Saturday, January 3, 2009

A One, A Two, and A Three

It will be very interesting in 2013 to look back and grade how the prospects drafted in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft worked out. For right now all we can do is enjoy the possibilities as for Saturday night it was the top three draft picks who shined with their play.

Michael Del Zotto, Derek Stepan and Evgeny Grachev all were major reasons for how their team played on Saturday and the scary thing is that these prospects are just beginning their development. Tonight there is no First Star but rather 3 stars of equal value.

Michael Del Zotto

Del Zotto scored his 7th goal of the season at 19:56 of the 3rd period to cap a 3 goal third period Oshawa General comeback which led to a 5-4 overtime win over the Barrie Colts.

It was Del Zotto's first goal since December 5th and a reminder about the kind of offensive weapon Del Zotto could become at the NHL level. It was a big play for a team that was looking at falling towards the bottom of the OHL Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Derek Stepan

The Ranger's second round pick had another 3 point night with a goal and two assists but some very bad calls opened a door for Northern Michigan who scored 4 unanswered goals to earn a 6-5 overtime win over Stepan's Wisconsin Badgers.

It was Stepan's 5th goal of the season along with his 11th and 12th assists on the season. Stepan finished his weekend with 2-2-4 as the freshman from Hastings Minnesota is now the 3rd leading scorer for the Badgers.

Stepan's goal came right from the crease as Stepan has been attacking the goal more and more as of late. Stepan who patterns his game after Mike Modano. We agree with Stepan's choice of who he wants to play like but think Stepan is a better natural skater.

Evgeny Grachev

Guess we should have known that the Ranger's 3rd round pick was simply waiting until he was playing on prime time national television to show Ranger fans why we say he is going to be that very good.

Grachev was rightfully named Russia's player of the game (he should have also gotten on Friday night in our book) for his second goal of the WJC but as well for his overall game.

The one thing that it appears Ranger fans are loving about Grachev is his size but we got a message for all of you; Grachev is still growing as at last check we have him now at 6'4 225 so our projected size for Grachev is going to be 6'5 235 when he does make it to the Rangers.

Still we want to give Ranger fans something to drool about as this could be a very possible future 2008 draft offers this possibility, Derek Stepan centering for Evgeny Grachev and Dale Weise (4th round) with Del Zotto and Tomas Kundratek (2008 3rd) on the blueline.

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The Rest of the Prospects

Antoine Lafleur (2007 2nd) came in relief of starter Mickael Audette as their Rouyn-Noranda Huskies lost to the Victoriaville Tigres 7-4. Lafleur gave up 2 goals on 8 shots as the Huskies now can say 3 goalies and none appear wanting to claim the starting job.

Max Campbell (2007 5th) and his Western Michigan Broncos shared the 3rd place trophy with Brown as the 2 teams skated to a 1-1 overtime tie. Campbell was scoreless for the game as the Broncos are now 3-12-5.

Tysen Dowzak (2008 UFA) is never going to be the scorer that Michael Del Zotto is expected to be but defensively he is solid. And at 6'5 220, there is some interest with Dowzak as a fighter as well.

Dowzak had his 3rd fight of the season as he took on Ryley Grantham of Moose Jaw but that might have been the most effort shown by Dowzak and his Kelowna Rockets teammates as they got whipped by the Moose Jaw Warriors 5-2.

The Rockets will get to spend Sunday paying for their lack of effort (which is our way of wishing Tom Renney would do this to the Rangers once in a while) with a very hard practice.

Chris Doyle (2008 5th) was not in the Prince Edward Island Rocket lineup on Saturday and there has been no explanation as to why. There is a good chance that Doyle simply could not catch the bus due to a major snowstorm that hit PEI on Saturday.

We prefer a snowstorm or a trade to an injury but when we find out we will update this spot.

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When we read this article at the IIHF website bemoaning the upset of the Team USA by Slovakia as bad for the WJC; our reaction was simple what a crock.

Maybe the writers at the IIHF need to decide what is best for the WJC; the same 4 teams in the semi-finals every year or the improvement by countries like Slovakia so hockey as a sport grows.

Team USA was not a superior team who was beaten by "lucky" team but as the effort by Slovakia against Sweden showed; it was a win by a hockey program that like Sweden has made a major investment in improving their developmental program.

Team USA needed this loss because they too need to make some major changes in how the Junior Development program is run.

Hockey is best served by upsets as the interest in the sport grows worldwide when someone believes their country has a chance.

(Pictures courtesy of Del Zotto/Oshawa Generals, Grachev/Brampton, Stepan/Wisconsin)










3 comments:

The Manic Ranger said...

It's funny i was watching the Caps game last night hoping that Mike Green would be what Del Zotto or Sanguinetti would become.

It seems like the possibilities for Grachev are endless.

Salvage21 said...

Although Grachev found his name on the scoresheet the last couple games, I'm still disapointed in his play. He obviously has exceptional speed and offensive skill.. But I expected him, lumbering over still developing teenagers, to be more physical around the boards and in the trenches. In my opinion, it looked as if he was just floating around, instead of creating space for Filatov(a smaller, more dynamic player-as you know). I think this was most evident on the power play in which he was basically just standing in the slot-with someone else already screening the goalie.

On the flip side, I have been very impressed with Kundratek. He reminds me a lot like current Ranger Michal Rozsival(no coincidence they're both Czech). He is very composed and uses his body well a long the board to gain positioning. Of course this being a long with some offensive upside and a willingness to get pucks to the net(well.. unlike Rozi).

As always, appreciate all the work you do for the site.

Jess Rubenstein said...

Salvage

We look at Grachev and his size and sometimes even we forget he is a teenager just like those he plays with.

Grachev is still very green which is why he is with Brampton instead of the AHL this season.

Very hard to argue with you about the need for him to be a more physical presence out there.

As for Kundratek his biggest "need" is to stop trying to break every possible play down and just allow the game to come to him.

His pro potential is more defender than offensive like Rosy and your choice of comparison is an excellent one as Kundratek at times does not take his shot from the point.

Manic

LOL good choice but I doubt either Ranger prospect will be as strong defensively as Green