Current Rank: #8
Summer 2009: #14
The best thing I’ve ever read about Taylor Chorney came from Geoff Ward in the fall of 2005. He said “This is a guy that every game I have seen him in has gotten better. As a freshman playing against 22 and 23-year olds it can be intimidating, but he’s done a good job. Chorney is steady in all areas and that is what stands out. He’s a strong passer, moves the puck well and what I really like is that he follows the puck up ice so he’s always in position to be the 4th man.”
Current Springfield coach Rob Daum has been quoted a few times in regard to Chorney and those quotes serve as a bookend to Ward’s comments. Here’s what he told Coming Down the Pipe earlier this fall: The thing with Taylor is that it is a huge adjustment from going from college to the American Hockey League. Especially as a defenseman, I think that’s the most difficult transition to make. When I saw him here (Springfield) last season he seemed to be all over the map position wise and because of that he put himself in spots where he wasn’t able to defend properly. What we wanted to do is make him positionally sound so the game would be a little bit easier, his reads would be more defined. So when he did get the puck his options would be in front of him.
More Daum: If there was an area of his game I thought he needed to improve it was the defensive side. He’s not a big man, so he has to be sure he’s sound positionally in order to defend against players who are bigger and stronger than he is. I think that’s one of the things he did a great job improving at the end of last season. I think he carried that over this year and he hasn’t looked out of place at the NHL level this season. When you’re in the right spot, the game is a little bit easier for you. Taylor is a great skater and has an ability to move the puck and he’s gained some confidence in his game.
Chorney’s size (5.11, 182–he’s about the same size as Lubo) is going to be an issue forever, and I don’t know that there are a dozen D that size who are effective two-way defenders in the game today. nhl.com lists 256 defenders who have played in the show this season and the overwhelming majority are bigger (and certainly stronger) than Chorney. In order to be an effective NHL defender Chorney is going to have to improve on the finer points of the game (as mentioned above) and learn to be a contributor on the PP (if he has a career, part of the reason will be special teams). So far in his NHL career Chorney’s done what pretty much all rookies do: bleed. In 15 career games with the Oilers, the young defenseman is -10 and in 72 AHL games Chorney is -33.
After the lockout NHL teams felt (with the rule changes) that smaller, mobile and intelligent defenders would replace those slow men like Cory Cross and in many ways that’s exactly what has happened over these years. Problem is you still have to learn to play defense and these college kids don’t seem to adjust quickly to the pro game. One of the comparables I’ve used in the past for Taylor Chorney is Ottawa’s Brian Lee (although Lee is bigger) who was recently sent to the minors in order to get his game back on track.
Chorney can move the puck and we’ve seen him have good shifts and periods when paired with a veteran. However, there are some real concerns about size and strength and even when experience takes over down the line there are going to be shortcomings. I’ve ranked him behind Peckham and Petry, but ahead of the rest of the D this time around but the fact is Taylor Chorney could easily be the best of the bunch if things break right and he can learn the trade. I rank him 8th overall (and behind Peckham and Petry) because of size and strength and because those things are incredibly important for defensemen. And so is experience, so it goes without saying that he’d be better off playing all year for Daum in Springfield this season.