There are big things coming out of the Western Hockey League as it pertains to the 2013 NHL Draft.
A few towering draft eligibles are starting to stand out in the WHL’s 2013 draft crop.
One player who has remained strong through the start of the year has been Medicine Hat Tigers defenseman Spenser Jensen.
Jensen is a big, smooth skating defenseman that plays a safe and effective style. At six-foot-four, he is an imposing figure on the back end. Jensen covers a ton of ice and is sound positionally. Two of his best assets is his patience and vision, which he uses to alleviate pressure in his own zone and as a quarterback to the power play.
Jensen’s maturity and hockey sense are both evident in his calm mindset and cerebral style. While Jensen doesn’t put up huge numbers, he has proven to be a reliable defenseman for the Tigers.
Like any prospect, Jensen isn’t without his flaws. Despite being imposing on paper, Jensen doesn’t quite play up to his size on the ice. He could use a bit more tenacity and bite in regards to his physical game to make better use of his great frame. Jensen could also work on making a bigger impact in the offensive zone and on the power play.
If Jensen can continue to grow and play his game, it won’t be long before scouts start to take notice.
Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Axel Blomqvist is another big man that is starting to hit his stride.
Blomqvist is a big winger that migrated from Sweden to Lethbridge for his draft eligible season. Already standing six-foot-five, 194-pounds, Blomqvist has power forward written all over him. He plays a tough style, often found in the corners working on the cycle. He doesn’t throw a lot of punishing checks, but Blomqvist does a good job of establishing himself on the forecheck and using his size to make an impact whenever he can. Blomqvist is fairly raw as an offensive threat, but has shown flashes of good vision and the ability to put the puck in the net when given the chance.
Like most big men, Blomqvist’s skating is a bit suspect. His acceleration and agility aren’t the greatest at this point, but are sure to improve as he matures. Blomqvist is definitely gaining momentum this year, and as he grows more comfortable with the North American game, he will certainly make himself a draft eligible player to watch.
Victoria Royals defenseman Keegan Kanzig may be one of the scariest players in all of junior hockey.
You don’t come across a lot of 17-year-old players with NHL-ready size, but Kanzig is one of them. At six-foot-five and a hefty 242-pounds, Kanzig may be the biggest player available in the draft. His game and attitude on the ice revolves around his size. Kanzig is physical and mean, rarely losing battles in the corners and constantly keeping the front of the net clear of any threats. He accounts for his lack of speed by reacting to plays quickly. He does everything he can to help his team win, which includes blocking shots and fighting if necessary. Kanzig is a stereotypical stay-at-home defenseman that you can count on to play big minutes.
Kanzig’s style is very one-dimensional. He is a beast in the defensive zone, but makes little to no impact outside his own blueline. His puck skills are suspect, and his mediocre skating gets exposed too often in open ice. Kanzig’s lack of foot speed also hurts his physical game at times, not allowing him to get to danger areas quick enough to make his presence felt.
Despite some of his pitfalls, Kanzig’s size may be too enticing for NHL teams to pass up.
If Kanzig and other WHL big men can continue to stand above the rest, it won’t be long before they are headed to the bright lights of the 2013 NHL Draft.