NHL teams contemplating picking Jordan Martinook in this week-end's entry draft may want to try on a comment from his Vancouver Giants general manager for size.
"He's very good at scoring on the rush, much like Milan and Evander were able to," said Scott Bonner.
Milan, of course, is Milan Lucic, a left-winger who tallied 30 times in the regular season for the Giants' 2007 Memorial Cup team and has produced over 25 goals and 120 penalty minutes for the Boston Bruins the past two NHL campaigns. Evander is Evander Kane, a left-winger who put up a Giants' record 48 goals in 2008-09 and scored 30 this season for the Winnipeg Jets despite, at 20 years of age, still being eligible for WHL action.
Bonner isn't saying that Marti-nook will immediately be a front-line player like those two are. He does think that the centre has some of their attributes, and it wasn't some fluke that he went from 11 goals with the Giants as a rookie in 2010-11 to 40 goals last season.
"His improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 was off the charts, and if he continues to develop at that rate someone will have a very good prospect," Bonner said of the Leduc, Atla, native. "He's improved his skating and strength and always had a pro-calibre shot.
"We've had a few 40-goal guys in our history. With Jordie, you can throw in that he's 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds."
He's also turning 20 in July. There's the rub. He's two years older than the vast majority of players who will be selected in Pittsburgh in the seven rounds Friday and Saturday.
Do teams take an 18-year-old, figuring on greater upside and development time? Is Martinook a guy who took advantage of playing against 16-and 17-year-olds and won't do as well at the next level? Or is he a late bloomer worth the risk?
Teams are inquiring, at least. The Buffalo Sabres had him in for a visit, and he's also interviewed with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers.
"From what I'm hearing from scouts, it's not an offensive-minded draft and scoring 40 goals opened some eyes," said Martinook.
He insists that he's trying to not get caught up in the possibilities, worried that being passed over completely would be especially disappointing then.
"I'm going to try to treat it like any other day," said Martinook.
The Giants did have a similar situation in 2010 with Craig Cunningham. He put up better numbers as a 19-year-old (37 goals, 97 points compared to Martinook's 40 goals, 64 points) and had the 2007 Memorial Cup run on his resumé as well.
Cunningham, at 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds, doesn't have Martinook's size, though.
Cunningham ended up being selected in the fourth round, 97th overall, by the Bruins in 2010.
"I think his season this year would have made Martinook a top-two round pick if he was 18," said Bonner.
"He's only 20 and I think teams are looking at the older player with more interest every year, since there's less guessing involved."
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