Draft Candidates: Jared Cowen

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    Player Profile:
    Position: D
    Shoots: Left
    Height: 6’5
    Weight: 218 lbs
    Birthdate: 1991-01-25

    Player Background & Description:
    “Cowen’s 2008-09 season was cut short due to a knee injury at the end of January. Prior to his injury, he had a plus-15 rating, 21 points (7-14-21) in 48 games and was selected to participate in the CHL Top Prospects game (0-2-2). In 2008, he helped lead the Spokane Chiefs to a Memorial Cup championship, shutting down the Kitchener Rangers in the final and sealing the win with an empty net goal. He was a plus-six in 21 playoff games. In his first year as a Chief in 2007-08, Cowen led all rookie defensemen with a plus-28 and was named the Spokane Rookie of the Year as well as the WHL Western Conference Scholastic Player of the Year. He served as an alternate captain for Team Canada at the 2008 Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament. He also helped Team West win the bronze medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, recording seven assists (0-7-7) in six games and was named the Player of the Game three times.”
    -NHL.com

    “Jared Cowen made his name last year as a Memorial Cup winning member of the Spokane Chiefs and the comparisons that were thrown around at that time were that of Zdeno Chara. Physically he looks big, strong and rangy. Offensively he has that kind of contribution and if he, despite the pressure that we are putting on him, blossoms into half the player that Chara he is going to be a solid NHL player for years to come.”
    -E.J. McGuire

    Our Bloggers Say:
    “Hulking, physically punishing and swift rearguard not shy throwing weight around, yet subtly skilled enough to lead the rush .. misses elite offensive skills, yet has excellent outlet and first pass capability and finds safe accurate plays .. uses body and wingspan well (might chase speedier forwards at times when they have a step on him) and forces them into hurrying decision making, or plastering into boards ad space .. if Schenn wasn’t already in the fold, Cowan would be an excellent candidate, as defensive cornerstone, but there are a lot of great choices in that 6-10 spot to add skill .. would pick Kulikov over Cowan, not a knock on the 6’5″ rearguard, just a preference to compliment Shenn’s shutdown ablity with some skill and speed from the back end.

    Not worried about ACL injury in January, rehab and body’s ability to recover at such a young age makes it a moot point.”
    -Gus Katsaros

    “Often compared to Luke Schenn, Cowan brings a tenacious, physical game to ice on every shift. The sizeable rearguard plays a dependable defensive game, is a force in front of his own end, and opposing players do not want to be on the revceiving end of one of his thundering hits. Cowan also has shown signs of developing a two-way game; he can make the good outlet pass, and possesses an above-average shot from the blueline. The only knock on him might be his skating, although Cowan’s intelligent positioning more than makes up for any perceived lack of footspeed.

    Cowan should go in the top ten at the draft, no question. The injury has not been reported to be of serious concern to any of the top teams, thus far. In other years I would strongly urge the Maple Leafs to draft a player of Cowan’s ilk; however, the Maple Leafs already have Luke Schenn, and as nice as it would be to add another player similar to him, the Leafs simply have too many needs to justify spending their 1st round pick on another (primarily) stay-at-home defender.”
    -Garrett Bauman

    Alec’s Analysis:

    Jared Cowen appears to be the front-runner, if there is one, to become the Leafs‘ first round selection of ’09 if Burke ultimately has to settle for seventh overall as his draft position. And if Cowen does become Leaf property tomorrow night, the pick won’t be without it’s fair share of controversy. The injury concerns surrounding a young player undergoing major knee surgery before his pro career even gets off the ground have been well-documented. Then there’s the question: is drafting two defensive defensemen with consecutive top ten picks sound asset management? Fletcher faced the decision last draft as to whether to go with the safer pick in the form of a brawny defensive defenseman (Schenn) instead of a of a higher-risk, high-reward offensive talent with a bit more upside (Filatov). For a franchise in need of a new identity and leadership core, most will agree that Fletcher made the right decision last draft, while we don’t know just yet how Filatov will pan out. This time around the question – seemingly between Cowen and MPS – is far more ambiguous.

    A few things need to be made clear: Cowen probably isn’t as one-dimensional as he’s made out to be. Cowen was given fringe consideration as a first overall candidate at one point, more likely a top 3. A one-dimensional player doesn’t get mentioned alongside the likes of a Victor Hedman or a John Tavares (maybe one could make a case about the latter). His massive frame is quite mobile and most scouts will tell you that his two-way ability is underrated. That said, is he bound to play more of a shutdown role at the NHL level – yes. The other consideration: how badly do the Leafs require further defensive help? If Burke’s building from the net out, the league’s worst goals against total last year isn’t a good reflection as to where his club stands defensively. Just how much of that is goaltending? Quite a bit, probably, considering the Leafs were middle of the pack in shots allowed last season.

    As an alternative on the blue-line, a more offensively-inclined puck-mover that’s still quite adept defensively – Dmitry Kulikov – may better serve as a complement to Luke Schenn.

    It’s certainly a tough, tough decision Burke faces should he remain in the seven seed, and should Brayden Schenn not drop down the draft order tomorrow night.

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