Patience with Power Forwards

Ryan Van Horne

2010-01-16

Eric Tangradi

You have to be patient with prospects, and that's especially true with goalies and defencemen. Forwards are most likely to jump into the NHL at a young age and have a fantasy impact, but there's a certain breed of forward that requires just as much patience as goalies and defensemen: power forwards.

 

Not only do they take longer to reach the NHL, they usually take longer to reach their upside. Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Eric Tangradi – No. 26 on Dobber's list of top prospects — is a classic example of that.

 

As a 17-year-old, Tangradi was a rookie in the OHL and struggled to make adjustments and earn ice time. Still, his size and flashes of latent skill were enough to attract the interest of some scouts. By the time the playoffs rolled around, however, everybody was taking notice.

 

After putting up just 20 points (five goals and 15 assists) in 65 regular season games, Tangradi nearly matched that in 15 playoff games (eight goals and nine assists).

 

On the strength of that playoff performance, Anaheim made the six-foot-four, 225-pound Philadelphia native a second-round pick (42nd overall).

 

As an 18-year-old the following season, Tangradi showed his playoff performance the previous spring was not a fluke and that he had made huge strides in his development. With 60 points in 56 games (24 goals, 36 assists), he had arrived as a prospect and became a poster boy for projectability.

 

Projecting is what scouts do when they watch players at the age of 17. They don't look at a player at that age and wonder if the kid can play for their team at that age or in a year or two. What they're wondering is what that player will be in five to 10 years. They are projecting how much that player will develop in the future and deciding if that player will make an impact in the NHL.

 

Often, when they are doing this, they are not looking at the stats that a player is putting up in junior. Even in the regular season of his draft year, Tangradi drew the interest of scouts.

What they saw was a big forward with good hands and finish around the net. They knew his skating needed improvement, but improvement could be made and even still – it wasn't a major drawback.

 

As a rookie, he became Belleville's best forward in the playoffs. He was a force on every shift, creating a buzz by playing simple hockey, going to the net and looking for rebounds. He was difficult to contain down low and showed an amazing ability to cycle the puck,

 

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