Ryan’s 2016 WHL scouting notebook

Over the course of the last hockey season, I had the great opportunity to watch many, many Western Hockey League games. While we’ve had a chance to profile several players as part of our draft coverage here, there are several that we haven’t gotten a chance to yet.

In the interest of sharing some (hopefully) handy information with you, here are the notes I have on the players we didn’t get around to doing specific profiles on.

F PATRICK BAJKOV – EVERETT

Hardly a gigantic player, Bajkov largely fades into the background at even strength but he’s a really good passer when he has the puck – particularly on the power-play. He’s probably a late round pick and could round into a more complete player given some time. [113th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

F ADAM BROOKS – REGINA

A third-year eligible player, Brooks was one of the most prolific scorers in the WHL this past season. And it wasn’t a “Hunter Smith” style of season where he was bigger than everybody else; he scored a lot because he’s made adjustments to his game. He could be a decent mid-round gamble, but teams may shy away from using a pick on him if they think he can be gotten via post-draft free agency. [72nd-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

D VOJTECH BUDIK – PRINCE ALBERT

A solid, consistent blueliner with an underrated offensive game. Only saw him once and barely noticed him, as he was usually in position and didn’t get turnstiled by attackers. He looks to be a third or fourth round pick. [90th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

F BRAYDEN BURKE – LETHBRIDGE

One of the big reasons for the resurgence of the Hurricanes, the overage Burke is not huge but he has swagger with the puck. Much like Johnny Gaudreau, he has a ton of confidence with the puck and draws a lot of opposition attention as a result: it seems at times they’re intimidated by this kid. He’s a likely late second or early third round pick. [63rd-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

D KALE CLAGUE – BRANDON

Clague came along really nicely for the Wheaties this year, appearing much more calm and confident on the ice at the end of the year than at the beginning. He still occasionally takes ill-advised penalties and could stand to pick his spots better, but he plays with energy and skill and has a really nice first pass out of his zone. He could be a decent second round option. [27th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

F MAX GERLACH – MEDICINE HAT

Gerlach is a really, really good and accurate shooter. He’s tiny, and dependent on having time and space to operate, though he can probably adapt over time. You don’t really notice him unless he has the puck, but teams seemed to be weary of leaving him alone with it. He’s a late-round option. [142nd-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

F NOAH GREGOR – MOOSE JAW

Gregor’s one of my favourites in this draft class. He plays effectively in all three zones, and he’s smart enough in his own end that he helps his team create chances going the other way. He actually scored more than teammate Brett Howden this season, but he’s ranked lower than him by Central Scouting probably because Howden’s played more over the past couple of seasons and has a larger sample size. He’s a second round option. [45th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

F BRANDON HAGEL – RED DEER

Hagel’s not a big kid, but he buzzes around the entire ice really effectively and that puts him in a situation where he can bury chances once in awhile. He needs to pick his spots a bit better in terms of jumping into the play to make scoring attempts, but he’s definitely got some talent. He’ll likely be a late-round pick, and I could see him becoming a Paul Byron-style forward. [104th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

D LIBOR HAJEK – SASKATOON

A defenseman’s defenseman, Hajek is a stay-at-home guy primarily but might have some offensive upside. He’s big, he plays a strong physical game, and he’s probably a second round guy. [31st-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

F BRETT HOWDEN – MOOSE JAW

Brother of Florida pick Quinton Howden, Brett has been one of the more consistent high-end WHL prospects over the past couple of seasons. He uses his size well and is definitely better in the offensive zone than the defensive zone, but he’s hardly one-dimensional. He’s positionally sound everywhere, but most dangerous in the offensive end. There’s a chance he may fall to the Flames at 35th overall, but he’s pegged as a late first round pick by most projections. [22nd-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

D MAX LAJOIE – SWIFT CURRENT

A little bit more rough around the edges than Libor Hajek (for example), Lajoie is a rock-solid defenseman. He’s generally not noticeable in his own end, though he occasionally can get beat by speedy forwards. But he’s got untapped offensive upside and a really nice first pass out of his end. His game needs some refinement, but he’s got a lot of great raw attributes. [44th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

F BECK MALENSTYN – CALGARY

Once thought of as the top Hitmen draft-eligible (besides Jake Bean) this year, Malenstyn has everything but hands. He’s a really good two-way WHL forward, with great wheels and good vision in terms of making (and interrupting) passes. He probably led the Hitmen in breakaways, but he was also their Paul Byron in terms of not burying those chances. [73rd-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

D DAVID QUENNEVILLE – MEDICINE HAT

Part of the Quenneville family that includes cousin Joel (Chicago’s coach) and recent draftees Peter (Columbus, 2013) and John (New Jersey, 2014), Quenneville’s not big but he’s definitely ranked lower by Central Scouting than he should be. He’s got a great motor and good instincts, and isn’t afraid to jump into the rush. He’s just not the size most NHL teams imagine a defender should be, that’s all. [144th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

F JORDY STALLARD – CALGARY

A staple on a line with Carsen Twarynski (who we profiled elsewhere) and a rotating cast of linemates, Stallard is good offensively, solid (but not amazing) defensively and generally was where he needed to be positionally all season long. He’s not quite as consistent as Twarynski, but he’s arguably got a bit more offensive ceiling than he does. [65th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

F SIMON STRANSKY – PRINCE ALBERT

Stransky was once thought of as a first round pick, and definitely has first round offensive ability. However, the big knock on him has been his consistency. In the games I saw him in, I had to really look for him on the ice – not standing out usually isn’t a good sign for a prospective first rounder. I’d compare him work ethic-wise to Jiri Hudler, who similarly disappeared for long stretches. [48th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

F JAKOB STUKEL – CALGARY

A second-year eligible player, Stukel was so-so in Vancouver and somehow exploded offensively when he arrived in Calgary. It probably helps that he got a lot more ice-time and the Hitmen needed somebody to score their goals. He’s not huge and he relies upon his teammates to get him the puck, but he’s deadly with it inside the face-off dots. [82nd-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting]

  • DoubleDIon

    Ryan what do you think of Tyler Steenbergen? I live in Swift Current and love his wheels. The hands are starting to catch up too. Wouldn’t mind at all if we used a 6th or 7th on him. I think he’s got upside offensively and is already the guy driving the play for the Broncos.