The Edmonton Oilers drafted Ottawa 67 center Ryan Martindale 61st overall in the 2010 draft, using their first pick in the third round on a guy that NHL.com projected as a possible first rounder. From that article:
"He such a big guy, and when he's using his size and strength is when he's most effective," Chris Edwards, Central Scouting's OHL scout, told NHL.com. "He really sees the ice well and his ability to work on the power play and set up linemates on the power play is what I remember and why he's very good. When he's using his size and getting involved and winning battles is when he's most effective."
Martindale is a 6'3", 187 lb offensively-gifted center who is most comfortable dishing the puck. According to nearly every scouting report, he's a first round talent and has plenty of size and skating ability to make it in the professional game. Though NHL.com was likely being kind to Martindale by mentioning him as a potential first round pick, he was projected as a second, third and even fourth round pick, depending on the source. Martindale started slow for Ottawa this season, but has exploded (11 points in his last seven games) over the last three weeks and now has 22 points through 16 games.
To get a better understanding of Martindale, I spoke with Scott Campbell. Scott is the head of The Scouting Report, a scouting service compiled by a network of writers throughout Canada. The service posts updated scouting reports and CHL game recaps on a regular basis. Unlike many existing scouting services, The Scouting Report is free. I've used The Scouting Report when I compiled the preliminary 2011 Draft Rankings and I've previously interviewed Scott at From The Rink, where we talked about the 2011 Draft Lottery.
Copper & Blue: How many times have you seen Martindale play?
Scott Campbell, The Scouting Report: I've seen him play probably about 8 times live and countless more on television throughout his OHL career. I also caught a couple games of him back in AAA when he played for Whitby.
C & B: Everything we've heard about Martindale centers around first round skill and first round size. How in the world did he last until the 3rd round?
TSR: Martindale has all the tools to be a player, he just really lacks the consistency and drive to warrant a first or second round selection. Admittedly, I'm not a huge proponent of his game, but his upside is worth taking a chance on in the third round so he could pay off for the Oilers if they're patient with him.
C & B: Martindale has caught fire as of late. Is his game changing or is this the result of playing on one of the best teams in the OHL?
TSR: I think it's mostly a result of being a fourth year player in the league and finally taking that next step. He's been playing a bit with Tyler Toffoli and Shane Prince to form one of the most talented and versatile lines in the OHL so I think that's also been advantageous for him. Still, he is showing what he is capable when he's on his game as his combination of size and high-end offensive skills are certainly an intriguing package.
C & B: What is the strongest part of his game? Does he have any NHL-level skills yet?
TSR: I think you'd obviously have to look at his size as being a positive, although he will still need to add a bit of muscle as the Oilers probably want him more in the 205 range. His ability to create plays and be a potent offensive threat are the other two skills that will obviously jump off the page. Depending what night you see him, you might think you're seeing one of the top CHL players in the country, that's how dominant he can be when he feels like it.
C & B: What skill or trait is he going to struggle with, or what will hold him back?
TSR: As I've alluded to, it's really going to come down to consistency. Martindale lacks the competitiveness you like to see out of NHL players, and unless he starts to find some jam in his game I have a hard time envision him making the jump to the NHL in the future. He's even going to find that there's a lot of players with drive in the AHL, and unless he turns his game up a notch night in, night out, he could find himself quickly sliding down Edmonton's prospect depth chart.
C & B: Does Martindale use his size effectively?
TSR: He's not really a physical player, but he does do a good job of protecting the puck when he's engaged in the game. Down low he can be a very tough player to contain as he is pretty agile and also has a long reach which he utilizes well. As I said, I think he's going to need to bulk up a bit more for the pro game, but that's not a huge issue for him as a 19 year old in the OHL.
C & B: Is he playing on a line with Kings 2nd round pick Tyler Toffoli?
TSR: Yeah he's been seeing some ice time with Toffoli and Smith forming a trio of pretty high picks from 2010. Toffoli is a hard worker that is also a very creative player and they seem to have some pretty good chemistry together. Shane Prince has seen a lot of time with the line as well and Dalton Smith has been spotted in occasionally by Chris Byrne.
C & B: When he's on his game, who can you compare him to?
TSR: I guess he's a little bit like Joe Thornton in a way. He's a big guy that can make things happen and make his line-mates better players but he always seems to leave more to be desired. I've seen the best and worst of Martindale, but when he's on, he's a difficult player to shut down and he can make things happen every shift.
C & B: What about when he's not?
TSR: Haha, when he's not, he's just a body out there. So if you know any 6'3" centers that don't do a whole lot of anything, that's about what you're getting with Martindale when he's not in the game.
C & B: Ottawa is off to a great start, is this a team that can contend for the OHL championship?
TSR: They're going to be an interesting team for sure as they're still pretty young at every position. A lot will come down to what type of goaltending they get out of 18 year old Petr Mrazek as he will carry the load after the 67's dealt Chris Perugini to the Soo. I think that the defense is still a little raw as well, but the East is going to be pretty wide open and there's going to be a lot of time for this team to develop and find some cohesiveness. Long story short, they're one of the more complete teams in the league this season and they're going to be a team that can make some noise in the playoffs.
C & B: How much does Martindale matter to a push like that?
TSR: He's going to be an integral part of what Ottawa is able to do this season. Martindale has the potential to be one of the top producing offensive forwards in the league this season, and Ottawa is going to be heavily relying on him to be that player. He's been picking his game up of late, but Ottawa is going to need him to be that guy all season long and most importantly, in the playoffs.