Ever page through your high school yearbook and realize in someways how little things have changed while others bear little resemblance to those in the yearbook. While younger generations spend most of their time snickering at hair cuts older people understand that for those ‘haters’ their time will come where other young people will be making fun of their fashion / hair choices. I have purchased the International Scouting Services Draft Guide since 2007. I often find it to be concise, accurate and insightful even after many seasons. It also gives a snapshot of what the scouting community thought of a player in regards to their respective peer group. To put it in yearbook terms, imagine if you were arranged by the thought of who was going to be the most successful. Where do you think you would’ve been? Near the front? Or towards the back? Then imagine going back and looking back where people actually ended up in regards to their careers.
Did you think you’d be doing what you are right now? How would you have responded as an 18-year old if you were passed over at chances to realize your dream? Life would be far more boring and predictable if everything turned out as planned. The same goes for these young hockey players. An article on Wild.com mentioned some of these stories last week here. Looking back at some of my older ISS Draft Guides I saw some players who ended up going undrafted and are attending the Wild’s Prospect Development Camp; these players were defenseman Alex Gudbranson as well as forwards Jessey Asteles and Minnesota free agent signee Zack Mitchell. The reason these players went undrafted vary, for some it was because some clubs didn’t want to take a gamble. Every teams’ scouts understand if they can’t deliver in the later rounds they might be looking for a job. So in some ways its like making a wager on a player and their future potential. Where they might wager on a team or a horse of their choice. Yet the experts always toss in who they see as the favorite. For Gudbranson and Mitchell they were written about twice in ISS and I will share with you what they had to say both times to give you a better idea of what these players bring to the organization or could if we signed them. So what did ISS have to say?
D – Alex Gudbranson (Kingston / Sault Ste. Marie, OHL)
Height: 6’2″ Weight: 206lbs Shoots: Right
2012 Review by ISS: Ranked #135
“The younger brother of Erik Gudbranson is a tough and physical defenseman who competes to the best of his ability at all times. He possesses very good size, and he displays adequate strength. A big-bodied defender with a long reach and good skating ability. An emerging blueliner with underrated skill that uses his size to his advantage against opposing forwards. A spirited body-checker that relishes the high-traffic areas. He is also an effective shot-blocker who is adept at getting in the shooting lanes and limiting rebounds. Still working on game to game consistency and is an unpolished long-term project.”
2013 Review by ISS: Ranked #185
~ Good defensive instincts
~ Mobility and stick to keep opposition at the perimeter
~ Added a slight mean streak to his defensive game
~ Willingness to block shots
~ Great character leader
~ Hesitates to get involved offensively from the point
The reports would indicate that Gudbranson is a no-nonsense stay-at-home defenseman who does the dirty work necessary to limit chances in their own end. May be worth a contract to improve depth in the organization until other defenseman like John Draeger, Carson Soucy and Nolan DeJong are still developing in the college ranks.
RW – Jessey Astles (Kelowna / Saskatoon / Tri-City, WHL)
Height: 6’1″ Weight: 191lbs Shoots: Left
2011 Review by ISS: Ranked #171
~ Not flashy but gets job done
~ Plays all 200 feet
~ A grinder that can provide spark
~ Needs to improve skating
~ Stands up for teammates
~ Strong balanced skater
A former teammate of Wild draftee Brett Bulmer, Astles is a tough grinding winger who like Gudbranson does the dirty work to make life easier for his more skilled linemates. Astles may not be a big scorer, but he has a terrific work ethic and is the kind of warrior that coaches love.
RW – Zack Mitchell (Guelph, OHL)
Height: 6’0″ Weight: 184lbs Shoots: Right
2011 Review by ISS: #181
~ Excellent work ethic on a consistent basis
~ Good hand-eye coordination
~ Above average skating ability
~ Very good on Penalty Kill unit
2012 Review by ISS: #186
~ Shown marked improvement
~ High end stickhandling ability
~ Excellent work ethic and hustle on a consistent basis
~ Above average skating ability
~ Reliable penalty killer
Zack Mitchell is a player who has useful skills at both ends of the ice. He may not be the biggest or most gritty skater at Wild Prospect Camp but he has a knack for finding his way into scoring areas and has the ability to finish those opportunities. This should make him be a very useful and versatile player for the Iowa Wild which really could use help all over after what was a very difficult and trying 2013-14 season. He is a kid who gave up a chance to play at Harvard to go on to play in the OHL, so he is certainly a kid who is dedicated towards his dream.
Wild prospect camp concludes this evening with their last Team White vs. Team Green scrimmage. I plan on posting a short podcast after the scrimmage relaying some thoughts on some of the individual performances. Hope to see you there.