The Fabulous Thunderbird?
March 26, 2017
By Grant McCagg
I have great respect for my NHL scouting contacts and consider them to be among the very best talent evaluators on the planet. There are occasions when I disagree with one of their opinions, however, even when I’m only seeing a player on video, and one such instance this season concerns Seattle defenceman Jarret Tyszka.
A former first-round pick of the Thunderbirds, the 6-2.25 blueliner has decent puck skills and has good mobility, so it’s easy to see why, on the surface at least, there is intrigue in the scouting fraternity.
What I have seen far too often in my ten or so viewings of him are issues with his defensive hockey sense in particular, and I have relayed those feelings to a scouting contact who feels differently. He sees him as a surefire top 50 prospect… and last night got the chance to see him once again.
The issues I’ve had in his game were evident again last night in the video I studied. In his own end I have had some concerns when he gets stuck watching the puck and leaving guys alone or gets caught out of position…he also makes some poor puck decisions under pressure, like in the first period when he got the puck behind the goal line and decided the best route was to head to the front of his own net…he had the puck stripped instantly and came very close to allowing Seattle’s first goal. Later on at the end of the second period while leading 2-0 he decided to try the same thing…carry the puck in front of his own net..and just as he was once again about to be checked he threw the puck blindly to the point…where it was intercepted and quickly ended up in Seattle’s net to cut the lead to 2-1.
At the start of the third period Seattle took two quick penalties and Tyszka never saw the ice until eight minutes had expired. He did not play on the penalty kill last night…the coaches instead preferring to exhaust their top guys instead of letting him see the ice in a defensive situation..a clear signal that I’m not the only one who has had some misgivings about his own-zone play.
He got a secondary assist on the power play in the first period and another one in the last 20 seconds on the power play with his team up 4-2…but there was nothing he did in this game or any others I’ve seen that suggests he has the skill/vision/passing skills to be anything but a second power play guy, or an offensive defenceman in the NHL. Here is what I wrote about his game:
” I see too many mistakes and too little defined NHL role. What is he? He’s not a shutdown guy…they won’t let him near the ice on the PK and with good reason as he makes too many errors in his own end. He’s not a big offensive guy..no elite vision or puck/passing skills…he’s not going to be a 10-15 goal guy at the NHL level IMO either. He has nine goals in 102 WHL games and that is a fair representation on his goal-scoring upside ..maybe he can develop into a second power play unit guy. Defensively…he never saw the ice the first 7 mins of the third period..in large part because they killed two power plays. Nursing a one-goal lead Tyszka played one shift in the first half of the third. We saw why coaches were hesitant to have him in a position where he would have to deal with a lot of pressure…as he has a tendency to turn the puck over..often because of a quick no-look pass, but also with ill-advised forays in front of his own net that backfire. I get it that he’s (almost) 6-3 and can skate…I have seen good plays from him and he is not without some skill or smarts. I can’t help that think, however, that he could just as easily bust as become a top 4 dman.”
I will get a couple more looks at him..I am by no means adamant in my opinion of him as I respect this scout’s eye, especially given that he’s watching him live… and there’s always the possibility that I have been too harsh with him. You need to find the proper balance between performance and projecting a player’s upside..sometimes that perception can get a bit skewed one way or another. As is often the case when there are such discrepancies in what I see and what NHL scouts see…I try to find a happy medium as I don’t consider my video evaluations to be infallible. My goal is to produce the best possible draft list..and that means compromises, changes, concessions..and also at times sticking to my guns. It is an extremely inexact science…and I love it.