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Red Line Report Believes Pens Can Draft Solid Prospect

Wednesday, 06.13.2007 / 9:18 AM / Features
By Joe Sager  - pittsburghpenguins.com
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Red Line Report Believes Pens Can Draft Solid Prospect

(RELATED LINK: Penguins Draft Coverage Homepage)

Each year, Kyle Woodlief and his scouting staff travel the globe.

Their destinations aren’t always historic landmarks or scenic places. Rather, they head to hockey rinks.

Their many visitations and on-site reports help comprise Red Line Report, one of the top independent scouting reviews in the hockey world.

So, how does the 2007 NHL Entry Draft field compare to last year’s?

Kyle Woodlief

“It’s weaker than last year’s, for sure,” said Woodlief, the Chief Scout and Publisher of Red Line Report. “Certainly, in the goaltending department, it’s not as good. There is no Erik Johnson-type on defense, either. It was a fairly pedestrian crop after Johnson on defense last year, so since there is no Johnson this year, it’s a fairly similar crop. It’s comparable as far as the forwards are concerned, especially the top four at the top. They are the equivalent pretty much to anything in draft last year.”

It’s likely the Pittsburgh Penguins won’t select one of the draft’s big names. For the first time in five seasons, the team does not own a top-five selection in the first round.

“It’s just a little more difficult to set up your draft board. If you’re setting up your draft board when you’re drafting in the top three our four all the time, you only have to look at five guys,” Woodlief said. “If you’re drafting at 20, you have to make a lot of projections and try to figure out what other teams are doing. There are a lot more variables in the equation when you’re drafting at 20.

“I think there’s not a whole lot of difference between the player you’re going to get at 20 than the player you’re going to get at 40 this year. I think the Penguins would probably try to narrow it down to maybe three of four guys they have higher ranked on their list who are still sitting there at 20 because there is no real consensus this year after first five guys, really.”

Nevertheless, Woodlief, a former Nashville Predators scout, believes the Penguins can add a solid prospect that late in the first round.

“I think so. They will get a good prospect. It won’t be a blue-chipper who is going to be a sure thing,” he said. “But, if they have done their homework properly, then they will get a player who will contribute to the team, at least, in two or three years. I don’t think anybody they get down at No. 20 will be in Pittsburgh in the next two years.”

Woodlief, who sees more than 200 games per year all over the world, believes the Penguins will take a defenseman with their first pick.

“I really do. All things being equal, I think they would prefer to draft a defenseman. If they have two guys on their board who are ranked equally and one is a forward and one is a defenseman, I think they would opt for the defenseman,” he said. “They have the makings of a good young defense corps now with Ryan Whitney having come on and Kris Letang is going to be a real good one. They also have Alex Goligoski at the University of Minnesota, who is going to come in in a couple years. They have some good, young talent in pipeline, as far as the blue line is concerned.”

The two mock drafts in Red Line Report’s 2007 Draft Guide project the Penguins to take defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk or Mark Katic.

Mark Katic

Katic, ranked 15th overall by Red Line Report and 59th by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service, played for Sarnia in the Ontario Hockey League last season. The Canadian had 40 points (5+35) and 31 penalty minutes in 68 games.

“For me, Katic is the best-skating and best-passing defenseman in the draft. If he were bigger, he’d certainly be a top-10 guy. He’s maybe barely 5-10 and 182 lbs,” Woodlief said. “Five years ago, he wouldn’t have even been considered for first-round status. The skating ability and passing ability helps him overcome concerns. I think he is going to go somewhere in that range – 20-25 – even though we have him ranked a bit higher.

“Not only is he a good skater, but he uses a variety of head and shoulder feints in the corners to avoid checks. It’s very difficult to get on him in the corners because he moves so quickly laterally. He is very difficult to trap in corners and get a clean hit on. He is a very slick and elusive kid who really understands the game.”

Red Line Report ranks Shattenkirk as its No. 17 prospect, while Central Scouting has him at No. 34. The 5-11, 193-pounder captained the United States National Under-18 team this past season. In 48 games, he had 34 points (12+22) and 60 penalty minutes.

Kevin Shattenkirk

“He was the acknowledged leader both on the ice and in the dressing room for that U.S. Under-18 team,” Woodlief said. “He’s another kid who is not the biggest in the world, but he has excellent power-play skills with really good passing and vision. He tends to come up clutch in huge moments late in close games. So, that all plays to his advantage. The U.S. team actually used him as one of their shooters in all their shootouts and they were involved in a lot of shootouts. So, it was unusual that he was their go-to guy, even in shootouts.”

One local player – C.J. Severyn of Beaver – is rating among the top prospects as well. Red Line Report has him pegged at No. 69, while Central Scouting has him at 105. Severyn played for the U.S. National Under-18 team last season and had 16 points (6+10) and 50 penalty minutes in 48 games.

“I think he is a sleeper because he is such a good, solid two-way player. He’s very versatile. You can plug him into any role and he will fill it in and do it,” Woodlief said. “I think he has some untapped offensive potential. He was playing down in a checking role this year with two slugs as wingers, basically. He did not get much chance to shine offensively. He was not getting any power-play ice time. I see some good skills from him. He handles the puck fairly well and he has good hand-eye coordination. He has a pretty good release on his shot. He has good intelligence, too. He knows what he’s doing out there. So, I think if he was placed one on of the top two lines, I think he has some untapped potential offensively.”

(To subscribe to Red Line Report, log on to www.redlinereport.com or call (518) 523-4289.)

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