I got my first live look at the Greyhounds this season last night in Barrie. While it was against a struggling Barrie Colts squad, it was a good opportunity to see some of the younger players take on an added role this year as the team has taken on a much younger appearance. Unfortunately captain Brock Beukeboom, a third round pick of Tampa Bay last season, was scratched from the lineup with illness and 17 year old left winger Justin Thomas was also out of the lineup with an injury. Here are my reports on the players who were in action.
#7 LC Daniel Catenacci | 5.10 | 185lbs | 03/09/93 | 2011 Eligible
2010/11 – 26GP 15G 16A 31P -1 38PIM
After an inconsistent rookie year where he only managed 30 points, Catenacci has already surpassed his point totals from a year ago. I saw a lot of positives in his game last night that show that he’s taken some steps forward from his freshman campaign which were positives. He’s always been a good skater, but he seemed to be a lot more engaged in the offense and was willing to take a lot more shots. Last season I watched him several times as he always seemed hesitant to shoot the puck and left me questioning his goal scoring ability. He’s still a pretty creative player and he had a couple of nice rushes with the puck where he was able to generate some offense off the rush.
He also had a good night in the faceoff circle and competed hard on the back check making it a pretty good showing for the #1 pick in the 2009 OHL Draft. I’m looking forward to seeing him some more this season against some stiffer competition to get a better feel for his game, but I do have some optimism for him. Thus far in the OHL he’s managed to avoid the injuries that plagued him in minor hockey and hopefully that continues this season. Right now I would likely slot Catenacci somehwere in the 40-60 range. He’s got a lot of positive qualities to his game, but his offensive ability isn’t quite elite and given his stature, it’s difficult to gauge what type of role he could have in the NHL.
#14 RW Trevor Morbeck | 6.02 | 186lbs | 11/21/93 | 2012 Eligible
2010/11 – 19GP 4G 5A 9P +2 11PIM
I was a big fan of Morbeck a season ago as he’s a pretty big guy that plays a solid north-south game and is effective on the boards. Last season he saw very limited ice-time, but this year he’s been seeing more time in a Top 9 role, last night riding shotgun to Nick Cousins where he manged a goal and an assist. I wasn’t too impressed with him in the game, however, as I only noted him finishing a couple of checks on the night and was fairly quiet. I thought he would have taken some steps ahead in his game in that regard to become more of a power forward, but I didn’t see any of that last night. From watching them on television a few times, I doubt Morbeck would be drafted this season, but since he is a late birthday, he still has another season to elevate his game and he’ll be worth monitoring this season before being focused on next year.
#27 LC Nick Cousins | 5.11 | 170lbs | 07/20/93 | 2011 Eligible
2010/11 – 26GP 11G 12A 23P -3 18PIM
Cousins was the 21st pick in the 2009 OHL Draft and the diminutive center is an integral part of the Greyhounds’ core moving forward. There is no doubting that Cousins has the offensive ability to be a gamebreaker at the OHL level. He’s got deceptive moves in traffic and very good vision on the ice. He’s also got a bit of grit to his game and isn’t afraid to shy away from the difficult areas on the ice despite being undersized. As an NHL prospect, however, I’m not sure he’s going to amount to much. His skating is improving but it’s still only slightly above average. His defensive game also isn’t anything to write home about and detracts from his value as an NHL prospect. If he can put up 60-70 points this season an NHL team might snap him up with a late round pick, because he does have good skill and has some of those pesty qualities that can get under another team’s skin, but I don’t expect him to go in the Top 5 rounds and wouldn’t be shocked if he winds up going undrafted either.
#3 RD Brandon Archibald | 6.04 | 197lbs | 03/31/92 | CBJ 10′ (4/94)
2010/11 – 23GP 1G 13A 14P +2 28PIM
A fourth round pick a year ago, Archibald is a guy who will be relied on to be an anchor for a very young defensive group this season. He’s a tall, lanky defenseman that is pretty rangy and an above average skater, especially for his size. While he is mobile, his puck moving skills are average and he always seems to be a little indecisive, making some poor decisions. Offensively, he has a wicked shot, but he isn’t a true PP quarterback as he also struggles to move the puck as a PP defenseman needs to. I would also like to see him be a lot more physical then he is as he does have the frame to really engage forwards a lot more in that regard but elects to use his stick more instead. At this point I have a difficult time envisioning what type of role Archibald could have as an NHLer as he doesn’t really have any defining traits to his game. While you can get by on that at the OHL level, he’s going to need to play a more physical and safer game to be a successful pro.
#24 LD Gianluca Curcuruto | 6.01 | 187lbs | 02/25/94 | 2012 Eligible
2010/11 – 26GP 0G 9A 9P E 18PIM
Sault Ste. Marie’s first round pick from a year ago, Curcuruto has transitioned very well to the OHL only a third of the way through the season. Logging some pretty hefty minutes for a 16 year old blueliner, Curcuruto has played effectively due in large part to his ability to keep things simple and pick his spots to rush the puck. He’s a bit of an awkward skater and he has a very wide stride, but once he gets going he had a couple of very nice rushes to move the puck. His first few steps will be a point of improvement for him, however. I thought he handled himself pretty well in the Greyhounds zone, only making a couple of poor decisions, but he handled the forecheck well and displayed some good escapability. He also showed good ability to know when to make a seam pass on the breakout, and when to use the boards. He’ll be a definite player to watch next season as he will certainly be on the NHL’s radar.