When it comes to projecting prospects the only type of player I struggle to place more than a goalie is the big defensive defenceman. All the things that they do well, and what can make them so valuable at every level, is hard to pull out of the data available for junior age players. You've really got to watch them to see if they're as good as advertised and that can be next to impossible in some cases.
In the case of David Musil, the man who we find at 11th in our rankings, we know that he's big - 6'3 and 203lbs. We know that he's a good but not great skater. He's a physical player but doesn't provide much offence having never averaged even 0.5 points per game in a WHL season. And his father, Frank Musil, played in the NHL and has a connection to the Oilers so there is a pedigree factor at play as well. But aside from that there isn't much we really know about David Musil.
So how in the world does he end up just one spot outside of the Top 10?
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Alan ||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||Jon||Michael||Ryan||Scott|
I think there are a couple of reasons for this. First he continues to be the same player year after year. If there were wild fluctuations in his game, either in the numbers or what is said about him by scouts and coaches, from one season to the next it would be tough to project Musil as legitimate future NHL player but that isn't the case, he is, to put it simply, steady. What we were told about Musil before the draft continues to be true today and I think that gives the writers here a lot of confidence when looking into the future and trying to imagine what David Musil five years from now will look like.
In my case there is also a little bit of "seen him good" in my ranking, something that I probably wouldn't admit to if the rankings weren't as bunched as they are. With the spread from highest to lowest being just two spots Musil is the most agreed upon prospect that we've seen so far in this run through the Top 25 Under 25.
As an Oil Kings ticket holder I'd had the chance to see Musil play on a couple of occasions since the Oilers selected him in the draft and generally I liked what I saw. The Oil Kings have been a very good team over the last two seasons and at times make good opposition players look average, that wasn't the case with Musil. In fact when he was here in October as a member of the the Giants - a game the Oil Kings won 5-1 but in which Musil was even - he was the best player in the game not on Edmonton's bench and I would suspect played well over 20 minutes.
That game turned out to be the second to last game Musil would play with the Giants as he was traded to Edmonton just three days later. Now, Musil is a player I can watch every night not just a couple of times a season. Would he live up to his reputation? As far as I'm concerned he certainly has.
Playing on a defence that includes Griffin Reinhart, Keegan Lowe, and Martin Gernat who recently returned from injury, Musil isn't leaned on quite the way he seemed to be in Vancouver but he is no less effective. On a typical night Musil plays around 20 minutes and is very physical, more so than I had expected. While physical he is also good positionally and moves his feet well, a combination that helps keep him out of the penalty box. His career WHL totals tell the same story - 236 games played and 313 penalty minutes.
Of course playing on one of the best teams in the WHL can help make anyone look good but by my eye he's driving the bus more than just being along for the ride. The table below presents the box car numbers for all of the Oil Kings defencemen this season. To try and account for his role I've broken down the plus/minus to a per game number and sorted the table on that column.
|GP||G||A||PTS||PIM||+/-||+/- / GP|
Plus/minus is hardly without it's flaws but when compared to his teammates it's pretty clear that good things tend to happen when Musil is on the ice at even strength and for a player with his skill set that is an encouraging thing. Only Lowe who is having by far his best junior season is ahead of him. Gernat is close but has only played a handful of games and faces much easier competition than Musil. Beyond that it drops off in a hurry.
At this point I'm confident in saying who David Musil is. The question now becomes can he be an effective NHL defender. His draft position and his family history probably mean he will get the chance.
Check out the complete Top 25 Under 25 List in our