Who are the DobberHockey writers? You read their articles every day, now it is time to go behind the scenes. Throughout the summer, each writer will be put in the spot light. They will share a little bit about themselves, their columns and some upcoming predictions. Next up is Brendan Ross.
Name: Brendan Ross
Favourite Food: Beer, Pizza and Wings (in order)
Favourite Movie: Wedding Crashers
Favourite NHL Player?
Past – Eric Lindros
Present – Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux and Nail Yakupov.
Olympic Hockey or World Junior Championship?
Anytime a team puts on their nation’s colours then it’s a great time but I favour the World Junior Championship time of the year slightly. Plus, from a fantasy perspective the WJC marks a time where “selling high” becomes so much easier.
First Fantasy Hockey League?
I started playing fantasy hockey probably 15-years ago participating in Yahoo head-to-head leagues but never really got into competitive leagues until my University years (~10 years ago).
First round pick?
Ilya Kovalchuk was my first selection in my keeper league that has been ongoing with 19 other buddies for seven years now.
Last fantasy hockey championship?
I am currently riding a four-year Championship streak in my 20-team keeper league after winning the 2011-12 season.
You play hockey, right? What is your earliest on-ice hockey memory?
I have played puck since the ripe age of three so it’s difficult to accurately recall my younger days but one of my earliest hockey memories on the ice came when I was playing up a division and winning my first ever hockey tournament as a Novice player.
What is your best hockey memory?
On-Ice Experience: Ten years ago, my group of buddies and I decided that we would put together a Juvenile team and forego the junior hockey route (none of us were going anywhere). We won the Ontario Minor Hockey Championships that year and had a riot of a time doing so – partying along the way. Great times!
On a personal level, I still vividly recall a tournament we won near Alliston, Ontario during my Bantam years. We were playing in the Championship final and the game was tied after regulation. The overtime period was set for five minutes but there was a twist – every minute a player from each team was required to come off. Essentially, we started with 5-on-5, then went to 4-on-4 at the 4:00 minute mark, 3-on-3 at the 3:00 minute mark, and so on. We were down to 2-on-2 and the coach called on me to be one of the two players; however, my linemate received a penalty for tripping just secondss after going 2-on-2. As a result, it was 1-on-2 (plus goaltenders) and I was the lone player for my squad. What followed was my favourite goal of my minor hockey career.
I won the face-off to myself (confession: I have always been brutal in the face-off dot as a winger), I dangled the opposing teams’ centerman and was now one-on-one against the last defender. For the sake of this story, I pulled a Claude Giroux toe drag leaving the defenseman helpless and beat the goaltender using the Peter Forsberg one-handed deke to score the shorthanded Championship winning goal! Good times!
NHL Experience: I was lucky enough to attend the first Winter Classic in Buffalo, NY versus Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins. I drove through a blizzard on New Years day to sit in the snow filled Ralph Wilson Stadium – the atmosphere was perfect for such an event.
How did you get into the prospects game? What Inspired you?
My journey to the prospect scene was a gradual process making it difficult to pinpoint any exact “moment”. As a player, I never had the blazing speed, size or finesse that sets players above the rest but my best attribute was my so-called “hockey sense”. I think that my understanding of the game helped me as a coach, official and now in identifying talent. Like most fantasy participants, I have always enjoyed finding that “next superstar” in the prospect pool and I think early success in that is what “inspired” me to pursue the prospect route. It’s a journey that has happened quickly and I can now say that I enjoy following the major junior routes as much (or more) than the NHL.
Since then, what has been your favourite prospect moment?
Again, I don’t think I can narrow it down to one specific “moment” but after being involved in the junior ranks (to some capacity) for six/seven years now I have now been able to see the complete transition of a player. It’s rewarding watching a player as a 16-year-old playing in his first junior season and noticing a trait that is “special” that not everyone sees. As that player develops from year-to-year growing as a player it’s something very cool to witness especially when you see that player finally drafted into the NHL and see him have success there as well. I’d say the “prospect journey” from start-to-finish has been my favourite moment.
What do you look for when assessing potential hockey value, and long NHL careers, in prospects?
What!?! You want me to share my secrets! Outrage! Joking aside, despite not being an actual “scout” (hopefully someday) I do use the same principles in identifying talent. First and foremost, a player has to show some sort of rare skill that either sets him apart from the competition. That skill could be blazing speed, slick puckhandling skills, a booming shot, elite hockey sense or a relentless work ethic but in the ideal world, you want to see a player possess all of these skills combined.
Personally, I place a lot of value in hockey sense, attitude and most importantly a strong work ethic. The players that possess the will to compete and hockey sense are usually the ones that coaches lean on during crunch time even if they aren’t as “skilled” as a teammate. A player’s versatility and ability to adapt is crucial as well since most players go through several different adjustment periods as they make their way to the NHL.
From covering the OHL to co-managing DobberProspects, and everything in-between, what can you say about your journey?
I remember the day I received an email from Darryl Dobbs himself saying that he has “put this off long enough” as he was referring to bringing me on as a writer for DobberHockey. I credit Dobber for giving me my start in writing and he’s been very good to our entire team along the way. I hope that my “journey” is only beginning as hockey has always been my go-to indulgence.
It was an honour to be approached for the DobberProspects gig and it’s really rounding into form and should be a go-to website for all hockey nutts. Covering hockey is a competitive environment and it’s certainly an area that none of us get into for the financial reward and because we are doing it for the passion the end product is usually a successful reflection of that.
Any big upcoming plans for DobberProspects? Yourself?
Just the other day, I received word that I have received Official Press Credentials for the upcoming 2012-13 OHL Sarnia Sting season so I am looking forward to what this upcoming season brings. As a result, I will have direct access to hockey’s best prospects playing in the OHL and that means plenty of updates over at DobberProspects.
The DobberProspects team has been working hard to saturate the prospect database with relevant fantasy players. The website is NEW but it’s been built up quickly and over the next few months, Dobber, Rich, myself and our staff look forward to tweaking things to make browsing all that more enjoyable for our readers.
Word of advice to fellow prospect writers and aspiring writers?
The art of writing is definitely a work in process, both from a grammar and content aspect. If you are writing about players (NHL, prospects, whatever…), be sure that you are forming your own opinions and if possible those opinions are best when formed from live viewings. The game of hockey is certainly a totally different experience watching it live versus catching a game on the tube. Be creative. Be honest. And, write for the right reasons – because you love hockey.
When you first log-on, what are your go-to sites? Reads?
I always check my twitter feed first to see if any questions come my way. Then, I usually head on over to the DobberHockey forum to check the prospect section to answer questions that have been left hanging. When time allows, I enjoy reading the articles at Yahoo Sports, Spectors Hockey, and always check in at the HockeyCanada.ca website. People still criticize twitter but it’s been my go-to resource for reading (links) over the past six-months probably because of its ease of availability from my iPhone. If you follow the right crowd then the information is awesome.
What is your favourite hobby/past time away from the keyboard?
I am an avid golfer and enjoy travelling to new courses attempting to score the highest round possible in course history. Fishing, ball hockey and coaching high school sports are also very enjoyable.
How would you spend a stress free relaxing day?
I’d pack a cooler of “bevy’s”, grab my fishing rod, load up my kayak and head to the water with a few friends. Or, just head out boating if I didn’t want to paddle – most often the case.
Who is your 2012-13 Calder favourite?
Gary Bettman if there’s a lockout. He will award the trophy to himself. Honestly, the 2012-13 Calder crop is probably the deepest and most competitive in recent years so it’s difficult to pick just one. Nail Yakupov should be the early favourite but I worry about his opportunity. If he plays consistent minutes and 70+ games, he should win. If it’s not Yakupov, I lean towards Mikael Granlund, Sven Baerstchi (Calgary) or Chris Kreider (New York Rangers) as they have what it takes to win – skill and most importantly opportunity.
Following up, who can surprise?
Brandon Saad, Justin Schultz (not really a “surprise”) or Torey Krug.
Finally, early 2013 draft favourites? And hidden gems?
Personal favourites for the upcoming 2013 NHL Entry Draft (besides Nathan MacKinnon or Seth Jones) would have to be Sean Monahan, Hunter Shinkaruk, Curtis Lazar, Josh Morrissey (D), Bo Horvat and Ryan Kujawinski. Each of these players have a game that translates well to the NHL.
Hidden gems are difficult to pinpoint this early but I really like Nicholas Baptiste, Chris Bigras (D), and Spencer Martin (G) to take the next step this season.
Next up is Marty Kwiaton