Red Line Report scout Max Giese was nice enough to field questions from Canes Country's readers about Carolina's prospects and the players chosen in June's entry draft. We received several questions and Max was kind of enough to sift through them and answer as many as he could. Some questions have been edited for clarity and style. This is Part 2 of the two-part Q&A. You can read Part 1 here.
So far, Zach Boychuk doesn’t seem to have the strength or size to be a factor at the NHL level. Are Canes fans expecting too much from him? (from chapelhillcane)
Giese: Boychuk will be fine. I don't think strength is an issue, and that's not really his game anyway. His game is about explosive quickness and his ability to separate from opponents in tight spaces. I think he's a solid bet to be a nice 2nd-liner in the NHL who can play the game at both ends. He might not get away with playing as much of a puck possession game as he did in juniors, but the quick-strike finishing ability should translate fine to the NHL.
Did you think Central Scouting’s final rankings were any better or worse this year than in the past? Stephen Johns was ranked ahead of Mark Alt, but the Canes took Alt. Is that just a matter of an individual team’s needs asserting themselves? Archibald, Silas, and Schemitsch were all ranked ahead of Levi, who was correctly tagged, it turns out, by David Burstyn and others to be a sleeper pick. Was it just the Compuware connection, or does he have more upside than the others? Stahl also looks like a good deal if you put stock in the NCS rankings, but how reliable are their rankings? (from JuniorMajor)
Giese: Central Scouting has its uses, but I don't put much stock at all into their exact rankings. Mostly I think NHL scouts just use it as a road map. I think their players to watch list, preliminary lists, and mid-term rankings serve more of a purpose than their actual final rankings. If Central Scouting has a kid ranked that I haven't seen yet or wasn't impressed with in my first viewings of him, then the lists help me to go search out that player. Then it's up to the scout to decide their own opinion on the player. Stephen Johns is physically already a man and looked like a solid first-rounder most of the year while Mark Alt wasn't sure he was going to commit to hockey at times. Late in the year, Johns' stock dropped rapidly because of his lack of hockey sense and Alt's stock soared just as rapidly because we found out he was going to stick to hockey. So I think Central was just a little late to react maybe? David Burstyn is an old colleague of mine from when I used to work for McKeen's Hockey and now he also scouts for the Sarnia Sting. He has a great eye for talent and he was smart to pick Levi as a sleeper pick. Levi is a kid that did play for the stacked Compuware program (with Austin Watson, Luke Moffatt, Jason Zucker, etc.). I don't think the pick had anything to do with the Compuware connection. I think it was just that Carolina saw a big and athletic stay-at-home defenseman who has some upside that was good value in the middle of the draft. NCS is really just a one-man show and I don't put any stock whatsoever into their rankings as it is way to biased in favor of certain kids for my liking. The consensus among scouts is that NCS puts "their" list out for the wrong reasons and the only time I've ever had an NHL scout mention "them" to me was when the scout poked fun at their rankings.
I’d like to know more about Justin Shugg. Can you offer insight as to why he might have fallen so low? With [Taylor] Hall gone, what will Shugg’s role be at Windsor? What's the best one-word descriptor? Shooter, playmaker, fast skater, vison? (from hockeymomof2)
Giese: Scouts are concerned that Justin Shugg had a lot of situational success this year and that his game won't cut it in the pros. He's a rather one-dimensional player in the sense that he's a great goal scorer, but if he's not scoring he isn't contributing much to your team. He's one of those boom-or-bust types at the moment unless he diversifies his game — but that's still possible. Shugg's role should remain the same in Windsor this year. He will play on one of the top two lines and the be on the first power play unit. He will light the OHL up in terms of goal scoring again. The best one-word descriptor would be shooter. I compare him to a poor man's Jeff Skinner in the way he's not the biggest or fastest guy but he has a knack for putting the puck in the back of the net.
I'm also interested in Mark Alt and his decision to choose hockey over football. We missed him at conditioning camp. He was invited to Team USA WJC development camp. Is he really that good? (from hockeymomof2)
Giese: Mark Alt's decision to pick hockey was a drawn out one with plenty of twists and turns along the way. It seemed like every weekend when I was at the rinks new information was coming about as to which way he was leaning. He made football visits to quality programs and was on the sideline for an Iowa football game. So it looked like he was leaning toward football. Then we got word he was going to play for the Chicago Steel after his high school season was done. A week or so later we learned that he wasn't coming to Chicago any longer and that he was going to play an elite 8 tournament in Minnesota and then be done for the year. Is he really that good? Yes. Alt likely would've been a first-round pick this year had he not injured his shoulder and had he committed to hockey from the get go. In a way he's similar to Derek Forbort, who went pretty high, in that he's a very tall, mobile defenseman with very good raw potential.
What’s the word on Austin Levi? Was he picked a little early because of connection to Whalers? We’ve seen video of coast-to-coast goals he’s scored. Yet he’s self-described as stay-at-home D. What do we need to know? (from hockeymomof2)
Giese: What you need to know about Austin Levi is that he's a tall and athletic stay-at-home defenseman who will play some with physicality. He moves pretty well for a kid of his size and has a big shot, but his hand skills and decision making are suspect when he's under heavy pressure. Still he was very good value where Carolina got him.