Last week, SensTV had an interview with recent 2014 draft pick Andreas Englund, which you can find here. Here are some scouting reports of the blueliner from Sens regional scout Vaclav Burda, and assistant GM Pierre Dorion:
First of all we were happy with what we did getting this guy. We see him being a supporting defensive guy among our blueliners. He's a big, strong guy, very competitive. We don't expect any offence but we really feel strongly he can bring strong defensively responsible play and penalty killing. They (opponents) will recognize him as a hard to play against guy. That's what we believe. Once he matures and gets stronger that's what he can bring on the ice, every game.
For us we feel we left this draft with a first round pick in Andreas Englund. I said it on the radio, I've been scouting for 20 years and I don't think we'll bring a higher character person into our organization. He brings a physical presence, I think his skills are underrated, I think the fans are going to love him once he plays for us whether it's in two, three, four years. I think we have someone who's really going to help our organization down the road...Every game that we saw him, especially in the second half, we saw someone that we thought had the qualities to be a matchup guy, play against the other teams top lines. Last year we drafted a kid by the name of Tobias Lindberg, we talked to him, they were on the same team and Tobias told us, "I hate practicing against this guy every day." That says something about this guy's character, we got an asset here that's really going to help us very soon. He's physically very strong, he can even get stronger. We say we want to bring character people into the organization, well, this guy is at the top of the list for us.
The emphasis was added by me. Now, I'm sure that some of this scouting report is just fluff to try and tell the fans what they want to hear using a lot of buzzwords like big, physical, and matchup guy, but if this is really what they project Englund to be, there are a couple problems with this.
1. Obviously given their track record, it's hard to doubt the evaluation of the Sens scouting staff, but you're drafting a supporting defensive guy with your second round pick? Englund was ranked 30th out of the European skaters in the ISS Final Rankings, so unless the Sens strongly felt that another team had an eye on him early, it may have been a good bet to take him later on, given that a lot of players ranked ahead of Englund weren't even drafted.
2. "We don't expect any offense" should be a cause for worry. Now, some other scouting reports have suggested that Englund's puck-moving ability is decent, and he's still very young, but when studies of CHL players show that little offense rarely translates into NHL success, it's easy for one to generalize that over to Swedish prospects. The Sens have had success with Swedish D before, and Freddie Claesson is a good example as a defenseman who was drafted with little offense but solid defense, and has worked out well with the Senators thus far. The obvious issue here is that Claesson was a 5th round draft pick and that Englund is a 2nd round draft pick.
3. The philosophy surrounding the defenseman position seems a bit outdated. Yes, it seems intuitive to have an "offensive" guy and a "defensive" guy on each pairing, but I'd rather have players who can drive play together on the same pairing. The best way to have success against the top players of the opposition is to make them play in their own end, instead of having to defend against them in your own zone. Having possession drivers from the backend, those who can make clean passes and quickly exit the zone, is key.
Now, I'm not super worried with the Englund pick yet, and it fares well for his development that he'll have a big role on the Swedish WJC club, as well as garnering playing time against men in the SHL this season - one reason that was constantly cited by Dorion and Burda on why they drafted him. I am a little worried with the scouting philosophy of drafting a player with little offense so early, but alas, we haven't been let down by the scouts yet.
What's your drafting philosophy towards defensemen? Let us know in the comments below!
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