So it's been awhile since I posted an article and with things ramping up to the NHL Draft in less than a week, I wanted to give a closer look at some of the players that could be available when Joe Nieuwendyk gets his turn at the podium in Montreal.
I have been browsing several sites over the last few days and the one thing that people seem to agree on, is to disagree on where many of the prospects are going to end up after Tavares, Hedman and Duchene are off the board.
Follow the jump for 3 of the possible players Dallas could end up with on June 26th.
A lot of the so called experts have been running mock drafts over at NHL.com and with some, the disagreement starts as early as the 3rd pick. Shawn P. Roarke has Matt Duchene slipping to the #4 slot and the Atlanta Thrashers. I think that he may an Atlanta fan and this is some wishful thinking on his part, because I see no way the Avalanche pass on Duchene. As a matter of fact, I will be out $189 as my new Avs jersey with Duchene's name and number 9 will be useless.
Roarke also has the Stars taking Jordan Schroeder, center from the University of Minnesota. Schroeder is ranked #5 among North American skaters according to the final Central Scouting Rankings prior to the draft.
"Jordan has a good strong base where he’s hard to knock off the puck. Quickness is not an issue for him. He’s a strong skater and has real good speed. He’s a thick kid. Jordan isn’t six-feet tall, but he’s thick. He’s strong physically throughout his body." -Minnesota Head Coach Don Lucia
Here is what NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee had to say about Schroeder:
"He’s a dynamic player, a leader and a type of player that has developed into a complete offensive and defensive threat every time he is on the ice. He has a rocket of a wrist shot and he can beat you by putting the puck in the net, going around a defender, or freezing the goaltender and passing it off to one of his wingers. The concern is going to be his overall size, like there was with Scott Gomez, with Brian Gionta and with Patrick Kane, but at the same age he is probably a little thicker and a little bit more compact than they were. He’s a great hockey player."
So far the biggest knock against him is his size. At 19 though, I can almost guarantee that this kid is going to probably put on another 10-20 lbs of solid muscle once he starts working out with NHL athletic trainers. If there is the same concern about size that Gomez, Gionta and Kane had, I think Schroeder is going to be just fine.
It should also be noted that in Roarke's draft, Worley's choice at #8, Oliver Ekman-Larsson aka OEL, slipped all the way to the #22 spot and the Vancouver Canucks.
In another NHL.com mock draft, Brad Holland has the Dallas Stars taking Ryan Ellis, defenseman from the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. I thought that this was a bit high for Ellis to go since he is ranked #16 among North American skaters according to Central Scouting. His stock may have risen some though due to his play in helping the Spitfires win the OHL Championship. He led all defenseman in scoring with 31 points and lead the entire league in assists with 20.
Here's what Windsor Head Coach Bob Boughner had to say about Ellis:
"I've only been in the (OHL) three years and other coaches I talk to, they've never seen a defenseman have an impact in a junior game like Ryan Ellis. He seems to be in on every play defensively and offensively. If you come away from the game and you look at who was your favorite player, who played the best, his name always seems to come to mind. There are plays where he's making something out of nothing. And his biggest asset is his shot. He's got an NHL one-timer, he's got an NHL slap shot, and that's a dangerous weapon."
When questioned about his size, style of play and who he tries to model his game after, this is what Ellis had to say:
I've got that most of my career. I'm still getting it nowadays. It's not an issue. I don't find a problem with being undersized. I think there have been a lot of players who have been undersized in the last few years that have been drafted high. I think it's not an issue with any players these days, especially the rules and how they're made to fit players like my size. And I think it just motivates me knowing that people think I can't do it and hopefully one day I'll prove them wrong.
I'm an offensive defenseman for sure. I'm undersized. People kind of think I'm a little smaller for a defensive game, but I think I try to be responsible in my own end as well as sometimes lead the rush and try to chip in offensively as much as I can.
It's Brian Rafalski for the most part and a little bit of Kris Russell, who is in Columbus. I think both are undersized guys and are a little underrated too. They don't get the justice for how good they really are for being undersized.
In Brad Holland's draft, Worley's choice at #8, Oliver Ekman-Larsson aka OEL, went at #13 to the Buffalo Sabres.
Adam Kimelman, the third NHL.com expert to hold a mock draft, has Dallas taking Russian defenseman Dmitri Kulikov from the Drummondville Voltigeurs. For some reason, NHL Central Scouting has him ranked #11 among North American skaters even though he was born and raised in Russia. In only his first year in the "Q", he was tied for 2nd among defenseman in scoring, amassing 62 points (12G, 50A) in just 57 games. His 50 assists were enough to lead all defenseman. He was also named the 2008-09 Defensive Rookie of the Year, the Rookie of the Year, the Best Professional Prospect and Defenseman of the Year by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Here is what NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau had to say about "Kuli":
"In his first year (in the QMJHL) he’s been an all-around good player. He’s a great skater; he can carry the puck and shoot the puck well. He’s strong too, he can take big hits and they don’t seem to bother him. What we saw this year is likely what we are going to see from Kulikov in the future; he’s going to play the same way in the NHL. He knows when to join the rush, he plays defense first, but recognizes the holes. He can shoot the puck well on the powerplay and I wouldn’t be surprised if he played in the NHL next year."
In Adam Kimelman's mock draft Worley's choice at #8, Oliver Ekman-Larsson aka OEL, went at #16 to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
If the mock drafts are any indication, no one has any clue as to what is going to happen next Friday at the Bell Centre in Montreal. One thing that is for certain though, whoever Dallas picks, expect it to be the best player available at that point.
All quotes courtesy of each player's NHL.com draft profiles.