Saturday, May 30, 2015

2015 NHL Draft Preview: 36th Overall Pick (New Jersey's second selection) Write-Up

My look at previews for the Devils’ selections at the upcoming 2015 NHL Entry Draft has brought me to the first selection in the second round, 36th overall (the Devils have two selections in this round). I will be chronicling the picks at the top of each post.

6th Overall – Mathew Barzal

Today I’ll look at one of the lesser-known elite talents of the draft. Before I start, I must say that it is very possible that this player does not fall to the Devils at 36th overall as he is all over the draft board (as high as 11 and as low as 66), but if he were available at the time this pick came around, there should be no hesitation in selecting him. For those who feel like this pick is not realistic, I will write alternative player profiles when I am finished with my initial write-up. Without further ado, let’s look at our next player.

Denis Guryanov
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 195 lbs
Position: RW/LW
Shoots: L
Team (League): Ladia Togliatti (MHL)
ISS rank: 24
CSS rank: 7 (for NA skaters)
FC rank: 24
THN rank: 66
Statline for 2014-2015 Season: 23 GP, 15G 10A 25P 39PIM, +4, 1.086 Points/Game

To start off very, very bluntly, if this guy was named Andrew Smith and came from Thunder Bay, Ontario, he would be a lock for the Top-10 in this draft. The big Russian winger, who was voted to have the hardest shot out of the entire draft class by Future Considerations, plays a very pro-styled, prototypical Russian power-forward game. He has very strong legs and can propel him quickly to the net, and his hard shot is far from the only weapon in his arsenal. His strong legs also enable to him to win most of his corner and board battles.

Guryanov is a natural goal scorer and was the best player whenever he stepped onto the ice. He has an incredible set of hands, is good in 1-on-1 situations, and can easily burn past defensemen or just truck right through them. He does a great job not only creating space for himself in the slot, but making use of what space he has. He protects the puck very well and is able to weave his way through traffic. This allows him to excel on the cycle. He is definitely able to use his size and strength well in combination with his soft hands.

Defensively, Guryanov is responsible, as he plays the full 200-foot game. He plays physically and is able to take away space from attackers. There are tendencies for him to prematurely leave the zone, but overall he keeps his feet moving, is able to track the play well, and commits to puck battles and blocking shots. He has good awareness, good vision, and a strong tendency looking to cause turnovers and start the breakout.

Guryanov is committed to playing the entire next season with Lada Togliatti of the KHL (Ladia Togliatti’s KHL affiliate), as opposed to just an 8 game stint (where he scored an assist). He has not yet talked about whether he wants to come over to North America to play, which really does seem to scare some people; I doubt teams. I’m not going to elaborate further on this, because I’m not putting too much stock into a player’s birth certificate.

Guryanov is very competitive and has all the skills that would transfer well to the NHL, and has one of the highest prospect ceilings out of forwards in this draft class. The majority of his goals are scored from between the face-off circles. I feel like if he adds some more muscle to his already large frame, then he will be even more effective as a power-forward. He is only 17 years old (birthday 6/07/97), so I believe he has the potential to grow an inch or 2 taller as well.

My reasoning for selecting Denis Guryanov with this pick is a combination of factors, really. He is a combination of great hands, a ridiculously hard shot, good playmaking ability, a willingness to drive to the net, defensive responsibility, etc. Guryanov has a tendency to try and do too much on his own, especially when it comes to gaining the zone, or trying to do too much offensively. Guryanov also helps address the lack of RW depth for the Devils’ prospects. When I see Guryanov, I see a top-line RW potential. I’d say his potential floor is a 3rd line RW because of the physicality he plays with.

One sort of thought that occurred to me when thinking about this pick was how well I think Guryanov would play on a line with Barzal (the projected player I wrote about for the 6th overall pick), in terms of Barzal working the perimeter while Guryanov drives to the net and creates space for either his own shot or for Barzal to make a play, especially with Barzal passing to Guryanov while in the slot (Guryanov, not Barzal) for a good shot opportunity and scoring chance.

Typically, most of the Devils’ offensive game the past few seasons has been to drive to the net and work on “greasy” goals, as well as create chances through a strong cycle game. With a new head coach coming in, hopefully soon, and the addition of a new General Manager, we may see a slight change in that style, in terms of shooting more from the slot. Regardless, I feel that either way, Guryanov would work well in the Devils’ offensive game, especially in regards to the cycle game. If the Devils institute a strong forechecking system, then Guryanov would have a pretty good impact as well, as he’s not bad throwing his weight around on the forecheck. One quick note is Guryanov’s ability and experience playing on the Penalty Kill unit. New Jersey has always valued strong defensive forwards, or at least those that can do more than just hold their own in the defensive zone. Guryanov is a strong penalty-killer with his good defensive play, but also, very much like Barzal, with his good offensive transition skills and ability to quickly make a play. This specific trait was seen during the IIHF World U18 championships when Guryanov scored a very nice short-handed breakaway goal for Team Russia against Team USA.

Some other players that are projected to go around this spot would be Dennis Yan, Anthony Beauvillier, Yakov Trenin, Filip Chlapik (all forwards from the QMJHL – it’s a very strong draft class from the Q this year), Jordan Greenway, Thomas Novak, Jack Roslovich (all forwards from the USNDP)…but I feel like Guryanov has the best combination of skill, smarts, style, and potential to be a top-6 RW for an NHL-team.

I don’t like having to add this, but I feel it’s important when discussing Russian prospects for the skeptics. I see no trouble in a young man wanting to develop his game in the Russian leagues. It may raise a red flag for some people, but personally I think that there is a strong argument for the Russian MHL-to-KHL path being a better development path than the CHL, but that’s just a side thought. To me, a good player style comparison for Denis Guryanov would be Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets.

Up next I will write about who I project the Devils to select with their second selection of the second round, the 41st overall pick.

If you have any feedback or suggestions, feel free to let me know!

Follow me on Twitter @DTJ_AHockeyBlogfor more updates.

Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment