Saturday, May 31, 2008

Some Secrets Are Out

The NHL held their annual combine on Friday and we are disappointed that those prospects we wanted to see fall to the Rangers at 20 do as well as we thought they would. Yes that makes not a whole lot of sense but in the world of scouting it does.

See during the season unless you made the effort to see certain players on a regular basis then the combine is your chance to play catch up. For the prospects it is also their last chance to turn themselves into higher picks but at the same token a bad performance could turn a possible first rounder into a third or lower.

The combine is mixes physical testing, prospect interviews and prospect responses to their questionnaires (Not sure if one can still take this part it is interesting and the link is right here). Unlike the NFL where they have turned their combine into a media event, the NHL version still does not garner enough media interests like perhaps it should.

So far what we have learned is that is that the one prospect who may have helped himself is one we introduced you all to right before the World Junior Championships one Colin Wilson of Boston University.

If not then Wilson is the son of former Ranger Carey Wilson, a member of Team USA's World Junior team, and a Ranger fan himself who roots for Jagr as his favorite player. At the combine, Wilson was a monster as the "winner" of bench reps with a flat out scary 21.

Wilson went though his workouts and then met with the media to talk about how he needed to work on his agility. We know the Rangers unless they trade up into the Top 10 have zero chance at drafting him but boy we have enjoyed watching him over the last year.

We would kill for this kid as Wilson is going to become the leader of USA Hockey over the next decade. We loved to find out that Wilson and fellow prospect Jimmy Hayes were rooting each other on as they went though their own workouts. That screams a ton about being a team player and leader something you can not teach.

Wilson may have helped Hayes jump from a possible 3rd round pick into the second round by pushing Hayes at each station. Hayes who is actually going to become a college rival of Wilson's by joining Boston College next season is a 6'4 210 right wing who people are calling "skinny needs to put on weight".

210 and needs to put on weight is a frightening thought is it not? We only got a glimpse of Hayes while he was with Lincoln of the USHL since he only played in 21 games but Hayes caught our attention with a 4-5-9 playoff run in 8 games. Keep an eye on him.

Our real hope of who the Rangers use the number 20 pick on John Carlson of the Indiana Ice (USHL) also had a pretty good day (he did 16 reps for a High Schooler). Carlson because he played in the USHL got a lot of low marks from scouts during the season. Those who we know and respect said had Carlson played in the OHL would have been a Top 5 pick.

Carlson is going to show that as we got the news that Carlson as everyone is talking about how he has decided to not attend college and will instead head to the OHL to play for the London Knights.

For more on Carlson you are going to have to wait until Dubi sends out the season ending issue of the Blueshirt Bulletin. (Speaking of which the season ender is always Dubi's best work so if you miss out on it then boy are you missing a great issue. Be one of the cool ones and subscribe here)

One of the areas the scouts of the NHL grade is how the prospects recover from the physical testing. It is a way to measure conditioning and in a side way how dedicated a prospect is to working his way to the NHL.

We saw that prospects who are going to be in the range of where the Rangers pick had mixed results. Greg Niemsz a huge center from Windsor neither hurt or helped his cause but we knew he needed body work beforehand.

Joe Colborne of Camrose (AJHL) was like most Tier 2 prospects and had a rough time but we know that those leagues do not have the equipment or coaching staffs that those in the NCAAs or CHL leagues do. Money is tight at their Tier 2 level so unless a prospect has money to burn of his own then the combine is their first experience (and an eye opener it is) with strength and conditioning coaches.

One player who we did not get a report on and who we really wanted to find out about is Cory Feinhage a Minnesota HS player who we think the Rangers might make a move for in the second round. We wanted a better look at a possible 2nd round Ranger pick.

Some like High Schooler Aaron Ness of Minnesota helped himself by recovering faster as Ness showed he puts in the work off the ice. At the same time you would have expected the younger brother of a current NHLer like David Carle (Matt of the Sharks) to have known what he was getting into.

Carle struggled to recover and might have hurt his selection spot here (he was projected 2nd round). Then we are glad that nobody is announcing who dropped something in the good old bucket (we will skip the explantion if nobody does not mind) or who embarrassed themselves in any way.

What caught many of the folks in attendance was the performance of some of the goalie prospects and we are talking in a good way. The 2nd best North American goalie (our list) Chet Pickard of Tri-City was just as in shape as many of the top overall prospects.

Pickard was equal to most of his fellow prospects on the bike and in many cases better on the bench reps. So much for goalies not being real athletes huh?

We are awaiting for all of the reports from the combine as we got a good idea from several what NHL teams are thinking now based upon how much attention was paid to certain prospects and will share that next week.

Tomorrow we guess we will have to address the Blake Wheeler situation as so many are having such a hard time understanding why we want no part of him. Of course we are hearing he only wants to play for the Minnesota Wild so it really is going to matter little what we or anyone else thinks.

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