From ESPN Insider.
The biggest prospect in the 2011 entry draft, Jamieson Oleksiak, is arguably the most intriguing.
This guy is 6-foot-7 (maybe 6-foot-8), north of 240 pounds, and plays defense at Northeastern; where he lands and when he goes in the draft will be interesting because it might indicate a trend in the league -- are teams going to put a greater premium on extreme height in propects? Think about Zdeno Chara or Tyler Myers in this regard.
Usually the word "raw" is attached and a long, gradual development curve is presumed when you're talking about guys this tall; Chara and Meyers debunked that, but it's still the prevailing notion.
In one junior season after leaving Europe, Chara was unpolished on D -- but a force without the puck. Myers' improvement was even more dramatic; he struggled at the world juniors in Jan '09 but four months later he might have been the best D in major junior, leading Kelowna to the Memorial Cup final.
So where does that leave us on Oleksiak?
He's more comparable in stature to Chara -- both at 18 were tall and thick; but for reasons of hockey background Oleksiak is better compared to Myers. Both grew up with the North American game and both played for the US at the Ivan Hlinka summer tournament. (Myers ended up playing U20 for Canada and Oleksiak would seem to be eligible to do the same with Toronto as his listed birthplace.)
Here's one scout with two recent viewings of Oleksiak:
"The key questions you have to make for a player like this are: Can he turn? How does he handle speed? At this stage Oleksiak is probably a little behind where Myers was on that count -- Myers was painfully skinny but he was a good if not fluid skayer -- but Oleksiak isn't that far behind. Myers will probably have an advantage in the north-south speed but that's not the big part of this evaluation. This kid will be a first-rounder and Myers's success will help him. How much? If you said the second ten (of the draft) you'd have a good chance of him being in that range."
If he's not Myers, can Oleksiak be Hal Gill? Gill was effective in the NHL pre-lockout with the new rules/enforcement on obstruction. But after a couple of rough season Gill figured out how to adapt; in body type and skills set Gill might be a better role model for Oleksiak than Myers.
The aforementioned scout said that Oleksiak made a good choice in going to Northeastern:
"A player with that sort of frame needs to build strength and fill out. It's hard for major junior kids to do the gym work in season but college kids can with just games on weekends. The Northeastern program is good for getting kids to the gym year-round. You can see that (Oleksiak) has made real progress from one year (in the USHL) to the next (as a freshman) on conditioning."
Oleksiak is, by height and physical maturity, a different case -- and someone who passed over Myers might not want to make the same mistake again. If there's anything hurting him, it's the notion that a second-pairing defender -- which might be his upside -- can be found on the cheap in free agency and shouldn't be a high first-round guy. Regardless, though, his stock is certainly trending up.