The Leafs Nation big board: Top Defencemen & Goalies

(Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

(Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Yesterday we released our “Big Board” at The Leafs Nation to introduce us to all the potential players that Brian Burke will select with the #5 overall pick.

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Using the collective analysis of Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus and Craig Button of TSN, I pieced together common things said and written about each prospect, along with what we ought to like and not like about the perceived talents of a hockey player. Defencemen are tough to pin down in any draft year, since the traditional stats we use to judge forwards are thrown out the window in favour of players who can influence possession, play physical or quarterback a powerplay.

Here are TLN’s preferred five defencemen ahead of Friday’s selection:

#1 – Ryan Murray, Everett Silvertips (WHL)

09/13/1993 – 6’0.5″ 195

Common threads: “Offensively, he is efficient but he will help the offense because his decision making with the puck allows his team to sustain the attack. He will not race up and down the ice catching your eye” “he not will force the big passes if they are not there” “While Murray does not project as an elite prospect, he has a low risk tag on his projection.”

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What I like: Simple, low-risk and low-maintence. Puck-moving defencemen are tough to come across for cheap in this day and age.

What I don’t like: He’s one of the older guys in the draft, so he’s got about a half of year of development over most of these guys.

#2 – Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

01/24/1994 – 6’4″ 207

Common threads: “He used to be a fringe skater but he really moves around better and his first few steps don’t look as heavy” “He is a very good skater with strong balance and agility and along with his size, he is extremely difficult to break down 1-1 and gain an advantage on” “What separates him from other big defensemen is that he has the puck skills to make people miss”

What I like: Doesn’t wow at either end, but can move the puck well in both zones. He has an NHL-sized frame.

What I don’t like: My vision is clouded because I’ve seen him more than anybody else on this list, but my impression was that he likes to be more aggressive offensively, which could make him prone to lapses, and NHLers will capitalize on mistakes better than WHLers will.

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#3 – Mathew Dumba, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

07/25/1994 – 6’0″ 183

Common threads: “While he can defend with his mobility and reads, he also is a player who regularly throws big hits, embraces the physical aspect of the game” “He can do it offensively, defensively and physically which is a rare blend in defensemen” “He passes the puck well and sees the play well” “He does try to do too much which is one of his main issues, but one shouldn’t mistake that for selfishness”

What I like: His age. Dumba is nearly a full year younger than Ryan Murray, meaning there’s room to improve, and he’ll probably crack the NHL with a larger from than 6’0″.

What I don’t like: General worries about what kind of player most defencemen turn into when they don’t get to carry the puck through the neutral zone every second possession.

#4 – Cody Ceci, Ottawa 67s (OHL)

12/21/1993 – 6’3″ 207

Common threads: “He goes about the game playing in all of the important situations and at the critical times” “Ceci is a plus thinker who sees the ice very well, can make good split second decisions, and is able to quarter back the power play” “running the power play with a combination of passing and shooting” “puck skills are about average, but he creates offense the way a lot of coaches like as he generates a quick transition game and is a very good passer”

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What I like: Smart hockey players who are plus-possession guys are my favourite.

What I don’t like: Concerns about his skating. That tends to keep a guy back for an extra year or so, which you don’t want if the Leafs are going to want somebody in the lineup for the start of the 2013-14 season.

#5 – Jacob Trouba, USNTDP/University of Michigan (USHL/NCAA)

02/06/1994 – 6’2″ 196

Common threads: “Very good understanding of the game” “he’s a very difficult player to break down defensively and to gain the upper hand on” “Trouba is a standout in the defensive end of the rink with great energy and work ethic on top an impressive physical game” “He reads his assignments well, uses his great mobility to close gaps quickly”

What I like: Smart hockey players, a guy who’s going to fill out his body and become a potential physical presence.

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What I don’t like: Seems like he has a limited ability to be effective when he joins the rush, and you don’t want to take a guy this high in the draft who can’t play two ways. Also, he’s an American college kid, so rabble.




For more on the study between junior hockey players and age, try these two links.

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The Leafs Nation will be represented at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh this weekend. Follow our coverage at this blog, or Nations writers Kent WilsonThomas Drance or myself on Twitter for the lastest.

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  • Danny Gray

    I read this and thought about the Zone Entry project that Eric T is working on. As you say it’s much harder for players to just waltz through the neutral zone in the NHL, if a guy is really good at that in Junior it may translate to the NHL, first pass, and skating would be what I’d look for with these D.