BUFFALO NY - DECEMBER 31: Forward Tomas Jurco #13 of Slovakia carries the puck during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship game between Slovakia and Finland on December 31 2010 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
After Joe's review of Zack Phillips yesterday, it seems only fitting to jump right to his Saint John teammate Tomas Jurco next. The 6'2, 187lb right wing finished his 2nd season of juniors as the 20th ranked North American prospect according to NHL central scouting, while not cracking the top 30 of the ISS rankings. Not the playmaker that his heralded linemates are (judging by the mere 25 assists this season), Jurco did manage 31 goals in 60 games, a per game rate that puts him near the top of the draft eligible prospects. His even strength to powerplay ratio is also favorable, with about 2 points for every power play point, so there is room for optimism he'll succeed away from his juggernaut team.
Jurco has also become something of a youtube dynamo, most notably with his slick shootout moves. Here's the video that has gotten the most attention:
Tomas Jurco shootout move at 2011 chl skill competition (via nhldraftvideo)
As usual, scouting reports after the jump:
I'll start with his nhl.com page:
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau
"He's a very good skater with size and excellent puck skills. He has all the tools of a first-round draft pick."
Saint John head coach Gerard Gallant
"He does different things at practice some guys would view it as being cocky, but Tomas does it because he wants to score a goal doing it. I just tell him to do what he feels comfortable doing. We're not here to show up anybody, but if that's the move you think you could score a goal with, do it. He's done pretty well in shootouts … he has stick handling and eye coordination to make those great plays. He's a big-bodied guy with a great skill level and competes really hard."
Here's the outlook from thescoutingreport.org:
Jurco is arguably the biggest game-breaker in this draft, and has made no shortage of high-light reel plays so far in his year and a half long tenure in the QMJHL. Still has issues finding consistency with his game, however, and after a quick start his production has slowed down significantly. Does he remind you of Michael Grabner’s 2005/06 season with Spokane at all?
Some excerpts from the excellent Kirk Luedeke of Bruins Draft Watch:
His puckhandling skills border on the obscene. If there was some kind of unearthly substance that had a magnetic effect on rubber, we'd think that Jurco was the one who discovered it. He can dangle with the absolute best of them....He has a quick burst and some deceptive speed with the agility to turn defenders and make opponents look silly.....Jurco's defensive game is subpar and his compete levels uneven. He scored 31 goals on a stacked team, but was streaky with long stretches of unproductive play......Medium risk player but high reward if he can raise the consistency. He's going to go higher than where we have him because of the sick hands and upside.
Lastly, a scouts take via ESPN Insider (subscription required)
"All the skating and skill and size are there but it doesn't really come together for him. Right now it comes down to getting a read on his makeup. He's an unfinished player and it's up to him to get his game finished -- that's all. If somehow you had Phillips's head on Jurco's shoulders you'd have a top-10, maybe a top-five kid. If his character isn't there then he's one of a hundred kids who have tons of talent and don't make it......Jurco's numbers are good but he doesn't have shift-in, shift-out consistency. Maybe it comes. It's all about wanting it and not losing his confidence."
Jurco is a player that will likely need another year in the QMJHL at minimum. His consistency issues will likely push him down the draft into the 25-30 range, so at 15 the Rangers' will almost certainly look elsewhere. That doesn't mean he's not on the radar though, and in a position where guys like McNeil or Jensen are not available, there remains the possibility that the Rangers could trade down for him, or even trade up using their extra 2nd rounders. The question to the fans is, do you think he's worth the look?