Future Considerations’ Calgary-based Western Hockey League scout Zenon Herasymiuk gives his thoughts on who from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.
One player that caught my eye throughout the year was Brett Kulak of the Vancouver Giants.
He is a very intriguing prospect who seemingly came out of nowhere to start the year. The St. Albert, AB product is a very smart and safe defenseman that uses his stick to stymie the opposition. His very good hockey sense allows him to read plays and he seems to always find a clever, yet effective way to move the puck up ice. Kulak is a prototypical two-way defenseman that can kill penalties and also run a power play. His skating, size, and smarts make him a very versatile player that can shut down other teams top lines.
One concern surrounding Kulak is his lack of physicality. While he does play a sound defensive game, at times he shies away from the hits in the corners. I expect that this side of his game will develop as he gains more confidence at the major junior level.
Unfortunately not every player lived up to the hype this year. The one guy that really let me down was Troy Bourke of the Prince George Cougars.
Coming into the year, Bourke was probably the most highly sought after forward coming out of the WHL. He struggled with finding consistency in the scoring department for most of the year. His work ethic and size are also big concerns. He seemed to play the game with very little intensity for long stretches throughout the season. Bourke’s skating is also average at best. He needs to become a quicker, more powerful skater to make himself a more legitimate scoring threat.
That said, Bourke definitely ended the year on a high note. He represented Canada at the Under-18 World Championship and thrived in a two-way role for the team that won bronze. He definitely has the high-end skill and hockey sense to be a game changer, but the glaring holes in his game always leave you wanting more, and might leave him waiting a little longer than expected on draft day.
The player that is flying under the radar out of the west is Chris Driedger of the Calgary Hitmen.
Dreidger split most of the season as the starter for the Hitmen with varying results. It always seems that a goalie comes out of the WHL after being drafted and becomes a top prospect. We have seen it with Tyler Bunz and Laurent Brossoit the past two years and I expect Dreidger to be the next guy to step up. He is a big, athletic goalie that is very technically sound. He moves very smoothly from side to side and is good with his gloves. He has already played two years in the league and appeared in 68 games. This experience will be invaluable as he moves forward in his career.
The big question mark surrounding Dreidger is his consistency. At times this year he looked like a brick wall, but at other times he just couldn’t seem to stop anything. He seems to be at his best when his rebound control is intact.
The Hitmen dealt 20 year-old Brandon Glover to make way for Dreidger to be the full time starter. If he can shore up these parts of his game he is going to turn a lot of heads next fall.