The Toronto Maple Leafs traded an unsigned unnamed draft choice to the Chicago Blackhawks for the 43rd overall choice and selected Brad Ross, a left winger from the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. What does an unsigned unnamed draft pick mean? That Brian Burke could not reach him but wanted to let him know that he was being traded. That's a classy move. Update: As we rumoured, the pick is Jimmy Hayes who is at Boston College (BC SUCKS!) and will be joining his brother Kevin in the Blackhawks' system.
John Fischer of In Lou We Trust has a pretty good profile of him. Highlights after the jump but first, a video!
The quick comparables were Matt Cooke, Sean Avery, and Steve Ott. He certainly seems to fit in the truculent mold of players that Burke has drafted of late as well as being quick on the ice. It was not Kirill Kabanov as we had hoped but Burke clearly identified an opportunity to upgrade one of his prospects. Ross put up almost a point a game during his 17 year old season so there is still a lot of offensive potential for him especially if his more highly touted linemates make the jump to the NHL.
He was selected around where he was projected which is always good to see:
NHL Central Scouting: 59
International Scouting Services: 35
The Hockey News: 42
All in all, having just read these reports and watched the video this is certainly an interesting pick. There was a chance to really roll the dice but the Leafs picked a guy that seems like a good bet to contribute at the NHL level. Hopefully Wrap will be able to make it out to some Portland games next year to let us know how he's getting along!
NHL Central Scouting’s B.J. MacDonald
"He's responsible at both ends of the rink, very good hustle, and he blends feistiness with good hockey skills. He has the discipline and smarts of not putting his team in penalty problems. He plays bigger than his size and shows good discipline at this early age, so he should be able to continue and have success at the next level. I like his tenacity and positional play I think he is a better all-round hockey player than people give him credit for."
Ross has continued to excel throughout the season, cementing his status as a fan favourite. He’s one of the more physical players in the draft and is willing to drop the gloves whenever he has to as well. His offensive play is pretty good considering his age and the type of style he plays with, which makes him a pretty valuable prospect. He could be a player that reaches the end of the first round if a team really falls in love with his style of game.
Michael Remmerde - NHL Draft Notes
Summary: The hands coming around really help his status as a prospect and give him some more role possibilities (2nd or 3rd line, rather than just 4th line). But there is a little bit of concern about how such an intense personality will handle himself off the ice. But he's got so many ingredients that should play well in the NHL. Don't quite like this guy as much as my boss does (he's in the 1st round in the Red Line Draft Guide), but I still think he's a solid pick in the 30-40 range.
Draft Day: I don't think he goes in the first, but you never know. Probably a safe bet to go somewhere in the 2nd.
Ross brings energy and grit to the mix, which sometimes makes it easy for his offensive prowess to be overlooked. An in-your-face forward, his presence helps create open ice for his ultra-skilled linemates. NHL scouts recognize Ross’s contribution to the overall success of the forward unit, alluding to his combination of 20-plus goals and 200-plus penalty minutes. He thrives in the role and should continue to frustrate opponents.