AHL Prospect Rankings: #19 – Geoff Paukovich

If Geoff Paukovich ever dresses for an NHL game, it won’t be his scoring ability that gets him there. He’s a gritty, physical player whose biggest assets are his size and strength, and he has a reputation for playing a dirty game. Here’s how Hockey’s Future describes him:

“Big, strong and tough –- pretty much sums up what Paukovich brings to the table. He’s another well-spoken character player who has latent offensive abilities but was unable to build on a decent freshman year in college. Biggest flaws in Paukovich’s game is a lack of agility –- he’s been described as a tractor trailer “makes wide turns”, and some have questioned his conditioning. He could be a decent 4th line player but whether he has NHL potential is definitely in doubt.”

The bit about Paukovich being a “character player” is interesting, and doesn’t seem to mesh with what we know about his on- and off-ice conduct.

The first incident of note is from February 2003 when the then 16-year old was sentenced to probation after being convicted of first-degree sexual assault. There are some caveats, namely that it’s impossible for us to know what the exact circumstances were, and that he was 16 years old at the time. That said, while I wouldn’t necessarily write him off as a result it certainly says bad things about his character and judgment.

The second and most famous incident occurred on March 18, 2005. Paukovich (6’4”, 215lbs) hit University of North Dakota defenceman Robbie Bina (5’8”, 180lbs) from behind into the boards, breaking Bina’s neck. Paukovich received a two-minute minor for boarding and then a one-game suspension from the WCHA. Paukovich’s coach, George Gwozdecky, suspended him for a second game. Understandably, Paukovich was a target for North Dakota players from that point forward, and took a nasty shot to the groin from Mike Prpich in a subsequent game. Matt Greene, who was the captain of the Fighting Sioux when the hit occurred, made short work of Paukovich in a conditioning camp fight a few years later.

The third incident occurred in a pre-season game between the Oilers and the Calgary Flames. Paukovich took a hard hit from Adam Cracknell and in retaliation hit the first Flames player he saw, drilling prospect Kyle Greentree head-first into the boards. Greentree was removed on a stretcher, but fortunately he escaped with only a minor injury.

Last season was a tough one for Paukovich. He recorded 26 points in 70 games for the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL, while posting a team-worst -21 rating. Despite that, this year he’s been with the Springfield Falcons for the entire season, and has appeared in 24 games. In those 24 games he has two points, 32 PIM, and a -9 rating. He’s playing soft competition, and he hasn’t made a positive contribution. While hindsight is 20/20, it’s difficult to imagine what the Oilers saw in Paukovich that lead them to spend a second round draft pick on him. Aside from the fact that he’s big and can hurt people, he doesn’t add much to a hockey team.

Paukovich is in the second year of his three-year entry level contract; at this point, I see no reason for the Oilers to offer him a second deal.

NHL Contract Status: 603K for 2008-09 and 2009-10

AHL Performance Compares To: Ryan Hollweg

Projection: Career minor-leaguer

  • Hippy

    Well written Jonathan. I like reading these synpopsisis that you put out. It gives me a brief understanding of players I hear mentioned but don't ever know anything about.

    I remember when Paukovich broke that guys neck in the NCAA. I was disappointed when the Oilers drafted him.

    great work!

  • Hippy

    Chris wrote:

    Didn’t Matt Green tune him in at camp one year?

    Matt Greene, who was the captain of the Fighting Sioux when the hit occurred, made short work of Paukovich in a conditioning camp fight a few years later.

  • Hippy

    Perhaps he's not playing up to his potential because of his history of injuring players. In fact, if his tenacity is in check because of his fear of injuring players, he perhaps is learning how to play into his own body, per se. This is a problem for guys like Eric Lindros, who don't know how to use their bodies and get hurt as a result. Paukovich however, may be the lumbering brute who doesn't put himself at risk but others instead. They might teach him to PK and play it safe, but if you take away his tenacity without teaching him to control it, you might end up with a truly ineffective player.

    Just a thought.

  • Hippy

    @ Antony Ta:

    Or maybe he just isn't that good. Given that in his best college season he managed 21 points (as a role player on a championship team), that would be my guess.

  • Hippy

    After he creamed Greentree in the rookie tournament, I would have cut him and told him to never come back. For christ's sake, Robbie Bina is sitting in the stands watching the game! How do you think the poor bugger feels when he sees Paukovich go out and damn near kill someone else?

  • Hippy

    The NHL set a precedent that it is okay to do what you want on the ice, recieve a minor slap on the wrist, and go back as though nothing happened when they did not ban Todd Bertuzzi for his actions on Steve Moore. Moore will never play again and has to watch that low life loser thug Bertuzzi continue to play the game that Moore had stolen from him, what Paukovich did is no worse than what Bertuzzi did. Both should be banned for life because playing in the NHL, for those of us that work 8-5 jobs would be a privilage, not a right, and both players should have lost that privilage when they took it from someone else, an eye for an eye I say.

  • Hippy

    I agree Dennis. It boils my blood to no end that pieces of human garbage, like Bertuzzi, and Paukovich, and Steve Moore and the countless other scum that play in this league get to make the kind of money they do, while the people whose careers they end sit and rot.