NHL Draft: Top Collegians - Defensemen/Goalies

NHL Draft
NHL Draft Preview Schedule
(July 25th-30th)
Tuesday, July 26:

July 25, 2005

What follows is a list of some of the top college defensemen and goalies eligible for this Saturday's 2005 NHL Entry Draft, as ranked by the NHL Central Scouting Service and Hockey's Future.  Be sure to check back later this week for closer looks at two more top college draft prospects: Minnesota defenseman Nate Hagemo and Vermont goalie Joe Fallon.



Sasha Pokulok, D, Cornell


Height/Weight:  6'5", 220 lbs.

Central Scouting Rank (Midterm/Final): 30/39

04-05 Stats:  10 points (3g, 7a), 33 PIM in 26 games


D.J. Powers, Hockey's Future:  Pokulok's 6'5"/220 lbs. frame is one reason why so many are raving about this young man. He has the makings of an outstanding two-way defenseman. Pokulok is very sound defensively and is willing to jump up into play and help create offense. He uses his enormous size and strength quite well, whether it's protecting the puck or defending against an opposing forward. He possesses a very heavy shot and a long reach. He handles the puck well and has good passing skills. One area that Pokulok will need to improve is his foot speed. He skates with powerful strides, but is on the slow side. While he has shown that he can deliver some solid checks, he could stand to be more physical as well.


CSTV Analyst Billy Jaffe:  Very mobile big defenseman who makes the simple play.  He reads the play very well, and for a guy his size, he doesn't look gangly out there.  He moves very well.


Andrew Thomas, D, Denver


Height/Weight: 6'2", 210 lbs.

Central Scouting Rank (Midterm/Final): 82/80

04-05 Stats: 7 points (2g, 5a), 78 PIM in 42 games


D.J. Powers, Hockey's Future:  Thomas is a defensive defenseman who is big and loves to play the body. He is hard-nosed and can deliver some punishing hits. He uses his size and strength to great advantage, particularly when going one-on-one with opposing players. He skates extremely well for a player his size with powerful strides. He is very solid in the defensive zone. While he doesn't provide much offense, Thomas has shown that he is opportunistic in chipping in a goal once in a while. He possesses a hard heavy shot. He is also smart, competitive, a hard worker and doesn't get caught out of position often. As he matures as a player, the mental aspects of Thomas' game should improve as well.


CSTV Analyst Billy Jaffe:  Pretty solid defenseman.  He filled in very well, and learned a lot from Matt Carle and Brett Skinner. He had some great veterans in front of him, and he did a really nice job of keeping it simple. He stepped into a situation that could have been great or really tough, and he absolutely maximized the situation.  He's got good size and nice mobility, but kept things simple, which is the smartest thing to do for a freshman defenseman.


Jonathan Sigalet, D, Bowling Green


Height/Weight: 6'1", 180 lbs.

Central Scouting Rank (Midterm/Final): 86/88

04-05 Stats:  16 points (3g, 13a), 36 PIM in 35 games


D.J. Powers, Hockey's Future:  Jonathan Sigalet is considered by many to be one of, if not the top current collegiate defenseman eligible for the NHL Draft. Sigalet combines exceptional skating ability with a tremendous understanding of the game. He is immensely smart, possesses great on-ice vision, and makes very good decisions. Sigalet is quite good at both ends of the ice. He is solid in the defensive zone and has great offensive abilities as well. He has very good passing skills and has no trouble getting pucks to the net. The biggest knock on Sigalet is his thin frame and body strength. As he matures and grows into his body, both should vastly improve.


Steve Birnstill, D, Northeastern


Height/Weight: 6'2", 185 lbs.                                                          

Central Scouting Rank (Midterm/Final): 115/100

04-05 Stats: 19 points (2g, 17a), 20 PIM in 38 games


D.J. Powers, Hockey's Future:  Birnstill is an excellent skating, offensive-minded defenseman. He is a fluid skater with good acceleration. He is very mobile and transitions quite well. Birnstill possesses tremendous poise with the puck. He has outstanding passing skills and can make some very nice outlet passes. He also has a quick release. An area where Birnstill has shown marked improvement this season is in the mental side of the game. He is reading and anticipating plays better. He is an intelligent player who works hard. He is a very steady defenseman who will need to continue work on his body strength. He also could be more involved in the physical side of the game.


CSTV Analyst Dave Starman:  Steve is mean, and that's what you like about him the best.  He's very focused, very good in corners, and very good on the walls.  He'd rather die than give the puck up.  He's got some offensive instincts, more so in juniors than at the NCAA level, but I think at the NCAA level, that'll start to blossom.  He's very good in front of the net, and an excellent penalty killer.  I think if he was a little more disciplined, it would serve him better, because he'd be on the ice more.  However, the fact is that he's just so damn mean and physical, and wants to win that badly, I would never want to try to rein that in.


Mike Brennan, D, Boston College


Height/Weight: 6'0", 190

Central Scouting Rank (Midterm/Final): 133/142

04-05 Stats: 8 points (2g, 6a), 46 PIM in 40 games


D.J. Powers, Hockey's Future:  Brennan is an excellent skating defenseman who is intelligent and very reliable. He has good speed, moves well through traffic, and has shown a willingness to jump up into the play. He possesses great on-ice vision and makes very good decisions. Brennan has very good puck skills and can make great outlet passes. While he has shown at times that he's willing to get involved offensively, Brennan isn't an offensive defenseman. He is very solid positionally, outstanding in one-on-one situations, and doesn't shy away from the physical aspects of the game. He has a tremendous work ethic and is a real competitor. Like with so many young players, getting stronger and "filling out" his young body is key to Mike Brennan's future success.


CSTV Analyst Dave Starman: Good defenseman.  Brennan is more offensive-minded.  He just loves to go.  He's a very good skater; he loves to get the puck in open ice.  He'd probably like to play Brian Leetch's game, but I don't know if he's there yet.  But that's his mindset: get the puck moving.  He's very good one-on-one, defensively.  He's exceptionally good on the walls, and the one thing about him is that he can see a good first pass and make it.  He's not one of those guys who's going to hold onto the puck and lug it.  He'd rather move it and get it back.  He's got very good wheels to support his offensive skills.


Tyler Sims, G, Providence


Height/Weight:  6'0", 170 lbs.

Central Scouting Rank (Midterm/Final):  NR/30

04-05 Stats:  7-8-2, 2.80 GAA, .914 SV%, 1072 minutes in 19 games


D.J. Powers, Hockey's Future:  Sims is a smart, hard working goaltender who possesses outstanding puckhandling ability. One area that Sims excels in is his ability to redirect shots away from the crease and slot areas. Sims also doesn't give up many rebounds and can make the second and third saves. He stays square to shooters will challenge them if necessary. He possesses good reflexes, a great glove and moves well laterally. Like so many young players, size is also an issue with Sims. He needs to add weight to his 6'0" frame and could improve in his overall consistency.


Peter Vetri, G, UMass-Lowell


Height/Weight:  5'10", 185 lbs.

Central Scouting Rank (Midterm/Final):  NR/NR

04-05 Stats:  13-7-3, 2.52 GAA, .912 SV%, 1455 minutes in 25 games


D.J. Powers, Hockey's Future:  Vetri is a goaltender who is superb in covering the lower portion of the net and extremely good on his angles. He suffered a broken finger on his catching hand back in November. The injury did not appear to have hindered his catching ability, which is quite good, after returning to action. Vetri follows plays and anticipates quite well. He is good at controlling rebounds, but when he does give them up, can make the follow-up saves. He possesses very quick reflexes and moves quite well laterally. Vetri has shown some consistency throughout the season and possesses an excellent work ethic. While he may be small in stature, Vetri has demonstrated that he plays and competes. 


Elliot Olshansky is an Assistant Editor for CSTV.com.



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