RotoRob 2007 NHL Draft Preview: Part Two
June 21, 2007 | | comment on this post
Bill Sweatt could be the fastest and most NHL-ready player in the entire draft.
We’re back for Part Two of our NHL Draft Preview. Part One can be found here.
- Looking for a first round sleeper? Rob thinks Bill Sweatt qualifies. Not only is he considered the fastest player available, but many suggest he’s also the most NHL-ready. A Colorado College forward, Sweatt is the top collegiate player available in this draft. Since joining the U.S. National Team Development Program in 2004, Sweatt has been a scout’s delight. He’s truly a boy among men at college, the youngest player on the team’s roster and the third youngest in the entire WCHA. The Illinois native, standing 5’11’ and weighing in at 185 pounds, is considered a very fine defensive player. That’s not to say he doesn’t have the skill to make plays on offense, of course. But the member of the U.S. 2005 Under 18 team isn’t likely to develop into a major scoring threat. Look for him to be plucked in the middle of the first round.
- Another player Rob says he’s not as bullish on as the masses is James Van Riemsdyk. Considered a refined skater, the New Jersey native plays with the U.S. National Team Development Program. This was his second season with the NTDP, one in which Van Riemsdyk established himself as someone who will definitely go in the very top portion of the first round. In fact, don’t be shocked if the left winger goes in the top three (both ISS and TSN rank him No. 2 overall) as many teams are seeking a power forward who can play a physical game the way Van Riemsdyk does. He’s already 6’3′ and once he fills out his frame and gains more endurance and strength, look out.
- Trevor Cann, the goalie for the Peterbough Petes, looks like a mid-second rounder. Despite toiling for a bad team this year, Cann was an all-star in the OHL. Peterborough wasted no time getting Cann on the fasttrack, bringing him on to the team as an underage player in 2005-06 and handing him the starting job from the outset last season. The Canadian boy, one of the top-ranked North American goalies available in this draft, recorded a 3.69 GAA and .909 save percentage this season ‘ certainly not eye-popping numbers, but given the travails of the Petes, these were fine figures indeed. At 5’11’, 200 pounds, he covers a lot of the net and has surprisingly good lateral movement for his size. Yet another butterfly goalies, Cann is known for his quickness, especially in terms of getting ready for the shot.
- The top Swedish skater available is Mikael Backlund, projected as a late first rounder and ranked No. 2 among European skaters by CSS). The 6’2′ centre was a member of Team Sweden’s Under-18 contingent last year. Not only is Backstrom an intelligent centre, but he’s fast. The fact that he’s as highly ranked as he is despite a knee injury that caused him to miss much of the season tells you a lot. Backlund also proved he can be successful in North America when he was named MVP of last year’s Mac’s Cup. He’s a strong skater considered to have excellent hockey sense.
- Still with Sweden, Mark Owuya is not only one of the best European goalies available, but he’s a fascinating personality. Born to a Uganda father and a Russian mother, Owuya is known for his rapping on the Swedish version of Idol as ‘Mark in the Park.’ Big shock, he’s another butterfly goalie, but his technique is rather raw. He’ll need plenty of refinement before he’s ready to man the crease in an NHL game. Playing for Djurgadens of the Swedish Jr. League this season, Owuya recorded three shutouts in 12 games. The season before, he was part of the Swedish contingent in the Mac’s Tourney. We can’t guarantee this guy is going to make it, but he’s arguably the most interesting story in the draft.
- Let’s not ignore the Czechs. Right winger Jakub Voracek not only calls the same town home that Jaromir Jagr does, but his game is compared to the Ranger great. Voraceck came over to North America this season and wound up scoring 86 points to lead all QMJHL rookies while playing for the Halifax Mooseheads. That effort earned him a spot on the QMJHL All-Rookie team. A great sign was that Voracek improved when the stakes went up, averaging two points per game in the postseason. He has decent size at 6’2′, 185 and was tabbed with the first overall selection in the CHL Import draft. Voracek could go in the top five, possibly to the Kings at No. 4.
- Max Pacioretty is another prospect Rob identifies as a first round sleeper. At the top of a very deep USHL class, the Connecticut native scored 21 goals in 60 games last season while playing for Sioux City. He was even better in the playoffs, scoring four goals and adding six assists in just seven games. The left winger looks like a prime power forward in the making, already sizeable at 6’1′, 203 despite his tender age. Pacioretty’s +20 ranking last season certainly suggests he’s a solid two-way player and his skill, combined with his size, should translate into a solid NHL career. Known for creating traffic in front of opposing goaltenders, Pacioretty is an ideal fit for a team looking to add a gritty, competitive edge.
- Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Logan Couture. While he should go in the top half of the first round, possibly even making the top 10, his future is likely guaranteed regardless of whether he makes it in the NHL or not. With a handle like Logan Couture, after all, surely there’s a bright future for him in porn should his hockey aspirations fizzle out.