Tuesday, May 31, 2011

E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120: Victor Rask #41

By Eldon MacDonald

41. Victor Rask - “Mr. Boom or Bust” - C - Sweden

Vitals: Size - 6’2”, 194 lb.; Shoots left; Born: 1-Mar-93 - Leksand, Sweden
Team: Leksand, Allsvensdan (SWE-2)
2010-11 Stats: 37-5-6-11-8 + SWE 2 playoffs 4-0-1-1-9-(-4) + U18 6-2-3-5-4-(+5)

26 - ISS's June Rankings
34 - Kirk Luedeke's Top 50
36 - hfboards Readers’ Poll
37 - The Scouting Report's Top 100 Skaters
38 - Future Considerations Final Rankings
40 - Bob MacKenzie's June NHL Scouts Poll
41 - E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120
41 - Cory Pronman's Top 100
43 - Christopher Ralph's Top 210
54 - The Hockey News per TSN
75 - NHL Central Scouting's Final Rankings (12th European skater)
Draft Result:
42 - Carolina Hurricane

Victor Rask entered this year with enormous expectations. A point a game player in the Swedish J20 league last year plus five points in six games at the 2010 U18’s, he was close to the top on most rankings - top five with ISS for three months running and even 16th in Bob MacKenzie’s poll of NHL scouts published in January.

However, this year started off badly when he didn’t score at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He was terrible at the Five Nations Tournament in February. Some say he partially redeemed himself with his performance at the U18’s when he got five points in six games. However, a closer look reveals that if you exclude the 10-2 blowout against the significantly less talented Norway Team, Victor only got two points in the other five games, not overly impressive. In addition, he was a decidedly non-factor in the gold medal game against the USA. Combine the international experiences with a lack luster season in the Allsvenskan (Swedish tier 2 men’s professional league) and you have a big faller on most draft rankings.

In spite of his performance not meeting expectations, Victor still possesses an impressive array of talents that will still likely get him drafted in the first or second rounds. And these skills run the gamut with about almost everything you want to hear about a great offensive centerman - size, shot, skating skills, vision, creativity, puck handling, puck distribution, face-off performance. His biggest negative is between the ears as he doesn’t always use those talents to their fullest. Kyle Woodlief of Redline report describes it best when he says, “Not sure what’s going on with this guy, but he has become an enigma (and that’s putting it mildly) for us. He has size and puckhandling skill, but he’s consistently playing with no passion, winning no battles and just not accomplishing much.

Where does Victor Rask go in the draft? If you are drafting on talent alone, Victor Rask is definitely first round material. If you factor in the ears, you are likely to be looking at early to mid second. Anders Ostberg , the Swedish prospect blogger, says that the only way Victor Rask will go in the first round is if the team drafting him doesn’t have a Swedish scout. Victor Rask could end up being the steal of the draft or the bust of the draft.

Victor Rask is #18 in the YouTube video below by DrPabloRamirez and draws the primary assist.


E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120: Mario Lucia #43

By Eldon MacDonald

43. Mario Lucia - “The Crown Prince” - LW - USA

Vitals: Size - 6’2”, 183 lb.; Shoots left; Born: 25-Aug-93 - Fairbanks, AK
Team: Wayzata High School, HS MN
2010-11 Stats: 24-25-22-47-14-(+26)

26 - The Hockey News per TSN
37 - Christopher Ralph's Top 210
39 - NHL Central Scouting's Final Rankings (34th North American skater)
40 - Cory Pronman's Top 100
41 - The Scouting Report's Top 100 Skaters
43 - E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120
45 - Bob MacKenzie's June Poll of Scouts
46 - ISS per TSN
53 - Future Considerations Final Rankings
53 - hfboards Readers’ Poll
Draft result:
60 - Minnesota Wild
To get a feel for the premier high schooler coming out of the US this year, I think the best person to turn to would be his head coach, Carl Davis. Here is what Carl told NHL.com, "He's a dynamic playmaker. He protects the puck so well in traffic and uses that size to his advantage. He's a threat coming out of the corners. He works so hard in the weight room -- he's outworked everyone on my team. This young man has a passion to get better and he wants to get to the next level. He's gotten so much stronger this year." He has been compared favourably to the following former US high schoolers: Brock, Nelson, Scott Bjugstad and Derek Stepan so I think there is something there. After all he has the size and the skills - skating (first gear and top gears), shot, hands, hockey sense and what I like best of all - a goal scorer’s touch. The only real negatives are his strength which is being addressed and the fact that he doesn’t bring it every night or every shift.

In summary, there is a lot of potential upside to this guy who comes from a royal hockey family in Minnesota - his father, Don, is the coach of the University of Minnesota. He could push first round if a team becomes enamoured with his potential but mid-second is more likely. He is likely to play in the USHL next year (he suited up for the USA NDP U18 squad for a number of games this year to replace the injured Austin Wuthrich) and after that “Could it be the University of Minnesota?” - stay tuned for the answer.


E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120: Ryan Sproul #45

By Eldon MacDonald

45. Ryan Sproul - “Mr. Big Shot” - D - Canada

Vitals: Size - 6’4”, 185 lb.; Shoots right; Born: 13-Jan-93
Team: Sault St. Marie, OHL
2010-11 Stats: 61-14-19-33-36-(-15)

28 - Christopher Ralph's Top 210
44 - The Scouting Report's Top 100 Skaters
45 - E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120
47 - hfboards Readers’ Poll
48 - Bob MacKenzie's June Poll of Scouts
48 - Kirk Luedeke's Top 50
60 - ISS per TSN
68 - NHL Central Scouting's Final Ranking (54th North American skater)
82 - Cory Pronman's Top 100
Draft result:
55 - Detroit Red Wings

Ryan Sproul is not only a late riser but a major riser in draft rankings as he went from 124th North American skater on the NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings to 54th in their final rankings. What happened???
  1. Late growth spurt - When Ryan Sproul was drafted by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 2009, he was about 6’0 and 185 lb. Today he is 6’4 and still 185 lb. In fact, his body has so physically immature the year he was drafted that that he stayed another year in midget and didn’t join the Greyhounds till this fall.
  2. More playing time - There was no mention of Ryan Sproul earlier in the year as he was buried on the Greyhounds blueline behind some more experienced players who were pretty good in their own right. Then, Brandon Archibald got traded to Saginaw and Brock Beukeboom had a season ending injury.
  3. Power play time - The biggest factor though in Ryan’s success was that he became the go-to shooter on the power play. In fact, his success rate in scoring goals in the latter half of the season was about the same as the two more famous OHL defensemen named Ryan (Ryan Ellis and Ryan Murphy).
So why would you want to draft Ryan Sproul:
  1. His shot is way above average and his 14 goals (most of which were scored in the second half of the season) are proof of its effectiveness.
  2. His one-timer is almost Subbanesque in its power and accuracy and comes without much of a wind-up.
  3. He size is very appealing. With his late growth spurt, his frame is still very under-developed but he has the space to put on the weight necessary to compete successfully in the bigs. He may top out at 6’5 - 210-220.
  4. His skating is another major asset although he doesn’t have the puck handling skills to maximize its effect on his game.
  5. His defense improved significantly over the course of the season. However, it is still not satisfactory and there are a few questions over his hockey sense. However, teams are more likely to cut a draftee some slack in this area if they are steadily improving like Ryan.
In summary, this is a boom or bust type pick. However, Ryan’s size and skills are so good that at least one team is going to take him of the board a way earlier than most are expecting. Watch the compilation video below on You-Tube made by ryankyle1000 and tell me if you don’t think Ryan Sproul is worth a gamble in the second round.


E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120: Rickard Rakell #46

By Eldon MacDonald

46. Rickard Rakell - “Mr. Unpredictable” - RW - Sweden

Vitals: Size - 6’1”, 191 lb.; Shoots right; born: 5-May-93 - Sollentuna, Sweden
Team: Plymouth, OHL
2010-11 Stats: 49-19-24-43-12-(+14) + OHL playoffs - 1-0-0-0-0-(+0) + U 18 5-0-3-3-2-(-3)

24 - Craig Button's Top 30 of 8-Jun-11
25 - The Hockey News per TSN
32 - Bob MacKenzie's June Poll of Scouts
35 - NHL Central Scouting's Final Rankings (30th North American skater)
37 - Kirk Luedeke's Top 50
39 - hfboards Readers’ Poll
40 - Christopher Ralph's Top 210
41 - ISS per TSN
42 - Future Considerations Final Rankings
45 - The Scouting Report's Top 100 Skaters
46 - E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120
66 - Cory Pronman's Top 100
Draft result:
30 - Anaheim Ducks

So, who is the real Richard Rakell??? A lot of people came away impressed by his performance at the U20’s where Richard put on a gutsy performance for Team Sweden, establishing himself as a solid two-way player, an energetic, diligent forechecker who always keeps his feet moving and is involved in the play. He also skated very well, had a great shot and proved an effective passer. However, back in the OHL at Plymouth, Richard did not put up the numbers that would be expected of a player possessing the multitude of talents that he possesses. In fact, his output really petered out after he returned from the U20’s and then he injured his ankle and barely played after that.

So, Richard possesses first round skills and third round results. Usually such a match is accompanied by a lack of hockey sense, why else would the skills not produce results. Or, did Richard just run out of gas with the longer OHL schedule. I am not sure of the answers as it did not appear in the games that I saw Richard that he lacked hockey sense. The team drafting him will need to have a better grasp of the answers to put a proper valuation on him for June. Bob MacKenzie’s January poll of NHL scouts had him 20th overall which is a pretty good indication that more than I believe that this guy has first round skills. However, his lack of performance since January combined with some good performances from other potential draftees likely will shove Richard down into the second round - how far is an open question.


E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120: Stefan Noesen #47

By Eldon MacDonald

47. Stefan Noesen - “ Mr. Mack Truck” - RW - USA

Vitals: Size - 6’1”, 195 lb.; Shoots right; born: 12-Feb-93 - Plano, TX
Team: Plymouth, OHL
2010-11 Stats: 68-34-43-77-(+14) + OHL playoffs - 11-6-5-11-16-(-4)

24 - The Scouting Report's Top 100 Skaters
26 - McKeen's June Top 30
32 - Kirk Luedeke's Top 50
30 - Guy Flaming - The Pipeline Show Top 30
33 - Bob MacKenzie's June Poll of Scouts
33 - hfboards Readers’ Poll
35 - Christopher Ralph's Top 210
39 - The Hockey News per TSN
40 - NHL Central Scouting's Final Rankings (35th North American skater)
45 - Future Considerations Final Rankings
47 - E-Mac's 2011 NHL Entry Draft Top 120
47 - Cory Pronman's Top 100
49 - ISS per TSN
Draft result:
21 - Ottawa Senators

So how do make a kid from Texas into a hockey player??? The formula is simple, you take a kid at four; you put him in the living room with his great-grandpa from Canada; you teach him to skate backwards. Add a hockey organization to the area in the name of the Dallas Stars who do a great job of promoting minor hockey. Et voila, you have a hockey player who patterns himself after Guy Carbonneau’s son-in-law - better known to you as Brenden Morrow of the Dallas Stars. And that’s how Stefan Noesen got started in hockey.

Move forward to today and now you have a major talent in the OHL who is likely to be drafted in the first couple of rounds. Stefan Noesen is a north-south type of guy with a shoot first mentality. He is prepared to go hard to the net, bang bodies down low and do what is necessary to disrupt the other team and cause those garbage goals. He skates like a truck driving down main street using his speed and size to run over or through whatever obstacles he may face in his path. He also has a decent shot that he gets off quickly. However, it is his work ethic and character which are elite and will likely be the determining factor in how successful Stefan will be at the next level. So you have a player with average to slightly above average skills with elite drive and determination.

Where Stefan goes in the draft is dependent on what type of role the team drafting him foresees him playing at the next level. Those that see him as a third liner who can pop some goals will have him mid to late second; those that think he can create enough offense to play second line will have him early second, maybe even late first.

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