For Chicago Steel winger Woods, it was mostly a lost season because of broken femur that cost him half the year. At 6-2, 195 pounds, he has the kind of size NHL teams are always looking for. Although not an outstanding skater, he generates power in his lower leg drive and can get where he needs to go. He finished the 09-10 campaign strong, but was unable to do enough to earn a draft call from any of the NHL's 30 teams. The guess here is twice-snubbed guys like Craig Cunningham and Justin Florek can get picked in the middle rounds by the B's, then a player like Woods has more than a fighting chance so long as he can stay healthy and productive.
"I thought Woods was one of the better forwards in the USHL at the end of last season," Red Line Report's Max Giese said recently. "If he can play a full season and build on last year, then I think he'll get drafted in June."
Thrush is a little different story. One of two players I actually scouted in the Washington D.C. region last season (Washington Jr. Nationals forward David Bondra the son of-- you guessed it-- Peter Bondra, being the other), Thrush had all the tools to be a mid-to-late draft pick, but was likely passed over because of several factors including level of competition (he played for Team Maryland AAA now known as the D.C. Capitals) and the fact that although he has a great set of wheels and was dominant against a bunch of JAGs, he was often times a one-man show who tried to do it all himself and wasn't so hot away from the puck (translation: the hockey sense just isn't there). The UNH recruit for '11 has the size and ability, and to be honest, I was a little surprised that some team didn't at least take a seventh-round flier on Thrush in L.A.
I think that if he can post even average numbers in the USHL this season that he'll get picked in Minnesota just because 6-foot plus forwards with the kind of speed and soft hands Thrush has don't grow on trees. He'll have his work cut out for him as a member of the expansion Muskegon Lumberjacks, though. Like Silver Spring, Md. native and fellow UNH aspirant Nick Sorkin, who dominated the local hockey circuit two years ago but got nary a draft whiff in '09 (or '10 for that matter), Thrush must overcome the stigma of coming from a hockey no-man's land and being that proverbial big fish in a small pond. The good news is that he should benefit from solid ice time on a team that isn't going to be very competitive, but sometimes, those are the best situations for players like Thrush.
Giese, who saw Thrush in action last year, concurred saying: "He's got to learn to use his teammates more. It's hard for me to understand how a player with as much talent as he has simply didn't make anyone around him better."
When Giese said that, the light went on for me as well, because in watching Thrush myself, there was something nagging at me that I couldn't quite put my finger on despite the fact that I was clearly looking at a skilled forward.