LW-L / 5-11.5, 175 / 28-May-92
Skating: 65 / Skill: 50 / Sense: 55 / Compete: 65 / Toughness: 70
Strengths: Makes life miserable for opponents. Very good skater. Improved skill level this season.
Weaknesses: Limited offensive upside. Might be a bit smallish to play his style in the NHL.
Ultra competitive and irritates opponents to the point of distraction. Always looks for the big hit. In every scrum after the whistle and will drop the gloves with anyone.
Underrated skater - has very good top speed and quickness. Uses speed well on the forecheck and always forces d-men to make a quick decision with the puck (and usually finishes the check with a big hit).
Skill level was the biggest question mark on this player coming into this season, but the hands started to come around and produced a lot more offense than scouts expected. And it's not just a benefit of being on the Niederreiter/Johansen line. He's got some legitimate offensive ability. It's worth considering that this guy was a big scorer in Bantam and had a bit of a late growth spurt, so the coordination might have suffered from that. But having said that, I don't think he's more than a 10-15 goal guy in the NHL.
Played some of his best hockey while Niederreiter was away at World Juniors, which was a surprising revelation. But was quite underwhelming in the playoffs, where it was clear he had the leash on him and was trying to stay out of the penalty box. Struggled to make a difference in the playoffs.
Summary: The hands coming around really help his status as a prospect and give him some more role possibilities (2nd or 3rd line, rather than just 4th line). But there is a little bit of concern about how such an intense personality will handle himself off the ice. But he's got so many ingredients that should play well in the NHL. Don't quite like this guy as much as my boss does (he's in the 1st round in the Red Line Draft Guide), but I still think he's a solid pick in the 30-40 range.
Draft Day: I don't think he goes in the first, but you never know. Probably a safe bet to go somewhere in the 2nd.