Center 6'4", 191 lbs
Ottawa (OHL) 8 Goals 19 Assists in 50 games
The 7th round pick in 2011 kicks off the countdown towards the top Minnesota Wild prospect at number twenty. Tyler Graovac is a two-way center who plays for the Ottawa 67's in the OHL, the lone Wild prospect to play in that league. At 19 years-old, Graovac skates well for someone his size (6'4") and fits the mold Chuck Fletcher and Brent Flahr have for their draft picks. He's a defensively responsible player who isn't a liability on his skates and can play a bottom-six role at the professional level.
One knock against Tyler has been injuries the past couple years. He missed part of his draft year with a broken forearm and has been unable to crack Ottawa's top-six. While he did step up for the 67's in this year's postseason, scoring 10 points (4G-6A) in 18 games (in addition to playing well at Minnesota's prospect development scrimmages last month), it was only a small glimmer of what Ottawa was expecting.
But don't just take our word for it.
Back in July, Dan talked with Brock Otten of OHL Prospects about Tyler Graovac and a local take on the Minnesota draft pick. What he said is below:
Overall, (Graovac) had a pretty disappointing season. I think it's safe to say more was expected of him in his 3rd year in the league. The biggest thing he still has going for him is his size and skating ability combination. For a bigger center, he moves very well and has a solid extra gear. He's also a guy who won't hurt you being on the ice because he's a smart player and plays in all three zones. In particular, his defensive game did make strides this year and he looked more active in engaging away from the puck and trying to win battles in the corners. He saw increased time on the PK and was a factor there.
Offensively, his game didn't really get taken to that next level IMO. The 67's had to go out and make a move to bring in Mike Cazzola because he just wasn't getting it done in a larger role. Offensively, he still remains a fairly soft player and didn't appear to be any stronger than he was in his sophomore campaign. As such, despite having that size and speed combination, he's not able to use it to drive to the net effectively because he's not strong enough. He also doesn't go hard enough to the net looking for loose pucks. His puck skill is only adequate and he's not a skilled enough player to be effective offensively without becoming someone who gets his nose dirtier.
This year is a huge one for him. He's going to be relied upon offensively this year for Ottawa, and will need to take hold of that 2nd line center spot behind Sean Monahan. If he fails to really show much of a progression again this year, I'd be damn surprised if the Wild give him a contract.In the end, there is a lot riding on his overage year. There's room for Graovac to be more consistent and a need to further develop as Minnesota has another year to decide whether or not to bring him into the fold. He has the tools to be a bottom-six player who can step up but hasn't put it together yet.
Previous 2012 Minnesota Wild Top 20 Articles:
Photo Credit: Ottawa67s.com