Penalty Kill: Vatanen, Illo and Valentine

ARTHUR:
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This final profile concludes our coverage of the Ducks' 2009 Entry Draft Class.

The Ducks certainly journeyed out of North America this year, and for the first time in 8 years, refrained from selecting a player from The Q. They took a chance at virtually every stage of the Draft, and could just as likely end up with four to five NHLers as they could zero.


Round 4 - 106th Overall

Sami Vatanen D
According to The OC Register, Martin Madden called Vatanen a "home-run or a strike-out type of pick" due to the rearguard's diminutive stature. And at 5'9" 160 lbs, he isn't kidding.

Like Bobkov, whom the Ducks picked before him, Vatanen made an impression at the IIHF U18 World Championships. As the captain of Team Finland, he registered 5 points (0 G) in a six-game march to a Bronze Medal. The pint-sized blueliner finished with a +6 rating, but that number is slightly skewed by a +5 nothced in a 7-0 rout of Slovakia during the Preliminary Round.

It was the young Finn's performance in the Bronze Medal game, however, that left most scouts gushing his praises. Down 4-3 to Canada in the 3rd, Vatanen showcased his playmaking and power play quarterbacking ability, as Finland went 2 for 3 with the man-advantage in the final frame. Vatanen assisted both goals.

Upside?
-Size is his ONLY issue. A skillful passer, skater and playmaker, if he were a few inches taller, he might have gone in the 2nd Round.

-Room to Grow. At the Combine Fitness Testing, Vatanen was the Top Performer on the Wingate. He also did the most curl-ups. Clearly gifted physically, Vatanen still has room to get beefier, if not taller.

Downside?
-The Ducks took a chance on a pint-sized power play quarterback with Marc-Andre Bergeron. Assuming Carlyle is still coach when Vatanen gets a shot at the NHL (which is no small assumption), it may be hard for him to play effectively in his own zone.


Round 5 - 136th Overall

Radoslav Illo C
A center for the USHL's Tri-City Storm, Illo was sidelined by a shoulder injury at the beginning of the season. He came back to score 33 points (21 G), including 8 power play goals and 3 power play assists. He finished the season 2nd in shooting percentage amongst his fellow Storm.

Martin Madden broke down the pick for J.P. Hoornstra, saying of Illo, "He's an outstanding skater with great shot. He's not a physical player, he's a skilled player who goes to the hard areas."

Upside?
-Potential Steal. He was injured early in the scouting cycle, and if his late performance is indicative of his abilities, the Ducks will have a steal on their hands.

Downside?
-Raw Talent. Illo played a short season on a bad team in a league that doesn't get much respect for its level of competition. He may bust at the next level.


Round 6 - 166th Overall

Scott Valentine D
Valentine was the defenseman involved in the multi-player deal that sent John Tavares to the Knights. For London, the 6'2" 195 lb blueliner battled for ice time, producing 0 points and 20 PIM in 17 games. He took on a bigger role with Oshawa, and managed a goal and 8 assists in 26 games for the Generals. He plays an aggressive game, and has the skating ability and physical presence to back it up.

Upside?
-Promotion to General. If this season is any indication, Valentine will flourish even further with the playing time he gets in Oshawa. He'll play in all situations, and get a chance to develop every part of his game.

Downside?
-None. Valentine is a great value in the 6th Round. He may not develop offense, but how many 6th Round defenseman will? He may not make the NHL, but how many 6th Round defenseman will?



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