Monday, October 26, 2009

Regina Pats 5 Swift Current Broncos 2

The Swift Current Broncos have several players who are eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. I will make a few comments on these players, however, based on what I saw of them last night they are not priority prospects. One of the players I focused on was Andy Blanke, who was a fourth line left-winger last night. Overall, I did not think that Andy's contribution to the game was enough to merit draft consideration. He did display a good work ethic and was an aggressive forechecker in the limited ice time that he received.
Andrew Sullivan of the Broncos is a fourth line right-winger who is also eligible for the 2010 Entry Draft. Unfortunately, it is difficult to evaluate Andrew because he did not play very much. When he was on the ice, he appeared to have a short skating stride and did not seem very comfortable handling the puck. He will need to prove his overall game in order to be a draft consideration for this year.
Of all the Bronco players with a 1992 birth date, Brody Luhning was the only one to play a regular shift. He is a right-handed defenseman with decent size, but his overall skill level is rather basic. In other words, I'm not sure what type of player he is. I will need to see more of Brody, Andy Blanke, and Andrew Sullivan before I would consider any of them for this draft. Hopefully, they will improve during the season and prove me wrong.

I would also like to add some general observations about players in last night's game that have already been drafted:

-Cody Eakin scored two goals and now leads the WHL in goalscoring with 15. For a center his goal/assist ratio is abnormal and does not appear to be an anomaly. Over his WHL career, Cody has 50 goals but only 35 assists. He recently signed an NHL contract with the Washington Capitals, and based on what I've seen from him he merits the contract for sure. He's a good skater with excellent speed and acceleration. In this game he scored two goals demonstrating a quick release on a hard and accurate shot. Personally, I would like to see Cody improve his vision of the ice and puck distribution skills. In the future, Cody projects to be an asset to an NHL organization. He will be a good player at the American Hockey League level, and I see him as a potential role player in the NHL. With his speed, quickness, and individual skill level I could see him killing penalties. However, he may have to switch to the wing in order to reach his potential.

-for Regina, this is the first time I have seen newly acquired defenseman Cody Carlson. He was a defense partner of Colten Teubert in last night's game and I liked how they played together. Cody is comfortable handling the puck and takes some of the pressure off of Teubert. When Teubert plays with young and inexperienced defense partners he sometimes tries to do too much and over handle the puck -- which gets him in trouble with turning the puck over. In this game, his passes were crisp and accurate.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kamloops Blazers 5 Regina Pats 4

Prospect Watch: Brendan Ranford/Kamloops Blazers
The fact that this is my first and only viewing of Brendan must be taken into consideration. In terms of his overall skating ability I would say that he is quick, but not necessarily fast. In other words, he has good acceleration and can change gears quickly, yet I can't say that he possesses elite level speed. It appears that he derives the power in his stride completely from his legs -- he looks like he doesn't rotate his hips -- similar to a Peter Mueller in his draft year. On one of his first shifts in this game he was forechecking aggressively and made a big hit on a Regina defenseman for which he received a penalty. From my perspective, Brendan demonstrated strength and balance and a willingness to be involved physically on that particular play. Later in the game he set up a nice goal by making a pass from behind the net to a teammate in the slot -- demonstrating good vision and patience with the puck. Overall, it should be noted that Brendan is a positive contributor on a good/winning hockey team. Based on this one game I would hesitate drafting Brendan in the top three rounds. Depending on the strength of this overall draft class, Brendan would likely be a middle round consideration as of right now.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thoughts on 2008 NHL Entry Draft; Tyler Myers

For those of you who were not able to watch the Buffalo Sabres play the Detroit Red Wings on TSN last night, I wanted to make a brief observation on the play of Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers. Myers, who was selected 12th overall by the Sabres in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, played a prominent role in last night's game. He was used on the power play, in penalty killing situations, and at even strength. Based on his play in this game I cannot see Buffalo sending Myers back to junior -- in fact, it would surprise me if he was made available for the World Junior Tournament. A lot can change for young defensemen, and his development could stall or regress briefly. It has to be said, however, there was no sign of it in last night's game.
For me, it was at last year's World Junior Tournament, where Myers made a big step forward in his development. At the beginning of the tournament he was a number six or seven defenseman on Team Canada and used mainly in penalty killing situations. By the end of the tournament, however, Myers was used in many crucial situations and you could see that his confidence and composure had increased significantly. Although I did not see him play in the second half of last season, from what I saw of him in the Memorial Cup, it certainly looks as though he continued his strong play for the remainder of the season.
At the time of the 2008 Entry Draft, my feeling was that Myers was a prospect of considerable upside but with a high risk/reward ratio. My concern was that he would have trouble with containing opposing forwards who were small and fast. After watching last night's game, it appears that Myers's skating and footwork will allow him to be an effective defender to complement his puck handling skills and allow him to reach his potential.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Calgary Hitmen 5 Regina Pats 0

Prospect Watch: Matt MacKenzie/Calgary Hitmen

This is Matt's third-year in the Western Hockey League, as he has a late 1991 birthdate. He plays a significant role on his team, and is firmly entrenched on the second pairing of defensemen. Matt has a slightly knock-kneed skating style, yet he is able to generate sufficient speed and agility. In terms of turning and pivoting, his footwork is efficient and compensates somewhat for the lack of a smooth skating stride. His offensive skill level seems to be improving, as he is off to a good start to the season. The coach has enough confidence in Matt to use him on the second power-play unit. When he plays the point on the power play he passes the puck crisply and smartly, but he does not demonstrate much creativity or imagination -- in other words he makes the easy play and usually the smart play. In this game he scored a goal by moving into the slot from the point and converting a nice one timer into the net -- he showed good instincts and anticipation on this play. In the defensive zone Matt displays discipline in his positioning -- he doesn't wander around aimlessly. He is able to contain forwards with good footwork and defensive technique, and he uses his stick well to break up plays. In this game, Matt did not demonstrate much in terms of physical play and does not appear to use his size to his advantage when playing the body. It is too early in the season to give an accurate round rating for Matt right now. However, he is a prospect to keep an eye on and appears to be a mid-round consideration.