Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Boston Bruins Prospects Series: #28 Tyler Randell

Tyler Randell, RW
6-2, 195
June 15, 1991
Shoots; Right
Boston's 4th choice, 176th overall in 2009 Draft
Signing status: Unsigned

Talent Analysis

Physical: A power forward prospect who has all of the abilities and skills to be an impact NHL player but has yet to put it all together. A good skater with nice jump and an efficient stride; gets up to speed quickly and can really motor in the open ice. Lateral agility is OK and could stand to improve overall edgework. Crashes the net and creates problems for opposing defenders and goalies with his strength and stick. Excellent shooter with quick hands and a hard, heavy wrister that he can wire topshelf with ease. Gets a lot of power on his slap shot and can do damage with it when he gets some space to work with. Underrated backhander. Not much of a passer; tends to finish off chances going up and down the wing rather than setting the table for his linemates. When on his game, plays with a nasty edge, banging bodies and dropping the gloves. Has had 17 fights over the past two OHL seasons against some scrappy and tough customers. Can handle himself well in that department and seems willing to stick up for teammates when the situation calls for it. Battled through a back injury last season which may have significantly affected his production and overall physical play.

Intangibles: An enigma; given his talent and skill level, Randell should be doing more at the OHL level than he has. In talking to people who know him well, you get the impression that he's not put forth the maximum effort and has issues with the compete level at times. Whispers were in Montreal that he fell to the sixth round because he lacked the heart and drive to be the sum of his impressive parts, and thus far, he hasn't done much to dispel those thoughts. When motivated and on his game, he's a force; if the light ever comes on for him and stays on, he could be something at the highest level. Hockey sense isn't exceptional; he has to play a standard up-and-down game to be effective and you don't get much creativity from him.

Boston Bruins 2010 Development Camp assessment
Randell didn't do a lot to stand out in the D-Camp scrimmages where his other OHL peers like Jared Knight, Ryan Spooner and Tyler Seguin stole the show, but in watching him closely during the various drills, you could see his impressive abilities on display. For me, based on what I'd heard about him from various sources, Randell's stint in Wilmington was a microcosm of where he is as a prospect: an incomplete picture and very much a raw work in progress. The guy can skate well and when he's open for a shot (mostly during the drills), he can really uncork a variety of drives that confound goalies in a variety of ways. However, when he's in action as was the case during the scrimmage, he didn't accomplish an awful lot. He attracted notice during the drills at main camp last year, too, so he's definitely got some ability. It was simply disappointing that Randell was unable to take the proverbial bull by the horns more and make himself stand out given that it was his second time in Wilmington with the prospects and he had an advantage over the first-timers.

Randell was described to me by one NHL scout as a "poor man's Zack Kassian" at last year's draft, meaning that like the Buffalo first-rounder (and rumored object of Boston's affections when they thought they had traded Phil Kessel to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle and the 7th overall pick), he had some size, skill and toughness, which always makes for a coveted package. Unfortunately, neither player has done a lot to elevate their stock since being drafted and questions abound over the intangibles aspect of their game. I've talked to a lot of people about Randell and I always get the impression that he's getting damned with faint praise...hockey isn't all about the skills, and without the requisite passion and hockey intellect, players don't reach the NHL and stay there.

"Tyler is a very big, physical, skilled player. What he's going to need to work on is his consistency. There are games when he's dominant and other nights, he's filling a sweater. At this level, he should be scoring 25-30 goals in a season, so this is a big year for him."- Kitchener Rangers coach Steve Spott to B2010DW; June, 2010

"I've told Tyler that there's going to be someone from Boston evaluating him every night. The difference in the paycheck between Boston and Providence every night is huge. Like (Dustin) Byfuglien, he's going to have to go to the net and make his hay there. Last year was tough for him because he battled through some back injuries, but with his size and skill level, he's capable of bigger things, and he knows that."- Steve Spott to B2010DW; June, 2010

“I think I’ve progressed a lot since the last time I was here. It’s been great so far this week. We did the Program, which was some crazy training. It was great to work as a team with these guys and push each other to be the best we can be.”- Tyler Randell to B2010DW, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

“I think the best thing I bring is strength and teamwork. I’ll battle in the corners and drag the puck to the net. I’ll always be there for my teammates if they’re in trouble. I’m more a team player and hard, gritty player.”- Tyler Randell to B2010DW, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

“When I have the chance, I’ll let the shot go. But other than that, I’ll drive my body to the net and use my size and weight and get in that crease.”- Tyler Randell to B2010DW; July 6-10, 2010

The Final Word
On paper, Randell should be higher on the Boston prospect depth chart, but he was a sixth-round pick for a reason. Make no mistake-- it was a value selection for the Bruins, because talent-wise, he was probably a solid third-rounder. If he can get the motor started and bring up the effort levels, he has a chance, but as of now, Randell is a longshot. This is a big year for him: if he can get his 25 or more goals as his junior coach has said he's capable of (and even expected), then he'll probably sign and get a shot in the Boston organization next season. If not, then look for the B's to pass on him next June, and he'll likely end up being another draft footnote: a player possessing the right size and ability, but not able to do all of the other things it takes to be an NHL regular.

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