With a jump of eleven spots in the rankings, no one moved up the list more than Martin Marincin. I think a lot of that comes from not being able to parse the data from Marincin's season with the U20 team in the Slovak Extraliga in any kind of helpful way. He was -27 in 35 games, which sounds awful until you realize...
The U20 team is just terrible. I'm not talking terrible like the 2009-10 Edmonton Oilers were terrible, I'm talking total depravity here, objects of God's wrath, that kind of thing. In thirty-six games, the U20 team won five times. Four in regulation. Their goal differential was -108. That's awful in any league, but in thirty-six games that's really, really awful. I'm making a conscious choice to not use profanity here because if I started, well it would be hard to stop. An average game saw these guys lose 5-2. If they lost 4-3, they won. If they actually won, the other team's coach got fired. I'm no hockey expert but it seems to me that that might not be the best way to develop your good young players. The next time you watch Canada destroy a Slovakian team 8-2 and most of the Slovaks look like it's business as usual, just remember that for most of them, it is.
So forgive us, Martin Marincin, for ranking you so low before; we just didn't know much about you.
And now that we know a little bit more, opinion is a lot more divided. Of course. Everyone likes Marincin at least a little bit better than they did before, but some of the jumps are extreme. Bruce moved Marincin up 15 spots, and Jonathan has him moving up 16. Ben, Derek, and I all have him moving up, but at a more subdued pace, which I think is suitable considering we've really only seen a half-season and a handful of international tournaments. But my oh my, what performances they've been.
After being chosen with the first pick in the WHL's Import Draft by the Prince George Cougars, Marincin has responded with 43 points in 43 games, which places him third among defensemen in the WHL, and also third on his team in scoring. That kind of scoring combined with Marincin's impressive frame (he's 6'4'' and 187 lbs. according to the WHL's website) is a rare commodity; it's worth getting excited about. He's also got a bit of a mean streak, something that was on full display in the World Juniors with "one of the dirtiest hits [Derek's] ever seen in World Junior play." He also led that U20 team in penalty minutes by a wide margin (he had 71, the next closest player had 48) in 2009-10, and while some of those are no doubt innocuous hooks and holds, I suspect some others were punches in the mush. Now, "willing to intentionally concuss" isn't a positive thing on very many job applications, but for NHL defenseman... it probably doesn't hurt your chances.
That's not to say the news is all positive. Marincin's +1 rating is far from dominant, even on his own team, whose defenders are clustered between +2 and -5. That's not bad, of course, but it does suggest to me that there may be some things that he needs to work on in the defensive end, which jives with what some scouts were saying before the draft. Kirk Leudeke, for example, said that Marincin "has a lot of kinks to work out in his game" and that "he's not likely to put up a lot of points [in the NHL] if he ever reaches it."
That last comment seems absurd given the offense he's shown so far, but there have been plenty of talented blueliners who have put up strong offense in junior and not seen it translate well to the NHL. The last time I wrote about Marincin, I used Ladislav Smid as a possible comparable player - strong puck skills and good offense at lower levels, but just can't translate that offense to the NHL. Another player who fits that description quite well is Rostislav Klesla, a dominant offensive force in junior who's only once scored more than 20 points in the NHL. And both of those guys were top ten picks, who were more polished than Marincin defensively at the same age.
So what am I saying? In short, Marincin is a very good prospect, but I've heard quite a bit of talk suggesting that he's a sure thing, an all-around top four defenseman that the Oilers can and should build around. That might end up being true, but one excellent half-season in the WHL hasn't been enough to convince me.