Vancouver scout: Latendresse ahead of Bertuzzi at 20
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03-20-2008, 04:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
I don't really understand what more people could want from Latendresse at this point. What would it have taken from him for people to be satisfied?
Would a 20 goal rookie season been enough, or would he still have been bashed for his +- rating? What about this year? He's very close to a 20 goal season, and drastically improved his defensive play to the point that he's no longer a liability on the ice.
Are we really at the point where we expect players to just Waltz into the NHL and start producing at a near ppg pace? Sounds like we've been spoiled by the Crosbys, Malkins and Ovechkins of this world.
"But he should have spent some time in the AHL to get better!!11!1!!!!"
Even if he spent three full seasons in the NHL, it would still be ridiculous for us to expect him to flawlessly transition to the NHL. It takes time to get used to the speed and even more time to build up the confidence that you do belong in this league.
Let's imagine for a second that he did spend three years in the AHL and is now 22 or 23 year old PF rookie about to start his rookie year in the NHL. How many goals would be considered a succesfull rookie season? 40? 30? No, many would say even 15 goal would be a perfectly reasonable first year production. It would also be expected that this AHL-trained Latendresse have trouble with the defensive aspects of the game. The next year we would expect him to maybe improve on his goal production and be a better defensive player.
So if Latendresse achieved out of junior what would be considered reasonable for him to achieve after three years in the AHL, what are you guys complaining about? Even after their time in the AHL, it took Plekanec and Kostitsyn time to get used to the NHL and they still sufer from inconsistency sometimes. Grabovski has spent a full year + playofs in the AHL and dominated the league so bad the last few games that he was called up. He didn't step into the NHL without skipping a beat either.
The fact is that Latendresse is a power forward prospect, and those take time to get used to the NHL. They're built big and skate slow. They need to figure out where to be on the ice in every situation to maximized their efficiency. That can only be leraned through NHL experience and it takes time. We have to be patient.
A lot of people say he needs to be a quicker skater to succeed in the NHL. He doesn't. Sure it would be great if he could, but a player can only improve their speed so much. What he needs is what I described above: the experience to know how to use the speed he has to be effective. That's how some slow skaters have become great players, by knowing their limitations and working around them. Predictably, those players are typically late bloomers.
I think it was Forsberg that said mental quickness is more important than physical quickness. You can have the ability to buzz around the ice like a bee, but if you don't know where you need to be going, you're going to be late on every play. Conversely, if you're a slow fatass but know where you have to be and when, you'll look like you're everywhere. Take a look at Chipchura. He's a slow skater, but always knows where he's gotta be. It'll take him some time to figure out the NHL pace, but he will eventually. Just like Latendresse will.
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