Every season Future Considerations’ scouts spend countless hours in cold rinks across the globe in an effort to gather information on the next wave of NHL talent coming down the pipe. In this monthly column we will provide our readers with a few single scouting snapshots and some early impressions from actual game reports taken by our talented evaluators.
October 4, 2015 – Swift Current @ Edmonton (WHL) – Max Lajoie, D, Swift Current, 6-1,185
“While I don’t think this was Lajoie’s best game, he did show flashes of why he’s a likely top end pick in this year’s draft. In this game I thought he was rushing things a bit and appeared frustrated on a couple missed opportunities. Swift Current looked a little flat throughout this game and Lajoie was among those who showed some negative body language. Again I chalk this up to a mediocre outing as opposed to a trend however as a leader he could work on curbing his visual frustration.
“As far as hockey skills go there there is a lot to like about Lajoie. He shows good balance on his feet and is smooth in transitions. Lajoie uses his feet to defend very effectively however I wouldn’t call him an electrifying skater in the offensive end. He is much more likely to pass the puck up the ice than rush it himself. He is a prototypical puck moving defenseman and really excels at finding his teammates. He has excellent vision and shows creativity with the puck. His quick decision making allows him to handle forechecking pressure with relative ease and he rarely looks perturbed in his own end. Another big asset for Lajoie in the offensive zone is his shot. His wrist shot has a natural change in release point and goaltenders seem to have a difficult time getting a read on it. The toe-drag like nature of his wrist shot not only opens up holes in net but it also allows him to get his shot through shot blockers effectively.
“While Lajoie isn’t a dynamic or galvanizing offensive player I think he shows solid point potential at the next level. He reminds me a bit of Shea Theodore; he’s not a high risk player however the combination of his hockey smarts and efficient shot makes him dangerous in the offensive zone. One improvement I noticed in Lajoie’s game was on the physical side. He looked noticeably bigger than last year and he was throwing his weight around a bit more in this game. He was especially effective along the wall and won most battles in the trenches. Overall, despite a slightly underwhelming performance in this game, I think that Lajoie’s game will translate very well to the next level. I think he projects as a solid two-way top four defenseman who can be an asset on both the penalty kill and power play.”
November 5, 2015 – Windsor @ Niagara (OHL) – Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor Spitfires, 6-2, 205
“Sergachev looked very comfortable and confidence in this contest, quietly playing a strong and effective game from the back end. Played in all situations and looked great in all of them; on the penalty kill Sergachev effectively cuts off his man, and can get the puck out in a hurry. On one kill, he got control of the puck with some space and time; upon seeing the time he had, he patiently skated backwards with it before shooting it down the ice, effectively eating a few more seconds off the clock before heading for a change. Was a key member of the second power play unit, moving the puck around the top of the zone with confidence and poise.
“On one Niagara goal, Sergachev was the victim of a delayed penalty call after making a strong defensive effort to knock Maletta off the puck at the backdoor; in an effort to mark his man he ended up screen his goalie as he followed his check through the slot as the shot came from the point. Gets back fast in retrieval and sees the ice in front of him exceptionally well, distributing through open lanes to spark the rush in transition. Defensively, Sergachev marks his man and makes a strong effort keeping him contained to the outside and away from the slot and high threat areas. His edge work is great, in addition to his smooth skating and full on control on his feet. He stays calm and collected skating with the puck, while also generating tremendous speed as he crosses over and moves his way up ice. He is a powerful skater when he gets moving and is almost unstoppable on his feet.
“Sergachev displays impressive awareness and knows when there is a check right on him, adapting accordingly to move lateral and protect the puck while using his speed to separate form the man, not getting flustered or make an unnecessary play the puck. He sees lanes develop and hits his man with a crisp pass through centre ice. Through the neutral zone, Sergachev maintains control of the puck as he scopes out his options after quickly receiving the pass and setting his sights on the next move. Sergachev is a high-end, first round prospect in my mind.”
November 6, 2015 – Green Bay @ Youngstown (USHL) – Andrew Peeke, D, Green Bay, 6-3, 205
“Coming into tonight’s game, I had heard a decent amount of good news about Peeke but this was my first viewing. When I saw him step on to the ice, the first thing that I noticed about him was his size. At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Peeke already possess near NHL size and it showed in his play. Peeke wasn’t an overly physical and nasty defenseman, but he knows how to use his body well, by both finishing checks and using his long reach.
“Another aspect of his game that I was extremely impressed with was his gap control. Every time there was a rush down the ice on him, he kept a perfect distance away, and had his body in position to use his stick to block a shot or pass. On top of that, his skating and body control was flawless as well. In one instance, a Green Bay player got a pass in the high slot and with one push, Peeke was there and able to block the shot, but would have been able to move with him had the player decided to move left or right. Throughout the game, Peeke played big minutes in Green Bay’s 2-1 win and his coach put him out there in key situations where Youngstown was desperate for a goal.
“Offensively, Peeke impressed me as a passer, showing great vision on the power play. He made a terrific pass from the blue line down to the far corner that was one touched into the slot for a one-time goal. He also showed good offensive awareness in 5 on 5 situations, not taking any bad shots, and showing patience for his team to get in front of the net and then look for a tip with a low, hard shot. His shot is above average and I would expect it to improve as he gets stronger and older. Peeke is a good skater with a stride that doesn’t need to be tweaked too much and has great straight ahead speed. I would project Peeke to be a 2nd pairing defenseman at the NHL level after spending time in college and maybe a stint in the American League, if he stays on track with his current development. As for the draft, I would expect him to be taken in the second round or early in the third.”