Thursday, June 7, 2012 @ 11:00 am EST
15 days until the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.....
Be forewarned, today’s ramblings speak often of the Toronto Maple Leafs…
Mikhail Grigorenko - Boom or Bust?
NHL Scouting Combine Results are in!
Alex Galchenyuk topped the Anaerobic Fitness peak power output showing how explosive of a skater he is and that his ACL injury is a thing of the past. Kitchener's Matia Marcantuoni (a faller in the draft) was second. "MM" is one of the fastest and best skaters in this draft class. Thomas Wilson was a top five finisher.
VO2Max Test Duration - Rogue defenseman Hampus Lindholm last the longest in this gruelling bike test staying on for 14:40 minutes...a ridiculous feat considering he beat second-place finisher Ryan Murray by a full minute (13:32). Again, Tom Wilson was a top four finisher in this test as well.
Wing Span - Stefan Matteau was the leader here (among skaters) followed by Radek Faksa, Jujhar Khaira, Cody Ceci and Mikhail Grigorenko.
Standing Long Jump - Defensemen Michael Matheson and Jake McCabe launched themselves 119 inches to tie followed by rearguard Patrick Sieloff while forwards Andreas Athanasiou and Francis Beauvillier joined defenseman Mathew Dumba for fifth with 114 inches. Cody Ceci was close with 113 inches.
Vertical Jump - Brady Skjei (29.5 inches), Beauvillier (29.0 inches), Dumba, Marcantuoni and Brendan Gaunce all leaped 28 inches.
Push-ups - Chandler Stephensen posted the best with 52, followed by goaltender Jake Paterson (48), Helgesen (46), overage center Kevin Roy (45) and Michael Matheson (41).
Grip Strength - Morgan Rielly had the strongest right-hand grip at 167 pounds (Hulk SMASH), followed by Beauvillier (161), Mitch Moroz (160), Gaunce (159) and Sam Kurker (155). Vasilevskiy and forward Calnan topped southpawers with 155 pounds, followed by Rielly (15), Marcantuoni (149) and Matheson (148).
Upper Body Power - Dane Fox threw the 4 kg ball the furthest (253 inches) while fellow OHL teammates Brendan Gaunce and Daniil Zharkov were second with 233 inches followed by Khaira and Athanasiou at 232 inches.
All of these draft-eligible prospects are profiled in Dobber Hockey's Fantasy Prospect Guide.
I mention this in my upcoming mock draft (via DobberHockey Fantasy Prospect Guide) but the Columbus Blue Jackets had representatives at almost every Sarnia Sting home game this past season. I myself ran into General Manager Scott Howson several times and spoke with three other regular Columbus scouts occasionally and one declared that two of Columbus’ scouts were from the Sarnia area. Obviously, Howson and his scouting staff were doing their due diligence on assessing Nail Yakupov, but, this information also leads me to believe that Columbus has the upper hand on scouting teammate Alex Galchenyuk last season. If any scout observed Galchenyuk in his rookie season as the leagues top ‘94 born player then they’d heavily consider him with the second overall pick -- I know I would without hesitation.
Following the completion of the Stanley Cup Final, Dobber will be updating the recent release of the Fantasy Prospects Guide with my own 2012 NHL Mock Draft. A few notes on this process:
- The Mock Draft is not a ranking but rather a best guess at what team will select each player.
- The 2012 draft class has an intriguing set of prospects including a large amount of average to above-average defensemen. The quantity of defensemen and lack of top end offensive talent makes completing a mock draft very difficult.
- Personally, I believe in drafting the best player available within the first two rounds, regardless of team needs and I am sure there are NHL GM’s who share my view. However, if a team feels the need to seriously address a team need then it is quite plausible that we see a lot more trading amongst those teams.
- For example, I have a strong hunch that Toronto’s Brian Burke is going to make a huge splash at the draft and acquire the prospect(s) he desperately “needs” and wants. The stubborn Burke moved up on draft day in 1993 to select hulking defenseman Chris Pronger as the general manager of the Hartford Whalers (great uniforms by the way!). To land Pronger, Burke dealt the Whalers’ first, second and third round picks to move up just four slots to second overall (San Jose).
Burke’s best move as a general manager came in 1999 when he pulled off what seems now as the impossible deal to select twins, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, from Sweden second and third overall. Burke acquired picks from Chicago and Tampa Bay in exchange for Bryan McCabe and a slew of draft picks.
Burke showed last year again that when he wants a player (ahem, Tyler Biggs), he will not hesitate to sacrifice depth to please his gut instincts. Time will tell whether Burkes’ hunches pay off but I will not be surprised to see Burke move up into the top three to grab his player of choice. While many people are speculating that Burke will make a splash for a goaltender, possibly using the Maple Leafs’ first round choice as bait, I believethat the 2012 draft will be the stepping stone that Burke uses this draft to leave his mark on this franchise, good or bad. In my opinion, Toronto’s goaltending should be addressed by pursuing a Josh Harding type to complement James Riemer and/or Ben Scrivens and the Leafs should use one of the 2012 picks in the opening 3-4 rounds to grab a potential starter (Subban, Vasilevski, Dansk, Matt Murray, Makarov to name a few).
Even if Burke sits tight and holds his fifth overall pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs will have the opportunity to add a real valuable prospect as there are about seven or eight beauties at the top of this draft. Yesterday, I tweeted (follow me @RossyYoungblood) that there are about five tiers of players in the opening round of the draft and my quick list resembles something like this…
Tier 1: Yakupov.
Tier 2: Galchenyuk, Grigorenko, Murray, Rielly, Forsberg
Tier 3: Reinhart, Dumba, Teravainen, Trouba, Ceci, Faksa
Tier 4: Collberg, Girgensons, Koekkoek, Maatta, Gaunce, Pouliot, Finn, Aberg, Lindholm, Hertl
Tier 5: Skjei, Kerdiles, Laughton, DiGiuseppe, Matteau, Matheson, Wilson, Frk
I did not include goaltenders.
Former NHL legend Igor Larionov represents two top prospects for the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft, Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk and he recently sat down in an interview with Andrey Osadchenko.
Do you think that the Blue Jackets are scared off of Russians after battling to develop Zherdev and Filatov? Think again…
“I talk to all NHL GMs. The day before this interview I talked to Steve Tambellini and Kevin Lowe. They really like Nail. However, at this point they can’t promise anything. The same goes for Columbus. Scott Howson, Craig Patrick and Tyler Wright spent two days in Sarnia with Yakupov and his family. It’s a serious indication they really want him. Usually if you want to get a player, you treat him as you would treat a stock. If somebody wants to buy your company’s stock, they’re going to run full research first. You invest in a player, and he is going to represent your team for years to come.”
What NHL teams are showing the most interest in Nail and Alex? Well….
Larionov goes on…
“Tambellini told me: ‘We like him. We want him. But we’re going to make a decision the day before the draft’. I also know the Habs want to get one of my guys – either Nail or Alex [Galchenyuk]. So do the Leafs. It is possible that the Leafs are going to trade their draft pick and get both of them. There is a possibility like that. Nail and Alex went to New Jersey for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals. After this they met Leafs GM Brian Burke. Then Nail met with the Habs.”
Will the Leafs draft both Yakupov and Galchenyuk? That situation seems remote at best but if Burke dangles a couple names like Jake Gardiner/Carl Gunnarsson/Luke Schenn plus their 2013 1st round pick with the chance of selecting Nathan MacKinnon or standout blue liner Seth Jones then Edmonton might be willing to pursue trade talks. Just sayin’
Tampa Bay is a team to watch in the upcoming draft, as general manager Steve Yzerman holds five (FIVE!) picks inside the top 50 picks (10th, 19th, 37th, 40th and 50th). You can write in with a permanent marker that Yzerman addresses his defensive and goaltending needs with two of those picks early.
Watch Darcy Regier’s Buffalo Sabres closely over the next few weeks as a potential trading partner as the team holds the 12th, 21st, 42nd and 44th picks. It’s been rumoured that Jim Rutherford (Carolina Hurricanes) has quietly been shopping the eighth overall pick for immediate help. It’s feasible for the Sabres (or another team) to move into that spot to draft a player they might be eyeing. The Sabres are tight against the cap and I’m pegging them as a team that will be very active.
The New Jersey Devils will certainly choose to forfeit their 2012 1st round pick, as a result of the Ilya Kovalchuk cap circumventing shenanigans.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have the option of using LAK’s 2012 or 2013 1st round pick (from the Jeff Carter-Jack Johnson trade) since the King’s made the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.
A few notes from our European scout Miika Arponen:
- Joonas Donskoi received an offer from the Florida Panthers, but according to sources, he wasn`t satisfied with the terms of the offer. He thought he was not ready to move to North America as early as next year and he will get better salary in Finland. Donskoi could be a great buy-low option now, if some GMs think he is a bust.
- Jonathan Lilahti is the other Finnish 2010 draft prospected that was not signed to a contract. He is not even close to the potential he was once drafted with and has had a difficult time earning starts in Finland`s second-tier league.
- Riku Helenius, who was chosen as the best goalie in the SM-liiga this season, has been rumoured to be negotiating a contract with Tampa Bay.
If you dare, please follow me @RossyYoungblood as I submerge myself into the latest prospect news and upcoming NHL Entry Draft.