Monday, January 24, 2005


CHL Top Prospects Game Musings: Part II

Here are some thoughts on particular players from the CHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday night (Finally, eh!). I already commented on some players and the game itself in an earlier post.

Devereaux Heshmatpour, D – CSS Rank 49th in North America

Devereaux has been on the prospect radar for years simply due to the fact he has always towered above the competition with his massive frame and punishing hits (6’6” 238, but I believe he has shed some weight off of that mark). As other kids have gone through their growth spurts, Devereaux’s advantage isn’t quite as pronounced as it was earlier in his life. There were even rumours that Heshmatpour’s parents lied about his age, and Heshmatpour was really older than ‘officially’ documented. Like most conspiracy theories, you can’t buy a piece of bubble gum with its value.

It has been apparent to most observers that Heshmatpour’s hype has been solely tied to his size and not much else. He wasn’t even added to the game until injuries opened up a spot for him.

At first glance, Heshmatpour looks eerily similar to an early-career Oleg Kvasha. Devereaux doesn’t look like he weighs more than 200 and his skating style of very similar. To put it mildly, Heshmatpour skates like a 10 year-old girl. He looks somewhat delicate on his skates…he generates very little power with his strides, he has a very high center of gravity, and he looks awfully clumsy at the same time. While Kvasha could cover a lot of ground with his awkward strides, Heshmatpour cannot do the same.

Playing defense, Heshmatpour delivered some big hits early. He simply tossed aside a couple of the Team Davidson players deep in the defensive zone. His positioning was OK as long as stayed at home in the basement…and that’s it for the positives.

Along with the worst skating ability I’ve seen from a ‘Top Prospect’ (He took a bad holding penalty in the first when an opposing forward blew by him), Heshmatpour has no offensive upside to speak of. In 98 OHL games, Heshmatpour has 2 goals and 13 assists…no doubt he got most of those by accident.

Devereaux has been quite a curiosity in his career to date, but I can’t honestly say I’d want to use any kind of draft pick on this kid. If he cannot improve his atrocious skating, his pro aspirations will begin and end in the United Hockey League.

Carey Price, G – CSS Rank #1 for North American Goalies

Price is your standard generic hybrid goalie of the new low-scoring era: He covers a lot of net (6’2.5”), plays a mix of butterfly and standup, and doesn’t really have any hitches or identifying qualities (such as Schwarz’ liberal use of the splits or Cechmanek’s flopping). Price did quite well in this game, but I noticed one really bad habit – Price was always holding his stick about an inch off of the ice. I had the same bad habit when I played road/floor hockey (also because they never had a stick tall enough for a 6’5” goalie).

One of the most important rules for any goalie is to keep the stick on the ice. I wonder how many goalies Price allows through the ‘5-hole’ and along the ice.

Marek Zagrapan, C/RW (CSS Rank 27th in NA) and
Radek Smolenak RW (CSS Rank 42nd in NA)

I am pairing these two together for a few reasons.

First, Don Cherry saw it fit to give them about 8 minutes of ice time in the game. I know he wanted to get Brule as much ice time as possible, but that’s no excuse for shafting his ‘Europeans’ like this.

Second, these two displayed instant chemistry and looked like they had been playing together for years. They both finished with 1 goal, 1 assist, and a +3 rating.

Third, both are highly skilled European players who have been productive in the CHL, yet have been shafted by scouts and the media.

Late in the first period, Smolenak made a beautiful rush into the offensive zone. When he went for the wraparound, he found an open Zagrapan for the best highlight-reel goal of the night.

Zagrapan was absolutely robbed of a goal in the 2nd period (the save of the night), but did return the favour with an assist on Smolenak’s 3rd period goal.

There is no doubt that these two were the best non-Brule players of the night. I really wish Cherry would have given them more of a chance to display their skills, since they were working hard and generating plenty of chances.

Gilbert Brule, C/W (CSS Rank 6th in NA)

For whatever reason, Brule has been downgraded in CSS, ISS, and McKeen’s rankings. For reasons unknown to me, Brule has lost his official #2 status amongst these scouts…so this Crosby-free game was the perfect chance for him to shine and get some hype back.

I don’t really need to go into great detail about Brule because he is simply Jeremy Roenick without the motormouth. Brule has the same competitive spirit, strong lower body, and wicked one-timer. Brule is only 5’11”, but he routinely knocks bigger players flat on their asses (Remember when Roenick took out Zdeno Chara? Now that was amazing). Brule took out the opposing captain, Bobby Ryan, with a monster hit that forced Ryan to miss the rest of the game. On every shift, Brule was playing hard and getting good scoring chances.

Why the recent scouting downgrade? I’ve heard...

1. He’s not disciplined enough (bad penalties and high PIM total)
2. His defense is still rather poor, especially for a center.
3. He’s too selfish – He shoots too often and doesn’t pass well enough

I will agree with #1 somewhat and #3 just a little. Brule is fiery and does get himself into trouble at times when he’s too aggressive. Brule also does shoot a LOT, but I often see him trying to set up teammates as well. Brule is the trigger-man on his line and he has a great shot…that’s why he’s been used as point-man on the Power Play at times by the Giants.

As for his defense…it’s not poor and it’s not good. Brule does ‘enough’ but could do more.

Despite these warts, I can’t believe an NHL GM would downgrade Brule for being too competitive or for his less-than-great defense. Defense can be worked on (if Daigle can be worked on, than almost anyone can be), and we know competitiveness is something you’d rather have too much of, rather than too little of.
Would you rather draft a talented and lazy kid like Brendl or a talented and fiery guy like Brule? I'd like to hear some comments on why Brule has been ranked lower than he was previously...

Devon Setoguchi, RW (CSS Rank 12th in NA)

Devon had a goal for Team Davidson and really stuck out for the fact he was one of the few players on the team to really make you sit up and take notice. Devon was throwing his body around (he’s 6’0" and 185, so only average) and playing with some Brule-like fire at times. I didn’t really scout Devon closely, but he was hard not to notice on a rather moribund Team Davidson.

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