By B.D. Gallof, WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) — HockeyProspect.com is independent hockey scouting service the produces reports and draft rankings. It has a simple 2012 draft guide, and a very nice publication called the “NHL Draft Black Book,” which besides having a great name, is a great read. Mark Edwards founded the site while coaching Wayne Simmonds, now of the Philadelphia Flyers, in 2004. Edwards has been scouting since 2003.
Edwards was kind enough to be the final participant in our series previewing the 2012 NHL Draft, which will take place this Friday and Saturday in Pittsburgh.
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What is your opinion of the current crop of Islanders prospects and those kids who have appeared at the NHL level as the rebuild now enters it’s fourth year?
Edwards: “We liked [Ryan] Strome, but he went slightly earlier than our ranking. He has fantastic skill but needs to get involved in the play more. He was not very good versus London in the OHL finals. We were really high on Scott Mayfield, so we see him as a steal where the Isles got him. I saw [Andrey] Pedan a ton this year and right now, I wouldn’t sign him to a deal. He really struggled. Sometimes the big guys need time to catch up to their growing frame. He will need a big year. [Mitchell] Theoret was a great 7th round pick.
“Going back a season we liked [Nino] Niederreiter. We liked both [Kirill] Kabanov and [Brock] Nelson, too. We had Nelson ranked in the first round at No. 23.”
Do you see any pattern of “style” in regard to the Islanders drafting or do you have an opinion on their drafting choices during recent years?
Edwards: “Well the one thing that stands out is all the forwards taken in the first round. I’m a best player available guy so if their best player available on their lists was a forward each year, so be it.”
Do you agree with the draft philosophy that defensemen are harder to develop, causing some teams seem to be cautious about taking them too early?
Edwards: “I don’t think they are harder to develop. They take longer to get into the lineup because their mistakes are typically magnified.”
Just every Isles fan is demanding a defenseman in the first round, thinking of what is needed on the NHL level right away, despite the fact that it takes years to develop. What is the usual development time and are there any defenders this year that the Islanders should consider bucking their trend and contemplate selecting at No. 4?
Edwards: “Every player is different. Some d-men can strep right in, but, yes, in general most take an extra year or two. If there was ever a year for the Isles to ‘buck their trend’ this may be it. I just completed a mock draft with them selecting Matt Dumba — no great reason behind my pick. We have Griffin Reinhart ranked 4th overall but there are three or four high-end d-men that I would not roll my eyes at with the No. 4 selection.”
What about on offense? Is there anyone the Islanders should pay attention to that might fit either their system or should be considered in your opinion at No. 4?
Edwards: “As I stated earlier. I’m a best player available guy so it’s easy for me. Our rankings: 1. Alex Galchenyuk, 2. Nail Yakupov 3. Ryan Murray 4. Reinhart – I take the best available of those four players.”
How hard is it estimating Galchenyuk’s and Morgan Rielly’s draft value and projection when there is so much smaller sample size from this past season due to injury?
Edwards: “We have a scout based in Sarnia so it was easier in Galchenyuk’s case. We saw him over 40 times last year and every game he played this year. We think we know what he is at this point. Rielly is an elite skater and that counts for a lot. In the end, you can only evaluate on the number of viewings you have.”
There seems to be a noted increase in Teuvo Teravainen’s stock value late this year. Is he the real deal?
Edwards: “In my opinion he is the real deal. Elite vision and playmaking ability with high-end skating. He is explosive escaping checks and has poise with the puck. He will be a force when he gets stronger.”
How valuable do you really think the NHL Combine is?
Edwards: “I think the teams enjoy the value of all the prospects being in one place for interviews. I think the best way I can answer is this: have you seen how many teams run their own mini camps/combines?”
If you were to predict where some guys outside the projected top 10 could land within it, who would they be and why? Is there the potential for a real surprise in the top 10 or if a team in the top 5 like the Isles should consider moving back?
Edwards: “Well I think New Jersey just decided to keep their pick this year. I’ll take a stab and say they go after Mark Jankowski. As far as a surprise top 10 – I’d go with our fifth-ranked player, Zemgus Girgensons. Am I predicting it? No, but he is a player that could go. I would not be shocked/surprised, but many would.”
What is your prediction for the Islanders at No. 4, and why? Additionally, who would be your own choice, and why?
Edwards: “I pretty much answered this already as I mocked Dumba to the Isles at No. 4. Just so I’m clear, that is not something I have any real confidence in. It’s just my best guess, gut feel I guess. As for my pick, I stated our rankings earlier. I’d take the best of those four still on the board. I will say that I think Yakupov, Murray and Galchenyuk will be gone, so that would leave me with Griffin Reinhart at No. 4. He is a big, strong, smart defenseman who can play in both ends of the rink. He makes very few mental errors and I just love the smart players.”
Thanks again to Mark, and to all the great people who offered their insight on the upcoming draft. On Wednesday, I will weigh in on why the NHL draft has been so important and integral to the Islanders since their rebuild went into full gear in 2008. Perhaps we might even figure out this little secret draft system they use?
Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …