A good start to the Western Hockey League playoffs could help Rockets forward Shane McColgan (left) build his stock for the 2011 NHL entry draft.

Productive playoff can boost draft value

Unlike the early days of his major junior career, Shane McColgan isn’t on the radar as a potential first-round pick in the 2011 National Hockey League entry draft.

In the eyes of many NHL scouts, the 5-foot-8 1/2 170 pound forward’s stock has slipped gradually and steadily over the last two years. The latest Central Scouting rankings in January had McColgan rated 102nd among all skaters.

Still, with a prosperous Western Hockey League playoff run for both the speedy forward and his Kelowna Rockets, McColgan could easily restore some of his depreciating value this spring.

The California native was one of his club’s best players through the first two games of the WHL playoffs with five points, all of them assists—a good sign at a time of year when the NHL’s birddogs are out in full force.

“The playoffs can be very relevant when it comes to the draft,” said Rockets assistant GM Lorne Frey. “The playoffs are a situation where I think a lot of scouts truly make their evaluations. There’s a mindset that the longer a team goes, the more valuable each player on those teams become and the more their stock rises. If Shane has a tremendous playoff and we do well as a team, then I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see his stock go up quite a bit as well.”

Although the upcoming NHL draft isn’t far from his thoughts, McColgan insists his team’s success in 2010-11 post-season takes precedence over all else.

If he happens to impress a few big-league scouts in the process, then it’s simply a bonus.

“Right now, the important thing is the team doing well,” said McColgan, 18. “I have to be focused on playing well for the team, not for myself.

“I know I’ve dropped a little over the last while here, and it is in the back of my mind… but if I work hard, be a leader for us and play well, everything should take care of itself.”

According to Lorne Frey, the overriding factor in McColgan’s dropping stock over the last year is his size—or rather a lack of it.

Still, Frey said it doesn’t mean the gifted centre can’t go on to have a productive pro career.

Besides, time is still on McColgan’s side.

“I’ve told Shane the only reason he’s dropped down some is his size,” said Frey. “He has all the talent and ability the top players have. He was as good as Tyler Ennis (5-foot-9 157) was at 17, and now look at him in Buffalo. There are others like (Brian) Gionta, (Scott) Gomez, and (Nathan) Gerbe (5-foot-5). There’s a place in the game for the smaller guy.

“In Shane’s case, he just turned 18,” continued Frey, “he’s still going to develop, he’s going to get quicker and stronger…there’s no question he’s going to get better. He’s going to get drafted, it’s just a matter of when. In the end, you still have to prove yourself, no matter who you are.”

Draft rankings aside, McColgan has put together two productive seasons with the Rockets.

In 2009-10, his 25 goals and 44 assists earned him the Western Conference rookie of the year honours.

This season, despite being sidelined early on due to surgery to remove his tonsils, he led the Rockets in scoring with 21 goals and 66 points.

But more satisfying for McColgan than his offensive stats is what he managed to contribute at the other end of the ice.

“I like the defensive part of my game quite a bit better this year,” he said. “I have the coaches to thank for that. I went from a minus-15 to a plus-3 this year, so I take pride in that.

“As long as I’m getting better, that’s what matters,” he added. “The draft stuff doesn’t bother me too much. I’ll work my hardest, maybe my stock will go up. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get drafted in the first round.”

At least pair of other Rockets are hoping for an extended playoff run to potentially boost their draft stock.

Fowards Zach Franko (105th) and Jessey Astles (192nd) were both listed in Central Scouting’s last report.

 

 

 

Rocket Shots…The Rockets and Prince George battle Wednesday night in Game 4 of their WHL first-round playoff series…Rockets captain Tyson Barrie signed a three-year entry-level deal with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche on Friday. The Victoria native was drafted by the Avs in the third round (64th overall) of the 2009 NHL entrey draft.

“Tyson has had an accomplished junior career,” said Avalanche General Manager / Executive Vice President Greg Sherman. “We are adding another young defenseman to the organization and we look forward to him beginning his pro career.”

whenderson@kelownacapnews.com