The Cedar Rapids Roughriders have 2 forwards who may be called to the podium at the NHL draft in June.
Derek Deblois F 5’10” 177
Deblois projects as an offensive player and point producer. He has quick hands and is able to handle the puck in traffic. Deblois is equally adept at giving and receiving passes on his backhand. He is also very calm with the puck and will make the quick pass if needed or he can hold the puck and wait for the play to develop. Deblois has all shot types in his arsenal. I can’t say that he has a hard shot but he is able to get it on net with a good release. Deblois really impressed with his toughness and willingness to pay the price in front of the net. He has a knack for getting open but when a defenseman played the body, Deblois battled for position and got his stick free for deflections. Deblois was very disciplined and never rattled on those occasions. He continued to go about his business with a workman-like resolve.
Deblois weaknesses are that he lacked speed and explosiveness. He showed a willingness to backcheck but couldn’t get back quickly enough after some of the battles in front. His puck skills in traffic are a nice attribute but his inability to separate himself from defenders might inhibit him at the next level. Also, as much as he showed a willingness to take punishment in front, he was knocked off balance enough to notice that he could improve his lower body strength. Deblois will have to gain some muscle at Michigan but I’m not sure if that will improve his balance and quickness or slow him down.
Michael Parks F 5’10” 184
Parks showed the speed and explosiveness lacking in Deblois’ game. In doing so, Parks displayed a keen hockey sense in that he knew when to skate at full speed and when to back off and maintain his good positioning. Parks played well in his own end and kept his head on a swivel to ensure that his man would not get open for a pass. He showed discipline in keeping his stick in the passing lane at all times. Parks was called upon often to kill penalties and on one occasion, killed 30 seconds on his own by exploding through the neutral zone to catch the puck carrier, strip him of the puck, send it back to the his D to dump it in then did the same thing as Youngstown came back through the neutral zone.
Parks looked like the only player on the ice during that sequence. His determination and his hockey smarts are the attributes that will suit him as he develops at North Dakota. While there, Parks will need to develop more confidence and skills with the puck. Parks was good at getting to open ice and finding the open man to pass to but he did not have the puck as much as I would have liked to see.