Stewart: Draft risers and Jones’ throne

Lodge - Terry Wilson/OHL Images

There are questions each month about risers and fallers in the draft rankings provided by Future Considerations.

And while it’s easy to identify those who are rising and falling based on our top-30 prospect rankings released monthly, it’s tougher to see the stock of those outside the first round.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t risers.

After starting very slowly for the Saginaw Spirit, Jimmy Lodge became a point-per-game player in November and December. Now he is on a rabid scoring pace since the calendar flipped and has shown a more consistent game of taking the puck to the net and venturing into high traffic areas for those prime offensive chances.

Lodge has all but eliminated those fly-bys that made him so ineffective and held him out of the play back in September and October while earning more ice time from his coach.

One prospect that has been a lightning rod for opinions this season mostly due to his lack of production has taken that controversy and shut it up over the last month and a half of play.

Edmonton Oil Kings forward Curtis Lazar has always taken pride in his two-way game but as pressure to produce more on the score sheet this season crept in, he has answered the bell. After producing just 15 goals in almost 40 games, Lazar has jumped out of the gate in 2013 putting up the same totals in half the games played all the while continuing his impressive defensive play.

Those who were asking, ‘How can you have a kid who is not producing like a first rounder rated so high’ do not see the value a prospect like Lazar has to the overall outcome of his teams game but now have no choice but to see his positive impact.

It is an impact not unlike what Seth Jones provides.

Last month, Future Considerations made the move of Jones over Nathan MacKinnon in our draft rankings and there are those who think that this was done to fall in line with the general consensus. That’s far from the case.

The move was made because of the the way Jones’ game has developed that he has the ability to have the biggest impact at the NHL level four or five years from now.

Future Considerations’ evaluator Randy Stoochnoff in Kelowna gets the point across rather well.

“One play that stood out for me, he smoothly glided to the puck carrier, picked the puck off, angled the man to the boards and was gone the other way,” Stoochnoff filed in his report. “He seemed like he did this with no effort. Almost like a knife going through butter. All this happened in a split second.”

The whole Portland team has taken on Jones’ calm, business like personality on the ice, which shows strong leadership qualities even if he is not overly vocal. He has been an integral part of the Winterhawks ascent to the top record in the CHL this season and NHL executives are hoping they get a chance to add him to their organizations for this exact reason.

Check back next month for another Directors Cut where we continue to focus on the draft eligible talent right up until June’s big day.

Until next time, see you at the rink.

Dan Stewart
Director of Scouting
Future Considerations

As always if you have any questions regarding the draft or its prospects, feel free to email me at danstewart@futureconsiderations.ca and I will do my best to address them in my next column.

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