Sean Couturier for Oliver Ekman-Larsson
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08-07-2012, 12:50 AM
Join Date: May 2010
Originally Posted by
I wasn't suggesting that points were a big issue. I actually added that one sentence into the post after I had typed it so that I didn't get the "well look at the points" (imagine me doing that with an extremely whiny and annoyingly childish voice) argument.
I think Coburn does a better job of it than you believe, but yes, in general what separates him from a #1 is theoretically this "it" factor which is basically his ability to control the flow and pace of a game. Timonen has it; less now than before unfortunately. Pronger had it all the way up until his injury. Coburn has shown flashes of it, but only to a real credible extent in the postseason.
I agree that Coburn has shown dominance in flashes. Beast mode Coburn is probably a #1 defender, but that seems to be a 'when the stars align' kind of thing. He has, for all intents and purposes, developed into a steady player who makes great decisions and is positionally sound. I think hoping for him to be anything more than a strong #2 is a bit optimistic, though. I wouldnt be satisfied if the team ever put their hopes in him to be the de facto #1 guy even if he does show that at times.
My, albeit limited, exposure to OEL's play at the NHL level has not shown that he possessed this already. Maybe I didn't watch the right games, maybe I didn't watch enough games. OEL however came off as a strong performer at a very young age who will without any reasonable doubt have a long career as a top pairing defenseman in the NHL.
Saying he has that ability to control of the pace of play is something else. It's not beyond him, but I haven't seen enough of him to make a judgement. Statistics are not easily quantifiable at the defensive level, but using the ones at our disposal, we can readily say that Coburn, this past season and postseason, performed as well if not better than OEL.
Of course Coburn is just 27 and OEL just 21, but my point remains.
Perhaps you didnt watch the right games, but I think a more likely conclusion is that multiple people can watch the same thing and draw different conclusions. I think we both agree that defensive play is highly subjective, so claiming one thing or another definitively would be a foolish discussion to have.
That said, I did not mean to claim that OEL has shown such dominant ability yet. Just that his poise and general sense is extremely promising and would suggest he could develop such ability in the future. Whereas other players have shown 'flash in the pan' dominance (ie, Meszaros in Ottawa), I think OEL showed a different kind of poise that was successful in being a calming presence that I would expect from a #1 defender.
NEVER bring Pronger into this. There is nothing like Pronger in the NHL right now. Weber tries. Chara tries. They come close, but you and I both know what Pronger was and hopefully, though unrealistic, may be again.
You know I wasnt actually comparing OEL to Pronger
I just used Pronger to illustrate what I meant by being able to dictate the flow of the game if I hadnt been clear enough before.
Right now, I don't see OEL with that poise just yet. Lots of young defensemen were strong on the puck early in their careers. Lots of young defensemen could play a steady two-way game. Lots of those same young defensemen sputtered into the early years of their "primes" (in the mid-late 20s) as just top four defensemen overhyped when they were younger.
I love OEL, but I'm not betting any farms on him yet.
And yes, I agree Couturier+ is stupid. I think Couturier for OEL straight up is stupid from both sides as well.
Like I said, I dont think he is there yet, but I do think his play goes beyond playing 'a steady two way game'. Many players in recent history have jumped in to the NHL and impressed quickly, but few possess such poise at such a young age.
I would never claim that a young player is a sure thing. Like I said about Couturier above, it's stupid to
greatness from young players who have shown promise early. As far as OEL goes, I just think his ability to sense the game in his head is something that suggests a very high ceiling. Similarly, I think the same can be said about Couturier. I just think OEL has proven a bit more (as he should have being a sophomore to the rookie Couturier).
And as an aside, my personal wild card to develop into something great is Luke Schenn. If he could grow out of the brain fart phase and develop some adequate ability with the puck, I really think he could become a dominant presence on the ice. That seems to contradict most of what I've said above, but I think he still has the potential to grow into the defender everyone wanted him to be at the time of his draft. That's obviously a pretty optimistic statement, but I have a hunch that we will see his game really grow in Philly provided he isnt, ya know, missing an eye or anything...
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