Monday, June 09, 2008


Draft Party; Colby Robak

While it's no TV party, why sit at home and watch the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft? Come on up/down to Newark, New Jersey on June 20 and attend the Devils Draft Party? There's plenty to do, according to the press release, and you'll be able to see the Devils first round pick, the twenty-first pick overall. The only way it could be any better is if you're actually going to the NHL Entry Draft in Ottawa. (Aside: IPB's Project Bicycle Spoke is a very interesting way to fill the summer. I wonder if they'll find a Devils Andrei Zyuzin card.)

In any case, that NHL Entry Draft link appears to be an official NHL site and it is loaded with more information. It's much more complete and easier to get to than reading opinions from HFBoards - not that there's anything wrong with HF. In fact, if you're looking for mock drafts, HF is a great place to go. You may want to ignore the amateurs and go right to this one done by the Daniel Nielson of Hockey's Future Radio. The radio site even ranks the players - not necessarily a mock draft - but still good as it considers all the players. Unfortunately, he thinks John Carlson will be gone before #21, but he's still thinking defense with Colby Robak. If only because there isn't much else going on with the Devils, let's see what else is out there (read: what can I find through Google) about this guy.

Robak is a defenseman for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. He's not small, standing at 6'3" and 202 pounds. I think it's fair to say that offensive production may not be his forte with only 6 goals and 24 assists. At the same time, it may be fair to say he knows a few things about keeping his cool with only 25 penalty minutes in 71 games. Of course, this is junior hockey - numbers there translate to the NHL about as well as an abacus doing the sum of square error in an ANOVA analysis.

Lowe Tide, an Edmonton Oilers blog that seems to prefer Shawn Horcoff, notes that Robak does indeed have offensive upside and that his best asset is his skating. That's certainly good news. From Rich Hammond's Inside the Kings, you can read this interview with Robak where you can learn that he agrees he needs to be more physical and that he would love to model his game after Nicklas Lidstrom. I like reading positive things about his skating. If I learned anything from reading countless prospect profiles from THN and elsewhere, it's that skating seems to keep coming up as an issue for prospects. Given that it's a strength, that's good for Robak. Reading he needs to be more physical makes sense given his size and position, but it's good that he recognized that issue. Lastly, I found an entire blog devoted to the NHL Draft and prospects - the aptly named NHL Draft Notes. Michael Rennard has a report on Robak and he's pretty down on his lack of toughness (and strong shot) and even notes that while he'll go in the first round - he may not be worthy of that. On the upside, he echoes his skating ability and - I guess to further entice those who want an offensive defenseman in the system - states he's good with carrying and passing the puck.

What I gathered from all this is that Robak is great skater, but he needs to play more aggressively and work on turning that puck movement into production. I'm certain he'll improve on the grit as he gets into the NHL and if he is such a good skater, it'll help his (possible) eventual transition into the league. If New Jersey does draft him, it would be a good fit. With the organization's patience for prospects, they can guide Robak along the way to get bigger, play bigger, and utilize his skating skills on the blue line. I wouldn't be unhappy if #21 turns out to be Robak based on what I've read of him. If any of you readers have seen Robak - or any other potential Devils first round draft pick - play, let me know. I'm always interested in first hand accounts.

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John, if we get a Devils Zyuzin card, we'll dedicate it to you!
I have season tickets where Robak plays his junior hockey. I am also good friends with his cousin who is also his billet. He plays solid positional hockey and passes the puck well. Don't let the stats fool you as far as points go. The coach does not favor him and he has yet to be on the number 1 d-line. McCrimmon is loyal to his older players.
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