June 9, 2013

Winging it: Bruins' second and third-round projections

By Kirk Luedeke

New York native Justin Bailey had 36 points in 57 regular-season games for the Kitchener Rangers in his first season in the OHL.

The 2013 NHL Entry Draft preview series for the Boston Bruins continues with a look at possible selections for the team at the end of the second and third rounds of the draft in Newark, N.J. June 30.

After previously breaking down the center position in the late second round, the focus on offense will add more depth to a system that already has a significant quantity of prospects, with not a lot of open spots in the next several years.

Here is a look at some prospects on the right and left wings with information gleaned from scouting reports provided by the Red Line Report independent scouting service 2013 Draft Guide and feedback from NHL scout sources.

Justin Bailey, RW Kitchener (OHL) — Don’t expect this raw, but talented winger with upside to be on the board when Boston picks, but if he is, then the B’s would be wise to pounce. The son of former NFL linebacker Carlton Bailey has an awkward skating stride, but is passionate about hockey and skilled.

Red Line Report says: “He always looks like he should be a player with all the physical tools in the word: has great size/strength, speed and puckhandling ability.”

Oliver Bjorkstrand, LW/RW Portland (WHL) — If the B’s lost their shot at Winterhawks scoring ace Nic Petan, they might be able to snag a nice consolation prize at the end of the second round. This skilled Dane brings similar characteristics to the ice as current fan favorite Brad Marchand. A fast, agitating presence who found the back of the net 31 times this season, he’s the kind of quality depth addition who could come with a nice payoff if he gets that far in the order.

Red Line Report says: “Nasty little agitator extraordinaire will almost always get in the last shot between linesmen in any scrum, only to skate away when a bigger opponent shows up.”

Nick Baptiste, RW Sudbury (OHL) - Baptiste’s rankings are all over the map, but he helped himself with an outstanding performance in April’s World Under-18 tourney in Sochi, Russia.  When on his game, Baptiste is a prototypical power forward with size, skating, shot and physicality. Questions about his hockey sense and intensity could see him fall lower than his talent warrants.

The Buzz: "He has the tools, but just doesn't do it for me," said an NHL scout with an Eastern Conference team during a break in the scouting combine. "I'll be fine if someone else reaches for him."

Red Line Report says: “Has what it takes to be a solid pro, but is maddeningly inconsistent from game-to-game, even shift-to-shift- a real Jekyll-and-Hyde.”

 William Carrier, LW Cape Breton (QMJHL) - A serious ankle injury derailed a promising season, but will it be enough for Carrier to be available in the final few picks in the second round? His well-rounded game reminds scouts of a young Patrice Bergeron as a smart passer who may not have elite speed, but outworks and thinks opponents.

The Buzz: "Carrier is under the radar because of his injury," the NHL scout said. "But I figure if a team liked him enough before, not a lot has changed."

Red Line Report says: “Sturdily built winger plays a north-south game and likes to carry the puck and take it hard to the net.”

Anthony Duclair, LW Quebec (QMJHL) - This Remparts standout brings just about everything the Bruins value except for the work ethic. His explosive speed and dangerous stickhandling moves and ability to dangle puts opposing defenses on their heels.  His production fell off to 20 goals, 50 points after 31 and 66 a season ago, but he has the talent to bounce back if he addresses his intensity and commitment to the game.

Red Line Report says: “Very difficult to contain when he’s at full throttle, and can make plays at top speed, but has tendency to stay outside on the rush, not often cutting inside or driving to the net.”

John Hayden (Greenwich, Conn.), RW U.S. NTDP (USHL) - Big, powerful specimen has the physical attributes and soft hands to be a NHL player, but needs to improve his first few steps and agility on skates. A horse that can take the puck and cycle it at will, he also possesses a heavy, hard shot. If you believe that power wingers will be more in demand after teams have watched Milan Lucic run roughshod over opponents in these playoffs, then Hayden is a shoo-in for top-50 in Newark. But if you focus on the upside and projections, he looks more like a third- or fourth-liner, and that could see him slide a bit.

The Buzz: “He’s a physical beast already and is only going to get stronger,” said a Western Conference scout. “If he can get a little quicker, he could be a valuable addition for the team that drafts him.”

Red Line Report says: “Dominates down low in the offensive (zone) corners, winning the 1-on-1 puck battles and making power moves to the crease.”

Jackson Houck, RW Vancouver (WHL) - Heavy feet the only real knock on this game and engaged power forward. The North Vancouver native is a gritty, competitive Bruins-type of player who does a bit of everything, including scoring goals (23 on a poor offensive club). The question that remains for Houck at the draft seems to be whether he’s a second- or third-round pick.

The Buzz: “Establishes himself down low and out front with a great understanding of how to separate players off the puck,” said Mark Staudinger, Red Line Report’s Western Canada scout. “Accurate heads up passer can find teammates off the cycle. Playing in a better scenario any other year he should be a Top. 60 pick, yet could easily be available for the Bruins second pick in the third (round).”

Red Line Report says: “Aggressive style draws defenders to him and opens up ice for linemates.”

Artturi Lehkonen, RW KalPa (Finland) — Smallish winger has the wicked shot, offensive instincts and soft hands to be a goal scorer. More quick than fast, he could be a nice value pick in the late second round, but is not likely to be on the board at the end of the third. A competitive player who is willing to pay the price (and has had several concussions for his efforts), he nonetheless does not have the size or strength to directly take on bigger defenders.

Red Line Report says: “Creative and quite unpredictable with outstanding hockey sense…a true sniper who constantly finds open space to receive passes and pull the trigger on a blurry fast release.”

Nick Moutrey, RW Saginaw (OHL) — 6-foot-2 banger doesn’t have a great deal to get excited about in terms of skills and upside, but plays an hard-nosed game and finishes his checks. Good skater for his size who has an aggressive approach and will stick up for his teammates. Not a bad option in the late third round if he’s on the board, as his 43 points could mean some untapped offensive potential.

Red Line Report says: “Lacks high-end skills, but has started to figure out the offensive side of the game and put up some numbers as the season progressed.”

Zach Nastasiuk,  RW Owen Sound (OHL) — Skating is the one drawback to this power forward’s game, and it’s a significant one. While some projections have him going in the late first round or early second, others feel that the heavy, heavy boots are going to hold him back at the highest level.  Selfless, hard-working player who plays a straight-ahead style and makes his physical presence known, but skill level may not be enough to compensate for the lack of speed, agility.

Red Line Report says: “Carries defenders on his back as he makes a bee-line straight for the net…but, he spends all his time chasing rather than creating.”

Marc-Olivier Roy, RW  Blainville-Broisbriand (QMJHL) - Character player grinds it out but still found time to light the lamp 35 times in 80 total games between regular season and playoffs. Speedy skater has only average size but stands out for his hustle, smarts and character.  Not all scouts are sold on his scoring upside at the highest level, but when you look at what players like Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell bring to the table, Roy is cut from similar cloth.

Red Line Report says: “(Roy is) an absolute buzzsaw with a motor that never quits; if his team loses the puck, he wants to go and get it back immediately.”

Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau, LW Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) - Stealthy draft riser came on strong at the end of the season for the Drakkar with his blazing speed, quickness, and production. Although only possessing average size, his elusiveness and natural offensive hockey sense make him a viable option in the late second-round.  A point-per-game player in the QMJHL postseason (9 goals, 18 points), watch for a breakout year in 2014.

Red Line Report says: “He’s lightning fast off the mark with explosive first step acceleration and gets to full speed in a single stride.”

Nick Sorensen, RW Quebec (QMJHL) - Another Danish forward with the positive off-ice attributes to go with a solid offensive skill set.  Sorensen came back from a significant knee injury that limited him to just eight games a year ago, finishing the 2013 campaign with 47 points in 46 games. He stepped it up in the playoffs, netting seven goals in eight games. The lack of a physical element and durability questions could scare some teams off, but if Sorensen is available late in the second, he’s worth the gamble.

Red Line Report says: “Has plenty of offensive tools with deceptive speed and skating ability, soft hands, and pucks skills, plus a sneaky shot.”

Twitter: @kluedeke29
Email: kluedeke@hockeyjournal.com