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Defensemen Top 2008 Draft Class

Wednesday, 06.18.2008 / 11:06 AM / 2008 Draft
By Brad Boron  - chicagoblackhawks.com
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Defensemen Top 2008 Draft Class
2008 is the year of the defenseman. Among North American skaters, the NHL’s Central Scouting Service ranks five defensemen among the top 10 prospects on the board, and seven defensemen among the 13. Here is a look at some of the top blueliners, in order of their CSS ranking, who will be selected this weekend in Ottawa.

Zach Bogosian (Peterborough, OHL)

Rankings:

Central Scouting Red Line Report TSN ISS ESPN The Hockey News
2 4 3 2 3 2

Known as one of the OHL’s most physical players, Bogosian’s biggest accomplishment this season was holding Oshawa’s phenom, John Tavares, to one goal during a home-and-home series. He’s also a decent threat on the offensive end, scoring 33 points during his rookie season and scoring 61 points, including 50 assists, this season for the Petes.

Bogosian’s been known to keep some very famous company; Bruins legend Bobby Orr is his agent, and he was coached by Ray Bourque when he was playing for a team in Boston.

The consensus on Bogosian is that he hasn’t yet fully matured as a player, but the potential’s there. A team that’s willing to coach him could see huge dividends, and possibly the best defenseman from his draft class.



 


Drew Doughty (Guelph. OHL)

Rankings:

Central Scouting Red Line Report TSN ISS ESPN The Hockey News
3 3 2 4 2 3

Doughty is known as a skilled and intelligent defenseman who plays a very good offensive game. Originally a forward, he’s got great vision on both ends of the ice, and can take charge on a power play.

Doughty was named the OHL’s best offensive defenseman in 2007
He’s still got some work to do on the defensive end of the ice, however, before he’s ready for the NHL. He was known as a great defender in the OHL, but will have to keep getting stronger and work on conditioning to stay competitive in the pro game.


 


 Tyler Myers (Kelowna, WHL)

Rankings:

Central Scouting Red Line Report TSN ISS ESPN The Hockey News
4 12 11 15 8 8

The largest prospect on the board (6’7”, 210 lbs.) has also sparked the biggest debate in the draft. The NHL’s Central Scouting Service has ranked Myers #4 on their board, but other scouts like Red Line Report and TSN don’t even have Myers ranked as a top-10 prospect. The question remains whether Myers can use his size to his advantage at the next level, or if he has height and not much else to offer.

Compared most often to Boston’s Zdeno Chara, Myers’ 81-inch wingspan has painted him as a physically-dominating defender in the WHL, but has decent skating ability and speed for his size. Myers will have to improve his decision-making at the next level, as he often tries to do too much with the puck and on defense. Myers needs to build strength and he’ll gain more muscle mass in the pros. He could be a punishing defender somewhere down the line.





Luke Schenn (Kelowna, WHL)

Rankings:

Central Scouting Red Line Report TSN ISS ESPN The Hockey News
5 6 6 6 6 6

The solid 6’2” defenseman Schenn brings strength and agility to the table. He’s a deceptively good skater, and he’s physically much stronger than many of the other prospects in the draft. Schenn is powerful defending the zone, and usually follows all the way through on his hits. Schenn scored 28 points in the WHL this year and is known for good skating, and has consistently improved on it since he entered the WHL.

It’s been said that Schenn still needs to get bigger and stronger, which should come easily in an NHL strength program, and his decision-making still needs improvement. But as a consensus top-6 pick, Schenn will be a big part of some team’s future plans.








Alex Pietrangelo, (Niagara, OHL)

Rankings:

Central Scouting Red Line Report TSN ISS ESPN The Hockey News
6 5 4 5 5 4

The size and skill are there for Alex Pietrangelo. At 6’4” and 210 lbs., there is very little growing the defenseman has to do. It’s how he uses his physical ability that has some scouts debating where he should land in the draft. Pietrangelo moves well with and without the puck, and has great passing and vision on the ice (he finished seventh among OHL defensemen with 53 points this season.

But scouts would like to see him play with more intensity and use his size to attack players on the defensive end. He’s got the size to be a powerful NHL defenseman when he’s fully grown, but he plays too calmly for some scouts. Whether he can gain intensity to match his size will determine his career.






Colby Robak (Brandon, WHL)

Rankings:

Central Scouting Red Line Report TSN ISS ESPN The Hockey News
8 13 28 19 19 No rating

Making one of the biggest leaps up most teams’ draft boards is Robak, who started his season as a low 1st-round pick but has since climbed all the way up to the eighth-best North American prospect on the CSS’s list.

Robak, at 6’2” and 202 lbs. has a body that could already handle the grind of the NHL, and is a talented offensive player. Mobile and strong, Robak scored 6 goals and 19 assists in 55 games last season, but scouts say he’s just beginning to tap into his offensive potential.

If he taps into that potential, Robak may becomes two-way defender in the mold of Scott Niedermayer, one of Robak's hockey role models.






Michael Del Zotto (Oshawa, OHL)

Rankings:

Central Scouting Red Line Report TSN ISS ESPN The Hockey News
15 21 15 23 12 12

Del Zotto is widely acknowledged as the draft's best offensive defender, but his draft ranking  took a hit when his Generals team underachieved during the regular season. He was a potential top-5 draft pick heading into the year, but some scouts said they didn't see him progress as much as they'd like to see. Questions also remain about his ability to play solid, consistent defense, a concern he tried to put to rest in 2007-08.

Del Zotto scored 63 points in 64 games for Oshawa last season, with a +7 rating after spending all of '06-07 in negatives.

These numbers lead some to have a different take on Del Zotto's struggles and his improvement this year. They say the game was so easy for him for so long, he never had to work hard to perform well. With a revamped work ethic throughout last season, Del Zotto showed improvements, and led his team to the OHL's Eastern Conference Championship Series. If he's committed to honing his skills, Del Zotto may be the top player some envisioned he would be.


Other defensemen in the mix:

Roman Josi (CSS Rank: 6 in European Skaters Ranking): Gained valuable experience playing with Bern in the Senior Swiss League. A playmaking defenseman with good decision making and passing skills. Needs to become a more physical defenseman.

Luca Sbisa (CSS Rank: 12): Spent half of a season in WHL and improved game tremendously, showing off his steep learning curve for the game.

Colten Teubert (CSS Rank: 18): A strong, powerful defenseman who can skate the puck out of trouble. Can take charge of a game offensively, and will only get better on defense.

Tyler Cuma (CSS Rank: 19): A talented defender with enough skills to contribute at the other end; fiercely competitive.