Monday, June 27, 2011

What About Me? A List of Undrafted Players from 2011

There were 210 players chosen by NHL teams over the weekend in Minnesota as the 2011 NHL Entry Draft was held. As is the case every year, not every player worthy of selection was taken and now several players have their fingers crossed that their phone will ring, hoping for an invite to a NHL summer camp.

Players who attend summer camps on invites can be signed by the host team as is the case with NHL training camps in the fall. However, those clubs that hold a summer evaluation or orientation camp will use the opportunity to get a better look at NCAA free agents too as those players won't be able to attend in the Fall.

Recent examples of players who have been signed in the off season after going undrafted include goalie J.P Anderson (SJ), Kellen Tochkin (VAN), Brett Raedeke (DET) and former Calgary Hitman and Canadian WJC netminder Martin Jones (LA).

Here are a few of the players who were passed over from the Class of 2011...

Brent Benson (C) Saskatoon Blades - Overshadowed and buried a bit on the Blades roster, Benson didn't get to display his talents as much as he will this coming season and beyond. Another average sized guy but he's gritty and wins in the trenches where the outcome of games can often be found. Ranked 103rd by NHL Central Scouting.

Jesse Forsberg (D) Prince George Cougars - A good bet for a camp invite is this 6' blueliner who has a solid two-way game and can play in any circumstance during a game. I ws told to expect him gone in the 5th round or so but the Saskatchewan product was completely overlooked. Ranked 166th by NHL Central Scouting.

Ben Conz (G) Switzerland - We were asked during our preview show if we thought the small Swiss goalie would get taken this time around. We didn't think so then and that's the way it turned out. Conz has played well on the international stage for the neutral Nation but his path to the NHL will have to come by way of free agency.

Liam Liston (G) Brandon Wheat Kings - One of the four participating goalies at the CHL Top Prospects Game and the only one not to be selected on draft weekend. Liston had his critics this year for sure but as more than one scout pointed out to me, Brandon's defence was often riddled by injury and was very young even when at full strength. He's one to keep tabs on next season. Listed 9th in North America by NHL Central Scouting.

Myles Bell (D) Regina Pats - No one was really sure what wold happen with Bell considering his off ice situation. Clearly teams are taking a wait and see stance towards the defenceman with the booming shot. Ranked 39th by NHL Central Scouting.

Matt McNeely (G) US-NTDP - He was the 4th ranked goalie in the entire draft but clearly played in the shadow of John Gibson because no one took a chance on the future Duluth Bulldog. He split the duty with Gibson this year but his stats at the end of it were not that impressive; 3.84 GAA and 8.93 SV%. Still, at 6'2 he's got the right size for the NHL these days.

Dylan Wruck (RW) Edmonton Oil Kings - 38 goals and 78 points, a new team record for points in a single season, still weren't enough to convince scouts that his small 5'8 frame was worth even a late round draft pick. His motor is always running and despite his size disadvantage he can win puck battles out of the corner against much bigger opponents. Clearly he has a knack for the offensive side of the game as well. Could be a top 20 scorer in the WHL in 2011-12 and drew comparisons to Brandon Kozun (LA) by ISS head scout Ross MacLean during our preview show. Ranked 99th by NHL Central Scouting.

Michael Houser (G) London Knights - The starting goalie in London appeared in 54 games and suffered just 19 losses. The Pittsburgh native has size at 6'2 but was overlooked again as the early September '92 birthdate means he was eligible for the 2010 draft. He would have been one of the youngest players drafted in 2010 but now goes through his second draft without a sniff.

Andrej Stastny (C) Vancouver Giants - The big import joined the Giants in January and proceeded to chip in 30 points in 32 games. At 6'4 and over 200 lbs I expected someone to draft him even though he's a '91 born overager that went unselected last year too. Limited time in the WHL may have worked against him but he was ranked 185th by NHL Central Scouting.

Dylan Willick (RW) Kamloops Blazers - Maybe we're a bit biased because of how compelling his entries to his TPS Guest Blog were this year but I thought a team that took the time to interview him would have been won over. He's not tall but at 5'11 and 190 lbs he's built like a fire hydrant and wins puck battles all over the ice. His tenacity leads to goals whether they are off his stick or from a teammate who capitalizes on a loose puck Willick produced. Ranked 164th by Central Scouting.

Scott Oke (LW) Saint John Sea Dogs - He played a checking role for the Sea Dogs this year and helped them capture the Memorial Cup. Not a lot of point production, 10 points in 54 games, and that may have played a role in getting ignored on draft day. Still, we're talking about a player ranked 44th by NHL Central Scouting.

Barclay Goodrow (LW) Brampton Battalion - his 6'2, 210 lb winger scored 24 goals and ended the year with 39 points. This was his second season in the OHL and vastly improved his rookie totals; he doubled his points from 19 to 39 and quadrupled his goal scoring from 6 to 24.

Seth Griffith (RW) London Knights - This is a name that came up earlier this season when I was asking a scout for a comparison to Edmonton Oil Kings center Michael St. Croix. The 5'11, 175 lb native of Wallaceburg Ontario ended the year with 22 goals and 62 points in 68 games. It was his first full season in the OHL as he was limited to only 17 appearances for London in 2009-10.

Colin Smith (C) Kamloops Blazers - The Edmonton product was ranked 96th in North America by NHL Central Scouting. He recorded 61 points for the WHL's Kamloops Blazers and then represented Canada at the World U18s in Germany to finish off the year. At 5'10 and 160 lbs, teams were clearly too leery about using a pick on the diminutive center but a camp invite has to be coming his way.

Luke Lockhart (C) Seattle Thunderbirds - A recent guest on TPS, I'm very surprised that a team didn't find him worthy of a draft pick. Here's a guy who banged home 21 goals in Seattle, most of them standing in front of the net while taking a beating. He can play on the PP or the PK and uses every inch of his 5'10, 185 lb body to block shots and fight for loose pucks. Very surprised by this one. Ranked 68th by NHL Central Scouting.

Jonathan Parker (RW) Prince Albert - How about an overager from California who leads his WHL club with a whopping 45 goals and 86 points? Yes, this is the team that saw Mark McNeill picked in the 1st round but Parker wasn't deemed worthy enough to get drafted at all. He's got another year of eligibility left to show what he can do but if finishing 13th in league scoring this year wasn't enough...

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