We'll give you a quick look at some potential sleepers for the 2011 NHL draft. This will wrap the individual player updates we've been bringing you for the past week or so, but hope the reports have been informative.
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Marek Tvrdon, LW Vancouver (WHL)- Not a sleeper in the sense that NHL scouts aren't tracking him, but the power forward from Slovakia got injured early in the season and missed the entire year after getting in just 12 games with the GIants (6-5-11). Physically mature at 6-2, 212 pounds, he's tough to contain when he works the puck along the walls and on the cycle. He lacks a quick initial burst, but is pretty agile for a guy his size and capable of making some elusive moves in the open ice. Quick stick and hard-shooter. Several NHL scouts really liked what they saw from him until he went down, so he could end up being a pick similar to Curtis Hamilton last season in terms of being one with a limited sample size, but who showed enough to go inside the top-60. If he drops, Tvrdon could end up being a very nice value pick for whichever team takes a chance.
Pontus Netterberg, RW HV 71 (SWE-Jr.)- February 1992 birthdate opened up some eyes at the World Jr. A Challenge in the fall; 6-2, 199-pound winger who likes to go to the net and has pretty good speed once he gets it cranked up. A hard shooter who picks his spots and hides his release point well. Can play a physical or a finesse game. Doesn't get much attention because he was passed up in 2010, but could be one of those mid-round steals that certain teams have made a living out of plucking from Europe, only to see them blossom and become big league players. Not a nasty, in-your-face kind of player, but will push back when riled up and exhibits excellent strength and a mean streak. Good, solid vision and hockey sense- more creative than he gets credit for. Scored 19 goals in 40 games for HV 71's Under-20 team and got in 3 games with the big club (1 assist) as well.
Daniel Pribyl, LW Sparta Prahia (CZE)- Beanpole (6-3, 190) winger is developing into a player worth keeping an eye on. With 25 goals and 54 points in 39 games with Sparta's top junior team this season, he saw a little bit of time with the Extraliga club. He's got a long stride even if he lacks explosive speed, has soft hands and the offensive instincts to cash in. He's got a lot to learn about the game and his defense is suspect at this point, but in time, after he gets stronger on his skates and gains more experience at a high level, Pribyl has some potential to compete for an NHL spot. Red Line Report has been all over Pribyl since December, and if he pans out, it will be another feather in the cap for their Eastern European scout.
Brady Brassart, C Spokane (WHL)- Slow to develop, the Chiefs' pivot has shown some flashes of what could be at times during the season. Scouts who have seen him acknowledge that he's got the skill set to be an NHL prospect and doubled his point production as a sophomore from 15 to 32 points. He isn't going to wow anyone with his production or upside, but he's made more of an effort to play at both ends and has demonstrated an edge to his game that wasn't there last season.
Dario Trutmann, D Plymouth (OHL)- Swiss defender missed being eligible for last year's NHL draft by just two days with a Sep. 17, 1992 birthdate. After scoring 8 goals and 23 points in 28 Swiss Jr. games for Zug, joined the Whalers and took a while to get his feet under him. Heady shutdown type who is capable of playing against bigger, more physical players despite being only 6-0 and about 185. Keeps defenders away from his net with good footwork and an active stick. Exhibits strong gap control. Confidence has grown by leaps and bounds and started moving the puck with more authority toward the end of the season, finishing with 6 goals and 19 points. We saw him at the WJC and he did very little to stand out, but did register four assists in six games. Swiss players are always tough to peg for the draft, but the ones who come over to North America are graded differently than the ones who stay home, so Trutmann just might get a call in June.
Zach Saar, LW Chicago (USHL)- As raw as they come, this 6-4, 193-pound native of Michigan and Little Caesar's minor midget grad toils for a last-place team and doesn't have much production to boot (3-4-7 in 28 games) but there is a lot to like about this kid's potential. He's a natural scorer who hasn't had a great deal of help with the Steel, but could be in for bigger things as he continues to mature and grow into his body. Hurt for much of the season, he's a hard worker who is willing to do anything for his team including dropping the gloves. His skating is average and could stand to improve- he's a bandy-legged skater. He's expected back in the USHL next season and while he would be a longshot to get picked in 2011 because of all the time he's missed, some team may have seen enough of him to take a late flyer on Saar. A June 1992 birthdate, he's already been passed over once, and if it happens again he'll be eligible again in 2012 before having to go the free agent route.
Sebastian Dyk, RW Malmö (SWE-2)- Failed to find the back of the net in 36 Allsvenskan games with the RedHawks (4 assists) but don't let those numbers fool you- this fast skater has some nice tools to develop into an interesting player over time. Another average-sized guy (6-0, 185) but plays with grit and determination; goes to the net hard and has some nice 1-on-1 moves in his arsenal. Most effective when he's banging bodies and grinding it out. Tends to disappear for long stretches, especially when he lowers his physical guard, but has some nice upside if he can improve the consistency.
John Gaudreau, LW Dubuque (USHL)- Tiny New Yorker is another longshot, but has put up amazing numbers for the Fighting Saints despite being about 5-6 and 145 pounds. He'll get much stronger and add another 30+ pounds, but when you consider that he's managed to score 35 goals and 69 points in 55 games as a flyweight in the rough-and-tumble USHL, it says a great deal about his speed, hands and creativity. This is a pure offensive presence and he showed off his potential at the Ivan Hlinka last August, as one of the most consistent forwards on Team USA, helping them to a silver medal. It's hard to imagine an NHL team drafting a guy with Gaudreau's vitals, but this kid has guts and flair- he's going to be a very good NCAA player and once he gets there and proves himself at that level, anything is possible.
Michael Houser, G London (OHL)- American passed over in 2010 has stood on his head for the Knights over much of the season, proving that the solid play he exhibited as Mike Hutchinson's backup last season was a good indication of what he can provide. He was eligible for the 2010 draft by just two days with a Sep. 13 birthdate, so it wouldn't be like he is too much of an overager for a team to grab him the second time around. Has nice size and athleticism and was a workhorse for the Knights, playing in 54 games and posting a .904 save percentage. In our view, this kid has shown enough to get a call on draft day- nice developmental potential as a long-term project.