2006 Entry Draft Preview: The Forwards Pt. 2
Bolt Prospects continues its draft preview with the profiles of three more centers who may be available at the Lightning's 15th pick in the NHL Entry Draft on June 24th in Vancouver:
Name: Ondrej Fiala
Weight: 183 lbs
Rankings: #14 North American Skater (CSS), #30 Overall (THN), #40 Overall (Red Line), #15 Skater (TSN.ca/ISS)
Everett (WHL) 51 GP, 21-14-35, 26 PIM, +4
Scouts like a player who improves over the course of his draft year and that was certainly the case for Ondrej Fiala. The Czech born import adjusted slowly to the North American game before picking up steam in the second half of the season by beginning to get more involved in the physical game. In the playoffs, Fiala went for a point a game in eight playoff games before going on the shelf permanently from a concussion suffered at the hands of Blue Jackets first round pick Gilbert Brule. Fiala is an above average skater with good stickhandling ability. When he bears down and drives the net he does have the ability to score goals and he is defensively responsible and can play in all game situations. Unfortunately, the Brule concussion was not his first and he suffered other injuries throughout the year that may hurt his stock. At just 183 lbs, he has to bulk up and become more resilient. Red Line compares Fiala to Buffalo's Ales Kotalik.
Strengths: Good skater with excellent stickhandling ability. Solid defensively and can be used in all facets of the game. Showed physical edge and a willingness to drive the net the second half of the season with Everett.
Weaknesses: Concussion and injury history makes him a risky selection. Needs to bulk up and become more resilient. Struggles to generate offense if he clings to the perimeter.
CHL Top Prospects Skills Testing: 60 ft Dash: 3.077 seconds, 150 ft Dash: 5.933 seconds, Slap Shot: 90.3 mph, Full Lap: 14.397 seconds, Puck Control: 17.933 seconds
Name: Ben Maxwell
Weight: 177 lbs
Rankings: #44 North American Skater (CSS), #21 Overall (THN), #17 Overall (Red Line), NR (TSN.ca/ISS)
Kootenay (WHL) 69 GP, 28-32-60, 52 PIM, +17
One of the real wild cards in this draft will be enigmatic Kootenay center Ben Maxwell. In skills testing, Maxwell scores through the roof. He posted the top times at the CHL Top Prospects game in the 60 foot Dash, the 150 ft Dash, was 5th in the Full Lap and was the only young man to break the 17 second barrier on the Puck Control test. On the ice, these skills can translate to dominance, when Maxwell shows up to play. Unfortunately, his effort was inconsistent for most of the year and he was pegged as a lazy player for the campaign he had for Kootenay. He may have saved his stock, however, with a dominant effort at the U18 World Junior Championships where he was named Canada's best player in three of their seven matches and was second on the team in scoring with 2 goals and 7 points in 7 games. Maxwell has blazing speed, great vision and passing ability and a hard and accurate shot. When he feels like it, he can excel in the physical game and can be an excellent defensive player who is always a shorthanded threat on the penalty kill. One scout quoted in THN believes that Maxwell's biggest hurdle is going to be in gaining the strength to compete at the pro level, but Red Line sees the problem as one that almost exclusively exists between his ears. They sum it up thusly: at his upside they see him as a Brendan Morrison type player, but on his downside, Kris Beech.
Strengths: On paper, he's the best skater in this draft. Stickhandling and passing ability are excellent as are his one ice vision. Can be excellent defensively and is a huge threat shorthanded as a penalty killer.
Weaknesses: Heart is a question. Needs to bulk up and get stronger. Needs to compete in the physical game more consistently.
CHL Top Prospects Skills Testing: 60 ft Dash: 2.704 seconds, 150 ft Dash: 5.485 seconds, Slap Shot: 90.2 mph, Full Lap: 14.680 mph, Puck Control: 16.619 seconds
Name: Patrik Berglund
Weight: 187 lbs
Rankings: #8 European Skater (CSS), #19 Overall (THN), #45 Overall (Red Line), #18 Skater (TSN.ca/ISS)
Vasteras J20 (SWE Jr) 27 GP, 17-12-29, 38 PIM, +13
Vasteras (SWE2) 21 GP, 3-1-4, 4 PIM, -4
The Lightning have not used their top pick on a player under 6'3" since selecting Sheldon Keefe in the 1999 Entry Draft. If that trend holds, on of the Lightning's draft day targets may be big, talented Swedish center Patrik Berglund. Most scouts agree there are no holes in Berglund's game. He is a good skater, albeit one who needs to work on his first step acceleration. He has good size and while he doesn't have a mean streak, he does know how to use his bulk when necessary. He has good stickhandling ability and soft hands. Red Line checks in with the only major knock on Berglund claiming he lacks intensity. It should be noted, however, similar complaints have been made about the Lightning's Swedish forward and 30 goal scorer Fredrik Modin. Red Line goes on to compare Berglund to Washington winger Dainius Zubrus. The Lightning have not selected a Swedish player during Jay Feaster's tenure as GM. Is he due to pull the trigger on Berglund?
Strengths: Good size and strength. Can drive the net with power and is nearly impossible to knock off the puck. Good stickhandler with soft hands a good offensive instincts. No major physical holes in his game.
Weaknesses: May need to approach the game with more intensity. Production after being promoted to the Allsvenskan was very ordinary, although he showed signs of dominance on some nights. Needs to fill out his 6'4" frame.