This might surprise you -- or not surprise you -- but we don't have a picture of Thomas Spelling, so here's a picture of Boo Nieves.
As we continue our Top 25 Under 25 we're going to come across a few selections that seem a little "assumed." This is one of those selections.
Thomas Spelling was the New York Rangers fifth-round selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Spelling absolutely dominated a lesser league (Denmark), scoring 21 goals and adding 16 assists for 37 points in 33 games. Spelling also posted 10 goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff games.
Spelling is an interesting selection for sure. On one hand, NHL general managers were looking at a very young player who dominated a lesser league. It's the end of that sentence that saw Spelling fall to the fifth round of the draft. Denmark isn't exactly known for it's professional hockey league, and Spelling hadn't gone up against any real competition.
Join me after the jump for more.
Still, his numbers deserve some praise and certianly deserves some attention. Here's what Leslie Treff said about Spelling in her annual Rangers' draft review.
Spelling, a big winger with an incredibly fast release, has produced excellent numbers in Denmark, as well as in international play. In 2011-12, he ranked sixth in Denmark's AL-Bank Ligaen with 21 goals, and tied for second on his Herning team with 37 points in 33 games. In the playoffs, he posted 10 goals and 10 assists in 17 games.
In addition, Spelling is no stranger to international competition. In 2011, he was a member of Denmark's U18 team (Division 1B), where he posted five goals (including two on the powerplay) and five assists in five games. Spelling was a big part of that championship team in Slovenia, that led Denmark to be promoted to the top division for 2012. This past winter, Spelling represented Denmak in the 2012 U-20 WJCs in Alberta. Spelling posted a goal and three assists in six games on a team that was eventually relegated to the lower division for next year.
Spelling is slated to play for Rogel of the SEL next season. And while you can't take too much from his first year in the SEL -- remember it's arguably the second best professional hockey league in the world -- we'll certianly get a good look at what his game will be after a couple of seasons in Sweden.
It's going to be a make or break moment for Spelling. But as Treff notes above, Spelling has a few qualities that don't change depending on the level of competition. His release isn't going to slow down, and he's not going to get any smaller. Those are two major skills that should help him make it to the NHL.
His international competition is also a nice thing to see, but again, we need to see more of it to get a better idea of the type of player Spelling is going to be.
in the end, there's a reason why he's a fifth-round pick. He's a low-risk, very high-reward pick. If he works out, then Gordie Clark, Glen Sather and the Rangers' brass look like geniuses. If he doesn't, then it's just a fifth-round flier.
Any way you look at it, Spelling's potential earned him a spot on this list. He dominated a lesser league, now it's time to see what he can do with the big boys. Tell me that's not exciting for a prospect.