by Corey Pronman
To those who know a lot about the game, know or at least aware that while in the mainstream a “consensus” is formed sometimes on the NHL draft, on a team to team basis there usually is no consensus. I have gotten to see this when talking to pro scouts and NHL execs, so I figure as a fun blog post, to share with you some of the disagreements I’ve heard from different teams on notable prospects. The following are all quotes from scouting sources I’ve talked to within the industry this year along with where I ranked the respective prospects:
Alexander Galchenyuk, Center, 3rd:
Talk about a difficult pick. There is a lot of hype on Galchenyuk due to his massive potential and of course the risk that comes with a player who barely played all year. One scout I talked to spoke high praise of his expectations for Galchenyuk earlier in the year,
“Coming into the season, I thought he had the talent level to challenge Yakupov for the number one spot.”
While I didn’t get a look at this team’s draft board, an NHL exec I talked to recently said when I asked him who would he rank as the top players in the draft he said,
“The top three players in this draft are all Russian.” When I asked him if he meant Galchenyuk, seeing as he’s worn US colors in International play he responded, “He’s still a Russian to me.”
When I asked another NHL exec if he would pick him though he seemed much more cautious,
“I think he has top line potential, but when you’re picking as high as he could go, if you’re a team with a top five pick, do you really spend it on a guy you saw play a handful of times? I’m not sure I would be able to. He was great in his underage year, but how good would he have been this season?”
It’s a valid point when you consider past “potential top five picks” coming into their draft years who had good underage seasons such as Angelo Esposito and John McFarland that didn’t follow up.
Zemgus Girgensons, Center, 14th:
Girgensons was really hard to get a read on during the year. Some people in the industry loved him, and others were so-so on him. When I talked to a NHL exec mid-year he said this,
“With Girgensons, what I can’t figure out is if he has top line skill, second line skill, or top 6 ability at all. Depending what night I see him I get a different impression.”
Another NHL exec said he was fully convinced in one direction,
“I’ve seen him a lot and I have no doubt in my mind he has top-six skill.” Another scout I talked to said he may even have the talent level to warrant a top ten pick.
While another scout went down another road,
” He looks like a third liner to me.”
Ryan Murray, Defense, 8th:
My somewhat low ranking of Murray may seem like another case of beating down the guy whose been around the scene forever. However I do feel his criticism is merited, and I don’t see it as the nitpicking of Sean Couturier last year for example. When I asked one Head Scout who he felt the top defenseman in the draft was he responded,
“It’s clearly Dumba. Murray is a great defensive defenseman, although if you listen to the media some people make it seem like he’s Scott Niedermayer or something.”
And another scout said,
“I just don’t see the puck skills or offensive ability to take him in the top five.”
But of course Murray has scouts who push for him,
“He just does everything well. He’s a high-end puck mover whose very good defensively and very intelligent with the puck.”
Pontus Aberg, Left Wing, 9th:
Aberg was not as big a name this draft season based on the fact he was an over age player due to his late birth date and didn’t get to play at the Under 18s, and he was injured right before the World Juniors where he was a shoe in to be a factor for that team. Scouts for the most part had to make special trips to see him,
“He absolutely has top ten talent,” one scout told me and one Head Scout saying he would range him anywhere from 10-20 on his board. Another Head Scout said he wasn’t sold on the talent level being good enough for a player of his size. Finally an NHL exec told me “I’ve seen him a handful of times and I haven’t been all too impressed, but our Swedish scouts keep telling me he’s great.”
Filip Forsberg, Right Wing, 4th:
Forsberg based on industry consensus seemed to be high amongst everyone’s boards from most scouts I’ve talked to, however, it was not universal. When I asked one Head Scout in January if he would take Forsberg top five he said, “No, but maybe closer to 10. I just don’t see enough offensive upside to take him over players like Grigorenko or Galchenyuk.” When I told him most people I’ve talked to see him as a top five talent he told me, “Not the scouts I’ve been talking to.” It should be noted I asked him again recently, he said he’d have him 4-6 on his board.
Of course other scouts I’ve talked to love Forsberg’s potential, saying it is on par with Mikhail Grigorenko and Alex Galchenyuk.
The point I’m trying to make is not one to scare fans of teams in the top five or ten, but to show yet again that in this field, there is rarely such thing as a consensus.