D-R / 6-4.25, 212 / 20-Apr-92
Skating: 45 / Skill: 50 / Sense: 60 / Compete: 70 / Toughness: 75
Strengths: Tough, mean SOB who is just nasty to play against. Smart and solid in his own end. Has Tyler Myers-like pokecheck ability.
Weaknesses: Skating is average at best. Limited offense.
Offensive ability is not yet there, but many are selling his upside short. Shows flashes of jumping into the offense smartly and ability to shoot the puck. Feet are just a little bit slow. But his stride got longer this season and he does have some decent straight line speed that helps him recover if he get surprised by a speedy forward. (But yes, if a scout writes "good recovery speed" down as a note, that is not really a positive thing.) Underrated first pass ability - just keeps it simple and gets it out of trouble with reliability. That's all he'll need to be an effective NHLer.
Made some big strides defensively this season. Used to run around a lot looking for the big hit, but now is very effective and smart in the d-zone. Positioning is solid, but often has to give a bigger gap because he's not the best skater. However, his huge reach makes up for that and allows him to be very disruptive with the poke/sweep checks. Makes opponents pay for coming into the crease.
Oh, and did I mention, this guy can really throw 'em in a fight?
Summary: Your assessment of this guy probably depends on how you view his skating. It's not a huge negative for me, but it's not unreasonable to think his pivoting and backward stride are a serious red flag. But I saw a fair bit of improvement in his skating, and there should be more of that to come. I think his offense will come around and let him be at least a good #4. But even in the absolute worst case, if you have to convert him to a 3rd/4th line right wing enforcer, he's going to be a guy that other teams wish they had.
Draft Day: I love this guy and I think he'll surprise on draft day. Scouts who have seen a lot of him understand he's got a more well-rounded game than he gets credit for. If I was picking in the 8-15 range, I'd really argue for this guy. (I'd slot him ahead of Connolly if my team medical specialists expressed any concern about Connolly's hips.) Somewhere in the 15-25 range seems most likely, and I can't imagine him dropping much further than that.