We resume the second part of our interview with Red Line Report's Kyle Woodlief, keeping along the Sweden theme and expanding out to other players of interest in the first round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Bruins 2011 Draft Watch: Speaking of Swedes, Gabriel Landeskog-- he came over (to the OHL) last year, but this year has take it to a whole new level. What does he bring to the team that's going to draft him possibly in the top two or three picks in June?
Kyle Woodlief: I just love everything that I'm seeing out of Landeskog in Kitchener this year. He's a big kid who really likes to bang and get physical. I mean, he's one of the more physical Swedes you'll ever see. He plays a North American style. And, he's got the mix of size and skill that goes along with that physical toughness and aggression. He's a guy who, from the circles in buries his chances. He's got a really good scoring touch and he's very unselfish with the puck. He's a good playmaker; I think he's an underrated playmaker, and there's not very many weak areas of his game. He's a solid two-way player, he's big, he's strong, he's physical, he drives the net hard. He scores key goals. I don't think he's got quite as high a skill level as-- I've already said I don't see a Steve Stamkos or Matt Duchene in this crop-- I don't see him having quite the puck skills they have and the vision and creativity they have, but everything else is there. He's a guy who can probably play in the NHL next year.
B2011DW: One player you have higher than most is OHL defenseman Ryan Murphy probably because of the obvious skill level, skating and offensive upside. But what we've heard is that some NHL teams aren't sure whether he's be a regular rotation D or more of a specialist. Where do you see Murphy and what he does he need to do to stay around that top-five (RLR has him 6th overall in Decemeber)?
KW: There are two schools of thought on Murphy; he's not that strong in his own end. I mean, he's easily knocked off the puck and he'll take the puck and go with it all the time, so he needs to get better at refining his defensive techniques and paying a little more attention to what he needs to do in his own end. But, he's so dynamic. You look at a kid like Ryan Ellis; Murphy is so much of a better skater than Ellis will ever hope to be. And he's a lot more intelligent with the puck on his stick than Ellis and that's saying something, because Ellis is one of the most intelligent quarterbacks back there on the blue line that I have seen come along in the last 10 or 12 years. So, Murphy has all the things that Ellis does and much, much better skating ability with dynamic speed and acceleration. So, those are the things you accentuate. He's certainly going to be a power play quarterback who can quarterback a top power play in the NHL. The question is whether he-- he certainly has room to improve in his own end-- the question is will he take the coaching and will he get better at that? That's going to be the difference as to whether he's more of a specialist or a guy who puts up 20 minutes a night.
B2011DW: Right behind Murphy, you have a couple of teammates with the Niagara Ice Dogs who are doing great things in the OHL. You have Dougie Hamilton, the defenseman (7th) and Ryan Strome (8th). Are these guys two who have really exceeded your expectations for where you had them coming into the season?
KW: Absolutely, and Strome in particular. You saw him last year and you liked him, but I didn't think he was going to take it to this level this quickly. He's a guy who's got just great puck skills; he dangles with the puck and has got great speed. Really, he doesn't need any time or space to get his shot away. He has a knack for getting to open ice. So, he's the guy who's probably come up the list further than anybody this year to crack our top-10.
Hamilton...I love that kid. He's a two-way beast. He'll nail you, play physically in the defensive end, he can take the puck and go end-to-end with it. He can quarterback the power play. I think he's actually better as the triggerman on the power play-- he's got a big shot. He's approaching Larsson's level. Larsson's been there a couple of years, whereas Hamilton's development curve is heading straight up. So, Hamilton, I'd be shocked if he made it out of the top-eight picks this year.
We'll be back later with Part 3 to close the interview out with a player who is falling in the rankings but could be a nice value with Boston's first-round pick (assuming they keep it) and a couple of sleepers.