Future Considerations’ scouting director Dan Stewart 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.
My responsibility with FC is to maintain a scouting staff all over the globe, help to develop their schedules and guide them to the games, tournaments and prospects that we want to get some views on as well as logging all of their game reports as we build books on each individual prospect throughout the year.
I also head the rankings system we have that utilizes both regional reports with rankings as well a live chat for our final list where scouts can battle it out for who they feel deserves to be ranked.
My main area of coverage consists of the Ontario Hockey League but I go where it is necessary to get views on any high-end prospects. It is also my job to go through heavy amounts of video coming from both sides of the Atlantic where we might not be able to get one of our scouts to get a live view. Our motto is that there is never too much information we can gather to bring an accurate picture of each prospect to our customers.
Over the course of this past season there have been some prospects that have disappointed; those that exceeded my expectations and those that I think might just develop into a real steal when we look back five to 10 years from now.
My most impressive draft eligible this season and the one with a very high NHL upside is Sault Ste. Marie goalie Matt Murray. His season started strong as he was top guy in the Soo and playing like it, until the Jack Campbell trade with Windsor that really shook his confidence.
His frame, at over six-foot-four, and athleticism are extremely high end and he brings a strong work ethic to the table as well. Rated 41st overall for the 2012 NHL draft, Murray has had his high points and his low points of the season but for pure upside he is one of the top prospects in my book.
After last season’s strong two-way performance much was expected of Nick Ebert coming into this season. He was expected to step up into a leadership role and eat up more crucial ice time for the Spitfires.
Unfortunately the opposite was the case as he regressed and started to show some gaping holes in his game under the added pressures. While he still has great talent with puck moving, skating ability and shot form the point but his work ethic, character and overall attitude have all been called into question. He was once considered a top five prospect but now even a fifth round selection is no sure thing.
I would have put London winger Josh Anderson here but he is no longer a sleeper as well as Plymouth winger Cody Payne and Guelph forward Justin Auger were also in the running.
But the ultimate sleeper might just be Windsor winger Ben Johnson who put up some decent numbers while split between the second and third line all year. His speed and heady play lead you to believe that the best is yet to come for the Michigan native. The 114th overall ranked player has the offensive skill to be a solid contributor on the stats sheet while the work rate, smarts and speed to also be the teams top penalty killer.