Prospectus Prospecting – Jimmy Vesey plus five (NCAA/USHL)

Scouting Report – Jimmy Vesey

Bio
Team: Harvard Crimson (ECAC)                            Draft Status: 66th overall, 2012 (Nashville)
Position: LW
To date stats: 10 GP, 8 G, 8 A, 16 pts, 4 PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6-1”, 194

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Vesey is very strong on his feet. His straight-ahead speed is short of elite, verging closer to average, but he is more than fast enough. Giving him a head of steam, he will find a second gear, but again, he is not a burner. Where he raises his grade is when we include his agility and edge-work. He can move around in all four directions, often with very tight shift from direction to direction. All in all, he is an above-average skater. Grade: 55

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Vesey has an above average wrist shot. Can pick out a corner or seam from the slot on in. His wrist shot is his weapon of choice as his positioning is of the range where the wrist shot will do the most damage. Both the power and accuracy are in the above average range. He will score goals at the highest level. Grade: 55

Puck Skills
High end. This is not just his hands, but his decisions of what to do with the puck, when to pass, when to circle back, etc. His hands are quick, giving him the ability to swipe a puck form a lazy or unsuspecting opponent. He will often cycle between the half wall and behind the red line and is very proficient at finding open teammates when behind the net. He is comfortable carrying the puck through the neutral zone and is skilled at zone entries. His vision is close to elite. Even from the corner, he can spot a teammate through traffic and hit him on the tape with a sharp pass. He will dangle as well, although that skill will be less of a weapon in the NHL. Vesey employs a long reach to help him protect pucks. Grade: 65

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
As the son of a former professional hockey player, Vesey has a good head for the game. As mentioned in the previous section, he makes smart plays with the puck. His vision is not just a reflection of his skills, but the innate knowledge that when a teammate is better positioned than he to wreak havoc, Vesey should let him do so. His smarts also allow him to play more physically than his size would otherwise allow. As an example, when going into the corner and anticipating an incoming backchecker, Vesey braces his feet against the wall to help him use the boards to cushion the upcoming blow and allows the remainder of the force to travel up his legs, instead of his back and upper body. He is used on both special teams. Grade: 65

Physicality
Vesey is average in terms of his natural size and strength, but it plays up due to his ability to play in the dirty areas of the ice. In other words, he is a skill player first and foremost, but he is by no means a peripheral player. He will fight for pucks along the boards and behind the net and leverages his frame to win his share of those battles. There is also room to add a little bit more size and strength over time, allowing this to project up a half a grade. Grade: 55

General Assessment

Jimmy Vesey will play in the NHL this season. While there were whispers of the Predators not being able to sign him, as will often be the case when a high-end prospect enters his fourth year of university play, the fact is they did not push very hard, respecting the brand of a Harvard education. Even if they cannot sign him, they will find no shortage of trade suitors who would be happy to snap him up as soon as his season is over with the Toronto Maple Leafs – who employ his father as a scout and who own the rights of his younger brother, currently playing college hockey at Maine. He can play in a top six role right now. The Hobey Baker front runner is the best pro prospect I have seen in first few months of the season. Overall Future Projection: 5.9.

 

Scouting Report – Matthew Berkovitz

Bio
Team: Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)                            Draft Status: 123rd overall, 2014 (Anaheim)
Position: D
To date stats: 24 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 pts, 12 PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6-1”, 179

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
For a player of Berkowitz’s ilk, skating in reverse is far more important than skating forward. He will generally be the last skater in the offensive zone when his team is in possession. Thankfully, he is also the first man back. He is comfortable enough back-tracking to maintain tight gaps on opposing forwards. Grade: 50

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Not really something Berkowitz will do very often. The shot is accurate enough, but not the most powerful. Not really an option for use on the point on power plays in games that are still competitive. Grade: 45

Puck Skills
A far more effective player without the puck than with it. He can pass the puck out of his own zone to begin the transition, but even there, his team is better off letting the other blueliner make the first push. He does not always spot the best option when passing and will not always hit the tape. Grade: 40

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
If he makes it to the NHL, it will be due to his smarts. He plays heavily on the penalty kill and excels in his own zone, helping to prevent shots against. His own zone positioning is well above average. Grade: 6

Physicality
Neither a bruiser nor a wall-flower be. He needs to put on weight and the NCAA path is perfect for him to do so. Once the frame is filled out a bit more, he should be able to hold his own. Grade: 5

General Assessment

There is still room in the NHL for players of Berkovitz’s style. He is a pure stay-at-home defenseman. Not an overly physical one, but one who makes smart plays in his own zone. He will have to prove it against a higher level of competition – which will begin next year at the University of Wisconsin – but the early returns are promising if underwhelming. He will have a longer developmental arc than most others, as he is unlikely to hurt himself while playing a style that struggles to gain attention, but in five or six years, we may be seeing Berkovitz playing third pairing minutes in the NHL. Overall Future Projection: 5.125.

 

Scouting Report – Anders Bjork

Bio
Team: Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Hockey East)                            Draft Status: 146th overall, 2014 (Boston)
Position: LW/C
To date stats: 17 GP, 5 G, 11 A, 16 pts, 4 PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6-0”, 187

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Bjork is a smooth skater, but not overly fast. There is room for growth in this area and enough of a base here to start with. Grade: 50

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Bjork has a quick release on his wrist shot, indicative of him scoring nearly as much in 17 games as a sophomore as he did in a full freshman season. Grade: 50

Puck Skills
Bjork has decent puck skills and is an effective puck carrier. He is strong enough on the puck, but lacking in creativity. A meat and potatoes man. Grade: 50

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
Bjork plays the full 200 feet of the ice. He is a support player who understands his role on the ice. That said, he is not the type of player to be the fulcrum of either attack or defense. Simply put, he will do his job. Grade: 50

Physicality
As stated above, a meat and potatoes player. It is not reflected in his penalty minute totals, but he plays the dirty areas and is not shy when it comes to the physical game. He will continue to grow and gain muscle through the duration of his collegiate career. Grade: 55

General Assessment

Anders Bjork is a player who is gaining steam and traction in the eyes of many prospect watchers, including the braintrust behind the US World Junior team, who have brought Bjork to the American evaluation camp. He has made huge strides in his second season with the Fighting Irish and it is reasonable to point out that he is young for a sophomore, with only two other players on the roster younger than he is. Bjork will never be more than a bottom six player, but he has gone from a lottery ticket fifth round pick to someone who is on the path to an NHL career. Overall Future Projection: 5.05.

 

Scouting Report – Chase Pearson

Bio
Team: Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)                            Draft Status: 140th overall, 2015 (Detroit)
Position: C
To date stats: 21 GP, 5 G, 15 A, 20 pts, 10 PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6-2”, 187

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Not his strongest area, but he gets where he needs to go. A little gangly and I believe that his skating will smoothen out as he gets used to his body. Grade: 50

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
The shot itself is good enough, but Pearson needs to work on his release, adding deception and/or a quicker trigger, which would allow the shot to be more effective and play up to its inherent velocity and accuracy. Grade: 50

Puck Skills
Pearson has above average hands and can dangle his way through coverage. He is a good playmaker with good vision in the offensive areas of the ice. Has taken a big offensive step forward this season, which may be a matter of increased confidence or simply more ice time giving him more time to work on his game. Grade: 55

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
Like Vesey above, Pearson is the son of a former pro, as father Scott was the sixth overall pick of the 1988 draft and played over 650 games for money, nearly half of which were in the NHL. Can be trusted in high leverage situations as a responsible performer who is likely to play within his ability and his means. Grade: 55

Physicality
Has gotten better at playing within the bounds of the rule book, but is still a physical player who will not hesitate to throw his weight around the ice. After spending 96 minutes in the sin bin for Youngstown last season, he has averaging fewer than one minor every four games this year. By the way, Chase’s father was a brawler. Grade: 60

General Assessment
Chase Pearson has taken a massive step forward in his second full season in the USHL, an advancement that has seen him selected to represent his country at the World Junior A Challenge. The Red Wings have a deserved reputation for drafting well, and Pearson, who fell down draft boards in his draft eligible season with an underwhelming first season with the Phantoms, is now living up to the reputation who had carried with him as a bloodlines player. With his frame already well filled out, he may not need to spend more than two seasons at the University of Maine, where he is expected to enroll next fall. It is only a coincidence that current Red Wings sniper Gustav Nyquist, himself a mid-round draft pick, also played for the Black Bears. Pearson has enough of an overall game to profile as a middle six center at the highest level if he continues on his current development journey. Overall Future Projection: 53.5.

 

 

Scouting Report – Alexander Kerfoot

Bio
Team: Harvard Crimson (ECAC)                            Draft Status: 150th overall, 2012 (New Jersey)
Position: C/RW
To date stats: 9 GP, 2 G, 11 A, 13 pts, 8 PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 5-10”, 152

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Kerfoot can fly. His straight ahead speed is fun to watch and he can beat most defenders if he gets a first step on them. Most of this attribute is based in a north-south style and I have reason to question his overall agility. Still, speed is fun. Grade: 60

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
He can place his shots fairly well, but they lack in strength. While Kerfoot scored almost at will in minor midget and in the BCHL, goals have been harder to come by against the bigger and better netminders in the NCAA. Without improvement, the shot will not beat too many goalies in the NHL. Grade: 45

Puck Skills
Kerfoot shades to his off-wing when skating with the puck, protecting the biscuit by carrying it mostly on his backhand. He has soft enough hands, and with more creativity, could really put the pieces together. At present, it is more about tools and the motor than the cleverness with the puck. Seems hesitant when it comes to zone entries, leading to too many unnecessary dump ins. Grade: 55

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
The aforementioned dumps, when he could be carrying, or circling back, or passing to a teammate with a clearer angle into the offensive zone, leads me to question Kerfoot’s vision and teamplay. Going to Harvard, I am confident that he is a smart person, but that is not demonstrating itself on the ice enough. Grade: 45

Physicality
In case you did not read his bio up top, Alexander Kerfoot, now a junior, is 5-10”, and a sprightly 152 lbs. While I am sure that height/weight ratio helps him fly, it keeps him from being effective physically. If the defender can keep Kerfoot in front of him, he can be easily neutralized. At present, this deficiency may be the difference between him and a long career. Grade: 40

General Assessment

Alexander Kerfoot’s speed got him noticed and keeps him on the radar. His puck skills and hands are good enough to add to the picture, but his other deficiencies – particularly his lean frame – make his future tenuous. At best, he could be a bottom line player who scores 7-10 goals a year from turnovers which lead to odd-man rushes. At worst, the Devils do not offer him a pro contract after his Crimson career ends. Overall Future Projection: 50.

 

 

Scouting Report – Cameron Lee

Bio
Team: Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)                            Draft Status: 2016 eligible
Position: D
To date stats: 24 GP, 3 G, 10 A, 13 pts, 24 PIM
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 5-10”, 185

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)
Lee looks like he is running when he accelerates, such as in races back to his red line for icing whistles. He reverses well enough such that mobility is not a detriment to his game. Grade: 50

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)
Both his wrist and slap shots are a little bit below average. They are relatively accurate and don’t die on their way to the net, but they lack the oomph necessary to be weapons from the blueline. Grade: 45

Puck Skills
He can carry the puck and help out in the transition game, but neither distinct skill looks to be enough to keep him out of danger or to create offense on his own. Grade: 40

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)
Cameron Lee showed me both positive and negative in his mental game. On the positive side, he reads the game well enough in his own end when defending. For example, he timed a double team well, when the opponent’s only other recourse would have been to circle back out of the Green Bay end. On the other hand, when trying to play the puck, he shows signs of tunnel vision, losing his awareness of what else is going on on the ice. On two separate occasions, he coughed up the puck in his own zone on the power play, not noticing the encroaching danger from the forecheckers. Grade: 45

Physicality
Although undersized, Lee plays up in size and strength. He will go to the boards and does not back down. While he has likely maxed out as far as height is concerned (5-10”), he will put on weight and is stocky enough for it to help him down the road in college. Grade: 50

General Assessment
Cameron Lee is a marginal draft prospect for 2016. After being passed over in his first year of eligibility last year, the Gambler defender has greatly improved his offensive numbers (had 15 points in 53 games last year) and is the leading scorer from the blueline corps on a good Green Bay team. While it is always nice to see a player improve, Lee is a long shot to hear his name called on draft day. Perhaps after four years with Providence, he will be a more attractive pro hockey candidate. Overall Future Projection: 46.75.

2 thoughts on “Prospectus Prospecting – Jimmy Vesey plus five (NCAA/USHL)

  1. Kerfoot is listed at 175 pounds on Harvard’s website.

    It looks like you took the eliteprospects weight, which is usually outdated and likely his weight in his draft year.

  2. Nick – you are correct in assuming I did use the height/weight from elite prospects in almost all cases. While it may be outdated, schools also have a tendency to inflate the measurements of their players. Whether he’s 152 or 175 or somewhere in between, he is slight and it shows on the ice. The play is more important than the weight. And the play tells me he is relatively easy to push around on the ice.

    Thank you for reading.

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