Sunday, February 28, 2010

WHL Roundup with Red Line Report WHL Scout Mike Remmerde, Pt. 2

I'm back with the next five of Red Line's top-ranked WHL players for the 2010 draft. I hope you enjoyed the previous post covering 1-5. Although I'd like to cover detailed ground on just about every draft-eligible from the Dub, I'm not going to get there from here.

So, without further ado- here is the Portland-based Mike Remmerde and his fresh observations on the best WHL players the 2010 class has to offer:

Brad Ross, LW Portland Winterhawks; 6-0, 173 28 May 92 (27th overall)

He's got more raw skills than people give him credit for, although I don't think that he has 1st-line skills. That said, he has that "swing forward" capability-- you can plug him on the 3rd line to be that high-energy, disrupting guy there, or you can have him on the 2nd line to help out offensively. Guys like that are not a dime-a-dozen and are pretty valuable because of the versatility they provide.

His skating's improved quite a bit as has his hand-eye coordination. Between him, Niederreiter and (Ryan) Johansen on that line, it's probably one of the great complementary lines in junior hockey. You have the flash of Niederreiter, the skill and playmaking of Johansen and the sandpaper grit of Ross. - Mike Remmerde

Stats through Feb. 27
GP- 63 G- 23 A- 35 PTS- 58 PIM- 185

Dylan McIlrath, D Moose Jaw Warriors; 6-2, 212 20 Apr 92 (29th overall)

Moose Jaw rolled through here (Pacific NW U.S.) last week and he disappointed me a little because he only got two-thirds of a Gordie Howe hat trick- - and it was the tough part-- with the goal and assist, but not a fight (laughs). In all seriousness, it was a tight, one-goal game, so the opportunity to drop the gloves didn't present itself, and his team hung on for the 8-7 win. He had a good game, and he's squarely in the top-four of Moose Jaw's defense right now.

One thing I noticed that he's picked up after watching him recently is how to effectively use his long reach. I had some of the same mental images I did two years ago watching Tyler Myers doing the same thing with that long, long reach. Of course, Myers is 6-8 and McIlrath 6-2, or 6-3, but it's the same kind of skill, and I have to say that the ability to smartly pokecheck is by itself a difference-maker. McIlrath is really good with the pokecheck. I saw him two times last week, and the Portland game was interesting because he was really solid in his own end. The offense a guy like this gives you now is pure gravy.

He has the chance to be a pretty good defenseman-- maybe a top-four in the NHL, maybe a solid No. 5 with the toughness to play for any team. Now, looking at this guy, you say 'You're going to spend a No. 1 pick on a No. 5?' Well, yes. NHL teams will do that on a guy with legitimate toughness who can fight, but is more of a hockey player than just a fighter. McIlrath's skating is good-- I don't think it is high-end, but I don't see any problems, either. His lateral agility isn't great, but he doesn't get beaten with speed, either. He exhibits very good gap control and is an outstanding open-ice hitter. - MR

Stats through Feb. 27
GP- 63 G- 7 A- 17 PTS- 24 PIM- 164

Alex Petrovic, D Red Deer Rebels; 6-4, 195 3 Mar 92 (30th overall)

Last year, I thought that Petrovic would be the guy that McIlrath has become. Petrovic is similar as one of these big, strong, tough defensemen, but he's not as crazy-- dropping the gloves as much or with the fervor that McIlrath has done this season. But, he projects solidly as a defensive defenseman at the next level.

Petrovic is a good skater with some untapped potential because I see him playing in a lot of situations for Red Deer. He's used on the power play, he's used on the penalty kill. He's out there when the game is close, he's out there late when holding a lead. He gets a lot of PP time and has a good shot.

For a guy who's 6-4, he's a good skater; rugged with some upside. He'll be attractive to NHL teams. -MR

Stats through Feb. 27
GP- 50 G- 6 A- 17 PTS- 23 PIM- 83

Ryan Johansen, C Portland Winterhawks; 6-2, 188 31 Jul 92 (34th overall)

It all started for him last year in Penticton, when he really started to figure it out late in the season and played his way up to the second line and then was the Vees' best forward in the playoffs.

He may have had a late growth spurt, too, because at the beginning of this year, his stride was a little awkward and at times, he seemed a little off-balance, but I don't see any of that from him these days. Now, he's turning up the dynamic side of his game. He's made some fantastic rushes of late-- the solo part of his game has taken off and he's shooting the puck more now and doing things that he wasn't doing at the beginning of the year. He was always good at taking hits to make the play, but he wouldn't throw a hit or initiate contact much. Now, he's going into the corners more and not only throwing big hits, but coming out with the puck a lot. It'll be interesting to see how he does in the playoffs.

He's big, broad shouldered with a lot of room to fill out, and has fantastic passing ability. In the first half, I saw him as maybe a 15-goal, 60-assist guy in the NHL, but in the second half, he's been shooting the puck more, so he might project even better offensively. There's a lot to like about him, especially if he keeps progressing like he has. -MR

Stats through Feb. 27
GP- 64 G- 21 A- 39 PTS- 60 PIM- 47

Mark Pysyk, D Edmonton Oil Kings; 6-1, 181 11 Jan 92 (42nd overall)

He has all the skill in the world. He's an excellent skater-- real smooth with a long stride and good agility for a guy who's 6-1. He does everything you want-- seems to have great hands, puck ability and the ice time to be a productive player. But, he doesn't get it done offensively.

Also of concern is that he's very passive. He doesn't seem to play with any passion at all. He's kind of soft, too. If there's an even battle for a loose puck, he usually comes out on the short end. He's now down with a broken bone...I don't remember what the exact injury is, but he's out for the rest of the season.

But, what I saw from him was kind of the same as last year. Granted, you're watching a player who's in his 16-year-old year, so you're looking ahead a bit. But I remember thinking, 'I know he's on a bad team and all, but he really should have more points than he does given all the power play time he's getting.'

He's just underwhelming. When I watch him, I don't see any of the intensity and desire that, if coupled with his physical attributes and hockey skills, would make him a force at that level. - MR

Stats through Feb. 27
GP- 48 G- 7 A- 17 PTS- 24 PIM- 47

Here's a special thanks to Mike for taking so much time to give me his skinny on the WHL's top talent. Granted, it's one scout's opinion, but he's got a fine track record established from years of working the beat.

With 10 players inside Red Line's top-50, there is a very good chance that the Bruins will go back to the WHL and grab at least one if not more of these players in the draft. Whether it is Niederreiter, McIlrath or someone else, the Dub's been a historically fertile proving ground for prospects and this year looks to be no different.

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