In the second round of the 2009 draft, #47 overall, the Rangers selected Ethan Werek, playing with the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL. Werek, while not on the first round radar, was a fairly highly regarded pick when the Rangers selected him. Some were surprised he was still available so late in the draft. The 18-year old Werek was coming off a great year in juniors, putting up a line of 32-32-64 in 66 games, with 83 PIMS to match. Hockeysfuture currently has him ranked as the #14 prospect in the system, but that doesn’t include this year he is having at the junior level (17-20-37, +10 in 31 games).
Werek is the definition of a power forward. The 6’0 191-pound center uses his size and reach to go into the dirty areas and get some garbage goals while roughing it up a little bit in front of the net. This work ethic and edge parlays very nicely into strong forechecking skills as well. Werek also showcases a fantastic passing ability, comparable to that of Michael Del Zotto. His ability to win face-offs is average,
Werek’s main weakness is his skating ability. Once he gets going, he has decent speed, but it takes a while for that to happen. He more than makes up for this short coming with the aforementioned play in front of the net, and being unafraid to collect garbage goals. Unfortunately, this grit and edge that he plays with tends to lead to some undisciplined penalties, noted by the 83 PIMS in his draft year.
Werek’s greatest asset is his drive to play in high traffic areas. He’s not an agitator like Sean Avery, but he will finish his checks and look to knock people off the puck. If he’s comparable to anyone on the current Rangers roster, it would be Ryan Callahan.
Expect Werek to show up on many people’s radar after he finishes up this season with Kingston. Next year, he will get an invite to camp, and will be in the same position that Michael Del Zotto found himself in this past preseason. Play well, earn a spot on the roster, or else be returned to the OHL for an over-age year.
Image Credit: ranger.nhl.com