|Kevin Guiltinan (27) possesses a number of highly sought after skills|
In a reality series for seventeen year old hockey players across North America and around the world, one player that can be credited for dusting off memories of old school hockey for fans in Prince George and around the BCHL, has been short listed for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft to be held in the home of the NHL New Jersey Devils.
Kevin Guiltinan finds his name on the NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings in the 162nd spot among North American skaters. Kevin is the type of player that plays on the edge and, at the age of seventeen, can hold an entire team accountable for their decisions and actions on the ice. There are very few players in the game today that command the level of respect that Guiltinan did during his rookie season in the BCHL.
Guiltinan is a hard nosed player that brings back an aspect of the game that has been placed on the shelf and almost forgotten about. A fierce competitor on the ice, a leader in the dressing room and a respectful gentleman away from the arena, Kevin earned the respect and adoration of the fans in Prince George. Whenever #27 was on the ice, a measurable increase in adrenaline levels could be felt in the building and more often than not Kevin would deliver with a thunderous body check or an intimidating stare down after the whistle.
In his first year in the BCHL, Kevin developed into an effective defenceman that could control the play in his own end and shift the play to the other end of the ice. Opposing players would give him space and back off from the crease when he was on the ice. That is one area of the game that I have watched and not appreciated. Having a player like Kevin Guiltinan in the game allowed the Prince George goaltenders to focus on their game without fear of being run in the process of making saves.
"I was able to focus on the puck when he was out there," said Spruce Kings graduating goaltending, Kirk Thompson. "When Kevin was on the ice, I never had to worry about being run or anything else stupid happening out there. I always knew he was going to do his job whether it was getting in the lane and blocking the shot or steering the player to the outside."
Tempering his intimidating side without losing it is a project that the Prince George Spruce Kings coaching staff took on this season. Watching the raw player being shaped this past season was a source of pride for the team and I know that he will continue to develop into a player that any NHL team could stand to benefit from having on their roster. I can't help but think of some of the hybrid enforcers that are out there right now and see myself making comparisons to the likes of Dion Phaneuf, but he plays meaner than the Maple Leafs captain.
"Kevin is definitely a bit of a throw back player," said Spruce Kings General Manager, Mike Hawes. "He plays the game hard, with passion and competes to win every shift. He's also a great teammate who is very eager to come to the aid of any team member at any time."
"My favourite all-time player is Scott Stevens," said Kevin Guiltian of his style of play. "As for a current guy, intensity and tenacity wise, I would have to say Milan Lucic."
On the NHL Central Scouting Defenseman Checklist, Kevin Guiltinan scores some high marks in the key areas of competitiveness, physical play, hockey sense, defensive play and all three psychological factors of leadership, communication and confidence.
"Kevin is a tremendous defenseman who defends very well," Hawes added. "He blocks a ton of shots, sees the ice well, recognizes the smart play and makes a good first pass coming out of the defensive end."
"I think that skating is one of my biggest assets," said Guiltinan via a phone conversation. "My stride allows me to cover a lot of distance quickly which makes me an effective penalty killer."
There are a number of upsides to Kevin Guiltinan for any team thinking of bringing an old school element to their roster and having that physical presence from a player that is not afraid to get dirty and do what has to be done.
"Most importantly to our team, Kevin is a terrific young man who has goals and works very hard every day to achieve those goals," said Mike Hawes. "He is the type of player and person that any team would love to have. Whichever team drafts Kevin will be very fortunate to have him."
At this time last year, the Spruce Kings had two players ranked by NHL Central Scouting in Jujhar Khaira and Paul De Jersey. Khaira was taken by the Edmonton Oilers 63rd overall while De Jersey, who was an overager in the draft, went undrafted. Getting your name on the draft list is one thing and having it called is something else. Kevin knows this and remains grounded in the whole process, content with the prospect of what might be and working hard to achieve the dream of every young hockey player.
"I'm excited for the future, but there is still a lot of work to be done." Guiltinan acknowledged of his current status.
A total of seven players that we were able to see throughout the year in the BCHL are on the list (eight when you include Chad Katunar from the list of North American goaltenders), speaking to the strength of this junior hockey league. Adam Tambellini, from the BCHL Champion Surrey Eagles and a former team mate of Kevin Guiltinan when the pair were in Vernon, leads the charge currently ranked 42nd. David Pope (67, West Kelowna Warriors), Luke Ripley (86, Powell River Kings), Nolan De Jong (111, Victoria Grizzlies), Dane Birks (121, Merritt Centennials) and Jedd Soleway (131, Penticton Vees) round out the list of BCHL players. 2013 NHL Central Scouting North American Skaters Final Rankings