What does a team look for in the middle of the NHL Entry Draft? Is it where teams look to re-stock a particular position or type of player in their system? Is it where teams begin to take chances on prospects who have longer shots than others to hit their potential, which may be quite high? Is it where teams decide on a prospect who may be "raw" but could turn out quite nicely? Is it where "safer" prospects get selected with the intent of providing depth at the NHL level in the future? Is it still "best player available" regardless? I think these are all justifiable mindsets for a third to fifth round draft pick, and I'm sure every team has used them before.
Today's prospect profile looks at defenseman Troy Vance of Victoriaville. He's being slapped with the "sleeper" in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Someone who isn't ranked highly and will go in the middle of the draft, but could turn out to be a good prospect in a few years. Depending how a team looks at the middle of the draft in conjunction with their own reports on Vance will determine who ultimately gets him. Let's learn more about Vance after the jump.
Who is Troy Vance?
Troy Vance isn't big, he's huge. His prospect page at NHL.com has him at 6'6" and 200 pounds. Eliteprospects has him at 6'5" and 203 pounds. I don't think the difference is all that important, you'll clearly know where he is on the ice. In any case, Vance is also quite young. Since he was born on August 2, 1993; Vance is one of the younger draft eligible prospects in 2011. He's not even 18 yet, so if you like what he does now, then perhaps he can do even more later.
Vance has had a few changes in scenery in his 2010-11 season. While he ended the season as a member of the Victoriaville Tigres in the QMJHL, he wasn't in any Canadian major junior league to start the season. He stayed local and played in the Eastern Junior Hockey League with Philadelphia. As a defenseman for both junior teams, he didn't rack up loads of points per Eliteprospects; but that may not be his style of game anyway.
You don't get a lot of notice playing in the EJHL; so the move to the 'Q' was a good one if only to get more attention. It seemed to have worked. Central Scouting Services has upped his ranking from 187 to 149 among North American skaters; and the following people made a point of it to have an opinion on Vance.
What Have Experts Said about Troy Vance?
Let's start with this short take by Dan Sallows, who looked at Vance as he transitioned into the QMJHL.
All signs point to 6-foot-5, 203-pound defenseman Troy Vance being a dark horse blue-chip prospect in the upcoming 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
The Colossus American is a good skater with tremendous vision and hockey IQ, has a nice shot, gets engaged physically when he needs to, and although he sees himself as more of an offensive blueliner, he is more than capable of being responsible in his own end. Vance has sured up a Victoriaville back end that had been tumultuous to start the season.
This basically sums up why Vance has gotten plenty of attention. He came into a higher league, apparently helped out his team's defense, and has good traits to go with his massive frame.
Over at The Hockey Spy, Vance made Eldon MacDonald's Top 120 prospect list at #99. MacDonald has this short profile on Vance, which specified who encouraged him to jump from the EJHL to the QMJHL last season. Here's the important bit:
While Troy thinks of himself as an offensive defenseman, it is his defense that really paid dividends for Les Tigres as they made it to the 2nd round of the QMJHL playoffs after some serious struggles on the blueline earlier in the year. In addition to his monster mash and his defense, Troy has a nice shot, is a good skater and has good hockey sense. I have him as a 4th rounder but I think if NHL scouts take one look at that "monster mash" he could easily be a 3rd.
The 6’5 monster masher otherwise known as Troy Vance almost escaped the NHL draft this year playing in the EJHL but Alex LePore, a scout for the Dallas Stars, recommended the Pennsylvanian to the Victoriaville Tigres halfway through the year and the other NHL scouts are glad he did.
What MacDonald has written matches up with Sallows' noting that Vance sees himself as an offensive defenseman. Well, the production didn't show it, but then again he was only 17 and playing in a Canadian junior league for the first time. Another year and playing the whole season with Victoriaville may have his offensive skills bear fruit. In any case, the rest is good for Vance: good skating, helped out a team that was struggling on the blueline, and has good sense.
Needless to say, Dallas has been keeping close tabs on the defenseman if they sought him out in the EJHL and recommended him to go to a bigger league. It's because of this switch that Vance has received some attention. I'm sure Vance, Victoriaville, and the team who drafts him thanks you, Mr. Alex LePore, for your recommendation.
Speaking of attention, Vance has received praise from Red Line Report's Kyle Woodlief in this recent USA Today article. The article is about the top ten defensemen available in the 2011 NHL Entry draft, but Vance is specifically mentioned as one of two potential "sleepers."
Vance started the season playing very well for the Philadelphia Revolution in the Eastern Junior Hockey League, but transitioned to Victoriaville in the Quebec League in January to gain more exposure to NHL scouts in his draft year. It proved to be a good decision as he quickly put himself on the prospect map by showing excellent footwork and mobility for a gangly 6-5 kid who is one of the youngest players available in this year's draft. He had just begun to scratch the surface of his potential in the EJHL, then blossomed late in the QMJHL season and playoffs. He shows outstanding patience and poise handling the puck, always skating with his head up looking to make plays and usually making very good decisions in puck movement.
Woodlief's blurb hits on many of the same points why he's risen up through the ranks. Vance has displayed that he is a good skater, he has good vision, and he has good traits that you would want in a defenseman like decision making, patience, and poise. Plus, he's grown as a player as he entered the tougher QMJHL, which is always a positive. It doesn't mention much about his offense, but it is a short take all the same.
Lastly, the Man Who Knows Things And Now has a Stanley Cup Victory by His Favorite Team to Celebrate, Kirk Luedeke, would agree with the "sleeper" label. He's assigned it to Vance in two posts at Bruins 2011, though he wasn't as gushing with praise as with these other takes. Here's the first, which came after the QMJHL regular season ended.
Troy Vance, D Victoriaville-American defender is 6-5, 205 and kind of came out of nowhere after starting the season in Rouyn-Noranda. He's a big hitter, meat-and-potatoes type who will drop the gloves. From what we've seen, he reminds us a lot of Bruins rookie Adam McQuaid, but with a little better mobility than Quaider at the same stage of his junior career.
Troy Vance, D Victoriaville (QMJHL)- Gigantic 6-6 defenseman joined les Tigres at mid-season and was a revelation as a hard-nosed shutdown defender with some decent mobility and better skills than his statistics might indicate. The New York native who grew up in Pennsylvania needs to improve his footwork and get a little stronger on his skates, but he has some potential as a sleeper and poor man's Jamie Oleksiak at least. His size can't be taught, and while extremely raw, has the kind of projectable tools NHL clubs are willing to take a chance on.
I appreciate how Luedeke came right out and state he's a shutdown defenseman, as I got that sense from reading the earlier opinions on him in this post. These two takes explain why that while he may be a "sleeper," he probably won't be picked earlier than the third round. Luedeke notes his skating could be better and his overall game needs help. This isn't heavy criticism; after all, Vance is a 17-year old who stepped into the 'Q' midseason. He's not fully developed yet.
A Little Video
Boom, went the dynamite.
An Opinion of Sorts
I have an open question: If several people call someone a "sleeper," then are they really a sleeper? I don't think anyone is sleeping on Vance if he's received this much notice and if a NHL scout encouraged him to make a move to a tougher league - which is a big reason why he has received this much notice. Then again, my definition of "sleeper" is different from Woodlief's - maybe that's the one others are using.
Regardless, there's plenty to like about Troy Vance. He's massive, he came into a major junior league and helped out his team at the young age of 17, and he has received good marks for his skating, vision, and decision making. I really don't get the notion that he thinks of himself as an offensive defenseman. He'll have time to work on that and, just as importantly, demonstrate that in a full QMJHL season in 2011-12. While it's great that he came in and contributed for Victoriaville right away, how he'll do over 72 games will be a better for his development and as a measuring stick of how he is as a player. As Luedeke indicated, there's plenty for him to work on, which should be of no surprise since A) he's a prospect and B) he's a rather young prospect.
Should the New Jersey Devils take him? I like him as a prospect and Devils will let him develop at his own pace. However, the decision does go back to what I was saying before the jump. It depends on what approach they are looking at the third through fifth rounds. I think the fourth round may be the most appropriate to take him if they are interested in Vance and he's available at 99th overall. I would like such a selection. Besides, I don't think he'll slip all the way down to the fifth round, but taking him 75th overall may be too much of a reach.
Now that you've read what is out there about Troy Vance, I want to know what you think. What do you make of what others have said about Vance's game? Are you as impressed as I was to read that he jumped from the EJHL to the 'Q' and helped out his team right away? Are you as similarly impressed with that hit video? Would you mind if he was selected in the fourth round by the? Or do you think they should pass on him there and hope he slides? Maybe you want him earlier than that. Lastly, did you see Vance play in the QMJHL or EJHL; or know of any other good reports on him? If so, then please share them in the comments along with other thoughts on Troy Vance. Thanks for reading.