Although it may be cold outside and the NHL has just begun it’s never too early to take a look at upcoming draft eligible players for the 2013 draft, which will be held up the turnpike in Newark. This week I’m taking a look at defenseman Ryan Pulock of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings.
In 43 games played thus far for Brandon, Pulock has 10 goals, 27 assists good for 37 points. He is also a plus 2 on the season. Pulock did miss two weeks in early January this year with bone chips in his wrist. That injury should not alter his draft stock.
Last year as 17 year-old Pulock totaled 19 goals, 41 assists in 71 games played which good for 60 points, third among WHL defenseman last season. He was also a staggering plus 33.
Two words come to mind when watching Pulock play. He’s steady and efficient. He’s a great puck handling defenseman who skates well and has tremendous vision which allows him to create offensive scoring chances. His offensive wizardry was on display last Saturday in Brandon’s 5-2 win over the Regina Pats as Pulock set up all five Wheat King goals. Not to mention, Pulock possesses arguably the best slap shot in the WHL, next to Montreal Canadiens second rounder and Saskatoon Blade Dalton Thrower, who the Philadelphia Flyers should have drafted, in my opinion, instead of taking goaltender Anthony Stolarz. That’s a discussion for another day.
Back to Pulock. He logs big minutes for the last place Wheat King squad and plays with a calming influence on the back end. Scouts say he may be the “smartest” defenseman in the draft. I would classify him more as an offensive defenseman but his defensive game has gotten better over the years.
He would look great in the orange and black; however the Flyers may need to trade up to get him depending upon how their season goes. I see Pulock going anywhere from the 7-18 range in the draft. I’ve also seen mock drafts having him go as high as the top 5. He’s exactly what the Flyers need, a young puck moving right-handed defenseman with a big shot who is also a great open ice hitter.
Serving as the team captain is also a plus in my book. If I were Paul Holmgren I would try to sneak into the top 10 of the draft and take this kid. Let’s face it I would love Seth Jones, but the chances of that happening are slim to none.
The one knock I have on Pulock is he needs to get bigger. He stands at 6’0/ 6’1 foot range 211 pounds. I would love to see him bulk up to the 220 pound range. The remarkable thing about Pulock is he was a 7th round WHL bantam pick back in 2009 and could end up as top 10 NHL draft pick come June. I see him as a number one defenseman in the NHL for years to come.
New Jersey Devils prospect Reid Boucher (99th overall ’11) is on a torrid scoring pace in the OHL. The second year Sarnia Sting winger has score 14 goals in his last nine outings and he leads the OHL in goals with 45 in 51 games. Boucher scored three goals in Sarnia’s 5-2 win over the Kingston Frontenacs Sunday. His three-goal game was his third hat trick and tenth multi-goal game of the year. He can snipe with the best of them. He has a lighting quick release and soft hands, but his defensive side is still in question which he’ll have to work at. Overall, it looks as if the Devils have themselves a pretty good prospect.
Last Saturday the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL beat the Vancouver Giants 5-0, extending their home winning streak to 23 games. With the win, the Rockets moved into sole possession of the third longest single season home winning streak in WHL history. They are now within one game of the franchise record streak of 24 set in 1992-93 when they were called the Tacoma Rockets and six of the WHL record 29 games set by the Kamloops Blazers in 1993-94 season. The OHL record is 33 games by the 1984-85 Sault. Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the QMJHL record is 30 games by the 1972-73 Quebec Remparts. Kelowna’s next home games are this Friday and Saturday night against the WHL’s top team the Portland Winterhawks, also ranked number one in the CHL.