These two teams are battling for the final playoff spot in the East division. The Edmonton club played a very well structured, stifling, defensive game. In this game they were able to control the neutral zone, creating turnovers that resulted in scoring opportunities. The Regina team has some high-profile talent, but their recent performance makes one question their depth. The top four defensemen for Regina are as good as any in the league, but the Oil King forechecking made them look rather ordinary.
Injury problems are making things more difficult in scouting Western Hockey League prospects, as Jared Cowan (Spokane, #7 CSB), and Scott Glennie (Brandon, #12 CSB) are likely finished for the season. In the game, Oil King prospect Tomas Vincour (#79 CSB) did not play because of a shoulder injury -- he should be back in the lineup shortly. From this game I will provide a report on Regina 2009 prospect Garrett Mitchell. I will also give a brief description of underage Oil King defenseman Mark Pysyk:
Garrett Mitchell (Regina Pats, #106 CSB)
Garrett is a prospect that is very easy to like. From a scouting perspective the most appealing aspect of his game is his willingness to initiate physical play, and his overall grit and toughness. In this game he had a fight with Oil King defenseman Drew Nichol, and although Nichol has a distinct size advantage the fight was a draw. In an interview after the game Mitchell said that the reason he engaged in the fight was an attempt to motivate his team. This displays leadership qualities in my view. Garrett also leads by example with a strong work ethic and competitiveness. In terms of his overall skating ability, Garrett has a nice stride with full leg extension that bodes well for positive future development. All aspects of his skating ability are average or above average. Right now, his offensive skill level is underdeveloped. His overall confidence and composure in handling the puck is below average. Hopefully, this aspect of his game will develop over time. He shoots the puck with velocity, but he does not have a quick release. In regards to Garrett's defensive zone play he has both strengths and weaknesses. He is used in penalty killing situations and is effective in using angles to disrupt the rush -- he is also willing to block shots. On the other hand, Garrett is sometimes guilty of turning the puck over in his own end -- something that is not tolerated by coaches at the pro level. In summary, Garrett's skating ability and physical play are two aspects of his game that are above average at this level. At the beginning of the season it would have been conceivable to consider Garrett as a third-round draft choice. However, because his offensive game has not quite developed yet I would consider drafting Garrett in the fifth or sixth round.
Note: Because I have not seen prospects from other regions it is difficult to evaluate the relative strength of Western Hockey League prospects. Therefore, please forgive me if I am not too specific in my round ratings.
Mark Pysyk (Edmonton Oil Kings, Draft eligible 2010)
Generally speaking, I do not like to put too much emphasis on a prospect before his actual draft year. However, it is a healthy exercise to identify a few priority prospects in their underage season -- Mark is one of those prospects. At his age, he demonstrates an excellent overall understanding of his position. As a defenseman, he does not get caught out of position and plays a sound disciplined game. He handles the puck with composure, and usually makes the best choice when moving the puck. As a forward, you like playing with a kid like Mark because he gives you the puck at the best possible time -- and puts the puck consistently on your stick. I cannot think of one situation where he was beat one-on-one in the entire game. He is a good skater, but does not possess a smooth glide stride. It will be interesting to see how his skating develops next season.