*(Not affiliated with the Boston Bruins or the New England Hockey Journal)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Interview with Red Line Report Chief Scout and Publisher Kyle Woodlief; Part 3

B2011DW is back with the final installment of the interview conducted with Red Line Report sage Kyle Woodlief at the 2011 World Junior Championship in Buffalo.

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch: We've talked about players who are exceeding expectations. One player who seems to be on the opposite trajectory is Vancouver Giants defenseman David Musil. What are your thoughts on the season he's had and what he's going to have to do to improve his standing in the second half.

Kyle Woodlief: Well, it seems like his development has plateau'd. We all saw him as a 15-year-old playing in double under-agers and under-18 tournaments two years ago and you could see he had all the tools to be really special, but he hasn't really developed his offensive game. He doesn't shoot the puck very well. So, that's going to be a liability for him as a power play guy. So then you look at him as nothing more than number 2/number 3 guy who plays solid defense in his own end, which he does, and he plays physically. But, that's kind of why he's dropping down the list a little bit. You still like him and you still think he's going to be a quality NHLer, but I don't see the offensive upside there we all anticipated two, three years ago we might be seeing by this point.

B2011DW: Based on the standings, if the season ended today, the Bruins would own the third overall pick by virtue of that trade with Toronto, and their own pick, which as of today is 20th by virtue of their place atop the Northeast division standings. Would Musil be an OK value at 20 or even around 15 were the Bruins to take him there?

KW: I mean at 15 or 20 in the first round, if you can get a guy you can plug into your blue line for 10, 12 years, that's a great value. Any NHL team would sign up for that.

B2011DW: Some of the players who are kind of on the outside of that first round looking in that you've seen-- one in particular-- Joel Armia of Finland-- has he done some things in this tournament that has maybe earned him some consideration to move up in you standings, and why?

KW: Well, he had kind of a quiet game against Germany but I thought he played very well the other day against the Swiss. He was in there involved, banging, playing on the top line and using his size to get to the front of the net. He's got a really long, fluid stride and at 6-4, he handles the puck well. I think he's probably by the end of this tournament, he could make it into the back end of our first round (Editor's note- Armia was 33rd in Red Line's December rankings).

B2011DW: One player who I've noted seems to be rising on Red Line's list is someone from that other noted Scandinavian hockey power, Sweden: Rickard Rakell with the Plymouth Whalers and Sweden World Junior Team this year. Can you talk a bit about him and where is in your mindset right now?

KW: He's a hard nut! I mean, he just goes out there and he gives everything he's got every shift. He's a really intense player, which is what you love to see. He plays a North American style-- he's physical, he comes back and works just as hard in his own end as he does in the offensive end. He creates lots of havoc among defensemen and creates lots of turnovers that he turns into quality chances for both himself and his linemates. Has a better skill level than I thought when I first saw him last year. He's done nothing but improve in Plymouth all year, and there's no telling where he's going to wind up because we had him around 85 or 90 at the start of the year, and he's already knocking on the door of the first round. If he continues trajectory, I wouldn't be surprised if he's in the 20-25 range on our final list.

B2011DW: Final question, Kyle. Every year, you pick some "sleepers" and you've done well with a lot of those sleeper picks in past years. Assuming you were putting together your annual draft guide today, who are some of the players you would put in that sleeper category and call attention to?

KW: Well, if I had to pick some, Rakell, who we just touched upon would be one of them. He's been a sleeper already this year, so I might name him, and I might name the big kid Mike McKee down at Kent School. He's gigantic at 6-5, 230 pounds and he only shifted from left wing back to defense about a season-and-a-half ago, which I think some NHL teams aren't even fully aware of, yet. He's not good in his own end now, but you can see that he could be special because he's got those puckhandling skills that a left winger would have, but he's playing down on the backend now. So, he could be something because he's a really big guy who skates well, can quarterback your power play because he has a bullet shot and makes a really good first pass/sees the ice really well. He's got a really good chance if he can round out his game to be a special kind of guy.

B2011DW: Is it interesting to note that as an August 1993 birthdate, he's on the younger end of this draft class? Is his physical maturity remarkable for someone on the lower end of the group in terms of age?

KW: Yeah, it's unfortunate that he's playing at prep school because he doesn't even get to use the physicality. If you touch anybody at the prep level you seem to get a penalty. So, I worry that he's not developing properly as he should, although he is going to Northeastern, so he'll at least be in the Hockey East and not the Ivy League. He needs more and more games to acclimate and learn the finer points of the game, though, and he's not getting that at the prep level with a limited schedule.

Woodlief has left the WJC to attend the Under-17 tourney in Manitoba, so it gets to the matter of how hard he and his scouts work, and why he is a valued source when it comes to the NHL draft- he goes to the games and has a wealth of experience when it comes to scouting.

No comments:

Post a Comment