Less than two months into the 2011-2012 season, the WHL is already proving to have a bumper crop of 16-year-olds this year. Earlier in the month I wrote about the skills and abilities of Hunter Shinkaruk of the Medicine Hat Tigers and Curtis Lazar of the Edmonton Oil Kings, 2 draft eligibles for 2013, and I’ll continue with 2013 draft eligibles with a look at Ryan Pulock, Morgan Klimchuk, and Alex Forsberg.
D Ryan Pulock – Brandon Wheat Kings
Very impressed with his poise and leadership skills on the ice, a rare skillset coming from a 16-year-old defenseman. His puck distribution is excellent and he seems to always be making the right plays. His shot is how he produces most of his offense. He has a hard, accurate, low shot from the point that helps his team establish the power play. He has a somewhat stiff style in his skating, he skates very upright, but his hockey IQ is so good that he can anticipate plays all over the ice. Pulock is just as good keeping the puck out of his own net as he is putting the puck in the other team’s net. Pulock and his teammate, Eric Roy, also a 16-year-old, have already established themselves as top notch Dmen in the WHL and in the process making the Wheat Kings one of the better teams. It should be noted that Pulock is actually a later 94 birthdate, which is why he won’t be NHL-eligible until 2013.
C/LW Morgan Klimchuk Regina Pats
Klimchuk plays a very similar style to fellow 2013 eligible Hunter Shinkaruk. He is a stealthy player who slips through a seams and always seems to find the puck, putting himself in good offensive positions. He doesn’t have as much flair in his game like Shinkaruk does, but he approaches the game with a more workmanlike attitude. Klimchuk is a player that doesn’t like to initiate or even engage in physical activity which may change as he grows and puts on more body mass. The tools that Klimchuk does bring to the table are a high hockey IQ and the ability to play in any situation. Klimchuk reminds me a lot of Patrick Marleau, just a player that you don’t think is a threat until it’s too late. Kilmchuk has already established himself as a go-to player for the Regina Pats this season and should be among the top rookie scoring leaders when the season is all said and done.
C Alex Forsberg Prince George Cougars
Forsberg likes to play the game like he’s a bull in a china shop. As a 16-year-old you can see that he going to struggle sometimes as he grows, but once he becomes bigger than most of the players around him he will be a force. He already comes with a pretty thick frame, just could use that additional muscle mass that will complement his game. Some of the main pillars of Forsberg’s game include: sublime vision, excellent shot, and an ability to make his teammates better. He could still stand to learn the finer points of the defensive game, especially if he wants to play center at the next level. Forsberg is a player that I can see growing leaps and bounds before his name is called in June of 2013. With Brett Connolly sticking with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Forsberg has emerged as the offensive leader in Prince George.