NHL Draft: Local prospect sizing up his status
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Vincent Trocheck could have done a lot worse.
For a guy who sees himself as a solid two-way center in the NHL someday, picking Peter Forsberg as a role model really isn't a bad idea.
That doesn't mean Trocheck, an Upper St. Clair native and likely early round selection in this weekend's NHL Entry Draft, is going to equal Forsberg's achievements, or even approach them. Few players have.
Forsberg won two Stanley Cup titles with Colorado, put up 885 points in 708 career regular-season games and could dominate at both ends of the rink before a chronic foot problem forced him to retire.
He set a terrific example for players who followed him, even if they aren't capable of replicating his success. And, as in Trocheck's case, if they can't match his vital statistics, either.
- First round: 7 p.m. Friday.
- TV: Versus.
- Penguins: Pick 23rd.
"I've always tried to [pattern] my game after his, a little bit," Trocheck said. "I know he's 6 feet 1, 6 feet 2 -- a lot bigger than me -- but I like to say that even though I'm 5 feet 10, 5 feet 11, I like to play like I'm 6 feet 2."
For the record, Trocheck checked in at 5 feet 10, 184 pounds earlier this month at the NHL scouting combine in Toronto.
Forsberg was officially listed as 6 feet, 205 pounds, although he looked -- and played -- bigger. His size was, at most, a nonissue; not so for Trocheck, at least in the eyes of some scouts.
New Jersey scouting director David Conte says simply that "he's big enough. He's a good player," but others aren't so sure.
"[Size] is an issue that he's going to have to overcome," said Jay Heinbuck, the Penguins director of amateur scouting. "It's not size alone that's an issue.
"In today's game, it's when you have that [modest] size, you have to overset it with -- in my eyes -- better-than-average speed. So for me, his speed will need to improve.
"Having said that, that's probably why he's not talked about as a first-rounder. He maybe is on some teams' radar, but in our minds, he's not with that top echelon of players just because of that size-speed ratio."
That's something Trocheck recognized even before he began meeting with teams at the combine. Asked about specific facets of his game that must be upgraded, he doesn't hesitate.
"Definitely, my skating," he said. "Obviously, strength, as well. Any 17- or 18-year-old kid is going to have to work on his strength, going into the NHL. But the one thing I've noticed is my first few steps, my quickness, I need to work on that a bit, and I have been since the season ended."
NHL Central Scouting lists Trocheck, who has spent the past two seasons with Saginaw in the Ontario Hockey League, as the No. 41 prospect among North American forwards and defensemen.
He had 26 goals and 36 assists in 66 regular-season games with the Spirit in 2010-11, then added six goals and five assists in 12 playoff games.
Not bad numbers, and they're attributable, at least in part, to one of Trocheck's greatest assets: His hockey sense. He has the innate ability to sense how a play is developing and react accordingly.
"Whenever teams ask what my strengths are, I mention hockey IQ as one of them," he said. "I think that's a big part of the game nowadays.
"Especially my type of player, a two-way player, you have to have that hockey IQ. You can't be just running around out there."
Forsberg, of course, had exceptional instincts, and complemented them with a fierce work ethic.
For Forsberg, going all out every time he went over the boards was a matter of being the best player possible. For Trocheck, what's at stake might be nothing less than his viability as an NHL player.
"Game in and game out, shift in and shift out, I'm playing as hard as I can," he said. "As a smaller guy, you kind of have to do that. Size wasn't given to me.
"A lot of guys 6 feet 2, they're put a little bit ahead of me [in prospect rankings], just because of my size, so I think I have to go in and work, day in and day out."
Once again, Trocheck could have done a lot worse.
First Published June 21, 2011 12:00 am