Thursday, 13 December 2012

Final Team Canada Mock Rosters

Trevor's Roster:


J.Huberdeau*- R.N-H -M.Scheifele*
C.Hudon- R.Strome* -T.Rattie
H.Shinkaruk/- B.Jenner* -B.Ritchie
J.C.Lipon- P.Danault -T.Wilson





*= Returning Player
/= Draft Eligible
N-H= Nugent-Hopkins

Bradley's Roster:


J.Huberdeau*- R.N-H -T.Rattie
M.Scheifele*- R.Strome* -B.Ritchie
C.Hudon- B.Jenner* -J.C.Lipon
A.Camara- P.Danault -T.Wilson





*= Returning Player
/= Draft Eligible
N-H= Nugent-Hopkins

Friday, 7 December 2012

Team Canada (World Junior) Mock Roster 1

In the next week and a bit we'll be posting various "mock" rosters for Team Canada's upcoming World Junior Championship team. Since there's two of us we'll each post a roster and then on the final day of the selection camp, we'll post one final roster, which we believe will be the roster Canada should take to Russia. The rosters we post prior to that may not reflect exactly who we think will make the team but rather different views the team could take.

Trevor's Roster:




** Please note that Colton Sissons has been ruled out of the Selection Camp due to injury.

*=Returning player from last years team
R.NH=Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

The teams first line has the ability to score at will on any team they will face in the world juniors this year and barring an injury any of the 3 could lead this tournament in points, the second line although lacking in size has the ability to score goals in bunches with averaging 1.52 ppg. The third line featuring one of the top 2013 draft prospects in Sean Monahan are more then capable of scoring goals and are no slouches on the defensive end, with Danault and Sissons on this line the team has a potential shut down unit that will have no trouble scoring goals if that's what they are required to do. The fourth line of Jenner, McNeill, and Wilson will throw their bodies around and will scare almost anyone they come barreling in on. Potential 2013 1st overall pick Nathan MacKinnon will be the 13th forward but he will play a prominent role on this team.

On the back end they will rely on Dougie Hamilton who could be the tournaments top defenceman to carry the bulk of the defensive responsibilities. Morgan Rielly, and Ryan Murphy will be expected to create things from the back end and quarterback the teams powerplay. Xavier Ouellet and Scott Harrington will be this years shut down pair and should do a fine job of that, Ryan Sproul and Griffin Reinhart can both contribute offensively and play good defence making this years defence the strongest point of the squad.

Malcolm Subban will be expected to be the starting goalie but like every year the competition will be fierce in nets and it wouldnt surprise anyone to see Jordan Binnington take over as the starter.

Bradley's Roster:




*=Returning player from last years team
R.NH=Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

The roster I created is more of a "Shot in the dark" kind of roster but if I picked exactly who I thought should make it, it would look to similar to Trevor's.

On offence a lot of the roster spots are spoken for, and there's a lot of competition for those final spots. I'll skip the obvious players like Huberdeau and RNH because we all know why they should be there. There's some question marks surrounding Tyler Graovac and his health right now but if he's healthy you'd have to think he gets some strong consideration. He's had a break out year and has been a goal scoring machine for the Ottawa 67's of the OHL. Charles Hudon might not be a "lock" but his stand out performance this summer has him getting some strong consideration. The versatile winger can play a top 6 and bottom 6 role and brings a ton of leadership to the table. Philip Danault should get some serious consideration as well. The first rounder from 2011 is a leader and strong two-way presence on the ice. Much like Graovac, the big man, Brett Ritchie is having a breakout season and should get a serious look to fill a bottom 6 role for Team Canada. He's a complete player with lots of skill. Finally Anthony Camara can complicate the scary duo of Boone Jenner and Tom Wilson. Camara is a scary presence on the ice but he can also make it happen on offence, much like Jenner and Wilson.

On the back end there's a lot of great options. Hamilton and Harrington are returning players and will pick up a lot of the slack with injured star, Ryan Murray. Morgan Rielly was a stand out this summer and should be considered a lock for Team Canada, but he will have to have a good camp because there's a lot of able players trying to take his spot. Derrick Pouliot is a long shot but the 2012 top 20 pick could snatch up a spot with a good camp. Griffin Reinhart isn't having a great year but he's a big body who can play a great defensive game. Ryan Sproul started the year hot but got injured early. Now he's back and should get a lot of consideration because of his solid game. Ryan Murphy is taking his third and final crack at Team Canada. He was a stand out this summer and would be the backbone to the Canadian power play. The staff will have to decide whether his offence first type of play is worth taking to Russia, I personally think it is.

Subban is considered the front runner for the starting job, and likely has a chip on his shoulder after getting snubbed out of an invite last year. Laurent Brossoit was sensational last season and in the playoffs but his play fell off in the Memorial Cup and he wasn't exactly a shinning star at the Summer Camp (Canada-Russia Challenge). Jordan Binnington is one of,if not the best goalie in junior hockey and should challenge for the starting job, not just the backup position.

Monday, 15 October 2012

2013 PuckCentralHQ Draft Rankings (October)

1- Nathan MacKinnon
2- Aleksander Barkov
3- Sean Monahan
4- Seth Jones
5- Elias Lindholm
6- Hunter Shinkaruk
7- Rasmus Ristolainen
8- Valeri Nichushkin
9- Ryan Pulock
10- Jonathan Drouin
11- Adam Erne
12- Robert Hagg
13- Curtis Lazar
14- Josh Morrissey
15- Max Domi
16- Hudson Fasching
17- Kerby Rychel
18- Zach Fucale
19- Ryan Kujawinski
20- Jacob de la Rose
21- J.T. Compher
22- Nikita Zadorov
23- William Carrier
24- Bo Horvat
25- Eric Roy
26- Nick Sorensen
27- Artturi Lehkonen
28- Andre Burakovsky
29- Anthony Duclair
30- Bogdan Yakimov

Honourable Mentions:
Darnell Nurse
Madison Bowey
Shea Theodore

Sunday, 7 October 2012

2013 Draft Prospects to Watch For

If you're out watching some CHL games (or games in Europe) trying to get your hockey fix, here's a list of 2013 Draft eligible players in each league you should watch out for:

1- Nathan MacKinnon, Center/Right Wing, Halifax Mooseheads
2- Zach Fucale, Goaltender, Halifax Mooseheads
3- Adam Erne, Right Wing, Quebec Remparts
4- Jonathan Drouin, Left Wing, Halifax Mooseheads
5- Anthony Duclair, Left Wing, Quebec Remparts
6- Nick Sorensen, Right Wing, Halifax Mooseheads
7- William Carrier, Center/Left Wing, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
8- Anthony Mantha, Left Wing, Val-d’Or Foreurs
9- Samuel Morin, Defence, Rimouski Oceanic
10- Jeremy Gregoire, Center, Chicoutimi Sagueneens
Brandon Shea, Center, Quebec Remparts
Frederik Gauthier, Center, Rimouski Oceanic
Matthew Murphy, Defence, Val-d’Or Foreurs
Patrik Zdrahal, Center, Acadie-Bathurst Titan
Kurt Etchegary, Center, Quebec Remparts
1- Sean Monahan, Center, Ottawa 67’s
2- Kerby Rychel, Left Wing, Windsor Spitfires
3- Max Domi, Center, London Knights
4- Ryan Kujawinski, Center, Kingston Frontenacs
5- Bo Horvat, Center, London Knights
6- Darnell Nurse, Defence, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
7- Nikita Zadorov, Defence, London Knights
8- Spencer Martin, Goaltender, Mississauga Steelheads
9- Ryan Hartman, Right Wing, Plymouth Whalers
10- Chris Bigras, Defence, Owen Sound Attack
Justin Bailey, Center, Kitchener Rangers
Jordan Subban, Defence, Belleville Bulls
Jason Dickinson, Center, Guelph Storm
Stephen Harper, Left Wing, Erie Otters
Nicholas Baptiste, Right Wing, Sudbury Wolves
1- Seth Jones, Defence, Portland Winterhawks
2- Hunter Shinkaruk, Left Wing, Medicine Hat Tigers
3- Ryan Pulock, Defence, Brandon Wheat Kings
4- Curtis Lazar, Center, Edmonton Oil Kings
5- Josh Morrissey, Defence, Prince Albert Raiders
6- Eric Roy, Defence, Brandon Wheat Kings
7- Madison Bowey, Defence, Kelowna Rockets
8- Eric Comrie, Goaltender, Tri-City Americans
9- Morgan Klimchuk, Left Wing, Regina Pats
10- Shea Theodore, Defence, Seattle Thunderbirds
Alex Forsberg, Center, Prince George Cougars
Oliver Bjorkstrand, Right Wing, Portland Winterhawks
Connor Rankin, Left Wing, Tri-City Americans
Nicolas Petan, Center, Portland Winterhawks
Matthew Needham, Center, Kamloops Blazers
1- Hudson Fasching, Right Wing, USA U-18
2- J.T. Compher, Left Wing, USA U-18
3- Will Butcher, Defence, USA U-18
4- Steve Santini, Defence, USA U-18
5- Ian McCoshen, Defence, Waterloo Black Hawks
6- Tyler Motte, Center, USA U-18
7- Luke Johnson, Center, Lincoln Starts
8- Michael Downing, Defence, Dubuque Fighting Saints
9- Ross Olsson, Right Wing, Lincoln Stars
10- Tyler Hill, Left Wing, Hotchkiss School
Taylor Cammarata, Center/Left Wing, Waterloo Black Hawks
Gustav Olofsson, Defence, Green Bay Gamblers
Brendan Harms, Right Wing, Fargo Force
Mike McCarron, Right Wing, USA U-18
Eddie Ellis, Center, Phillips Andover
1- Aleksander Barkov, Center, Tappara
2- Valeri Nichushkin, Center, Chelyabinsk
3- Elias Lindholm, Center, Brynas
4- Rasmus Ristolainen, Defence, TPS
5- Robert Hagg, Defence, Modo Jr.
6- Andre Burakovsky, Left Wing, Malmo
7- Jacob de la Rose, Center, Leksand
8- Bogdan Yakimov, Center, Penza
9- Artturi Lehkonen, Left Wing, Kalpa
10- Anton Slepyshev, Left Wing, Novokuznetsk
Ville Husso, Goaltnder, HIFK Jr.
Gustav Possler, Left Wing, Modo Jr.
Marko Dano, Center, Bratislava
Viktor Crus Rydberg, Center, Linkoping Jr.
Tobias Liljendahl, Center, Djurgarden Jr.

Look for our October Draft Rankings to be posted October.15th and remember to follow us on twitter! @PuckCentralHQ

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

CHL Teams to Watch For

     With a potential NHL lockout looming, many of you will be looking for ways to get your hockey fix until the NHL resolves there dispute, and the best way to do that is to watch junior hockey. Most of the time it is better hockey to watch anyways, the players play for so much more and give it their all every game, the momentum can swing in just minutes and makes for a much more entertaining game. Here are the top 10 CHL teams you need to see play this year:

1- Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Many think the Halifax Mooseheads will be the class of the QMJHL and one of the best teams in all of the CHL but if the lockout proceeds as expected then the Remparts will for sure get their best player in Mikhail Grigorenko back and pair him with Nikita Kucherov, they have had some chemistry in the past and will surely light the QMJHL up this year, include Anthony Duclair, Adam Erne and Nick Sorensen three potential first rounders in this year’s draft and you have the makings of a powerhouse team that could be a strong contender for the Memorial Cup. 

2- London Knights(OHL)
After coming so close to winning the Memorial Cup last season the Knights will be back at it this year trying to avenge their overtime loss and show they are still a force to be reckoned with. They lost some key players after last year’s run but expect potential first rounders Max Domi and Bo Horvat to improve upon their good rookie campaigns and help counter the loss of those players, they also boast the Rupert twins on forward and Seth Griffin who had a strong campaign, combine that with Olli Maatta, Scott Harrington and another potential first rounder in Nikita Zadorov and the Knights will be an exciting team to watch.

3- Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
A young Mooseheads team overachieved last season based on strong play from Zach Fucale and Nathan MacKinnon, add in Jonathan Drouin who had a phenomenal playoffs, Martin Frk who should be fully recovered from a string of injuries last season, newly acquired Stefan Fournier and rock solid defender Konrad Albethauser and you have a team that should be among the most exciting in all of the CHL with the potential to dominate, expect big years from Zach Fucale, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, if you get the chance to see them play they will impress you no doubt and you should see why they are considered sure fire first round picks. This will be an exciting year for Moose fans.

4- Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Expect Plymouth to challenge for top team in the OHL along with the London Knights and the Kitchener Rangers, it would come as no surprise to see them end as the top team when you look at the talent their roster possesses. First round picks Tom Wilson, J.T. Miller, Rickard Rakell and Stefan Noesen all have the ability to score and wreck havoc on offence while playing a responsible two-way game which will be key while Matt Mahalak gets accustomed to a bigger work load after the team saw Scott Wedgewood graduate to the professional ranks. The Whalers have the skill to make a run at it this year and if all put together they could come out on top.

5- Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
After dominating the WHL last year the Oil Kings will get most of their championship winning squad back and will be expected to do what they did last year and earn a berth in the Memorial Cup, with first round picks Henrik Samuelsson and Griffin Reinhart coming back along with Curtis Lazar a highly touted prospect for this year’s draft the Oil Kings are in a good position to succeed. Combine that with returning veterans Michael St. Croix, Dylan Wruck, Keegan Lowe and Martin Gernat the Oil Kings will have no shortage of talent this season especially with Laurent Brossoit returning between the pipes. 

6- Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
It seems that over the past fews years the Winterhawks and the Saint John Sea Dogs have produced amazing amounts of talent and it isn’t about to stop here for the Winterhawks, with potential number one overall pick Seth Jones and Pittsburgh Penguins first rounder Derrick Pouliot, Troy Rutowski and Tyler Wotherspoon on the backend they will have no shortage of talent add in returning goalie Mac Carruth and the Winterhawks will be tough defensively. They won’t have any shortage of offensive talent either with offensive dynamo Ty Rattie coming back and youngsters Chase De Leo, Nicolas Petan and European Import Oliver Bjorkstrand they will have more than enough offence to go around.

7- Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
The Rangers will try and slug it out for top spot in the OHL this year and with newly acquired Matt Puempel teaming up with Radek Faksa, Matia Marcantuoni and Tobias Rieder the offence will be there to take a run at it. The offence doesn’t stop there however with Ryan Murphy on the point the Rangers will most likely have the leading point getter for defencemen, team him up with their rock solid goalie John Gibson and you have a strong squad that can compete with anyone. They will surely be a team you want to see if they come your town.

8- Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
The Blades will be out to prove that they belong in the Memorial Cup and aren’t only there based on the fact they are the host team. They have quite a bit of talent up front in Matej Stransky, Josh Nicholls, Lukas Sutter and newly acquired Shane McColgan who will be looking for a fresh start after seeing his point totals drop each season since he came to the WHL. Duncan Siemens who is looking to bounce back after a pedestrian post draft campaign and Dalton Thrower who will try to improve upon last year’s numbers will be integral parts of this team’s success. In goal Andrey Makarov will be playing for a shot at the next level after being passed over in two consecutive drafts and this might be his last chance to make an impression. Saskatoon isn’t a team to take lightly this season and I am sure will be overlooked repeatedly but they shouldn’t be.

9- Erie Otters (OHL)
Now not many times will you see the worst team in the CHL on a list of teams to check out but there is finally something to cheer about in Erie with the additions of Oscar Dansk and highly touted player Connor McDavid, combine them with Adam Pelech, Travis Wood and Troy Donnay on the backend, Sondre Olden, Connor Brown and Dane Fox on offence and you have a team that just might be worth checking out. The main attractions to this team are Oscar Dansk and Connor McDavid both of whom should be worth the price of admission. 

10- Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
If you get the chance to see Kerby Rychel play you better do it because the talent and size he has will make him a high coveted player in the draft, add in Brady Vail, Ben Johnson, and high draft pick Josh Ho-Sang who was highly considered one of best talents in his draft and you have a highly skilled group of forwards who should all put up good numbers. If Nick Ebert plays like the Ebert who was considered a potential top 10 pick and not the one who was a seventh round pick in this past year’s draft then you will surely get more than the price of admission from this team.

Contact Us At:
Twitter: @PuckCentralHQ

Monday, 3 September 2012

2013 PuckCentralHQ Draft Rankings: Preseason

This is our first "ranking" for the 2013 NHL Draft. We will update our rankings each month until the NHL Draft in June.

1- Seth Jones
2- Nathan MacKinnon
3- Sean Monahan
4- Aleksander Barkov
5- Hunter Shinkaruk
6- Valeri Nichushkin
7- Elias Lindholm
8- Kerby Rychel
9- Rasmus Ristolainen
10- Ryan Pulock
11- Adam Erne
12- Curtis Lazar
13- Jonathan Drouin
14- Zach Fucale
15- Josh Morrissey
16- Anthony Duclair
17- Max Domi
18- Robert Hagg
19- J.T. Compher
20- Hudson Fasching
21- Andre Burakovsky
22- Jacob de la Rose
23- Ryan Kujawinski
24- Eric Roy
25- Bo Horvat
26- Nick Sorensen
27- Madison Bowey
28- Bogdan Yakimov
29- Nikita Zadorov
30- William Carrier

Honorable Mentions:
Artturi Lehkonen
Eric Comrie
Darnell Nurse
Morgan Klimchuk

For more information on the players or the upcoming season make sure you check back each day for new posts, and follow us on twitter for up to date tweets on the upcoming season! @PuckCentralHQ

Friday, 22 June 2012

Thoughts on the First Round of the 2012 Draft

Morgan Rielly was picked
5th overall to the
Maple Leafs.
 This won't be super in depth or anything but I will discuss a few things that went down tonight in the NHL Draft. Many thought the Oilers would draft for their needs, and select Ryan Murray over best available prospect Nail Yakupov but the Oilers ended up going with Yakupov after all, which in my opinion was the best move. Ryan Murray went to the Blue Jackets as expected, and the Canadians took Alex Galchenyuk as many believed he would. The next pick, which surprised some, but not us at PuckCentralHQ, was Griffin Reinhart, 4th overall to the New York Islanders. Griffin Reinhart is shaping up to be the next Ryan Suter or maybe even Shea Weber, either way, he's going to be a star someday, so that was a great pick by the Islanders. The first questionable pick of the night went to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They used their 5th overall pick to take Morgan Rielly, the all out offence, highly skilled defenceman of the Moose Jaw Worriers. They passed over Big, skilled centre Mikhail Grigorenko and big winger Filip Forsberg, which leads me to the next big story line, 10, and 11 teams passed up on these guys. Filip Forsberg went 11th to Washington Capitals, which is a steal for them and Mikhail Grigorenko was selected 12th overall to the Sabres. Now I'll back track a little bit to talk about the first and only block buster trade of the first round. The Penguins traded Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes for Brandon Sutter,Brian Dumouline, and the 8th overall pick. The Pens then used the 8th overall pick to select offensive defenceman Derrick Pouliot. In my opinion that was an off the board pick at 8 but the Pens are getting their former top prospect, Joe Morrow's defence partner, and they seem more than happy about that. They were also more than happy to see Olli Maatta fall to them at 22. There's a very good chance Maatta could be on their team next year too, so they got a steal with that pick. Calgary traded down to the 21st pick where they took highly skilled but long term project forward, Mark Jankowski. The Ottawa Senators got a gift at 15th overall when hometown kid, Cody Ceci, fell to them. On the note of gifts, Chicago received a pretty big one in Teuvo Teravainen at 19. He's a highly skilled player who many had ranked in their top 5. It's also worth noting that the Winnipeg Jets selected Jacob Trouba, a monster defenceman,Vancouver selected Brendan Gaunce, a workhorse centre for Belleville, and the Washington Capitals acquired Mike Ribeiro for a Cody Eakin and a 2nd round pick. There are a lot of big names still available tomorrow so it will be a very exciting day tomorrow as well, so make sure you follow @PuckCentralHQ for constant draft updates.
Cody Ceci was selected by his hometown team
the Ottawa Senators 15th overall.

Contact Us At:
Twitter: @PuckCentralHQ

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

PuckCentralHQ Final Draft Rankings and Mock Draft

Puck Central Final Draft Rankings:

Teammates Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk
will surely both be top 10 picks at this years Draft.
1. Nail Yakupov
2. Alex Galchenyuk
3. Ryan Murray
4. Griffin Reinhart
5. Mikhail Grigorenko
6. Morgan Rielly
7. Filip Forsberg
8. Mathew Dumba
9. Cody Ceci
10. Radek Faksa
11. Andrei Vasilevski
12. Jacob Trouba
13. Olli Maatta
14. Zemgus Girgensons
15. Teuvo Teravainen
16. Sebastian Collberg
17. Hampus Lindholm
18. Brendan Gaunce
19. Slater KoekKoek
20. Derrick Pouliot
21. Pontus Aberg
22.Matt Finn
23.Malcolm Subban
24.Tomas Hertl
25.Brady Skjei
26.Mark Jankowski
27.Stefan Matteau
28.Tom Wilson
29.Henrik Samuelsson
30.Oscar Dansk

Honorable Mentions:

Phillip DiGuiseppe
Martin Frk
Nicolas Kerdiles
Jordan Schmaltz
Tomas Hyka


1. Nail Yakupov 
2. Mikhail Grigorenko 
3. Ryan Murray 
4. Alex Galchenyuk
5. Jacob Trouba
6. Griffin Reinhart
7. Filip Forsberg
8. Morgan Rielly
9. Cody Ceci
10. Radek Faksa
11. Hampus Lindholm
Puck Insider 'Trevor' has Dumba ranked
much lower than most at 14.
12. Olli Maatta
13. Zemgus Girgensons
14. Mathew Dumba
15. Teuvo Teravainen
16. Tomas Hertl
17. Derrick Pouliot
18. Andrei Vasilevski
19. Nicolas Kerdiles
20. Brendan Gaunce
21. Matt Finn
22. Sebastian Collberg
23. Slater Koekkoek
24. Stefan Matteau
25. Brady Skeji
26. Phil Di Giuseppe
27. Jordan Schmaltz
28. Ludvig Bystrom
29. Pontus Aberg
30. Dalton Thrower

Honorable Mentions:

Mike Winther
Scott Laughton
Martin Frk
Malcolm Subban
Jarrod Maidens

PuckCentralHQ Final Mock Draft:

Edmonton(Bradley)- Nail Yakupov
Columbus(Trevor)- Ryan Murray
Montreal(Bradley)- Alex Galchenyuk
New York Islanders(Trevor)- Griffin Reinhart
Toronto(Bradley)- Mikhail Grigorenko
Anaheim(Trevor)- Filip Forsberg
Minnesota(Bradley)- Morgan Rielly
Carolina(Trevor)- Radek Faksa
Winnipeg(Bradley)- Mathew Dumba
Will Cody Ceci be drafted by his
hometown'Ottawa Senators' like we
Tampa Bay(Trevor)- Jacon Trouba
Washington(Bradley)- Teuvo Tervainen
Buffalo(Trevor)- Hampus Lindholm
Dallas(Bradley)- Olli Maatta
Calgary(Trevor)- Zemgus Girgensons
Ottawa(Bradley)- Cody Ceci
Washington(Trevor)- Tomas Hertl
San Jose(Bradley)- Slater KoekKoek
Chicago(Trevor)- Derrick Pouliot
Tampa Bay(Bradley)- Andrei Vasilevski
Philadelphia(Trevor)- Brady Skjei
Buffalo(Bradley)- Brendan Gaunce
Pittsburgh(Trevor)- Sebastian Collberg
Florida(Bradley)- Pontus Aberg
Boston(Trevor)- Stefan Matteau
St.Louis(Bradley)- Henrik Samuelsson
Vancouver(Trevor)- Matt Finn
Phoenix(Bradley)- Tom Wilson
New York Rangers(Trevor)- Nicolas Kerdiles
New Jersey(Bradley)- Malcolm Subban
L.A.(Trevor)- Phillip DiGuiseppe

For full draft day coverage you can follow us on twitter at @PuckCentralHQ!

Contact Us At:
Twitter: @PuckCentralHQ

Q&A With 2012 Draft Prospect Mark Jankowski of Providence College

Mark Jankowski is 2012 Draft Prospect who is likely to go in the first 2 rounds on Friday,June.22nd's Draft.

PuckCentral: How do you think the season went for you? and your team?
Mark Jankowski: I think this past season went very well. We had a very good tea,, winning the St. Andrews MacPhereson tournament, and it also making it to the finals of many more. We accomplished a lot as a team and overall the season was successful. Personally, I thought my season went well also. I committed to Providence  College which I am very excited about, and I hope to continue my success in the future.

PC: What made you decide to commit to Providence College?
MC: A lot of the decision was based on the coaching staff. Nate Leaman built up the program at Union and i believe he will do the same at Providence and bring the program back to where it used to be. I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to play for him and the rest of the coaching staff and can't wait to be a Friar.

PC:  You have a very unique story, or at least for someone who's ranked so high. Could you tell us how you got where you are(Stanstead College)?
MJ: I always felt that the NCAA was the best route for me and my progression, and I knew prep school is a great way to get there, so I started looking around at different schools, and I knew an alumni who went to Stanstead, so I talked with their coach, and skated with their team and visited the school, and I did that with some other schools too, and I felt Stanstead was the best fit for me.

PC: You were passed up in the OHL draft, did that give you any extra motivation, or push to perform well and succeed?
MJ: I'm a competitive guy so I would have liked to been given credit and be drafted as high as possible against my peers, but the motivation has always been there for me too succeed and hopefully one day play in the NHL, ever since I first started playing hockey, that's what I dreamed about, and I haven't let any obstacle, like not getting drafted into the OHL, get in my way of pursuing that goal.

PC: You say you want to go as high as you can against your peers, have you been paying any attention to where you are in mock drafts and rankings? Because you're sort of the "wild card" of this draft going anywhere from first round to 4th round.
MJ: I try not to pay attention to any of it, but its hard when your friends, teammates, and family bring it up and talk about it. But I know that none of those rankings or mock drafts mean anything and I'm not too sure where I'll go. I'd like to go as early as possible, but I'll be happy to get drafted anywhere and it's an honour.

PC:This sort of ties in with the last question but have you been told or are you aware that Craig Button from TSN has you ranked above someone like Mikhail Grigorenko and a few other big name prospects. Does something like that give you any extra confidence?
MJ: Yes I'm aware of his rankings. I always felt that I deserved the recognition and I always had the confidence in my game that eventually I would get noticed, and its nice to get some recognition now, but like I said, I know these rankings and mock drafts don't mean anything, it doesn't matter where I'm ranked or drafted, no matter what I'm going to have to work extremely hard to get where I want to go, which is play in the NHL.

PC: Regardless of where you go. What can "Mark Jankowski" bring to an NHL team?
MJ: I'm a big skilled forward who skates well, has good hands and a good shot. I think my biggest strengths are my vision and hockey sense I like to distribute the puck and get my teammates involved and make the players around me better, and I also like to put the puck in the net as well. I like to pattern my game after Evgeni Malkin. I love how he plays, and he's a big, skilled forward like me. I really look up to him and try to model my play after him.

PC: You'll obviously be jumping to a higher level of hockey next season so how does that effect your offseason training? Will it change at all?
MJ: For the past 3 summers I've trained at The Athlete Training Centre in Mississauga, Ontario with Richard Clark, and he runs an excellent program there and I will be working out again there this summer. I know that to play at the next level, a very important thing for me to work on is getting bigger and stronger, so I will be training and working as hard as I can to improve it.

PC: So growing up what was your favorite team?
MJ: Being from southern Ontario my favourite team has always been the Sabres, and I actually used to have season tickets there too.

PC: Oh that's cool! So with that said who was your favorite player growing up? Outside of Malkin?
MJ: I always loved Maxim Afinogenov when I watched Buffalo, he was a real exciting player to watch.

PC: Seems like you enjoy your Russian players (ha-ha). Normally we ask everyone we interview at the end who they try to model their game after and why but you've already answered that. So Is there anyone other than Malkin that you try to play like or model your game after?
MJ: No not really, I just really like how Malkin plays and I just like to play like him.

PC: Alright well that's all I have for questions! Thanks again for doing this, we really appreciate it!
MJ: Thank you very much, my pleasure.

This interview was conducted via Twitter Direct Message. If you're on twitter you can follow Mark Jankowski at @Janko61. You can also follow us at @PuckCentralHQ.

You Can Contact Us At:
Twitter: @PuckCentralHQ

Thursday, 14 June 2012

What You Can Expect at the 2012 NHL Draft


 In just 10 days the NHL will change their focus from the newly crowned Stanley Cup Champions, the L.A. Kings, to the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. This draft is some what of a toss up. Some believe this is a strong and deep draft, whereas others believe it is a weak draft that lacks top tier talent. Only time will tell, but we're nearing the big day and there's a lot of expectations heading into it. What seems to be a common theme for the past few years, the big question will be "What will the Edmonton Oilers do with the first overall pick?". Unlike the past few years the Oilers have the ability to be more flexible with the pick, and go after more organisational needs rather then the "Best player available approach". With former first overall picks Taylor Hall (2010) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (2011) proving they can play in this league and the emergence of 2008 22nd overall pick, Jordan Eberle, the Oilers are stacked up front. With that said their defence is very much lacking and this draft happens to be rich in defencive talent. Other notable issues that will likely be addressed at the draft are : "Will Rick Nash be traded?", "Where's Roberto Luongo going?", "Will pending UFA'S Zach Parise and Ryan Suter be traded?","Will season underachievers Eric Staal,Ryan Getzlaf, James VanRiemsdyk be traded?", "Will Jordan Staal be traded?" and less notable things such as "Who will be trading up or down in the draft?". I will try to touch base on all of these topics below so I hope you enjoy and remember to follow us on twitter! @PuckCentralHQ

       The biggest question heading into the draft is the Edmonton Oilers. Will they select Russian fire-power Nail Yakupov?, which will undoubtably make them one of the deepest offensive teams in the league(Hall,RNH,Eberle,Gagner,Paajarvi,Hemsky,Smyth,Omark), or will they trade down and take a defenseman, or even take a defenseman with the first overall pick?. In my opinion I would trade down to another spot in the top 10 and take one of the following three defenseman: Ryan Murray,Morgan Rielly, or Mathew Dumba. Ryan Murray would likely be the best choice of the three because he can come in and help right away whereas the other two will take more time to develop but could have higher ceilings or could bust completely but you run that risk with every player. The issue with trading down is if you want a player like Murray you likely have to trade down to Columbus at the 2nd overall pick because Murray won't be around for long and Columbus doesn't exactly have a lot to offer the Edmonton Oilers. So you could make an off the board pick and take Murray with the first pick but if it doesn't work out then the team will be forever haunted and scrutinised for not taking the consensus first overall pick Nail Yakupov and if they take Nail Yakupov, and he doesn't work out at least they the pick was justified because. But in the grand scheme of things that doesn't matter, a team will draft who ever they want. To throw my own "two-cents" in, I would say they should trade down to a pick where they can get Morgan Rielly. He's a great defenseman, with great puck moving abilities. Rielly missed most of the season with a torn ACL so he may have been able to challenge Murray more as the top defenseman available had he played the whole season.

      Next up, I'm going to talk about the big guns "Rick Nash" and "Roberto Luongo". For years Rick Nash trade rumours have been going around and we all thought that would be the end of them when he signed that big long-term contract with Columbus, the team that drafted him first overall, ten long years ago. However, the Blue Jackets continued to struggle and it seems Rick Nash has had enough. It has been publicised that Nash is concerned with the direction the Blue Jackets are heading in and doesn't seem to want to go through another rebuild (Has the rebuild ever stopped?), and rightfully. Nash isn't getting any younger and he's hitting the prime of his career, he deserves a chance to compete. Scott Howson at the trade deadline added more fuel to the fire when he publicly announced that Rick Nash had requested a trade. So I don't blame Nash for wanting out. With all that said, it won't be easy to move Nash. He has a no-movement clause in his contract to he ultimately dictates where he wants to go and it's reported that his list of teams is very small. It also appears that Howson is asking for a lot, and when I say a lot, I mean a lot. So I'm not sure teams are going to be willing to pay the price for him. With that said I think he'll most likely end up in San Jose. I know it doesn't appear that San Jose is on his list, and it's somewhat of a bold statement but I think he'll end up there because the team is a team that's ready to compete and he already has ties with a few of their top players. San Jose must then decide if they're willing to lose some key pieces to their future to acquire a player like Nash. Next we move onto Roberto Luongo. After years of fans pointing the finger at him he's had enough. It looked as though he had been demoted to the back-up role in Vancouver,behind Corey Schneider, after Vancouver's early exit in the 2012 Playoffs. It's rumoured that he submitted a short-3-5 team list of teams he'll go to and it seems that Florida,Tampa,Chicago, and Toronto are on that list (Not sure on this exactly, no one is). Luongo and Canucks GM Mike Gillis are suppose to meet sometime before the draft to discuss how Roberto is feeling and if he still feels a trade is in the best interest of himself and the team. The Luongo situation is an interesting one because of Roberto's age and the length of his contract(He's 33, and has 10 years left on it). Teams don't expect him to play the full 10 years but with a 5.5 million cap hit, teams are going to be uneasy about acquiring a goalie who's best days are behind him. Luongo has 2-3 years of good hockey left in him so it could be worth the risk to some teams, plus he'd be great for mentoring young goaltenders. Where I believe he'll end up is a bit of a toss up. I think Toronto or Tampa Bay are his two most likely destinations. I think the Leafs will go hard after him and have a lot of prospects and depth players they can offer Vancouver but will not be willing to give up first round picks to get him and Tampa Bay is the opposite. Tampa doesn't have a whole lot of prospects in the cupboard, and the ones they do have aren't exactly high calibre outside of Vladislav Namestnikov, their 2011 first-round pick, but they will likely be willing to part with first round draft picks because they're a team that's ready to compete, they're just lacking a goaltender who can compete as well. It also helps that they have two first round picks in this draft (the 10th overall pick and 19th overall pick from Detroit). If Luongo is going to get moved though, Mike Gillis will have to accept the fact that he won't get a huge, team changing package for Roberto Luongo. What it's going to come down to with these two players is whether teams are going to be willing to pay the price to get these two players, and I'm not sure if anyone is going to be.

     We move onto a couple of pending UFA'S. No doubt the big fish in this years sea of "Free Agents" are Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Both players were taken in the first round of the famous 2003 draft, and they've both been loyal to the teams that took them in that draft but now it looks like they'll be testing the market to see what else is out there. The Nashville Predators tried to acquire as much depth and skill as they could at the deadline to try and prove to Ryan Suter and Shea Weber (UFA next summer) that they were serious about competing, but they still found themselves with an early playoff exit after losing to the Phoenix Coyotes in the second round. The Preds have three big guns in Suter,Weber, and Rinne but can't afford to keep all three at market value. They signed Rinne to a long term deal earlier in the year so they're goal now is to try and lock Suter and Weber up long term but it doesn't seem likely, and there seems to be a good chance they lose both in the next couple years. The Parise situation is a bit different. He's been the top offensive player on the Devils for awhile and they even brought Kovelchuck in to help him out but a bad season last year that saw them finish near the bottom of the Eastern Conference and then a heart-breaking loss in the Stanley Cup finals a few days ago might have Parise in search of a change of scenery. Parise also will have to take a bit of pay-cut to stay in New Jersey because of the high salary of Ilya Kovelchuck. Both players appear as though they're heading to the open market to see what their worth is, so the Predators and the Devils must decide if they want to risk keeping them to negotiate longer, and possibly lose them for nothing, or trade their rights and get something for them. There's no better place to trade their rights then at the draft when teams often overpay for players of their calibre. My personal opinion on this situation is both teams should look at trading their rights because I don't see them resigning with these teams, I actually see them both signing in Detroit, as many people are speculating on.

     Next up we have "Underachievers who found their way into trade speculation" category. This season will feature such names as Ryan Getzlaf,Bobby Ryan,Eric Staal, and James VanRiemsdyk!. The likely hood of these players getting traded are very slim but there names continue to pop up due to a poor season. This happens every year at the draft, great players on teams who underachieve more then they achieve, finding themselves in non-stop trade speculation right up until the draft, then they don't get traded and it dies down a bit. That's the way it always worked, until last season when Philadelphia traded not just one of those players but both (Jeff Carter and Mike Richards of course). I believe the Philadelphia Flyers have paved the way for teams to unload some of their top players in order to "rebuild" or "reload" depending on how you want to look at it. Do I think a team like Anaheim will trade Getzlaf AND Ryan, no probably not but I think it might be more likely that one of them goes, as for which one I'm not sure. I don't think the Hurricanes will trade Eric Staal either but he seems to be struggling as of late and the Hurricanes aren't exactly a team that's in "compete mode" but I also wouldn't say they're in "rebuild mode" either, also the emergence of Skinner as their top offensive threat could make Staal more expandable. Next we move onto James VanRiemsdyk. He had a big coming out party in the playoffs a few years ago but hasn't really lived up to the hype quite yet, but he's on the right track and injuries can be partly to blame for it as well. The Flyers blew up their roster to give guys like Giroux and VanRiemsdyk a chance so I don't know why they would trade him soon after that but with their captain and top defenseman Chris Pronger likely finished in the NHL they need a top defenseman and VanRiemsdyk could be the cost. It also doesn't help that they could lose defenseman Matt Carle to unrestricted free agency. If they were to trade VanRiemsdyk the return price would have to be very high. There's obviously more players that will fall under this category but these were just some names that were thrown around a lot this season.

     Another interesting story line is Jordan Staal. He's obviously better then his role in Pittsburgh shows, and he proved he can be top center in the NHLwhen Crosby and Malkin have been hurt, however he'll always be stuck behind those two when they're healthy. After next season he'll be set to become an Unrestricted Free Agent and so will Sidney Crosby and a couple years after that Malkin becomes an Unrestricted Free Agent, so it's safe to say the Penguins are at cross road with their 3 stars and unfortunately Staal is the odd man out. In a perfect world they retain all three as they have for so many years but Staal is going to be looking for a larger salary then his 4 millions a season now and Crosby and Malkin will be looking increases on their 8.7 million as well. But outside the money Staal will also be looking for an increased role that the Penguins simply won't be able to provide. I don't know if Staal will be traded at this draft but you can almost be certain that he will be traded at some point between now, and the draft next year. There will certainly be a market for someone like Staal but the Penguins must decide if they'll trade him now or later, both sides have their ups and downs. I guess we'll find out soon.

     There's always teams that decide to move up and down in the draft, and I don't expect this year to be any different. It's an interesting year since the draft is so "defence" heavy and there aren't a lot of players that will be able to jump in and make an immediate impact so teams might be more likely to trade up or down depending on their situation. Teams that I could see moving around picks are the constant "bottom dwellers" the Oilers and Islanders. They're both teams that have made a lot of top 10 picks the past few years and have taken forwards with all of those picks, so they might want to look at trading down to later in the top 10 where they can still get a really good defensive prospect and the teams moving up can get one of the top ranked forwards. With that said that's just my opinion. I also think teams in the bottom 15 picks could trade those picks for roster players as opposed to selecting a player. Like I said before most players in this draft need more time to develop so teams who are "rebuilding" might consider giving up a roster player to get a second or third pick in the first round. I should also add that New Jersey has recently announced that they will be keeping their first round pick this year (29th overall) instead of forfeiting it due to the Kovelchuck contract. That likely means New Jersey will be attempting to draft one of the "Big Three" goaltenders, Subban,Vasilevski, or Dansk.

     As usually the draft will be a very exciting time for hockey fans. It's a time where fans and teams are given a new hope for the future or a piece that could put them over the top for next season. Regardless of what your team does it's a day we'll all be watching closely.

For full draft coverage follow us on twitter at @PuckCentralHQ and check out our blog each day for new stuff on the draft.

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Monday, 28 May 2012

Prospect Report: Nail Yakupov

 Player Bio:
Player Name: Nail Yakupov
Date of Birth: October.6th,1993
Place of Birth: Nizhnekamsk, Russia
Height: 5’11 Weight: 189lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Right Wing
Team:  Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Puck Central Draft Ranking: Number 1
NHL Potential: First line Winger/NHL Superstar
NHL Comparison: Pavel Bure
The Scoop:
    Nail Yakupov  is the favorite to go first overall in this year upcoming NHL Entry-Draft. He started the season as the favorite, and despite fellow Russian, Mikhail Grigorenko, knocking at his door, he’s managed to maintain top status. He was drafted 2nd overall in the 2010 CHL Import Draft, by the Sarnia Sting. He took the OHL by storm in his rookie season by scoring 49 goals, and 101 points in 65 games, enough to lead the entire CHL in rookie scoring. To top off his impressive rookie season, he took home OHL Rookie of the Year, and CHL Rookie of the Year. Expectations were very high for Yakupov heading into his sophomore season, and draft year. For the most part he did not disappoint. He started the year hot but when he got injured during the World Juniors Championship game his season sort of staggered a bit. He would go on to suffer a couple minor injuries, which would result in missed games, and effected his play. However this hasn’t hurt his draft ranking any, but  it has made some question his durability. He still managed to score 31 goals and 69 points in 42 games this season, and he also dished out 9 assists in 6 games played at the World Junior Championships.
     Some scouts have said that Nail Yakupov is the best prospect since Sidney Crosby in 2005. He has a lethal shot,explosive skating, and slick hands, not to mention he can play a physical, North American style game. He’s highly competitive and will do anything to win, although he gets caught doing too much at times. From what I’ve seen of Yakupov, he’s capable of taking over a game by himself, and can easily control the pace of the game. He gives it his all every shift, and is usually a difference maker. He loves the sport of hockey, and that’s all he wants to do. In an interview he said that when he comes to the rink he shuts everything out, and just focuses on hockey, this is something that all the greats have the ability to do. On top of his skill he has a great personality, which makes him well liked by teammates. Also since coming from Russia a few years ago his english has improved immensely, which is a nice asset to any team wanting to draft him.
 Yakupov is an exciting player and which ever team drafts him, which will surely be at 1st Overall, will have a potential franchise player. He’s skilled enough to make an immediate impact in the NHL, and in a few short years will likely be competing for scoring titles, and major awards. He has publicly said he loves Canada and would love to play on the Edmonton Oilers (They own the 1st Overall pick right now) so I don’t think there will ever be an issue of him not wanting to play in the NHL or leaving the NHL for the KHL, so I don’t think he should be pegged with the “Russian Factor”. Expectations are high for this player but there’s no doubt in my mind, or many others, that he won’t have any trouble living up to them.
Strong Points:
• Deadly Shot
• Explosive Skater
• Game Changer
• Great Hands
• Plays Physical
• Great Vision
• Ridiculous Celly’s
• Very Strong
• Very Competitive
Weak Points:
• Not Strong Defensively
• Tries To Do Too Much
• Doesn’t Use His Teammates Enough
• Too Reckless , Which Leads To Injuries
• Isn’t Very Big
Interesting Facts:
He’s Muslim
His favorite player growing up was Pavel Bure
His agent is Russian legend,Igor Larionov
He lives with friend/teammate, Alex Galchenyuk, who is also a Top Prospect

Prospect Report: Ryan Murray

Player Bio:
Player Name: Ryan Murray
Date of Birth: September 27th,1993
Place of Birth: White City, Saskatchewan
Height: 6’1 Weight: 201lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Defense
Team:  Everett Silvertips (WHL)
Puck Central Draft Ranking: Number 2
NHL Potential: Top 2 defenseman
NHL Comparison: Scott Niedermayer
The Scoop:
     Ryan Murray has been the favorite to be the first defenseman taken in this years draft for awhile. He was the 9th overall selection, of the Everett Silvertips in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft . He played 5 games in the 2008-2009 playoffs, and recorded one assist. His WHL career officially started in the 2009-2010 season, where he racked up 5 goals, and 22 assists in 52 games, which is impressive for a 15 year old defenseman in the WHL. Everything really took off for Murray during the 2010-2011 season,though. He was named captain of the Silvertips at just age 17. He completed 70 games and recorded 6 goals,40 assists and 45 penalty minutes. He almost made Team Canada’s World Junior team, and captained Team Canada at the U-18′s as a 17 year old, where he put up 3 goals and 10 points, in 7 games. Expectations were high for Murray heading into this season (His draft year) and he was up for the challenge. He suffered an injury early in the season which had some worried that he might not be able to play on Team Canada at the World Junior Championships but he recovered in time and helped Canada take home Bronze. He was every a  very good defenseman at the tournament and played a big role on the team. He finished the 2011-2012 season with 9 goals and 31 points in 46 games.
  Although most had Ryan Murray the top rated defenseman in this draft, not everyone did. Mathew Dumba was also favored by many to be the first D-man taken in this draft but Murray separated himself from the rest, much like Yakupov did. Murray is the whole package in a defenseman. He has great shot, that’s both accurate and hard. He has smooth skating and great control with the puck, much like NHL greats Scott Niedermayer and Nik Lidstrom. He isn’t flashy so he normally will make smart, short, accurate passes to break out. He isn’t an overly offensive player, which means his transition to the NHL will likely have him being more of a stay at home defender. Again like Niedermayer and Lidstrom he has good size but isn’t overly physical, instead play more of a positional, and technical style of defense. One of Murray’s greatest assets is that he doesn’t get rattled. As I’m sure most hockey fans saw, at the World Junior semi-final game he was the victim of some bad luck. He didn’t let it rattled him and the second half of the game he was relied upon heavily. His poise with the puck, and without it is incredible considering his age and will be will be well liked by NHL GM’s. He also has great leadership qualities which will likely get him a “C” sooner than later in the NHL.
     Ryan Murray is arguably the most NHL ready of all the prospects, and will most likely be in the NHL right away. He’s a great all-round player, who can step into an NHL team right away and make a difference. There’s no guarentee’s that Columbus is going to use their 2nd overall pick to take him, but if I had to put money on it, I would say Murray is going 2nd overall. He’s a future captain in the NHL and will be the backbone of some teams blueline for many years.
Strong Points:
• Great Poise With And Without The Puck
• Strong Skater
• Handles The Puck Well
• Accurate Passer
• Hard To Beat One-On-One
• Doesn’t Get Rattled
• Great Leader
• Nice Size
Weak Points:
• Not Very Physical
• Not An Overly Offensive Player
• Potential Might Be Limited
Interesting Facts:
He played on Team Canada’s U-18 team as a 16 year old
He was the Captain of Team Canada at the U-18′s as a 17 year old

Prospect Report: Mikhail Grigorenko

Player Bio:
Player Name: Mikhail Grigorenko
Date of Birth: May 16th,1994
Place of Birth:  Khabarovsk,Russia
Height: 6’3 Weight: 200lbs
Shoots: Left
Position: Center
Team:  Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Puck Central Draft Ranking: Number 3
NHL Potential: Number 1 center/All-Star
NHL Comparison: Evgeni Malkin
The Scoop:
          For much of the first half of the season Mikhail Grigorenko held the number 1 spot on a lot of scouts rankings. He would eventually settle for second but for an import player playing his first year in a brand new country, number 2 is very impressive. On the note of impressive, Mikhail Grigorenko has a very impressive rookie season with the Quebec Remparts, scoring 40 goals and 85 points in just 59 games. He had an alright World Junior Championship, scoring 2 goals and 5 points in 6 games, on route to capturing a silver medal for his country, Russia. All though he didn’t completely dominate, it was still an impressive showing, especially since he played most of it hurt. he had 10 points in 11 playoff games, which many deemed a “disappointment” but it has recently come out that he’s been suffering from Mono since before the playoffs.
     Many scouts consider Grigorenko to be very close to Yakupov in rankings, and consider the two players to be ranked 1(a) and 1(b). However there are other scouts (ie Craig Button) that have Grigorenko ranked much, much lower then that. Like many Russians, scouts question his consistency  from game to game and his drive. With that said, he plays for Patrick Roy and Roy demands the most out of his players and has spoke highly of Grigorenko’s work ethic, so perhaps it was the mono that had Grigorenko playing inconsistent at times. Despite these few issues, Grigorenko is still a highly ranked prospect with loads of potential. He’s big and has tons of skill, which is where a lot of the Malkin comparisons come into play. He has a lethal shot, and an elite set of hands to match. Like many great players, his vision on the ice is next to none. He doesn’t play a physical game but when other players start to play physical with him, that’s when he really begins to shine. He plays a solid two-way game, which is why he was a plus 35 this season.
     He’s not likely to go first overall anymore, but he’ll definitely get a good look by the Columbus Blue Jackets at number 2 and if he doesn’t go there he’ll surely go 3rd overall to the Montreal  Canadians. Even if I’m wrong he’ll most likely be a top 5 pick and will play in the NHL right away. He’s a big, skilled, two-way center, with potential to be a number 1 center very soon. Big, number 1 centers are hard to come by in the NHL so I think any team would be happy to have him. He racked up numerous awards in his first, and likely last QMJHL season, so I think it’s fair to say Mikhail Grigorenko’s future is very bright.
Strong Points:
• Great Shot and Release
• Has Good Vision
• Elite Level Hands
• Accurate Passer
• Plays Better When Being Physically Challenged
• Ability To Play Hurt
• Good Character
• Nice Size
Weak Points:
• Doesn’t Play a Physical Game
• Some Question Work Ethic
• Consistency Issues
Interesting Facts:
He came to Quebec knowing no english, and can now conduct full interviews without a translator
He was named QMJHL Rookie of the Year (2011-2012)
He was named to the QMJHL “All-Rookie” team
He was named to the QMJHL “First All-Star” Team
He won the “Mike Bossy” Trophy as the QMJHL top draft prospect
He was selected first 8th overall in the 2011 KHL Draft

Friday, 25 May 2012

Q&A with Garret Sparks,Toronto Maple Leafs Prospect

PuckCentral: Overall, how do you feel the season went for the team and you personally?
Garret Sparks: I feel we over achieved as a team, which is what you always strive to do. On a personal level I thought I played well but could've been better at times. It was a good season but next season will hopefully build on that and be even better.

PC: You obviously made a big jump from playing 19 games to 59. Was it a challenge at all to play so many more games?
GS: It was a challenge but it was something that I was ready for going into the season. I worked all summer to put myself in a position to succeed and this summer is going to be more of the same as I hope to reach, if not pass that number of games played again next year.

PC: You were drafted really late last year, was it nerve racking at all having to wait?
GS: It wasn't really nerve racking just because I didn't really expect to go. For me I just felt fortunate getting drafted.

PC: Does being picked so late give you any extra drive to succeed?
GS: I've had the same drive to succeed since I first started this dream. Being drafted is just another step along the way. I would say it makes me work harder, realizing that my dream is getting closer and closer, but where I was taken doesn't have any influence on my work ethic.

PC: I know the season just ended but what are some of your goals heading into the offseason and next season?
GS: I just want to continue to get better. Next year is a big year for our team and a big year for me personally. I just want to come in and be in the best shape of my life and play every game I can. My main goal is just to return in the best shape of my life.

PC: I get the vibe that being in great shape is very important to you? Would you say thats true?
GS: It's the one thing that I really need to do to take my game to the next level. It's been my main focuses for years now.

PC: I've interviewed a lot of goalies lately but this is a question I haven't asked yet. You play in a league that's highly regarded for its skill and talent. Who are some of the toughest players to stop or play against?
GS: That's a good question. It isn't like I pay attention to who's shooting, but you play teams enough and you know when guys are out there. Tobias Reider and Michael Catenacci on Kitchener as well as Stefan Noesen, J.T Miller, and Mitchell Heard on Plymouth are all great players and good guys. Gregg McKegg may have given me the toughest time out of anyone in this league though.

PC: Well luckily for you he'll most likely be your teammate in the future rather then opponent ha-ha. Growing up what was your favourite team?
GS: Well as much as I'd like to say the Blackhawks, they weren't very good for many years. My team was the Dallas Stars. Loved the jerseys and guys like Eddie Belfour, Mike Modano, Derian Hatcher and the rest were great. Dallas beating Buffalo is the first Stanley Cup I remember.

PC: Dallas, that's interesting! Who was your favourite player growing up?
GS: My favourite player had to be Mike Modano. But my favourite goalies were Nikoli Khabibulin and Marty Turco.

PC: What aspect of your game do you take the most pride in?
GS: I wouldn't say I care about one thing I do more than the other, I look to keep the game as simple as possible. Focus and patience are two things that are very important to me.

PC: This one i meant to ask earlier but forgot. What was it like being drafted to a team like the Maple Leafs?
GS: It has been great. I originally just wanted to get drafted, but after that happened and I got to go to the rookie camps and such, I realized how fortunate I was to be drafted to a team like the Leafs. The resources, facilities and coaches are 2nd to none in the league and they really care about and look after the guys they bring in. It's been a great experience so far and I'm extremely happy with where I ended up.

PC: Sounds like a great organization. Alright, so last question. We ask this to everyone. Who do you try to model your game after or do you just to and be "Garret Sparks"?
GS: Well there's a lot of great goalies out there and I don't think it's beneficial to model your game solely on another person, but I take a lot of what I like from everyone and I try to incorporate it into what I already know works for me. My game is ultimately my game though and it's constantly changing and evolving. I don't like to be defined by one thing I do or have one weakness or strength. In the end all I can ask of myself is to compete to no end and try to keep the puck out of the net.

This Q&A was conducted via Twitter Direct Message.

I'd like to thank Garret Sparks for taking the time to do this with us. You can follow him on twitter at : @GSparks40 and please give us a follow at: @PuckCentralHQ

Contact us at:
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