Blake Wheeler: 1 year later

Discussion in 'NHL Draft - Prospects' started by trahans99, Jun 12, 2005.

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  1. trahans99

    trahans99 Registered User

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    Just curious on everyone's thoughts on this kid being taken at 5th overall last year? I was shocked like many when I heard his name, how did he play this year? Did he step up and prove he deserved that #5 spot or did he take a step back and look like the 2nd rounder many projected him to be (or late 1st).

    I know its too early to tell if he'll succeed, but I just wanna know what your thoughts are on this season? Would you still pick him at 5 looking back and after a year?
     
  2. FLYLine27*

    FLYLine27* BUCH

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    I still think it was a bad pick. I heard hes very lazy in the defensive zone and doesn't like to go into corners (even though he's 6"5 200 pounds). Still WAY to early to tell though...in another year we will see more clearly if PHX's shocking pick was a very good one or not. I believe hes playing on Minnesota next season.
     
  3. hbk

    hbk Registered User Sponsor

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    Well, this topic has come up repeatedly on the Coyote Board.

    Wheeler was easily the best player on a very bad team in the USHL. He adapted the the higher level of competition and put up decent but not overwhelming numbers on what was a very bad team. The real measure of his capabilities will be revealed next year when he suits up with the University of Minnesota and their loaded squad. He needs to improve his work ethic and defensive zone coverage.

    No doubt, Phoenix jumped on a guy they liked early. We can't dispute that; however, the only player that has really seperated himself from the rest of the class is Olesz and Phoenix can hardly be blamed for shying away from a player who at the time was struggling heavily in his recovery from a severe concussion. After losing Kolanos to a similar injury Phoenix fans can understand their concerns.

    The other issue becomes who else should they have selected? Montoya was the popular choice at the time and his play hasn't been at a level where Coyote fans are hanging their heads in collective shame.

    Right now, Phoenix fans are neither blown away or upset with how things are going. This was viewed as a developmental year and as mentioned previously the true test will come next year when he starts playing at a higher level of competiton. Coyote fans are satisfied. You can't help but like his upside.
     
  4. trahans99

    trahans99 Registered User

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  5. HuskyFlames

    HuskyFlames Registered User

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    By the earleir discription of his play, it sounds like a Eric Daze type player...that sound about right?
     
  6. sharkyz15

    sharkyz15 Registered User

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    Is Minnisota going to have Phil Kessel and Blake Wheeler on their team next year???
     
  7. hbk

    hbk Registered User Sponsor

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    yes and Stoa I beleive.

    Wheeler can skate with Kessel so Coyote fans are hopeful that they spend some time together on the same line.
     
  8. hbk

    hbk Registered User Sponsor

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    The size and skill quotes about Wheeler seem to draw those Daze comparisons. One quote that I heard after he was drafted was "Vanek with better speed" which is high praise considering Vanek's outstanding play this year.
     
  9. Vipers

    Vipers Registered User

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    And R.J. Anderson (off. déf.) who was drafted by Phil. at #101, isn't?
     
  10. MN_Gopher

    MN_Gopher Registered User

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    Yeah we will be stacked next year.
    Kessel, Stoa, Wheeler, Anderson, Frazee and the lil heard about Bostrom.
    Wheeler will probally play with Chucko and Guyer next year i bet.

    And i forgot. He is not that much of a softy. He did drop the gloves once last year. In league that does not fight.
     
  11. Vipers

    Vipers Registered User

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    A lot of people were so surprised and as you said the real test is coming, next season.
    About Vanek comparision, you have posted this on Blake Wheeler theme on 09-17-2004:

    "goes back to my other comments about getting informed about Wheeler and his potential by asking people who have seen him play. again, those people that I spoke to indicated that they thought Wheeler was "Vanek, with better skating". Throw in the comments that came forward from the Phoenix camp after the selection regarding where they had him on the list, the surge that Wheeler had in the draft rankings as the season progressed, and the comments regarding the overall quality of the draft itself (a weak draft where like in 2002, the long shots prevail).

    My initial reaction is based upon an uninformed opinion. Phoenix was widely beleived to be selecting Montoya at #5 which was a pick I could accept but given the presence of LeNeveu wasn't exactly doing summersaults over. Like most posters, I hadn't done much reading on guys projected to go later in the draft so I was as surprised as anybody."

    Less than a year after he's not Vanek anymore but Dazé.
    Finally, someone in Phoenix' organization recognize that Olesz could have made a better pick than Wheeler.
    Hope that he won't be Hugh Jessiman next year.






    And about Phoenix management on HF Board on 09-14-2004:

    hbk
    Registered User



    Join Date: Feb 2002
    Location: Winnipeg
    Posts: 2,615 As one Coyote fan I am happy that the Coyotes drafted according to their scouting lists and not that compiled by so called experts who mainly form opinions based upon the two or three commercially available lists.

    Don't get me wrong. I was leading the charge on poor asset management on draft day but several pieces of information have come forward since that day.

    Phoenix loved this kid. They scouted him more heavily than any other team in the NHL. They even met with him and his parents at their house prior to draft day. Someone on the Phoenix Board has it right when it comes to their avatar. It's a picture of Dave Draper and Vaughn Karpan with the caption "reputations at stake" or something to that effect. That nails everything. These guys are risking their very repuations by selecting this kid. They wouldn't do that if they weren't sure. Is risking getting the guy they had ranked third on their list (both Ovechkin and Malkin were rated higher) for a third round pick worth having to settle for somebody 3 - 4 slots further on your list? When the difference is in their mind selecting an impact player and selecting a second or third line player than forgoing that extra pick isn't exactly going to make or break your team. It would seriously harm relationships with your scouts if you make the deal only to have your guy scooped on you just before you go to call out his name. That happened to Phoenix back in 1999 and the infamous Tverdovsky deal. Also keep in mind, Phoenix doesn't know how many teams have seen this kid and to what extent. If they have seen him then they certainly have to make decisions under the assumption that they have seen what they have seen in this kid. The rise of Wheeler in many draft publications would indicate that their was somewhat of a buzz about this kid so they would be nieve to beleive that he was going to last as far as their second round pick and could very likely be a first round selection by another team. I have managed to talk to someone who has a University hockey background who has seen Wheeler play more than once and he spoke very highly about him. His comparison was "Vanek with better skating" which to me indicates the type of potential that Wheeler posesses and why Phoenix didn't want to risk losing him.
     
  12. X-SHARKIE

    X-SHARKIE Registered User

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    I have seen him twice pre-draft and now half a dozen times since the draft in Greenbay.

    Solid pick, outside of my consensus top four, Ovechkin, Malkin, Barker, Olesz, it's a dart game for the most part with the 04 class and Wheeler fits with every other highly regaurded prospect IMO.

    Wheeler has some issues which FlyLine4life hit on the head. He is shy from physical contact,especially in the corners and in front of the net, and he is lazy defensively and won't back check, he also sulks after getting halled down with no call.

    On the other hand he's a beutifull skater with amazing hands and can go end to end in the USHL. Most talented kid in the USHL i've seen since Thomas Vanek, but that's where the comparisons with Vanek end. Vanek made a living in front and had a much better shot then Wheeler, and his goal scoring instincts where off the chart. Vaneks game is much more pro suited then Wheelers at this moment.

    Still the ceilling with Blake is sky high and if he works on his game he could be special....We'll see.

    I say good pick by the Coyotes but should've traded down a few spots....or Take Olesz.
     
  13. chaachie12

    chaachie12 Registered User

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    I have seen Blake a few times, and Vanek NEVER came to mind. Blake is misunderstood, people expect him to be a power forward, he isn't. He is a skilled forward, who happens to be 6'5". I doubt he will ever have that nastiness people expect him to have, but he will get a lot of goals based on his skills, and get more chances because of his size and reach. I think he will do very well from day 1 at UMN.

    EDIT: I should have seperated those comments...I don't think Vanel is a power forward, I just didn't think he and Blake are all that similar.
     
  14. X-SHARKIE

    X-SHARKIE Registered User

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    Agreed, but if he can't learn how to deal with checks and traffic soon, instead of just moaping after no calls, he won't last in the NHL. He has NHL skill, but he is so mentally immature still. You can just see it.
     
  15. PuckFan01

    PuckFan01 Registered User

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    If I recall correctly, Wheeler had a pretty big growth spurt in his mid teens. I don't believe he always a kid that was a lot bigger than most of his competition. The size advantage he now has is something he probably has yet to become used to using in his game. I would gather in the next few years he will figure it out and his game will blossom further. His physical play will probably improve when that happens. He isn't afraid of taking punishment. He was a very good tight end in football and you can't play that position if you are afraid of physical play.

    I think calling a kid lazy in the defensive zone as a criticism at Wheeler's age is overrated. Many top offensive players at that age are not very good in their defensive zone. I'd rather be criticized for that than to be criticized for some lack of skill or lack of speed. Backchecking and two way play is something that can be taught. The skill aspect is more God given. Wheeler does have a good work ethic so I think he'll get much better in those areas in time.
     
  16. fred2792

    fred2792 Registered User

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    It's exactly what I don't understand with this pick. They should traded down... :shakehead
     
  17. MS

    MS Registered User

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    19 goals in Tier II has to be considered very disappointing for a #5 overall pick. If he was only able to pot 19 goals in the USHL, how many would he have if he were in the OHL or WHL last year, which are vastly superior leagues?

    That isn't a great league, and pretty much every guy who's been successful later on has torched it. Vanek had 46 goals in 53 games at age 17. Arnason had 37 goals in 52 games at 18. Sejna had 40 goals in 52 games at 18. Erik Cole had 30 in 48 games at age 18. Jeff Taffe had 12 goals in 17 games at age 17. Brandon Bochensky had 47 goals in 55 games at 18. And so on.

    I don't know if his poor team is an excuse or not. It will be very interesting to see how he produces next year.
     
  18. chaachie12

    chaachie12 Registered User

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    First, the USHL is tier I. Second, I don't think it is fair to compare stats, really at any level, but especially at age 17. His team was brutal, he was literally the only one that was a threat, regularly. He is a project. I don't understand how people don't get that...in 3 years, when he has grown into the 6'5" body and gotten better coaching at MN he will probably be a monster. I would rather my #5 pick do well in teh NHL than have a better season in the USHL...but that is just me.
     
  19. PuckFan01

    PuckFan01 Registered User

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    Green Bay was the worst offensive team in the league by a wide margin. The 2nd worst offensive team still scored almost 25 goals more than Wheeler's team. When the other ten USHL as a group average over 190 goals and Wheeler's team only scored 141 goals, I think it is pretty clear that he didn't have much talent out there with him and other teams could focus their energy on stopping him.
     
  20. Jaded-Fan

    Jaded-Fan Registered User

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    For whatever it is worth, I think that he would not have lasted to the end of the first round, and likely not very far into the middle of the first round. A couple of GM's hinted that they would 'surprise lots of people with their pick' just before the draft (weren't the Islanders one of the teams saying that? I am having trouble remembering which one) and most thought that they were referring to Wheeler.
     
  21. X-SHARKIE

    X-SHARKIE Registered User

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    Yep Islanders made it clear they would've grabbed him.

    You can't judge a prospect by numbers folks, so don't look past Wheeler because of subpar numbers.

    The jump from High School to USHL Tier 1 is a big one, plus the number of games he played this year was all new to him.

    He did quite well.

    I'm one of Wheelers biggest fans but he's not the next Thomas Vanek with speed, wich would be the best goal scoring prospect in quite some time lol, so that's way over stretched. But Wheeler is a gamebreaking talent that could be a huge reward for Phoenix and the Gophers.
     
  22. chaachie12

    chaachie12 Registered User

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    The Wild scouting director (Tommy Thompson) said after last years draft that they probably would have picked Wheeler at 12. He said it in a radio interview the day after. Said it was a great year for the local kids, and thought it was their chance to grab a franchise local kid. Thought Thelen and Wheeler were pretty even, both grading out at around 10-15...so there were other GM's that thought the way Phoenix did.
     
  23. MN_Gopher

    MN_Gopher Registered User

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    Wheeler is 6 5 sniper. He has speed and a great shot, an accurate one too. So why would you want him in the corners all the time. It is not his thing. He is a playmkaer and more so a goal scorer. Hard to score when your passes are not finished and you never get a good pass. And with leverage and using your body he is not up to speed yet. He played TE on a state championship team. That when i played ran a lot. So he must of had to block. It was a 2A level but the teams he played have put out a good number of D1 guys.
    And do not judge him by his fresh year either. Irman had 24 pts his fresh, Chucko had 20 something too. Look at his sophmore year. That seems to be the break out year for most power type players. I honestly think that the gophs freshman scoring will go, Kessel, Bostrom, and either Wheeler/Stoa in third.
     
  24. no Gino

    no Gino Registered User

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    As far as I know, that is not true. I know that the league wants to be considered Tier 1 , but only if the NCAA dropped the rule that bans Tier 1 players from being eligible.

    As far as skill level, I know the league has come a long way. Our local team used to be very dominant in the USHL but as the league improved, their status dropped. At the same time, they weren't as successful at the national level for Tier 2 teams so they also weren't as talented.
     
  25. Rabid Ranger

    Rabid Ranger 2 is better than one

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    This would suggest otherwise: http://www.ushl.com/about/tier1.cfm
     
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