From My Mom's Basement: Hockey's Future

Who is that masked man? Don't ask Hockey's Future.

 

Hockey's Future is often thrust upon me as "the place to go" for prospect updates and information. In past writing lives, to contradict HF was to invite criticism and mocking, even if that analysis turned out to be correct, while HF once again fell on its proverbial face.

Look, I get it. Hockey's Future is a source for information, but let's keep in mind that a source is only as good as its writers, and HF tends to lack in that department. Sure, our own CircularTheory and reader GopherState both came from HFBoards, and CT still maintains a Wild prospect tracker on said boards. There are certainly some knowledgeable people over there, even if they are mixed in with the constant "let's trade Burns for Sidney Crosby" crowd. The knowledgeable people on HF are few and far between, and none of them are on the writing staff.

Make the jump, and let's put this to rest, shall we?

What's your problem with Hockey's Future, man?

I don't have screen shots to prove my point, but the main beef I have with HF is the prospect rankings. Every year, whoever the Wild take in the first round automatically becomes the top prospect. This year is no different, with Mikael Granlund taking the top spot, while Nick Leddy leaves to make his residence on the Chicago board. No doubt Leddy would have been #2 on the list.

As it sits, somehow they have Marco Scandella ranked above Tyler Cuma, and have thus never seen either of them actually play.

I digress. Their ranking sucks. Let's move on to the their current posts about the Wild, shall we? First, they rank the Wild 26th as an organization:

Strengths: As a result of picking defensemen and two-way forwards with their top picks in recent years, skilled Finnish forward Mikael Granlund is the first top offensive prospect to join the organization since the early 2000s. Outside of Granlund, newly-signed Casey Wellman and two-way forwards Colton Gillies and Cody Almond have shown NHL potential. Marco Scandella and Tyler Cuma are both talented blueliners that should be joining the Wild sooner rather than later.

Weaknesses: Outside of Granlund, the forward prospect pool is lacking in offensive ability. The blue line group is lackluster, devoid of depth and top-end talent. The team is in dire need of prospects on the right wing. There is no bona fide goaltending starter in the system, nor much depth.

Top 5 Prospects: 1. Mikael Granlund, C, 2. Marco Scandella, D, 3. Tyler Cuma, D, 4. Colton Gillies, LW, 5. Matt Hackett, G.

Twenty sixth? Because the teams ahead of them up to 21 look so much better in terms of prospects? Doubtful. Not that 21st is any better than being 26th, and someone has to go in each spot, but damn.The Thrashers have Patrice Cormier listed as their third top prospect. What's he going to help them with? Meeting a quota of felony assault charges?

One big problem with this particular article? The lack of mention of any of the guys like Joel Broda, Nate Prosser, Jason Zucker, Erik Haula, etc. Colton Gillies is far from the fourth best prospect at forward, let alone in the organization.

The biggest issue? This line: "There is no bona fide goaltending starter in the system, nor much depth." Indeed. Because every other goaltending prospect out there is a bona fide starter, right? I know Jack Campbell is the top goalie prospect in the league right now. You going to risk your reputation that is is a guaranteed starter in the NHL? I wouldn't.

As for the "nor much depth," I can't help but laugh at this. Khudobin has shown he can play in the NHL, Matthew Hackett is doing just fine in Houston, Darcy Kuemper is tearing up the junior league right now, and Dennis Endras is playing well in Germany. How many players constitute "depth?" Would five prospects be better than four? How many guys do they need before this becomes a strength?

Now wait a minute, that was a post by the HF Staff. Maybe they don't have the ins and outs of the Wild down. Their Wild writer would know better.

Fine. Let's look at their Wild writer, shall we? Today, the Wild are the featured team for the Fall Prospect Review.

First, the intro is killer. Some prime examples:

Though the Wild moved to address its weak pool along the wings, outside of Mikael Granlund, there is still a lack of blue-chip prospects at forward.

 

The goaltending prospects are progressing pretty well, and represent the area of least concern.

So, there is no depth at the goaltending position, but it is an area that represents the area of least concern. Check. But wait... what the hell does Mikael Granlund have to do with wings? Does he like to eat them as an appetizer? My information says Granlund is a center, played (and plays) center, and was drafted as... a center.

Moving on, we find a position by position break down of the Wild prospects. We start with Left Wing.

2007 first round pick Colton Gillies is still the top Wild prospect at this position (despite playing a bit of center this season) and he remains stuck in the same limbo where's he's been most of his career. Gillies has the offensive tools to contribute more, but has to make the most of his chances whether he's with Houston or St. Paul. Petr Kalus and Matt Kassian continue to muck it up with the Aeros. Kalus is contributing some of the offense he proved quite capable of as a junior, and Kassian is a pretty decent fighter at least.

Gillies is the top Left Wing in the organization? Really? And you are still mentioning Petrr Kalus as a viable option? He is a career AHLer at best, and will likely never see any amount of extended time in the NHL. He shouldn't be on the list at all. Back to Gillies. He is a third line checker at top end. He is another in a line of poor draft picks by HWSRN, and with all due respect, is never going to be much of anything.

Not until the third paragraph does the author mention Erik Haula or Jason Zucker. Both players are contributing to their respective powerhouse college programs in their freshman years. That counts for more than it used to, and should start to mean more to HF if they mean to remain relevant. Either one of these players are much better prospect than Gillies.

At center we have this:

First rounder Mikael Granlund continues to put up points for HIFK of the SM-Liiga, but some suggest he is struggling since being moved from wing to center. He's good all over the ice, but with more teams keying on him this season, the points won't come as easily.

The Aeros aren't really strong down the middle with great two-way guys, but have a few players capable of fulfilling limited roles. Capitals castoff Joel Broda and collegiate standout Casey Wellman can be counted on to score. Wellman in particular will see NHL time this season. Cody Almond is a very promising checking line player. Chad Rau looks like a career AHLer at this point, but he is a solid contributor.

Now we have Granlund in with the centers, but we are told he was moved from wing to center this season. Really unsure where that is coming from. Also, who is this "some" suggest that he is struggling? How about a source, or a link, or a name? "Some suggest" is generally a cop out for the author wanting to criticize but not wanting to be on the hook if they are wrong. "Some suggest" this is a really crappy way to make an argument.

Cody Almond is still young, and has shown an ability play in what ever position and whatever line they put him on. Consistent time with top level wingers could show just how wrong the assessment above is. Even so, if being a check is Almond's future, the Wild could always use another Kyle Brodziak.

Broda and Wellman can be counted on to score. In an organization that lacks scorers, one would think that alone would rank them higher than Colton Gillies, but hey, "some suggest" scoring is overrated.

At Right Wing we get:

The right side is still an area of concern depth-wise for the Wild. The team drafted Brett Bulmer in the second round of 2010, in a pick some felt was a bit of a reach. The lanky Bulmer has put up a few points for Kelowna, but everyone would like to see more physicality from him, as well as consistent mental engagement.

Ah yes "some felt" Bulmer was a reach. Again... who? Please, stop with the "some" as your sources.

The author goes on to mention that Carson McMillan and Jarrod Palmer are solid prospects, but does not repeal the "area of concern" tag assigned to this position. Here again, there are three solid prospects. How many more would you like?

With defenders, the complete lack of ability to take a stand is embarrassing. For a website that bills itself as the go-to place for prospect information, shouldn't they be willing to step up and call it as it is?


Marco Scandella and Tyler Cuma are both 2008 draftees and are being developed on somewhat of a parallel track. First-rounder Cuma has a smoother game, and this year will be of obvious importance in seeing whether he can get back on track to his top-two potential. Scandella is the grittier player, and transitioned well in a brief stint with the Aeros last year.

Kyle Medvec hasn't yet tallied a point to start his senior year at the University of Vermont, but was a contributor from the blue line last year. He has the size of a professional defender for certain.

Granted, the author does give some minor credit to Justin Falk in the paragraphs preceding this section, and he does call out the Aeros d-men for being soft offensively, but come on. Scandella and Cuma are defensive partners, so obviously someone feels they complement the other's style. Cuma is more of a Brent Burns type guy, while Scandella is more of a Justin Falk type guy. Which of those two would you bill as a better prospect? Better question: You want another Brent Burns, or another Justin Falk?

The line about Medvec is just irritating. Medvec is a joke. He has done nothing in his college career, is a giant pylon, and is afraid to use the one gift he was given, his size. How he can be listed as a "contributor" boggles the mind.

Goaltending. Ah yes, the Wild's lack of depth at goaltending will haunt them for years, right? Let's take a look at what the Wild writer for Hockey's Future had to say about the goaltending:

The Wild spent a high draft pick on Matt Hackett (third round, 77th overall) in 2009 and he is progressing pretty well in his first professional season, despite not getting much goal support yet. Incumbent starter Anton Khudobin looked to be the backup for the Wild to start the season, before the club rescued Jose Theodore from free agency to provide occasional support for Nicklas Backstrom. Khudobin doesn't always have the numbers to prove it, but has been a reliable goaltender at every level.

Fellow 2009 draftee Darcy Kuemper (6th round) went back to Red Deer where he is playing very well for the Rebels. Keeping Kuemper in the WHL provides armchair GMs with an excellent test case as to goaltender development strategy.

Finally, Swede Johan Gustafsson rounds out the goaltending prospects. He has good size and ability, and has put up great tournament numbers. Similar to Johan Larsson, Gustafsson's performance at the World U-18s in 2010 seemed to grab the attention of the Wild's European scouts. Gustafsson seems to struggle with promotion a bit, but his numbers are very good at the Allsvenskan level this year.

I include the entire section here to make it clear that one name is glaringly missing from it. Oh, dear HF Wild writer... have you by chance missed the top prospect at the position in the entire organization? If you don't know who I am talking about, you may want to do some research, because you'll be hearing his name quite a bit in the next couple years.

The fact that Dennis Endras is not even mentioned should sum up quite nicely why I do not trust Hockey's Future when it comes to Wild prospect information. It makes a nice list of names, in case you need a quick reference, but you should probably put your own thought into the players behind the names, because HF isn't.

But hey... "Some suggest" Hockey's Future is the only place to go.

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