FC’s scouting director Dan Stewart tackles the rise of Alex Galchenyuk in March’s ranking of the 2012 draft, New England-based draft eligibles, the search for a Cam Neely clone, WHL sleepers and Philip Tot in this edition of ‘Five For Stewart’
1. I’m wondering how can a guy that play no games this year still can manage to go up in the rankings in front of Grigorenko, Dumba and Forsberg ?
This is in regards to injured Galchenyuk moving into the top three in FC’s March rankings while high-end prospects who have had very productive seasons to date slipping.
First, it needs to be understood, the way our rankings are put together is not a running tally of where we might have had them last month in relation to how they have done over the past three or four weeks. Each month, FC’s list is built from scratch based on how all of our scouts think these prospects will project out at the NHL level.
Individually, while Galchenyuk has not played a regular season game with the Sting, during the games we saw him play last season it was apparent he has elite talent. One thing that is also apparent during his injury is his determination and work ethic to get back on the ice before the season closes.
In relation to Mikhail Grigorenko, who has had a hot and cold first North American season with Quebec despite his great numbers seen on the scoresheet, Galchenyuk compares well talent Grigorenko brings but it can be argued that his work ethic and consistency is far and away more projectable to an impact NHLer.
While the illusion is that Galchenyuk has risen over the likes of Mathew Dumba and Filip Forsberg in FC’s March ranking, the truth is that some small deficiencies have been observed in the other prospects previously ranked ahead of him and when compared to Galchenyuk in our monthly rankings, these prospects have slipped marginally.
2. Please tell us more about the New England based players for the 2012 NHL Draft.
Everyone knows about Cristoval Nieves of Kent and that he is a borderline first round or high-end second round prospect because of his impressive size, speed and offensive abilities but after him who is there?
Regional scout Dan Chan has been to many rinks all over New England this season and says that even though the draft crop of prep kids is not heavy in high-end talent there are a few names to keep an eye on as they get drafted and develop further.
The two top guys in New England after Boo are wingers in Brian Hart of Phillips-Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and Sam Kurker of St.John’s Prep in Massachusetts. Both are big body forwards with power potential, possessing good shots and good board work.
Hart, standing at six-foot-two and over 200-pounds, has a bit better skating and a better shot while Kurker, who also stands at six-foot-two and just around 200-pounds, is marginally the more physical of the two. Hart will be entering Harvard next fall while Kurker will embark on his college career with Boston University.
Another can be found in big winger in Adam Gilmour of Noble and Greenough Prep School.
Gilmour shows off some nice stick skills, along with a strong two-way game. Many like his progression over this season and thinks he is a very solid prospect. Gilmour’s teammate with Noble, Chris Calnan, also has good size, solid skating ability and some impressive fore-checking skills. He doesn’t have much high-end offensive creativity in his game right now but he does have that combination of hard work and physical abilities that NHL team like.
St. Sebastian’s Danny O’Regan is a smallish but plucky centre from Needham, Mass. with solid playmaking skills that is extremely smart with the puck and dishes his passes accurately and quickly. He has top-six two-way upside, especially if he can add some size over the next couple years while attending Boston University.
Winger Devin Tringale of Lawrence Academy is another prospect who should hear his name called in Pittsburgh. Though not the fastest, biggest or the most skillful, Tringale just understands the game and his role as an opportunistic, hardworking, physical forward. He loves to throw his weight around and play with a feisty edge.
The sleeper of the US Prep ranks might be centre Niko Rufo of Kimball Union. The offensively skilled, agile and creative forward is ultra-raw but has a very high upside if he puts in the work. He will be featured in our sleeper section in the May draft guide.
3. Can you describe Philip Tot’s game and where you see his draft stock?
Philip Tot of the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL is a big kid with some projectable tools but also raw in terms of his ability to put it all together. He is just one day shy of being eligible for last summer’s NHL draft which makes him one of the oldest first time eligibles for this draft.
At six-foot-two and almost 190-pounds, Tot has the size to play a strong power game which he shows flashes of doing. He is not consistently physically engaged in each contest despite dropping the gloves a few times already this year. He does show some two-way ability as well as ability to put points on the board. His skill set though is more of a complementary type that needs to have a stronger, more creative playmaker to thrive.
Regional scout Cody Nickolet had this take on Tot:
“Turned out to be a very strong showing from Tot, even though I would like to see a better first few steps from him. At this point he is one of the bright spots from a tough year for the Canes. Based on this viewing I would say he definitely has a realistic shot of having his name called. I would rank him in the sixth round for now.”
4. If I am an NHL franchise, I am looking for the next Cam Neely who can score, play physical every shift and also lay the body, who are some of the best prospects in 2012 that fit this mold?
There are a few big bodied forwards available this year, some with very projectable NHL upsides like a Forsberg or a Radek Faksa, but in the first round if you are looking for the next Milan Lucic type of player I would look no further than Plymouth Whaler Tom Wilson.
The way the six-foot-four, 200-pound Wilson has progresses this year despite being buried down the depth chart on a deep Plymouth squad speaks volumes to his upside. He skates well for such a big guy and has very good hands to make plays offensively. Wilson consistently uses his size to make devastating body checks and will drop the gloves with anyone.
The best part of his game, however, is between the big wingers ears as he is extremely smart in all situations. The only concern is his first couple steps and that his offensive upside might top out as a third line complementary scorer.
Also fitting this mold is U.S. National Development Team forward Stefan Matteau who seems to have been suspended more often than he has played this year because of on-ice transgressions against USHL competition. Matteau has the size and some offensive skill to go along with an ornery attitude.
Edmonton Oil Kings winger Mitchell Moroz has also been getting some consideration, although his offensive upside is not as high as the above other two power forwards. Moroz has some good potential but will need to improve his skating.
Most scouts agree that, for pure fisticuffs, Windsor Spitfires Ty Bilcke is the best the draft has to offer as the six-foot-three winger has dominated plenty of his competition along the way amidst controversy with regards to fighting in Major Junior this season. It is not expected that Bilke will not get many assignments except to go out and change the momentum of a game with a scarp at the next level.
5. Who is one sleeper from the WHL that no one is talking about?
Centre Brendan Leipsic is one that could be drafted later than he should as he is overshadowed because of the high-end defenseman in the WHL this year as well as his lack of ideal size.
Every time the blast of energy from the Portland Winterhawks hits the ice, he impresses and has many wondering if his NHL upside is underestimated.
Dan Stewart is the scouting director of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!