No, this isn’t just Steven Lorentz in a mustache and top hat calling himself Guy Incognito.
Rieger Lorenz is a strong forward and one that should be available when the Hurricanes pick with the 60th and 71st overall picks in the draft next week. The AJHL has produced a handful of really solid NHL players, most notably Cale Makar, who just won the Norris and Conn Smythe trophies.
Lorenz is a big forward with a lot of strength, but what I’m most impressed with is his skating ability. He’s a quick skater that can bulldoze his way through the neutral zones and create zone entries on his own, which helps create extended zone time. His skating stride is smooth and he can get up to top speed quickly, causing defenses to struggle to keep up with him. I would consider Lorenz’s skating to be his best asset. It’s what helps him create offense and generally be a pest in the offensive zone. Lorenz skates at close to an NHL pace, and with some tweaks to his stride, he’ll be able to keep up at the NHL level with no difficulties. Lorenz’s skating affects every aspect of his game. He’s quick on the forecheck, a pest while backchecking and a dominant player in transition.
Lorenz is a gifted passer and I see him as a power forward as he continues to develop. A power playmaker, if you will. He can score goals in bunches at the AJHL level, but I find that his vision and hockey sense will translate to the NHL more than his goal scoring ability will. Lorenz excels at making a quick stop and finding a trailing teammate with loads of space to work with, usually resulting in a goal. Lorenz’s ability to think on the fly and quickly react to changes in defensive coverage allow for him to pick apart defenses with ease and create offense in the process. He’s a primary point machine that can shift momentum towards his team’s favor with one pass. His shot is a threat in high to medium danger areas, but I don’t think of him as a sniper. When I have watched Lorenz this season, I have seen him do fantastic things while making passes to teammates.
Lorenz is a capable player on the forecheck and will frustrate opponents when they’re trying to break the puck out of the zone. He’ll time his stick lifts or poke checks perfectly to disrupt the play and keep the puck in the offensive zone, usually resulting in extended zone time or scoring chances. In the defensive zone, Lorenz is a capable defender that can get in the passing and shooting lanes in order to disrupt the play. I see more potential in his game on the backcheck and forecheck, however. Lorenz can often be the last player on his team to enter the zone and I find that he can be behind the play on multiple occasions during a game. That can be worked on, but it’s worth noting as an area in need of improvement.
I did mention that Lorenz can be a great playmaker, but there are times when he outright refuses to get rid of the puck. He has a sort of “screw it, I’ll do it myself” mentality at times. When that happens, he’ll enter the zone with speed, skate the puck into double coverage and then turn the puck over because he didn’t let go of the puck until it was too late. I’d like to see him enter the zone with speed and look to make a pass out to a teammate rather than skating it into double or triple coverage. It’s the type of play that can kill any offensive momentum that his team has and it can be frustrating to watch.
Lorenz seems like a great third-line center. He has enough offensive skills in his game to get to roughly 40 points at the NHL level, but I don’t see enough elite skill to push him into the top six. That ceiling may be a little low for a second round pick, which is why I believe that Lorenz would be solid value for the Hurricanes at 71. He has size, skating and playmaking ability that can get him to the NHL, as well as the hockey sense that the Hurricanes typically go after in prospects. Lorenz is heading to the University of Denver next season and will play with Hurricanes prospect Massimo Rizzo, and I’d love to see those two on the ice together. Rizzo was one of the best playmaking freshmen in the NCAA last year and Lorenz could be one of the best playmaking freshmen starting in the fall.
This draft is what I’d call a “sleepy” draft. There aren’t a lot of players that can wow you at this point in the draft. A lot of the players available are good players with alright skill and reliable two way play. Lorenz is a bit of a higher end prospect than that, which is why I see a fit. The Hurricanes could always stand to add another true center into their pipeline, regardless of what the situation is like at the NHL level. As for Lorenz’s timeline, I’m setting it at a minimum of four years. He’ll have at least three years in college to develop into a more complete player and will either sign after then or after his senior year. Lorenz has the size and strength to play in the pros, so it’s possible that he could step into the Hurricanes’ lineup immediately after he finishes with Denver. Overall, I believe that this would be a good selection for the Hurricanes. He may not be a top prospect right away, but he could rise through the ranks and be a solid NHL player once he signs after college.
Draft coverage will continue next week with my mock draft and an analysis on the organization’s needs heading into the draft.