The Colorado Avalanche hold the 27th overall selection in June 28’s NHL draft, and we’ll be beginning our draft prep with some profiles of players who may be available when the Avalanche make their pick.
In addition to these profiles, CHN will also soon have draft commentary from a CHL scout, commentary on Swedish options from an SHL scout, as well as an interview with the Director of Scouting for the Scouting Service in the near future.
Today’s player profile is of Saskatoon defenseman Tanner Molendyk.
Team: Saskatoon Blades
Date of Birth: Feb. 3, 2005 (18)
NHL Draft Rankings Roundup:
Mckeens Hockey: 38
The Athletic: 25
Evan’s Scouting Report:
There is one thing that pops in Molendyk’s game, and it stands out immediately – his skating. And as we all know, the Avalanche love a defenseman that can skate. Molendyk might be one of the better skaters in the draft, and it’s not just straight line speed. His lateral movement is fantastic, and he’s got great edge work. That skating allows him to keep tight gaps, and close in on forwards. He’s got a real good stick to go with that skating, which is a big reason why he may end up a first round pick.
As far as puck skills go, Molendyk is strong on the breakout, and makes a lot of people miss in the offensive zone with his skating ability, but not much comes from it. There are legitimate questions about his offensive potential at the next level. His skating is incredible, and he defends really well, but when there isn’t much offense being produced, you worry about a player like him being a bit of a “tweener.” His offensive production, however, did go up a fair bit in the second half of the year, so he might have found another level. He was used on the powerplay, but not the top unit. Can the hands catch up to the feet? That’s something teams will have to decide.
The other big question about him is size, but it’s worth noting that he got bigger as the season went on. Not talking weight, but he actually grew, and is closer to 6′ now. Smaller defensemen will always scare teams off, but Molendyk has the skating and defensive ability to overcome it. He’s not afraid to take hits or dish them out, but isn’t exactly the strongest guy around.
It’s worth noting that he’s a versatile player as well. In my viewings, he played a lot on the right side, and he’s a left shot. Playing the off-side is difficult, especially on defense, but he seems to have adjusted to it pretty well.
Molendyk checks a lot of the boxes that the Avalanche typically look for. At 27th overall, there’s risk in any player you’re taking, but he’s someone that makes sense with how they like to play. He’s a modern two-way defenseman, but lack of offense and size are the reason why he may drop. I’m always weary of taking defensemen in the first round that don’t produce a ton in Juniors, but Molendyk’s skating is just that good.