A new season comes new surprises, especially in the world of hockey prospects. Perhaps this is no more true than those eligible for the annual Entry Draft, chasing the dream of being selected by a National Hockey League team and starting to take the steps to playing professional hockey for a living.
Some players struggle under the pressure of their draft year. Then there’s these guys.
Niagara Ice Dogs forward Ryan Strome, forward Ty Rattie of the Portland Winterhawks, Assat forward Joel Armia and Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ryan Murphy are in the spotlight after jumping out to better than expected starts in each of their respective leagues.
Name: Ryan Strome
Team: Niagara – OHL
Vitals: 6’-1” / 180 Lbs
DOB: July 11, 1993
Scouting Notes: Skating has improved this year over last…looks more explosive in his first few steps after looking flat last year…has shot the puck more this year which has led to him becoming more a dangerous attacker…is using his size and really working hard early this season.
Overview: Strome, who was dealt to Niagara from the Barrie Colts last season in the blockbuster Alex Pietrangelo trade, has led the Ice Dogs offensive attack so far this season. Coming out of the Toronto Marlies Midget AAA program where he put up some impressive offensive numbers he was known by most to have a high skill but he has really exploded this season. After starting the year as a top-100 prospect on most scouting lists he has been able to climb the charts all the way into first round consideration with his impressive play. Strome put in loads of hard work over the summer, working to get stronger and faster while earning plenty of prime ice time with the Ice dogs are the biggest reasons for his impressive production this season.
Name: Ty Rattie
Position: Right Wing
Team: Portland – WHL
Vitals: 6’-0” / 175 Lbs
DOB: February 5, 1993
Scouting Notes: Has improved quickness this season, both in his hands and feet, as seems to be able to hold onto the puck for as long as he desires…has really looked like a kid with much more confidence on the ice…shooting more often and with better velocity…is more involved in all facets of the game.
Overview: Rattie came into the WHL as a highly regarded prospect who shattered offensive records in his last year of Bantam. Many thought he would have more of an impact with Portland last season even though he did turn in a solid contribution on a well balanced team that produced a handful of highly regarded draft picks for the 2010 draft. Despite jumping out to a hot start, many scouts think this is just the tip of the iceberg of what Rattie can do in the league as he still has much room to grow on both sides of the puck and with improvements to key areas like his strength and speed there is no telling what kind of impact he could have down the line. Rattie has continued his excellent production despite multiple high profile NHL draftees returning to the Winterhawks lineup this season.
Name: Joel Armia
Position: Right Wing
Team: Assat – SM-Liiga
Vitals: 6’-3” / 185 Lbs
DOB: May 5, 1993
Scouting Notes: Playing with loads of confidence early on and showing a real willingness to work hard…drives to the net looking for loose pucks and willing to shoot and shoot often… shot is coming off his stick quick and with a high amount of velocity…has shown natural instincts of where prime scoring areas will be and he gets there…worries about his skating have proven to be overblown as he has kept up just fine but his feet are still slower than you would like and is still an area that Armia will want to improve upon…could use some added strength in his legs going forward.
Overview: Armia has always been a productive player in the Finnish junior leagues and during various international tournaments. He has always been a point-per-game player or close to it so why did so many project a less offensively productive season now that he has graduated to the men’s league? Armia is proving his doubters wrong early as he is jumping out to a strong start for Assat and becoming one of the 2011 drafts shinning stars.
Name: Ryan Murphy
Team: Kitchener – OHL
Vitals: 5’-10.5” / 175 Lbs
DOB: March 31, 1993
Scouting Notes: Offensive skills, instincts and mobility are all well chronicled…has improved his strength from last season…shows more patience and effort in his own zone and not running around and taking himself out of position like last season…wants to be seen as someone who can not only produce offensively but also be on the ice in the last minute of a close game in a defensive role…some NHL teams are looking at Murphy as a top five talent after a few early viewings.
Overview: Murphy had a high level of expectation going into the year and exceeded those expectations with outstanding production early on. Points are not the only thing that are getting scouts excited about Murphy but his improved defensive play from last year. He has visibly grown and looks much stronger and while he will always be considered an offensive defenseman, he has looked more than capable in a few shadowing assignments he has been given this season. Murphy is on pace to score over 30 goals and 100 points in his draft season.
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!