Sunday, March 14, 2010

Some thoughts on Moncton-Saint John regular season finale

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.


  1. Great review of the draft-eligibles in that game, glad to see some fans south of the border are watching!

    Galiev is a real playmaker, and Gormley is amazing to watch, definitely worth getting excited about. Don't put too much stock into a game that was meaningless in the standings.

    I think Jurco will be a real riser in 2011, and his teammate Nathan Beaulieu should get drafted as well.

    Check these clips out: (5:55)

  2. Fair enough. You're right- one game alone and the last one of the regular season is not anything to make definitive statements/hang your hat on.

    I tried to make it clear in my assessment that it was just the one game, on TV where so much is missed, etc. But more key to the point is- we have to remember that even as good as players like Gormley and Galiev are, they aren't going to just show up in the NHL and dominate. Sometimes, people get caught up in the draft discussions and forget that players are in the CHL and being measured against their peers. Some guys simply will take more time to develop into NHL stars (if at all) than others.

    I'm still not crazy about Galiev. I've seen him several times now this season (and even last in the USHL) and while the skill is undeniably there, I just think he's a bad fit for what the Bruins are trying to do. We'll see what happens. Watch them make me look like a fool by drafting him with their pick later in the first round...

    Anyway- thanks for reading!

  3. Good points about getting too excited. That's why Gormley is so exciting though, he's way ahead of his peers. He had the poise of a veteran at 16, was doing things I've never seen a D that age do. He was the only 17 invited to Team Canada junior camp, and will probably make the team next year. He's a special, special player.

    Did you watch those Jurco videos?

  4. I wish I'd heard my NHL scouting sources from the 'Q' talk about Gormley as effusively in praise as you have. Unfortunately, they have not. All agree he's got real skill and some upside, but are mostly divided on his ceiling with none going out on a limb to say he'll be an unequivocal No. 1 60-70-pt or more guy in the NHL.

    Interesting points, though, and I'm glad you've weighed in- you've seen him far more than I. I would love to know where Boston sees him, but they won't share any of that until the draft is in the books.

    Anyway- haven't checked out the videos yet, but will when I have more time. I was impressed with what I saw from Jurco last night, though. Two goals made it obvious, but he looks like he has some real potential to score a lot of points next year.