Matt Puempel, Left Wing, Peterborough Petes (Ontario Hockey League)
Born January 24, 1993...6'0", 190 pounds...Left Hand Shot...Ranked 28th in Central Scouting Final Rankings, moving up from 29th at Mid-Term...6th overall pick in the 2009 OHL Priority Draft...won the 2009-10 CHL Rookie of the Year award after scoring 33 goals and 64 points in 59 games for a bad Peterborough team...scored 34 goals in 55 games before season ending hip surgery...was on pace for 42 goals and 85 points in 68 games...had little offensive support in Peterborough both years, seeing opposing teams' top checking lines night in and night out...season ending surgery entailed removing a chip in his hip bone which was calling a fluid build up...likely will not participate in physical testing at Scouting Combine in June...Injury does not appear to be degenerative...Puempel's hands, shot, and scoring instincts are very comparable to 2010-11 NHL Rooke Of The Year Candidate Jeff Skinner...opportunistic scorer...possesses a heavy and accurate shot...will go into traffic and the dirty areas to score...average skater with a good stride, which should improve with more strength...maybe the most pure goal scorer in this year's Draft Class...has slender frame which requires more strength to succeed at NHL level...stuggles with inconsistency but is constantly a threat to find the scoresheet...is aware of the shortcomings in his game...defensively his game needs refining, but has been working on rounding out his game...good anticipation...lauded for his passion of the game and character...honor student...compete level has been criticized...can make his teammates better with skilled passes...not a very toolsy player...defensive instincts aren't as good as offensive hockey sense...Are his rankings more of him being off the radar because of surgery, or just because there are better players?
Dan Shrader on Matt Puempel:
"Puempel's an interesting cat for me. He's more of a forgotten man and I could see a team grabbing him earlier than expected because he's been one of those "out of sight out of mind" guys, but if they are going more off of what he did a year ago and believe they can coax a better effort against him, he's got legitimate top-six upside."- Kirk Luedeke
Puempel is really really high on my list, if not number 1- and I think Brent Flahr and Co. have to take a big look at him. You just can't teach goal scoring, but the things in his game that are knocks- the average skating, compete level, size, his still-refining defensive play- all can be remedied with maturation and proper coaching. He's put up back to back 30 goal years on a putrid Peterborough team, and he's the object of the opposition's checkers. He's a character kid (which seems to be a common theme amongst draftees in the Flahr era; the staff is high on character,) an honor student, and I love this quote by Puempel in an interview with Dan Sallows:
"I think my biggest strengths are in the offensive zone. Going forward I need to work on every part of my game. I might find parts of my game that I’m happy with, but will never find any part of my game that I am satisfied with."
Remember, you have to project kids 3-4 years down the line. And Puempel, with his intangibles, developing all-around game, and ability to score goals, could be huge for Minnesota. I really think Puempel goes higher than he's ranked.
Nate Wells on Matt Puempel:
If past drafts are any indication, you can go off the board at number ten. Just look at New York choosing Dylan McIlrath last year and a couple of the profiled players in the 10 for 10 series; this year is no exception. It speaks to the depth of the players between 6-20 and that a player like Matt Puempel can be profiled next to Mika Zibanejad. There are going to be a lot of different guys going in unorthodox spots; what one team sees as the sixth-best player, another may have him further down on the list.
With that said, I'm not as big of a fan of Puempel at ten as Dan is. While he is an offensive scorer which the prospect pool needs, it's not to the point of drafting a scorer over a better player. That's not to say Puempel isn't underrated. He is. But between the question marks, the injury concerns (as Wild fans we should just embrace the hip surgery) and lack of high-end tools Puempel is not the next Jeff Skinner and not a player who can really jump 12-17 spots in mock draft rankings. And from talking with those who follow the OHL, he's a player who would and can be a good project - Puempel works his ass off and can score even without top players - but a 3-4 year project without an extremely high ceiling is not the player I want to take at 10...even if he can score goals.
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