Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2013 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical draft profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2013 Draft Articles Click here.
Edit: Drafted 15th Overall by the New York Islanders.
Ryan Pulock has excelled this season on a poor Brandon Wheat Kings team. While the Wheat Kings finished last in the WHL’s Eastern Conference, it certainly wasn’t due to Pulock’s play, as he was a bright spot for the club all year long. A late birthday, he even became a leader for the club, and was named Captain. Pulock also persevered over injuries this year, including a wrist injury that cost him much of January, and the CHL Top Prospects game.
Internationally Pulock was cut from the 2013 World Junior squad, which is not that surprising considering it is very difficult for draft eligible players to make Team Canada. He did represent Canada at the 2012 IIHF Under 18 World Championships, where he helped the team to win a Bronze medal.
Born — Grandview, MAN
Height 6.01 — Weight 211 — Shoots Right
February Rank: 8
Pulock’s biggest asset is an absolute rocket of a slapshot and fantastic one timer which make him an extremely feared shooter on the Powerplay. His shot was measured at 101 MPH in a skills competition this season. Other teams are certainly shading their PK to try to minimize Pulock’s shot at this point, but despite that, and the wrist injury which limited his effectiveness even after his return, he still scored 14 goals this season. A natural PP Quarterback, Pulock makes smart crisp passes and sees the ice extremely well. He also understands the importance of getting the puck on net, and is able to utilize a good wrist shot and quick release when teams try to take away his big bomb. On the rush, he has decent stickhandling and can be the lead man with the puck or can join the attack as the trailer, ready to unleash his rocket slapper or that very good wrist shot.
Pulock is an above average skater with good mobility on the blue line. He has a very good skating stride and good top end speed, both forwards and backwards. His edgework, pivots and agility are excellent, allowing him to easily cover a lot of ice, and quickly change directions to react and keep the play in front of him. He has solid balance and is difficult to knock off the puck.
Defensively, Pulock uses his good hockey sense and strong positioning and has really improved his defensive game over the last two years. He keeps his opponent to the outside off the rush and is rarely beaten one on one. In the defensive zone he cuts down passing and shooting lanes. Pulock does play physically willing to throw hits in open ice or if an opponent tries to get by him along the boards. He could stand to work on his upper body strength which would help him to win more board battles and be more of a force in front of the net, and clearing the crease. Pulock’s first pass is excellent, and he helps his team start their transition game by moving the puck quickly out of the zone.
Stylistically, we’d compare Pulock to Shea Weber in that he has the great powerplay shot, is a smart defenceman, and plays a smart and physical defensive game. Remember that this is a style comparison and not saying he will ever be a Norris trophy caliber player like Weber. In terms of potential, he can be a top pairing defenceman who will lead an NHL team on the powerplay, and play big minutes if he can reach his ceiling.
Check back tomorrow for our number 8 prospect.
Thanks for reading, as always feel free to leave comments below and follow me on twitter @lastwordBKerr. Give the rest of the hockey department a follow while you’re at it – @BigMick99, @IswearGAA, and @LastWordOnNHL, and follow the site @lastwordonsport.
Interested in writing for LastWordOnSports? If so, check out our “Join Our Team” page to find out how.
Photo Credit: whl.ca