BUNZ THINKS NUGENT-HOPKINS IS LEGIT

Jason Gregor
May 09 2011 01:12PM

The Oilers drafted netminder Tyler Bunz with the first pick of the 5th round, 121st overall, last June and since then Bunz has progressed nicely. He had a stellar regular season for the Medicine Hat Tigers going 35-13-8 with a 2.47 GAA and a solid 0.919 SV%. His best play might have come in the five game upset over the Red Deer Rebels and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the 2nd round of the WHL playoffs. Bunz was spectacular in those games, and that  along with his consistent regular season play has earned him an invite to the goaltending camp for Canada's World Junior team this June.

Brownlee and I had a chance to get Bunz' thoughts on his season, possibly representing his country and the most talked about topic involving the Edmonton Oilers right now; how good is Nugent Hopkins?

Bunz talked about returning from a concussion to stone the Rebels, the disappointment of losing to Kootenay, and how excited he was to get another call from Team Canada.
 
"Obviously the playoffs went pretty well for me. It kind of took a toll there at the beginning of the first round with the concussion, but I came back strong in the second round and in the third round. In the conference final, Kootenay definitely outplayed us, I think, in that series and they kind of took over. Last Tuesday, I took the call from Ron Tugnutt saying that I got invited to the goalie camp in the summer in June,  and then from there it’s kind of whether you show your skills and if they like you, you go to the camp in August. Hopefully I can do that. I got invited last year, but I didn’t make the August camp, so I’m looking to do that this year."
 
Oiler fans will get to watch the world junior camp live in Edmonton this year from August 3rd to 6th, but I'm sure many of you weren't aware that the goalies have a preliminary camp earlier in the summer. Bunz gave us the low down on when and where the camp is, and he feels pretty confident he can earn an invite to the main camp in August.
 
"Well it’s in Calgary on June 9th - 12th, and I think there is about eight goalies that go there for the World Juniors and a couple go there for the U18 team. I think the experience I had last year from it  should give me an advantage just because I know what to expect. It won’t be new, it will just be something I went through before and I won’t have to worry about it too much this time."
 

HOW GOOD IS NUGENT-HOPKINS?

After getting the goods on his own season we wanted his evaluation of Nugent-Hopkins. He has seen Nugent-Hopkins for the past few years, and according to Bunz the Oilers won't be disappointed if they draft the Rebels' centre.
 
"I think he has got every asset of a hockey player to be the first overall pick. He has shown his skill and his compete level for the past couple years here, and even when he was 15 and came up to Red Deer he was putting up points that no one really thought he would, and he just carried on from there.
 
"Playing against him, he’s really hard to read off of. He can find open guys that a lot of our team can’t see and he can find open ice like no other player I’ve ever seen. He doesn’t use his shot as much as I would if I was him - he has a really good shot - he looks to pass more often than shoot. If he could find a way to use his shot more, he will be an even bigger threat. It was pretty cool to play against him just because of the skill he’s had and for us to shut him down like we did, it was pretty amazing. We knew that he’s a top end guy."
 
It is interesting to get an opposing goalies' evaluation. Some reports have said Nugent-Hopkins doesn't have a great shot, but it sounds like he just doesn't use it often enough. I'd rather have a player who possessed a good shot, but didn't use it often enough, rather than a guy who shoots often, but couldn't break glass from ten feet.
 
Some thought Nugent-Hopkins' lack of production v. the Tigers was A red-flag, but according to Bunz the Tigers came up with a game plan designed to shut him down because they knew he was the catalyst to their offence.
 
"When you play against a guy like Nugent-Hopkins you’re going to be aware of when he’s on the ice and as a goalie you do that as well. In the playoffs our D were more aware of when he was out there, and that we needed to have a good gap against him. I think that was the major difference in playoffs.  We didn’t do it in regular season and he lit us up for about seven points. With him you have to take away his time and space and have a really good gap against him because he is so skilled. We played well, but it was only a short window and since he’s such a skilled player, I think he'll figure out how to beat that in the future, and I really believe that he will go first overall." 

OILERS A GOOD FIT

The Oilers organization isn't  loaded with many goaltending prospects. Outside of Olivier Roy and Devan Dubnyk, the Oilers don't have any other young guys and Bunz feels Edmonton is the ideal team for him to get a chance to continue his development.
 
"It’s pretty exciting to know that they are not, like you said, loaded up with goalies. You know it’s going to be a young team a couple years down the road. I’m hoping to jump into a position where I can make the team. I just have to keep doing what I have been doing now and not look too far ahead down the road. You know things do change really quickly. You have to be ready for adversity that you endure throughout your career. I’m just really focused on having a good year next year, and hopefully signing in the near future so I can play in the AHL when I’m 20. From there it’s just all about development.
 
"I think that if you play well in the first few years in AHL and with the goaltending situation in Edmonton it can give you a really good shot at making the team in four to five years. You know it seems like a while, but I’m already through my third year in the WHL and it goes by fast, and it’s going to be a quick couple of years to see where I’m at with my development so I’m looking forward to it."
 
It is clear Bunz recognizes the goaltending landscape in Edmonton, and I like that he doesn't have a feeling of entitlement. He realizes it won't be an easy road to the NHL, but he seems determined to get there and be part of the Oilers. Bunz might even surprise himself and find that in only three years there could be a great opportunity in Edmonton. He's correct in mentioning that a lot can change between now and then, but the Oilers' philosophy changed recentley and now it's about developing from within rather than looking for a quick fix elsewhere. If Bunz continues to progress, he'll likely get a good look within the organization.
 
Like any prospect he has areas of his game he needs to work on and Bunz was very honest about what areas he wants, and needs, to work on this summer.
 
"I think my skating needs to improve. Any goalie really should work on your skating no matter how good you are. I really learned that from Freddy Chabot. He really harps on being a perfect skater and he does that with the goalies they have now. You always have to work on that, and I just want to keep staying consistent.  My confidence and overall consistency were the areas I improved the most this year, and I need to keep working and improving in both those areas.
 
"Obviously playing the puck as well. That’s a huge skill that any goalie really can take advantage of if you are good at it. I got a lot better with it this year. It’s funny when are playing the game and in the first period guys are dumping the puck and you can make a really good play to get your team out of the zone, and then in the next few periods they start changing up their dump ins and start putting it into the corner. I take pride in that and it’s just something I want to keep working on." 
 
A lot can happen in the next three or four years regarding Bunz' development, but the 19-year-old seems very focused on what he needs to do to succeed at the next level, and if this past season was any indication, then I'd expect Bunz to be in the Oilers' goaltending mix sometime in the near future.
 
I suspect Oiler fans will get a chance to see him at the World Junior camp this August, and if he continues to progress early next season there is a very good chance you could watch an Oiler prospect playing goal for Canada for the second straight season.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Sparky
May 09 2011, 01:23PM
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I agree with Bunz!

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#2 Sparky
May 09 2011, 01:35PM
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As well he was stellar in the playoffs vs. the Rebels. I am really looking forward to watching this guy, I hope he makes the Jr's this year.

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#3 Ender
May 09 2011, 01:40PM
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It’s funny when [you] are playing the game and in the first period guys are dumping the puck and you can make a really good play to get your team out of the zone, and then in the next few periods they start changing up their dump ins and start putting it into the corner. I take pride in that and it’s just something I want to keep working on.

That's the kind of quote I want to see from all of our goaltenders. When a goalie can recognize that he can have an impact on areas of the game outside his crease as well as in, it suggests to me someone committed to being the whole package.

Who was the last goalie we had with really good puckhandling outside the crease? Cujo maybe?

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#4 Senator Theo
May 09 2011, 02:04PM
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@Ender

It sure as hell wasn't Ty Conklin.

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#5 positivebrontefan
May 09 2011, 02:07PM
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Ender wrote:
It’s funny when [you] are playing the game and in the first period guys are dumping the puck and you can make a really good play to get your team out of the zone, and then in the next few periods they start changing up their dump ins and start putting it into the corner. I take pride in that and it’s just something I want to keep working on.

That's the kind of quote I want to see from all of our goaltenders. When a goalie can recognize that he can have an impact on areas of the game outside his crease as well as in, it suggests to me someone committed to being the whole package.

Who was the last goalie we had with really good puckhandling outside the crease? Cujo maybe?

I agree one hundred percent with this evaluation, it bodes well I think. As far as Cujo; while he could handle the puck he always had to flip his stick the opposite way making anytime he played the puck a nervous time for anyone invlolved. I never understood why he didn't just practice shooting the opposite way. I did it in golf and now can smash the ball equaly bad from both sides of the tee.

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#6 positivebrontefan
May 09 2011, 02:09PM
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Nice article Jason, I've heard you talk about this interview on your show but it's nice to be able to see the quotes he threw out there and actually get a chance to digest some of them. Sounds like a great kid.

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#7 9 Inches Uncut
May 09 2011, 02:12PM
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Bunz is an exceptional puck handler at the junior level. Not a lot of goalies in the WHL can do what he does with the puck.

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#8 Mantastic
May 09 2011, 02:23PM
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great article gregor. a mentally strong goalie is an extremely dangerous goalie, i really like how bunz knows what it takes to be at the next level.

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#9 @Oilanderp
May 09 2011, 02:25PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

It sure as hell wasn't Ty Conklin.

I laughed out loud right before I accidentally threw up on my laptop.

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#10 Kaiser Wilhelm
May 09 2011, 02:32PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

It sure as hell wasn't Ty Conklin.

Thanks for ruining a perfectly good comment stream

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#11 Sparky
May 09 2011, 03:11PM
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@Senator Theo

Too soon...

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#12 Lochenzo
May 09 2011, 03:20PM
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We should be asking everybody we can about this guy. Scouts, coaches, anybody who sees the whole ice and see what he does with and without the puck. The guys we sometimes forget about is the goalies. They see everything in front of them.

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#13 PaperDesigner
May 09 2011, 04:23PM
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Gregor, aren't you forgetting that Olivier Roy is in the mix as an Oilers prospect young goaltender? You could argue that he had a mediocre year, but he's hardly fallen off the map yet.

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#15 fuck off
May 09 2011, 05:23PM
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@Senator Theo

Don't listen to Sparky or Kaiser, that was bang on perfect timing and the best response possible!! That's a ROLFosaurus sized props!

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#16 fuck off
May 09 2011, 05:28PM
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PaperDesigner wrote:

Gregor, aren't you forgetting that Olivier Roy is in the mix as an Oilers prospect young goaltender? You could argue that he had a mediocre year, but he's hardly fallen off the map yet.

Conclusions so easily, one should not jump to; young padawan.

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#17 rubbertrout
May 09 2011, 05:39PM
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Senator Theo wrote:

It sure as hell wasn't Ty Conklin.

*Sobs*

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#18 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
May 09 2011, 05:58PM
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Bunz's comments show him to be a real thinking player. This give me some real confidence in his statements about RNH.

PS If this kid makes the Show "Hot Oil" will be all over that last name. I don't even want to know what women will be putting on their Jerseys if this kid gets to be #1 on the roster.

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#19 @NateInVegas
May 09 2011, 06:11PM
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Oilers Lunch Podcast 4/15/11 29mins I asked the same question..

RNH answered it perfectly.

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#20 Puritania
May 09 2011, 06:20PM
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I sure do hope Bunzie can keep improving his game and become a real legit 'tender. He impressed me in training camp and pre-season this year, I really like this kids moxie.

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#21 OF17
May 09 2011, 06:56PM
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Great article, Gregor. Bunz is a well-spoken young guy with a seemingly great head on his shoulders. Pair that with his excellent on-ice results and we have a goaltending prospect worth following.

It's also interesting to hear his take on Nugent-Hopkins, a glowing review to say the least. Exciting to hear about likely the next Oiler draft pick.

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#22 Gordon Lander
May 09 2011, 09:18PM
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Really good article Gregor. Glad you didn't have to work in an MMA angle this time!

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#23 buttermilk buscuits
May 09 2011, 10:28PM
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Gordon Lander wrote:

Really good article Gregor. Glad you didn't have to work in an MMA angle this time!

I actually see a little Anderson Silva in RNH..with how precise he is..knows exactly when to attack, when to sit back...he is in and out, back and forth, fooling the opposition and out of nowhere he fakes then strikes leaving the opponent in the dust not knowing what hit them, or in RNHs case..what just surpassed them..

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#24 Yourmomthinksimhot
May 09 2011, 11:05PM
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Ugghhh Is this what brainwashing feels like?? Love the show Gregor, but I'll be honest I sure hope all this effort is worth it. The RNH stuff is great but I hope it's not all just a tease......

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#25 pelhem grenville
May 10 2011, 04:57AM
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...with Bunz like that his father musta been a baker ...

...couldn't help myself

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#26 madjam
May 10 2011, 07:54AM
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Hopkins has that projected and maybe murky W.T.F. (Wishfull Thinking Factor ) ! Can/ should Oilers, at this stage, risk their first pick on the Wishfull Thinking Factor . More Wish than fact in other words . Larsson being the next Lidstrom is a stretch on the WTF as well . I don't believe at our stage of rebuild we should be rushing /going after Wishfull Thinking with our first pick as a major criteria . We should take someone who will be a long time contributor at a high level that we know fits our needs , not one thats unlikely to reach the lofty heigths expected of WTF . Thus , i figure Coutourier , Larsson and Landeskog fit our future needs well and carry very little worry of the WTF needs that might be to be taken into account .

We should not have to risk this years first pick on Wishfull Thinking . Besides , i don't forsee Hopkins being up to what some of you think he'll become . Nor do i expect Larsson to be next Lidstrom at this stage . Lets start filling our needs , before going after more Wishfull Thinking than reality .

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#27 Lochenzo
May 10 2011, 08:07AM
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Watching Nashville vs Van, and how the Preds had to work just to produce a shot on net. I couldn't help but think to myself that they really needed a legit #1 centre. A guy that can carry the puck for more than 2 seconds and distribute the puck to his wingers to generate scoring chances.

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#28 buttermilk biscuits
May 10 2011, 08:35AM
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@madjam

every 1st overall pick has that Wishfull thinking thing your talking about...thats what prospects are all about..

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#29 Puritania
May 10 2011, 10:20AM
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@madjam

I normally skip madjam posts as I like to avoid aneurysms but I went ahead and read this at my own risk.

If actual scouts in the NHL can't get these things right all the time what makes you think you have it all figured out? It's all a bloody guessing game and to suggest that you know RNH will bust is preposterous.

Hate to break it to all the amateur scouts here but you actually don't know how every player will project.

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#30 Quicksilver ballet
May 10 2011, 10:24AM
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Ryan need only say one thing at his pre draft meeting with the Oilers...

If you don't pick me, i'll spend the next 15 yrs beating your hockey club. That, accompanied with a fake charge/punch towards Steve Tambellini should be enough to send him over backwards in his chair.

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#31 Archaeologuy
May 10 2011, 10:28AM
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@Quicksilver ballet

I desperately want to see that episode of Oil Change.

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#32 Quicksilver ballet
May 10 2011, 10:33AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

I desperately want to see that episode of Oil Change.

Appologies for my enthusiasms yesterday Archie.

Perhaps one too many grape knee highs.

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#33 Archaeologuy
May 10 2011, 10:41AM
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@Quicksilver ballet

No worries, I can be incredibly aggravating. I like arguing, otherwise I wouldnt comment here.

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#34 ghamplas
May 10 2011, 10:42AM
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madjam wrote:

Hopkins has that projected and maybe murky W.T.F. (Wishfull Thinking Factor ) ! Can/ should Oilers, at this stage, risk their first pick on the Wishfull Thinking Factor . More Wish than fact in other words . Larsson being the next Lidstrom is a stretch on the WTF as well . I don't believe at our stage of rebuild we should be rushing /going after Wishfull Thinking with our first pick as a major criteria . We should take someone who will be a long time contributor at a high level that we know fits our needs , not one thats unlikely to reach the lofty heigths expected of WTF . Thus , i figure Coutourier , Larsson and Landeskog fit our future needs well and carry very little worry of the WTF needs that might be to be taken into account .

We should not have to risk this years first pick on Wishfull Thinking . Besides , i don't forsee Hopkins being up to what some of you think he'll become . Nor do i expect Larsson to be next Lidstrom at this stage . Lets start filling our needs , before going after more Wishfull Thinking than reality .

thank you for your opinion, but i'll put my faith in the scouts hands as your post has little more than a fictional catchphrase.

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#35 Zamboni Driver
May 10 2011, 11:50AM
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It will be great if an Oilers prospect goalie makes the WJ team. But to say see 'another prospect PLAY' might be overstating it.

Kinda like Dubnyk is 'playing' on the Worlds Team.

(and the outrage that apparently Barnes is getting through twitter is fall-over-dead funny.)

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#36 madjam
May 10 2011, 11:50AM
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My recent blog was to make you think about how difficult it is to project how Hopkins will pan out , as he is the most difficult to project of the group of 4, and thus the most risky . The other 3 already seem to be a natural fit for what we require is all i'm saying in reality . Our record of assessment of our talent over last 5 years speaks volumes as to how effective Tams and Lowe have faired in that regard . Count all the upgrades and how sure you are of their decisions and weigh it against their results . Being deadlast should make you somewhat pessimistic bare minimum .

I am not saying Hopkins will be a bust , just that many of you are trying to put him on an extremely high pedestal that he'll unlikely not reach those lofty heights . He's not a phenom yet, and chances are he may never be with expectations of that magnitude expected of him . Do i think he is the best player available in this years draft ? No , but that does not mean he will be a bust either . I prefer the other 3 and what they are already bringing to the table, and needs of our team .

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#37 Westcoastoil
May 10 2011, 11:56AM
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Bunz seems to have his head on straight - prepared to develop and work 4-5 years to get his shot. Early sign of good character.

Anyone watch the game last night? If we draft a centre, sign Bieksa and get a vet C for the 3rd who can PK, whould that help a whole lot. I know they say they aren't signing a $10M man, but I'd happily pay a premium for Boom Boom.

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#38 HOFFFF
May 10 2011, 12:17PM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...with Bunz like that his father musta been a baker ...

...couldn't help myself

......he must work out...

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#39 SurfacetoAirMissile
May 10 2011, 12:20PM
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I have listened to Gregor's opinion re: D-man vs. Forward first overall discussion. Gregor brings up great points about D-men being easier to come by via trade or free agency. As well the fact that most of them take longer to develop than your average forward trying to make an NHL squad. However, If you "knew" for a fact that a particular prospect would turn into Doughty or Weber.... there is no way in h_ll you would pass over that prospect no matter where you picked in the draft. Yes, I understand that you never "know" for a fact how any prospect will develop or how long or even if they will become a full time NHLer.

It is the scouts job to try and look into the cyrstal ball to see what kind of player a prospect projects to be. If Stu says Larson skates like Doughty, shoots like Weber and thinks like Lidstrom then you take that player number one! It does not matter in the least if you are drafting him first overall.

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#42 SurfacetoAirMissile
May 10 2011, 12:52PM
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I know my urgument is a little loose but isn't it what Scouts invevitably try to do? Project a player's abilities to known NHL players. Or is it that when ever you hear a quote from a coach, player or scout it is a "sexier" comparable? "This guy reminds me of a young Lidstrom" Instead of saying "He has great hockey sense".

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#43 madjam
May 10 2011, 12:55PM
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Hopkins resume seems to read like a similiar Oiler on team already . Horcoff . Now if he pans out that well , then maybe we should take him . Would that be satisfying enough for you all if thats how he turns out ? The correlation beween the two seems very close by my estimation . Both can score at reasonable rates , but generally not high end .

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#44 pelhem grenville
May 10 2011, 01:11PM
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@Zamboni Driver

"...the outrage that apparently Barnes is getting..." hey driver ...i don't do the twitter thing,can you pass on any of the outrage Barnes is getting from said twitter feed?

much appreciated ...

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#46 mayorpoop
May 10 2011, 03:22PM
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madjam wrote:

Hopkins resume seems to read like a similiar Oiler on team already . Horcoff . Now if he pans out that well , then maybe we should take him . Would that be satisfying enough for you all if thats how he turns out ? The correlation beween the two seems very close by my estimation . Both can score at reasonable rates , but generally not high end .

....and the award for the biggest SPOON goes to...

...followed up by the award for biggest poking stick!

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#47 DK0
May 10 2011, 04:53PM
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@Jason Gregor

@mayorpoop
Did 2 of you just bite on a madjam (unintentional?) troll attempt? you're better than this guys :)

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#48 Quicksilver ballet
May 10 2011, 05:07PM
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The Oilers rule in 2014, is it possible?

http://youtu.be/r5KeGccP9Jk

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#49 Kevin
May 10 2011, 07:54PM
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Hockey futures has 1 yes just one Oil prospect in the top 50. That being Maricin at #40. Any idea what to make of this ? I wish Edm media and oil management would stop talking about their prospects and how good the future looks. People better start seeing the forest for the trees. ST and KL are not the right duo for this re-build. I'm sorry but one in 50 is not going to cut it in my books. This organization is on the road to ruin and primed for another lotto pick next year and beyond.

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#50 Blue Blooded
May 10 2011, 08:24PM
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@Kevin

Give me a break man... you seem to be forgetting some career guys already in the lineup: Hall.... Eberle..... MPS..... I think you'll see Olivier Roy join that list after next year. Petry will be peachy. As guys prove themselves in the AHL, their names will appear on such lists. PS, there are quite a few "strugglers" on that list. Nikita Filatov being one such (drafted in 2008). Here's "Hockey Futures" take on Filatov: "Expected to be a top-six offensive contributor out of training camp this season for the Blue Jackets, Filatov showed flashes of skill but lacked the consistency necessary to play in the NHL. After going goalless with seven assists in 23 games, Filatov was sent to the AHL, where his struggles continued as he posted 20 points in 32 games, ranking him outside Springfield's top ten forwards in scoring. That Filatov stuck around for the whole season is a promising indication that he wants to do what it takes to get to the NHL, but he needs to put in more effort on the ice to again be considered an upper-echelon prospect." I've proven my point..... unless/until Filatov busts out of the gates next season with a spoon full of shut the ^&%@ up for me

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