NHL Draft Preview 2012
This weekend sees the 2012 NHL Entry draft in Pittsburgh so we at hockeyfights.com figured it was about time we'd give you a run down on what physical, tough players are available out of the OHL, QMJHL and WHL.
Dumba is a devastating hitter, an excellent skater, and possesses great offensive instincts. Due to his aggressive offensive game he can sometimes be a liability defensively. Dumba didn't receive a fighting major in the WHL in 2011-12 but he did drop his gloves in the Top Prospects game. In the past he's shown a willingness to fight and is pretty good at it. The biggest question mark regarding Dumba is whether or not his physical game can translate to the professional level. While Dumba does play a high risk high reward type of game he certainly has huge upside.
Gaunce is a hard working player that always shows up. He has great instincts and a nose for the net. He has a big shot as well and knows how to find the net. He plays gritty and will stick up for his team-mates. He is the total package and should go early in the first round.
Wilson isn't known as a goal scorer - he's just a big physical power forward that loves to throw his weight around. One of the tougher guys available in this year's draft, and probably the best all-around hitter. Wilson makes his presence known whenever he steps on the ice. He has decent wheels also for someone his size and there is lots of upside to Wilson's game. Should be a top 20 pick.
Thrower is a physical, hard hitting defenseman that can contribute both offensively and defensively. He has a hard shot from the point and is a good skater that plays in all situations. He has a good first pass out of the zone and is capable of logging a lot of minutes. Thrower has to continue to improve on his decision making but he is a very well balanced defenseman.
Laughton is a solid two-way forward and there is lots of strength to Laughton's game. He can skate and can put the puck in the net. He plays on the powerplay and can kill penalties with the best of them. He also has a physical side to his game and is great at taking the body and mixing it up with the opposition. Laughton pretty much does it all.
Sutter is a Solid two-way checking center that is a fiesty, aggressive and agitating player that is always Willing to drop the gloves. Sutter can sometimes play undisciplined but he has improved on that since his rookie season. He showed more offensive skill in 2011-12 and excels on faceoffs and on the PK. He needs to improve on his skating if he wants to make it to the next level.
Carrick is a tough defenseman coming off a solid rookie year with the Majors. He has good puck-moving ability and is great in his zone. He plays a shutdown role on the back end, and does it well. Defensive Dman all the way.
Fox is good with the puck and shows some good vision in the offensive zone. He also has a big slap shot and can find the back of the net. He is a great team leader and a good guy to have in the dressing room. Not afraid to mix it up and will drop the gloves every so often.
Helgesen is a physical defenseman with good skating ability. He plays a safe and simple game which limits mistakes. While Helgesen is mainly considered a shutdown defender he has shown some offensive upside. He needs to work on his stick handling and his shot. Helgesen isn't afraid of mixing it up including dropping the gloves.
Walters is a physical defenseman annd is a solid hitter. Walters is good in his own zone and has good hockey sense. He has a hard shot from the point and is willing to drop the gloves if necessary. There is untapped offensive potential in his game that can be developed further in junior before he graduates to the pro's.
Iafrate is a smooth skating defenseman that is great at moving the puck. He really stepped up his game this past year and improved as a player. He has a decent shot from the point and is a threat on the PP. Doesn't shy away from the rough stuff, and will drop the gloves when the situation calls for it.
Tough, physical winger that is arguably the toughest ranked draft eligible player from the WHL. Moroz is a decent skater and has shown his potential offensive upside with 16 goals as a rookie. He is a very willing fighter and a good hitter. He Could potentially develop into a power forward but will have to continue to improve on his skating and his awareness. He will be a project player but the upside is definitely there.
Kea is a tough as nails power forward. He plays a rough and tumble game for Saginaw and loves to dish out the hits. He is good with the gloves off as well and always shows up and competes. He is a hard worker on the ice that is a pretty good skater and can score the odd goal.
Wigle is an all out competitor that never takes a shift off. He has great work ethic and plays a physical role for the Ice Dogs and does it well. He also showed as the season progressed that he could contribute on offense. A good player that should improve the more he plays.
Leipsic is an undersized, fast skating, agitating center with offensive skill. He is a good hitter despite his small frame but can be inconsistent at times, scoring in bunches. He has upside but might be too small to be an effective physical player at the pro level. He may have to alter his game a little focusing more on his skill rather than his physicality. Don't expect Leipsic to do a lot of fighting but due to his style of play he is going to be forced into altercations from time to time.
Bussieres had an inconsistent season after starting strongly but showed his worth to his team-mates by stepping up when it was called for. He's not a guy who will go out looking for a fight but if there is anything that needs addressing while he is on the ice, he has no hesitation at stepping in. Offensively gifted and a hard-hitting winger, he will be a good fit for any system that drafts him.
Rissling is physical, steady defenseman that is a good passer with a decent shot. He has shown ability to contribute offensively and has good hockey IQ. He makes smart low risk plays but is not the greatest skater due to his large frame. Rissling's lack of foot speed can be problematic at times and he showed more of a willingness to drop the mitts in 2011-12. He seems to be a more than capable of holding his own in that department.
Fournier is a former #1 overall pick in the QMJHL midget draft and at his current ranking by Central Scouting will be an absolute steal. He is a second-round talent that doesn't excel at any particular skill but is just a very good all-around defenseman. Fournier is another guy who won't go out looking for fights but will address issues on the ice. Needs to fill out his 6ft frame but has shown willingness and an ability to fight that will only improve as he gets older and it's a good mix for a player who could turn into a top-four defenceman at the NHL level.
Dotchin is a shutdown defensive specialist. He is strong on his skates and tough to handle for the opposing teams forwards. Great at clearing the crease, Dotchin can be nasty to deal with in front of his own net. Can also play on special teams, both PK and PP.
Payne is a tough kid that loves to mix it up. He is fearless and will take on just about anyone. He makes his living in the corners and is great at taking the body. Great team guy, always goes to bat for his teammates. The type of player every team likes to have.
Gudbranson is strong in his own zone and has shown some improved strength this year. He plays a tough tight checking role on the backend for the Fronts. He will drop the gloves when he has to.
O'Brien is a monster along the boards and is almost impossible to shake off the puck and hits like a freight train. He may be one of the best hitters available in the draft. O'Brien is a team-first guy and won't hesistate to step up to the plate when needed for a team-mate or look for a partner when his team needs a spark. Doesn't have the best hands but is immense on the forecheck and brings a wealth of leadership qualities. Does all the intangibles well.
Heffley is a defensive forward that is decent on the PK. He hasn't shown much as far as offensive upside but can play a physical game and is a pretty good fighter when he does drop the gloves. It would be nice to see him fight a little more often as he seems pretty skilled in that department.
Hatcher has some good puck skills, and is a decent skater. His bread and butter though is playing a hard-hitting style of hockey. He won't hesitate to get involved physically and is good with his hands. He needs to develop a bit more though and is still a work in progress.
Burke elevated his physical game in his draft year and brought a new element with his willingness to fight. A strong kid that improved as the season went on and won't back down from anyone. Doesn't shy away from scrums and is always one of the first on the scene after a questionable hit. There is still room for his offensive game to develop but as his fills out into his frame with age has the ability to become a good two-way forward.
Maaskant is a big physical defenseman. He is great in his own zone and very good at shadowing the opposing teams forwards. He has good wheels, and he can shoot the puck.
Leduc is a physical stay at home defenseman, who recovered from being TKO'd by now team-mate Simon Desmarais in his rookie season to show he's not afraid of stepping up to anyone. Won't go out looking to fight but will step in when needed and clears the front of the net.
Arseneau is an agitator that excels in the physical game. Good two-way forward that loves to fight and he can go equally well with both hands. Heavy hitter who often crosses the line but is always willing to answer for his actions.
Aviani is a solid two-way center that showed some real nice offensive production during the 2011-2012 play-offs. Aviani does a lot of the dirty work - winning faceoffs, blocking shots and playing an in your face gritty brand of hockey.
Bell is a solid hard-hitting defenseman that is good defensively with a strong first pass. His skating isn't his strongest asset but he isn't typically out of position. Bell is a bit of a late bloomer, he got better with more playing time as the season progressed. We think he has some upside.
Bilcke is coming off an impressive rookie campaign where he led the OHL in fighting majors with 37. He's no goal scorer. He's a tough guy. That's his role and he seems to take real pride in it. He can skate pretty good and is solid on the forecheck. He might not get drafted this year but it would be nice to see.
Callaghan is a super tough defenseman for the 67's and is one of the better hitters in the OHL. He is good on his skates for a big guy and solid in his own zone. He plays with an edge every shift and is a handful for any OHL forward. Could be a pick in one of the later rounds.
Carroll has good size and is a decent skater. Carroll didn't produce as much as expected offensively which certainly lowered his draft status. He can play a physical game and did show a willingness to get involved in the fisticuffs.
Chapman is a real sparkplug that revels in the physical game. Always willing to fight when his team needs a spark and has shown an ability to throw with both hands. For what he lacks in size he makes up for with heart and adding to his role of agitator he brings an offensive touch.
Dirk is a reliable all-round defenseman. He plays physical, blocks shots and sticks up for teammates. Dirk isn't overly great at any one thing in particular but he does a lot of little things right. Could be a depth defenseman down the road.
Eberle is a gritty, hard-working forward. A solid hitter and a pretty decent scrapper as he is a southpaw and surprises some opponents. He has some offensive skill as well. A bit small for a physical player so he'll have to add more muscle to his frame.
Forsberg is a heart and soul player. He is a Very physical defenseman capable of inflicting punishing open-ice hits. Very aggressive and more than willing to fight. Good skater with a decent hockey IQ. We're surprised he wasn't drafted last year.
One of our favorite draft-eligible players from the WHL. Not only is he a fearless, heart-and-soul type of player, he is one of the fastest skaters on his junior team. In our opinion, he has more offensive upside than his point totals indicate. An increased role next season might help show that. Of course he can fight too. Very willing and capable. He's typically the smaller guy in a fight yet he doesn't lose very often.
Gwinner is an offensive-minded defenseman with some grit. Gwinner improved as he gained more ice time and confidence over the season. He needs to improve on his decision making. He isn't afraid to get involved physically.
Hansen is a physical stay-at-home defenseman. Hansen was an impressive +38 in 2011-12. He is capable of logging a lot of minutes and playing against top lines. He's willing to drop the gloves although sometimes he isn't nasty enough in our opinion. We think he'd be more effective with a bit more of a mean streak.
Hickman is a big physical center. A decent skater with some untapped offensive potential. Also willing to mix it up and drop the mitts.
Hubic is a physical stay-at-home defenseman that plays a safe game and is willing to drop the gloves. He has limited offensive upside.
Lipon is an agitating winger that plays hard every shift and doesn't shy away from the rough stuff. He had a career season scoring 65 points after recording only 21 points the year before. Lipon is a decent skater and now that he has shown some offensive ability he could be a solid project pick.
Mallet had an immense breakout year in the QMJHL in 2011-12 with 81 points in 68 games while being a top-three fighter in the league. He has KO power and quick hands that often overwhelms his opponents. After the season he had should be a guarantee to be drafted and will be a good project for some team in the later rounds. Has shown he can both play and fight.
Millman is a pure fighter. A huge winger that is one of a dying breed of the old school enforcer. Millman won't put up big numbers other than in the penalty minute column but he keeps the other team honest and intimidates. Not the strongest skater but has immense upper body strength and a heavy right hand.
Rigby is a physical two-way forward. He does have a scoring touch along with grittiness to go to the dirty areas. He is also a good skater and a pretty heavy hitter at times.
Matt plays a similar game to his brother Ryan. He likes to play physical and stir the pot. He's great on the forecheck and in the corners. He also has a touch around the net and will contribute on offense.
Rupert is a bit of a pest. He seems to have a knack for getting under the skin of the opposition. Likes to run around and mix it up. Always entertaining to watch. He can also score and set up goals. Very underrated on offense. A solid all around player with lots of potential.
Van Stralen is a big aggressive forward. He plays hard and hits harder. He is a good forechecker and plays well along the boards and in the corners. Needs to work on his skating before making the jump to the next level.
Wilson is a physical power forward that hasn't produced as much offensively as he was projected to coming into the Dub. Decent skater but there is certainly room for improvement, specifically his foot speed. Pretty willing fighter that can throw with both hands. We'd like to see him play with more aggression and assertiveness.
A scrappy forward with some scoring touch. Yakubowski plays a very physical, agitating game. He hits, fights and goes hard to the net. Another season in the league could help hone some of his offensive abilities.
Shawn LaRoche and Daniel Carson contributed to this story.