Friday night saw a WHL match-up at the Langley Events Centre, the Moose Jaw Warriors vs Vancouver Giants. There were plenty of solid prospects that have already been drafted into the NHL, are draft eligible, and even one likely going back into the draft for a second year in a row. Here is the scouting report on a few of the bigger names.
Scouting Report: Moose Jaw Warriors vs Vancouver Giants
Moose Jaw Warriors
Josh Brook – 2017 NHL Draft Eligible
Brook started the night on the first pairing alongside Zaitsev, who will be reviewed later. He’s a relatively solid skater, but nothing to write home about. Even though he’s not the greatest skater, he isn’t afraid to carry the puck out of the defensive zone all the way down the ice. Because of that he creates a fair share of scoring chances for his team.
On the defensive side of things, he’s a sound blueliner. He’s not as physically imposing as his partner, but makes up for it by moving the puck better than Zaitsev does. He’s smart and composed in the defensive zone, and rarely was out of place. He won’t win a large amount of battles on the boards, but he makes up for it by being good with his stick.
Brett Howden – Tampa Bay Lightning, 1st Round 2016
Brett Howden started the night on the first line, unsurprisingly enough. Howden has been absolutely fantastic this season for Moose Jaw, proving that by averaging over a point and a half per game. He sees the ice well, and moves it just as well. Because of the two statements mentioned in the former sentence, most of the offense moves directly through him when he’s on the ice.
However, despite being very solid in his offensive zone, he seems to get lost at times on the other end of the ice. There was multiple occasions where Howden found himself completely out of position in the defensive zone, and this lead to Vancouver getting multiple scoring chances.
If there’s one thing that is blatantly obvious when Howden is on the ice it’s that he’s not afraid of contact. He uses his 6’2″, 191-pound frame to his advantage to win battles consistently along the boards. On top of that he’s very smart with his stick, making it even more difficult to beat him in one-on-one battles.
Dmitri Zaitsev – Wasington Capitals, 7th Round 2016
Zaitsev played alongside the aforementioned Josh Brook, and their styles compliment each other well. Where Brook tends to be more finesse, and focuses on skating with the puck, Zaitsev likes to get into the mix of things and lay a hit when possible. He’s much more physical than his partner, that’s for sure.
Despite not being as strong as Brook on the puck, he’s no slack. There was multiple times where he skated the puck out of the zone and didn’t look uncomfortable whatsoever, though that’s not something you’ll often see him doing. Zaitsev sees the ice well in his defensive zone, which is the end of the ice he really excels in.
Along with being an overall solid player for Moose Jaw, he was tasked with operating on the first unit of both the powerplay and the penalty kill, meaning he saw a great deal of ice time. As mentioned above, Zaitsev sees the ice fairly well and is good on both ends of special teams. And despite not being the greatest skater ever, he moves quite well for a player of his size.
Brayden Burke – Undrafted in 2016
Burke saw plenty of time on ice for the Warriors against the Giants and did well while out there. He was on the first powerplay unit for the Warriors and moved the puck well, and got an assist because of it. Burke is also a smooth skater, and looks to be one of the faster skaters on Moose Jaw’s roster.
The downsides to his game are that he’s fairly inconsistent in his passing. One of his passes will be right on the tape and the next will be five feet off target. This is something Burke needs to assess if he wants to get drafted in his second go-around with the NHL Entry Draft.
Ty Ronning – New York Rangers, 7th Round 2016
Ronning is a relatively quick skater, especially in comparison to most players at the WHL level. Even though he’s fast he does have a slightly unorthodox skating style when trying to beat an opposing player to the puck.
On the brighter side of things, Ronning has improved quite substantially in moving the puck since the beginning of the 2016-17 WHL season. He’s also got a great work ethic, and he isn’t afraid to throw his body around for a player of his stature (5’7″, 165 lbs). Another thing of note with Ronning is that he’s quite the skilled puckhandler.
Ryan Kubic, 2017 NHL Draft Eligible
Kubic is an odd case when looking at goalies at the WHL level. There will be stretches of time where he looks like he could be a late round draft pick by someone willing to take the risk, and other moments where he looks like the AHL would be a stretch for him. The problem is that his good play doesn’t show up enough to warrant anything other than a seventh round pick, or more likely being signed as an undrafted rookie free agent.
Kubic looks relatively comfortable coming out of his net to play the puck. He’s good at getting across the crease quickly for a goalie in the WHL, but would need to work on this to step up to the next level and see the ice. Another thing he would need to work on, if he wants to get picked up at the next level, would be controlling rebounds. When caught off guard he tends to give up some juicy rebounds, something that will punish him far more often than not at the next level than it has in the WHL.
Matt Barberis – 2017 NHL Draft Eligible
Barberis is a solid skater on the blue line, and he moves the puck well. It’s because of this that he sees a good deal of ice time, and operates on the powerplay more often than not. He’s solid in the attacking zone, and he contributes more than his fair share towards the net and in point production with Barberis having 20 total points in 30 games coming into the game against Moose Jaw. Barberis also has a nice wrist shot, which is another reason he operates on the powerplay with regular frequency.
The major downside to his game is that he can be quite undisciplined at times in a few different ways. He finds himself out of position at times, and then proceeds to take bad penalties to make up for it. He also needs to work on taking better angles when cutting down the opposing player on the puck, although this wasn’t consistent enough to be of worry. Even though these downsides seem bad, they could just as well be attributed to his age. Only time will tell if he can mature and cut down on these.