Flames Second Round Targets 2016: Griffin Luce

There are two types of defensemen that get drafted high these days. The first type are the puck-moving, agile defenders that can run an offense. But while the game is seemingly tilting more and more into the hands of those puck-movers, teams still really seem to love big guys that can shut opposition attackers down.

The early part of the 2016 NHL Draft seems to be chock full of effective puck-moving defenders, but American-born blueliner Griffin Luce could be one of the more tantalizing shutdown options due to his bloodlines and size. He’s also someone who’s really difficult to nail down in terms of draft position; he’s ranked 70th among North American skaters by Central Scouting, but has been seen anywhere between the second and seventh round in draft projections.

The variation is likely due to his fairly low offensive output this past season.

SCOUTING REPORTS

Luce is a 6’3″, 215 pound defenseman from Williamsville, New York (a Buffalo suburb).

From Kirk Luedeke from Scouting Post (from October):

Big defenseman is the grandson of former Buffalo Sabres great Don Luce
and his dad, Scott, heads the Florida Panthers’ player development and
amateur scouting staff. A dual citizen (he was born in Ontario but
claims Williamsville, N.Y. as his home), at one point Luce looked like
he might be evolving into a dominant blue line presence a couple of
years back at Salisbury School. After a year at the NTDP, the University
of Michigan recruit looks like a solid defense-first, shutdown player
but does not project as much of an offensive threat at the higher
levels. He’s big and physical- needs to improve his skating transitions
and direction changes.

From Joseph Aleong of The Hockey Writers:

One of the unsung heroes of this season’s rendition of the Under-18 US
National Team, Griffin Luce handled some of the toughest assignments on
his team as one of their top penalty killers and shutdown blueliners.
With strong NHL bloodlines,
as his grandfather Don played over 10 seasons in the NHL, Griffin has
long been on the radar as an NHL prospect. However, Luce’s rapid
improvement in recent seasons has convinced NHL scouts that he can be an
effective NHL player, despite his underwhelming counting stats.

THE NUMBERS

Luce is a shutdown defenseman. If you’re familiar with say, famed Flames shutdown defender Robyn Regehr, you’ll remember that shutdown defenders generally don’t score very much. This is the case with Luce, who was the seventh-leading defensive scorer on the U.S. National Development Team – which played a mixed schedule of USHL games and games against international under-18 clubs.

To provide a contrast, teammate and fellow defenseman Adam Fox had 59 points in 64 U18 contests, while Luce had just 11 points. That said, the U.S. National Development Team is a breeding ground for really good college players (and some damn good pros)… but the best guys tend to score a ton as youngsters.

Here’s a list of defenders with similar scoring rates as Luce’s:

Player Year Drafted? College?
Scott Savage 2012-13 No Boston College
Clint Lewis 2012-13 No Cornell
Trevor Hamilton 2012-13 No Miami
Gage Ausmus 2012-13 5th round (San Jose) North Dakota
Steven Santini 2012-13 2nd round (New Jersey) Boston College
Johnathan MacLeod 2013-14 2nd round (Tampa Bay) Boston University
Steven Ruggerio 2014-15 6th round (Anaheim) Providence College
Nicholas Boka 2014-15 6th round (Minnesota) Michigan

So it’s a mixed bag. It probably helps that Santini and MacLeod played styles of hockey that seemed to translate well at the pro level. (And they were big.) Luce? He’s also big and plays a style that should translate.

FIT WITH THE FLAMES

Luce is a left-shooting defenseman. He’s big and physical and doesn’t seem to have a lot of offensive potential, though he’s an effective shutdown guy. The Flames also have Keegan Kanzig, Patrick Sieloff and Riley Bruce in their system (in terms of blueliners that don’t have a ton of offensive upside) and I’m not entirely sure what the tradability of those assets is. (In other words, how many players that don’t score does an organization need?) That said, the Flames don’t have a shutdown defender in their system with Luce’s skillset, but the lack of offense is a bit of a concern.

Luce is committed to the University of Michigan next season, and it’s unclear if he’s into the college experience for the long haul or just aiming to play there for a couple of years.

SUM IT UP

Luce is an effective defenseman, but given that he’s not an established offensive weapon at the junior (and international) level, it’s unclear where he’d fit in with the Flames mixture of established prospects.

  • freethe flames

    Later rounds but not a second please. There are so many better options available with the second rounders. They can be traded for an immediate need, packaged to move up, used to pick BPA or even for organizational weakness; not to mention that there are better prospects reaching for a 70th ranked NA skater in the 2nd round would IMO be waste. 66th pick maybe. If I’m gambling on a stay at home defender I think I would go with Sean Day.

  • Stu Cazz

    The game has changed…speed is paramount. Many of the second round profiles featured have skating issues which you simply cannot learn….stay away from these guys…this years playoffs should confirm the need for NHL speed that equates to success….

  • Purple Hazze

    If I recall correctly, even the shut down d-men put up scoring numbers in junior, that was the big telling sign against kanzig. Pass on this player please.