RD Ryan Sproul (2011, 55th overall, Detroit)
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02-01-2013, 05:35 PM
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: The GTA
People in this thread seem to be talking about Sproul like he's some major defensive liability. Is he a perfect defender? Absolutely not, few CHL blueliners are. Is he a valuable two-way player? Yes.
Sproul is the type of defender who loves to take chances. He's VERY active off the rush and because of this, he can occasionally get pinned deep. But his above average skating ability usually allows him to get back to cover his position. There's no question that he'll have to refine his offensive tendencies at the next level. But most players do. Many of the elite offensive defenseman to come through the OHL in the past few years (Doughty, Pietrangelo, Hamilton, etc) have had the tendency to get caught in the offensive zone. The thinking is that they're creating more offense by being aggressive, than they're giving up scoring chances from it. Every once in a while, if you play that way, you'll get burned. But it certainly helps when you skate like Sproul does (or the above guys do). All three of the above guys (save maybe Hamilton who's still learning) refined their offensive approaches to pick their spots better. Sproul will have to learn to do the same and I have faith that he will.
In the defensive end, Sproul defends off the rush quite well. His size and mobility make him a tough beat to the net. He could certainly stand to play more physical one on one, but he's much more of a stick checker. Many defenseman in the NHL are effective using this method. In the corners is where Sproul doesn't hesitate to use his size. He will fight for loose pucks and he will put his man down hard if he has to. I think that once he enters the pro game, this aggressive aspect to his game will only grow more (judging by the feedback I've gotten about his performances at the Red Wings prospect camps).
The area that he needs to work on is his coverage in the zone, and his ability to tie up forwards near the crease. The former is something he's been working on since he entered the OHL and it's an area he has made progress in. He does occasionally make poor reads and can occasionally get caught in no man's land watching the play unfold. But this is something that can be taught. The later (tying up forwards) is an area that should develop with added strength. He'll need to play more physical near the crease at the next level to survive. And more often then net, bigger defenseman rise to this challenge.
I've long been a massive fan of Sproul and the potential he possesses. Those comparing him to the likes of MA Bergeron have no idea what type of player he is. He's definitely a very underrated prospect.
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