These are two teams that have underachieved this season. However, this was the first game this season that Lethbridge has had its full lineup on the ice. In terms of overall play, the game was evenly matched. Lethbridge was able to capitalize on their opportunities, despite the fact that it was their third game in three nights. In the third period when the Pats put some pressure on the Hurricanes, the ability to block shots and collapse in the defensive zone helped the Hurricanes win the game.
From a scouting perspective this game was a good opportunity to compare and contrast the five players that were selected in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. In the near future I will attempt to review the development of three Hurricane prospects; Kyle Beach, Zach Boychuk, and Luca Sbisa. In this game I focused my attention on Lethbridge Hurricane left winger Carter Ashton, who is a prospect for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
Carter Ashton (Lethbridge Hurricanes, #10 CSB)
This is my first viewing of Carter this season. The first thing I noticed about him is that he has improved considerably from last year. Carter has an efficient, slightly bowlegged skating stride with impressive agility for a young man of his size. His overall skating ability is well above average and he uses it to his advantage. In terms of offensive skill, Carter's most appealing attribute is that he is willing to go hard to the net in order to score goals -- he's not afraid of traffic. He handles the puck well and uses his body to shield the puck from opponents. As far as imagination and creativity in the offensive zone, Carter lacks great vision and I would not regard him as a playmaker. Hopefully this aspect of his game will develop over time as he gains confidence and composure. In terms of defensive zone awareness I would say that he is disciplined and maintains solid positioning overall. Despite his size (6'3", 200 lbs.) I would not consider Carter much of a physical presence -- in other words, not a power forward. He does not shy away from physical confrontations, but he is not one to initiate physical play. His on ice mannerisms are positive -- appears to have a strong work ethic and good attitude, he didn't display frustration. Carter certainly appears to have a solid understanding of the game overall. In my opinion Carter has the potential to play in the NHL. However, he will have to improve his on ice vision if he is going to be a top two line player at the NHL level. Will Carter score at the NHL level? That is the question. His combination of size, skating ability, and offensive skill give him the attributes necessary to be selected in the first round of the NHL draft.