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Right Wing Profiles
In depth look at the prospects
6/19/04 - By James Weise -

1) Lauri Tukonen – RW – Shoots :R – 6’2” 198 lbs – Espoo
2) Drew Stafford – RW – Shoots: R – 6’2” 202 lbs – North Dakota
3) Alexander Radulov – RW – Shoots: L – 6’1” 178 lbs – Moscow Dynamo
4) Enver Lisin – RW – Shoots: L – 6’2” 190 lbs – Moscow Dynamo
5) Lukas Kaspar – RW – Shoots: R – 6’2” 202 lbs – Litvinov
6) Viktor Alexandrov – RW – Shoots: L – 5’11” 183 lbs – Novokuznetsk
7) Adam Pineault – RW – Shoots: R – 6’1” 193 lbs – Boston College
8) Blake Wheeler – RW – Shoots: R – 6’3.5” 185 lbs – Breck School (Minnesota)
9) Juraj Gracik – RW – Shoots: R – 6’3” 187 lbs – Topolcany
10) Roman Wick – RW – Shoots: L – 6’1” 176 lbs – Kloten

Lauri Tukonen has everything that an NHL team is looking for in a RW prospect. He’s got solid size, skill, work ethic, and leadership abilities. While he isn’t in the class of Ovechkin and Malkin, he is in the mix to possibly be the 3rd overall pick in the draft. The thinking there is that the Chicago Blackhawks are so happy with how Tuomo Ruutu has developed, that perhaps they’ll draft him a fellow Finn to patrol his wing. A Ruutu-Tukonen combination could be very scary for Blackhawk opponents for years to come. If Chicago passes on Tukonen, he still should fall too far. If he falls past the 5 to 8 range, I’d be shocked.

Drew Stafford is another player that has all the tools. And he knows how to use them. Stafford exploded on the scene as Zach Parise’s RW for both North Dakota and the US U-20 WC gold medal winning squad. Add in the fact that Drew’s father was an NHLer and you would seem to have a guy that is a can’t miss prospect. Stafford is a guy that should be a top 10 pick in this year’s draft.

Alexander Radulov is the first of a handful of Russian RWs that bring a load of offensive talent to this draft class. Radulov’s biggest knock may be a reputation for being a bit of a pain off the ice. But, that could just be the sign of someone who likes to play the game of hockey more than the game of politics that unfortunately goes hand in hand with the sport at almost every level. But Radulov is a big time sniper with loads of goal scoring ability. If teams look at his talent, he’s a lock to be a top 10 pick. If they get worried about the off the ice stuff, then you could see him start to fall.

Enver Lisin is another Russian player that is magic when the puck is on his stick and doesn’t do a whole lot when it’s not. He has also had an up and down season on the international stage. He showed up in two international tournaments and failed to show up at two others, including the U-18 WCs. Given that the U-18s were the last chance most scouts will have gotten to see him, the bad taste that Lisin left in their mouths could hurt him on draft day. Don’t be shocked if Washington takes him with one of their later 1st round picks.

Lukas Kaspar is little bigger and a little less offensively skilled version of Lisin. He’s another player that leaves scouts wanting more when they see him play. The natural skills are there, it’s just a matter of Lukas developing a solid work ethic to match. Given that he has a big upside if properly motivated, Kaspar is a player that could go in the late 1st to early 2nd round.

Viktor Alexandrov is another one of those small, skilled guys that are fun to watch, but have problems when the other team plays him really physically. Of course, teams have a tough time catching players like Alexandrov in the first place. Alexandrov is a real wild card who could be a solid gamble in the late 1st round and could slip to the 2nd round because of the size questions. But, if teams drafted purely on talent, Alexandrov would be a 1st rounder this year.

Adam Pineault had a tough freshman season at Boston College. Things got so bad that Adam has opted to leave BC and play next season in the QMJHL. Pineault’s got the size and talent to be a prototypical NHL “power forward”. The question is whether he’ll mature and reach his full potential or not. And while he graded out as an early 2nd round pick, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team roll the dice on him in the late 1st round.

Blake Wheeler is a player that teams will have to try and project where he’ll be in 5 years when they try and stack him up with the competition. He’s got an NHL frame (6’3.5” 185lbs), but he had a lower level of competition playing prep school hockey at Breck. Wheeler is headed to the University of Minnesota where he should get solid coaching from Don Lucia. If he develops, Wheeler will make whatever team that takes him in the 2nd round very happy down the road. But being only a HS junior and one of the youngest players in the draft will make whatever team that takes him be very patient.

Juraj Gracik is a big, slow, hard working winger from the Czech Republic. He doesn’t posses the greatest hands in the draft, but has a nice sized frame and is willing to compete along the boards and forecheck. He probably won’t be more than a 3rd liner at the NHL level, but is a player that could certainly develop into a useful player down the road.

Roman Wick is being touted as perhaps the most skilled NHL prospect to ever be produced by Switzerland. Granted, that’s not saying a whole lot. Wick has some offensive skill that he showed off at the international stage. But, his lack of offense in the Swiss Senior League could cause his stock to drop to the late 2nd to early 3rd round range.

Best of the rest:
The rest of the RW class can be pretty much summed up as a group of guys with some size and skill, but will take time to develop. Zdenek Bahensky has some offensive talent, but needs to bulk up to be a solid pro. Julien Sprunger is big (6’4” 180lbs) , plays tough, and has some offensive talent. Roman Tomanek is an offensively talented RW that had a big coming out party at the U-18s. Victor Oreskovich is a big and talented kid that is headed to Notre Dame and will some time to develop. Ray Sawada is a big banger who’s off to Cornell, so you know that he’ll at least be a hard worker and sound defensively. And Frederik Naslund is a big, skilled Swede who’ll will be a long term project.

University of New Hampshire’s Mark Kolanos is the younger brother of the Coyote’s Krys Kolanos. Mark hasn’t put up huge offensive numbers at UNH and he could go undrafted this year.

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