Oilers Draft Watch - Martin Marincin

Photo by Richard Wolowicz Content © 2010 Getty Images All rights reserved. via cdn.picapp.com

When Steve Tambellini decided to deal Denis Grebeshkov for a second round pick, the local media immediately rallied to Tambellini's defense, "...In order to retain his rights, the Predators will have to qualify his $3.15-million US contract, something the Oilers were not prepared to do."  Like Tyler said, it was a case of the "credentialed media" taking quotes from Oilers' management and selling them to the public.  The true test of the organization is going to be finding value in the pick that they received as a return for Grebeshkov, the pick being Nashville's second round selection, number forty-eight overall. 

That selection seems perfect for a player that I've had my eye on since the World Junior Championships in December - Slovak defenseman Martin Marincin. Anyone that watched Slovakia play during the tournament had to notice Marincin, if only for his size alone.  The blueliner is 6'4" inches, 187 lbs and seemed to tower over both his teammates and opponents alike. 

I was surprised when I saw that Marincin was one of the players that the Oilers chose to interview at the NHL scouting combine.  Considering that it's Stu MacGregor running the show, Marincin's interview shouldn't have surprised anyone.  MacGregor has shown a propensity for unearthing gems in Europe, though he's not previously dipped into Slovakia for a pick.  Slovakia is in Oilers' professional scout Frank Musil's back yard, though it was probably amateur scout Kent Nilsson that would have done any evaluations of Marincin.

What about this player intrigued me so much during the WJC besides his aforementioned size?  His overall game stood out, more so than Richard Panik and Tomas Tatar, both of whom were drafted in the second round in the 2009 entry draft.  Even though he was almost always the biggest player on the ice, he moved extremely well and displayed excellent acceleration and movement.  He also used crisp breakout passes to turn the Slovak attack northward and even joined the rush a couple of times.

On defense he used his size very well, and wasn't afraid to make contact with anyone, often separating the puck from opposing forwards with ease. 

Marincin has played on the Slovakian team at the under-18 championships each of the last two years and this year joined the under-20 team for the first time.

I'll admit that I saw him in a very limited scope, so I'll have to defer to the experts to fill in the edges of his scouting report.  Central Scouting has Marincin ranked 10th among international skaters, and International Scouting has him ranked 29th overall

Bruins 2010 DraftWatch, one of the best draft prospect blogs going, had this to say about Marincin:

Size and skating ability is first-round material, and he showed it off at the WJC. However, as other scouts had intimated to me earlier this season, he also demonstrated his maddening inconsistency. Looked like a stud against Team USA in the tourney's first game, skating extremely well and moving the puck with authority while playing a solid positional game. Against Canada, he was ghastly, looking tentative, getting caught out of position and making numerous turnovers in the face of an aggressive forecheck. Tall, but slight- must add bulk to his frame. Exhibited good gap control and used his condor-like reach to keep opponents at bay and defend effectively against the rush.

Overview: Defines what scouts are talking about when they say, "Good upside, but..." Has a lot of kinks to work out in his game yet. Marincin is the kind of player who polarizes opinions on him because he tends to perform in extremes. His size and mobility are what every NHL team looks for, but he's not likely to be a player who puts up a lot of points at that level if he ever reaches it.

 

As someone that was once an 18-year-old, I can say with authority that consistency falls somewhere between humility and forethought as a personality trait, which is to say, it's low on the developmental functionality list.  All 18 year-olds (unless their name is Crosby) are inconsistent to a degree, and those that perform on the highest-levels outgrow it faster than the others.  The gamble with a player like this is the time frame that it takes for him to establish consistency.  I assume that the scouting department tried to get a feel for this during his combine interview.  Remember, Joni Pitkanen was thought to carry the same baggage, especially on the way out of Edmonton, but there hasn't been a complaint about Pitkanen in Carolina.  Did he finally mature at age 25?

 

Future Considerations, another outstanding draft prospect site had a similar review of Marincin's performance at the WJC tournament:

Towering blue liner looks really thin in the legs…has good puck moving skills…skates well with good speed although his acceleration is not up too par…has decent overall mobility…his frame should allow him to add considerable weight and strength which makes him a longer term project…showed that he is willing to use what strength and size he currently possesses to move attackers from his crease and separate them from the puck…reminds of Jiri Fischer in his style and sometimes tentative on-ice demeanor…raw in the defensive zone and needs work on positioning…relies too heavily on stick checks along the wall with mixed results…needs to consistently be harder on the man defensively…does not like to take hits from fore-checkers…needs work on his point shot…sees the ice well and makes solid passes…did nothing to hurt or help his draft stock and is likely still a third or fourth round pick.

Marin

Future considerations analysis of Marincin's draft position slots him much, much lower than any scouting service, but the report echoes the same concerns about consistency.  The report also brings up Jiri Fischer as a comparable.  Fischer was a big, lanky Czech defenseman that broke into the NHL with the Red Wings at age 20.  His official breakout season didn't come until he was 23.  Would the Oilers need to wait five years for a payoff on Marincin?  Is it worth it?

It seems to me that the second round is the ideal time to take to a player that possesses NHL-level abilities, but may not yet possess the personality traits necessary to succeed as a professional.  Only 25% of second round picks go on to become "career NHL players", so taking a defenseman that has the game, but may take time to develop seems like a low-risk, high-probability gamble worth taking. 

The Oilers' official website has a translated interview with Marincin at the combine here.  (Audio Link)

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