Defensemen And The Draft
We’ve already covered a few forwards that we’re keying on for the 2009 NHL entry draft. I’ll be making an official “endorsement” list for the Penguins in the coming week.
Let’s take a second to check out some defensemen that could be available at the #30 spot.
Simon Despres – 6’4 – 204lbs – St. John (QMJHL) – Shoots L – July 27, 1991
Despres is a great combination of smarts and mobility. With a frame that is already better than most NHL prospects, Despres can skate the puck out of danger and keep a good gap with speedy forwards. Simon is a great athletic specimen that spends a great deal of time focusing on becoming stronger and faster on the ice. He’s got terrific hockey sense and plays the position extremely well. He’s not much of a goal scorer, but his heads up style of play and staunch decision making are what set him apart from other defensemen in his class. Despres’ best attribute is his puck distribution abilities. He can skate the puck into a danger-free area and make a fantastic heads up outlet to his forwards. He’s also solid in regards to reading plays offensively and retaining possession of the puck in the boards. While not overly physical, Despres can dish out some rather large hits. When the pace of the game gets ramped up, Despres can unload some monster hits to sway momentum. Despres had 32 points (2+30) in 66 games this year. He is ranked as high as 6 and as low as 30+ in some rankings. Where he will go on draft day is a complete crap shoot. However, it appears the Penguins could have a chance at him.
Stefan Elliott – 6’1 – 175lbs – Saskatoon (WHL) – Shoots R – Jan. 30, 1991
Initially I didn’t think Stefan Elliott would even be close to available, but plenty of experts are inserting him into the early 2nd round and the ISS has omitted his name from their May 2009 top 30 ranking, so his availability come pick #30 could be more probable than I first thought. The number one aspect of Elliott’s game that makes me drool at the prospect of drafting him is his ability to distribute the puck in an uncanny manner and shut down dynamic scorers in one on one situations. Former Penguins assistant coach Lorne Molleken has taken a real shine to Elliott and played him in virtually every situation imaginable. While he needs to bulk up some to have a more NHL ready frame, Elliott isn’t bad in the boards and his anticipation enables him to cheat to an area and beat the opposition to loose pucks. Overall, Elliott is a defenseman that is not only of sound character, but one that can be played in virtually any situation with confidence. This quiet, soft spoken leader could be a great fit for the Pittsburgh franchise.
David Rundblad – 6’2 – 189lbs – Skellefteå (SEL) – Shoots R – Oct. 8, 1990
My initial thought on Rundblad is that he might be a little bit too offensive oriented for the Penguins, but with Sergei Gonchar getting older, it might not be a bad idea to try and replace him in this draft. Rundblad’s trademark is his end to end offensive rushes. He can (and does) carry the puck from deep in his zone all the way to the goal line of the offensive area. Rundblad is a great skater with nifty hands. All this and he’s fairly smart in his defensive end as well. The biggest knock on Rundblad for me is his lack of physicality. He’ll have to ramp that up in the SEL if he wants to cut it in the North American scene. That said, all you have to do is look at the minutes Rundblad logs in the SEL to get a glimpse of the talent he has for his age. Not only does he have an impressive number of games under his belt, but he’s logging 15+ minutes a night against top quality competition.
Dylan Olsen – 6’2 – 206lbs – Camrose (AJHL) – Shoots L – Jan. 3, 1991
Dylan Olsen is a powerful and passionate defenseman who just finished his second year with the Kodiaks of the Alberta Juniors. Olsen is probably the most physical defenseman that we’ve mentioned up to this point. A daunting physical specimen, Olsen loves to take forwards one on one and wins the majority of the physical battles he finds himself engaged in. That said, he’s surprisingly mobile for such a big body and is another young kid that takes pride in his ability to skate the puck up ice and distribute it in an effective manner. When speaking with Olsen, he actively tries to separate himself from the idea of being a one dimensional player. Olsen is looking at taking the NCAA route into the NHL, so he’s a bit more of a project than some of these other players. However, the wait will be worth it. Olsen is a smart kid that is passionate about the game. He plays hockey with a ton of pride and isn’t afraid of standing up for his teammates. His physicality is a real strong point and as he continues to hone his defensive game, his stock will continue to rise.
Calvin De Haan – 6’0 – 170lbs – Oshawa (OHL) – Shoots L – May 9 , 1991
I think De Haan is going to get taken by the Devils, but he’s worth mentioning here because if he falls past them he could be available at #30. The best part about De Haan is that he is always poised under pressure and can work like a horse. Towards the end of the season, he was logging 30:00+ minutes for Oshawa with a lot seemingly left in the tank. For as bad as Oshawa was towards the end of the year, he managed his minutes well and ended up a plus on a team that was getting shellacked nightly. His size is a bit of a concern now but that should fill out as time goes on. De Haan is a pretty interesting case in the sense that he doesn’t really do any one thing better than another. He’s got a lot in his toolbox, but his penchant for being patient with the puck and exhibiting great hockey sense are what has the attention of so many scouts. Some have called De Haan underwhelming, but if you don’t notice him in the defensive zone, he’s doing his job. His size is a issue right now as he needs to bulk up a few pounds, but that should come as he continues to mature.
Stay tuned to FF for more bio’s of some players that could be available come pick #30 in addition to our official “endorsement” list this coming week!