It wasn’t an easy 2012-13 season for Brandon Wheat Kings defenceman Ryan Pulock but he has found a way to maintain top prospect status nonetheless.
Pulock is a very productive player from the blueline. In 61 games for the Wheat Kings last season he recorded 14 goals and 45 points, which put him in a tie for the team lead in scoring and among the top 20 defensive scorers in the WHL. Prior to this season, Pulock was a member of Canada’s bronze medal winning U18 team, where he had two points in six games.
That offensive output is Pulock’s primary asset, but he brings a lot of good with him. He’s a very steady defender who makes good reads and moves the puck up ice as well. At 6-feet, 211 pounds, he has the size to throw big hits and engage physically and does. His defensive game has also progressed a long way from when he first broke into the WHL as he has been forced to expand his role beyond offensive defenceman.
Concerns with Pulock surround his mobility and his ceiling. He doesn’t have the greatest footspeed and is prone to getting beaten while skating backwards by speedier forwards. It’s something that can be worked on, but is a concern at the next level nonetheless. With respect to his ceiling, some feel that he may already be as good as he’s going to get. While he could certainly play as an offensive specialist of sorts in the NHL, if there’s no further growth in his game he will be surpassed by other defenders in this draft.
Of the defenders in this draft class, Pulock may have the best offensive tools and, as such a steady influence in the back end, he will be drafted high accordingly. While the concerns about his game are warranted, he still has the ability to be a defender in the league even if he doesn’t blossom into a top pairing player.
Expect Pulock to be a mid-first round pick.
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