I've decided to do something different with the title, as well as with the subject of today's profile. Every profile that I have done so far - Kenny Agostino, Petr Straka, Beau Bennett, Ryan Spooner, and Charlie Coyle - have all been forwards. Why not a defenseman? Why not the son of former NHL defenseman, Jeff Beukeboom? Why not Brock Beukeboom?
Brock Beukeboom - D - 6'1" 202 lbs. - CSS Rank: 41 - Hometown: Uxbridge, Ontario (Source: NHL.com)
2009-10 Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - 66 GP - 7 G - 19 A - 26 Pts. - 64 PIM
Brock Beukeboom is ranked to go in the second round, but who knows how far he is up on the Devils' own chart? Before you write in the comments about how you don't want another defenseman, you should consider that a good number of the Devils' defensive prospects aren't going to be prospects for much longer, like Mark Fraser, Anssi Salmela, Tyler Eckford, and Matt Corrente. They're young, but they'll soon be at least 4 years from their draft date. Adding another defender to the system couldn't hurt. Let's find out more about Buekeboom after the jump.Let's begin with the NHL.com profile, where there is an incredible piece of information.
Beukeboom played his minor hockey for the Uxbridge Stars and the Central Ontario Wolves. It was while he was playing for the Wolves and under the coaching tutelage of his father that he moved from wing to defense -- his first OHL season was his first full season on defense.
There are two ways of looking at this.
1) This explains why he's not ranked to go high at all. Beukeboom is still relatively new to the position. As if it's difficult enough to project how a player will perform in a few years, now one has to consider that he's still learning his role. A role that relies heavily on positioning, timing, and decision making and requires a lot of experience to begin with.
“Brock has made strides in his second season with our hockey club. He has developed into a solid two-way player who contributes, and logs a lot of ice time as part of playing in all key situations (5-on-5, 4-on-4 etc.). He possesses a skating ability that allows him to skate himself out of trouble with ease. Offensively he has the ability to jump up in the play, support it and create odd man rushes. Passes the puck extremely well and has a very hard shot from the point. Has the ability to shut down the top players in the OHL. He has a great attitude and works hard both on and off the ice. He will be a future leader.”
Central Scouting Services' Chris Edwards praises him similarly, and it may help why his rank shot up from 63 at midterm to 41. The bloodlines may not hurt. Jeff Beukeboom was never a top defenseman, but he did play 804 NHL games and he was very mean and very physical. This article in the Windsor Star, written by Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, notes the family connection while highlighting what makes Brock different. Here's a choice bit from the article, including a rather telling quote from Brock:
Brock, who is a much better skater than his dad and can really hammer the puck, stands just over six feet and weighs 205 pounds. He likes to get involved like Jeff did, which is definitely what the Oilers could use. They have a lot of puck-moving types on the back-end.
"If I don't play physical every game I'm going to be an average player, at best," admitted Brock, a candidate for Canada's under-20 world junior team after two trips with the under-18 squad.
The references to his father continue in this video from NHL.com about Brock. In it, Central Scouting's director E.J. McGuire believes that he picked up some of those physical tendencies from his dad and that will help him get into the NHL some day. Should that hold true, then Brock would do well to make sure he'll play physical every night without a second thought.
It's true that Brock Beukeboom does have a hard shot. He won the hardest shot competition at the CHL Top Prospects skills competition, per this short report from Durham Region (including a cute quote from Brock). That he can skate well falls in line with what his coach said about Brock. So why isn't he ranked any higher?
For starters, let's consider the last part of that bit I quotes - Brock Beukeboom represented Canada at the U-18 level at both the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and the 2010 World U-18 championships. The Hlinka tournament went well for Canada as they won it. Beukeboom put up a goal, an assist, and two minor penalties in 4 games.
The World U-18s went completely awry for Canada, as they fell to the relegation round and survived by winning both games. Beukeboom got an assist and a minor penalty, but here's the concerning stat: he only played 4 games. Canada played 6 games in that tournament. Beukeboom was not on the roster for either of the two games in the relegation round. Either he was injured or he got scratched; and if it's the latter, that is a very bad sign. It's one thing to be part of a poor team, but to be scratched in the middle of the tournament suggests to me that the player was a reason the team was poor. I didn't see either tournament, so I could be dead wrong - and for Brock's sake, I hope I am.
If he's still in Canada's plans for the WJCs, then perhaps it's just a bump in the road in terms of his international career. Still, I can't imagine that his draft stock wouldn't have been higher with a better performance at the World U-18s (something that can be said for the entire Canadian team, though). Some other profiles on Brock's game highlight other issues that help explain why he's ranked as a mid-second round pick as opposed to an early one. First, there's this profile from Alex Tran at Maple Leafs Hot Stove. Do read the whole thing as it sums up Brock Beukeboom into strengths and weaknesses. The strengths fall in line with earlier quotes in this post, so here are the weaknesses.
Weaknesses: The knock on Beukeboom is his lack of high end hockey sense and that he’s prone to the occasional mental errors, often resulting in turnovers or blown defensive coverage. You like to see a kid experimenting out there on the ice and taking the odd risk with the puck, but there is evidence that there is still quite a bit of development time in Brock’s immediate future. The defensive positioning is average at this point, and like most junior defensemen, he needs to continue to exert himself physically on a regular basis.
When I read this, I can't help but think back to that part of Brock's scouting profile at NHL.com that states that his first full season as a defenseman happened when he went to the OHL. The lack of hockey sense, the mental errors, and the positioning could all very well be the result of a lack of experience. More experience may see Brock improve in those areas. Given Brock's own statement on needing to be more physical, I'm just going to hope he'll follow his words in coming seasons. That all said, I do agree with Tran's overall conclusion that he'll be selected well before the third round.
Beukeboom exploded out of the gates this season before cooling down and now settling in as a projected late second round pick. He’s got a lot of good skills, but has struggled to find an identity in his game. When he uses his size and physicality more, he’s a lot more effective as a reliable two-way defenseman who can chip in offensively as well.
On the one hand, I'm heartened that Brock's own short statement about his game is validated by outside observers. On the other hand, am I to interpret that when Brock isn't being physical, he's not at all effective? Is physical play really the major key or is it a sign that he needs to develop different ways to get involved in a game?
Given that Beukeboom played in the OHL, Ryan Yessie and Brock Otten of OHL Prospects have ranked him accordingly. (As an aside, I didn't see Otten's ranking for Spooner, but if you must know, Otten likes Spooner.) Both figured him at about the same spot in their ranking of the top 50 OHL prospects for the upcoming draft. Otten ranked Beukeboom 15th and wrote this short summary of him:
Bloodlines are important for the NHL draft, and Beukeboom surely has strong ones thanks to his father, former Oiler and Ranger Jeff Beukeboom. Brock doesn't quite have his father's size, nor is he as mean, but there are similarities. In the first part of the season, Beukeboom was playing very well at both ends of the ice and was being mentioned as a possible late first rounder. But he became wildly inconsistent in the second half. At times he looks like a strong two way defenseman who takes the body, can handle forwards off the rush and make a good first pass. But at other times he struggles to find his positioning (especially against quicker forwards) and looks unsure of whether he should try to use the body or make the safer stick check. Maybe we're looking at a defenseman who's trying to live in the shadow of his father (one of the meanest defenseman of the last twenty years) and isn't comfortable playing that type of game? I like the potential and I think Beukeboom develops into a quality NHL defender, but I've liked his teammate Brandon Archibald better all season long.
Scouting Report: Beukeboom is a physically intimidating opponent, who is smart positionally. Beukeboom has the ability to deliver punishing checks, without sacrificing position to do so. Beukeboom’s game seems designed around protecting his own net, and he does so well. He has some limited offensive potential, but Beukeboom’s gift lies in his already capable positional play combined with the fact he can potentially grow to 6’3” - 215 lbs. Beukeboom could afford to improve his skating, however like Silas two spots ahead, Beukeboom will likely be a lower end top 4 defenceman on an NHL blue line.
Both summaries provide two different looks at Beukeboom. Otten saw an inconsistent defenseman. Yessie saw a defenseman who was good in his own zone, but not so good with his skating and doesn't come with much offensive potential. Yet, both feel he'll develop into a NHL defenseman.
There are three consistent points that I can say between all of these reports and quotes and profiles and so forth. First, Beukeboom needs to play physical hockey more consistently. He says it himself and observers seem to agree. Second, Beukeboom needs more experience - I leave it to you to determine whether it's to make him more consistent or to improve a defensive game that is still improving. He is a prospect, after all, and it can only serve to help him. Third, it seems that not many are doubting that he'll make it into the NHL. Part of that may be because his dad had a long NHL career and he didn't have some of Brock's skills. Part of that may be because that while Brock is raw, if he can be a more physical player - and again, that's teachable - then it will go a long way to having him compete for some role in the league. His upside isn't all that high, but he's not a boom-or-bust prospect either.
So should the Devils look for him at 38th overall? Maybe? There may be big defensemen in the system, but perhaps not as many physical defensemen. If the scouts agree with some of these other profiles and quotes, they could see Beukeboom as a safe pick and that wouldn't be too bad. At the same time, his inexperience at the position combined with his poor World U-18 showing and seemingly low upside (second pairing defenseman?) may make him a reach at 38th overall. I can't help but feel that if the Devils didn't swap second round picks with Atlanta and were lower, then I'd be more satisfied with the idea of picking Beukeboom.
That's my take, but now it's your turn. Have you seen Brock Beukeboom play and can confirm or deny what others have said about him? Is there any additional insight you can add to what Beukeboom could become in the future? Do you think he would be a good pick for the Devils? Was there anything I missed? Please let me know in the comments.