German draft class off to swift start

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The 2012-13 season is still in its infancy, but that doesn’t mean it’s too soon for some young Germans to start making waves in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Cue Kevin Orendorz.

Coming into the season, Orendorz was a little off the map despite having done very well for Germany’s U16 program two seasons ago. He also suited up for the U18 team this summer and, at the moment, looks like a shoe-in for that team next spring in Socchi. He may also be on his way to Ufa to represent Germany at the World Junior Championship at Christmas.

But it’s what Orendorz has done at the DEL level that is what is attracting attention.

Admittedly, he hasn’t scored yet, but he has managed to maintain a zero rating in the plus/minus department while getting an average of three shifts per period while playing in the men’s league. He’s also shown game-for-game that he’s been hanging onto every word coming from Canadian coach Rick Adduono, continually making the smart decision and remaining within himself and his abilities thus far.

What really sticks out is that Orendorz hasn’t avoided the rough stuff. He goes where it hurts and he takes hits and keeps on bouncing back. He hasn’t displayed any whims about going to the goal and getting off quick, if not creative, little shots. Scouts must also be liking the fact that he’s already six-foot-two and 187-pounds. There’s room to grow on that body of his too.

Kaufbeuren’s Markus Eisenschmid has been quite good, but hasn’t impressed in the same manner Orendorz has.

Eisenschmid is considered perhaps the most offensively talented player of this age group still playing in Germany but after six games, he’s only trucking at a point-per-game pace. He was very active for Germany’s U17 and U18 teams last winter and it is expected that he’ll have a starring role for the U18 this time around, possibly slipping into a lower-line role for the World Junior Championship. Eisenschmid has also be seeing some shifts for the parent club in Germany’s second league, where Kaufbeuren serves as one of the most tradition-filled clubs in the country. He already suited up for their first game of the season.

Outplaying Eisenschmid thus far is Erik Gollenbeck, who has seven points and a plus-nine rating in just two games for Mannheim. He was very strong last season and is a lock for the U18’s this year, with his eyes firmly fixed on being the DNL’s top scorer.

Size is a problem for Gollenbeck, though, as he’s only a spit in the bucket when drenched with sweat, coming in at five-foot-nine and 165-pounds. There’s time to grow, but Gollenbeck really have to do so in order to gain any real interest from NHL scouts.

Tim Bender, Gollenbeck’s teammate, will perhaps garner more attention as he already has over a point-per-game average after four contests and put up four points as an underager at the U18 tournament last May. He’s one to keep an eye on as a six-footer who will also be loaned out to a third league team, Bad Nauheim, throughout the season.

Back at the DEL level, there’s no doubt scouts will be following the progress of U20 team defensemen in the six-foot-three duo of Henry Haase and Kilian Keller.

Both are big defensemen with rather physical games. Both are playing for teams that have started off the season needing help on the blueline. Both are seeing some action and holding their own. In addition, both are already 19, although particularly Haase has some real snarl in his game and already possesses a man’s body.

Considering defensemen generally develop at a slower curve than forwards, both of these kids will be worth watching for 2013 because they each possess a decent share of all-round skills and headiness in addition to readiness to play physical.

How they, Orendorz or any other prospect playing in Germany fare throughout the season remains to be seen, however, they are off in the right direction toward chasing their NHL dream.

Article by Chapin Landvogt

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