Wildcards centre of attention

Dan Stewart2013 Draft Center0 Comments

After a rough season, Matthew Campagana’s high hopes for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft may be somewhat dimmed.

The centre struggled in his draft year to the point where he fell out of Future Considerations’ top-210 for 2012. But that doesn’t mean his draft dreams are dashed altogether.

Each and every year there are those prospects that do not get their names listed on final rankings by various draft publications for the NHL Entry Draft but still get drafted. These prospects have shown enough promise to impress a regional NHL scout and earn a spot on the team’s draft list and ultimately become property of that NHL organization.

Here’s a look at which wildcards down the middle that could be called in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Matthew Campagna – Sudbury – OHL – 5’-10.5” 180 lbs
After looking very impressive coming out of midget and into his rookie OHL season for the Wolves, Campagna actually might have regressed this year as his play proved to be based far too much on individual skill. Injury problems also have been concerning during his short career. Campagna’s ability to read the play and decision making is where he needs to show progression as his play with the puck far too often turned into solo efforts easily turned aside by OHL defenses.

Felix Girard – Baie-Comeau – QMJHL – 5’-10” 180 lbs
A strong defensive minded forward who kills penalties, drive back deep into his own zone to defend and works hard each shift he takes. His feet are always in motion and he is always involved and he has an edge to his game. Offensively his skills have not progressed much from last season and he really does nothing to stick out in that area that would suggest he is anything more than a strong junior checking line centre. If an NHL organization sees things differently he could hear his name later in the draft proceedings.

Want the skinny on the 2012 NHL Entry Draft Class? Order FC’s 2012 Draft Guide – Available now!

Erik Locke – Saginaw – OHL – 5’-9” 180 lbs
After showing well as a rookie with Windsor and Barrie two seasons ago, Locke failed to live up to those earlier expectations this past season in Barrie until a mid-season trade to Saginaw. Injury and overall rust when he did see the ice also played factors to his inconsistent game this season. He does have some potential as a top six forward at the next level but needs to show he can play a full season effectively and with much improved consistency to reach those lofty heights.

Ryan Rupert – London – OHL – 5’-9” 180lbs
A perfect example of a Hunter (think Dale) type player as Ryan Rupert does everything needed to knock the opposition off their game. He scores, he hits, he fights and he will sacrifice himself for the team and he plays a full two-hundred foot game. The problem is players his size rarely can pull the pest/agitator game off at the NHL level, especially since he often engages those he gets under the skin of. I do not doubt he will get selected, especially after his post season and Memorial Cup performances, but I do doubt how long he could play that way against men.

Justin Kea – Saginaw – OHL – 6’-4” 210 lbs
After seemingly sleep walking throughout the OHL regular season, the big Kea turned it on in the OHL post season as he started to use his frame more effectively and consistently to play a strong power game down low in both zones and dominated along the walls. He skates well and plays the role of a defensive minded power centre well. He does not have the offensive skill set to become a top six player but could serve as a strong bottom six complimentary two-way player at the next level and worth a late round selection if a team sees that potential.

Patrik Machac – Brampton – OHL – 5’-9” 165 lbs
After an impressive start to his rookie season, coming over from the Czech Republic as an import pick to play in the OHL this season, Machac’s play showed signs of decline in the second half as he looked as though he flat out ran out of gas. With his hands and creativity coupled with the efforts and the willingness to play a well rounded game he showed earlier in the year, some NHL team will likely make him a later round selection.

Garrett Hooey – Belleville – OHL – 6’-0.5” 185 lbs
An all guts and no glory type forward who will do whatever it takes to win, Hooey will never be a scoring forward at the NHL level but does well playing his hard nosed two-way play in the OHL and could intrigue an NHL squad to spend a pick on him late hoping his hard fore checking, aggressive physical game can translate into a fourth line, energy NHL role.

Daulton Siwak – Prince George – WHL – 5’-11” 190 lbs
After the trade from Red Deer to Prince George this season, Siwak’s game really took off as he produced more consistently on the score sheet and played an overall more effective game. He is not strictly an offensive minded player as he does know his way around his own zone, will battle along the walls and take a hit to make a play. He looks like a solid late-round selection who might develop into a strong bottom six two-way forward at the next level.

Justin Hickman – Seattle – WHL – 6’-2” 195 lbs
Hickman is a good sized two-way centre with some pest potential at the next level. He has the size and strength to be a dominant physical player at this level but looks to relish the jabs and after whistle face washes more so than the heavy hitting, run a guy over game. He has some offensive sense and skill as well with the ability to work along the boards and make a strong pass once he gains puck possession. Good in the faceoff circle, a nice shot and well worth a look late in the draft as he was just outside our top 210 prospects.

Brady Brassart – Calgary – WHL – 6’-1” 180 lbs
Brassart was passed over last year because of some character concerns but he could hear his name this time around as he really progressed for the Hitmen this season as a hard working two-way forward. He uses his frame to protect the puck well, is strong along the cycle and is willing to get his nose dirty. He still went through stretches of inconsistent play this year but he was very strong when he was going hard. He can also produce some offense as a playmaker with some solid vision and hands that could lure an NHL selection.

A.J. Michaelson – Waterloo – USHL – 6’-0.5” 185 lbs
After an off-season which saw the Apple Valley product have his character and work ethic questioned the worst thing that could have happened did happen. He got buried on a strong Black Hawks squad and with limited ice time lost most of his confidence until his strong prospects game showing in Muskegon. The skilled forward has the wheels and hands to play a top six role but must continue to round out his game.

Quentin Shore – US NTDP U18 – USHL – 6’-1.5” 190 lbs
The third brother out of four hockey playing Shore boys, Quentin does not have the same skill level as his older brothers Drew and Nick possess but does share in the hard working trait. He does have the size and shot to be a force deep in the offensive zone as well as the strength to make room for himself. His skating is his main area of concern moving forward but he does have the family name and the other attributes that might entice an NHL team.

Justin Selman – Sioux Falls – USHL – 6’-0” 190 lbs
Selman is a good two-way forward who keeps his legs moving and has that full throttle motor that is always running. He plays using his frame and actually plays much bigger than his size, throwing his body around and getting himself into dirty areas. Has good hands but questionable offensive sense and will likely never be a big point producer. Could fill the role of a serviceable bottom six forward at the next level.

Zach Aston-Reese – Lincoln – USHL – 6’-0” 175 lbs
Not a high-end skill guy but he does make a difference through his effort and gritty play on the ice. A well rounded player who can break up an offensive chance at one end and also jump into the attack going the other way, going hard to the net looking for rebounds or defections. He has the ability to improve his strength and shot over the next couple of years and could be a strong candidate for bottom six duty if he progresses well.

Vince Hinostroza – Waterloo  – USHL – 5’-9” 160 lbs
Hinostroza is an undersized but highly skilled centre who always seems to be around the puck and creating chances. A skilled playmaker that handles the puck well, possesses nice vision and ability to get into areas and out with the puck still on his stick. The problem is although he has a very nice skill level his size hurts him with NHL scouts and he does not have the frame that will allow for him to carry too much more bulk.

Austin Czarnik – Miami of Ohio – CCHA – 5’-8” 160 lbs
A strong performance in his rookie season with the Red Hawks as well as his impressive showing at the World Junior Championships against much larger opponents has led many scouts to put Czarnik on the tail end of their draft lists. The small but skilled forward shows no fear in going up against bigger opponents and usually comes out on top due to his drive and determination.

Drake Caggiula – Stouffville – OJHL – 5’-9” 170 lbs
Caggiula is a small but skilled pivot that was sort of hidden from the limelight that Major Junior prospects get in their draft years. His lower level of play will work against him as he did not gain the exposure others with similar talents did who played in the OHL and it was only at the end of his Junior A season and in the playoffs that he really elevated his game and made a statement. An NHL team will likely make him a late round selection and hope he can improve his strength during his time at North Dakota.

Wade Murphy – Victoria – BCHL – 5’-10.5” 175 lbs
One player who could really be a sleeper in this draft class as he has very interesting skills is Murphy. The problem is his smallish size and lack of strength. He can be an offensive generator with his vision and playmaking as well as a good complimentary player, as he gets himself into strong position, depending on who he is playing with. He skates well, uses what size he has to protect the puck and is not afraid to enter the greasy areas; all qualities that may attract an NHL team to taking him late.

Adam Johnson – Hibbing – MIN HS – 5’-10.5” 160 lbs
All the talent in the world; has silky smooth feet and lightning quick hands, elite vision and plus offensive sense, but his character has pushed him so far down the draft board as far as FC is concerned. He is far too individual of a player and has had issues with both his teammates and coaches this year. If an NHL team thinks his skill is worth the risk he is a good gamble who could really be a steal late in the draft, but only if he turns his attitude around.

Dominic Toninato – Duluth East – MIN HS – 6’-0.5” 170 lbs
While Toninato is not overly flashy nor possesses elite offensive skills, he does have good speed, good frame to build strength on, quick hands, nice on-ice vision and he’s not afraid to work along the boards and corners. Some NHL scouts really like the tools he brings while others think he might struggle as he moves up levels in competition. He finished up his season with a cameo in the USHL with the Fargo Force where he faired well.

Justin Kloos – Lakeview South – MIN HS – 5’-9” 175 lbs
Kloos is an offensive generating machine who skates well but lacks that high end speed you want in a small offensive forward. Keeps his feet moving, has bursts of darting quickness and always pushes the pace of the game. Wants the puck on his stick and always looks to attack. Problem is his size makes it easy for opponents to knock him off the puck as well as his questionable hockey sense means he could have trouble being successful playing his game past the college level.

Lou Nanne – Edina – MIN HS – 5’-10” 160 lbs
Those who recognize the name realize he is Minnesota hockey royalty as his grandfather, also names Lou Nanne, has had a very big influence in the growth of hockey in the USA. This hard working kid will likely get drafted partly because of the last name, and partly because he’s a great kid. Quick and gritty, but his offensive game likely won’t translate to the next level. He is headed to Penticton of the BCHL next year to work on his offensive game.

Dylan Steman – Maple Grove – MIN HS – 5’-9” 170 lbs
A very smart kid both on and off the ice who brings the best out of his line mates and can play well in any situation. Despite his size he is fearless willing to go into corners without hesitation and drive the net even when bigger defenders are bearing down on him. Very quick hands, good offensive sense and a strong determination are some of his best traits. While he is not an overly explosive skater he does get to where he needs to be. While he will likely not be drafted this year this is the type of kid who coaches love and who can make the jump in competition without too much problem because of work ethic.

Bulat Khammatov – Tolpar Ufa – MHL – 6’-0” 175 lbs
Another highly creative offensive forward who reads the play well, is creative with the puck and has very nice vision. He can both play the role of playmaker as well as finisher with his good shot and quick hands but does not tend to shoot as much as he should. He had some deficiencies defensively but his talent is obvious. Playing on the same MHL squad as heavily scouted puck stopper Andrei Vasilevski might help Khammatov get noticed but it is his on-ice performance this season that will be the difference whether he is drafted or not.

Ildar Shiksatdarov – CSKA – MHL – 5’-9” 165 lbs
A smallish but skilled forward who can fly up the ice while protecting the puck with his quick hands and what strength he has before getting off a quick shot. He, like many Russian trained forwards, does not play a defensively responsible game as well he can be outmuscled rather easily. While he has some high end speed and skill he did not receive much in the way of ice time with a deep CSKA squad this season. If an NHL squad thinks that they can get him to come over to the CHL where he can be better developed he could have some late round value.

Christoph Bertschy – Bern – Switzerland NLA – 5’-10” 170 lbs
A big time difference maker with the Swiss squad at the World Juniors this past Holiday season in Calgary. He brings strong offensive skills such as speed, an offensively creative mind, slick hands, a rocket of a wrist shot and some underrated playmaking ability. He also brings a hard fore-check and never stop motor but has grown a bit of a lazy reputation in his approach to practice and body development. If an NHL team likes him as a bottom six forward he could be a solid late round project.

Kristoffer Lauridsen – Herning II – Denmark 2 – 5’-11” 185 lbs
Lauridsen has some very intriguing skills and attributes such as nice skating ability, natural goal scorers instincts, a hard shot with quick release and quick hands as well as the determination to battle for his ice and get his nose dirty. After an impressive showing at the Spring U18’s and news of his move to play in the Swedish junior leagues for next season, expect Lauridsen to be on an NHL draft list and hear his name called in Pittsburgh.

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