Under The Rock: Draft Edition

By Steve Gandour

As promised… here is a quick look at the 2002 Leaf Draft Selections, and where I see them ranking on the current prospect ladder.

1st pick (24th overall) Alexander Steen

Steen is a consistent heart and soul type leader. He has been praised by his coaches and by the media for being a hard working player with a great attitude. He has better offensive potential then his numbers have shown so far, and will see much more ice time this season for Frolunda. He is a very smart two way forward, having a great sense for the defensive game and great instincts for the offensive attack. He is a fluid skater with good if not great speed, and a great acceleration. Plays at a higher skill level then most in his age group. Steen has a very solid and accurate shot, and great playmaking instincts. He does not shy away from the physical game, but also does not chose to initiate it. Adding size and muscle would be a huge plus and could make him a blue chip prospect, but he is a very complete player right now and his potential is very high.
Upside: He could pan out as a first line C in the mould of Rod Brind’Amour
Likely: Second line C with decent offensive numbers, and heavily relied upon in special teams
Worst Case: Third line C of the Kris Draper mould… but with a little
more offense
Ladder Position: I would have him in 5th, behind Centomo but ahead of

2nd pick (57th overall) Matthew Stajan

No one could hear anything after Stajan was announced. The screaming cheers from his family were both of relief Matt was selected (later than anticipated) and that he was selected by his favourite hometown team. Matt is a scholar off the ice, and on the ice is a superb defensive forward and deceptively fast skater. He was named the most under rated player in the OHL’s Eastern Conference. Matt recorded 85 points (33 goals) in 68 games for Belleville last year, with a plus 36 rating. He has a powerful yet fluid skating stride, and has breakaway outside speed ala Glenn Anderson. He has a hard and accurate wrist shot and is not afraid to crash the net (ala Wendel Clark). He is a solid forechecker, aggressive hitter, digs in the corners and along the boards (ala Gary Roberts). He excels on faceoffs and in defensive zone coverage (ala Kevyn Adams). He is unselfish, taking hits to make plays (ala Dmitry Yushkevich), and is relied upon in crucial game situations. He is a great playmaker with excellent offensive awareness. He has very strong desire and determination, and is a tireless worker. He needs to bulk up his tall frame a little, learn to shoot more, and work on his initial straight away speed burst. But he is amazing in that he is a combination of so many skills that can be compared to so many stars. He only now needs to prove he can translate the offense to the pro level in order to become a blue chip prospect.

Upside: He could pan out to be a number one C if everything falls into place
Likely: Second line C/W in the mould of Bobby Holik but with a little more flash and a little less crash and shadow skills.
Worst Case: Fourth line C/W of the Kevyn Adams or (until the playoffs last year) Alyn McCauley mould.
Ladder Position: I would have him in 7th, behind Colaiacovo but ahead of Ponikarovsky.

3rd pick (74th overall) Todd Ford

Todd is a very tall lanky goaltender, who uses his size to cover a lot of the net. He does have a habit of going down too soon, but when he challenges the shooter, there is not much net to shoot at. Although he does go down often, he plays a strong butterfly style, and uses his suprising athleticism to rebound quickly. Todd plays angles very well, and is confident against shooters. He can make the big save in pressure situations. Rebounds are not a problem for Todd, and puck control is very solid as well. He is very competitive and very focused.

Upside: A potential franchise goalie.
Likely: A solid starting goalie on weaker teams, or a 1a goalie on a strong team.
Worst Case: Career backup goalie.
Ladder Position: I would have him in 13th, behind Svoboda but ahead of Wellwood.

4th pick (88th overall) Dominic D’amour

Dominic is the prototypical stay at home defender. Hard hitting with good balance, Dominic is great at clearing the net and hard to move. He has good forward and backward skating movement, and is rarely caught out of position. He is a textbook style defensive defenseman, making only safe smart plays. A goalies dream, but totally uncreative offensively. He is a boulder in the corners. Dominic does have some contributions to the offensive game. He boasts a very good low shot which is perfect for tips and screens on a power play. However he refuses to pinch to make the shot more lethal. He makes crisp clean passes which make him very useful in the transition game, but again once he makes the breakout pass, he tends to stay back and let the forwards shine.

Upside: A top three defenseman, comparable to Zdeno Chara.
Likely: A number four or five defenseman like a Hal Gill.
Worst Case: A late blooming sixth defenseman (aka Lachance).
Ladder Position: I would not have him in the top 20, but I do think he will be there in a year’s time.

5th pick (122nd overall) David Turon

A tough read… David is offensively aware but not gifted. David knows his own zone, and is good at clearing the net, but is not physical and not intimidating. His shot is perfect for the powerplay, hard, accurate, and low, but he is not fast, and can be caught out of position. In fact, his speed is so weak that he relies on being in position for almost all his defensive zone coverage, and once he is caught out of position, he might as well be on the bench. His passing is very poor as well, but his mobility is good for a man of his size.

Upside: A second power play unit quarterback.
Likely: A seventh defenseman used only in specific roles.
Worst Case: A career minor leaguer.
Ladder Position: I would not have him in the top 20, and do not see him as threatening that core group soon.

6th pick (191st overall) Ian White

Shows great offensive instincts, but has non NHL size in a position where size matters a lot. Skills are not in doubt, he is a smooth skater with a hard shot and a great eye for his offensive situation in the attacking zone. He is not superb, but not weak in his own zone. Ian may have the type of numbers in juniors that are awesome, but he needs to translate that in the pros before he will be even considered a potential NHLer.

Upside: A floating skilled defenseman like Nathan Dempsey.
Likely: A career minor league superstar.
Worst Case: A bust in the AHL and every pro attempt.
Ladder Position: I would not have him in the top 20.

7th pick (222nd overall) Scott May

A small but aggressive forward. Good speed, impressive puck control and playmaking skills, but mostly a wild card project. His size and strength are big knocks, as is his durability. He does have good hockey sense, but like so many other small forwards, he needs to show some supreme skill to hope to make the NHL.

Upside: A third line forward.
Likely: A solid minor league star.
Worst Case: A total bust.
Ladder Position: I would not have him in the top 20.

8th pick (254th overall) Jarkko Immonen

A slight overager, Jarkko was a regular on the Assat-Pori team in the Finnish Elite League. Despite posting smaller numbers, the Leafs feel confident this somewhat smaller forward can produce more regularly with more ice time. He packs good speed and solid puck control into his non physical frame. A wild card for sure.

Upside: A third line playmaker.
Likely: A useful player in Europe but never crosses to North America.
Worst Case: Jarkko Who?
Ladder Position: I would not have him in the top 20.

9th pick (285th overall) Staffan Kronvall

Staffan uses his hard shot and intimidating size to his advantage.
He can be physical at times, but his future is dependent on his ability to improve his offensive numbers, especially considering he is not even in an elite league.

Upside: A fifth defenseman.
Likely: A minor leaguer.
Worst Case: Euro for lifer.
Ladder Position: I would not have him in the top 20.