Colin White. Hal Gill. Anton Volchenkov. Chris Phillips. Rob Scuderi. All those names should be familiar to you if you are an NHL fan. The players probably illicit the same sort of description from each fan: defensive defenseman or stay-at-home defenseman. These players are often overlooked if you're quickly judging a player's performance by statistics and can sometimes be appreciated only when you watch them every day or dive into advancted statistics to see which opposition players they were matched up against. They are not as flashy as puck-moving defensemen and often do the dirty work in the corners and in one-on-one battles.
This above paragraph is important to keep in mind when you are reading this In Lou We Trust prospect profile on 2011 NHL Draft Prospect Colin Suellentrop. His numbers may not jump off the page at you and talking about stay-at-home defensemen isn't necesssarilly that exciting, but they are necessary and important for a team to be successful. Let's learn more about what Suellentrop has to offer after the jump.
Colin Suellentrop Career Statistics:
Who Is Colin Suellentrop
Suellentrop is a 6'2", 192 pound right-handed shooting defenseman from Plantation, Florida. He currently plays in the Ontario Hockey League for the Oshawa Generals. Suellentrop was ranked 117th by Central Scouting when the mid-term rankings were released. He dropped to 140th in the final rankings.
Suellentrop started off in the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League for Detroit Compuware. He posted a total of 8 goals and 31 points in 61 games over two seasons in the league as a 14/15 year old. His play in the Elite League got him on the radar of the OHL, and Oshawa selected him in the 2009 OHL Entry Draft in the third round. At the time of the draft he was described by Oshawa GM Chris DePiero as "physical, but certainly just a steady eddy defenceman."
His rookie year in the OHL seems bad at first glance. Without many points generated and a plus/minus of -37, it looks like Suellentrop struggled. Keep in mind however that Oshawa was one of the worst teams in the OHL in 2009-2010, with a adjusted goal differential (taking power play goals for and against out of the equation) of -74. Plus/minus stats never look great for a defensive defensemen and Suellentrop's looked worse than most.
Despite some rookie growing pains, Suellentrop was one of the three CHL players invited to play for the US Select U-18 team in the summer of 2010 at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament helping the US to the silver medal.
His second season-while he didn't find the back of the net-seemed to be an improvement. With Oshawa a much improved team, Suellentrop tallied 14 assists on the year and was able to post a plus/minus of +21 on a team with an adjusted plus/minus ratio of +39.
Unfortunately stay-at-home defensemen don't generate a lot of interesting highlight videos. Therefore I bring you one of Suellentrop's fights this past year:
What Experts Have Said About Suellentrop
Before the 2010-2011 season, The Scouting Report opined on Suellentrop:
With a trio of highly touted forwards in Lucas Lessio, Boone Jenner and Nicklas Jensen up front, Suellentrop could be a promising defender on the backend for the rebuilding Generals. While last season was a struggle at times, Suellentrop did have stretches of strong play and handled a lot of minutes for a bad hockey team. He played for the United States at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, and with a year under his belt, the Generals will hope that Suellentrop can take a big leap forward in his game this year. He has good size and puck instincts, but he’ll need to be better positionally and display more polish in his transitional game this year.
Positional play can certainly be improved upon so that is not concerning. With good instincts and good size, two items that can't be as easily taught, it seems he was able to generate a lot of ice time for a bad team in Oshawa. Considering that The Scouting Report thought he had a solid season despite his team's shortcomings you have to toss out his subpar plus/minus and not factor that into an evaluation of his season. A stay-at-home defenseman on a bad team is never going to have great statistics.
There are a lot of quality defenseman available from the OHL this year, and Suellentrop is right in that mix. He was very good defensively on the night, and the Hounds just couldn't really get anything past him. With his size, above average skating ability, and physical willingness, I think he's definitely an NHL draft pick. The offensive game has improved as the season has gone on too, as he slowly increases his confidence in carrying the puck up ice and making good passes out of the zone (instead of chipping it out).
Key phrase for me in the above quote? Above average skating ability. A guy with good size that can skate well? That's possibly more than a stay-at-home defenseman and it's possible that Suellentrop can develop his offensive skills to be more of a two-way defenseman.
In their top 50 OHL Prospects for the 2011 Draft the OHL Prospect Blog (Suellentrop was ranked #50) noted his improvement this year and expected improvement next year:
Definitely a prospect who made great strides this year, after being thrust into a larger role on an improving team. He's a stay at home type defender with good size at 6'2, 190lbs (probably fills out into the 210lbs range as a pro), but he's also fairly mobile. That mobility on the back end is definitely something NHL scouts look for in physical, stay at home types. While Suellentrop certainly profiles as a physical, shut down type, he will need to become a bit meaner and use his size in front of the net. He also will need to improve his positional defense, as at times he can get caught flat footed by forwards attacking off the rush. But on the plus side, his offensive game started to make strides later in the year and he even began to use that mobility by skating the puck out of his own zone, instead of making simple chip plays. He'll likely have to play on Oshawa's top pairing next year (because of graduations) so that makes him a likely breakout candidate given the improvements he made this year.
The assessment of Suellentrop's season is interesting because it contains some of the same concerns (positioning) that were expressed by The Scouting Report before the season.
His size and mobility are likely the main reasons he is ranked as highly by CSS as he has been. It's also probable that since his positional play didn't improve as much as scouts hoped, it contributed to his drop in the CSS Rankings.
Being a top pairing defenseman in a league like the OHL (especially one who is more defensive focused) is a tough task because of all the top-end talent in that league. If Suellentrop is the top defensive defenseman for Oshawa next year, he will likely need to have that breakout year everyone keeps predicting for him otherwise the Generals might be in store for a long season.
The stay-at-home defenseman isn't a very 'fun' pick to speculate about, but still necessary to a team's organizational depth chart. Watching Suellentrop the next year or two as he plays in the top defensive pairing at Oshawa will alllow a team to gauge his progress to see what type of professional he will become. The problem with that is of course the fact that a team will likely make the decision to draft Suellentrop this year. That's the downside to the draft and why people like David Conte do so much diligence in scouting these players. Looking for something that leads them to believe that the player will reach his potential. It's hard to scout a high profile pick, let alone the 160th in the draft. The fact that we are still waiting for his breakout year would concern me a bit.
Should the Devils draft Suellentrop? With good size plus skating ability he seems to be in the mold of the defensemen the Devils have stockpiled recently. Adding another mobile defenseman who would potentially go up against other teams' top six forwards is something I am sure the Devils will do in the draft at some point and if he slips into the 5th or 6th round, it might not be a bad investment to make Suellentrop that guy.
Now that you've read all of this information on Suellentrop, I want to know what you think of him as a prospect. Do you want the Devils to pick him in the later rounds of the draft? Did you see Oshawa play or know of any other good scouting reports on him? If so, then please share them in the comments. Thanks for reading and sound off below!