2011 NHL Draft Profile: David Musil, the Czech-Canadian

Note: Part of an irregular series where we look at 2011 NHL Draft prospects from less-heralded countries and unusual backgrounds.

When you grow up under a father who highlights every Eastern European name in the NHL Guide & Record Book with a different color highlighter according to nationality, your radar is trained to beep when a name like "Frantisek Musil" comes along. When that surname pops up again three decades later with a little more common first name (how many Frantiseks are in your posse, vs. how many Davids do you know?), the radar goes off again.

As recently as last September, Frantisek's son (and Bobby Holik's nephew! I don't know what color highlighter to use there!) David Musil was seen as a potential top 5 prospect in this June's draft. That was after a fine year for WHL Vancouver after David (who was born in Canada) and his family made the move back to North America from the Czech Republic.

But each draft year claims its scrutiny victims, and here we are nine months later with Musil looking more like a late first rounder -- if that. Why?

Musil Rankings

ISS: 27
CSS: 38 (N.A. skaters)
The Hockey News: 23
The Scouting Report: 33

Two months later, the same outlet had a closer look at Musil's game. The Scouting Report at the time:

There isn’t too much complicated about his game. Musil was very strong on his feet, although he takes very short strides for such a big man. This in turn limits his speed. His acceleration is also lacking, but I don’t expect skating to be a major hurdle for Musil to overcome as he just needs to get stronger once he finishes growing and the speed and acceleration will improve. As for his offensive upside, I’ve had half a dozen views of him and I’m still not convinced it is as high as some would like to suggest.

That post from November had his projection down to something more like "top half of the first round."

(But for you regulars, one prolific LHH poster and frequent draftwatcher still had Musil on his "Hot 4 U" list.)

Sticking with The Scouting Report, in December 2010 they had him listed as one of the draft's "fallers":

Musil has looked a little slow moving around the ice this year and he hasn’t developed his offensive game as much as needed to be a lotto pick. He is still very good defensively, but not as physical as needed for a purely defensive player. It also doesn’t help that Musil was recently diagnosed with a broken foot from blocking a shot and will miss the World Juniors, potentially dropping his stock even further. Musil is still looking like a 1st round pick at this point, but he may not be the prospect some thought he would be.

You see where this is going. Central Scouting dropped him from 12th at mid-season to 38th now -- and the usual menu of factors that have nothing to do with character are to blame: There was the broken leg that limited his time and robbed him of WJC exposure. There was the fact a couple of nice offensive season on both sides of the pond were thrown into question by what appeared to be limited offensive displays in his draft year.

Here's Bruins2011DraftWatch in May:

With Musil, it is more about the fact that he looks like a safe defender but nowhere near the high-upside guy he looked like several years ago when he burst onto the scene in the various international tournaments as a 15-year-old.

[...]

Another aspect of Musil's game we have heard troubling things about is with the intensity and desire -- some NHL evaluators have said that he is the product of hockey coming very easy to him early on and the natural physical advantage he enjoyed at a younger age. Now, his peers are catching up to him and surpassing him, and he's not consistently bringing the kind of intensity you want.

The Hockey News Draft Preview had scouts talking the "not pretty but it gets done" type of lines, praising his defense while acknowledging there would be little offensive expectation there.

Strip that all down and you still have a big (6'4", 200 lbs.) defensively astute defenseman -- no small prize in a draft, but not the kind of upside you use with a high "hope for a home run" pick.

While Musil missed the 2011 WJC, he did recover in time to play well -- defensively -- at the U-18 tourney in April. No offense though.

On the One Hand, On the Other Hand

So if you have your eyes on a big "shutdown" style defenseman (particularly if the Islanders go with a forward in the first round), it's quite possible Musil will be available when the Islanders pick in the second round. However, whether that would be buying high on a guy who's stock is falling -- or picking at the right spot for a guy who was simply overhyped too early -- is the kind of question that will linger until the kid turns pro.

Upside: Smart, big "shutdown" type defenseman who knows to make the simple play
Fear-side: Not fast enough, not enough offense -- and was his size enabling him to look better against his peers than he should? Is the intensity-speak real, or just scouts shooting the bull after miles and miles and gallons of coffee?

If the intensity thing is in anyway real, maybe the young Musil needs a couple of days with Uncle Bobby.

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