Restocking The Cupboard: John Draeger
Posted by Dan Shrader on Thursday, June 28, 2012
6'2" 188 Pounds
Third Round, 68th Overall 2012 NHL Entry Draft
I knew I was on to something- I mentioned how during the course of the year I saw a very large contingent of Wild scouts down at Shattuck-St. Mary's watching games; not just random foot soldier, but the Craig Channells, the Brent Flahrs, the Guy LaPointes. I know part of the gig is watching players play and talking to them, but the money was on them viewing a kid like Teddy Bleuger, or Zach Stepan, or Hunter Fejes. Now it makes sense, as to who they were watching.
Arguably the pillar of another powerhouse edition of SSM, Draeger saw minutes in every important situation- he was on the top power play and penalty kill units, he was out there with minutes left trying to protect a lead, and in the few occurences, was on the ice in the waning minutes of a game trying to get the tying or go-ahead goal. Moving forward, I don't think we'll see him in such offensive oriented situations- I felt that while he makes nice crisp tape-to-tape passes, his puck skills and creativity aren't overwhelming, and his accuracy on mid to long range passes decreased greatly. His shot from the point varied as well; sometimes it was a complete muffin, other times a legit rocket. He was adept at one-timers, but I don't see it as a weapon going forward.
Now that I've ruined the whole post by poo-pooing his offensive game, what Draeger will be is exactly what Minnesota wants- he's very competitive, he's got good hockey sense, he's got good size, he's got leadership qualities, and he makes life difficult for the opposition in his own end. Ideally, I think you look at Draeger and pair him with a guy like fellow 2012 pick Matt Dumba, as Draeger's stay at home mentality would give Dumba a bit more freedom to be...well, Matt Dumba. Minnesota really liked his progression from the second half on, and it was noticeable- his skating is and will be a project, as his first steps lack explosion, especially after backward to forward transitions; for most of the year I felt Draeger was a guy you could just chip the puck past and beat him in a foot race, but his acceleration really improved after Christmas. His skating should smooth out with maturity as there are times where he doesn't really "hover" on cuts and crossovers, but the improvement is tangible.
A scout told me that Draeger was just awesome at the Tier 1 National Tournament, which SSM won (again.)
I think he's similar in nature to Nick Seeler, whom Minnesota took last year- a big kid who can skate and defend, but I feel there will be more offense to Seeler's game because of his vision and ability to skate with the puck. Draeger has more bite to his game however.
Having committed to Michigan State, Draeger is set to suit up for The Spartans this Fall. Minnesota will likely just let him develop on his own until they feel its time for him to step up a level.
Previous 2012 Restocking The Cupboard Articles: