Thursday, January 8, 2009
Thoughts on Barrie from January 8
Happy New Year everyone. I'm back with my first game report of 2009 and was able to take in a very hard fought game between the Ice Dogs and Barrie Colts. It wasn't really a great game to evaluate offensive talent, since a lot of the game was played in the neutral zone and it was quite the back and forth defensive affair. The Dogs came out on top 1-0, thanks to a late third period goal by Chris DeSousa. Newly acquired netminder Jeremy Smith was solid in his first game, earning the shutout.
Here are my thoughts on some Barrie players...
Alex Hutchings - NHL Draft Eligible 2009
Hutchings was the best forward for Barrie tonight. He uses good speed to drive the puck to the net, and despite being undersized is often able to circle the offensive zone with the puck on his stick. He's just a really smart player too, who makes an effort to backcheck and who will go into the corners to win puck battles. As a late 1990, I've heard some criticisms or concerns over the fact that as an undersized offensive pivot, he's not putting up incredibly dominating offensive numbers. But he's a smart player, who has seen his production increase, and his overall game take that next step. He's a good bet to be a top 100 NHL draft pick.
Stefan Della Rovere - Drafted in 2008 by Washington/204th
Della Rovere was pretty quiet tonight. Definitely understandable as the guy must be exhausted after the show that is the WJC's. He did start to turn it on in the 3rd period and was beginning to take the body and drive to the net. In one instance he drove to the net, taking out goaltender Jeremy Smith and causing a minor circus. I'm not sure a lot more needs to be said about Della Rovere, who has obviously taken great steps forward this season in becoming a potential NHL player.
Josh Brittain - Drafted in 2008 by Anaheim/71st
Brittain has been somewhat underwhelming offensively since coming over from Kingston. He's got only 3 goals in 12 games, none in his last 8. At 6'4 and over 200lbs, he's a very good skater who loves to have the puck on his stick, and he drives hard to the net. He also works well in the corners, especially in the cycle. However, I'd like to see him improve upon a few things. For one, for such a big guy, he doesn't throw his weight around nearly as much as he should. Nor does he use his body to protect the puck. Also, he needs to stop being so cute with the puck. Just get the thing on net and go hard to the crease looking for some garbage. With his speed and the skill he does have, if he could develop more of a mean streak, and more of a desire, he could be a top end power forward. Apparently, this is what got him out of favor in Kingston with Coach Killer, the fact that offensively he was being to much of a finesse player and not enough of a 6'4 power forward.
Darren Archibald - 2009 NHL Draft Eligible (1990 born)
Rookie OHL winger who played last season in Stouffville with Ethan Werek and Corey Trivino, on a very solid team. He's been getting better and better as the season has gone along. At 6'3, 200lbs, he skates fairly well and is aggressive on the forecheck and along the boards. He uses his size well and goes hard to the net, looking for rebounds. He didn't show a lot of offensive ability tonight, but he did show a good effort level. As a 1990 born, playing in his first OHL season, I'd say he has a chance to get drafted as an entry overager this season, if he's caught a few scouts eyes.
Taylor Carnevale - 2009 NHL Draft Eligible
Since a trade from Oshawa, Carnevale has been great for Barrie with 13 points in 15 games. He's supplied the Colts with some secondary offensive production that they lacked. He's somewhat undersized, but he looks to skate well and he isn't afraid to get his nose dirty. He went to the net and he played in the corners. He also showed some good playmaking ability, with a couple nifty passes, although none ended up creating serious scoring chances. He played hard, and he looks to be fairly skilled. Could definitely be an NHL draft pick if he continues to put points up in Barrie.
Michael Hutchinson - Drafted in 2008 by Boston/77th
Hutchinson was very good tonight. He does a great job of challenging shooters when he needs to, and at 6'3 he can still make himself look big while staying back in his net. He moves well and has good overall mobility, and he also anticipates the play very well. His rebound control was excellent tonight, as many of the Dogs 42 shots came from the perimeter. He did a good job to make sure none of these softer shots ended up as rebounds in the scoring area. Going back to his size, Hutchinson is one of those goalies who seems to get a piece of absolutely everything. Because he's so big, when he does come out to challenge, especially on point shots, it's hard to find space. The only goal that beat him was an outstanding shot by Chris DeSousa, top shelf, blocker side, on a 3 on 1. No goalie would have saved that one. He's had a bit of tough luck recently, as despite a SV% over .940, and a GAA right around 2, he's only 4-4 in his last 8 games.
And a quick thought on an Ice Dog player...
Jeremy Smith - Drafted in 2007 by Nashville/54th
Smith has had a terrible season, and no doubt relishes the opportunity to start over in Niagara. He was outstanding in his first game with the Dogs, stopping all 33 shots for the shutout victory. And while none of his saves were incredible, he was a solid and calming presence in net, who gave up very few rebounds, and directed pucks away from high traffic areas. He was once considered an elite goaltender in this league, but hasn't been the same since a disastrous WJC tournament with team USA last year. There has to be some mental/confidence issue which is causing his poor play this season, as he has the skill and technical ability to be a good goaltender. Here's hoping he can continue to play well in Niagara and show Nashville that he's still got more left in the tank.