Devils at the 2009 NHL Draft: A Landon Ferraro Overview

Now, Landon Ferraro is a bit of an odd duck here.  Depending on what you read on him, he's a possible 18-25ish overall selection, at least per the mock drafts at Hockey's Future and Heated Skates; as well as by Central Scouting Services, who puts him 18th overall among North American skaters.  Yet the mock drafts at NHL.com by Adam Kimelman, Brad Holland, and Shawn Roarke; as well as a mock draft by Ryan Kennedy at The Hockey News, all don't even have Ferraro going in the first round.  Questions certainly abound regarding the subject of today's overview: Landon Ferraro.

Landon Ferraro - Center - 6'0" - 170 lbs. - Hometown: Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
2008-09 Team: Red Deer Rebels -  68 GP - 37 G - 18 A - 55 PTS - 99 PIM (source)

While Tim Erixon has a hockey connection through his dad, Jan; Landon Ferraro can boast two such connections.  Landon is the son of WHL legend and former NHLer Ray Ferraro and his step-mom is Cammi Granato, one of the greatest women's players in recent memory.   NHL.com's article on Landon focuses on the family influence, which makes for a nice read.  

However, we're not interested in nice reads, we're interested in what others think of Landon Ferraro as a prospect.  Before we continue, I'd like to point out that Stanley Cup of Chowder and Matchsticks and Gasoline have already done profiles on Ferraro and I suggest checking those out.  We all may repeat the same things, but I hope to come from a different angle.

Oh, and but of course, there's already this highlight video on YouTube uploaded by a fellow going by the name C1N3M4.  It's called Landon Ferraro - Goal Scoring Machine.   I'll give you a hint, it's not an ironic title.  Do watch it, though.   More words and quotes after the jump.

First, here's what the scouting report says at NHL.com about Ferraro:

NHL Central Scouting’s Blair MacDonald
"He's very good defensively. He has very good defensive positioning; he's always on the right side of the puck. If there's a turnover he's in good position right away. And he comes back deep in his own zone to help. He's very strong defensively, as well as being an offensive threat."

Red Deer Rebels head coach Jesse Wallin
"Ferraro is the most highly-touted of the (Rebel’s prospects). He's got great natural ability, he's got tremendous speed and he's got that knack to score goals that you can't teach. He's got that innate ability to find the net that makes him a special player."

Now, I'm curious about Blair MacDonald's statement.  A player scored 37 goals on a really bad Red Deer team, and he notes how well he is on the other side of the puck.  I suppose that is to establish that he's not a one-dimensional player, which is definitely good news.  Ferraro's coach falls in line with most of what I read about Ferraro. After all, he scored more than plenty of goals in Red Deer despite how poor the team was overall - that's usually the sign of a goal scorer.  Plus, there's this video showing why he's a Goal Scoring Machine.

Before I continue, I should give some disclosure. You know who else was a Goal Scoring Machine?  Pierre Dagenais.  Who, you ask? Dagenais was drafted from Moncton in 1996 by New Jersey after putting up 43 goals and 25 assists in his rookie year as a Major Junior in the "Q."    He continued on putting up significant amounts of goals and points in the QMJHL and even in the AHL; but he never could crack the Devils roster as a regular.   My point? Just being able to score in copious amounts doesn't make someone into a sure-fire prospect.

However, Dagenais couldn't stick in the NHL namely because he was a poor and fairly slow skater.  Ferraro, on the other hand, is fast.  Real fast.  You can almost call him ludicriously fast, as he won the fastest skater competition in the CHL Top Prospects game with a lap time of 14.009 seconds. 

Even Ferraro himself thinks his speed is one of his best assets.  Guy Flaming did a feature on Ferraro for Hockey's Future back in March, mainly focusing on his long road to Red Deer (he started getting into hockey in Georgia) and how his current season was going with Red Deer. As an aside: Flaming has the complete one-on-one audio interview with Ferraro at Coming Down the Pipe!. Flaming asked Ferraro what his best assets were and notice how one of them isn't his goal scoring ability:

"I’m a player that really uses his head and his speed," he described, "I’m not the biggest guy on the ice so to make sure that one - I don’t get killed, and two – I’m able to be effective on the ice I have to use my speed and go wide and use my head to get out of sticky situations and get the puck on other guy’s tape. I think I’m just a hard-working guy."

Well, he's certainly right that he has to use both.  Ferraro is a small player, generously listed at 6 feet by the WHL and generously weighing 170 by the WHL.   Yet, based on this mock draft at Total Pro Sports by Corey S, it seems that Ferraro is also "feisty" and "isn't afraid to get into the corners."     The mock draft at Heated Skates by J. Alexander and Brent Gregory agrees with Ferraro's assessment of being a "smart hockey player" and "extremely fast." Incidentally, Corey S compares him to Geoff Sanderson while Heated Skates sees him more like David Krejci, a comparison Stanley Cup of Chowder also made.

Yet, at this year's World U-18 tournament, Western College Hockey Blog came away from previewing the Canadian team with an entirely different comparison:

Landon Ferraro(13): You don't hear this in hockey as much as basketball or football, but Ferraro is what you'd call a tweener. He plays like a power forward, but is only listed at 5'11" 165 lbs. on Team Canada's roster(The WHL gives him an extra inch and 5 lbs.) Ferraro is tougher and stronger than his size would indicate, but he's got some serious builking up to do to play that way at the NHL level. The skating and skills are there though.

While I can certainly agree that he needs to bulk up, this causes me some concern.  Based on size alone, I don't think he can really pull off being a power forward.  Not a huge deal on it's own, as Zach Parise and Brian Gionta proved that you just need to be able to take the pain and keep going - not necessarily bringing the pain on your own.  But if he doesn't play like a power forward, could he keep scoring?   That he can skate real fast helps; but I wonder if the style of play lends himself to his finishing ability or whether it's separate on it's own.  I can't help but feel it'll make the difference as to whether he'll prosper or bust entirely.

Incidentally, at the World U-18 tournament, Ferraro seemingly did OK with 2 goals and 2 assists on 9 shots in 5 games.  However, I wonder why a scoring forward only had 9 shots on net?  According to Michael Remmerde of NHL Draft Notes, he cites that he "struggled" at this tournament.  (I couldn't find too many specifics?) That said, he has a fairly positive profile of Ferraro:

Strengths:Excellent shooting touch and can score from anywhere. Plays with a lot of grit.

Weaknesses:Could be a better skater for his size. Struggled on the big stages (Top Prospects Game, U-18 at Fargo).

Good pure scoring skills. Has a hard, accurate shot and can unload it on the move. Can create for himself, but sometimes it seems he doesn't quite click with linemates. Good but not great skater. Good stop-start quickness, okay speed and agility. Likes to play physical, but doesn't have the size to be effective. Smart away from the puck, and a decent PKer. Not much of a fighter, but in the handful of fights (4) he had this season, he went at it aggressively. Played a ton of minutes this season and was out on the ice in all key situations for the Rebels.

I'm a little confused about the statements that he has "okay speed."  While I haven't seen him play, that he skated an entire lap in a hair over 14 seconds should be proof that he has better than "okay" speed.  But if he feels he can be a better skater, than OK.  Remmerde rates Ferraro as a back end of the first round player, meaning he could very well be available at 23rd overall. It will all depend on whether the NHL scouts think he has the skills to continue scoring at higher levels while working on his overall game.

The Devils really don't have any "goal scoring machines" in the system as it were.  I mean, if Ferraro can continue to develop while maintaining his finishing skills, then the Devils could have a real "home run" on their hands.  When most people think of prospect needs, they think of position (e.g. goalie); but not necessarily in terms of type.  Based on all this, the impression that I get is that I could see Ferraro being selected at 23rd overall.  Yet, at the same time, I can see him be selected earlier or not even in the first round at all.

Have your say about Landon Ferraro in the comments below.  Perhaps there isn't as much to be concerned over? Maybe he would still prosper with a good team around him instead of a really bad team?  Or should the Devils look elsewhere for a prospect altogether and avoid the risk?  Leave your comments below.

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