FC’s Scout Series: Dan Chan (WHL/BCHL)

Special To FC2013 Draft Center, Scouts Series

Future Considerations’ WHL/BCHL scout Dan Chan gives his thoughts on who from the 2013 NHL Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.

To go even deeper into the draft class, pick up Future Considerations’ 2013 NHL Draft Guide.

Who Impressed?

The Seattle Thunderbirds boast a group of talented draft eligible prospects and Jerret Smith is among that collection.

He doesn’t stand out when he hits the ice but does bring is a reliable and versatile defenseman with a good projectable frame, and he plays his game quietly and mistake-free. Smith is a mobile blueliner with strong balance who plays with poise and confidence. He is able to collect the puck quickly and make efficient plays under pressure.

Nothing really stands out with his game but he is just a well put together all-round defenseman that still has room to grow and potential to get stronger and more confidence with more playing experience. He is already seeing minutes in all-situations, playing top four even strength minutes and time on the power play and penalty kill.

While he won’t be a first round prospect this upcoming draft, he is the type of defenseman I personally love; mobile, versatile and smart.

Equally impressive is another Seattle Thunderbird defenseman, Jared Hauf.

A giant 6-foot-6 defensive defenseman, Hauf is able to shutdown one entire half of the defensive zone because of his long strides, large wingspan and impressive strength. Like many big defensemen, the Calgary product will need to continue refining his agility but currently displays decent mobility with strong defensive hockey smarts and physical gifts to keep even the more skilled forwards contained against the boards. He also has surprisingly decent hands for a big man to play a safe and mistake-free game.

Seattle truly has a difficult group to play against with these two prospects quietly taking up their respective roles and playing efficient and simple hockey.

Who Disappointed?

Adam Tambellini of the Surrey Eagles, a potential power forward with a huge frame and great hockey sense for the goal-scoring areas, has somehow kept me wanting more.

While he has a great understanding of where to go in order to score the rebound goals and quick tap ins, he has a 6-foot-4 frame with strong strides that he doesn’t use to his full potential. He uses his long reach to keep the puck away from danger but can be easily kept in check through physical play, even from obviously smaller defenders. Tambellini is a prospect with great potential but needs to realize that his size, combined with his skating ability and great scoring sense, can give him the ability to dominate the game. Perhaps some carefully planned off-season training can put him towards that route.

But unfortunately, Mason Geertsen of the Vancouver Giants has disappointed me the most this season. NHL projectable size with good mobility and the luxury of top minutes in every situation in Vancouver, Geertsen has the recipe of a successful NHL prospect. The problem is, while he may have all the ingredients, there just seems to be something missing in his game.

Although imposing and mobile, he only touches on his physical potential, relying mainly on his active stick to make his defensive plays. In addition, his poise under pressure is lacking which can lead to bad plays and bad defensive reads. Perhaps he was not ready for the monumental role he was thrown into with Vancouver so his current play can have many Giants fan nervous when the puck is in the defensive zone.

That said, Geertsen does have the potential to emerge as a quality blueliner and he will have the opportunity to prove so back in Vancouver next season.

Possible Sleeper?

Devon Toews of the Surrey Eagles is an agile and mobile offensive defenseman with strong vision and an impressive first pass.

He has the ability to get the puck towards the net and plays with extreme poise and growing confidence with his decision-making. Defensively, he plays with an active stick and uses his mobility to keep opponents in check and win puck battles. By the end of the season, he was taking over the game from the blueline and controlling the pace of the play while maintaining a reliable presence defensively.

However, there are a few question marks.

Toews is an undersized defenseman that could benefit with more muscle to his game. In addition, he is a draft re-entry who has yet to prove he can translate his offensive game against consistently tougher competition.

The 19-year-old will get his chance to show that he can play against bigger opponents next season when he arrives at Quinnipiac and go against NCAA players. His unproven defensive game and undersized frame could scare teams away but the offensive play he showed this season in the BCHL could have an NHL team take a mid-round gamble on a prospect that has the potential to quarterback an NHL power play.