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2009 NHL Entry Draft: Evander Kane and WHL Forwards

This is the second part of my draft preview series; the first part (found just below) dealt with the CSB-ranked OHL forwards who are eligible for the 2009 draft, and this will do the same for the WHL forwards.  As before, ue to time and data constraints, this is mostly going to involve looking at their offensive totals, but we will go a little further indepth with some players.

The Central Scouting Bureau's North American rankings can be found here and I've used them extensively in making up this list.  My other primary sources of information are the 2009 THN Draft Preview and Michael Remmerde's NHL Draft Notes.  Remmerde is a contributing editor at Red Line Report, an independent scouting service.

As before, I've projected every player's totals over an 82-game season.  List after the jump.

  1. Evander Kane: 65G – 65A – 130PTS (3rd NA)
  2.  Brandon Kozun: 46G – 77A – 123PTS (150th NA)
  3. Scott Glennie: 42G – 63A – 105PTS (7th NA)
  4. Brayden Schenn: 37G – 66A – 103PTS (4th NA)
  5. Kellan Tochkin: 23G – 62A – 85PTS (139th NA)
  6. Linden Vey: 28G – 55A – 83PTS (65th NA)
  7. Justin Dowling: 25G – 51A – 76PTS (101st NA)
  8. Cody Eakin: 36G – 36A – 72PTS (29th NA)
  9. *Levko Koper: 27G – 42A – 69PTS (84th NA)
  10. Landon Ferraro: 45G – 22A – 67PTS (18th NA)
  11. Byron Froese: 22G – 43A – 65PTS (85th NA)
  12. Jeremy Boyer: 24G – 40A – 64PTS (187th NA)
  13. Jimmy Bubnick: 28G – 36A – 64PTS (55th NA)
  14. Burke Gallimore: 30G – 31A – 61PTS (71st NA)
  15. Tomas Vincour: 28G – 32A – 60PTS (42nd NA)
  16. Ryan Howse: 42G – 17A – 59PTS (37th NA)
  17. Carter Ashton: 35G – 23A – 58PTS (12th NA)
  18. Cassidy Mappin: 25G – 32A – 57PTS (73rd NA)
  19. Kristopher Foucault: 28G – 25A – 53PTS (96th NA)
  20. Stepan Novotny: 24G – 28A – 52PTS (93rd NA)
  21. Willie Coetzee: 21G – 27A – 48PTS (132nd NA)
  22. Andrej Kudrna: 22G – 24A – 46PTS (124th NA)
  23. Evan Bloodoff: 14G – 10A – 24PTS (167th NA)
  24. Garrett Mitchell: 12G – 6A – 18PTS (149th NA)

Evander Kane

Evander Kane is the only other forward in major junior who comes close to competing with John Tavares offensively.  He's a small, high-talent forward who doubled his goal-scoring totals from last year and more than doubled his assist totals.  Just for fun, let's compare clips from two scouting reports.  First, The Hockey News:

Kane's offensive skills are not eye-popping, but he was the picture of consistency for a strong Vancouver Giants team this season.  He does not fear going into the corners or to the places on the ice where he has to pay a price for scoring chances.

Next, from Michael Remmerde:

Strengths: Great shooting touch and offensive instincts. Great improvement in stride this year and is now a very strong skater. Excellent two-way ability and grit when he's on his game.

Weaknesses: Takes the occasional night off and will probably need motivating.

Remmerde further adds that Kane seemed bored at times.  In any case, the quotes are 100% contradictory; but given that Kane is (by scoring totals) the second best offensive player in major junior, I think it's fair to look at Remmerde's take as accurate, and THN's as out to lunch.  Kane will be a top-five pick.

Glennie and Schenn

Schenn is going to be a top-ten pick for sure, while Glennie will almost certainly go somewhere in the top-twenty.  The two teammates in Brandon posted very similar scoring totals on the season, with Glennie getting the slight edge.  It's probably worth noting that Glennie is six months older than Schenn.

In any case, Schenn plays a gritty game; Remmerde called him a "coaches' player" who does a lot of little things plus he has a very good offensive game.  He's not tall (listed at 6') but he has a fair amount of substance to him (198lbs) and is a very strong player.  His skating isn't bad, but it isn't good either, and that's pretty much the only knock on him.  If Brian Burke can't trade up to grab Tavares, he is expected to select Brayden Schenn.

Glennie has a stronger offensive game, and he had a great playoffs after coming back from a broken elbow, scoring 18 points in 12 games.  He's also one of the better skaters in the draft, and according to the scouting reports possess great hockey sense and is an effective penalty killer.  The knock on Glennie is that he's relatively slender and gets knocked off the puck even at the junior level.  Remmerde's scouting report on Glennie was good but had one paragraph in particular that jumped out at me: 

My notes on him from last season vs. this season look like two totally different players. Great improvement in skating ability transformed him into a puck-rushing finesse speed demon. Kept hoping the gritty grinder from his rookie year would resurface this year, but didn't see much of that.

The Little Guys: Kozun, Tochkin, Vey and Dowling

Linden Vey is generally the highest ranked of this group of four.  Remmerde really likes him; saying that where he has him listed projects to a late second-round pick, but he also says that he'd have trouble selling him to an NHL GM at that position.  The reason for that is because Vey is "soft and doesn't initiate any contact".  He's a decent skater with great hockey sense (another fine penalty killer) and good offensive ability.

Justin Dowling is another player that Remmerde admits he has higher than the consensus; his best guess is that Dowling will go somewhere between rounds 5 and 7.  His draft report is virtually identical to Vey's; he's a little smaller, shifty but not overly fast, and has that trade-off of good hockey sense and offensive ability but a marginal physical game.

Kellan Tochkin is much the same story; he describes himself as similar to Kyle Wellwood and talks about both his hockey sense and offensive ability as strengths.

Brandon Kozun's a player I'd like to see a late round pick spent on.  Looking at the scoring totals above, his name leaps off the page, but there are two problems with looking at that number.  The first is that he's older than most of the other players listed here and was passed over in the 2008 draft.  The second problem is that he was playing for the Calgary Hitmen, an incredibly dynamic offensive team, so he really was in a position to experience success.

As for the player himself, even in this group he's easily the smallest guy.  Central Scouting lists him at 5'7.75" and 162lbs and when people talk about guys who were great juniors but never could translate their offense to the NHL, it's generally people like Kozun they have in mind.  Former NHL scout Brad Hornung did up a game report on Kozun back in February, which I'll quote in part:

Although he sees the ice well and passes the puck accurately I would not say that his overall creativity is at the elite level. The success he is having is due to the fact that he does everything at top speed. In the defensive zone he is positionally sound, and he uses speed and anticipation effectively in penalty killing situations. In terms of physical play Brandon is not much of a factor -- listed at 5'8". However, he does go to the net and is willing to compete in traffic.    

High-Ranked Guys Who Don't Look Like Much From Their Scoring Statistics

This would be Ferraro, Ashton, Howse and Vincour.  Landon Ferraro played on a bad team in Red Deer, and although his overall point totals are bad - just 55 points - more than two-thirds of them (37) were goals.  Remmerde says he has an "excellent shooting touch and can score from anywhere" and that he "plays with a lot of grit".  He's not a great skater, and he's small, but with the first two points it probably makes sense that most reports have him pegged as a first rounder.

Ranked ahead of Ferraro in most places is Carter Ashton, a player who flat-out scares me (and not in a good way).  Remmerde likes him, and views him as a textbook power forward prospect - even suggesting he could sneak into the top ten.

My problem with Ashton is that virtually every report describes him as more of a complimentary player; he doesn't produce offense by himself and to me he just screams "bottom-six forward"; not the kind of guy to grab with a top-fifteenen pick.  He put up middling point totals on a pretty decent team, put up a lousy plus/minus and slumped through the second half - a slump which culminated in negligible offense over two playoff rounds.  Remmerde ranks his compete level as one of his attributes, while a scout quoted by THN says that it's an area he needs to work on in all three zones.  My worst-case scenario on draft day sees the Oilers snagging the 6'2.5"/205lbs power forward with the 10th overall pick.   

Tomas Vincour is an interesting prospect, at least by how Remmerde describes him:

Has some nice hands and can really stickhandle in tight areas. Good shooting accuracy. Likes to go to the net and isn't afraid to battle for position near the crease.

Short skating stride is a real problem. First step quickness is just not there at all. Takes a long time to stop and re-start. Doesn't turn very well and poor balance. Only plus about his skating is some okay speed once he finally gets going.

I like that he's not afraid to throw the body around, but he just isn't physically effective at all. Lack of strength and poor balance usually means he ends up on the ice even when he's initiating the contact

Essentially, Vincour's a fantastic prospect in virtually every area - just add skating.  I don't mind him as a mid-round gamble; the obvious hope for whoever grabs him is that he can drastically improve his skating and that then he'll turn into a steal.

Chiliwack was brutal this season, and Ryan Howse easily led the team with 31 goals.  He's a scorer, and he can skate.  Everything else is a negative, though; here's how Remmerde described him:

Effort level just wasn't there most nights this season. Still plays the game like it's Bantam - always going for the solo 1-on-1 rushes, not showing any creativity. Is going to have to learn how to do other things with the puck. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I saw him pass the puck.

Pretty much wrote this guy off after about the 5th time I saw him stick to the perimetre the whole game and never pass the puck. But the pure raw scoring ability is still interesting.

I imagine that a lot of teams have Howse listed as "ND" (no draft).

Everybody Else

  • Remmerde compares Coyd Eakin to Scott Glennie, and like Glennie he's a good offensive player and a good skater.  He's also had concussions each of the past two seasons, so this pick is a risk. 
  • Levko Koper's a fantastic skater and a guy who would seem to have all the tools in the world.  Remmerde calls him "wildly inconsistent".
  • None of the other guys really jump out at me; there's a lot of guys with one strength or another but who didn't put up the results point-wise.  Without knowing what their exact situations are, it's pretty hard to get any kind of read on them.