Okay my blog isn't dead but my job has been trying to kill it so bear with me, some quick thoughts as I have to grab sleep after getting back from a graveyard shift so I can attend the Tweetup at Kilgours in Toronto for Draft night, I’ll tweet a few thoughts from there if I can but I’m going to list my Top 4 for at 17th and my Top 4 if the Habs trade down to get an extra pick, here goes, as always I am advocating risk-reward, with favourability towards natural scoring talent and/or a power game.
At 17th overall:
C Mark McNeill of the WHL Prince Albert Raiders: PF type with two-way game and already good physical power. Concern is his Offensive upside may be limited and physical maturity means he’s looking good pushing around Juniors, but they’ll start pushing back soon. Not quick off the blocks with his skating either.
C Mark Scheifele of the OHL Barrie Colts: Went over PPG with the worst team in the entire OHL this season, playmaking centre who protects the puck well and can take it through the dirty areas, good shot but he doesn’t use it enough, needs to get stronger physically and improve skating.
RW Nicklas Jensen of the OHL Oshawa Generals: Big winger with a power game potential, in his first season on NA ice he kept pace with his draft-eligible teammates Lessio and Jenner and displayed an excellent shot and an ability to protect the puck well and can likely improve after having adapted to the smaller ice surface. Needs to improve his skating and intensity.
LW Matthew Puempel of the OHL Peterborough Petes: A sniper with potentially the best natural scoring talent outside of the “Big 8″ of this draft. He goes to the net for the rebound opportunities and can be very creative with the puck, seems to pick up his skating especially when he sees an offensive chance. Issues revolve around his consistency and defensive game.
If MTL trades down for a 2nd and is choosing later in the round:
RW Tomas Jurco of the QMJHL Saint John Sea Dogs: The crafty stick-handling magician of the Q, Jurco has the puck on a string and can do things that make you think he watches Kovalev’s DVD on a daily basis. Shifty skater with agility and good lateral movement, can stickhandle his way through defenders as necessary. Work in progress defensively and is a streaky player, but if MTL wants potential game-breaking talent he is far from a bad risk-reward avenue.
RW Dmitri Jaskin: The Czech winger plays a power game mixed with soft hands to handle the puck while packing both hard wrist and slap shots that are quite accurate. Doesn’t mind the dirty areas of the ice and very strong on the puck, even with defenders draped on him he can keep moving with a very high compete level in his game. Issue revolves around his weak skating with below average speed and serious acceleration issues. He also suffererd a knee injury this season as well so no help to him there.
C Vladimir Namestnikov of the OHL London Knights: A shifty skater with speed to match, high-end vision and creativity that lets him pull out a bag of tricks to outmanuver the opposition. Pass-first player, but he can shoot the puck when he wants to and hit the target. He can see plays developing before most and manage pinpoint passes to hit his intended targets and his shot release is very quick and doesn’t mind taking the puck straight up the ice. Issue revolves around his weighing 160 at 6′ so he’s still easily moved off the puck and will need to gain strength, his defensive game is also a work in progress.
LW/C JT Miller of the US NTDP: Miller is another potential power forward with a two-way game, good skating and balance and is very willing to pay the price to bring the puck to the net for the play to happen. Possesses a quick shot and is handy at fishing for the loose pucks around the net. Some good passing ability and he’s already physically ready for higher levels of competition, tends to bull around anyone he plays against. Some concerns exist about his hockey sense and consistency as he didn’t show his true potential for much of the year except his breakout performance with the US Under-18 team when he led them in scoring to their Gold Medal win.