In lieu of the normal Prospect Pulse report, please enjoy an interview with Rob Vanstone, who has been covering the WHL for over a decade.
Kyle Kosior–Mr. Vanstone, you have been covering the WHL for over a decade. How would you say this year’s draft crop stacks up against others you have seen?
Rob Vanstone– This year’s draft crop is good — an improvement over last year — but not great. It may be some time before the Ryan Getzlaf draft year is equaled. It is tougher to evaluate skilled players in the WHL because the games are so much more defensive, so that may hurt the elite offensive players. In the OHL and QMJHL, the skilled players have a greater opportunity to exhibit their skills, which may enhance their draft standing.
KK–Colton Teubert is currently projected as the 9th overall pick in the upcoming NHL draft. How has his play been thus far and do you anticipate any rise or fall in his ranking?
RV-To be honest, I haven’t seen Teubert enough this season to give you a credible appraisal of his play. Most Pats games this season have conflicted with high school football, which devours most of my evenings this time of year. I have not heard any concerns about his play and would be shocked if he didn’t ascend much higher than ninth. Is he not the prototype?
KK-Can you assess Teubert’s strengths and weaknesses?
RV-Teubert doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses on or off the ice. He doesn’t post huge offensive totals, but his numbers will improve as he matures. Defensively, he has everything you want, including a long reach. He also has a mean streak, when necessary, and will stand up for his teammates. His maturity immediately impressed the Pats’ brass when they interviewed him before the bantam draft. If you can find a glaring flaw with Teubert, you can probably pick apart Jessica Alba, too.
KK-In your opinion, what current NHL’er is the most accurate comparison for Teubert’s game?
RV-Brent Parker compared Teubert to Chris Pronger for a story I did in The Hockey News last year. Few players are going to ascend to Pronger’s status, but there are similarities.
KK-Another Regina Pat, Jordan Eberle, is setting a torrid pace in the goal scoring department. Can you give us a description of his game and speculate as to where he might end up being taken in the draft?
RV-I could see Eberle creeping into the first round because of his sublime offensive skills. He isn’t always flashy, but he is incredibly smart and poised with the puck. The subtleties in his game are something to behold.
KK-Do you feel that Eberle’s performance thus far has erased his poor showing at the U-18 tournament?
RV-As far as the under-18 tournament, I think that will be overridden by his performance during the season. What have you done for me lately?
KK-Are there any other Regina Pats that you feel could be a solid pick in the draft?
RV-None that come to mind, Kyle. But, again, I haven’t seen enough of the Pats this season to give you an accurate assessment. I might be able to give you a better answer after Saturday!
KK–Could you comment on the other WHL notables, namely Kyle Beach, Luke Schenn and Tyler Ennis?
RV-Kyle Beach is a wild card. You can hit a home run or strike out with him. If he can channel his emotions, he is THE best prospect emanating from the WHL this year. Luke Schenn is a classic, WHL-style defenceman who can play in the NHL for 15 years. As for Tyler Ennis, I love him. He’s the most-watchable player in the league right now.
KK-Give us your dark horse draft candidate.
RV-I’m not sure if Zach Boychuk qualifies as a darkhorse, but some people are going to be dismissive because of his size. Boychuk could very well be effective at a higher level where games are called more tightly. This league is not conducive to the exhibition of his skills, which goes back to the problem I cited at the outset.
Illegal Curve would like to extend its thanks to Rob Vanstone for this interview. We will be following up early next week to see if any other Regina Pats catch Mr. Vanstone’s attention.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Kyle Kosior