Thread: Prospect Info: St. Louis Blues Top Prospect #7
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08-06-2012, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by PocketNines View Post
What made EJ such a compelling package was that he was such a mobile big man, and you can see when Hakanpaa is in motion he has some of that same athletic fluidity. EJ was a #1 overall pick because he developed faster than Hakanpaa, but guys mature at different rates and what matters is how they end up.

Hakanpaa still has to cross a few hurdles. First, he's not as fast with his first couple steps as he'll need to be. That's in a category of "things that can be improved easier than others." Second, even though he looked potent at the World Juniors, in the NHL everyone's fast and there are lots of bigger guys. Hakanpaa will always be bigger than most players but he's not going to dwarf guys like at this level. However, he is playing with men in Finland, so he should have more experience with that. Finally, I'd say he's not proven yet offensively. He seems to have some instincts about when to pinch, and he seems to be able to get a shot away, but it wasn't his original calling card. Basically, a lot of normal hurdles, but hurdles nonetheless.

Now, IF he can manage the hurdles across the board, the Blues are going to have a very special player. This is the excitement part. It's not blind excitement, he's no lock to develop each thing I listed. BUT it's the most reasonable hope in awhile with a prospect in this category. Basically, there's as reasonable a shot for the Blues to find that 4th round impact NHL player with Hakanpaa as with any mid-range prospect the Blues have drafted recently, including Polak. Hakanpaa's ceiling is definitely higher than Polak's. I'd say it's higher than Cole's, and probably higher than Schmaltz', and certainly far more realistic than Schmaltz finding NHL-level physicality in his game and learning how to play in his own end. So, yeah, get excited and keep watching his progress. If Hakanpaa hits his ceiling, then he'd be up there with Tarasenko for impact. He's too big, athletic and unafraid to hit not to be a force on D if he puts it all together.
The thing that ruined EJ was his boneheaded defensive plays and his positioning. That's why i was pumped when we traded him for Shatty.

Yes I completely agree he needs to fine tune his game and pick up the speed and intensity to become NHL ready. But it really does seem like he has the defensive side of the game figured out, good mix of physicality and stick work to dominate players on the boards and in front of the net.

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