Sunday, June 28, 2009

Penalty Kill: Matt Clark and Igor Bobkov

Anaheim calling to the hockey world...

We continue our draft coverage of the Ducks' 2009 Draft Class with a profile of Round 2 selection Matt Clark and Round 3 selection Igor Bobkov.

Round 2 - 37th Overall

Matt Clark D
Utilizing the Columbus pick they obtained by trading down from 21, the Ducks selected Matt Clark of the Brampton Battalion, arguably the best defensive defenseman available in the 2nd Round.

The young rearguard battled his way up the Troops' depth chart this season. Not an easy task for a rookie playing for the best team in the OHL's Eastern Conference. The 6'3" 210 lb. blueliner is committed to refining his game by getting more mobile and more confident with his physical play. Unfortunately, his offensive skills are still largely a question mark.

-Still gaining confidence, Clark may jump into more plays and find an offensive game next season.

-Glove Dropper. While not always successful, Clark has shown an affinity for scrapping. His 1.76 PIM/G in this year's playoffs was quite impressive, especially when you consider the OHL's reduced physicality.

-Battle Tested. Clark has faced some great forwards in the OHL and held his own.

-His much touted +21 is a little deceiving. While he's put up an impressive plus/minus for a rookie, it should be noted that he finished the season with 3 G and 20 A. Fellow Brampton blueliner Brad Albert, who also posted a +21, finished the season with four fewer points.

-If he never finds his offensive game, and doesn't find the confidence to really dominate, he will plateau as a 2nd pairing stay-at-home player that may be overvalued at 37th overall.

Round 3 - 76th Overall

Igor Bobkov G
As the 3rd Round opened, only two goaltenders had been selected: Robin Lehner and Anders Nilsson. This left the Ducks with their pick of the litter, specifically Matthew Hackett (ranked 1st by Central Scouting amongst North American goaltenders). Anaheim opted for Igor Babkov (ranked 10th by CS amongst International netminders).

Bobkov turned in a lights-out performance at this year's IIHF World U18 Championship. His stats tell most of the tale, but he really turned heads when the Playoff Round began. In the Quarterfinal and Semifinal Rounds, against Sweden and Finland respectively, Bobkov allowed one goal on 96 shots. The 6'4" 190 lb netminder was a brick wall with eyes, but fell short in the Gold Medal game.

Bobkov plays a stand-up style, maximizing his absurdly large frame. He has a quick glove, but little to no mastery of the key elements of the butterfly technique.

-Bobkov Big. Each of Bobkov's legs is the size of Darren Pang. While he doesn't go down often, he can potentially shut down the lower-third of the net with little, if any, lateral movement.

-Natural Ability. Bobkov is a raw talent with the potential to improve as his technique develops.

-Stand-up Style. Bill Ranford was the league's last stand-up goaltender, and it's unlikely that a pure stand-up goaltender can still be dominant (or even effective) in today's game. Bobkov will have to learn a lot of basics.

-Big Project. Were Allaire still in Anaheim, he might have seen developing Bobkov as an unclimbable mountain, even 2-3 years down the line. The young Russian will have to find a hybrid style that can translate to the NHL, or he may never even get to the AHL.


Rob said...

Clark will be a great pick, he reminds me ALOT of current prospect, Mark Mitera. He's a nasty tough, stay at home type. His upside is that of a Regehr esque stay at home guy. I'm not worried about offense with him

Anaheim Calling said...

I see the Mitera comparison, though MItera definitely had a lot of character positives beyond his on-ice play that made him an attractive pick.

I don't really expect offense out of Clark, but it's always worth noting for First and Second Round guys. It's an injustice of the modern game, I suppose, that defensemen need to have both some offensive skill or potential to be picked early.

Rob said...

true offensive upside is a bonus but Luke Schenn doesn't have alot, and Jared Cowen may or may not have alot. the ducks have lots of offensive d men in the system. Vatanen could be the top one after Gardiner, also Schultz has really good offensive upside and can skate with the best of them.

Anaheim Calling said...

At minimum, for defensemen at the next level, you are usually looking for the ability to skate, handle the puck and maybe provide an accurate wrist shot or big slap shot. Schenn and Cowen have that.

I'm not insisting that every defenseman need provide that, but scouts make a note of offensive capabilities for a reason. If you want a pure shutdown banger, you can often find that without using a draft pick. See McNab poaching Bickel from the Gophers.

And I challenge the notion that our system has LOTS of offensive defensemen because they're not all certain to make the jump as offensive players. Mikkelson's a great skater, but he's had to tighten his defensive game so much that we haven't seen hide nor hair of his offensive promise. And watching Gardiner play with McBain, I'm troubled by the contrast. He may make a complete conversion to blueliner without retaining the skills he had as a forward. The Badgers system gives him room to play the way McBain did, and maybe Gardiner takes advantage of that this year. We'll see.

I think this was a good pick, but the alternative was taking John Moore or Jordan Schroeder at 21. Palmieri and Clark will have to provide strong depth for me to forgive passing on those players twice.