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Draft Profile: Mitch Vande Sompel, Oshawa Generals

Taking a deeper look at Mitch Vande Sompel as a potential draft candidate for the New York Rangers.

Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

A few people have pointed out that the two defensemen profiled (soon to be three) so far are left-handed defensemen. Is that really a position the Rangers should be picking from given a depth chart that lists McDonagh, Staal, Yandle, and Skjei all on the left side? It's a fair question.

In my opinion, it's a mistake to let the NHL depth chart dictate how you draft. There are a few exceptions. For instance, a young center corps consisting of Sam Reinhart, Zemgus Girgensons, Tyler Ennis, Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher, and soon-to-be Jack Eichel will make the Sabres want to stay away from any centers in early rounds the next couple of seasons if they can help it.

But that's a pretty exceptional circumstance. Remember that, beyond the first 10-15 picks, we're dealing with players who most likely won't be NHL ready for another two-to-four seasons. For defensemen specifically, it's a lot closer to the "four" than the "two." One would hope that Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei will feature on the Rangers' blue line for a long time, but who knows the fate of Keith Yandle and Marc Staal? At best, they'll both be around 32 years old and likely set for decline. At worst, one or both will be off the team altogether. Not drafting a player you think could succeed five years from now because of what the roster looks like today is a big mistake. Worst case scenario, you end up with a surplus of assets in one position and get to use the player of your choosing as trade bait.


Mitch Vande Sompel, Oshawa Generals (Ontario Hockey League)


Vitals

Position: Left Defenseman

Age: 18 years old

Height/Weight: 5'10, 182 lbs

2014-2015 Stats (Including Playoffs): 79 GP, 17 G, 60 A, 42 PIM, +22 +/-

Draft Rankings

NHL Central Scouting: 33rd (NA Skaters)

Corey Pronman (ESPN): 25th

Craig Button (TSN): 25th

Bob McKenzie (ESPN): 63rd

Future Considerations: 41st

Hockey Prospect: 88th

Scouting Report

Vande Sompel is an interesting player. He is a recent convert to defenseman and, for better or worse, it shows in his play. His history as a forward is certainly to be found in his offensive capabilities. Vande Sompel loves to carry the puck up the ice and always has his head on a swivel looking for a forward to dish to. Once in the offensive zone, Vande Sompel is a handful for the opposition to deal with. Perhaps surprising relative to his diminutive frame, Vande Sompel has a hard shot. He's not a guy who necessarily winds up and blasts pucks, but rather uses quick, strong wrists to surprise goaltenders.

It's not just his shot, but his ability to walk the blue line and skate into open areas, which open up shooting lanes.

In general, Vande Sompel uses his great skating ability to move around the offensive zone constantly. It makes him problematic to cover; particularly when he's being used on the power play.

Essentially, Vande Sompel is the ideal power play QB. Of his 63 regular season points last season, 33 of them came on the power play. Six of his 12 goals as well.

Vande Sompel's history as a forward also reflects in Oshawa's usage of him. He's been used as a winger in a pinch and had a full-time gig this past season as a forward on the penalty kill.

Where things start to go south for him are in the defensive end. Size is generally an overrated quality in scouting circles, but Vande Sompel clearly struggles dealing with bigger bodies. He's good enough at dealing with puck battles, but when it comes to rubbing a winger off the puck he has problems.

He also is sometimes too timid in his own end and seems to defer to his defensive partner too often. Here's an example; Vande Sompel is wearing 58.

To be fair, this could be chalked up as a miscommunication between him and his partner, but you'd like to see him get a stick in there to prevent the shot. Here is a more obvious example.

Just too easy of a pass for 11 in that situation. Vande Sompel must step up on him, or get a stick in the passing lane. Productive offensive defensemen don't need to be fantastic in their own end, but there is a basic level adequacy required, and Vande Sompel has a ways to go in that department.

But look, it's all about projection with Vande Sompel. You're not drafting him for what he is now, but rather what you think he might be in 5 years. His skating prowess and ability to move around the offensive zone with the puck, putting a hard shot on net or dishing to an open teammate are among the best in the draft class. Vande Sompel made massive strides as a defenseman last season and was much better towards the end of the season. He just turned 18 in February. Maybe he'll grow an inch or two. If he's come this far defensively in a couple of years as a teenager, then how much better can and will he get in the next five as he matures as a player?

This is a common theme that I've been preaching throughout these draft profiles; things such as positioning, using the body more, and gaining muscle are relatively easy to address through coaching and maturing. He's shown in spurts that he has the inert ability to be sufficient defensively. Skating and hands, however, can only be improved so much. Vande Sompel has the necessary foundation to become a star. He's a massive project, but one with tremendous upside as a gifted offensive defenseman.


Loose Comparables

Cam Fowler

Michael Del Zotto

Ian White

Vande Sompel is the first player I've covered who seems to have a realistic chance of falling to the Rangers in their natural drafting position late in the second round. Rankings for him are all over the place, with a few having him as a first-round talent and Hockey Prospect having him as far back as a late third-round pick. Bob McKenzie's rankings are mostly based on NHL scout consensus, and based on his ranking of 63rd he should be right there for the taking. That being said, all it takes is one team having Vande Sompel high up on their draft board to make the consensus irrelevant.

If he's there for the Rangers, then I think Vande Sompel is the kind of prospect they should be grabbing. He fills a massive void in the prospect pool of offensive defenseman with power play acumen. He's the definition of a  boom-or-bust pick, but I believe the Rangers should swing for the fences this draft. They have a lot of depth in the prospect pool but are lacking in upside. Vande Sompel is a gamble, but one with a high payoff if successful.

Previous Draft Profiles

Daniel Sprong

Oliver Kylington

Vince Dunn