By Angus Dunk, WSOE Sports
Top 30 Picks at the 2009 NHL Draft in Montreal
21.) Tyson Barrie, Defenseman (picked 64th overall by the Colorado Avalanche) – The second-year defenseman of the Kelowna Rockets helped his team win the 2009 WHL championship and make it the final round of the Memorial Cup. In the playoffs, Barrie recorded 18 points and a plus 18 rating in 22 games. In the regular season he scored 12 goals and added 40 assists for a combined total of 52 points this year; each statistic was an improvement on those of his rookie season. In addition to his on ice credentials, Barrie’s family carries a rich hockey background as well. In 1993, his uncle, Mike Barrie, was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres and his father, Len Barrie, is co-owner and president of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Len Barrie was also drafted in the NHL by the Edmonton Oilers in 1988 and was the WHL scoring leader (185 points in 70 games) in the 1989-1990 season. Barrie’s hockey idol is Scott Niedermayer. Overall, a great 3rd round pick by Colorado who could benefit from a two-way defenseman at both ends of the ice.
22.) Matthew Hackett, Goalie (picked 77th overall by the Minnesota Wild) – Entering the draft he was ranked as the top North American Goalie and was selected accordingly (5th goalie overall in the draft). He may take a little more time than the average goalie to develop, but Matthew Hackett continues to get better season by season. He started out as an unnoticed back-up goalie with the Windsor Spitfires (OHL) during his first span of games which took place during the 2006-2007 season. In seven games that season, he had a 4.38 GAA, a .859 SV%, and no shutouts. Since then, his game has improved immensely. With the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) last season, Hackett recorded 34 wins in 55 games, .913 SV %, a 3.04 GAA, a career high 3,036 minutes, and his first two career shutouts in the OHL. In the playoffs, he improved on his regular season performance with a 3.01 GAA and .930 SV %. This season, he and the Whalers were knocked out of the playoffs by the #1 Windsor Spitfires, who would go on to win the OHL championship and more importantly, the Memorial Cup. Matthew Hackett is the nephew of former NHL goalie, Jeff Hackett, who played in 500 NHL games in his career. He credits his uncle with teaching him how to play goalie. Hackett’s NHL idol is Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres. Overall, Hackett should be able to enter the NHL by no later than his mid-20’s at the rate he has continued to improve his game.
23.) Simon Bertilsson, Defense (picked 87th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers) – A smart move for the Flyers to go with this defenseman; the recruiting staff was clearly aware that a lot of the attractive and lucrative forwards had already been selected. Bertilsson finished with 31 points in 30 games this past season with Brynas IF’s Jr. squad (Elitserien/SEL) and helped the team to win the championship and receive the honorary Anton Cup. He has also played in 21 regular season contests with Brynas IF’s regular squad and recorded 1 assist and 2 penalty minutes. Bertilsson has also played at the international level for Team Sweden which included this year’s Under-18 World Championships, where he recorded a plus-5 rating. During the tournament, he also played with defenseman Oliver-Ekman Larsson (drafted 6th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes) as a pairing frequently. Despite demonstrating his offensive abilities with Brynas Jr., Bertilsson has been categorized by the NHL scouting team as a “defensive minded defenseman.” Bertilsson says he centers his style of play around that of Niklas Kronwall of the Detroit Red Wings. Overall, he should prove to be a suitable replacement for the Flyers defense whenever Chris Pronger leaves.
24.) Michael Lee, Goalie (picked 91st overall by the Phoenix Coyotes) – Only a year out of high school and this kid is coming up big. Michael Lee shined at Roseau High his senior year (2007-2008) in the Minnesota High School League. During that season he managed to compile a dazzling 14 shutouts, 1.10 GAA, and a .936% in just 29 games. Lee elected for an off year before college and joined the Fargo Force of the USHL for the 2008-2009 season. He was able to keep solid numbers while playing for the Force and tallied 26 wins, a 2.40 GAA, a .918 SV%, and 3 shutouts in 48 games. His wins and SV% both ranked second best amongst USHL goalies. Entering the NHL Entry Draft, Lee ranked 4th amongst North American Goalies (drafted 2nd in this category). Overall, Michael Lee should continue to improve and soon earn a back-up position with the Coyotes. I like his approach to the whole process and decision to attend St. Cloud State this fall.
25.) Alex Hutchings, Left Wing (picked 93 overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning) – A great selection by the Lighting fairly late in the draft. In round 3, many defenseman and goalies were plucked leaving over some carryover of forwards into the later rounds. Hutchings in three seasons with the Barrie Colts has notched 64 goals, 63 assists, and 127 points in 165 games in the OHL. This season he set career highs in all categories with 34 goals, 34 assists, 68 points, a plus 27 rating, and 60 penalty minutes. His achievements earned him a spot on the Eastern Conference Team in the OHL All-Star Game for the second consecutive year. In the playoffs, he scored 7 goals tying for the team lead before the Colts were eliminated by Mississauga St. Michael’s. Barrie Head Coach, Marty Williamson, said the following about Hutchings: “He has been our go-to-guy all year long, he’s got exceptional speed, a great shot and he’s really worked on being a team player… He is working hard on his consistency and trying to be effective every game and every shift.” Hutchings looks similar to a young Martin St. Louis and has a modest sized 5’10, 173 pound frame. Also, by Coach Williamson’s description that he’s a fast skater makes me believe this point only more; Martin St. Louis has won the fastest skater competition in past All-Star games. The young forward idols Steve Yzerman and Mike Richards. Overall, a great middle round steal by Tampa Bay.
26.) Linden Vey, Right Wing (picked 96th overall by the Los Angeles Kings) – One of the very offensive focused players coming into the draft. He likes to skate hard and crash the net or cash in on opportunities at short range from the slot. Vey is a goal scorer, but will be more influential as a playmaker. This year Vey racked up 24 goals, 48 assists, and 72 points with the Medicine Hat Tigers (2006-2007 WHL champions) of the WHL. Vey is also a restrained player when it comes to taking penalties as he recorded just 20 penalty minutes in 71 games. The Wakaw, Saskatchewan native idols Sidney Crosby and compares with the Penguins star in regards to his confidence and leadership abilities on the ice. Overall, Vey is the classic, good-natured player everybody will love to watch and cheer for.
27.) Alexander Fallstrom, Right Wing (picked 116th overall by the Minnesota Wild) – Fallstrom’s high school, Shattuck-Saint Mary’s (Minnesota), gives him credit alone. Aside from boasting national champion teams, this elite Episcopalian boarding school has produced both collegiate and NHL stars including Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks), Drew Stafford (Buffalo Sabres), Patrick Eaves (Carolina Hurricanes), Jack Johnson (L.A. Kings), and for a brief period, Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins). The Swedish born Fallstrom was admitted to Shattuck-St. Mary’s after playing with many teams in the Swedish Elite League (SEL), which included a standout season in 2006-2007 with Djurgarden Jr. when he scored 32 goals and compiled 56 points through 49 games. In his first year (2007-2008) at St. Mary’s, he had no problems adapting to the North American style of play putting up a solid 67 points in 56 games. Last season though, Fallstrom was even more electric and earned the team lead in goals (40) and points (87), demonstrating that he was a great pick for senior team captain. He models his game after fellow countryman, Mikael Samuelsson (Detroit). Fallstrom may be sick of Minnesota and may have hoped to go elsewhere, but the Wild will keep this talented young forward where he is for the moment.
28.) Edward Pasquale, Goalie (picked 117th overall by the Atlanta Thrashers) – Pasquale was originally the top ranked North American Goalie, but dropped a couple of places before the start of the draft to #3. Pasquale came off a stellar season with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL finishing sixth amongst goalies in wins with 32 (32-21-6 was his overall record this year) and ninth in SV % with .911. He also distinguished himself this season by playing at the 2009 OHL All-Star Classic and the 2009 Top Prospects event. Pasquale was described by NHL scout, Al Jensen, as a quick, mobile, butterfly-style goalie who can protect the net soundly. Furthermore, Pasquale’s size (6’2 and 218 pounds) will give his team some extra coverage of the high corners in the net. He idolizes Carey Price and likes how his relaxed style of play compares with his own. Overall, Pasquale will bring a positive, determined, and hardworking attitude to the ice and with some improvement to his play; he could soon become the #3 or #2 goaltender on the Thrashers roster.
29.) Tomas Vincour, Center (picked 129th overall by the Dallas Stars) – In his sophomore year with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL, Vincour recorded 36 points and 23 penalty minutes through 46 games. He would have played more had he not made the World Junior Championship (WJC) roster for Team Czech Republic. At the WJC, Vincour tallied 3 assists and a plus 2 rating in six games. In his WHL career, Vincour has totaled 75 points in 114 games. Vincour’s older cousin, Libor Zabransky, was also drafted into the NHL by St. Louis in 1995. Edmonton Coach Steve Pleau said Vincour is a “big, strong kid who shoots the puck very well. He plays up and down and a physical brand of hockey and he’s very effective. He uses his skating to drive the net and he takes the puck to the danger areas.” Vincour models his play on that of Ales Hemsky (Edmonton Oilers), but has a strong admiration for recently retired European great, Jaromir Jagr. Overall, Vincour needs to play a few more years of junior hockey before he can compete at a higher level, but will prove to be an effective playmaker and deadly on rushes to the net when he reaches that point
30.) Nicola Riopel, Goalie (picked 142 overall by the Philadelphia Flyers) – It was hard deciding between Riopel of the Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) and Olivier Roy of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL) for my 30th and final prospect pick. I had to compare two goaltenders with similar playing histories, statistics, and body frames. Riopel won my vote despite Roy being ranked as the #2 goalie before the start of the draft. Over three seasons with the Wildcats, Riopel has seen an improvement each season, watching his GAA drop from a 3.35 at the start of his career to a 2.01 in the 2008-2009 regular season. His 2.01 GAA not only won him the Jacques Plante Memorial Trophy (lowest GAA in the league), but also established a new QMJHL record for the lowest GAA ever recorded in a single season in the league. He also earned the Michel Briere Memorial Trophy (QMJHL player of the year) this season with his notable .930 sv%, 5 shutouts, and a 43-15 record. Additionally, he earned a spot on the 2009 QMJHL1st line first all-star team. In the 2007-2008 season, Riopel was also impressive in net recording a .910 sv pct. and 3.04 GAA despite Moncton’s poor 15-34-5 finish. Riopel is a 6’0, 167 pound butterfly-style goalie who shows good potential as a future NHLer. His mindset should only make him more confident in improving his game in junior hockey, which will make it easier for him to make the transition to the professional level.
Recap of Top 30 Picks
Team Position Previous Club
N.Y. Islanders-3 Centers-10 OHL: London-2, Barrie-1
Colorado-3 Left Wing- 3 Brampton-1, Erie Otters-1
Atlanta-3 Right Wing- 3 Windsor-1, Oshawa-1
Detroit-2 Defense- 8 Saginaw-1, Plymouth-1
Tampa Bay-2 Goalie- 6 SEL: Timra-1, Modo-1
Nashville-2 Farjestads BK-1
Dallas-2 Frolunda (Jr.)-1, Brynas-1
Philadelphia-2 WHL: Red Deer Rebels-1
Minnesota-2 Kelowna-1, Edmonton-1
Toronto-1 Vancouver Giants-1
Edmonton-1 Medicine Hat Tigers-1
Ottawa-1 QMJHL: Shawinigan-1
L.A. Kings-1 Saint John-1, Moncton-1
Phoenix-1 USHL: Chicago Steel-1
Wasington-1 Des Moines-1, Fargo-1
Pittsburgh-1 OTHER: U-Minn-1
Columbus-1 USA U-18-1, Espoo Blues-1
Vancouver-1 M Zvolen-1, Shat. St. Mary’s-1