Smith: Around the OHL (Crouse, Salituro and more)

Hockey Prospectus OHL/QMJHL scout Craig Smith brings a batch of reports from his OHL journeys. Included here are prospects of the LA Kings, Colorado Avalanche, and Tampa Bay Lightning as well as three prospects for the 2015 draft. One of those prospects is perhaps the most controversial of this year’s draft, in Kingston power forward Lawson Crouse. Crag can be found on twitter at @Red_Vikreig.

Draft Eligible Prospects

Scouting Report: Lawson Crouse

Bio

Team: Kingston Frontenacs                         Draft Status: Draft Eligible 2015
Position: Left Wing
Shoots: Left
Height/Weight:    6.03 / 212

Date Seen: Feb. 15, 2015 vs. Ottawa, OHL regular season

Stats to Date

GAMES PLAYED

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

PIMS

41

21

11

32

62

 

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

Lawson is a fluid skater who looks good coming down the wing.  An unproductive first three steps limits Lawson’s acceleration to an average level. For a player of his size it’s not surprising it will take a little longer to get going.  Tight turns and powerful crossovers help this large 17 year old to build speed coming out of the zone or when forechecking. His lack of acceleration meant he could not force any turnovers or break away from opposing players.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

Elite snap shot with a fast release which is very difficult to track. Before you realize Lawson is going to attempt a shot on net it is already there.  Accuracy is great forcing saves on each attempt.  Lawson’s strength also allows him to takes shots when in contact or off balance.  Shot selection could have been better as majority of shots were taken from poor angles. One slap shot was attempted, it was a rolling puck and went wide and high.

Puck Skills

                Based on previous reports from other scouts and his 11 assists on the year Lawason’s passing was much better than expected.  Quick decisive passes that were on the receiving players’ stick.  Short and quick movements allowed him to get past defenders. Lawson is also exceptional at receiving passes. The majority of outlet passes he received were in his skates, behind him or forced him to break from his lane.  He was able to pick up each pass and move it to his stick and continue on the attack.  One play exemplified his skill with the puck. He received a poor saucer pass, pulled it down out of the air, toe dragged around a defender and got a high percentage shot in net, all in one swift motion.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

This world junior champion got the confidence of Hockey Canada because of his hockey I.Q.  You can see Lawson looking at his surroundings prior to receiving a pass. He has his decisions made prior to having the puck.  Can react quickly when the play unexpectedly changes.  Takes great angles and is relentless on forechecks.  Positions himself well in the defending zone. One flaw in Lawson’s mental game was on breakouts where he was often leaving early forcing difficult outlet passes.

Physicality

Lawson does not shy away from physical contact, he thrives on it.  A strong player who is very difficult to knock off the puck. Can dominate down low and on the boards winning most battles. Lawson displayed his strength almost putting Jeremiah Addison into the Frontenac bench on a hit.  After a physical confrontation you can see the energy in Lawson’s game pick up.

General Assessment

One of,  if not the most debated player eligible for the 2015 NHL draft, Lawson has some elite level skills and some that make you ponder about his NHL success. Mediocre production (.78 points per game) and a reliance on teammates to generate offence limit Lawson from benefiting from his top level skills. His skill and size combo along with a never quit spirit solidify him as a future NHL player.  HIs I.Q and size will give Lawson a real chance at cracking an NHL roster next year. One more year of junior would be good for his overall development.  Lawson may struggle to create space against NHL speed and size and will need to play with high level playmakers to meet the ceiling many scouts have placed on him.   Lawson will project out as a number 5-8 forward on an NHL team.  For the 2015 NHL draft Lawson Crouse is a Tier 2 (11-20) prospect. Closer to tier 3 than 1.

Scouting Report – Dante Salituro

Bio

Team: Ottawa 67’s                                          Draft Status: Eligible 2015
Position: Centre
Shoots: Right
Height/Weight: 5.08 /  178

Date Seen: Jan. 9, 2015, vs Windsor Spitfires, Feb. 7, 2015 vs North Bay, both OHL Regular Season

Stats to Date

GAMES PLAYED

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

PIMS

50

31

31

62

36

 

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

Great skater. Dante is fast, elusive, and accelerates to top speed in very few strides.  He can turn on a dime, cuts into ice for quick change of direction. He is a fluid skater who uses his full stride, which is important due to his small stature.   He has good balance and does not get knocked off the puck easily, despite his smaller than average size.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

Release is good and difficult to anticipate. There is a slight drag in release which gives defensemen with reach an opportunity to disrupt the shot.  Good accuracy. There were three separate occurrences when this 67’s goal leader could have added to his total but missed the puck completely when sitting within 5 feet of an open net; this trend is concerning.

Puck Skills

                Dante handles the puck very well in tight spaces.  When down below the net or in the slot he can beat a stick check and create a scoring opportunity.  He needs to use his speed to beat defenders wide when on the rush.  Sneaky, quick stick to pick pocket defenders or attackers. Above average eye-hand coordination scoring a redirection on a sharp pass from Konecney.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

Choosing a different coverage style than the other centres on the team, Dante locates an opponent when coming back into the zone and locks on that player, engaging in man-to-man coverage.  Keeps feet moving to create and find passing lanes when attacking. Unfortunately, he does not have the same active feet when without the puck.  When forechecking or defending, Dante often can be found coasting; he waits for the play to come to him.

Physicality

This is an encouraging part of this undersized player’s game. He does not shy away from physical contact. Makes effective hits that force turnovers. When skating down the boards he has the strength to power through checks and continue on the attack.  At 181 lb. there may not be much room for Dante to get bigger/stronger.  At junior level he is strong and fast enough to overcome his stature. Pros may prove to be a challenge.

General Assessment

Wow factor is present as there are shifts where he takes control of the game. However, there are shifts he looks disinterested in the game. He gets rattled easily and seems to change the direction of his focus retaliating often when checked in the corners.  The mental part will need to match excellent skill set for this potential Tier 4 (41-90) prospect has Dante to reach the next level.  Already surpassing last year’s goal and point totals in only 50 games indicates that Dante is improving.  Dante will need one more year in the CHL and 2-3 years in AHL before being ready.

Scouting Report – Hayden McCool

Bio

Team: Windsor Spitfires                                                Draft Status: Eligible 2015
Position: Left Wing
Shoots: Left
Height/Weight: 6.03 /  195

Date Seen: Jan. 9, 2015 vs Ottawa 67s, OHL Regular season

Stats to Date

GAMES PLAYED

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

PIMS

39

12

10

22

43

 

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

Hayden displays smooth strides. Very technical skating style. He looks good when skating. He does not possess a high level of speed unless given ample space and time to accelerate. He does not break away from other skaters or beat defenders wide.  He does not close in on players when in the attacking and defending zones.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

Hayden scored a nice goal receiving the pass and showing patience then scoring in the top of the net.  It was a fast accurate shot.  There unfortunately were not any other opportunities to evaluate his shooting.

Puck Skills          

Hayden struggles when carrying the puck. Gets stick checked often and lost the puck in open ice on more than one occasion. The passes are crisp and on target. Easily received by his teammates. There is very little creativity in his game. Hayden does not possess the skills to beat defenders one-on-one.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

Gets power play and penalty kill time. Plays in front of the net on the power play and is used to provide traffic. When parked in front of the net he is delayed in following the cross ice and D to D passes, often allowing the goalie to have a full view of the puck. He would be better suited as a low post player. He is positionally sound – always in the right spot. It was easy to find Hayden on the ice.

Physicality

For a large frame, it would be nice to see Hayden engage along the boards more often and press on players.  With his skating ability there is an opportunity for Hayden to bring a physical and exhausting forecheck on opposing defenders. An opportunity not used.

General Assessment

Hayden looks good on the ice and on paper.  He does not have the puck skills or sense to be a productive offensive player. With a long development in the right system he could become a good shut down winger. Playing 10-12 minutes a night, Hayden projects as a bottom 6 Minor league player. He will play as an average junior then take 4 years of minor hockey before the hockey sense is developed enough for him to attempt to make an NHL roster.  He rates as a Tier VI player for the 2015 draft, a seventh rounder at best.

Drafted Players

Scouting Report – Alex Lintuniemi

Bio

Team: Ottawa 67’s                                          Draft Status: 2nd Round (60th) 2014, Los Angeles Kings
Position: Left Defence
Shoots: Left
Height/Weight: 6.03/214

Dates Seen: Jan. 9, 2015 vs Windsor, Feb. 7, 2015 vs North Bay, both OHL Regular season

Stats to Date

GAMES PLAYED

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

PIMS

42

5

18

23

20

 

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

A smooth skater who can jump into the rush. Alex has good technique, uses his full stride.  Has good speed just takes some time to get going. HIs biggest weakness is his foot work. Pivots wide and does not turn fast enough. Side-to-side (net to corner) also lacks “burst”. This forces him to reach at attackers. The foot/hip work could be improved with some off-ice work.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

Unfortunately, there was not a lot to evaluate. This LA King prospect does not look to score first when he has the puck. Always thinking pass or simple play on net hoping for a rebound or deflection. He ensures pucks pass the initial shot blocker.

Puck Skills

Alex’s outlet passes rarely miss their target; he has a great sense of touch on every pass. Passes can be feathered or sharp. He leads the player into open space with his pass. When forced into a corner or pressured on the blue line, he is able to remain composed and stick handle around the opposing player. There is little flash from his game, but he does not lose many pucks.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

Smart, effective and simple. Often makes the right decision in all zones of play. Uses body and stick positioning to open lanes. Will use the boards when passing and often anticipates where his forwards will be and places the puck into open space allowing players to retrieve. There is little to criticize about Alex’s mental game. Plays disciplined, will not take unnecessary penalties.

Physicality

Physicality is a top attribute. The big 67’s defender has the ability to throw the thunderous crowd pleasing check. Also has the ability to separate the player from the puck with a hard check or press. Many of his hits noticeably put players off balance forcing them to redirect their route/play. He has the size and strength to play against pro level players.

General Assessment

A work-horse defensemen whom coach Jeff Brown relies on in all situations, playing over 28 minutes per game (12th in OHL). His low risk, effective play will continue to gain the praise of coaches as well as their trust. With Alex most likely moving into the AHL next season, the 67’s blue line will have a massive void to fill. After two – three seasons at the AHL level don’t be surprised to see this shutdown defenseman take a 3rd pairing role in Los Angeles.

Scouting Report – Roland McKeown

Bio

Name: Roland McKeown                                              Draft Status:  2014 Round 2 (50) Los Angeles Kings
Team: Kingston Frontenacs
Position: Defence
Shoots: Right
Height/Weight:    6.01 / 195

Date Seen: Feb. 15, 2015 vs Ottawa 67s

Stats to Date

GAMES PLAYED

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

PIMS

51

4

19

23

43

 

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

A fluid, beautiful skater. Long powerful strides allow for great acceleration and above average speed. HIs turning and transitional skating is elite. Great escapability when forechecked. Rarely loses body position on attacking players. Two occurrences where Konecny and Salituro (two very good skill players) attempted to use multiple moves to get past Roland, like a dance partner Roland was able to mirror their movements and stop the attack. Wins races to loose pucks.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

A good shot that is focused on hitting the net and generating a rebound. Does not try to force point shots through blockers.  Limited shot attempts were made in this viewing.

Puck Skills

                Calm and collected with the puck on his stick Roland makes good decisions and has the confidence to skate with the puck or hold it for the extra second needed.  Elite zone exit passes, Roland passes with vision and accuracy. His ability to stick handle along with his skating enabled him to make multiple end to end rushes.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

                Always in the right place to stop opposing players or intercept a pass. Roland maintains proper gap control. He then closes and attacks at the right time making sure to keep an advantageous position.   Anticipates what the attacking player may be doing and blocks the passing or shooting lanes. Roland had several shot and pass disruptions in this game. His speed and anticipation allow him to cover for his teammates that may have lost a one-on-one match up. 

Physicality

Subtle and effective physical play. Uses his body after stealing the puck to block the victim from regaining possession. Boxes out in front of his own net very well, minimizing second chances. Great balance and agility makes it difficult to knock Roland off the puck when he is rushing up the ice or retrieving the puck after a dump in.

General Assessment

Don’t be surprised to see McKeown’s name coming up in trade rumors involving the LA Kings leading up to this year’s trade deadline. Rebuilding teams would love to add a building block like McKeown. This is a mobile player seeing almost 30 minutes of ice time per game. He plays in all situations. When on the ice the puck does not stay in the Kingston defending zone very long. Unfortunately for Kingston’s top line, coach Paul McFarland prefers to use McKeown away from Crouse and company limiting the ability of the top line to generate scoring. McKeown can set the pace and control a game with his vision and smarts. McKeown has the skills to be a second pairing defender in the NHL. The 2014 second round pick will see powerplay and top four ice time in the AHL next season.

Scouting Report – Cristiano DiGiacinto

Bio

Name: Cristiano DiGiacinto
Team: Windsor Spitfires                                                Draft Status: 6th Round (170) 2014 by Tampa Bay Lightning
Position: Left Wing
Shoots: Left
Height/Weight: 5.11 /  196

Date Seen: Jan. 9, 2015, vs Ottawa 67s, OHL Regular season

Stats to Date

GAMES PLAYED

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

PIMS

35

13

14

27

63

 

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

Cristiano has a wide short stride. Good balance and is strong on his skates. He is not an agile skater, does not turn quickly. Has good speed which allows him to be an aggressive forechecker. He can beat defenders wide and back check effectively with his speed.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

The shot philosophy is get rid of it quick and put it on net. Stays over top of the shot getting good power and an average release.

Puck Skills

There are not a lot of moves available to Cristiano. He does not attempt to beat defenders in open ice. HIs production comes from forcing turnovers as he does not have the ability win a majority of one on one battles in open ice. Knows his limitations and keeps his play very simple.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

Patience will be required with Cristiano as discipline is not a part of his game. It is has a negative effect on his style. Plays a north/south and to the net style. Does not get involved with cycling the puck or moving the puck around the perimeter. Gets the puck out of the zone fast with a pass or chipping past the defender. He understands his limitations and his role on the hockey team.

Physicality

Loves to hit. Checks and checks hard. He is strong and the checks are punishing. There is no fear of engaging in after whistle physical play. Has a pest mentality and frustrates opposing players with his style. Cristiano is effective when using his strength to separate the puck from player or creating space in front of the net.

General Assessment

Overall Cristiano is an effective hockey player who understands what is asked of him. He does not make the players around him better but relies on others to create offence for him. He will spend a lot of his time in the Penalty Box and will frustrate his opponents. He has the size and strength to play at a pro level. HIs skating is satisfactory for the pro level. Cristiano’s skills will limit his chances of playing NHL hockey. A 4th AHL line agitator is Cristiano’s Projection. Should be 2 years away from that level.

Scouting Report – Kyle Wood

Bio

Team: North Bay Battalion                           Draft Status: Colorado Avalanche 84th Overall 2014.

Position: Defence

Shoots: Right

Height/Weight: 6.05 / 217

Date Seen: Feb. 7, 2015, vs Ottawa 67s, OHL regular season

Stats to Date

GAMES PLAYED

GOALS

ASSISTS

POINTS

PIMS

49

15

17

32

16

 

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

Kyle has strong technique and good balance. Like many young, big defenders, he struggles with transition skating. Below average at his top speed, Kyle gets beaten to the outside, as well as to loose pucks. The slow feet also do not allow Kyle to turn quickly. An ineffective first three strides means Kyle often has to reach at attackers instead of physically engaging.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

Unfortunately, there were no shots from Kyle Wood during this viewing. With 15 goals this season from the rear guard spot it is understandable why other scouts speak highly of his ability to shoot from the point on the powerplay.

Puck Skills          

                Passes are accurate and crisp when proper target is chosen. Target of the pass is not always best choice and is intercepted too often. Can carry the puck but will not avoid stick checks with stick handling. Despite his big reach, Kyle misses on stick checks and was even beaten between the legs. 

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

Positionally sound, rarely chases opposing players. Keeps and starts with good gap against oncoming players, but fails to close that gap at the proper moment. This may be a result of poor speed. Decision making with the puck is questionable. Many giveaways in his own defending zone both by pass and via stick handling.

Physicality

At 6’5 and 217 lbs this player fits the mould for the Avalanche. Has the ability to control the front of the net and box out players hunting for rebounds. Kyle has the ability to separate the player from the puck by using the body, but this is surprisingly inconsistent such as his play against Curtis Meighan, a relatively undersized opponent, who won two consecutive board battles against Wood in the corner.

 General Assessment

This 2014 draft pick has a lot of work to do with his skating before the NHL will be attainable.  Four years in the AHL working on gap control and proper defensive techniques will be a necessity for Kyle. A surprising and unassuming offensive game will help speed up the process as production has significantly improved from the previous season.

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