Screen cap courtesy Sportsnet
The draft rolls on. In the early stages of the 6th round, Toronto selected Oshawa General defenseman Stephen Desrocher 155th overall.
It’s actually a little funny that I’m writing this post, because Desrocher is someone I’ve been following for awhile. Last season I was watching some Oshawa Generals games to get a closer look at Michael Dal Colle, but I kept noticing this kid wearing #37. He could skate reasonably well, he had great size, strong defensive zone instincts and one-on-one abilities, and even had some underrated ability with the puck. I kept thinking to myself, “wow, this kid looks good, why isn’t he getting more ice-time?”.
That kid was Stephen Desrocher, and I started clamoring for teams to draft him as high as the 3rd or 4th round. When he went undrafted, I was hopeful that maybe the Leafs would invite him to their summer camp and see where things go from there.
That didn’t happen and Desrocher never ended up becoming the property of an NHL team. Fast forward to this season and Desrocher was playing top-four minutes for the eventual Memorial Cup champions. He had 23 points in 66 games, earning praise from a fair amount of scouts.
As someone who is 19 and only put up 23 points this season, you might be a little disappointed with this pick. And to be honest, I sort of am too. I talked about how I’ve been a Desrocher fan for awhile, but I’ve actually cooled off on him a bit.
Desrocher is a good hockey player. It’s obvious when you watch. He skates well for somebody who is 6″4′, has reasonably good puck-handling ability, and has very strong defensive instincts. The way that all of his skills come together make him good for what he is.
But that said, as someone who knows him perhaps a little bit better than the average fan, I don’t think he’ll be an NHLer. He’s well-rounded enough that maybe he can be, but I think he projects best as a top-four, stay-at-home defenseman at the AHL level. But again, I do believe he’s well-rounded enough that he could surprise some people and end up in the NHL. And if nothing else, getting a player that projects safely as an effective AHLer is decent value in the 6th round. It’s not the upside you’d hope for, but hell, Tyler Biggs isn’t a very good player at the AHL level and the Leafs took him in the first round.
Bottom line: Desrocher is a well-rounded defensive defenseman that will almost assuredly be an effective player at the pro level. He may never end up in the NHL, but he has enough raw talent that it’s within his reach if he does some more late blooming. The fact of the matter is though, most 6th-round picks don’t turn into much of anything. This isn’t my preferred player to take a flyer on with this pick, but I also don’t think it’s a bad pick either.
Whether or not he’s good at hockey isn’t a question when it comes to Stephen Desrocher. The question is how far his skill-set can take him.
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