Current Rank: 13
Summer 2007: Unranked
No matter how much time you spend mulling over prospects, Liam Reddox would have to be considered a draft success based on where he was taken and the progress made to this point. Ten years from now an Oiler fan might be wandering through hockeydb and read that the Oilers selecting some kid 112th overall and then 3 years later he played an NHL game. If you make a list of all the players taken 110-120 (overage players excluded) 2000-04 who have played 1 or more NHL games, the list would be:
- W Cam Janssen (95 NHL games, 1 NHL goal-enforcer)
- D Bryce Lampman (10 NHL games, 0 NHL points)
- D Richard Petiot (2 NHL games, 0 NHL points)
- LW Tomas Surovy (126gp, 27-32-59 NHL)
- D Olli Malmivaara (2 NHL games, 0 NHL points)
Plus Reddox. So that’s about 1 a year, obviously several of the kids taken could still make it to the show (Malmivaara played has 2 games this season for New Jersey after being drafted in 2000 by Chicago). Even that is kind of weak since Surovy turned 20 shortly after he was drafted, but we’ll use it since I’m not using Vishnovsky of the Kings (24 when he was drafted).
So it’s not a large group of players who are acquired from the 110-120 slots in any given draft. That makes Reddox a success. Next question: how good CAN he be?
There was some anecdotal evidence that Reddox might be a player before summer 2004. About a month before he was drafted, Red Line Report had this to say: Liam Reddox — Was the only forward for Team Canada in Minsk showing any creativity and moxy. Really thinks and anticipates the game well. In that season’s RLR draft guide they said Agitator extraordinaire. Industrial strength abrasive. Plays like a pit bull — locks on and won’t let go.
The Sportsnet bio on him says “was a great junior scorer because of excellent puck skills and the will to be the best he could be. Is also a sound two-way performer.” I don’t know that those words really mesh with RLR or really anything else available on this player, and imo both Sportsnet and TSN would be better served writing nothing on these kids if they’re not going to get it right. It’s frustrating as a fan to hear these sites proclaim their expertise and then get lazy. Their use of the phrase “great junior scorer” is also ridiculous, but enough about them.
A better way to get a feel for a prospect is to listen to his coach and then marry the words to his on-ice numbers (25gp, 7-13-20, +7 second in team scoring at Springfield). In a Terry Jones SUN column earlier in the fall, Buchberger said “Night in and night out, he’s been our Ryan Smyth. He goes to the net all the time. He’s used in every situation. Last year in Stockton (ECHL) he didn’t play a lot. He’s a surprise. Now it looks like he has a chance to make it.” And then this from a Matheson column in the Journal: “He’s our Ryan Smyth the way he works in practices and the games. I’ve been at the rink early and who walks in the door before eight, for a 10 o’clock practice? Liam– so he can start working out. He competes, plus he’s got skill, lots of skill. You know how Smytty drives to the net, burying that shoulder? Well, Liam does a lot of those little things, too. He’s made big strides in one year. I use him on the point on the power play and when we’re down five-on-three, he’s the forward I send out.”
Reddox is somewhat unique as a prospect. His late pre-draft growth spurt and his work ethic have clearly made him better than a 110-120 level pick. How much better?
We’ll see. His climb up the organizational depth chart has been nothing less than stunning, perhaps exceeded only by the plethora of 1st and 2nd rd picks he passed along the way.