Anaheim calling to the hockey world...
This is a follow up to my Penalty Kill profile on John Moore. If you read this post, where I admitted that I tend to agree with Bryan Murray on Draft day, then you were probably scratching your head when I weighed the Ducks' blueline options this summer, and came up with Moore-- making NO mention of the top secret European player that the Senators GM told USA Today was "not as ready" but "could be better than Hedman."
I'm willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that Murray is talking about Swedish defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. I'm guessing Larsson because a scout alerted Murray to this mystery player's existence, and I think it was the same scout who came back from Sweden last year insisting the Senators pick up Karlsson in the first round. Also, the buzz on Ekman-Larsson is mammoth, especially after his strong tournament play. As of April, he is now officially projected as a top ten player in the ISS Rankings.
Does that mean I'm going to recant my declaration of Moore as the 3rd best blueliner? Hell no. First of all, I don't live and die by the ISS Rankings. Ekman-Larsson went from 28th to 9th in a matter of weeks, and I refuse to believe the U18 Canada-Sweden game proved he'd addressed everything they were worried about in February. Central Scouting is high on him, too, placing him as the 2nd best International defenseman, but Central Scouting is also down on Cowen, meaning that as far as they're concerned Moore is still the 3rd best defenseman overall.
In Ekman-Larsson's defense: I don't read Swedish, I'm skeptical of any player whom I can't follow from scouting report to scouting report and I refuse to believe everything I read on the Hockey's Future message boards. But he's got tremendous promise, and I feel about him now the way I did in February-- he's all potential, and teams will either see that as a project or a perfect fit, meaning he'll either go in the top 10 or the last 10 of the first round.
I stand by Moore because he's a good pick if the Ducks are around 15th, and because he fits the mold of Anaheim's recent first-round blueliners: Mitera (2006) and Gardiner (2008)-- both strong skaters in, or committed to, college programs.
Tune in next Penalty Kill when I take a look at the Top Sixers I think Anaheim should consider.