Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
6'1" 165 Pounds 3/5/1995
Sometimes all it takes is an opportunity for a player to take a step forward in their development. For most of the year Lodge, who moved to Toronto from Pittsburgh to play minor hockey when he young, all it took was for Saginaw to deal its leading scorer, Vincent Trocheck, to division rival Plymouth.
And Lodge took off.
Given increased ice time and responsibility with first line ice time, it was almost a night and day difference. Already blessed with a great motor and soft hands, Lodge began to play with a more pronounced physical presence, even though he's still rail thin.
A swift skater, Lodge has been praised for how well he attacks the offensive zone with speed. He's a relentless, high energy player- the kind of player where, if the offense doesn't come, you can still send him out in an efficient checking capacity. He battles along the walls, goes into high traffic areas, and finishes his checks. For being a physically underdeveloped player, he shows a decent sense of puck protection, however he can still get bumped off.
He has tremendous hands; a dual threat as he can wire wrist shots past netminders or find teammates through traffic. Having represented the US at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, Lodge has some international experience as well.
However, there is some risk with Jimmy Lodge, as this new found confidence and effectiveness is based off roughly half a season. There hasn't been truly a sustained period of high level play to truly gauge as to who Lodge is as a player; one scout told me "its amazing what he can do when he tries". Maybe its the proverbial light bulb moment, where one truly "gets it" in terms of realizing how they have to play night in and night out to achieve their goals. The other concern is certainly his strength level; added muscle would do wonders along the walls and in puck protection, and possibly give him an added gear in his skating.
He might be one of the biggest boom or bust prospects in the Draft; but the payoff it he pans out could be huge.