Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More Draft Stuff

I've dug up a few more links relevant to this weekend's NHL Draft.

The Philadelphia Flyers are profiling players that could be picked with one of their two first-round selections. Pacioretty's profile is up. Nothing seems to be the same text that we've read a bunch of times already. Good skater, good on draws, works hard, nice wrist shot. There's a quote from the Director of Hockey Operations about him on the page, as well as a "Scouting Video" which is worth watching if only to wonder why they even put it up in the first place. Put it this way...if you want to see a 5 minute video of Patch where he touches the puck about 4 times total, you're in luck. He does make a couple nice passes, but this is not the video to show if you're trying to fire your fan base up about the idea of drafting someone. It will teach you how to properly say Aaron Palushaj's last name, though (and the PA announcer is correct with the pronunciation).

I also found a link for Max Giese's Draft Preview. I knew the name sounded familiar, and I realized that it was linked earlier by WCH. Max writes for McKeen's, who I've linked here many times. It's a nice read. He has top 5 lists for things like "High Risk/High Reward", "Safe, But Limited" and "Diamonds in the Rough".

He lists Aaron Palushaj as the #5 "Top Goal Scorer" in the draft and says that he has a "Tomas Vanek like ability to bear done in front and finish." I liiiiiike! High Five!

Patch is listed as the #5 Play Maker and is said to have a "deft passing game" which "exploits the open creases in the defense". Patch is also ranked as the #3 Most Underrated: "Big, fast, skilled, and a fine play maker".

Here's what he says about Pacioretty in his profile:

16. RW Max Pacioretty, 6-2 205 11-20-1988, Sioux City USHL, 52 gp – 19 g – 36 a – 55 points.

++ Vision and play making (Ed: The ++ means that these are his standout qualities)
+ Size, top gear, work ethic, hands
- questionable finishing ability.

The best forward available for the 2007 draft out of the USHL and deserves a selection in the first round for his intriguing blend of size, speed, and play making ability. He owns a power forwards body at 6-2 205 with long limbs and strong lower and upper body strength. He’s sturdy on his feet and shows good footwork to fend off checks as well as impressive leg strength. Displays decent agility with good stops and starts. His first step is a bit awkward but once he gains momentum he has a commanding stride as he can really fly with a superb top gear.

Pacioretty’s hands are soft with some impressive quick moves. He’s strong on his stick and covers the puck well with his big frame. He’s blessed with exceptional vision and impressive creativity as he emerges as a gifted play maker. Max can thread the needle with a crisp pass through a small lane and displays good touch as he can execute a nifty saucer pass in limited space. He owns a quick shot with good velocity and a quick release, although accuracy still needs to be upgraded as he gets his shots on net but doesn’t pick corners. He does a good job stopping at the net for rebounds and is a useful big body in front to create traffic in front of the goaltender. He began to use his size more away from the puck late in the season. He tracks the puck well as he anticipates the play well and maintains good positioning at both ends of the ice. Pacioretty back checks adequately and marks his man well as he’s a decent two way player. Can get feisty at times but isn’t a power forward. Will attend the University of Michigan next fall.
There are also profiles for Palushaj, Kampfer, and Llewellyn who are all ranked in his Top 100:

47. RW Aaron Palushaj, 6-0 185, 9-7-1989, Des Moines USHL 56 gp – 22 g – 45 a – 67 points.
++ Ability to finish or create near the net in heavy traffic
+ Long reach with soft hands and can stick handle through traffic.
- Skating, inconsistent effort, poor defensive play.

Palushaj is a team player who communicates positively with coaches and teammates that will do the dirty work for his linemates and displays good body language on the bench. His skating needs improvement as his first few strides lack power and appear sluggish and his turns can be sloppy but with his superb anticipation and economical approach he gets where he needs to and can slip around the opposition. Is as dangerous as they come from within 15-feet of the net. He has a long reach, is a patient puckhandler with soft, quick hands that can really dangle and can make something out of nothing in heavy traffic using the toe drag to slip off the opposition. Scores many goals with his willingness to get his nose dirty.

Has a knack for pouncing on loose rebounds using his quick release to finish and displays hunger, bears down and finishes his chances. He can also make a deft pass through heavy traffic and can draw the opposition and execute a creative pass with defenders draped all over him. Aaron shields the puck well and can maintain possession allowing his teammates to get open. Ever improving defensively, it just has not come full circle yet as he needs to backcheck harder and leaves the defensive zone too early but picks up his man well and will come down low to help. Palushaj pursues the puck adequately, clogs passing lanes, and maintains proper positioning. He handles traffic well and is very effective battling along the board. He fits the mold of a real offensive threat if he fixes his skating concerns. Palushaj had a phenomenal playoff in which he displayed that he can elevate his game in the critical moments and that there is more upside to him. Aaron will play for Michigan next fall.
It sounds like we've got a really nice duo in Patch and Pal. Since Pacioretty is said to be a great passer, a pretty good back-checker, and a good faceoff guy (though he only did it on PKs apparently) I wonder if he couldn't play some center for us.

74. D Steven Kampfer, 5-11 200, 9-24-1989, Michigan NCAA 35 gp – 1 g – 3 a – 4 points.
++ Poise, vision, hockey sense
+ Skill
- Does nothing special.

Plays a mature two-way game that goes unnoticed by the untrained eye but he’s the type of reliable defenseman that the more you see of him the more you like. He’s mobile with exceptional lateral mobility and a strong stride heading forward. He sees the ice well and distributes the puck crisply. Possesses underrated skill that shines through every so often, and it is something that should be on display more next season with increased ice time. His defensive positioning is impressive and he can skate with anyone making him a formidable one-on-one defender. He’s not a big guy, but is sturdy on his feet and can land the odd nice open-ice body check. Steven is a smart player with superb two-way awareness. While he’s not a first-round prospect he definitely deserves to be drafted before the mid-rounds.
This is definitely not the first place I've seen Kampfer listed as a third round pick or so. I wonder what I'm missing. I like Kampfer ok. I think he'll be a good defenseman for us in time (hopefully sooner rather than later). When he's not being The Human Turnover in his own zone, I like him quite a bit actually. But never once did I watch him and say to myself, "Now there's a guy I'd like the Wings to draft early" or even "There's a guy that I definitely see playing in the NHL in a few years." I'm kind of caught by surprise on this one.

97. D Tristin Llewellyn, 6-1 195, 5-2-1989, Tri-City USHL
++ Physical defensive game, confidence
+ Character, untapped upside
- Decision making without the puck.

At one point Tristin was a phenom in the American Hockey system as a possible top 5 pick in this years draft as he was playing in the USHL at the age of 15. Playing against players up to five years older then himself stunted Tristin’s development and now he’s a mid to late round pick. He likes to stand up his man at the blue and for the most part does an effective job but he does caught flat footed every now and then, as he can be beaten to the outside. He usually maintains a tight gap and takes the proper angle to his man before standing him up with a nice body check. Can get too aggressive seeking the open ice hit but that presence he brings is a plus. Skating is in need of improvement as he lacks that initial burst forwards or backwards and his turns are a bit choppy although his feet are adequate. His composure with the puck has improved and he makes a strong first pass. He makes good decisions with the puck for the most part but his decision making without the puck is the question mark. He uses a long stick and has adequate hands and escape moves. He was sensing danger better by the end of the season. He possesses a heavy shot but he must improve his shot selection as he’ll force shots into traffic.
Giese seems to like Llewellyn a lot better than Kyle Woodlief does. The only thing that is worrisome to me in this profile is that it says he'll shoot into traffic--but also that he doesn't have a burst forwards or backwards. To me, that spells "lots of breakaways going the other way". Might be a good idea to pair him with someone that has wheels. Thankfully that seems to be a common theme with the guys we've got coming in. As long as they don't put him with Mitera, he's going to be with someone that has speed. It's nice to see a positive review of Tristin. I don't doubt that playing in the USHL as long as he did hurt his development somewhat. He was so highly touted when he committed...hopefully he can get some of that back.

The best news in all of this is that we've got some guys coming in who won't be high draft picks (mainly because of their size) but who have the potential to be excellent college players. Winnett, Caporusso and Rust all fall into that category. We've got a really great crop of forwards coming in. We're going to be young, but there's a lot more depth up front than we had last year I think.

Giese also picked Palushaj in the third round of his Sharks Mock Draft and had this to say:

3rd Round 84th overall: RW Aaron Palushaj, Des Moines Buccanears USHL

Sharks should take a chance on a pure offensive talent and this is the guy they should take that chance on. Palushaj can be best summed up as a poor mans Thomas Vanek who will play for the Michigan Wolverines next fall. He has a long reach with velvety hands and can stickhandle through traffic. What separates him is his ability around the net. Aaron is exceptional at bearing down and finishing as well as creating a play by threading the needle with a pass through heavy traffic near the net. He’s patient, creative, and just oozes offensive upside.

Also there's an online version of the NHL Draft Media Guide (PDF file). I had an absolute blast reading this last year. Certain players have tidbits in their profile about who they'd invite to dinner if they could invite 3 people, and why they wear the number they wear. Sometimes it's very interesting (and it's amazing to see how many kids list Steve Yzerman as their hero) but they must've printed all the replies they got because some people said "I wear this number because it was assigned to me." That's deep.

This year's wasn't nearly as entertaining, but here are some favorites from this year's guide:
Arron Alphonso wears #71 because "Wendel Clark wore it when he played for the Red Wings". (Really??) He also lists the 72 Summit Series as his most memorable game watched. I wonder if he watched it with Greg Oden.

Keith Aulie patterns his game after Eric Brewer. That sound you just heard is him dropping off of draft boards. Why not just go ahead and list Tom Poti too and be done with it. He did save his dad's life though, which is cool.

Jon Blum says that part of his pregame ritual is "Sleeping and eating at the same time." Not sure what to make of that one.

Bryan Cameron also lists the Summit Series as the most memorable game he's watched. He also says that he would invite Andrew Raycroft to dinner so that he could learn how to score more goals. That's easy....make Andrew Raycroft play goal.

Luca Caputi says that his favorite game watched was the 1995 Game 7 between the Wings and Leafs because "If you watched it, you would know." I think Luca is in his own little world. They didn't play each other in 95. He might be referring to the 1993 series when Borschevsky scored to knock Detroit out, but he would've been like 5 years old at the time. And I can't remember jack from 1987. Confused.

Things got a little bit boring after that unfortunately, so here's a couple tidbits about two of our new players (Patch's has been covered).

Aaron Palushaj lists the Avs' 2001 Stanley Cup win as his most memorable moment watching hockey, yet his favorite team is the Red Wings. More confusion. He patterns his game after Ryan Smyth.

Ben Winnett is nicknamed "Jet", he likes Darcy Tucker and apparently has committed to Cornell. Uhh....

Edit: MGoBlog posted his take on the NHL Draft as well. He shares my shock at seeing Steve Kampfer listed that highly and also includes some stuff from the HF Boards about Winnett and Caporusso. Also, on his sidebar he has links to Redline and TSN's mock Drafts.

Edit #2: ESPN has a mock draft done by Mark Seidel (ex-ISS scout and Assistant GM in the OHL) that has Pacioretty going #26 to the Florida Panthers. Though I think that pick belongs to the Blues. Actually, I'm not sure where he got this stuff. He doesn't have the Wings as having a pick in the first round. I'm kind of confused.

By the way, if you want some more fun, check out his player comparisons and think to yourself how pissed you'd be if your first round pick was compared to some of these players. Really? Pacioretty is compared to Taylor Pyatt. Zack Torquato is compared to Mike Sillinger...what does that mean? He'll play for 19 NHL teams and be traded at the deadline every season? I know I'd want to draft someone early that's a Paul Mara clone.

Via WCH, here are the Fox Sports and SI mock drafts. Pacioretty goes 18th to the Flames in each of them.


colin said...

The nice thing about this recruiting class is the apparent presence of UPSIDE, which has been largely lacking. We've either gotten nearly fully molded all stars or clunky guys who are what they are. Maybe I won't expect to win as much as in year's past, but this should be a fun team to watch.

Anonymous said...

in response to Kampfer comment - remember, Tim Cook was drafted also.