The least likely member of this year’s top 10 is Greg Chase. Taken so late in the entry draft 2013 the cleaning staff had moved the vacuum cleaners into the arena hallway, Greg Chase has the look of an exceptional draft steal.
PREVIOUSLY NUMBER TEN ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2004: D Roman Tesliuk (0)
- December 2005: L Dragan Umicevic (0)
- December 2006: D Taylor Chorney (61)
- December 2007: D Jeff Petry (180)
- December 2008: L Linus Omark (66)
- December 2009: C Anton Lander (68)
- December 2010: D Alex Plante (10)
- December 2011: D David Musil (0)
- December 2012: D Dillon Simpson (0)
Petry was a second round pick and I was slow to recognize him, other than that we’re about right I’d say. The #10 slot shouldn’t produce many players (no system is that deep) unless it’s a goalie or a college defenseman (this is me changing script to cover ass). Chase’s story is promising, and he does appear to be a prospect on his way to better days. An agitator and a skill player, he’s also a center.
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- Pronman: Chase entered the season with a decent amount of hype and he figured to make a push to be drafted in the top two rounds. While he was somewhat underwhelming, his skills make him worth knowing, the best of which is his hockey sense. Scouts praise his offensive mind and vision. He can slow the game down when he has the puck, hit targets through small lanes, and move the puck quickly when need be. He also has good hands, and when he is on, his offensive upside is apparent. His skating earns divided opinions, with one scout calling it a positive, and another saying his first steps can be a tad sluggish. His physical game and consistency are areas of concern as well. He has average size, but he does not tend to be imposing with his board work. Finally, his game-to-game on-ice work ethic could use improvement, especially in the defensive end.
- Red Line Report: “A real Red Line favourite who flies under the radar. He’s a fine puck distributor who shows great patience and possesses the touch to constantly find linemates off the cycle. Keeps feet going after making a pass to sustain pressure in offensive zone. Versatile forward has spent time on every line and been effective in every role. Shows up every shift and his play away from the puck is impressive, makes things happen by constantly filling open ice. Refuses to back down in contested areas; first player into the corners. Wide skating stance helps him maintain balance and uses edges well to maximize glide. Hungry player has a great compete level and looks to make a difference every shift. Not as dynamic offensively as other prospects on this list, but plays a well-rounded, consistent game.”
- Chase: “I didn’t even watch (the draft) because I was so nervous. I was at my lake and we were all sitting around. When I got the phone call, it was pretty incredible celebrating that proud moment with my whole family.”
POINTS BY DISCIPLINE, GREG CHASE
|CHASE 2012-13||69, 13-23-36||69, 3-9-12||69, 1-0-1||69, 17-32-49|
|CHASE 2013-14||23, 10-7-17||23, 4-4-8||23, 0-0-0||23, 14-11-25|
This is exactly what you hope for after the draft but it rarely happens. Major step forward offensively at even strength and on the power play, meaning his TOI and production increased in lock step with roster turnover. Chase is moving up the depth chart and should be productive this year and we should look for a dominant season in 2014-15 with the Hitmen. Chase has cooled recently, but that happens over a long season. His early season was exceptional.
PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING
- Summer 2013: 19
- Winter 2013: 10
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING THIS SEASON
- Eastern conference scout:“When his game is on and he’s doing the work of the foot soldier [Chase] is a pretty effective player, but he’s got to decide what kind of player he wants to be.”
- Chase:“If I can get into a groove early and get the points rolling, it’s only going to help our team. I know last year I was asked if I had a goal and I said 50. This year, I’d say a point-per-game would be a reasonable goal for myself. Maybe it’ll be more than that. With the amount of icetime I get, if I’m not putting up a point per game, I wouldn’t say it’s a failure, but I wouldn’t be doing my job.”
- Included in Subway Series against Russia, along with Jujhar Khaira and Mitchell Moroz.
- Hitmen coach Mike Williamson: “Greg’s a very gifted hockey player. Offensively, if he gets an opportunity he can do something with it. We’ve seen him finish a lot of chances this year and he’s done a good job in that area. Greg’s got to continue to develop as an all-around player and be hard-working player all the time. That’s an area I think he’s made strides in, but has a long ways to go.”
- Mitchell Moroz: “We know the kind of player he is and we know he’s not going to do anything — he’s not going to challenge anybody. He tries to be a pest, but he doesn’t do a very good job of it.” (this quote is from last spring and is hilarious now that they’re both Oilers prospects).
This is a difficult question to answer, because we’re not quite certain what Chase will be on arrival. There’s probably a “responsible energy forward” job available for him when he’s ready, but there’s also a chance he’ll spend his NHL career closer to the heart of the order. If Chase (6.0, 204) can play on a skill line, that changes the dynamic in a big way.
Chase is a fascinating player, because his 17-year old season warranted a much better draft number and his early 18-year old season appears to confirm it but these are early days. Folks, we don’t know what he is yet. Here’s a comparison between Chase and other recent WHL players chosen by Edmonton in their draft+1 seasons (ranked by EV points per game):
|CURTIS HAMILTON 2010-11||62, 17-33-50 .806||62, 6-18-24 .387||62, 3-5-8||62, 26-56-82 1.32|
|GREG CHASE 2013-14||23, 10-7-17 .739||23, 4-4-8 .348||23, 0-0-0||23, 14-11-25 1.09|
|TYLER PITLICK 2010-11||56, 22-19-41 .732||56, 5-16-21 .375||56, 0-0-0||56, 27-35-62 1.11|
|JORDAN EBERLE 2008-09||61, 20-13-33 .541||61, 12-24-36 .590||61, 3-2-5||61, 35-39-74 1.21|
It’s interesting to compare the quality of team each player had around him:
- Hamilton’s team scored 221 even-strength goals in 72 games (3.07 per game)
- Pitlick’s team scored 180 even-strength goals in 72 games (2.50 per game)
- Chase’s team has scored 51 even-strength goals in 24 games (2.12 per game)
- Eberle’s team scored 152 even-strength goals in 72 games (2.11 per game)
I don’t know what to make of all of this, Eberle’s team was absolutely the worst of the group and in my opinion he would have rocked the WHL at 18 on another team. What that tells us about Chase after 23 games? If you could tell me, I’d be in your debt. 23 games in, he looks like the modern Bobby Clarke, but we have no TOI or shots on goal and let’s not go crazy here until we go crazy here. Crazy.
I’ll bet you money based on his interviews Greg Chase is not thinking about making it to the NHL in an offensive role—but there might be a real player here (small sample size alert).
I’m standing on that very narrow ledge in picking Greg Chase as the #10 prospect in the organization.