Luca Munzenberger gave Oilers fans the only readily available scouting report on him draft night: “I’m a big defenceman, who plays hard, focuses on the defensive game. If there’s a possibility to join the rush, I’ll do it.”
Scouting director Tyler Wright said “he’s a big body guy, played at the World Juniors here during Christmas time. He’s in the University of Vermont right now working out and training there. We talked at length with the people at Vermont. We’re really excited. He’s a big body guy that plays a heavy game and now we’ve got to develop him.”
What else do we know?
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here’s the latest!
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WHAT ABOUT LUCA?
So, let’s piece this together. Munzenberger played for Germany at the World Juniors, and the event was held at Rogers Place in Edmonton. Ken Holland, Tyler Wright and a large portion of the amateur staff (North American scouts) would have had access to live viewings.
Munzenberger was listed as 6.02, 190, and he would have just turned 18. He is a LHD. Playing in five games for an undermanned Germany, he scored zero points and was 3-7 in even strength goals. Here are the game stories:
- December 25 versus Finland: Munzenberger played 23:14 with one shot on goal and a -1 in a 5-3 loss to the Finns. His TOI total ranked second among defensemen on the German squad. He was 1-2 in EV goals, all three coming in the second period.
- December 26 versus Canada: Munzenberger played 23:24 and was -4 in a 16-2 loss. He was 0-4 at even strength and second again in ice time. Defenseman Simon Gnyp was -9 in the game and led German blue in ice time (29:36). Germany appears to have played the tournament with five defenders.
- December 28 versus Slovakia: Munzenberger played 25:49 and finished even in a 4-3 win for Germany. His TOI was second again (always Gnyp) and he had two shots on goal. He wasn’t on the ice for a goal in this game.
- December 30 versus Switzerland: Munzenberger played 17:26 and finished even in a 5-4 win for Germany. His TOI was fourth among rearguards, he took a penalty, played just four minutes in each of the first and second periods, and then almost nine minutes in the third period. A weird split, he led Germany in minutes during the third period. He went 1-1 in goals, but it’s a strange boxscore. Germany was up 4-0 after two and won the game 5-4. That means four goals against Germany in the third period, Munzenberger was on the ice for 8:35 (almost half the period) and one goal against in the period. So, Germany allowed three goals in the 11:25 he was off the ice. Interesting. I wonder if he was hurt for a time in the first and or second period.
- January 2 versus Russia: Munzenberger played 18:24 and finished +1 in a 2-1 loss to Russia. His TOI was fourth and again he played less than six minutes in each of the first two periods and eight minutes in the third period. Had one shot on goal, was 1-0 on ice even strength goal differential.
One article quoted a scout at the WJ’s: “He was another guy who grew on me as the tournament went on. A little on the rugged side and he made that good first pass. He wasn’t on our radar prior to the tournament but he showed well and looks like a draft.” Germany finished 5-19 (20 percent) in even strength goals, placing Munzenberger’s 3-7 (30 percent) totals in a positive light. Germany scored 30 percent of the goals with Munzenberger on the ice, 14 percent without him on the ice at even strength. His shutdown reputation proves out in a small sample (World Juniors) and we’ll see about the season to come.
One final thing. Munzenberger is a big defenseman with good speed and shutdown ability. Since arriving in Edmonton as general manager, Ken Holland’s Oilers have drafted three defensemen. The two drafted inside the top 100 overall (Philip Broberg, Munzenberger) have size, speed and a defensive reputation. I expect we’re going to see a big, strong and mobile defense in Edmonton through the rest of the Holland era. Whether that’s a benefit or a fault (Ethan Bear’s exit was not a progressive move despite his lack of size) remains to be seen. There’s more than one way to build a successful team, the big units start arriving with Dmitri Samorukov and that happens likely sometime in 2021-22.
The Oilers signed Stuart Skinner on the weekend, two-year and two-way deal. He isn’t eligible for waivers this season, so can be sent to Bakersfield without worry of losing him. I wrote about Skinner at The Athletic in the spring, and his strong 2020-21 season puts him on a more promising flight path than in the past. I don’t know that Skinner makes it as an NHL player, but do know the organization believes in him. That’s often a key element in making the NHL grade, after that there’s luck (good team in front of goalie) and staying healthy.
In many ways, evaluating goaltenders is very much like monitoring young pitchers trying to get a foothold in the majors. If they can stay healthy and the organization believes in them, chances are an NHL goalie comes out the other side. How good the goalie is, and how long his career, tends to be somewhat random as well. Skinner has the backing of the organization and he’s healthy. The net in Bakersfield is his, with Ilya Konovalov also in photo and holding his own solid resume that is in many ways more impressive (wildly consistent). It will be an interesting battle, expect Skinner sees some NHL time in 2021-22.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning, we hit the air on TSN1260 will a big sports mountain to talk about from the weekend. Dan Ralph from the Canadian Press will join us to discuss Week One in the CFL and all the craziness from each of the four games. At 11, Jason Gregor from The Jason Gregor Show on TSN1260 will pop in at 11 to chat about the Elks game, the Jays, Olympics and are the Oilers done? 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!