Kitchener Rangers Prospect Update

By Lee McLellan

With the OHL season nearly one third over, here are some scouting reports for NHL draft picks currently playing for the Kitchener Rangers.

Bill Kinkel (New Jersey Devils 9th round pick in 2002)

Kinkel is currently turning over a new leaf; his 4 goals and 4 assists for 8 points in 22 games is a large improvement over his 1 goal and 3 points in 50 games that he ammassed in 2002. Last season, his -7 rating was second last on the team but he has seemed to be able to produce more offense without sacrificing defense as he is currently a +2 in the +/- category. The downside to the new Kinkel is the fact that he doesn’t fit into the Bill Kinkel that the Devils drafted; he has shied away from many hits and critics have claimed that he’s not using his size effectively any more.

NHL potential: Very slim chance at making it as most NHL enforcers were able to produce in junior. For him to go to the next level as an enforcer, he’ll need to either pick up the offense even more or fight much more often (his current pace see’s him fall at just below 100 penalty minutes)

Marcus Smith (Phoenix Coyotes 8th round pick in 2002)

So far this year, Smith has proven that his award for being named the team’s top performer in the playoffs in 2002 was not a fluke; his 15 assists are 4th on the team and 1st among Kitchener defenseman. Smith’s strong two-way play has helped the Rangers overcome the loss of Steve Eminger to the Washington Capitals. His strong ability to keep the puck in the offensive zone and provide excellent stick handling under pressure has him ranked 11th in scoring among OHL defensemen.

NHL potential: The fact that the coyotes got him in the 8th round looks more and more like a steal every game. He definitely brings strong stick handling and skating abilities to the table and could be a decent depth defenseman and a useful tool for the special teams in the NHL.

Gregory Campbell (Florida Panthers 3rd round pick in 2002)

Last season, Campbell was sixth on the Plymouth Whalers in powerplay goals with five. He came to the Rangers camp hoping that he could be good enough to make the team’s second powerplay unit. After 22 games, any team in the league would love to add Campbell and his league-leading 9 power play goals to their top unit. Campbell’s willingness to stand in front of the opponents goal and pay the price mixes well with his strong ability to tip pucks out of mid air. Couple that with his average of 2.22 penalty minutes per game and Campbell comes out as one of the top power forwards in the OHL.

NHL potential: Any talk of the Florida Panthers 2002 entry draft starts and ends with Jay Bouwmeester. After Bouwmeester comes 9th overall pick Peter Taticek. But Greg Campbell could very well be considered a huge steal by the Panthers in a few years if he continues his mean streak and determination and could make the Panthers final cut as early as next year. Campbell isn’t huge but his hard work in front of the net could turn him into a Dino Ciccarelli-type grinder in the league.

Peter Kanko (Los Angeles Kings 3rd round pick in 2002)

On New Years day in 2002, Kanko was touted as a potential first round pick in the 2002 NHL entry draft. A shoulder injury slowed his production in the second half and scared many NHL teams off from using a pick in the first two rounds on him. But Kanko was determined to show that he is still the same player that he was in the first half of last season and became a final round cut at the Kings camp.

After 19 games, Kanko is leading the team with an average of 2.52 penalty minutes per game and brings a huge checking game to the table. While players from the Czech Republic are generally not know for their toughness, Kanko aims to throw at least one body check on almost every shift. When Kanko isn’t throwing thunderous body checks, he’s usually pursuing the puck and showing his tremendous speed with the puck. He demonstrates a strong ability into taking the puck in his own end and quickly turning it into a strong scoring chance for his side and while he isn’t one of the best forwards in the OHL defensively, he does make a strong case for the saying that ‘the best defense is a good offense’ as he has been on the ice for all 3 shorthanded goals by his Rangers this year, scoring one and assisting on the other two.

NHL potential: seems to have a very strong shot at making the Kings in the near future as he was one of the final cuts this year. If he is able to better his strong training camp this time, he has a good chance at making the Kings next season. Kanko could become the first NHL power forward from the Czech Republic if he continues at his current pace.

Derek Roy
(Buffalo Sabres 2nd round pick in 2001)

At 5 foot 10, Roy knew that he had a huge disadvantage if he wanted to make it in hockey. But Roy goes by the same motto that Doug Gilmour went by when he was in junior. Currently Roy has 29 points in 18 games which puts him in 3rd in the OHL in points per game with 2.182. His stick handling is so strong that when the arch rival Guelph Storm play the Rangers, their strategy for containing Roy is to put 3 checkers on him.

Roy made the score sheet in 17 of his 18 games this year which is a testament to his consistency and is proving those who labeled him as a puck hog wrong with an assist-per-game ratio of 1.44 which puts him second in the OHL behind Ottawa’s Corey Locke. Look for Roy to be one of Canada’s top forwards in the World Junior Championships in Halifax.

NHL potential: Like Kanko, Roy was one of the final cuts for his NHL team. Like Kanko, Roy is a near-lock to be a regular in the NHL before long. Roy should be able to bring his amazing stick-handling abilities to the next level and prove that size does not matter to the 27 teams that passed him over in 2001.