Saturday, December 18, 2010
Martin Marincin, Part 1: Pre-WHL
The Oilers ended up taking Martin Marincin, a 6'4, 187 lb defenseman out of the Slovak Extraliga (the 5th strongest professional league in Europe). At that age, Marincin had put up 6 points in 35 games as part of the Slovak U20's (their WJHC squad), a team that had gone 5-31 playing in a men's league. It's hard to take Marincin's stats from that league and project it in any way, because he was playing on a team that scored a maximum of 1-2 goals per game, while other defensemen to come out of that league were usually playing on actual teams.
Marincin had had an inconsistent 2010 WJHC, sometimes looking dominant with his size, positioning, and offensive instincts in some games, while looking slow and hesitant in others. Many pegged him as a "project" heading into the draft - someone with all the tools and raw skills to be a good NHLer, but was a little rough around the edges and would take time. That was a fair assessment - Marincin was big, a good skater for his size, and could move and shoot the puck with his head up. And although he was more known for his stick-work and positioning, he wasn't afraid to use his body (as lanky as it was) to do the job.
Fast forward to the NHL draft, where the recent Oil Change documentaries show us how high the Oilers' brass was on Marincin. Head scout Stu MacGregor had Marincin pegged as a 1st-rounder, and was pushing for the Oilers to take him with the 31st overall selection. After taking Tyler Pitlick with that selection, the Oilers used the "Nash Pick" to draft Marincin, and MacGregor was overjoyed that he had fallen to 46th.
A few days later, Marincin was taken 1st overall in the CHL Import Draft by the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, an honorable accolade but also a predictable one given that he was one of the higher-drafted Europeans who had committed to play in the CHL that year.
At the Oilers' rookie camp, Marincin showed great promise. His size, skating ability, and puck-movement were all immediately noticed, and he looked like he fit right in with some of the more mature defensive prospects. He was also positioning himself correctly against some pretty good forwards (Hall, Eberle, etc), and did not look out of place at all playing with the older prospects. But it was obvious he wasn't ready for the NHL yet - he was only 187 lb, and at 6'4, he needed to be at least 215 to really make an impact at this level. So he got sent down on September 20 to Prince George to prepare for his first NHL season.