Thursday, January 29, 2009

Prospect Review: Jordan Eberle

Selected 22nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2008 NHL entry draft. This is the third year that I have watched Jordan play for the Regina Pats. In evaluating Jordan's skating ability I would have to say that his overall speed is only average. His skating stride has lengthened and improved over time. The important thing for Jordan is that he has the ability to change speeds and deceive his opponents, making him difficult to contain. He has good balance as I have seldom seen him get knocked off stride. Offensively, Jordan has dynamic skill. For his size, he handles the puck extremely well in high traffic areas. In the offensive zone he is extremely creative and anticipates the play far ahead of other players. In terms of his shooting skill, he is accurate and gets his shot off quickly -- and has the ability to deceive defenders and goaltenders alike. In terms of Jordan's play without the puck he is responsible defensively and uses his natural instincts to his advantage. He seldom turns the puck over in his own end, even when under pressure from opponents. In regards to physical play Jordan will finish checks, but by no means is he a punishing hitter. He is not a big guy, but he has been durable with no major injury problems. Although Jordan seems to be a fairly quiet kid, he is a player with considerable character who plays well in big games (for example: World Junior ).

In my opinion Jordan has the skill set to eventually compete for a top two line position in the NHL. It will be important for him to work hard on his skating and leg strength in order for him to reach his full potential. He has an extremely high hockey IQ (hockey sense), that more than compensates for his lack of an "extra gear in his skating ”. His performances in the World Under 18 Championships in Russia and the World Junior Tournament demonstrate that Jordan can compete at a higher level of competition. He played extremely well with Cody Hodgson, who is another excellent NHL prospect.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Prospect Review: Colten Teubert

Selected 13th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2008 NHL entry draft.
I have seen Colten play many times in the past 2 1/2 years. His overall skating ability is very good. His skating style is conducive to positive further development, with a smooth stride and excellent strength and balance. For his size, he has better than average speed, mobility, and agility. When he accelerates, he tends to lean his upper body forward which hurts his puck handling ability. In terms of offensive skill, he does not possess a great deal of creativity with the puck. In the offensive zone, his strongest attribute is his shot -- which is usually hard and accurate. He is usually effective in getting the puck to the net. My biggest concern with Colten is his defensive zone awareness and positioning. Once in awhile he appears to lack focus. The good thing is that he demonstrated in the World Jr. Tournament that he knows how to play his position, and also how to play within his limits -- in other words not overhandling the puck. In terms of physical play Colten uses his size and strength to his benefit. He plays the body with authority and can deliver strong body checks. He is willing to fight, and while his technique is raw his strength allows him to deliver big punches and outmuscle his opponent.

During World Jr. Tournament, one TSN commentator (Pierre McGuire, I believe) compared Colten to Luke Schenn. While both Colten and Luke can play physical, they are different types of players in my opinion. Right now, Luke possesses more confidence and composure with the puck and consistently passes the puck accurately. On the other hand, Colten is a better skater than Luke.

Although he has struggled somewhat since his return from the World Jr. Tournament, I project Colten to be a top six defenseman in the NHL. His overall physical ability and skating will allow him to play in the NHL. I do believe he may need one season in the American Hockey League to help him learn the defensive side of the game more thoroughly. Making the jump from Jr. to the NHL is very difficult for a defenseman.

Note: I intend to provide projections on other drafted players in the near future.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Kootenay Ice 5 at Regina Pats 4

Game Notes:

The home team played reasonably well in the first period, out shooting Kootenay 15 -- 8, yet they trailed 2-0 after one. The second period was dominated by Kootenay as they took a 4-0 lead. Regina stormed back in the third to tie the game, but subsequently lost in the shootout.

Prospect Notes:
This game was a bit of a disappointment from a scouting perspective as there were two Kootenay prospects out of the lineup. Defenseman Brayden McNabb(#73 CSB) was not playing because of a concussion. When a prospect suffers a concussion in his draft year it is incumbent upon scouts to investigate the extent of the injury. Also, goaltender Nathan Lieuwen (#12 CSB) did not play in favor of Todd Mathews. However, I will report on two other Kootenay prospects:

Hayden Rintoul (#181 CSB)
Hayden is a solid all-around defenseman. His coach obviously has confidence in his play as he sees ice time in all situations, penalty killing, power-play, and even strength. In terms of skating ability he is average, with a slight knock-kneed style. He is agile enough to avoid getting beat in one-on-one situations, but he plays a conservative style and does not take risks. In his own end he consistently maintains good positioning and understanding of his role. His puck handling ability is adequate, but he lacks creativity. Hayden does not play a rugged physical style, but he uses his stick well in defensive situations. Overall, Hayden has a positive contribution to his team and is a valuable player. However, as of right now I would consider drafting Hayden only in the late rounds.

Jesse Ismond (Not Ranked)
Despite not being ranked by Central Scouting, this is a kid that caught my eye. In terms of skating ability he generates speed and acceleration with a slightly bow-legged style -- should contribute to positive further development in my view. His offensive skill level is only average right now as his vision of the ice needs to improve. He had a nice game with two assists. The aspect of his game that I admired the most was his fearlessness in going to the net and his willingness to go to the difficult areas in order to contribute offensively. Jesse is not a big kid and will definitely need to develop strength in order to play at the next level. Maybe I caught him on a good night, but I liked what I saw. I would encourage scouts to keep an eye on him and consider him in the later rounds.

Because I see the prospects on the Regina team so often I will not report on them every game. I will do so at a later date. For readers of this blog, I especially encourage feedback if you notice factual errors in my assessments.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Purpose of this Blog

The goal of this blog is to provide information from a scouting perspective on prospects for the NHL entry draft. It will focus mainly on the prospects that I see firsthand as I attend Western Hockey League games in Regina, Saskatchewan. My intention is to be positive in nature when assessing and ranking the prospects, while also giving my honest opinion. It is important to take notice of both strengths and weaknesses of a prospect in an unbiased and objective manner. Keep in mind that my evaluations will be primarily based on on ice performance, as I do not have access to the prospects themselves, their coaches, or families. Interviewing prospects is an important part of scouting.

From time to time I will also comment on prospects I read about or see on television. Just remember not to take my opinions too seriously -- I simply put them out there for discussion and healthy debate. My first report will likely be this weekend after I watch the Kootenay Ice play here in Regina Friday night.