Saturday, June 25, 2011
Tomas Jurco: What The Scouts Don't See
Day one of the 2011 NHL entry draft proved to be very successful for the Saint John Sea Dogs as three of their players were selected in the first round. Forwards Jonathan Huberdeau(3rd overall, Florida), Zach Phillips(28th, Minnesota) and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu(17th, Montreal) all heard their names called Friday evening. One notable Sea Dog however, did not: Tomas Jurco.
Jurco, the 24th rated North American skater, was expected by many to join his Sea Dogs teammates on the podium Friday night. Nobody questions Jurco's hands and skill level. The YouTube sensation has been publicized all over the world for his slick puck work and flashy moves. That alone however does not warrant a first round selection, obviously. One of the major knocks on Jurco is consistency, many point to that as the reason he was left behind friday night.
Whenever Tomas has been interviewed he has said things like, “I'm more than just the flash,” “I want to be a complete player,” or “I'm not a clown.” I don't blame him at all. Having seen him play on numerous occasions this year I've been able to see what Jurco can bring to the table.
The World Junior Hockey Championship has a huge effect on a player's draft stock. The tournament can make or break a player in the rankings, especially one who plays in the shadow of bigger names on their regular team. The tournament last winter was an opportunity for Jurco to breakout and prove his worth. He did less than expected on a poor Slovakian team. Jurco, and his teammates, were fortunate enough to have another chance to prove themselves on the big stage at last month's Mastercard Memorial Cup. Jurco was arguably the Dogs best player.
This season I was fortunate enough to spend four days with the Sea Dogs as an athletic training student. The opportunity to work with dogs athletic therapist Jeff Kelly gave me an internal view of the team that most people don't see. In my time there I noticed several things that scouts watching the game don't see. Jurco was always one of the last guys at the rink. He was doing whatever he could to improve his game. He was working hand in hand with Jeff Kelly to try and improve his size in the Sea Dogs weight room, asking about supplements and vitamins that would be beneficial, and doing whatever he could to be better. He wants to add to his size and strength. From the time I was with the team in February until the Memorial Cup in May I noticed huge improvements in his game. I wouldn't be surprised if this was credited to all the work he put in.
I'll be the first to admit that the time I spent with the team was limited and my evaluation may not be completely accurate. Thirty picks have passed already and he is still on the board, so perhaps the scouts are seeing something I did not. I am by no means a professional.
Still however, I feel Jurco could have been very beneficial to a team last night, and will be an excellent pick today.
His numbers show inconsistency, but in all honesty how many draft eligible players do not? The answer is very few. If Jurco continues with the hard work and dedication I saw in my limited time with the team there is nowhere for him to go but up. That being said, another year in Saint John will probably show that. The Dogs are an excellent coached team dedicated to all around solid hockey. I feel he is growing tired of all the hype over his stick work and I think his play at the Memorial Cup showed that. Tomas Jurco wants to be a complete player and has the dedication to be exactly that.
With a good summer, and continued dedication, Jurco is likely to be a big player for next season's edition of the Sea Dogs. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see a lot of teams wondering why they passed on this guy in the first round, while one lucky team will be left smiling.
(Ed. Note: This is a guest post written by Tyler Cavanaugh. You can follow him on Twitter)