The vast majority of attention for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and I suppose most NHL Drafts, will be focused on the first round. And why not? Those prospects that are expected to be drafted there are among the best in their class. The most talented, the highest upside, and the projection of a NHL player are understandably going to be the ones most fans will care about. From a team perspective, while you want to find quality players throughout the draft, it's important to make that first round pick count.
However, this week, our profiles are going to look at a few long-shots. Players who were ranked very low by various services, if ranked at all. Prospects that may not even be drafted. We're looking at a few guys who could very well be around in the sixth round for New Jersey's final pick in 2013. Of course, this presumes some other team didn't like what they saw and took them sooner. I will kick this off with a look at Minnesota's Edina High defenseman, Parker Reno.
Who is Parker Reno?
According to his profile at Elite Prospects, Parker Reno is an 18-year old defenseman who largely played for Edina High last season. He's listed at 6'2" and 194 pounds and he has a right-handed shot. A quick look at his numbers, though, don't suggest he's all that of an offensive player.
Reno did get have his rights drafted by Lincoln of the USHL, but he has largely played for his school. Makes sense, given he is a team captain on top of being one of their better defensemen. The two games he appeared for Lincoln might have come after his season or during some sort of break. He missed nearly all of 2010-11 with injury, but bounced back in his junior and senior years. He did well enough to be named as a finalist for the Mr. Hockey Award, given to Minnesota's top high school senior player. Grant Besse won it this year, but it's an honor to be nominated all the same. Reno's committed to joining Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; so he will go through the ECAC for his next level of competition. For what it's worth (and it may not be), CSS ranked him 140th among North American skaters, a drop from 119th at the midterms. Why, I couldn't tell you.
You'll notice a listing for USA U-18 among his numbers. Reno appeared large enough on the national radar to be named to the USA U-18 team for the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament. The USA team didn't do so well, finishing seventh overall. Chris Peters at United Stats of Hockey had a good explanation as to why the team didn't feature USNTDP players. Basically, USA Hockey uses the tourney to get players outside of the system into international events. Hence, it's not the best possible roster and they may not do as well. For Reno, he got some experience and certainly looks from scouts attending the tournament. That's a positive even if the team's performance wasn't and it could lead to a team taking a chance on him on June 30.
What Experts Have Said About Parker Reno
There's not a lot of opinion about how Reno performed and what he'll do in the future. That shouldn't be a surprise since he is projected to be drafted late, if at all this year. Therefore, you have to take what you can get. There are two bits I did find from other sources. First, here's a short blurb from Parker Reno's short profile page at My NHL Draft by Russ Bitely:
He is a big sized D-man who carries a heavy shot and is fairly mobile for his large frame. He could be a bit more quicker on his skates, but will come in time. He makes good outlet passes and looks to be a steady stay-home defenseman. He might have benefited at Select 17s from having a well-rounded partner at the blue line in Anthony DeAngelo. NHL teams will give looksies with size, mobility, and physical game.Submitted by: Russ Bitely from the USA Hockey Player Development Camp – Select 17s (‘95s) – Rochester, NY – June 24th-29th
This is a rather old take, given that it references his time as a 17 year old player, which may have been months prior to the 2012 Hlinka tournament. Still, Reno most certainly does have a large frame. The fact that his numbers don't jump off the page would help the suggestion that he's a defensive defenseman. Anthony DeAngelo did play in that same tourney and it's possible the two played together; DeAngelo has been rather productive so it's possible that he was the puck-moving, more offensive player while Reno was the bigger guy better suited in his own zone.
Since Reno is a RPI commit, then there are RPI fans who have been tracking him in advance of his arrival in two seasons. While it's from January, Tom Reale of the RPI hockey blog Without A Peer had a more detailed take on Reno as a defender:
From the sound of things, there aren't too many flaws in Reno's game. He's bigger than the guy he's replacing on the roster (although it's not difficult to be bigger than Nick Bailen), he's got a heavy shot and has good speed considering his size. He's reportedly a stay-at-home defenseman with good passing skills, and word is he's not afraid to throw his weight around when he has to. Perhaps the one thing he's missing in comparison to Bailen is an offensive outlook, but you don't always need that when you're talking about defensemen.
The other things that keep coming up with regards to Reno is that he sees the play well enough that he is rarely out of position, and makes excellent decisions on where to place the puck when it's in his possession. The only knock that seems to be out there on Reno is that his overall speed could potentially be better, but considering that it's already decent for his size (and there's room for improvement), that's just more to be excited about when it comes to Reno.
I get the sense that RPI fans are excited about Reno as a future Engineer. Reale noted that he's their only committed defenseman for the moment, so he'll definitely get a chance to play right away. Based on his take of Reno as a player, there's not a whole lot to complain about. He's got size, he presumably knows how to use it, he's been solid in his own end, and he's not plodding either. It reads to me that his skating could get better, but if he projects out to be a defensive defenseman at the ECAC level, then I would think that would be his path if he makes it to the professional level.
A Little Video
That's right, there's actually a little video about Parker Reno on the Internet. Reno scored two goals for Edina High in this past season. Here's one of them, decently shot by a man with an Android phone:
An Opinion of Sorts
So why is he projected to go so late if there's not that much information about him that is critical of the player? Well, from my point of view, it may be an issue of upside. As in, it may not be high enough to warrant much attention. Reno may become a fine defenseman for RPI. He certainly has good size and I get the sense he'll get the opportunity to get minutes on day one in college. But it's a real unknown as far as whether he could be a professional hockey player, much less a NHL player. He certainly got some attention from scouts, if only because he was a finalist for Mr. Hockey this season (Minnesota high school hockey does stand out to a degree) and did appear at the Hlinka tournament. Yet, I couldn't tell you how well he did in said tourney nor how good this year's group of Minnesotan high school players are to suggest that he's some kind of a diamond in the rough.
That all said, if the Devils scouts have seen him and think he could have a future, then I wouldn't be opposed to seeing him taken in the sixth round if he's available. Provided the Devils drafted forwards with at least two of their other three picks, then I would have no issue with a defenseman being taken late. At that point in the draft, teams aren't (or at least shouldn't) be addressing significant needs. He'd be another player in the pipeline that can develop at his own pace. I have no doubt the Devils would be content with letting Reno go through all four years at RPI. At that point, it'll be clearer as far as what the future could hold for Reno in hockey and appropriate decisions could be made in response to that.
Should Reno not get drafted at all, which is a possibility, then he should still do the best he can because teams do pay attention to what goes on in college. Quality players that may have slipped through the draft when they were 17 or 18 do get signed or opportunities to be pro players.
Again, late round projected prospects aren't going to have a lot of information readily available. Still, I want to know your opinion about Parker Reno. Would you mind if the Devils did draft him in the sixth round? Do you think he could get drafted? If you've seen him play with Edina High, then what did you notice about him? Please leave your answers and other opinions about Reno in the comments. Thank you for reading.