Because it's the draft.
If the New York Islanders follow recent pattern in the 2012 NHL Draft, they'll pick a forward in the top five and then look to another position with their pick early in the second round.
One name who might still be on the board is Dalton Thrower, a physical right-shooting defenseman with WHL Saskatoon whose offensive potential is the subject of debate among scouts and pundits.
Also in the Thrower discussion: Though he plays a very physical game, he's still around 6'0" and just under 200 lbs. After logging around 30 minutes per game (usually next to Colorado's 2011 11th overall pick, Duncan Siemens) late in the season thanks to injuries on the Blades blueline, Thrower's season was interrupted by an injury after a big hit. His physical rep gained more notoriety when he fought Tom Wilson in the CHL/NHL prospects game after a big hit on teammate Lukas Sutter.
You'll hear the name Kevin Bieksa thrown around regarding Thrower, in part because that's the type he openly aspires to emulate and in part because these scouting reports have a way of feeding a monstrous echo chamber. Here's a compilation of how various services have him ranked, as well as what some prospect watchers (and Thrower himself) say about him. All of the excerpts below link to fuller original thoughts about the defenseman, who though aptly named, does more than throw punches.
- ISS: 27
- CSS (N.A. skaters): 26
- McKeen's: 27
- Future Coniderations: 28
- The Hockey News: 29
- Craig Button: 51
- Hockey Prospectus: 57
- "Consensus" aggregate of several services: 35
People Who Know Things
Kirk Luedeke, New England Hockey Journal:
From an offensive standpoint, some NHL scouts are divided on Thrower, however.
"I love his toughness and character, but I don’t see him as a point producer at the NHL level," said one Western Canada-based NHL scout. "He brings a lot of the characteristics you want on your hockey club including smarts, tenacity and a will to win. That isn’t enough for him to be in play for us in the first round, but he is the kind of player you win with."
Another NHL scout for a Western Conference team sees similarities to Vancouver Canucks., defenseman for Thrower’s favorite NHL team, the
"He’s got some Bieksa in him and I think Thrower’s offensive abilities are underrated," the scout said...
Thrower is an effective defender who can break up plays with a good stick, closes gaps quite effectively, and displays fine strength during his battles. He's not a wow prospect in any regard, but he does a lot of solid things.
The Scouting Report:
Thrower has done a nice job of adding an offensive dimension to his game this season by showing improved ability at both ends of the ice. His bread and butter, however, continues to be his gritty style of play...
Thrower on himself, in an interview with Islanders Point Blank:
"I grew up a Canucks fan, watching (current Florida Panther and former Canucks defenseman) Jovo (Ed Jovanovski) play," said the 18-year-old Thrower. "Right now, I love watching (current Canucks defenseman) Kevin Bieksa play.
"I play like him (Bieksa). I play a two-way game. My strengths are my skating and my physical play. I am a defenseman, who really enjoys the physical aspect of the game."
Thrower is a tough, two-way defenseman that loves to throw the body and get involved at both ends of the ice. He also has very good hockey sense which he uses to make very good outlet passes to his teammates. He is often compared to Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa.
The Hockey News (Draft Preview, print):
"He's one of those players who can do it all," said one scout. "Finishes his checks, runs the power play and he's not afraid to defend himself."
With these attributes, Thrower could land anywhere from late in the first round to the middle of the second. (Recall that last year, Scott Mayfield was ranked as a late first-rounder and ended up going to the Islanders at #34 overall.)
Thrower is one who entered the season ranked closer to the fourth round pool than the first round, so it's difficult to say where his season-long ascendance will stop by draft day. (Maybe he'll benchpress a compact car at the NHL Combine or something.) Tune in, place your bets, and listen to the monster commentators that lurk within your prospsect-gazing heart.