Getting to Know Devils Prospect Corbin McPherson. A Q&A with Colgate Radio Play-By-Play Announcer John McGraw

In the 2007 NHL draft the New Jersey Devils drafted Corbin McPherson in the 3rd round (87th overall). Back then and even now, his talents remain a mystery to most Devils fans. McPherson who was unranked by Central Scouting Services going into the 2007 draft  must have shown the Devils organization something that led them to believe he was worthy of a 3rd round pick. With that pick the Devils passed on defenseman like Cade Fairchild (St. Louis Blues), Alec Martinez (Los Angeles Kings), Justin Falk (Minnesota Wild), and Keith Aulie (Calgary Flames, later traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs) who are all well regarded in their organizations.. If the Devils scouting staff believe McPherson is better than those players selected after him, some of whom have already played at the NHL level, the organization could have another solid defensive prospect available to them.

To get a better idea on what type of player McPherson is and also ask a few questions about current Albany Devil David McIntyre I reached out to Colgate radio play-by-play announcer John McGraw who broadcasts the Colgate games on 93.9 FM WXKZ.    You can follow John on Twitter by going here as that will get you updates on all the Colgate Red Raiders hockey action.  John also contributes to a blog that that focuses on Colgate hockey  Go Gate Hockey.  The Twitter feed for the site GoGateHockey is located here .

It's one thing to read scouting reports about players, but it is another thing to get information from a source who has seen him play every day for the last few years.  Special thanks to John McGraw for helping me out here. Check out what John had to say about McPherson and McIntyre after the jump!

 

 Tom:  John, Help me with something. I have read on Hockey's Future   that McPherson has 'puck moving abilities, smooth skating and other attributes'. I am not beholden to points defining ability but on a team that has Austin Smith (Dallas Stars Prospect) and had David McIntyre I would think he would get points, even if by accident, what am I missing?

John:  Statistics-wise, Corbin isn't a player that will jump off the page at you. Through 10 games this season, he has a 2-4-6 line and that is just two points shy of his career high of eight last year. He is also leading the team among blue-liners in overall points. That said, Corbin has displayed much more of an offensive flair this season and he's been more willing to jump into the play whereas in the past he was more of a stay-at-home type defensemen. I've been really impressed with how his offensive game has progressed this year. Earlier this season, he had a two-goal game against Sacred Heart. The second goal was mostly a goal-scorers goal when he skated into the high slot from the circles and ripped a rising wrist shot into the back of the net through light traffic. He has definitely started to develop the offensive side of his game this year.

Tom: Describe his role on the Raiders.  Which defensive pairing is he most likely to be on/what is his ice time like?  Does he log minutes on special teams?

John: I would say right now that his role is that of a defensive-minded defenseman. The scoring numbers this season have been a definite boost but he is still looked upon I think more as a stopper. He has played with a couple of different partners and has yet to miss a game this season. In fact, Corbin's missed just one in almost two and a half years. He is the biggest player on the team at 6-foot-4 and he uses his size well to win battles along the boards and create space in the defensive zone. The skating ability mentioned above has been shown occasionally when he starts up the play - something new this year. Special teams wise he has seen sparse time on the power play though he will come out and kill penalties. So, he won't play an entirety of heavy minutes but does log a considerable amount of time with just seven defensemen on the team.

Tom:  What were Colgate's expectations for him when he arrived for the 2008-2009 season and has he met those expectations in the 2+ years he has been with the Raiders?

John: I'm not necessarily sure what the coaching staff's expectations were for him coming in though looking at his frame, one would suspect that they wanted a big and physical presence back on the blue line but someone that could also skate. During Corbin's first season, he was on a team with a strong senior class on the blue line so while he did play every game, he didn't need to do too much right away. The biggest thing that I have noticed is that he has really evolved over his time in Hamilton and has become a much more well-rounded player. He has also really cut down on his penalty minutes - among the team leaders with 50 as a freshman to 20 last season and right now six minutes through 10 games. So has he met expectations? I think so for now but he still has the opportunity to grow over the next year and a half before the Devils get him.

Tom: One of his major attributes is his size.  You can't teach size and at 6'4, 210 pounds he has the size that most NHL teams are looking for on their blue line.  Does he use his size well and is a physical force for the defense?

John: He's a big and tall kid and the biggest guy on the team. His size is most apparent along the boards and in the corners where he can box out well to use a basketball term. The long wingspan with his height helps him dig the puck free from multiple-player scrums. He's physical yes but not in an overwhelming sense of throwing the body all over the place and laying players out. It's more of a finesse physical style of shouldering someone off the puck in the defensive zone or cutting down an angle and using the body to just physically take the puck without throwing a massive check. He does have a bit of an edge that comes out from time to time but he has been able to harness it more as he's gotten older.

Tom: Which of his defensive abilities do you feel he has developed the most while at Colgate?

John: For me, the biggest thing is cutting down on his penalty minutes by moving his feet in the defensive zone and knowing when to come in with the body. At 6-foot-4 and playing against guys that sometimes are a lot smaller, you have to pick your spots. Even against larger players, the same notion applies because referees will notice it more when you plow into someone. And his adjustment to the speed of the game is helped, he's not late with massive body checks and guilty of holding and interference but instead in the correct place to throw a quick shoulder or muscle the puck away from someone. And he still has time to develop that working with a group of defensemen that will be almost intact again next year - just one of seven players graduate.

Tom: According to a interview a few years ago he described himself as a 'a mobile, puck-moving defenseman, and lists Anaheim Ducks defenseman Chris Pronger as his favorite NHL player and the one that he patterns his own game after.'

Assuming he doesn't partake in puck theft, do you see any comparison there?

John: Mmm, yeah, I can see the comparison. I think now more so than say when he was a freshman because his game offensively has developed more and he looks like a different player in the offensive zone. Corbin is definitely becoming a solid two-way threat and he certainly has the size right now to be in that type of a Pronger mold. The nastiness isn't quite there but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.    

Tom: Now for a few questions on McIntyre.

I had wrote up an extensive profile on McIntyre a few months ago and was really excited about the fact that the Devils acquired him for a 3rd pairing defenseman.  After his junior season there was a lot of hype surrounding McIntyre and while his senior season was solid it wasn't comparable to his junior year.  What was the difference in his play?  Was the defense more cognizant of his whereabouts on the ice?

John: David had such a tremendous junior season and was such a really on a team that really lacked a great overall scoring punch. The problem was, that as a senior, teams were very aware of where he was on the ice and certainly keyed on him with constant clutching and grabbing, sticks in the side and double teams. The upside of that was that it forced other players on the team to step up in their scoring and David didn't necessarily have to carry the load every night. So times when maybe the season before he would have put the puck on net, last season he was more of a creator and help set up New York Islanders prospect Brian Day and Dallas Stars draft pick Austin Smith for countless goals. Each ended up with a tremendous goal-scoring season while David's assists were higher than in 2008-2009. Though, when he was able to break free and find himself in the open ice or at least with space in the offensive zone, McIntyre was just as dynamic as the year before.

That all said, the biggest difference in David's game as he got older was his defensive ability and his back-checking. He really evolved into a great two-play player over his final two seasons and showed a lot of defensive responsibility.

Tom: McIntyre is always listed as a center but I noticed through looking at statistics that he took less and less faceoffs as his college career progressed.   Was he primarily a winger towards the end of his time at Colgate?

John: No, he was a center throughout last year to most of my recollection. Just looking back the box scores from last year, he was listed at center for pretty much every game.

I want to thank John again for taking the time to answer my questions, as he gave us a very insightful take on McPherson.  McPherson adds solid depth to the Devils defensive prospects who all seem to have similar attributes like good skating ability and size.  Ideally McPherson can hone the offensive side of his game a bit more at Colgate before he is ready to join the Devils organization. 

Thoughts on McPherson?  Thanks for reading and sound off below!

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