Jun 232012
 

Canucks GM Mike Gillis has made no bones about wanting bigger, smarter players. He proved that last night with his first round selection of Belleville Bulls’ 6’2″ center Brendan Gaunce. Today, he continued with that theme with the selection of 3 forwards and 1 defenseman, all at least 6’1″ and 3 of them having committed to play for the University of Maine, Boston University and Yale.

Round 2, 57th overall: Alexandre Mallet, C, Rimouski (6′ 1″, 194 lbs.)

Alexandre Mallet, Rimouski Oceanic, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: TVA Sports

Undrafted last year and unranked this year, Mallet (@LaMalletos_21) is a physical overager who potted 34 goals and 81 points for the Rimouski Oceanic last season.

The Hockey Writers: Mallet is not simply a fighter that picks up garbage goals around the net, he can also score beauties thanks to a booming slap shot and soft hands, and his goals often come in bunches.

New England Hockey Journal: Older, 1992-born center is like Mitch Moroz: tough, rugged and willing to drop the gloves anytime, anywhere. Although the upside is a bit in question, he has the physical traits and attitude to appeal to the Bruins.

The Chronicle Herald: He also went undrafted last year but broke out with 81 points this year, more than quadrupling his 2010-11 totals. Scouts like his offensive potential, but love his physical play even more.

Round 5, 147th overall: Ben Hutton, D, Nepean (6′ 3″, 195 lbs.)

Another prospect who was passed over in last year’s draft, Hutton (@bhutt10) captained the Kemptville 73s, led the Nepean Raiders to the CCHL championship, and represented Canada East in the World Junior A Challenge.

From BDN Maine Sports:

Ben Hutton, a point-producing 6-foot-3, 195-pound defenseman for the Kemptville (Ontario) 73’s of the Central Canada Hockey League, has verbally committed to attend the University of Maine on a scholarship beginning next fall.

Hutton, who plays in all situations, is the team’s No. 2 scorer with seven goals and 19 assists in 30 games. He leads the team in assists and in power-play points with 12 on four goals and eight assists.

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“He’s the best defenseman in our league, by far. He’s like a man among boys out there,” said Kemptville coach and general manager Pat Malloy. “He oozes with pro potential. His skill level is so high.”

“He’s big and his puck skills and hands are off the charts,” added Malloy. “He’s a one-man forecheck breaker, he has a good shot and he’s an above-average skater. He plays 35 minutes a game and plays important minutes against the other team’s top line.”

Malloy said Hutton, who is the team captain, is also a first-class individual.

“He’s a straight arrow from a good family who will do anything to win and will do anything for the team,” said Malloy. “He’s a dream to coach.”

Round 6, 177th overall: Wesley Myron, LW, Victoria (6′ 2″, 190 lbs.)

Wesley Myron, Victoria Grizzlies, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: Grizz Roar

Like Hutton, Victoria, BC native Myron (@Mysie9) played in the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, winning gold while representing Team Canada West.

US Hockey Report: Myron, a tall, lanky kid with the frame of an NHL-type center, is a strong skater who has shown a lot of finish in the BCHL. He was #3 on our list of Top Uncommitted NCAA Prospects (USHR News, 10/25/11), following only Seth Jones (US U-18) and Alex Kerfoot (Coquitlam – BCHL). Myron has the potential to be a top two line center for the Terriers, which, should Charlie Coyle opt to go pro (not a foregone conclusion), would fill a very immediate need. An 8/16/92 birthdate and Victoria, BC native, Myron was also sought by UNH and St. Cloud State. Michigan was reportedly beginning to show interest too.

Grizz Roar: With 24 assists in 23 games the bigger 6’2” 190lbs Myron is the set-up man, “His passing has always been good and it seems to get better every year and his physical play has improved this year” adds Murphy.

Round 7, 207th overall: Matthew Beattie, C/RW, Phillips Exeter Academy (6′ 3″, 175 lbs.)

Matthew Beattie, Phillips Exeter Academy, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: Phillips Exeter Academy

Because the Canucks love Ivy League players, they reached out and drafted Yale-bound Beattie (@UnBeatable_13) with their last pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

College Hockey Perspective: Exeter coach Dana Barbin couldn’t be happier to have had a year’s worth of Beattie’s contribution in his lineup. Said Barbin, “Matt has been outstanding all year in his post-grad year. He is the leading scorer in New England with 28 goals, 29 assists in 18 games. He’s one of my all-time favorites in 25 years here. Matt loves to practice, play, and enjoy the game with his teammates. He’s a real competitor when the going gets tough. His skating is outstanding, explosive and he has pretty darn good hands as well. He needs to improve speed of his shot and put on some weight, but Matt has flown under the radar. He could be the real deal.”

New England Hockey Journal: But as Exeter is enjoying its best season, record-wise, since its New England championship team of 1998-99, the 6-foot-3 Beattie, a Yale-bound postgraduate, is leading the team in scoring with 28-29-57 totals entering last weekend.

That’s even more than the Harvard-bound Hart (21-25-46), who was recently tabbed by Central Scouting as the 60th-ranked North American skater in its midterm draft rankings.

“No one knew who he was,” said Exeter coach Dana Barbin (Exeter, N.H.) of Beattie. “Over the summer he started going around to camps and then people started saying, ‘Whoa.’ He sent me a DVD 15 months ago. I looked at it and said, ‘Oh, yeah.’ He’s been lights out from the first game.”

Jun 222012
 
Brendan Gaunce, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: The Pipeline Show

The Vancouver Canucks ignored all the trade chatter and whispers on the draft floor in order to take centre Brendan Gaunce of the Belleville Bulls with their 26th overall pick.

What the Canucks are getting:

A solid two-way centre with faceoff ability who can play all forward positions. Gaunce has been a leader with the Belleville Bulls and should be on a shortlist for Canada at the next World Juniors. Gaunce isn’t a physical specimen by any means, but at 6-2 and 201 pounds is willing to go into the corners and engage in physical battles if necessary. The knock on Gaunce is that there are questions about his offensive upside, so most scouts have him pegged as a third-line centre. Gaunce’s skating stride is also suspect, as his first step is rather sluggish. But if Gaunce can improve his stride, he can be a very tenacious forechecker for the Canucks down the road.

Call me, Cody?:

There are a couple similarities between Brendan Gaunce and one-time Canuck Cody Hodgson. On top of the fact the two are both from Markham, their skating strides when drafted out of junior are similar, but both are hard-working players with leadership qualities.

Other notes:

We shared some of the scouting reports on Gaunce earlier this week.

In drafting Gaunce, the Canucks passed on a few other prospects: Henrik Samuelsson, a rugged crash-and-bang winger, and Brady Skjei, a smooth-skating defenseman from the U.S. National Development Program. The Canucks also could’ve opted for Matthew Finn, another defenseman from the OHL’s Guelph Storm, or Ludvig Bystrom, a Swedish defenceman who hails from Ornskoldsvik (aka The Canuck Factory).

Jun 222012
 

As NHL teams chart their futures and select their newest stars at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, we track your reactions in this version of The Draft According to Twitter.

https://twitter.com/stevenfoster1/status/216317482997264384

Read more past the jump.

Jun 202012
 
Nail Yakupov, 2012 NHL Entry Draft

1. Edmonton Oilers: RW Nail Yakupov, Sarnia (OHL)

Assuming the Oilers retain the first overall pick, the brass would be naïve to draft anyone other than Yakupov, who’s far and away the best of the draft.

2. Columbus Blue Jackets: RW Filip Forsberg, Leksand (Sweden)

The Jackets essentially need help all over the map, and in terms of NHL readiness, Forsberg’s as safe as they come.

3. Montreal Canadiens: C Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia (OHL)

There are fears Galchenyuk hasn’t recovered from his ACL injury, but scouts got positive news when the American had a good Combine. He’ll need another year of junior, but is the big, rangy centre the Habs want.

4. New York Islanders: D Ryan Murray, Everett (WHL)

In 2010, the Isles wanted Erik Gudbranson. In 2011, they wanted Adam Larsson. They need a franchise defenseman and Murray’s the best this year has to offer.

5. Toronto Maple Leafs: C Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec (QMJHL)

If anyone could be a mover and shaker at the draft, it’s Brian Burke and Toronto. The Leafs are in search of a big, skilled centre, and if Galchenyuk is off the board, Grigorenko is the next best option.

6. Anaheim Ducks: D Matt Dumba, Red Deer (WHL)

It looks like the Ducks will lose top prospect Justin Schultz, so Anaheim will likely need to both draft a defenceman and stay clear of NCAA players for a while. Dumba goes for the big hit, and the Ducks would love a player who plays like Chris Pronger.

7. Minnesota Wild: D Jacob Trouba, USA (NTDP)

Trouba’s a Minnesota boy, and the Wild have shown they like taking players from their own backyard (see Nick Leddy). Trouba has defensive defenceman capabilities, something the Wild lacked when they traded Brent Burns.

8. Carolina Hurricanes: LW Teuvo Teravainen, Jokerit (Finland)

Small, shifty, and skilled; sound like someone on Carolina you know? Jeff Skinner leapt to the NHL right after the draft, but the ‘Canes haven’t had much success at forward otherwise.

9. Winnipeg Jets: C Radek Faksa, Kitchener (OHL)

The Jets covet size and skill, and Faksa has it in spades. The Czech import is a character player for Kitchener while putting up point per game numbers.

10. Tampa Bay Lightning: D Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw (WHL)

Like Galchenyuk, Rielly missed a ton of time before acquitting himself well at the Combine. Rielly might be the best offensive defenceman available and the Bolts would love to pair him with Victor Hedman.

11. Washington Capitals[1]: D Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton (WHL)

The Capitals blueline is aging and soon Karl Alzner and John Carlson will be leading the charge, but Washington could use a defensive stud like Reinhart in their pipeline.

12. Buffalo Sabres: RW Thomas Wilson, Plymouth (OHL)

The Sabres parted ways with the burly Zack Kassian, but Wilson would be a worthy replacement. The 6-foot-4 Whaler brings size and grit to the table to an otherwise smaller forward pool.

13. Dallas Stars: C Zemgus Girgensons, Dubuque (USHL)

Big and rangy, Girgensons is classified as a safe pick, which is good for Dallas who could add another forward to their prospect cupboard. Scouts say he brings a good two-way game and competitive edge.

14. Calgary Flames: D Cody Ceci, Ottawa (OHL)

The Flames’ recent track record of drafting defensemen at the draft has been subpar at best (see Matt Pelech and Tim Erixon), but Ceci is a superb offensive defenceman who could make it. Scouts have made comparisons to Michael Del Zotto.

15. Ottawa Senators: RW Sebastian Collberg, Frolunda (Sweden)

Skill behind forwards like Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris is needed, and Collberg has lots of it. Playing on a deep Frolunda team, Collberg still has lots of upside.

16. Washington Capitals: D Derrick Pouliot, Portland (WHL)

The Caps will have a safe and rugged defender in Reinhart, so they can afford to swing for the fences with Pouliot, who does it all for the Winterhawks. He’s a defenseman with high scoring potential.

17. San Jose Sharks: D Olli Maatta, London (OHL)

The Sharks need help at just about every position, and with the best player available mentality, will take Maatta, who performed admirably for London at the Memorial Cup.

18. Chicago Blackhawks: G Oscar Dansk, Brynas (Sweden)

Corey Crawford is an on-again, off-again goaltender, and the Hawks need to consider the best available goaltender. Dansk isn’t the highest-ranked goaltender, but carries the least amount of red flags.

19. Tampa Bay Lightning[2]: D Hampus Lindholm, Rogle (Sweden)

The Bolts already have one steady Swedish defenceman, why not two? By taking two blueliners in a defense-heavy draft, the Lightning secure their future on the back end with a handful of good defencemen.

20. Philadelphia Flyers: D Slater Koekkoek, Peterborough (OHL)

With Chris Pronger’s career coming to an end, the Flyers need to address their blueline. They have very little faith in Erik Gustafsson and M-A Bourdon, so Koekkoek will be their next project.

21. Buffalo Sabres[3]: LW Pontus Aberg, Djurgarden (Sweden)

With Marcus Foligno graduating to the Sabres and the defense stocked with Mark Pysyk and Brayden McNabb, the Sabres get a skilled left winger in Aberg.

22. Pittsburgh Penguins: C Brendan Gaunce, Belleville (OHL)

The Penguins went with defenseman Joe Morrow last year, and with Simon Despres ready, they’ll likely draft a forward. Despite what GM Ray Shero says, Jordan Staal’s future with the Pens is far from secure, and Gaunce can be a good third line centre down the road.

23. Florida Panthers: D Matt Finn, Guelph (OHL)

Florida doesn’t have many blueliners with offensive upside outside of Dmitry Kulikov and Brian Campbell, but Finn has a good two-way game and a solid first pass. He’s the best player available at this point.

24. Boston Bruins: D Brady Skjei, USA (USHL)

A silky smooth skater, Skjei has some size and good upside. The U of Minnesota commit could afford to play more physical, but that’ll come with more time in Boston.

25. St. Louis Blues: D Ludvig Bystrom, Modo (Sweden)

With Vladimir Tarasenko signed and Jaden Schwartz ready, the Blues add a defenseman to their young blueline corps. Bystrom is a mobile defender who plays a patient and safe game.

26. Vancouver Canucks: C Tomas Hertl, Slavia Praha (Czech.)

The Canucks have selected a Czech for the last two years (David Honzik and Adam Polasek), showing their willing to take a Czech player if the right situation presents itself. Hertl is a mega-talented centre with hockey smarts and playmaking ability; he just needs to improve his skating.

27. Phoenix Coyotes: LW Nicolas Kerdiles, USA (NTDP)

Much like the Coyotes, Kerdiles is a bit of a wanderer in the sense he was born in Texas, lived in France as well as California. But on the USA NTDP, he’s a power forward with good finishing skills.

28. New York Rangers: LW Stefan Matteau, USA (NTDP)

His father was a favourite on the Rangers, and Matteau’s power forward capabilities and energetic style could make him one in the Big Apple as well. He’d be a perfect complement on a line with Chris Kreider.

29. New Jersey Devils: G Malcolm Subban, Belleville (OHL)

The Devils struck out with Jeff Frazee, and may still look to outside help to address an heir for Martin Brodeur, but Subban’s a quick and athletic goaltender who has starting goalie potential.

30. Los Angeles Kings[4]: D Michael Matheson, Dubuque (USHL)

Assuming the Kings get to keep their pick, they take the best player available at 30 and that’s Matheson, a blueliner with good two-way skills but doesn’t show it enough.



[1] Acquired from Colorado Avalanche for Semyon Varlamov

[2] Acquired from Detroit Red Wings for Kyle Quincey

[3] Acquired from Nashville Predators for Paul Gaustad

[4] Columbus has option of taking this pick or next year’s after Jeff Carter trade

Jun 192012
 
Tom Wilson, Plymouth Whalers, NHL Entry Draft 2012

Photo credit: Sportsnet

The last time the Canucks drafted 26th overall in the NHL Entry Draft was in 2004 when they drafted a certain red-headed goaltender, Cory Schneider.

Schneider was the fourth goalie drafted that year, behind Al Montoya (6th overall, New York Rangers), Devan Dubnyk (14th, Edmonton Oilers) and Marek Schwartz (17th, St. Louis Blues).

It’s not likely the Canucks will draft another goalie with the 26th pick this year; in fact, since that 2004 draft, only 10 other goalies were picked in the first round.

As we approach draft day on Friday, the consensus seems to be that it is weak and unpredictable. There are some top-end talent in the first few picks, but after that, all bets are off.

Given their organizational depth and the general direction of the league, chances are Mike Gillis and company are looking for some big players up front. Big players who can skate and score.

Here are some of the guys who may fit that mold and what the experts are saying about them.

Thomas Wilson, RW, Plymouth (6’4″, 195 lbs., shoots right)

TSN: His skating continues to improve and he gets to the necessary places so as to create the literal and figurative impact in the game. Very good sense and he doesn’t run around aimlessly and his puck skills should not be underestimated because with the room he creates, he also can finish.

The Hockey News: The Plymouth Whalers power forward uses his big frame to punish his opponents and create scoring chances. And if someone doesn’t like it, he’s happy to drop the gloves.

The Scouting Report: Wilson is one of the biggest forwards in this draft and has developed into a true power forward. He’s an imposing winger who plays a gritty brand of hockey that has certainly caught the eye of NHL teams. He can change the complexion of a game when he engages physically and he has the ability to create a lot of space for his linemates through effective cycling.

Future Considerations: He skates very well for his size, wins the little battles along the boards, and in front of the net where he has a knack for scoring, and plays a solid north and south game. He is your prototypical power forward that can change the course of a game with a goal, a big hit, or a fight and holds the same potential to be an impact player in junior and at the pro level.

Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville (6’2″, 215 lbs., shoots left)

TSN: He is smart and plays the game well both with and without the puck. He makes plays and because he’s smart he gets scoring chances and an improved shot can make him that much better offensively. He works without the puck and is also capable of playing on the wing which adds a component of versatility to his game.

NHL.com: A scout said if he were building a team from ground-up, Gaunce would be his first pick.

The Hockey Writers: Brendan Gaunce is a meat-and-potatoes type of player willing to enter the gritty areas and engage in puck battles. His defensive awareness, positioning on both sides of the puck and faceoff prowess earn him tough minutes as a shutdown option. Offensively, Gaunce plays a power game complemented by above-average passing skills and an ability to unleash a hot wrist in tight quarters.

Hockey Prospectus: Gaunce is a bulking two-way power forward who can also finish and distribute the puck at a high level. He is a really smart hockey player with tremendous instincts and vision on the ice. Even though he’s an aggressive checker, he also has the ability to pull up along the side boards, control a power play and be a very effective distributor.

Martin Frk, RW, Halifax (6’0″, 204 lbs., shoots right)

TSN: Martin is a goal scorer. He wants to score, is hungry to score and is that player who is lurking for the chance to score. He plays a straight ahead game and is more of a shooter. He has a good shot and can beat goaltenders with it down the wing and it’s a heavy shot.

MyNHLDraft.com: Frk’s commitment and drive has been questioned at times during his time with Halifax however it is quite clear when he is motivated he is the best player on the ice. This guy has an NHL shot and can shoot holes through the net. He already has a body that can withstand the physical punishment that the NHL offers and as well has a magnificent skill set to compliment his big body presence.

The Hockey Writers: A typical high-risk, high reward prospect, Frk could turn out to be an early second-round steal if he is developed properly by the team that drafts him.

Dobber Prospects: Frk is one of the top draft eligible players coming out of the QMJHL this year. Durability and consistency concerns could see him fall in the draft. He struggled once he returned, but started to produce during the last quarter of the season. His biggest asset is his booming shot, which might be among the best in the entire 2012 draft. He has a nasty, gritty side and is very strong on the puck.

Tomas Hertl, C, Slavia (6’2″, 198 lbs., shoots left)

TSN: He takes a cerebral approach which finds him in proper position on the ice but always ready to take advantage of opportunity. He forces opponents into mistakes without the puck and when he gains the puck, his awareness, vision and puck skills allow him to threaten offensively. He is a very good passer but given the opportunity to shoot, he can be dangerous.

NHL.com: Big and skilled, and already a star in the Czech league.

The Hockey News: Ice awareness and his ability to make plays are Hertl’s strongest assets.

Hockey Prospectus: Hertl is a gifted puck-handler who is above-average to plus in that area with good creativity and hand-eye coordination. He has a nice frame and is pretty hard to strip the puck from in the cycle game due to his hands and puck protection abilities. Hertl’s physical game is pretty solid all-around as he is strong, with a good sized frame, will go to the net, and doesn’t mind getting a little chippy.

Scott Laughton, C, Oshawa (6’0″, 177 lbs., shoots left)

TSN: He has excellent hockey sense and is capable of playing any situation in the game. He is smart defensively. He is smart offensively. He can adjust to different circumstances and excel. He leaves himself in strong position on the ice so he’s always ready to make the appropriate play for the situation.

OHL Prospects: I’ve said it before, but Laughton reminds me a lot of Mike Richards at the same age and I think there’s a chance he’s put himself in conversation for the back end of the first round.

The Hockey Guys: Despite competing heavily for ice-time on a veteran filled Generals’ team, Laughton proved that his strong two-way responsible game and tireless work ethic was too impressive to limit his minutes. As a true character player, Laughton has commendable offensive skills highlighted by above-average puck control and protects the puck exceptionally well. His vision and knack for reading his opponents is what makes him such a well-balanced pivot at both ends of the rink.

The Scouting Report: With no shortage of offensive firepower in Oshawa, Laughton’s minutes are not what they would be on other teams and he sees less powerplay time as a secondary option. With that being said, Laughton did show flashes of his offensive upside during the second half of the season while continuing his strong two-way play. Laughton isn’t an overly big player nor is he going to blow you away with speed, but he competes hard and is a strong checker.

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