and was playing his best hockey at the end of the season and in the playoffs.

Summary: You just wish this guy was bigger - even just 6-0 would be fine. Small guys can make good offensive d-men in the NHL, but he's just a slight notch below where you'd want his offensive ability to be for a blueliner this size. Even so, I'd really want to grab this guy with anything after about 160th overall pick. Even if he only ends up running your AHL team's power play or is the occasional taxi squad fill-in, it's not a bad guy to have in any organization.

Draft Day: Probably won't get a look before the 5th in any case, but I think there's enough interest that he'll go.

Novotny, Stepan - RW - Kelowna WHL

Stepan Novotny / Kelowna Rockets WHL

RW-R / 6-1.5, 190 / 21-Sep-90

Skating: 65 / Skill: 55 / Sense: 50 / Compete: 30 / Tough: 25

Strengths: Some slick offensive ability. Very good skater with speed and shiftyness.

Weaknesses: Does not like to get hit and plays somewhat scared.

There's a lot of raw talent here. Has a lot of speed and lateral quickness. Creative and can make some flashy plays. Has a bit of hot dog in him, so when he gets lots of room, he can make some fancy, dazzling rushes.

The problem is that he needs that wide open room. For the most part, he actively avoids getting hit and does not like traffic at all. There were stretches in the middle of this season, however, where he showed a bit more toughness and willingness to take hits. So there is some hope here. But that seemed to disappear again once the playoffs started.

Summary: I'd rather have a lazy player than a scared one, but every once in a while a player at this age finds some courage. So I'd argue it's worth spending a very late pick on a guy with early round skating and skill level like this.

Draft Day: Might not go at all or is a late round pick.

Mappin, Cass - LW - Red Deer WHL

Cass Mappin / Red Deer Rebels WHL

LW-L / 6-0.0, 186 / 19-Dec-90

Skating: 45 / Skill: 60 / Sense: 55 / Compete: 25 / Tough: 50

Strengths: Quite a bit of natural puck skill.

Weaknesses: Does not compete. Floats and spends a lot of time around the perimetre. Barely average skater.

Despite getting on the scoresheet in most of the games I saw him, did not impress me even once. When I see this much lazy, floaty play, it's hard to not completely write off the player. That said, there's a lot of puck ability here and some good offensive instincts.

I give him credit for a willingness to drop the gloves on occasion. But to be brutally honest, that just seems like phony toughness when you spend most of the game strolling around the ice like it's an old-timer's exhibition game.

Summary: This is a "well, I guess I'd take him at some point" player for me. But I couldn't even argue hard for him in the 7th round. Almost certainly goes much higher than I have him.

Draft Day: Some teams don't mind taking "casual players" somewhat high. Probably because of the old scouting cliche about it being easier to light a fire under a player than transplant a new set of hands on one. So he could still go pretty high, maybe the 3rd round might be a best case.

Foucault, Kris - LW - Calgary WHL

Kris Foucault / Calgary Hitmen WHL

LW-L / 6-0.5, 202 / 12-Dec-90

Skating: 60 / Skill: 65 / Sense: 50 / Compete: 30 / Tough: 35

Strengths: Terrific goal scorer's hands. Deceptively good speed.

Weaknesses: History of questionable work ethic. One dimensional game.

I've jokingly said this player must have sold his soul to the devil (a la Robert Johnson) at a crossroads outside of Canmore to become this good, this fast. But the truth is he's always had a lot of raw talent and obviously something finally clicked once he got to Calgary.

This guy is a little hard to figure as a prospect - has he finally made the commitment off the ice to be the best player he can be? Are all those highlight-reel goals going to continue or is he just a flash in the pan? He's got good goal scorer's hands and an ability to get to the scoring areas, but almost everything else about his game is underwhelming. Doesn't do much away from the puck. Skating is underrated, however - sneaky fast and has pretty good agility.

Summary: He's arguably got first round hands - his scoring touch is that good. But there's obviously a lot of risk with this guy. This is the kind of guy that if you draft him early and send him to your NHL camp, your head coach might ask why are you sending him this lazy, out of shape teenager. But this guy has such great hands, you have to consider him beginning somewhere around 3rd or 4th round. If you can keep that fire lit under him, you might have a real prospect.

Draft Day: Another wild card. Could go anywhere after the 3rd.

Bowman, Collin - D - Kelowna WHL

Collin Bowman / Kelowna Rockets WHL

D-R / 6-2.25, 200 / 13-Jun-91

Skating: 30 / Skill: 40 / Sense: 55 / Compete: 50 / Tough: 50

Strengths: Good strength and size. Decent hands. Has shown flashes of solid d-zone play.

Weaknesses: Skating is a serious flaw. Overall game seriously regressed this season.

His draft year was pretty much a disaster. But I still remember the flashes of ability from late in the 07-08 season/playoffs and last summer's tournaments. And at the back of my mind is a little thought about his brother's draft year - which was also disappointing.

Summary: This guy is the speculative penny stock of this draft. Pick him up with a late pick and see if he's a late bloomer like his older brother.

Draft Day: I might think about him beginning in the 5th, but would prefer to spend a cheaper 6th/7th rounder if I think I'm the only one who sees anything in this guy. He's probably fallen off a number of NHL lists completely, but there's going to be a quite a few teams that will still take him somewhere.

McLeod, Wes - D - Prince George BCHL

Wes McLeod / Prince George Spruce Kings BCHL

D-L / 6-1, 185 / 30-Sep-90

Skating: 60 / Skill: 55 / Sense: 40 / Compete: 50 / Tough: 60

Strengths: Smooth skater, good mobility. Big shot from the point. Can play it rugged.

Weaknesses: Tweener size. Questionable hockey sense. Inconsistent physical play. One-dimensional offensive game.

This guy is a Rorschach player. Seems to be wildly differing opinion on him. Those who like him think he's got a lot of offensive potential. I'm not so sure, but he does have a tremendous shot. The lack of puck handling ability or a good passing touch is what's going to keep him from being a point producer from the back end. The only contribution he really makes on the PP is waiting to be fed the puck for a slap shot. He just can't seem to be able to move the puck inside the zone at all.

Only okay in his own end - gets caught flat footed too much. Tries to be physical at times, but doesn't quite have the size or strength to be a baggage-smasher at the next level. Has a bit of a long fuse too, but I do like that he'll drop the gloves to defend a teammate.

Summary: Just too much a tweener for my like. Not sure I'd argue hard for this guy at any point, but by about the 5th round I could be convinced to take a flier on him.

Draft Day: Who knows...if some of the love for this player I've heard from other scouts is sincere, he could go surprisingly early - maybe 3rd round. Otherwise there could even be a chance he doesn't go at all.

Callahan, Mitchell - RW - Kelowna WHL

Mitchell Callahan / Kelowna Rockets WHL

RW-R / 5-11, 175 / 17-Aug-91

Skating: 50 / Skill: 40 / Sense: 40 / Compete: 65 / Tough: 75

Strengths: Excellent fighter. Fearless style and works hard. Just enough skating and skill to be interesting.

Weaknesses: Might not have the frame to play his style at the next level.

Who'd have thought the toughest guy from the Dub in this year's draft would be from Southern California? The rugged style and fighting ability is the big draw here. But has just enough skating and skill to make for an intriguing middle round sleeper.

Great on-ice work ethic. Is strong defensively and a decent penalty killer. Lots of improvement from September to March this season. I think there could be some hidden offensive upside. Even if his best case upside is only a 5-10 goal scorer in the NHL, with the defensive play, physical style, and willingness to drop the gloves, that could be a really valuable guy to have.

Summary: I don't care that he's only 5-11, this guy can play it tough. I'd want to roll the dice on this guy with a late 3rd or a 4th.

Draft Day: Was previously listed as a late-91 birthdate, so he's gone under the radar a bit. But NHL teams have certainly noticed. There's a chance he goes shockingly early (2nd round isn't impossible). Otherwise I think he might be a middle rounder.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ponich, Brett - D - Portland WHL

Brett Ponich / Portland Winter Hawks WHL

D-L / 6-5.75, 204 / 22-Feb-91

Skating: 55 / Skill: 30 / Sense: 55 / Compete: 50 / Tough: 60

Strengths: Huge, long-limbed frame. Decent skater. Good defensively. Underrated but reluctant fighter.

Weaknesses: Struggles with the first pass. No offensive upside.

At his best in his own end. Long reach and good instincts make him a pretty reliable shut-down guy. Is good in physical battles, but isn't as aggressive physically as you would want him to be.

Struggles with consistency with the puck. Occasionally makes a nice first pass to get the puck out of trouble, but too often he's indecisive and sloppy in moving the puck. Doesn't offer much on the offensive end.

Skating is about average - because of his size it's easy to overrate his skating. Has a long, smooth stride and okay footspeed. But by NHL standards he would be a barely adequate skater - his 2nd/3rd/etc step isn't real good and his pivots are a slightly rough. That said, his skating is more of a plus than a minus - and I don't think it's going to keep him from getting to the next level. Can really throw 'em in a fight - which makes me wonder why he doesn't drop the gloves more often. That and his under-used size makes you wish he didn't have such a long fuse and would get angry more often.

Summary: I've seen too much of this guy, so all the flaws and inconsistency are probably too prominent in my mind. But the more I look at my notes, the more I realize this is a pretty decent mid-round sleeper. I just wish he showed just a little more natural aggressiveness. If I'm in an organization that needs this role (big stay-at-home d-man), you'd have to argue pretty hard for this guy with your 4th...maybe even your 3rd, depending on who else is available.

Draft Day: I'd guess he goes somewhere in the 3rd or 4th. Some whispers around that he could sneak into the 2nd round, but that's iffy to me.

Dowling, Justin - LW/C - Swift Current WHL

Justin Dowling / Swift Current Broncos WHL

LW/C-L / 5-9.5, 182 / 01-Oct-90

Skating: 60 / Skill: 65 / Sense: 60 / Compete: 45 / Tough: 35

Strengths: Very good hands and is creative. Good offensive instincts. Decent skater with some quickness and elusiveness.

Weaknesses: Small and not physical at all.

Quick hands and I like his playmaking ability. Sees the ice well. Good skater and is a little shifty - but you want smallish guys like this to be pretty elite skaters - and he's not quite there. Thinks the game pretty well. Tends to avoid the heavy traffic, but he's not scared out there.

Summary: Higher on my list than the probable consensus on the hope that slick hands and good hockey smarts can carry him into the pro ranks. Might only be a career AHL player, but enough improvement over the last two seasons make him a worthy mid-round gamble to me.

Draft Day: Another guy that probably wouldn't have even got a look in the NHL Draft a decade ago. I think he'll go lower than I have him (probably 5th-7th rounds), but I'll be surprised if he doesn't go somewhere.

Mitchell, Garrett - RW - Regina WHL

Garrett Mitchell / Regina Pats WHL

RW-R / 5-10.0, 180 / 09-Feb-91

Skating: 40 / Skill: 25 / Sense: 50 / Compete: 80 / Tough: 70

Strengths: Tremendous competitiveness. Goes to war out on the ice. Loves to drop the gloves.

Weaknesses: No hands - just can't seem to contribute offensively. Skating is a problem.

Let's be honest here - this guy is only a prospect because of his desire to compete - that's it. He doesn't offer much else, but when you go to battle like this guy does, scouts will take notice.

Summary: You just want this guy to succeed so bad - but there's not much hope for improvement in the skill level. If he had any size or skated better, you could make a case for him, but with all the negatives (skill, skating, and size) it's three strikes in my book. I couldn't justify arguing for him before the 4th round at earliest, and I suspect he's gone before then.

Draft Day: Scouts love this guy and my guess is he's going to go surprisingly high on draft day. I'll be surprised if he doesn't go top 100.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Bennett, Spencer - LW - Surrey BCHL

Spencer Bennett / Surrey Eagles BCHL

LW-L / 6-3, 185 / 31-Oct-90

Skating: 50 / Skill: 60 / Sense: 50 / Compete: 45 / Tough: 40

Strengths: Big body and nice hands near the net. Underrated passing and playmaking.

Weaknesses: Does not use his big size as much as he could. Skating is average at best.

Good combination of size and hands. Excellent shooting touch - and not just near the crease, where most of his shots come from. Gets spot duty at the point on the PP because of his big shot. Shows flashes of some good finesse skill and creativity.

Skating is a bit of a puzzle - has a good long stride, but just seems to be slow-footed overall. Does not do a lot in transition. Most of his game is played down low. Hard to move from the crease, but he is not real physical. Does not initiate much contact and doesn't really battle for the puck along the boards.

Summary: Not sure where the consensus is on this guy - he's soft enough that it could be too much of a concern among NHL scouts. But once you get to the middle rounds there's no way you can ignore a 6-3 guy with this kind of touch around the net.

Draft Day: A real wild card - I have no idea where he'll go. I'd guess he'll be a 4th or 5th rounder, but he could go either direction.