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02-21-2013, 09:33 AM
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More scouting reports from McKeen's draft blog:
Bo Horvat (C, 2013) – London

A smart, consummate team player who plays a solid and consistent two-way game .. trusted by the coaching staff and used in all situations .. excels at face-offs .. makes responsible plays, exploiting an above-average skill set .. routinely matches up against the opposition’s best players which factors in blunting his plus-minus totals .. makes clever puck decisions in close – and is a threat posting up in the slot as he packs a quick, heavy shooting release .. a growing slot presence as he shows improved timing and anticipation .. reads the play better than most and knows when to pounce into the open slot .. continues to get stronger physically which has permitted him to win an increasing majority of his board battles – not to mention a better base to hold his ground in the slot and exercise his shot .. not only possesses the good vision to distribute the puck – but is also an unselfish player by nature .. charges efficiently to the net and can put the puck on his weak side and still make a play, showcasing his overall strength – and ability to operate on all sides of his body .. can be a tyrant down low using his thick body to absorb checks, and is skilled at putting the puck in his skates to make a play .. excels sheltering the puck and then finding the open man .. would benefit from adding more of a physical dimension to his game .. will finish his checks, but doesn’t really go out of his way to do so .. his speed and quickness have notably improved as he appears a tad lighter on his skates – even though he still needs to develop his agility and use his edges more effectively .. a low-maintenance player and sound draft pick whose game is somewhat comparable to that of Boone Jenner, a Columbus second-rounder last summer.
Jesse Lees (RHD, 2013) – Kelowna

Undersized compared to some WHL stand outs, Lees brings an offensive punch to the Kelowna Rockets blueline. Playing up in the lineup recently due to injuries and improving with opportunity… Quickness and Speed are definite assets… Offensive instincts have garnered second unit PP time alongside fellow draft-eligible prospect Madison Bowey… His first 3-4 steps are quick, allowing him to move around defenders carrying the puck up ice… Has good top speed, however strength is his ability to move east-west and be elusive… Mans the point and has a knack for drawing in defenders… Uses quick footwork to find shooting lanes… Smart and crafty in the offensive zone, has good instincts and makes well-timed pinches… Has a very quick release on his wrist shot and his one-timer, both of which often find the net (currently second in Rockets defensemen scoring)… Speed helps Lees play close while defending… Shiftiness and quick hands contribute to good stick work and creation of takeaways… Doesn’t play very big or throw his weight around much… Has a tough time absorbing physical play… Could have trouble 5 on 5 against bigger NHL forwards… However it’s hard to ignore +38 in 52 GP, not an obvious liability… Needs time to grow and strengthen… Look for an NHL team to take a shot in later rounds.
Valeri Nichushkin (LW, 2013) – Traktor Chelyabinsk

Outstanding tournament, head and shoulders the best player .. an unstoppable force during long stretches of games as opponents could not find a way to stop him .. strong through entire games, yet really stepped up his play in the third periods .. played a very determined game and was the reason, along with goalie Shestyorkin, for a comeback 4-3 win over Team USA in which he scored once and assisted on two others in the third period .. scored twice against the Czech Republic in the final game – and almost turned the tide to Russia’s advantage as he buzzed around in the offensive zone for the majority of the final frame and did everything except getting the tying goal behind the Czech goalie .. even though it was a meaningless game as they had already won the tournament by winning their opening three games .. showed a much more complete two-way game than what he did in the U20 WJC .. demonstrated a team and defensive side to his game that hadn’t been seen much before .. such a strong skater with a powerful stride and excellent explosiveness in the first 4-to-5 strides .. reaches top speed instantly and is almost impossible to catch in a race for the puck .. very agile and quick on his skates – pivots and turns with the puck well under control .. his skating skills combined with his size and reach make him tough to contain .. strong on the puck and hard to knock of his feet due to a strong lower body and complemented by an expansive reach .. able to retain possession down low for long stretches of a shift with opponents just bouncing off him .. displayed impressive speed and puck control – and an ability to beat a defender either to the inside with skill – or on the outside with speed and power .. shifty, tough to defend 1-on-1 .. likes to carry the puck into the offensive zone and challenge opponents with speed .. asserts himself on the forecheck and works hard when losing the puck .. backchecked hard throughout the games .. also showed that he has some fine vision of the ice and can make good creative plays .. likes to set up on the left side on the power play and made some nice plays cross ice .. led by example at this event.

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