|Top Prospects Game Exclusive Pt. 2||Tweet|
|Written by Matt Bugg|
|Saturday, 16 February 2008 11:33|
Due to technical difficulties, there's no video- yet. So instead, here's an A-F- ranking of everyone who played in Canadian junior hockey's biggest showcase.
Luke Schenn- A+
You know how your gym teacher would sometimes join in floor hockey games if you were getting pasted? That's what it looked like at the 2008 Top Prospects Game when Luke Schenn was on the ice. Saying the 17 year-old had zero mistakes and zero panic doesn't come close to telling the story; he simply took command every time he had the puck. Schenn likely has blisters from his meteoric rise up the charts after a dominant defensive showing.
Cody Hodgson- A+
While Steve Stamkos didn't dazzle, it's only fitting that a player I called a poor man's version of the phenom stood out. 6'0, 185 lbs offensive dynamo Cody Hodgson dominated with his vision and passing ability. The soon-to-be-18-year-old ran the table with three helpers, making pro-level passes. He'll be a top-seven pick.
Zach Boychuk- A+
A stay-at-home stud, a flashy passer... so who brought the hands? Zach Boychuk, that's who. While he tried a lot that didn't work and was almost laid out on a couple opportunities, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. When they did work, Boychuk left the defenders seeing nothing but jock. The most entertaining player on the ice bar none, and he picked up a goal and two assists in the process.
Zach Bogosian- A
Last off the ice, sixth on the scoresheet, first in terms of offensive flash by a blueliner in the game. While he had a couple noticable defensive gaffes, Bogosian's offensive gifts were on full display. He played the puck with the confidence, skill and luster of a forward, and came away with the GWG. Once he irons out his defensive deficiencies, the 18 year-old will be a full five-tool blueliner.
Josh Bailey- A
Bailey is one of those names that CSB has ranked high, but no one ever really hears about. You can see what Central Scouting is talking about; while Bailey doesn't yet have game-breaking skills, the 6'1, 190 pivot makes decisions like a pro. Case-in-point: his first goal. On a routine offensive zone face-off, Bailey noticed that the D wasn't quite set in front of Q goalie Peter Delmas. Teammate Zach Boychuk won the draw, and Bailey, on the right side, wired a missle past Delmas. His second goal was also the result of a great read; sitting back, Bailey waited for Cody Hodgson to completely dismantle the D off the rush. With the D paying too much attention to the man, a trailing Bailey was in perfect position to jam in the rebound.
Colby Robak- B+
There may be more scouts from the Bugg line yet. I was excited to tell my brother all about smooth-skating Brandon Wheat Kings blueliner Colby Robak, but ten seconds into an Oil Kings game earlier in the year, the youngest Bugg exclaimed that Robak 'is like Jay Bouwmeester!'. On that night, Robak recorded an assist on a PP goal and generally looked composed. In the Top Prospects Game, Robak wasn't as noticable, but he made the pass of the game on a long-bomb from his own end that sent Jamie Arniel on a short-handed break. Small, but fast, smooth, and enormously intelligent as his team-leading +3 indicated.
Nicolas Deschamps- B+
He didn't register a point, but that was more luck than lack of effort. An injury fill-in, Deschamps brought it every shift, and made some stellar little plays that lead to goals in the pros. His speed and intelligence were top-notch.
Mikael Boedker- B+
Had just one assist, but the speedy Dane was a threat almost every shift. He even tried a couple cute moves to no avail. Helped his stock by burning some of the best blueliners in his class.
Luca Sbisa- B+
One of Team Red's few bright spots. The Swiss offensive defenseman was a handful on the point, snapping pucks on net and making nice plays. His defensive awareness wasn't very good, but he made up for it by showing a willingness to play physical. A fan favorite.
Tyler Cuma- B
A flashy, gifted defender, Cuma played so well that I was as shocked as anyone to see he was a -3. Made one or two bad plays, but he lead the rush with elite composure and skill. He'll be a good PP QB at the NHL level.
Steve Stamkos- B
The stats show he had a Gordie Howe hat-trick. What they don't show is that beyond the surprising tilt he got into Yann Sauve, the teenager everyone was watching didn't do too much. His goal and assist were the meekest possible. However, despite failing to deliver a consistently brilliant performance, Stamkos wasn't ever bad. He's still the consensus #1 pick.
Maxime Sauve- B
Sauve, 17, has lately become a favorite of most major scouting services, and it's easy to see why: a ***** to knock off the puck, Sauve's technical skill and skating ability are, well, technically perfect. While he played one on of the night's most consistent lines- Team White's Q Line of Nicolas Deschamps, Sauve and Joel Champagne- and didn't make any errors, he didn't dominate either. He needed to to back up his hype, and he'll instead be a top 35-45 pick instead of a top 20-30.
Jamie Arniel- B-
Early on in the game, it looked like crease-crashing expert Jamie Arniel may have finally met his match: a great player from a team perspective, the gritty two-way center was consistently behind the play in this exposition of talent. However, thanks in part to the play above, Arniel struck on special teams- his specialty. It's ironic that the defensive specialist could one day win a Lady Byng, considering the bad-ass his uncle Scott Arniel was. Not overly big nor overly skilled nor overly mean, Jamie is a clone of John Madden with a little Ryan Smyth thrown in.
Yann Sauve- B-
Good defensively 75% of the time, and poor 25% of the time. Sauve looked more composed with the puck than normal, but he didn't stand out, let alone dominate. His stock is dropping from can't-miss to maybe-make. Decision-making still appears to be a problem, and you need to be more than big to make an impact in the NHL.
Chris Doyle- B-
Most fans I talked to afterwards never remembered seeing him on the ice, but I for one was impressed. He had precious few shifts, but flew, banged and crashed when he got the chance. An NHL-level skater, he'll be an agitator at the very least. However, his shot and vision flash so much more.
Jared Staal- B-
Clearly outclassed in terms of skill, the youngest (and not best) Staal nevertheless demonstrated his future NHL career: garbageman to the stars. His lone goal was a classic chisel effort in front of the net, and he was in position for same play every time he was on the ice. He's clearly the best Staal in terms of offensive positioning, and if he had Eric's speed, he'd be a first rounder. Instead, look for someone to take a chance on his bloodlines and frame in the second.
Phil McCrae- B-
Someone else who had precious few shifts but made an impact when he got them, London Knights standout Phil McCrae was teasingly good like he's been all year- and that's the problem. McCrae made an NHL-quality play when he received a pass and curled it around a sprawling defender for a golden opportunity. His size, speed and hands are great, but his consistency is not. Nevertheless, he tied with Staal as a positional standout: he was in the right place all the time.
Mitch Wahl- B-
Invisible for most of the night, and then scored a pro-calibre goal on a shelf wrister from the dot. A work in progress, Wahl has good size, a good release, and a leader's heart.
Jyri Niemi- B-
Quietly played a pretty strong game. Calmed things down on the point, made simple, calculated plays. Would be higher if he'd either a) stood out a bit more or b) didn't make a couple mistakes handling the puck on the point that lead to opportunities. He's going to be a steal.
Joel Champagne- C+
A lot of people hated his play. I thought he did a nice job, hitting and winning battles for his linemates. He's not going to knock the doors off with his skill level, but the power winger played a simple, effective game.
Tyler Ennis- C+
A+ for effort and entertainment. D- for execution and an F for staying on his feet. The hometown boy was rubbed out of the play, but he kept coming back.
Philippe Cornet- C+
Made some nice moves with the puck, but seemed to lack anything approaching hockey sense. Got Team Red back in it with a solo burst on net the goaltender should have had.
Patrice Cormier- C+
Some ragged on him for being a puck hog, but his linemates weren't doing anything with the biscuit anyway. Flashed some good skill on solo deking efforts, but was soft and bad in his own end.
Geordie Wudrick- C+
Good effort, but it was like watching a Grade 3 student try Calculus. Wudrick is known for his intelligent play, but his lack of skill was shockingly apparent. Got stronger as the game went on and the pace became more even, and his shot was pretty good.
Kelsey Tessier- C-
One of the Q's most electrifying and skilled players only stood out because he was so small. Tessier was easily taken out of the play physically, and only got a point because of a flukey goal he earned the second assist on. If the 5'7 forward can't handle junior blueliners, how can he survive in the NHL?
Colten Teubert- D+
Wasn't a rock like he needed to be against such a strong lineup. He played a merely okay game.
Alex Pietrangelo- D+
Only noticed when he made a really play along the far boards. With all the time in the world just outside his blueline, the probable top-five pick chipped the puck off the boards just as a forechecker bore down on him. The puck ended up right on the player's stick, but to Pietrangelo's credit, he got back and helped break up the chance. Was somehow a +1.
Greg Nemisz- D+
Apparently Greg Nemisz was on the ice; the scoresheet shows a had an assist and was +2. But beyond a couple nice stands along the boards, this Jeff Carter clone was totally invisible.
Mikhail Stefanovich- D
He wasn't anything special, and on a night when getting special got you noticed, he failed. Answered a lot of critics with strong skating, however, especially on rushes up the middle.
James Wright- D-
How does a 6'2 winger disappear? Ask James Wright. The Vancouver Giants sophomore was a passenger on the ice every shift, only making his presence felt physically once or twice.
James Livingston- D-
A -2 as a forward. Showed some great hands, but also some great selfishness. Laid a couple nice hits to at least be a factor.
A.J. Jenks- D-
Nothing to see here.
Jordan Eberle- F+
Had a hit late in the third. That was it for the WHL's breakout player of the year.
Drew Doughty- F+
Drew Who? The probable top three pick doesn't have to worry about his draft status, but he stunk up the joint in Edmonton. Doughty played meek, dumb hockey.
Tyler Myers- F
The Alberta boy towered over his competition in size, but looked as dumb and meek as a 5'4 Bantam player. Totally lost. Confidence was clearly an issue, and it showed when he put together back-to-back really good shifts early in the 3rd.
Michael Del Zotto- F-
After a wicked skills comp that saw him go 4-for-4 in the shooting accuracy contest, the new favorite had everyone abuzz for the real thing. Therein lied the problem. Del Zotto's offensive arsenal is without comparison, but he simply is a bad defender. The team that drafts him would do well to convert him to forward. Finished the night a game-worst -2.
|Last Updated on Sunday, 17 February 2008 10:10|