This begins the series on 2013 draft picks and filling in the blanks a couple of weeks after draft day. The draft buzz has gone away and we’re left with a large group of prospects to sift through and discuss. I’m starting with Jackson Houck because of his interesting ties to the Oilers, his skill set and the very nice things I’ve read about him online.
Redline Report: #40 overall
- Highly underrated! Showed leadership carrying his young team on both offence and defence following a major roster overhaul. Blossoming power winger uses size to establish and hold position around crease. Already tough to move off the puck and has a frame that could still add 20 pounds. Has a great understanding of how to lean on defenders and use his frame to separate them from the puck. Fearless and loves to initiate contact. Goes into traffic with speed and can clear out contested areas. Aggressive style draws defenders to him and opens up ice for ‘mates. Accurate, heads-up passer distributes well in role of setup man. He’s a 200-foot player who puts in the same tireless effort at both ends. Also a willing combatant who will take on anybody. Can change the momentum of a game with a big rush, big hit, or a big goal. Skating is the one knock – lacks initial explosion and top end gear.
COREY PRONMAN: #91 OVERALL
- Houck entered this season known for his intangibles and physical play, and he added a scoring touch to his repertoire, leading the Giants in points. He has just average size, but he still displays notably above-average physical value, delivering big hits and winning a lot of battles through his effort. He has the heart and soul elements desirable in a good penalty killer. His offensive upside, however, draws some divide among scouts. One says he is very average, while another says his puck skills enable him to have potential in that area. He protects the puck well, drives the net, and has solid creativity. Skating will be his main issue. He plays with good energy, but he struggles to get to where he wants to go.
THE DRAFT: #94 OVERALL
- Houck: “It’s a little weird if you think about it…Chris Chelios used to babysit me.” Story is here.
- Houck on role models: “I really like to watch [Milan] Lucic [of the Boston Bruins]. I like to watch him and [the Montreal Canadiens' Brendan] Gallagher because Gallagher was my role model last year when he was with the Giants and I was a 16-year-old. Watching Lucic and Gallagher, knowing where they started [with the Giants] and seeing where there are now, tells you what’s possible. Lucic, he’s a fun player to watch, he’s physical. Gallagher, he works his bag off.”
- His father was taken by the Oilers in the 1981 entry draft (#71 overall). Despite Houck the younger being selected later (#94), I’d argue his draft day was a better one. A nice story about the family is here.
- Houck on next season in the WHL: “I think I’ll have more of an offensive role. They didn’t put that much pressure on me to score this year, second half of the season they kind of did. Offence will be a big part of it, along with being part of the growth of the team, maybe wearing a letter.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Jackson Houck
- Feb 27, 1995
- 6.0, 186
- 69, 23-34-57 (Vancouver, WHL)
- NHLE: 82, 8-12-20
- Led his team in points this season
- Acquired: Oilers acquired #94 (Houck), #83 (Bogdan Yakimov) and #113 (Aidan Muir) from St. Louis for #57 overall (William Carrier).
- MacGregor: “Well with Mac, skill is really important to him. That’s something that he’s looked for. Obviously the other intangibles of character, hard work, quality of people and players who are passionate to play the game are important, but he really has a high regard for skill.”
I think that’s the story here, the club aimed a little higher than in previous seasons in the skill department. Let’s compare Houck’s stats with recent WHL forwards drafted in the MBS era:
- Houck 69, 23-34-57 (.826 points per game)
- Mitchell Moroz 66, 16-9-25 (.379 points per game)
- Travis Ewanyk 72, 16-11-27 (.375 points per game)
Houck’s PIM total is about half of the number posted by both Moroz and Ewanyk but he’s also clearly more skilled than the other two at the same age. As a matter of fact, Houck’s 17-year old (draft) season is the best offensive season posted by any of the three prospects (Ewanyk is now at pro level and Moroz has one season of eligibility left).
Jackson Houck has issues all his own (skating is an obvious one) but projects to play farther up the lineup than Ewanyk or Moroz should he develop into an NHL player. I ranked Houck as the #13 overall prospect in the summer top 30.
Which draft prospect would you like to read about next?