St. Louis Game Time PROSPECT SUNDAY
By Brian Weidler, "Game Time" Prospect Department
2011 ENTRY DRAFT PREVIEW, PART THREE: Mock Draft Results
As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago in this space, mock drafting has become something of a cottage industry in 21st Century America. For the NFL, it's big business; for the NHL, not so much, but every year, there seems to be a little more interest in mock drafts and in the NHL Entry Draft than there was the season before.
As reported in this space last week, your "Game Time" Prospect Department is participating in multiple mock drafts this year; two at the "Hockey's Future" website and the SB Nation Mock Draft.
(NOTE: SB Nation is only publishing the selections made by their bloggers in the first round, and as you all know, the Blues do not have a selection in the first round this year -- as of now. You can follow all the draft news at SBN's Draft Central site HERE, and just as a spoiler... I chose Plymouth Whalers' RW Stefan Noesen for the Blues at 32nd overall in the SBN Draft. HERE is a link to Noesen's profile and career stats at the Ontario Hockey League website.)
To recap the "HF" mock draft results, in one mock draft (which has since been suspended), I traded the Blues' 41st and 46th picks to Detroit (yeah, yeah, I know...) for Detroit's pick at 24th overall, and used that pick to select Saint John (QMJHL) forward Zack Phillips, who was ranked 15th in North America by the Central Scouting final rankings, and ninth overall on the GTPD draft board.
The rest of the picks made in the mock drafts were the same for both drafts, where there was a pick remaining to be made. In other words, your GTPD chose the same player at 32nd, 71st, and 87th overall in both drafts. See who those players were, see who we took at 41st and 46th in the mock where we did not trade for a first-round pick, and see who we chose at 101st and 131st overall... after the jump.
Alexander Khokhlachev, Windsor (OHL)
C/LW, shoots left. 5' 10, 188 lbs. Born 09-09-93, Moscow, RUS.
CSS Rank (Mid): 45 NAm ... CSS Rank (Fin): 29 NAm
Several players that were consensus picks for first-round selection were available to the Blues with this pick; Portland (WHL) winger Ty Rattie was considered strongly, as were Brett Ritchie of Sarnia (OHL) and import Tomas Jurco of the Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL). We almost went with Jurco here, but were concerned about just how much Jurco's numbers (60 GP, 31-25-56, plus-46) were dependent upon the start-studded lineup he was surrounded with.
In the end, Khokhlachev's sky-high skill level won us over... as did several other aspects of his game, as described at The Scouting Report.com website:
The first thing that jumps out about Khokhlachev’s game is his heart. With a grinder-like style, Khokhlachev hustles on both the forecheck and backcheck. Watch Khokhlachev closer and one will see that he has a terrific hockey sense. Khokhlachev has no problem driving to the net without the puck and banging home a rebound or setting up backdoor for a pass.
|KHOKHLACHEV, Alexander||LW/R||5-10||188||09-09-93||Windsor (OHL)||67||34||42||76||+ 9||28||12||0||0|
John Gibson, USNTDP U-18 (USHL)
G, catches left. 6' 02.75, 205 lbs. Born 07-14-93, Pittsburgh, PA.
CSS Rank (Mid): 1 NA G ... CSS Rank (Fin): 1 NA G
With the second of three picks in the second round, we looked to fill an organizational need and still got a player that had been projected to go in the first round by more than one mock draft. We looked at a couple of highly-regarded defensemen (Gibson's USNTDP teammate Connor Murphy, and Boston University freshman Adam Clendenning), as well as Swedish center Victor Rask, but ultimately decided that the top-rated goalie in the draft was too good to pass on.
Gibson, who will be attending the University of Michigan next season, reloads the Blues' goaltending pipeline at a time when there could be as few as two prospects outside the NHL, and one more backing up NHL starter Jaroslav Halak. The "McKeens Hockey prospects" website describes Gibson as a "(s)trong combination of athleticism, power, technical game, and size," and USNTDP goaltending coach Joe Exter said this about Gibson in an interview with NHL.com.
"He has size and presence in the net, and moves with power. The best part is he's not just a limited goaltender for being a big guy. He's multi-dimensional. He has power, athleticism, and he's got good flexibility. And those parts of his game allow him to have success at the high level. He also has a calm demeanor in the net."
|Player||Ps/Ct||Ht||Wt||Birthdate||2009-10 Club/League||GP||Mins||GA||SO||GAA||W-L-OT||Shts||Sv %|
|GIBSON, John||G/L||6-03||205||07-13-93||USNTDP U-18 (USHL)||40||2238||95||1||2.55||24-11-3||1196||0.921|
Seth Ambroz, Omaha (USHL)
RW, shoots right. 6' 02, 211 lbs. Born 04-03-93, New Prague, MN.
CSS Rank (Mid): 28 NAm ... CSS Rank (Fin): 31 NAm
With their third pick in the second round, the Blues get a potential power forward who has fallen somewhat in the rankings, and who is most likely bound for college... leaving the Blues four years to hold his rights, and four years for him to work on his shortcomings without the Blues having to pay him a salary.
Ambroz began the year as a possible Top Ten pick, but concerns about his skating have caused his stock to drop. Despite skating issues, however -- which can be corrected with hard work -- Ambroz has a number of other attractive qualities. GoldenSports.net previewed the Minnesota-bound forward by noting that Ambroz "is a player who has great hands for his size and an even more impressive shot," and that he is "a hardworking kid with great size and skills that will be able to make an instant and profound impact for the Gophers next season."
The Scouting Report.org website, which ranks Ambroz right where we took him at 46th overall, describes him like this:
Ambroz’s skating was an issue coming into the season and by all accounts it hasn’t improved enough to keep him in the first round. He has continued to be productive and possesses the good hands, heavy shot and quick release teams covet. Ambroz also plays a physical game along the boards and battles for space in front. He can either try to improve his puck skills and skating at Minnesota or further enhance his physical game in the WHL with Seattle. The next few years will prove whether or not he has chosen the right path and if so, the team selecting him may get a bargain.
|AMBROZ, Seth||RW/R||6-02||211||04-03-93||Omaha (USHL)||56||24||22||46||+ 3||89||8||1||2|
Marcel Noebels, Seattle (WHL)
LW, shoots left. 6' 02.5, 195 lbs. Born 03-14-92, Tonisvorst, GER.
CSS Rank (Mid): 48 NAm ... CSS Rank (Fin): 49 NAm
Noebels is in his second year of draft eligibility after being passed over in the 2010 draft while skating for the Krefeld organization in Germany. The big winger split the 2009-10 season between the Krefeld Pinguine DEL club (33 GP, 1-2-3, 29 PM) and the EV 1981 junior club (26 GP, 17-36-53, 52 PM), and leading the U-18 Div. I tournament in scoring with 9-10-19 (plus-11) in five games.
After being drafted in the first round (10th overall) by Seattle in the 2010 Import Draft, Noebels turned in a solid year for the T-Birds and also skated again for Germany, this time in the U20 World Juniors (6 GP, 1-2-3, minus-4). Red Line Report, in their 2010 Draft Guide, made note of Noebels' knack for physical play, his forechecking abilities, and his hockey sense. The Bruins 2011 Draft Watch website turned in this scouting report:
Nice size, with a wide-skating base. Offensively gifted-- has both a heavy shot and soft hands for making on-target saucer passes in his arsenal. Skating is rough-- slow first few steps and looks pretty awkward out there-- like a big man with the lumbering skating stride. Crashes the net and uses his size to gain position and leverage. Likes to fire the puck on net from the wing-- then drives in and grabs the rebounds. Surveys the ice well and has the ability to find his linemates. Will give and take the hit, but not a punishing physical player.
|NOEBELS, Marcel||LW/L||6-02.5||195||03-14-92||Seattle (WHL)||66||28||26||54||-11||23||7||1||3|
Patrick Koudys, Rensselaer (ECAC)
D, shoots left. 6' 02.25, 190 lbs. Born 11-15-92, Smithville, ON.
CSS Rank (Mid): 71 NAm ... CSS Rank (Fin): 76 NAm
This pick, acquired from Tampa in the Eric Brewer trade, is used to begin a rebuild of the Blues; prospect stable on defense. All of the players on our short list for this pick were blueliners, including Green Bay (USHL) teammates Andy Wielinski and Aaron Harstad, unranked Western League standout Jesse Forsberg, and MInnesota high schooler Mike Reilly. In the end, however, Koudys' combination of size and character won us over.
Rensselaer qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in six years this season, gaining the 15th seed despite losing to Colgate in the first round of the ECAC tourney, and Koudys' work ethic, determination, and common sense coupled with hockey sense played a large part in the Engineers' success this season.
Not considered an offensive force from the blueline, Koudys is instead a solid defensive defenseman with excellent size, hockey sense, and intelligence. He did, however, manage to post a solid 5-28-33 scoring line (plus-21, 42 PM, 1 PPG, 1 SHG) with Burlington of the Ontario Junior A League in 2009-10.
Character is a huge determining factor in the Blues' draft selection process, and this kid has it in spades, as noted by the Hamilton Spectator website:
"If you were drafting on character, he’d go first overall," says Mark Jooris, who coached him on the Burlington Cougars last year. While (Koudys') play will get him into the picture, NHL teams do extensive interviews with potential draftees before making any picks. A player who demonstrates maturity, teachability, strong character and a willingness to do whatever it takes will often leap up the draft.
|KOUDYS, Pat||D/L||6-02.25||190||11-15-92||Rensselaer (ECAC)||32||1||2||3||- 1||14||0||0||0|
Keegan Lowe, Edmonton (WHL)
D, shoots left. 6' 01, 173 lbs. Born 03-29-93, Edmonton, AB.
CSS Rank (Mid): 151 NAm ... CSS Rank (Fin): 88 NAm
With the Blues' fourth-round selection, we went for defense again and chose the son of Edmonton Oilers' legend Kevin Lowe. Like his father, this Lowe is not flashy, nor is he likely to be found among the league scoring leaders from the blueline as season's end. But, again like his father, the young Edmonton native is a hard-working and steady, stay-at-home type of defenseman. He does the little things to help lead his team to victory, plays a sound positional game, and uses his stick and poisitioning to take away passing lanes.
The Bruins Draft Watch 2011 site notes that Lowe "has been a bit slow to develop and show off much upside, but is rounding into form in the same city his dad is a household name in. He's not the most skilled player, but is smart and has grown up around the game." The same site goes on to note:
Lowe's offensive numbers are nothing to write home about ... but then again, his pops was never really known for his points as much as his shutdown game and leadership on the galaxy of stars that was the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s. He won six Stanley Cups (five with Edmonton, one with the Rangers) because he was a defensive anchor. Keegan is not his old man, but he may be worth investing a pick on at some point because of the bloodlines and the kind of similar attributes he's demonstrating according to reports from scouts.
|LOWE, Keegan||D/L||6-01||173||03-29-93||Edmonton (WHL)||71||2||22||24||+33||123||0||0||0|
Michael Mersch, Wisconsin (WCHA)
LW, shoots left. 6' 02, 198 lbs. Born 10-02-92, Park Ridge, IL.
CSS Rank (Mid): 63 NAm ... CSS Rank (Fin): 83 NAm
In the fifth round, the Blues return to the college ranks to select a big LW with upside. UW-Madison recruits extensively in the Chicago area, and Mersch was a product of the Team Illinois program before spending the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons with the USNTDP in Ann Arbor, MI.
Our sister SB Nation site, Buckys 5th Quarter.com, compiled a number of scouting reports on Mersch and other UW skaters and recruits. Bucky's quotes "Red Line Report" as comparing Mersch to Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom, "just not as nasty." "Red Line" notes Mersch's strength and alludes to his hockey sense, and further notes that while his skating needs work, "when he's in a race for the puck, he ends up there first."
The Hockey Prospectus.com filed this report on Mersch:
Michael Mersch didn't have a great year from a counting statistics viewpoint, but his rapid physical development and how well he fit in the college game was reason for optimism. He skates at a decent level, and looks like he will be able to move with pros just fine. Mersch's puck skills are average, although he does look uncoordinated at times and his hands shine more when he's playing in front of the net on the power play rather than creating in open ice. He can be adequate though in regards to distributing, but I'm not sure he will be pro-average at that. His frame is already remarkably filled out for a first-time draft eligible, and he's one of the bigger players in the NCAA as a freshman at 6'2". Mersch can be a handful to deal with in the physical areas, although his strength is not all the way there yet. There is little doubt though by the time he is 20 he will be a physically dominant college player and projects as a solid-average player in that regard in the pro game. He works hard, and all his traits point towards at least a fourth line pro, and possibly more than that if his defensive game is refined.
The Blues still have selections at 161st and 191st overall; at this point, however, it's likely that this mock draft will not wrap up before the actual draft comes along at the end of this week. With that in mind, here is a LINK to the list of players at whom your GTPD is looking for the 161st and 191st pick. This list is, of course, subject to change.