The ability to select future stars or even useful role players in the mid-late rounds is what separates the pretenders from the contenders. The class of the NHL when it comes to late round drafting are the Detroit Red Wings, with players like Helm (5th), Franzen (3rd), Filppula (2nd), Hudler (3rd), Ericsson (9th), Zetterberg (7th) and Datsyuk (6th) all playing key roles on a Stanley Cup Finalist team. As E.J. Mcguire alluded to in the previous chapter of Draft Watch ’09, there will be plenty of potential impact players available beyond the first round of this year’s entry draft. Let’s take a look at some of the names:
Ryan O’Reilly: Forward, Erie Otters, OHL
O’Reilly is the kind of forward that every championship team needs; a player with heart, grit, work ethic, and all-around ability. He is an elite penalty killer, faceofff man, and offers the two-way shutdown ability of a Ryan Kesler. Consider the offensive upside, and you might have yourself an ideal 2nd or elite 3rd line centre. Burke would likely have to trade up from the 50’s, but O’Reilly is one player who would well be worth it. Projected: Late 1st round – Mid 2nd round.
Tomas Tartar: Forward, HKM Zvolen, Slovakia
Tartar really put himself on the scouting map with an excellent performance at the 2009 World Juniors, scoring 7 goals and 11 points in 7 games played. He’s undersized, but demonstrated the ability to play a heady, tenacious style of game that really got under the skin of his opponents. He was buzzing all over the ice, creating turnovers and scoring chances. Sounds like the ideal Detroit player, so it’s possible they don’t let him fall past their 1st round pick. Projected: Early – Late 2nd round.
Richard Panik: Forward, Trinek Ocelari HC, Czech Republic
Panik is one those players with 1st round talent who usually ends up dropping a little on draft day due to consistency or injury issues during the season. He is blessed with a goal scorer’s set of skills, including great hands, size, and skating ability. A ton of upside here, but it’s a bit of a gamble. The team that picks him is going to have to be confident that they can get him back on the right track. Projected: Early – Mid 2nd round.
Chris Brown: Forward, USA-18, USDP
Like the Chris Brown the singer, Chris Brown the hockey player is someone who loves to get physical. He delivers big hits and plays a tough, in-your-face style of game. More of a two-way grinder, he does possess some untapped offensive upside. Add in the 6’2 frame, and you’ve got yourself the mold of a Burke type player. Projected: Mid 2nd round – Mid 3rd round.
Ethen Werek: Forward, Kingston Frontenacs, OHL
Werek is an agressive player with some decent wheels, intriguing size, and possesses the type of work ethic and desire that coaches love. He’s going to lay it all out when he’s on the ice, is tough to play against, and scored some key goals for Kingston this season. A solid power forward prospect and a relatively safe pick. Projected: Early – Mid 2nd round.
Zach Budish: Forward, Team South West, MHSEL
Continuing with the theme of Burke-type players, Budish is a huge specimen, standing already at 6’3, 229 lbs. He’s a beast to knock off the puck, especially when controlling play along the boards. He’s not afraid to battle it out in corners or pay the price to score in front of the net. He also possesses some surprising offensive ability and quick, accurate shot. He’s this low because of time lost due to a knee injury, but this is a 1st round talent. Projected: Early – Late 2nd round.
Matthew Hackett: Goaltender, Plymouth Whalers, OHL
Thanks to a breakout season for the Whalers, Hackett has been soaring up draft boards all year, finishing as Central Scouting’s #1 ranked goaltender, all the way up from #8 on their midterm rankings. Hackett possesses everything you look for in a goaltender: size, poise, quickness, ability to read the play, and projectability. He’s only on this list because most scouting agencies have him ranked to go in the mid to late 2nd round, but I’d be surprised if he lasted that long. Projected: Late 1st round – Early 2nd round.
Brayden McNabb: Defense, Kootenay Ice, WHL
Dubbed the “Poor man’s Jared Cowen” by International Scouting Services, McNabb has the chance to be a shutdown defender at the NHL level. He’s big guy at 6’4, 200 lbs and plays strong defensive game, accented strong positional play and mobility. Like Cowen, he’s could stand to develop more of a mean streak, but it not, he may follow a career path similar to that of Hal Gill, and there’s nothing wrong with a long and useful NHL career. Projected: Late 2nd round – Early 3rd round
Alex Hutchings: Forward, Barrie Colts, OHL
Hutchings is going to be a great value pick for a team eyeing some hidden offensive talent. Although he’s undersized, Hutchings is one of the fastest skaters in the draft and is a very dangerous player in the offensive end. He’s got great hands and hockey sense, and is one of those candidates to become a star if he just managed to get a little bigger and a little taller. Projected: Mid 2nd round – Mid 3rd round
Matt Clark: Defense, Brampton Battalion, OHL
As you can tell from the picture at the beginning of this article, I’m a big Matt Clark fan. He is your classic “rough and tough” shutdown defender, in the mold of a Brooks Orpik. He possesses a high hockey IQ, reads and anticipates plays very welll, and as such is rarely out of position. Like Schenn, he makes safe, crisp decisions with the puck. This is the kind of grit, character and maturity you want on your back end moving forward. Bit of a limited ceiling, but he’s a 2nd round talent. Projected: Early – Late 3rd round.
Ben Hanowski: Forward, Little Falls High School, Minnesota
Meet the record holder for the most points scored (57 goals and 57 assists in 25 games played) in the history of high school hockey. Hanowski is a VERY interesting prospect who looked good in various American showcases against the top players in the nation. He has good size, great hands, and a goal scorer’s instinct in terms of reading plays and being at the right place at the right time. This is a project pick, but one with potentially huge rewards. Projected: 3rd – 4th round.
Anton Lander: Forward, Timra, SEL
Remember that quote about a “Euro who thinks he’s from Red Deer”? Well, this is him. Lander is an aggressive, hard-working forechecker who is among the top two-way players of this draft class. He’s always buzzing around the ice, harassing opposing players, causing turnovers, and doing all the little things to win, much like Sami Pahlsson. He’s a character player who can adapt to any role, possesses great speed and brings a maximum effort every night. Sprinkle in a bit of offensive upside, and you’ve got another one of my post 1st round favorites. Projected: Mid – Late 2nd round.
Olivier Roy: Goaltender, Cape Breton Eagles, QMJHL
Many of you remember this name, as Roy was one of the more hyped goaltenders of the last few years. He’s a bit undersized for a goaltender, but makes up for it with great poise, a strong work ethic and lightning quick reflexes. He’s played well over the past few years, but just has yet to really step it up a notch to reach the ultra-high ceiling that scouts believe he has. He was in the 1st round conversation to start the year, and a brilliant duel against Edward Pasquale during the CHL Top Prospects game showed us glimpses of that potential. Projected: Early – Mid 2nd round.
Erik Haula: Forward, Shattucks St. Mary’s High School, Minnesota
Another product of the superb hockey program at Shattucks, Haula was actually born in Finland and decided to come to the States to further develop his game. He’s slightly undersized, but possesses all the makings of a future impact forward at the next level. Haula is one of the more dynamic offensive players in the draft, offering speed, grit, vision, and goalscoring ability. He is a solid two-way player, but is rated lower than his talent level would dictate because he’s still quite raw and is going to be one of those high-upside project picks. Projected: 3rd – 4th round.
Byron Froese: Forward, Everett Silvertips, WHL
Froese is your typical, all-around Canadian forward. He’s also a bit undersized, but is an intelligent player who reads plays very well and contributes at both ends of the ice. He was perhaps a bit underappreciated on a poor Silvertips team, but he is one of the draft’s better two-way players. Byron played exceptionally well for Team Canada at the World Under 18’s, handling a large workload of minutes, and stood out offensively on a very talented team, recording 7 points in 6 tournament games. As the draft goes into the deeper rounds, this is someone I’d keep my eye on. Projected: 3rd – 4th round.
Those are just a few of the names I hope Burke and the Leafs’ scouting staff manage to call out on Draft weekend. Honorable Mentions include power forwards Jimmy Bubnick and Tomas Vincour, two-way players Cody Eakin and Andrej Nestrasil, grinder Marcus Foligno and Swedish defenseman Anton Myllari. Watch a lot of junior hockey? Let’s hear some of your favorites.
Always a pleasure,