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Defense reigns in Pittsburgh Penguins? 2012 Fall Top 20

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Old
08-20-2012, 01:00 PM
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Defense reigns in Pittsburgh Penguins? 2012 Fall Top 20


With the addition of 12 new prospects to the pool, including nine draft picks, the Pittsburgh Penguins underwent a transformative off-season. The organization addressed not only their various weaknesses, but also added substantially to their defensive prospect depth, something that was already a great strength.

"We've got an outstanding group of [NHL] forwards in place for a number of years here (and) we got to make sure they get the puck," said Penguins Assistant Coach Todd Reirden. "We want to make sure we put an emphasis on defensemen that are mobile, who can defend, and can take the place of some of our older defensemen as we move forward here."

Aside from complementing their group of NHL forwards, the stockpiling of mobile defensemen allows the Penguins flexibility to move assets to address other needs. 

"We've wanted to target defensemen and as we've seen, those assets are the most valuable around the [NHL]," said Reirden.… read more



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08-20-2012, 01:55 PM
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Darth Vitale
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Nice run-down but the more I look at HF's ranking system of prospects and compare it to results over time, the more I think it needs to be simplified. Specifically the letter rankings. Probably you don't need 10 spots for talent side either. You'd be better off listing something like

A - Almost a lock to achieve this level
B - Could improve or fall a notch
C - Likely to fall a notch or more at the NHL level

1 - Below Average Skills and Skating for NHL Prospect: will be lucky to see an NHL game.
2 - Either Skills or Skating below average: will be lucky to earn 3rd pairing or 4th line spot on most teams
3 - Average Skills and Skating: has bottom pairing / 4th line potential on most teams
4 - Either Skills or Skating well above average, but some deficiencies: projects as 2nd pairing, 3rd line potential on most teams
5 - Excellent Skills and Skating: 1st/2nd Line, 1st/2nd Pairing potential on most teams
6 - Exceptional Prospect: Likely to become an elite player at his position (you might not average even 2 of these per draft - Malkin, Stamkos might register as 6A for example)
7 - Generational Talent (see also: only one in recent years is Crosby, as a point of comparison)

That would slot guys like Morrow, Despres as 5B, Bennett as a 4B, for example (on account of his skating and coming from a weaker amateur league), so then it becomes more clear how rare guys in the 6/7 category are. And then you get the studs who you're not sure if their game translates. Those guys could be a 5C. They rip it up at lower levels however because of size or work ethic or whatever, it's pretty clear they won't continue to dominate even though they might be a decent pick.


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08-20-2012, 02:06 PM
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Ian Altenbaugh
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Tweaking or altering the ratings & grades is something we are exploring in the near future. The biggest thing is whether or not it should be a wholesale change or a tweak like you suggested. It might be one then the other depending. We figure though, with the new site format, it's a good opportunity to explore those options. I wouldn't anticipate it for this season, but it's definitely something we will probably implement long-term likely in a year or so. It's a huge undertaking of a project...adjusting the grades and ratings for almost 1000+ players.

Expanding the rankings to make the bottom 5 numbers used more (like a 1 would be a career ECHLer and a 10 would be Bobby Orr) is something I have suggested. I know what you mean about the grades to.

At this point, the grades simply determine the likelihood a player is going to meet his upside, and provide a range. A 7.0D could range anywhere from a 7 (top six winger) to a 4 (career minor-leaguer). A 7.5B on the other hand ranges from a 7.5 (number three defenseman) to a 6.5 (number five or six defenseman depending on skill-set).

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08-20-2012, 02:07 PM
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Darth Vitale
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Good to know you guys are working on it Ian.

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08-20-2012, 03:01 PM
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Our defensive depth is really something to behold. The sixth best blueliner on that list is the best shutdown prospect I've seen in awhile.

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08-20-2012, 03:56 PM
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I'm kind of curious to know why Dumoulin dropped from a 7.5B to a 7.0B?

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08-20-2012, 04:15 PM
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I wish Toronto had drafted Uher. He reminds me of Grabovski.

Such a strong group of prospects from an already great Pens team. Scary to think what that blueline will look like in a few years.

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08-20-2012, 04:16 PM
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I wish Toronto had drafted Uher. He reminds me of Grabovski.

Such a strong group of prospects from an already great Pens team. Scary to think what that blueline will look like in a few years.
very young

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08-20-2012, 04:17 PM
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Our defensive depth is really something to behold. The sixth best blueliner on that list is the best shutdown prospect I've seen in awhile.
Just quoting this to emphasize Harrington's general awesomeness. He's so steady. If this were the dark ages group he'd be a top 4 defenceman for the Pens right now.

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08-20-2012, 05:22 PM
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Just quoting this to emphasize Harrington's general awesomeness. He's so steady. If this were the dark ages group he'd be a top 4 defenceman for the Pens right now.
Not to suggest that our fans are boxscore watchers, but I know it's more difficult for Americans to watch junior hockey.

Virtually everything Harrington is exceptional at are things that don't show up in the stats, so I'm convinced that the more people watch him, the higher he'll move up the ranks. And that's no slight on our other fine young blueliners - Harrington's just that impressive.

On the PK for example, if there's a 50/50 battle for the puck in the corner, it's an automatic that Harry's coming out with the biscuit and clearing it safely. His compete level and efficiency are off the charts.

I'm so glad we have him. And to think many on the board (including myself) were rolling our eyes at the pick when it happened.

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08-20-2012, 06:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowdy Roddy Peeper View Post
Not to suggest that our fans are boxscore watchers, but I know it's more difficult for Americans to watch junior hockey.

Virtually everything Harrington is exceptional at are things that don't show up in the stats, so I'm convinced that the more people watch him, the higher he'll move up the ranks. And that's no slight on our other fine young blueliners - Harrington's just that impressive.

On the PK for example, if there's a 50/50 battle for the puck in the corner, it's an automatic that Harry's coming out with the biscuit and clearing it safely. His compete level and efficiency are off the charts.

I'm so glad we have him. And to think many on the board (including myself) were rolling our eyes at the pick when it happened.
We stick with what we're good at

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08-20-2012, 06:20 PM
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6 of the top 7 are defensemen and 3 of the top 6 were acquired at the draft.

Surprised to see a lot of the players have their rankings dropped when they actually had good seasons (Wilson), others hold steady after having completely awful seasons (Kuhnhackl), and still others have their ranking not drop far enough (Tangradi).

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08-20-2012, 06:22 PM
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We stick with what we're good at
True dat. That's why I give Shero the benefit of the doubt even though we acquired 3700 defense prospects at the draft.

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08-20-2012, 06:31 PM
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Harrington intrigues me. I'll be really curious to see how he performs once he hits the pro ranks.

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08-20-2012, 06:35 PM
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Harrington intrigues me. I'll be really curious to see how he performs once he hits the pro ranks.
Did you catch much of him at last year's WJCs or Mem Cup?

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08-20-2012, 08:26 PM
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Marcantuoni was 18th, that seems a little low especially since NHL.com had him as our 10th.

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08-20-2012, 08:37 PM
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Marcantuoni was 18th, that seems a little low especially since NHL.com had him as our 10th.
He's livin' on potential - people are mesmerized by his status coming into this season, but he was available in the 4th round for a reason.

I wouldn't even have him in the Top 20 at this point. Kid has a lot to prove.

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08-20-2012, 09:02 PM
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He's livin' on potential - people are mesmerized by his status coming into this season, but he was available in the 4th round for a reason.

I wouldn't even have him in the Top 20 at this point. Kid has a lot to prove.
I feel the same way. Don't know why everyone is all gung-ho about him already.

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08-20-2012, 09:37 PM
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I feel the same way. Don't know why everyone is all gung-ho about him already.
People see upside and neglect the very real downside, especially for a player who hasn't even produced halfway decently in juniors yet.

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08-20-2012, 10:10 PM
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People see upside and neglect the very real downside, especially for a player who hasn't even produced halfway decently in juniors yet.
My guess is the words "potential first rounder" immediately got people excited.

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08-21-2012, 02:59 PM
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My guess is the words "potential first rounder" immediately got people excited.
Ding ding ding - we have a Winner!

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08-21-2012, 03:59 PM
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I'm kind of curious to know why Dumoulin dropped from a 7.5B to a 7.0B?
It's important to know that the adjustment in rating has nothing to do with anything bad with Dumoulin, rather than me having a slightly different projection for him than what the Canes writer did. I talked to a lot of people (including our Canes writer, Cory Lavalette, who's top notch) but also some people I trust who watch a lot of BC games, and adjusted the ranking a little based on what they told me. Really it's a case of two people watching the same thing and seeing something different. The biggest reason for the drop is I don't think he has quite the offensive potential that others do. I see him as kind of a Coburn-lite. He could actually post comparable numbers (heh bet that Coburn's numbers will jump this year though!) but he does not have quite the reach or dominating physical presence. Dumoulin has great size, his size and ability to move around with it is probably his greatest asset. At prospect camp in the locker room, he was taller in sandals than some players were on skates. Regardless of his exact rating/grade, he projects as a top-four guy who can kill penalties, shutdown guys, but also move the puck up ice. He's probably better suited physically as the safety-valve guy, he has good puck retrieval ability and is big, tough, strong and mobile.

When the Penguins drafted Harrington in 2011, I was actually one of the first people to talk to him. I encountered him in the hallway on the way to the media room and we chatted we talked Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Kitchener. He's a really quiet, polite young man who I can't help but root for. Watching him play last year for London, but more importantly in the WJCs and Memorial Cup, really vindicated the Penguins decision to sign him as early on as they did as well. In my writeup for him in the top-20, I could've provided a similar quote about him from just about every member of the Penguins staff who made themselves available. He is a very intuitive player and from my understanding, the type of player who rarely makes a mistake more than once. No bad major habits...the Hunters loved him as well. I think, and I'm not alone in this, that he could be a better player in the pros than in the jrs, his game is very systems oriented and seems like it should translate really well to the Pros. Similar to Despres but better at this point in his career. The HF writer who strongly recommended I give him a 7B said he should be the next Rob Scuderi but better. He could be a great partner for Maatta, Morrow, or Pouliot one day.

Matia Marcantuoni has a lot of charm and swagger, which goes a long way in gaining a loyal following. However, if you combine what Marcantuoni has done over his past two years in the OHL it would be one average to above average season for a player at his age in the league, so lets not get too excited, too quickly. The thing that really turns on scouts to Marcantuoni is his speed. It was probably among the top overall forwards in skating in the draft. He is shifty, has lots of power and strength, top speed is easily among the best, and he's extremely explosive. If you were to rate them all from 1-10 (which is actually what CSS does) none would be below 7. If his overall skating was to be rated 1-10 it'd be an 8.5 or 9. In terms of pure skating, the only forwards in the 2012 draft who were probably better were Yakupov, Aberg, Athanasiou, and Collberg. Matia has compared his skating to Carl Hagelin and Sergei Federov and those comparions aren't unfounded. He even drives to the net with the puck similarly to Federov, flying down ice with that wide stance.

The problem is Matia does not play a complete game offensively. He loves to skate to pucks and hit guys, and is pretty effective in the corners, but his work on the boards is inconsistent. His puck-distribution isn't great either. He also needs to learn to use his speed to create more offense, become more of a playmaker (meaning he needs to learn to utilize his situations and linemates better, not pass more). He is also a little lazy defensively, which raises a lot of red flags. Being that he is human, scouts can not decide whether his lack of consistent defensive play is a general lack of defensive awareness (which is a huge red flag...that's a hockey sense thing and will be difficult for him to learn), laziness (really common red flag but level of concern varies greatly on an individual basis), or arrogance (Matia has even said in interviews he gets out of position sometimes but he is fast enough to get back and make up for it). Regardless, he needs to be more aware of the ramifications of his decisions, think farther ahead when he is on offense, so he does not create scoring chances for the other team. If he was a purely skilled player, this would not be a major issue but he is the type of player who creates a lot of offense through driving to the net, playing in traffic, and general hard work, so he has to make really smart decisions with the puck. Carl Hagelin may be fast, but it is his ability to play defense and make smart decisions that allowed him to have so much chemistry with Richards and Gaborik last year.

Most of the drops in the top-20 were more a reflection on the improvement within the system. I've never covered the team when they had this many offensive prospects before. In the past some of their top offensive players were guys like Luca Caputi and Nathan Moon. In particular Bennett and Blueger. Both are not proven yet, but are the real deal in terms of natural offensive creativity and ability. It's going to be awhile, but Blueger has all of the tools, from puck skills to chippiness, to be really dynamic.

Wilson I dropped mostly because I think when all is said and done he is more likely to be a top-nine, middle of the lineup forward than a top-six one. He has a lot of skill, but his numbers are somewhat a reflection of the fact the UML offense is geared around him. They have a better group of guys this year than last, so it'll be interesting if his production maintains, dips, or spikes.

Tangradi is right where he should be. He's established himself as a bottom-six forward and is now earning his way up the lineup. He had a serious injury (nerve damage, severed tendon) two years ago that took a long time for him to fully recover from. He also was not in a favorable situation having to battle Craig Adams, Richard Park, or any older veteran for ice time, because Dan Bylsma loves playing veterans. I think there was way too much expectation heaped on him way too early on and I am partially to blame for that as well. Penguins fans have grown accustomed to players breaking into the NHL early and staying, I think many NHL fans have because that is the way the first few years of the lockout have been, and every year there are a big handful of teams who play 20-year-olds who probably shouldn't be in the NHL (BJs, Oilers, basically any team that is in perpetual rebuild mode). I only point to guys like Bill Guerin and Ryan Malone as good examples of players who did not really find their comfort zone at the NHL level until they were in their early to mid-twenties. Bill Guerin I think is a big fan of Tangradi and has gone as far to say he was in the same situation early in his NHL career. I've also talked to Eric a bit and he said that he needed to learn to play every shift like it was his last, meaning don't try and have a few big hits per game, try and have a few big hits per shift. Try and make a play or create energy every time you step on the ice, whether it's getting a puck to safety, making a big hit, or creating offense. It was a mindset that he had much more difficulty implementing than comprehending. That all being said, the time is now. If he falters this year expectations will have severely diminished.

Kuhnhackl had an okay season. I do my best to glean information from as many people as possible to see how the Penguins felt one way or the other about a player's season and the general thought was he lost a lot of confidence after that Murphy hit. He also badly sprained his knee, which I think might have been lost in a lot of the drama of the huge hit and his 20 game suspension. 20 games is a huge amount to miss in a row and it was surprising for me to see him really come out of the gates after his suspension was up. Much less surprising to see him tail off. He has had issues over his conditioning, he's not physically a thickly built guy and neither was his dad. He is fairly durable though. I think it should be important to point out Tom did still manage 25 points in 30 games with Niagara and was a plus-17. He played a much different role and had different linemates. The chemistry he had on Windsor with Khoko can't be overstated enough. The main reason he didn't move much in the ranking is because regardless of his numbers, his game remains the same and his game is good. He is similar to James Neal in that he does a lot of good work that goes unnoticed, most notably getting into good scoring position. He's also a skilled guy who plays hard.

I was surprised to hear the comparison to Grabovski for Uher but I could see that from a skill standpoint. Uher has some good wheels and skills.

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08-21-2012, 04:15 PM
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Great stuff thanks for the work

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08-21-2012, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Altenbaugh View Post
It's important to know that the adjustment in rating has nothing to do with anything bad with Dumoulin, rather than me having a slightly different projection for him than what the Canes writer did. I talked to a lot of people (including our Canes writer, Cory Lavalette, who's top notch) but also some people I trust who watch a lot of BC games, and adjusted the ranking a little based on what they told me. Really it's a case of two people watching the same thing and seeing something different. The biggest reason for the drop is I don't think he has quite the offensive potential that others do. I see him as kind of a Coburn-lite. He could actually post comparable numbers (heh bet that Coburn's numbers will jump this year though!) but he does not have quite the reach or dominating physical presence. Dumoulin has great size, his size and ability to move around with it is probably his greatest asset. At prospect camp in the locker room, he was taller in sandals than some players were on skates. Regardless of his exact rating/grade, he projects as a top-four guy who can kill penalties, shutdown guys, but also move the puck up ice. He's probably better suited physically as the safety-valve guy, he has good puck retrieval ability and is big, tough, strong and mobile.

When the Penguins drafted Harrington in 2011, I was actually one of the first people to talk to him. I encountered him in the hallway on the way to the media room and we chatted we talked Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Kitchener. He's a really quiet, polite young man who I can't help but root for. Watching him play last year for London, but more importantly in the WJCs and Memorial Cup, really vindicated the Penguins decision to sign him as early on as they did as well. In my writeup for him in the top-20, I could've provided a similar quote about him from just about every member of the Penguins staff who made themselves available. He is a very intuitive player and from my understanding, the type of player who rarely makes a mistake more than once. No bad major habits...the Hunters loved him as well. I think, and I'm not alone in this, that he could be a better player in the pros than in the jrs, his game is very systems oriented and seems like it should translate really well to the Pros. Similar to Despres but better at this point in his career. The HF writer who strongly recommended I give him a 7B said he should be the next Rob Scuderi but better. He could be a great partner for Maatta, Morrow, or Pouliot one day.

Matia Marcantuoni has a lot of charm and swagger, which goes a long way in gaining a loyal following. However, if you combine what Marcantuoni has done over his past two years in the OHL it would be one average to above average season for a player at his age in the league, so lets not get too excited, too quickly. The thing that really turns on scouts to Marcantuoni is his speed. It was probably among the top overall forwards in skating in the draft. He is shifty, has lots of power and strength, top speed is easily among the best, and he's extremely explosive. If you were to rate them all from 1-10 (which is actually what CSS does) none would be below 7. If his overall skating was to be rated 1-10 it'd be an 8.5 or 9. In terms of pure skating, the only forwards in the 2012 draft who were probably better were Yakupov, Aberg, Athanasiou, and Collberg. Matia has compared his skating to Carl Hagelin and Sergei Federov and those comparions aren't unfounded. He even drives to the net with the puck similarly to Federov, flying down ice with that wide stance.

The problem is Matia does not play a complete game offensively. He loves to skate to pucks and hit guys, and is pretty effective in the corners, but his work on the boards is inconsistent. His puck-distribution isn't great either. He also needs to learn to use his speed to create more offense, become more of a playmaker (meaning he needs to learn to utilize his situations and linemates better, not pass more). He is also a little lazy defensively, which raises a lot of red flags. Being that he is human, scouts can not decide whether his lack of consistent defensive play is a general lack of defensive awareness (which is a huge red flag...that's a hockey sense thing and will be difficult for him to learn), laziness (really common red flag but level of concern varies greatly on an individual basis), or arrogance (Matia has even said in interviews he gets out of position sometimes but he is fast enough to get back and make up for it). Regardless, he needs to be more aware of the ramifications of his decisions, think farther ahead when he is on offense, so he does not create scoring chances for the other team. If he was a purely skilled player, this would not be a major issue but he is the type of player who creates a lot of offense through driving to the net, playing in traffic, and general hard work, so he has to make really smart decisions with the puck. Carl Hagelin may be fast, but it is his ability to play defense and make smart decisions that allowed him to have so much chemistry with Richards and Gaborik last year.

Most of the drops in the top-20 were more a reflection on the improvement within the system. I've never covered the team when they had this many offensive prospects before. In the past some of their top offensive players were guys like Luca Caputi and Nathan Moon. In particular Bennett and Blueger. Both are not proven yet, but are the real deal in terms of natural offensive creativity and ability. It's going to be awhile, but Blueger has all of the tools, from puck skills to chippiness, to be really dynamic.

Wilson I dropped mostly because I think when all is said and done he is more likely to be a top-nine, middle of the lineup forward than a top-six one. He has a lot of skill, but his numbers are somewhat a reflection of the fact the UML offense is geared around him. They have a better group of guys this year than last, so it'll be interesting if his production maintains, dips, or spikes.

Tangradi is right where he should be. He's established himself as a bottom-six forward and is now earning his way up the lineup. He had a serious injury (nerve damage, severed tendon) two years ago that took a long time for him to fully recover from. He also was not in a favorable situation having to battle Craig Adams, Richard Park, or any older veteran for ice time, because Dan Bylsma loves playing veterans. I think there was way too much expectation heaped on him way too early on and I am partially to blame for that as well. Penguins fans have grown accustomed to players breaking into the NHL early and staying, I think many NHL fans have because that is the way the first few years of the lockout have been, and every year there are a big handful of teams who play 20-year-olds who probably shouldn't be in the NHL (BJs, Oilers, basically any team that is in perpetual rebuild mode). I only point to guys like Bill Guerin and Ryan Malone as good examples of players who did not really find their comfort zone at the NHL level until they were in their early to mid-twenties. Bill Guerin I think is a big fan of Tangradi and has gone as far to say he was in the same situation early in his NHL career. I've also talked to Eric a bit and he said that he needed to learn to play every shift like it was his last, meaning don't try and have a few big hits per game, try and have a few big hits per shift. Try and make a play or create energy every time you step on the ice, whether it's getting a puck to safety, making a big hit, or creating offense. It was a mindset that he had much more difficulty implementing than comprehending. That all being said, the time is now. If he falters this year expectations will have severely diminished.

Kuhnhackl had an okay season. I do my best to glean information from as many people as possible to see how the Penguins felt one way or the other about a player's season and the general thought was he lost a lot of confidence after that Murphy hit. He also badly sprained his knee, which I think might have been lost in a lot of the drama of the huge hit and his 20 game suspension. 20 games is a huge amount to miss in a row and it was surprising for me to see him really come out of the gates after his suspension was up. Much less surprising to see him tail off. He has had issues over his conditioning, he's not physically a thickly built guy and neither was his dad. He is fairly durable though. I think it should be important to point out Tom did still manage 25 points in 30 games with Niagara and was a plus-17. He played a much different role and had different linemates. The chemistry he had on Windsor with Khoko can't be overstated enough. The main reason he didn't move much in the ranking is because regardless of his numbers, his game remains the same and his game is good. He is similar to James Neal in that he does a lot of good work that goes unnoticed, most notably getting into good scoring position. He's also a skilled guy who plays hard.

I was surprised to hear the comparison to Grabovski for Uher but I could see that from a skill standpoint. Uher has some good wheels and skills.
Wow, great post. Thanks. I'm not going to split hairs over Wilson's ranking, but I think the biggest red flag that goes up for Kunhackl was his goal scoring rate dropping to less than half (both regular season and playoffs) of the previous season's. Let's see which Tom shows up for WBS (or Wheeling?).

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08-21-2012, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Ian Altenbaugh View Post
It's important to know that the adjustment in rating has nothing to do with anything bad with Dumoulin, rather than me having a slightly different projection for him than what the Canes writer did. I talked to a lot of people (including our Canes writer, Cory Lavalette, who's top notch) but also some people I trust who watch a lot of BC games, and adjusted the ranking a little based on what they told me. Really it's a case of two people watching the same thing and seeing something different. The biggest reason for the drop is I don't think he has quite the offensive potential that others do. I see him as kind of a Coburn-lite. He could actually post comparable numbers (heh bet that Coburn's numbers will jump this year though!) but he does not have quite the reach or dominating physical presence. Dumoulin has great size, his size and ability to move around with it is probably his greatest asset. At prospect camp in the locker room, he was taller in sandals than some players were on skates. Regardless of his exact rating/grade, he projects as a top-four guy who can kill penalties, shutdown guys, but also move the puck up ice. He's probably better suited physically as the safety-valve guy, he has good puck retrieval ability and is big, tough, strong and mobile.

When the Penguins drafted Harrington in 2011, I was actually one of the first people to talk to him. I encountered him in the hallway on the way to the media room and we chatted we talked Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and Kitchener. He's a really quiet, polite young man who I can't help but root for. Watching him play last year for London, but more importantly in the WJCs and Memorial Cup, really vindicated the Penguins decision to sign him as early on as they did as well. In my writeup for him in the top-20, I could've provided a similar quote about him from just about every member of the Penguins staff who made themselves available. He is a very intuitive player and from my understanding, the type of player who rarely makes a mistake more than once. No bad major habits...the Hunters loved him as well. I think, and I'm not alone in this, that he could be a better player in the pros than in the jrs, his game is very systems oriented and seems like it should translate really well to the Pros. Similar to Despres but better at this point in his career. The HF writer who strongly recommended I give him a 7B said he should be the next Rob Scuderi but better. He could be a great partner for Maatta, Morrow, or Pouliot one day.

Matia Marcantuoni has a lot of charm and swagger, which goes a long way in gaining a loyal following. However, if you combine what Marcantuoni has done over his past two years in the OHL it would be one average to above average season for a player at his age in the league, so lets not get too excited, too quickly. The thing that really turns on scouts to Marcantuoni is his speed. It was probably among the top overall forwards in skating in the draft. He is shifty, has lots of power and strength, top speed is easily among the best, and he's extremely explosive. If you were to rate them all from 1-10 (which is actually what CSS does) none would be below 7. If his overall skating was to be rated 1-10 it'd be an 8.5 or 9. In terms of pure skating, the only forwards in the 2012 draft who were probably better were Yakupov, Aberg, Athanasiou, and Collberg. Matia has compared his skating to Carl Hagelin and Sergei Federov and those comparions aren't unfounded. He even drives to the net with the puck similarly to Federov, flying down ice with that wide stance.

The problem is Matia does not play a complete game offensively. He loves to skate to pucks and hit guys, and is pretty effective in the corners, but his work on the boards is inconsistent. His puck-distribution isn't great either. He also needs to learn to use his speed to create more offense, become more of a playmaker (meaning he needs to learn to utilize his situations and linemates better, not pass more). He is also a little lazy defensively, which raises a lot of red flags. Being that he is human, scouts can not decide whether his lack of consistent defensive play is a general lack of defensive awareness (which is a huge red flag...that's a hockey sense thing and will be difficult for him to learn), laziness (really common red flag but level of concern varies greatly on an individual basis), or arrogance (Matia has even said in interviews he gets out of position sometimes but he is fast enough to get back and make up for it). Regardless, he needs to be more aware of the ramifications of his decisions, think farther ahead when he is on offense, so he does not create scoring chances for the other team. If he was a purely skilled player, this would not be a major issue but he is the type of player who creates a lot of offense through driving to the net, playing in traffic, and general hard work, so he has to make really smart decisions with the puck. Carl Hagelin may be fast, but it is his ability to play defense and make smart decisions that allowed him to have so much chemistry with Richards and Gaborik last year.

Most of the drops in the top-20 were more a reflection on the improvement within the system. I've never covered the team when they had this many offensive prospects before. In the past some of their top offensive players were guys like Luca Caputi and Nathan Moon. In particular Bennett and Blueger. Both are not proven yet, but are the real deal in terms of natural offensive creativity and ability. It's going to be awhile, but Blueger has all of the tools, from puck skills to chippiness, to be really dynamic.

Wilson I dropped mostly because I think when all is said and done he is more likely to be a top-nine, middle of the lineup forward than a top-six one. He has a lot of skill, but his numbers are somewhat a reflection of the fact the UML offense is geared around him. They have a better group of guys this year than last, so it'll be interesting if his production maintains, dips, or spikes.

Tangradi is right where he should be. He's established himself as a bottom-six forward and is now earning his way up the lineup. He had a serious injury (nerve damage, severed tendon) two years ago that took a long time for him to fully recover from. He also was not in a favorable situation having to battle Craig Adams, Richard Park, or any older veteran for ice time, because Dan Bylsma loves playing veterans. I think there was way too much expectation heaped on him way too early on and I am partially to blame for that as well. Penguins fans have grown accustomed to players breaking into the NHL early and staying, I think many NHL fans have because that is the way the first few years of the lockout have been, and every year there are a big handful of teams who play 20-year-olds who probably shouldn't be in the NHL (BJs, Oilers, basically any team that is in perpetual rebuild mode). I only point to guys like Bill Guerin and Ryan Malone as good examples of players who did not really find their comfort zone at the NHL level until they were in their early to mid-twenties. Bill Guerin I think is a big fan of Tangradi and has gone as far to say he was in the same situation early in his NHL career. I've also talked to Eric a bit and he said that he needed to learn to play every shift like it was his last, meaning don't try and have a few big hits per game, try and have a few big hits per shift. Try and make a play or create energy every time you step on the ice, whether it's getting a puck to safety, making a big hit, or creating offense. It was a mindset that he had much more difficulty implementing than comprehending. That all being said, the time is now. If he falters this year expectations will have severely diminished.

Kuhnhackl had an okay season. I do my best to glean information from as many people as possible to see how the Penguins felt one way or the other about a player's season and the general thought was he lost a lot of confidence after that Murphy hit. He also badly sprained his knee, which I think might have been lost in a lot of the drama of the huge hit and his 20 game suspension. 20 games is a huge amount to miss in a row and it was surprising for me to see him really come out of the gates after his suspension was up. Much less surprising to see him tail off. He has had issues over his conditioning, he's not physically a thickly built guy and neither was his dad. He is fairly durable though. I think it should be important to point out Tom did still manage 25 points in 30 games with Niagara and was a plus-17. He played a much different role and had different linemates. The chemistry he had on Windsor with Khoko can't be overstated enough. The main reason he didn't move much in the ranking is because regardless of his numbers, his game remains the same and his game is good. He is similar to James Neal in that he does a lot of good work that goes unnoticed, most notably getting into good scoring position. He's also a skilled guy who plays hard.

I was surprised to hear the comparison to Grabovski for Uher but I could see that from a skill standpoint. Uher has some good wheels and skills.
I'll be damned, a gargantuan post that was actually worth the read.

Great work, very thorough.

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