Wednesday, May 28, 2008

It is All About the Heart

It is easy for someone to pull names out of a hat and talk about which player they think a team is going to draft. All these experts who will promote their services about who they think the various NHL teams will draft.

Save your money because the truth is the one advantage these sites have over you is that they get to see these prospects and other than the Rangers what teams do you do spend a lot of time watching? Exactly so your guess as to who someone will draft is going to be as good as anyone else's picks even ours.

Today is about the prospects and one major area that few talk about their heart. If you have been a follower of Prospect Park we have always looked at not their skill level but their heart.

The stories of Pavel Brendl are perfect examples of talent wasted while we watched prospects like Dubinsky, Dawes, Callahan and Girardi who showed it is not the pedigree of a prospect but how badly they want to play in the NHL. Those 4 taught us the value of busting your butt to follow their dream.

These are the prospects who may or may not make it to the first round and most are going to have to take the hard route to the NHL. If you knew these guys you would pick them too.

That being said here is OUR Top Ten All-Heart Prospects.

1-Tyler Ennis Medicine Hat: We have watched him over the last couple of years become a dependable player at both ends of the ice. Only 5'9 in height but a heart that makes him 7 feet tall. Nothing stops him and we believe one day he will be in the NHL.

2- Kruise Reddick Tri-City: One of reasons why the Tri-City Americans were the WHL Regular Season Champs, like Ennis just 5'9, the Kruiser is a warrior who does not back down from anyone anywhere.

3- Mitch Wahl Spokane: The true test of a champion is his willingness to give of himself to win. That sums up Wahl as in his draft year he chose to play the Spokane system instead of looking to pad his own numbers. The result is that he and his teammates could won a Memorial Cup and in our eyes became a player we would want on our team. It also does not hurt that he is a high quality player in his own right.

4-Dustin Tokarski Spokane: If you only watched the Memorial Cup final then you know exactly why this goalie is right here. His momma had to beg teams to give him a chance to play and those who passed on him must be asking themselves how they blew it on him. The CSB ranked him as the 9th best North American Goalie prospect, silly them. All Tokarski ever does is outplay those who are supposedly better than he is. Someone is going to get themselves a starting goalie here.

5- Jake Gardiner Minnetonka, High-MN: This is a player who a friend told us about early in the year as the story of a high school kid who shifted to defense from forward. We started watching this prospect make a transition as if he had been doing it for a generation. When his team needed a big play there he was. When people wondered about his skill set he improved it and in 5 years he is going to make someone a fine attacking defenseman (when he graduates from college)

6- John Carlson Indiana (USHL): If Carlson played in the CHL then he would be a top 5 first round pick. We lucked into him when scouting Danny Hobbs and were blown away by this smaller version of some guy who they used to call Beuk. Do not tell this kid he can not do anything as he will out work you and bust you up if you try to cross in his path. Here is a kid who takes criticism and turns it into a learning lesson. In many ways we hope he is still there at 20 when the Rangers pick.

7- Zac Dalpe Penticton/Ohio State: We got to see Dalpe when we were checking our Gre Beller and it is funny CSB has him 16th, ISS 20 and others have him going from 20th to 28th. We say this mainly unknown prospect works his backside off on every shift we watched him play. There is no difference if he is up 10-0 or down 10-0 as his work ethic remains the same.

8- Jordan Eberle Regina: Yes another WHL prospect and with good reason as another smaller forward who's heart is twice his reported size. Make him 5 inches taller and he would be taken with the 6th pick in the actual NHL draft. Eberle plays a strong offensive game but has this uncanny skill to take what looks like nothing into a dangerous scoring play. We think he will fill out his body and those who allow him to drift down in the NHL draft will regret it.

9- Jared Spurgeon Spokane: We know what a shock still another WHL player on our list but if you watched the 2008 Memorial Cup you would know why. We watched this warrior take on all comers and win most of his battles. Not to mention how many 5'9 165 lb defensemen do you know would be named his team's best defensemen? We have learned never to say never but despite his size we think on work ethic alone he would become an NHLer.

10- Matt Pistilli Gatienau: Every team has players who have to do their dirty work in order to win. Pistiilli got lost in the shadow of his team mate Claude Giroux so his stock is looked upon as 3rd round material. Only 28 points in 19 QMJHL playoff games but what is not mentioned is his hard work in the corners and never a complaint about his status on the team. We want him on our team.

That is our all heart prospect collection, if the Rangers can somehow find themselves with one or even more of these prospects then boy will the quality of the Ranger prospect pool jump up.

Tomorrow we will rate the Top 10 defensive prospects.


Unknown said...

Hey Jess,

It seems to me size is an issue for the current NYR team. While I like little guys with tons of attitude and skill, we really need size on the wing and on the blue line.

Keep up the great work, this is my second favorite time of year!

Unknown said...

these may very well be players who have a lot of heart but the Rangers need some more players with SIZE up front. If they can steal one of these guys later in the draft, fine, but another small forward early in the draft is not a priority.

Jess Rubenstein said...

James I agree with you about size and my draft preview for the Blueshirt Bulletin is going to address that.

I would like to see size (and NASTY) on the defense while size (and NASTY) on the wings as draft picks.

This year's class is very deep and I think the Rangers can address those issues with quality picks.

If the Rangers had more than 4 draft picks I would have also looked at another goalie as there are some very good ones out there

And like you this is my favorite time of the year.

Jess Rubenstein said...


No offense but you totally misread what I intended here as I was talking about prospect who had more heart than anything else.

I never suggested that the Rangers take these guys right off the bat.

Unknown said...

I agree with your selections (the ones that i've seen at least)
With regards to pistilli,he's 6.02"
220lbs + has fantastic hands + vision.He would look great in the Rangers blue.

Jess Rubenstein said...


With the Rangers having 2 picks in the 3rd round they have a shot at him.

No doubt in my mind that his efforts were lost in the monster job that Giroux did.