Slater Who?

I remember attending the 2006 Tampa Bay Lightning's draft party held on the deck at the west end of the Palace. The place was buzzing as the Lightning prepared to make their first round selection, number 15 overall. Fans had their prospect lists with them and many were making strong cases for their guys. Most expected a forward while some felt a d-man would be picked. Then it happened. "With the 15th pick in the 2006 draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning select - goaltender Riku Helenius."

Just then a hush fell over the crowd. You could hear the whispers.......huh? what? who? I had forgotten what that moment was like until I relived it Friday night. Who? Did Yzerman just say Slater Coo Coo, as in clock? as in crazy? Just like in 2006, I was dumbfounded. Thunderstruck if you will. What just happened?

That was over 24 hours ago and the initial shock has diminished. I've had the time to snoop around a little bit and get to know more about this guy who was completely off my radar. From the reaction in the draft thread, I was not alone. What I did find out is that this guy looks like a pretty good player. I'm still surprised at him being selected at #10 but that's why I don't have an office overlooking Channelside.

I found a couple of things to pass on in case you haven't seen them.

10. LD Slater Koekkoek – Peterborough (OHL)

DOB: Feb. 18/94 | Shoots: L | Height: 6.02 | Weight: 185lbs
It may be a surprise to most to see Koekkoek this high on our list, but for those who have seen him play a lot, you may be on the same page as us. Koekkoek has a tremendous package of size, skill, and potential which could be a home-run in a few years. Currently out for the season with a torn labrum, Koekkoek was playing 30+ minutes a night with the Petes before the injury. Koekkoek is a great skater and does a good job of moving the puck and making good decisions. His skating ability allows him to lead rushes and his offensive zone play is very good. He’s still in the progress of filling out his frame and improving his defensive zone play, but the skill-set that Koekkoek brings to the table cannot be overlooked as his ceiling could be as high as any of the defensemen in this draft.
Strengths – In my opinion Slater Koekkoek’s biggest strength is…the fact that he has a lot of them. He’s very good defensively, especially while defending rushes (which can be tough). He’s tough to beat one-on-one, he’s physical, he uses his body well to rub players off the puck and he’s just a tough guy in general to play against. He’s not overly big, but he uses the size and strength he does have very well. Koekkoek is a great skater, very good on the rush, and he knows when to jump into the play and when to stay back. I’d say his transition game as a whole is fantastic. Koekkoek has outstanding vision and is a very good passer which makes him quite effective on the powerplay. He has a pretty good shot, too. With his solid defensive play, it’s safe to say he is more than capable of killing penalties, as well. A few more things that I really like about him is that he’s not afraid to block shots, he never takes shifts off and will do whatever it takes to win. Petes General Manager, and former NHL player, Dave Reid said it best: "Slater wants to be the best at everything he does and competes to always be the best, whether it is being first in a skating drill, winning a shootout competition, a battle drill in the corner or fitness testing. Slater has the competitive nature to be the best and simply win everything he competes at, this is a trait that separates the elite athletes from the rest" It’s quite possible that he could end up being the best defenseman to come out of this draft.

Weaknesses – Koekkoek is pretty well rounded, but one area of his game he could work on is his defensive game. For the most part he’s pretty solid in his own zone, but his defensive game could use a little polishing when it comes to always being in the right position, picking up the right defensive assignments and so forth. Those are aspects of his game that can be fixed with time and quality coaching.

Career Projection – First pairing (#2) defenseman – After talking with Dave Reid, various scouts and reviewing my own notes on Koekkoek, I’m going to project him as a solid two-way number two defenseman. Koekkoek has a mean streak, the work ethic, skill set and upside to become a number one defenseman in the NHL, but because he has a little work to do in his defensive zone and it’s tough to peg someone as a sure fire number one defenseman, I’ll project him as a number two.
Submitted by: Todd Cordell of TheHockeyGuys

Positive opinions, but opinions nonetheless. You never know how a kid will develop. They draft them so damn young. With the exception of a rare few, it takes a few years, sometimes several, until you know what you really have. I half jokingly say the draft should be held in Las Vegas every year since teams (again with the exception of the few rare players) are truly rolling the dice on these kids. You see a third overall pick in Alexander Svitov amass a whopping 37 points in 179 NHL games. Then comes a guy drafted as the tenth pick of the third round, Nick "Norris" Lidstrom! Go figure. Let's not forget players who were never drafted who became All Stars. Look no further than Marty St Louis and Dan Boyle.

While there is no clear science to drafting players, there are some teams who have more consistent success. Most likely to do with superior scouting, yet even the best have their share of busts. One never knows how they will develop. The fact that it takes most players 3, 4 or even more years to make it in the NHL is a good thing. Did you look at those kids as they were drafted? Let me tell you something.......

No player should be allowed to play in the NHL playoffs without the ability to grow at least a half way decent playoff beard. These kids look like they have no idea what a razor is. I bet some of them shave by pouring milk on their faces and then letting the cat lick it off. Their too damn young!! They need a few years on the farm.

Young as they are, I tip my hat to each and every one of them. Great job boys!! Your hard work has paid off. Enjoy the moment but understand your work has just begun. Hit the weight room. You're still too light in the azz to play with the big boys. Work hard, learn your craft, and your time will come!!

As for our Koo Koo Ka Joob, Time will tell if he's the egg man or the walrus! (John may be the only one who understands that)

This post was written by a member of the Raw Charge community and does not necessarily represent or express the views or opinions of Raw Charge staff.

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