Inside NHL Draft: Dan Marr on top defensemen

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To say this is a volatile NHL draft coming up would be a drastic understatement. Each team has its own list, and those can vary wildly, especially in the later rounds. But this weekend in Pittsburgh, it’s likely that volatility extends to the first round as well.

Dan Marr, head of NHL Central Scouting called it the “year of the defenseman,” and with the likes of Ryan Murray, Cody Ceci, Matthew Dumba, Morgan Rielley, Jacob Trouba, Olli Maata, Griffin Reinhart and Derek Pouliot available, it’s not hard to see why. But how teams have those defensemen pegged is a matter of much debate.

More than a couple of those defensemen could be available when the Washington Capitals pick 11th. More soon on washingtontimes.com about the year of the defenseman.

Here’s a look at some of what Marr had to say about a few of them in a couple of phone interviews:

On Ryan Murray, who could be the top pick of the Edmonton Oilers or go second to the Columbus Blue Jackets:

“He might be the defenseman that’s the closest to being able to step in and play. … When you want to project, it’s very difficult. The easy part of that is they’re all going to be projected to play in the National Hockey League. Certain teams play certain styles of hockey and that may lead them to lean toward selecting one player over another, because they do bring different games. Murray is a pretty complete package for a defenseman.”

On Matthew Dumba and similarities to Scott Stevens’ hitting abilities:

“In that aspect alone, that’s a good comparison. He does like to play the body, he does like to look for those open-ice hits and he does it cleanly and within the rules. But he brings a dynamic element to the game when he has the puck. He’s a rushing defenseman. He can skate and he’s got a good shot of the point. Like any of these young players, he just needs to refine the other parts of his game. Coaches are all concerned about keeping the puck out of the net as well. Not that he has any issues there, but he needs to continue to refine the defensive part of his game. The best way to put it is he needs to learn how to manage the risk-reward plays that he makes.”

On Cody Ceci, who made big move in final rankings up to sixth among North American skaters:

“We had a good discussion with him. We said we had a little bit of concern about his skating, and he was delivering the goods then. We just decided, we know we might not have him as high as we should, but let’s let him earn it. And he did. He’s got a really confident and poised game with the puck. His awareness and offensive instincts are really strong, and everything he does with the puck he does with authority. He’s one of the top scoring D-men in the league, he can skate and lead a rush, stickhandle, shoot, pass. He’s got the complete game with the puck. If there’s one part of his game that he needs to learn a little bit, that is just to become more of a complete player.”

On Jacob Trouba:

“Trouba, we like to describe him as a size-strength D-man that can play that stay-at-home style, but he’s also capable of playing the skating skill game. We like the fact that he has good instincts and that he can react to the play quickly. But he’s able to bring a physical presence even though he’s not somebody you’d describe as being a roughhouse player. We use the comparison with Dion Phaneuf, someone that’s going to be able to be a core player on your team for a number of years.”

On Olli Maata, a Dale Hunter product whom Marr thinks could play in the NHL next season:

“Very reliable player and very composed. I think some people paid more attention to him when London made the playoff run. We’ve been a fan of his all along here and it didn’t surprise us that he put in a good playoff performance.”

On Derek Pouliot:

“A little bit of an underrated player in our estimation. This is a kid, his hockey IQ was very smart. He’s not a big guy, but he’s not intimidated by anything. He just makes the right play at the right time and he gets things done. He’s a player that we feel could fit into that mold.”

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