Dillon Simpson has played in the NCAA for 2+ seasons, 80+ games and hundreds of sorties in a league that features men in their early to mid-20s. Simpson has been doing this for 2+ years, and won’t turn 20 until a little before Valentine’s Day.
I’ve seen Dillon Simpson exactly one time since he was drafted, and came away thinking the scouting reports nicked him a little on the skating.
- Dillon Simpson made the simple play, didn’t seem to get caught out of position much and looked good passing the puck. He did take a big hit early on; I think he’s faster than we’ve been lead to believe but it’s one game.
Summer 2012: #14
Winter 2012: #10
ISS #122; Redline 74
- Redline:Stay at home defencemen with savvy and size. Son of former longtime NHL’er Craig Simpson has very good hockey sense and understands game situations instinctively. Had trouble getting qualilty icetime as a 17-year-old true freshman on deep, veteran defence corps of top collegiate program, but did show steady progress adjusting to the pace of play against older, stronger opponents. Rarely saw the ice on either special teams units. Sluggish skater with a short stride, but shows good gap control and lateral mobility. Tentative to do anything offensively and always has one foot back on defence. Doesn’t see the ice well and hurries to get the puck off his stick. Makes sharp defensive reads and is rarely out of position. Struggled 1-on-1 in the corners and down log against more physically developed forwards.
- Red Line Report scout Max Giese:“He’s a smart player defensively, rarely out of position; but he’s a pretty bad skater and he doesn’t have any poise moving the puck. He’s a slushy skater with a short and sluggish stride. His hands are stiff, he struggles to put passes on the tape and he always hurries to get the puck off of his stick. He’s getting the ice time right now because of North Dakota’s injuries.”
- ISS: Simpson is an all-around effective and smart defenseman who contributes in both ends of the ice while competing at a high level. He shows flashes of offensive productivity and potential. He has very good stride and at times when he is moving he almost looks like he isn’t working that hard, but with closer scrutiny, you realize he is actually a very effortless skater, with a very natural and efficient stride. He has very good range defensively, taking away time and space very efficiently. He always seems to maintain solid defensive positioning. Father Craig played 10 years in the NHL with Pittsburgh, Edmonton and Buffalo, and won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers.
- Luedeke: A bit of a disappointing season for a player scouts had some real high hopes for coming in. The son of former NHL forward and HNIC analyst Craig Simpson (and nephew of television reporter Christine Simpson) has decent size at 6-1, 195. He scored 2 goals and 10 points in 30 games as a freshman and wasn’t overly involved in the offensive scheme/didn’t get a lot of ice time. He’s a work in progress who has some soft hands and hockey sense, but isn’t a great skater. He’s slow out of the blocks and needs to work on his stride to get the most out of his movement. Scouts see intriguing elements of his game, but after 12 goals and 41 points last year with Spruce Grove of the AJHL, more of an impact was expected from him- he did not deliver. This is not to say Simpson isn’t a legitimate NHL prospect- he is. He grew up around the game and has the natural athleticism to be a player, but this season showed that it is going to take time and he’d require a leap of faith for a team to draft him in the first two rounds.
I really like the Luedeke description above, it gives you a feel for how difficult it must have been for a 17-year old in the WCHA. The season Simpson debuted in the NCAA, there were only 5 seventeen year olds in the entire WCHA–Simpson, Nick Shore, Josh Thorimbert, Michael Mersch and Frankie Simonelli. I think the skating issue might be at least a little about playing against older men–certainly when I saw Simpson against kids his own age the skating element was not at all pronounced (please keep in mind this is a fan talking).
Here’s a look at Simpson’s progression:
- 2010-11 UND (17): 30, 2-8-10 +11 (on a team that was +56 evens)
- 2011-12 UND (18): 42, 2-16-18 +10 (on a team that was +19 evens)
- 2012-13 UND (19): 13, 1-4-5 +2 (on a team that is +3 evens)
Simpson is getting PP time (he’s 1-2-3 this season, accounting for most of his offense), and appears to be paired with any numbers of blue: Joe Gleason, Nick Mattson, Andrew Panzarella–pretty much everyone but Derek Forbort. Forbort is -3 and I would assume he is playing the tough opposition and suspect Jordan Schmaltz (another first rounder) may be his partner on defense.
If I’m right on this, Dillon Simpson is the veteran on the 2nd pairing behind the Forbort-Schmaltz tandem. Even though it’s year three, there’s some really good arrows here.
- December 2004: D Roman Tesliuk
- December 2005: L Dragan Umicevic
- December 2006: D Taylor Chorney
- December 2007: D Jeff Petry
- December 2008: L Linus Omark
- December 2009: C Anton Lander
- December 2010: D Alex Plante
- December 2011: D David Musil
- December 2012: D Dillon Simpson
I’m going to go ahead and suggest that Simpson hurt his draft number in 2010-11 by playing in the NCAA. The skating issue looked more pronounced against older players and he didn’t get the PP push he’d enjoyed in Spruce Grove. The bet here is that Simpson has earned the right to be mentioned in the same breath as Musil and Gernat–behind Schultz, Klefbom and Marincin but well ahead of the other blue in the Oiler system.