Saw the final regular season game tonight between the Moncton Wildcats and Saint John Sea Dogs tonight on NHL Network, a 5-2 win for Moncton.
The Sea Dogs have a solid first round draft candidate in Stanislav Galiev, a speedy forward who can really dangle.
The Wildcats feature multiple draft eligibles, including a pair of first-round probables in defenseman Brandon Gormley and forward Kirill Kabanov, as well as Slovak Marek Hrivik, who was passed over last year, but should get the call in L.A. possibly as early as the third round, based on a few observations I've picked up on this season.
Tonight wasn't much of a game for the Class of 2010, as nobody from the above list did a great deal to stand out. None of them, save for Hrivik, figured in the scoring (he tallied with a third period bomb from the outside) but you could see the skill levels on display at times.
Kabanov had one play in the second period when he gained the offensive zone, looked right, then slid a nice pass to one of the Saulnier twins (Alex or Allain- don't remember which), who took it around the back of the net, but couldn't tuck in the wraparound. Aside from that, he isn't a blazing skater, but he can definitely stickhandle and pass the puck. Would like to have seen him more this season, especially before the wrist surgery. I have no baseline by which to judge his effectiveness pre- and post-injury.
Galiev has the speed and moves, but the guy strikes me as pretty one dimensional. I like the skill-- don't get me wrong-- but he's not really someone to get too excited about. I see him as a complementary player at the NHL level, not a legitimate scoring star. I'm not a fan-- he doesn't strike me as the kind of player that the Bruins would go for. He's got nice height at 6-1, but is only about 175 pounds, doesn't play a physical game, and only had 15 goals in the 'Q' this year. I think they can and will do better come draft day. Plus, he's Russian, so that counts against him a bit, even if he is here in North America. Ditto Kabanov.
As for Gormley, maybe not standing out is a good thing for a defenseman, because he wasn't all that noticeable. Televised games are tough to gain any real observations about defenders, though, because so much of what they do or don't do effectively happens behind the play. But, if folks are going to complain about Cam Fowler's lack of dazzling hockey in televised games this year, then Gormley gets the same criticism from me tonight. He didn't do a whole lot of anything...good or bad.
Hrivik was the most impressive of the 2010 draft prospects tonight, but you have to temper that with the realization that he's a year older than everyone else. He's got some nice skills and size. I can't for the life of me figure out how it is that the Bruins would spend a seventh-round pick on Ben Sexton last year when this kid was sitting out there ripe for the picking. Hrivik finished with 26 goals and 55 points in 66 games with the Wildcats, and I hear he's a pretty good kid, too.
The Sea Dogs' Tomas Jurco had both of their goals. He's a December '92 birthdate, so not eligible until 2011, but he's an interesting kid to watch for next year.
All in all, tonight's game proved why you can't get too excited about these draft picks unless you're coming away with one of Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. None of these guys in this particular contest looked like saviors and don't appear ready for prime time. Yes, it was only one game, but I don't think anyone would disagree with the notion that this was a pretty unspectacular night for the draft watch.