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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guys You Should Know: The Final Countdown

B2011DW has brought you 40 different "Guy You Should Know" profiles going all the way back to late August and so we're going to wrap up the series with this post, as our focus between now and the draft will be on the 2011 top-20, plus an overall emphasis on rounds 1-2.

For that reason, we'll profile some guys here who aren't household names, but still have a chance of being drafted at some point. The odds on some players are better than others, but here at B2011DW our goal is to leave no stone unturned and provide any NHL fan a chance to come to this blog, search the labels on the right of the main page and find most if not all their team's respective draft picks on June 24-25. We might not hit them all, but we aim to have a good solid 90 percent solution.

So with that in mind, here is a rogue's gallery of players we have either not covered in much detail or have yet to mention at all. Thanks for reading.

Joel Edmundson, D Moose Jaw (WHL)- Making a huge push up the draft boards after establishing himself as a legit NHL prospect in his first season of action in the Dub. Big kid who is about 6-5 and could still be growing and is a decent skater for his size. Footwork and acceleration could stand to improve, but he has a wide base and can move well once he gets up to speed. Big wingspan and a long reach make him tough to beat. Plays with an aggressive edge and could end up being one of those nasty, in-your-face defenders that smaller forwards look to avoid whenever they're on the ice. Has come a long way in a short time, which is something NHL teams always like.

Said one NHL scout recently: "Edmundson is interesting. He's got the size and a bit of upside in that he makes pretty crisp passes and seems to process the game well. He's still rough because he simply hasn't has as much major junior time as most of his peers, but he's closing that developmental gap fast. I wouldn't be surprised to see him end up somewhere in the top-60...you can't teach that natural size and aggression even if the offensive element of his game never develops."

Blake Coleman, C Indiana (USHL)- Late '91 from Dallas suburb of Plano put up an eye-popping 34 goals and 92 points in just 59 games for the Ice this season after 28 a year ago. Talk about an under-the-radar guy! His height is pretty average, but he's thick and strong and fights his way to the net. Has a quick stick and powerful shot with nice vision and hockey sense to set up the play.

One scout was pretty candid in his assessment: "Coleman could get drafted. Some think he has to play with Mike Richards-like intensity (to be successful) but doesn't always, and some question his character. He needs to be Matt Cooke if he's going to make it to the NHL- it's up to him." There is no arguing the production, but if the off-ice stuff is going around the grapevine, it could account for why the buzz on him compared to Green Bay defenseman Andy Welinski has been virtually nonexistent. It could also signal that NHL teams are refusing to discuss him in hopes of stealing him late, too. Will be interesting to see if/where he goes.

Anthony Camara, LW Saginaw (OHL)- Banging winger doesn't have the greatest skill set, but the dude will fight anyone and plays the kind of physical, pounding style that NHL teams love. Was a first-round OHL selection, so he probably doesn't get enough credit for his hockey abilities, but bread-and-butter is taking on opponents, maintaining puck possession on the cycle and doing the dirty work/opening up space for his teammates. Don't expect much from this player in terms of him developing a top-six role at the NHL level, but there is always room on a fourth-line for a player with his toughness. Reminds us a bit of Shawn Thornton early in his career- with a higher skill level but not quite the nastiness. Not a bad tradeoff.

Dylan Wruck, RW Edmonton (WHL)- Tiny but kid can really motor and plays with a high intensity level. Excellent skater and puckhandler who produced a lot of offense for the Oil Kings. Character kid who gets absolutely every ounce of ability from his small package and plays a fearless style by going into traffic and involving himself in battles for loose pucks in the corners. Unfortunately, he's Rocco Grimaldi-small but without the dynamic upside. He's one of those guys who will go through a wall for you, but as skilled and productive as he has been, scouts wonder about whether he's talented enough to overcome his major size deficit. In his favor he has a huge heart, and you don't want to bet against players like that.

Brady Brassart, C Spokane (WHL)- Buried behind a more experienced group of centers on a deep club, the numbers aren't there for this intriguing project. He's tall but lanky and needing to add strength, but really came on in the second half of the season for the Chiefs, where he showed off some flashes of having playmaking ability, an abrasive side and good intensity. Another pure project who will require an NHL club to see beyond the limited role he had this season and project where he will be in another 2-3 years.

Brent Benson, C Saskatoon (WHL)- Lost in the shuffle a bit with Duncan Siemens this year, the top-10 WHL bantam draft selection hasn't progressed as expected when the Blades brought him in, but still has enough of a projectable upside to be a potential factor at the draft. He;s undersized but shifty and is a strong puckhandler. The tools are there, but he has yet to really put it together. If an NHL team picks him, it will be because they are counting on him to get his trajectory back on track and work his way into the picture as a legitimate prospect.

One NHL source had this to say: "You can see that he has the skills to play at a higher level, but he needs to get more involved on a consistent basis. Too often he looks like he's going through the motions, but every once in a while you can see exactly why Saskatoon took him where they did."

Justin Sefton, D Sudbury (OHL)- Big, tough character guy has to overcome lack of skating ability and footwork but could very well be a solid investment as a project pick in the later rounds. He became a You Tube star when he one-punched David Broll in an early March contest, and he has the size, shot and power to be a lower-pairing stalwart at the NHL level. His mobility is the biggest issue right now, but players like Sefton always appear willing to put in the work to get better. Another Sudbury alum, Adam McQuaid, had skating issues coming out of junior and is now playing for the Stanley Cup with Boston. Of course, McQuaid was much more highly regarded for the 2005 NHL draft than Sefton is, but teams could do worse than taking a late-round flier on this one.

Gabriel Bourret, D Saint John (QMJHL)- Everything about this late-'92 screams average, yet he was a part of the Memorial Cup-winning formula in Saint John this season. He's a hair over 6-feet and isn't a dynamic skater, but makes up for those unimpressive attributes by playing it smart and keeping things simple. This player isn't going to wow you at any one thing, but he's gritty and puts in the effort to get better. He's a longshot as an NHL prospect, but stranger things have happened. He was hardly noticeable at the Memorial Cup, but when you go back and look at the film, it was a good thing. Played disciplined, in control and did his job.

Josiah Didier, D Cedar Rapids (USHL)- We're told that this kid is one of the bigger sleepers being mentioned in NHL circles and that someone could jump on him earlier than conventional thought. With good size, mobility and the raw tools to develop into a big league blue liner eventually, he's been under the radar for much of the season. Plays with an edge and will jump into the play/has puck-moving skills. He's got a lot to learn and may not have the instincts to be a two-way defenseman and regular in the NHL, but with his impressive physical attributes, is worth taking a chance on.

The B2011DW top-20 countdown will debut tomorrow, so make sure you check in regularly.


  1. Interesting to see that a source says that Benson has been known to "go through the motions". I didn't really see much of that. He was consistently one of the hardest working guys on the ice and really embraced his role as a third line centre. Tough nut too. I've seen him block shots with his ankles and forearms, wince and not miss a shift.

    Size and overall skating might be a bit of a concern for him, but he's a very well rounded player that has enough offense to chip in when needed. With the players the Blades have moving on this offseason, Benson could very well end up with a 1st line role next year. I look for a very big year for him next season.

    Great piece as always though!

  2. Interesting comment regarding Coleman's "character" Did the "scout" elaborate as to why it is in question?