LW-L / 6-2.0, 182 / 21-Jan-92
Skating: 70 / Skill: 65 / Sense: 55 / Compete: 55 / Toughness: 40
Strengths: Excellent speed and quickness. Very good shooting touch. Good energy level.
Weaknesses: Lacks strength and does not use his size at all. Overall hockey sense isn't great. Needs a playmaking linemate to generate offense.
Has three big ingredients: size, skating, and shooting touch. But he's a ways from putting it together. Plays a finesse style - he could be 5-9 and get the same results he does now. Does have a projectable frame, but does not really battle physically and gets knocked off the puck too easily. Started to protect the puck a little better late in the season, but still needs to add a lot of overall strength.
But lucky for him, he has the speed and quickness that make it hard for d-men to get a clean hit on him. Excellent top speed and first step quickness. Has a knack for stealing passes and getting to the other end quickly. Does not display real good vision or playmaking ability. Most of his offense comes from speed and ability to unload a shot quickly from the slot or on the move. Has an excellent release and very good accuracy. Gets a lot on his wrist shot.
Overall, his game is still quite unrefined. It's hard not to look at a 6-2 guy and come away disappointed with just how finesse a style he plays. But at the end of the game, he'll have had several prime scoring chances. Doesn't really create for himself and particularly struggled when linemate Jason Bast was on the shelf with an injury in Nov/Dec. But this shouldn't be much of a concern at the NHL level if you can line him up with a playmaker.
Defensive game and play away from the puck will need quite a bit of work. Consistently gives a good effort and has a lot of energy, but you'd like to see him get in there and battle even just a little bit. Doesn't play scared at all, but you have to wonder if he won't frustrate coaches with his lack of physical play. It's usually futile to assume a gentle giant will somehow find a nasty edge - you either have that grit or you don't - no one's going to teach it to you.
Summary: Despite the negatives, I do like this player. If I thought he was scared I wouldn't have him this high. The skating and shot will play, but he might take some extra time for the rest of his game to come along. The natural hockey sense just isn't quite there, and that does indicate some bust potential. And he's going to have to play on your top two lines to contribute.
Draft Day: Seems like a guy who is widely considered a 20-35 range guy, and with his skating and hands might be a bit of a steal there. But you have to know that he might take some development time. Underwhelming performance in Minsk could drop him out of the 1st round, but he becomes a steal if he slides past 30-35.