CK Prospects Report: Blenheim Blades
This report is from the second viewing of the Blenheim Blades, this time Friday, October 9 against the Dresden Kings.
As an overall observation, the Blades younger players, with the exception of newcomer Teddy McGreen, did not impress Friday, and were greatly outplayed by Dresden’s prospects, despite the Blades taking the win.
Justin Baker – 1997 – Chatham – After having the best showing of the bunch in our first Blenheim Blades viewing, Baker has received more ice time. He was seen on the second powerplay unit, and penalty kill Friday. Still playing a pursuit game, finishing hits and remaining positionally sound, Baker needs to drive the net more often, and stay there to finish plays. Currently, he remains on the periphery, setting up plays, but not earning scoring chances himself. Watch for Baker’s impact to continue to grow this season. His production would improve if he used his speed to get to the net.
Blair Derynck – 1998 – Chatham – After not seeing Derynck play in our first viewing, he only managed a handful of shifts Friday before receiving a checking from behind call, and subsequent ejection. In his time on the ice, Derynck effectively used his size to create space, something few 16-year-olds do at the Junior level. Although his straightaway speed is fine, Derynck needs to improve his lateral mobility, in particular, maintaining and gaining speed in his crossover. Junior C is the right spot for Derynck to develop this season. After a slow offensive start, if Derynck can continue to use his body to his advantage, and earn minutes with the Blades, his production will increase, as he has a good shot and can make plays around the net.
Austin Bentley – 1997 – Chatham – Still earning powerplay time, Bentley didn’t stand out Friday, as much as he did in game one of the season. The Chatham forward has started to produce offensively, thanks to a powerful shot, with a quick release, which he still needs to use more. As stated in our first review, Bentley plays a heads up game, and sends the puck to open ice, making high percentage passes. In pursuit, Bentley needs to reach less with his stick, utilizing his skating to catch opponents and body them off the puck. A top candidate to make a Junior B squad next year, Bentley needs to play with urgency, to ensure his presence is felt every shift. The skills are there, now it’s time for his intangibles to surface.
Teddy McGeen – 1997 – Riverside – McGeen doesn’t look like a “prospect.” He looks like a player with years of Junior experience. The puck often looked like it was attached to a string on McGeen’s stick. He used his speed and crafty stickhandling to elude checkers, and created scoring opportunities every time he was on the ice. Playing alongside Horvath, Teddy McGeen set up the overtime winner, and has sparked Blenheim’s offence. He is small, but he is skilled. Almost matching his entire season totals from ‘AAA’ last year in his first weeks with the Blades, McGeen is fighting to prove his dismissal from the Chatham Maroons early in the season was a mistake. He is a tricky player with the puck, and makes deft plays at top speed. McGeen is heads and tails the best of the bunch among the Blades 1997 group.
Nolan VandenBoorn – 1997 – Ridgetown – On the positive, VandenBoorn made less lackadaisical plays Friday night. His intensity level however, is still wanting. With the puck on his stick, VandenBoorn makes good decisions and crisp passes. He picked up his first point of the season, an assist Friday. When you see VandenBoorn on the ice, you see a big body with good puck skills. His potential isn’t however, matching his performance at the moment. VandenBoorn will undoubtedly be a key contributor for the Blenheim Blades in the future. How soon the future arrives though, is up to his motivation level, and what kind of compete factor he’s willing to bring to the ice.