Player: Dylan Samberg
Height: 6’3” Weight: 190 lbs.
Team: Hermantown(MN) High School
Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 67th among North American skaters
What I Like
Rangy, athletic frame
Samberg is really athletic for a 6’3” defender. He’s light on his feet and moves well in all four directions, allowing him to cover a lot of ice defensively. His pro-level mobility gives him a great base to work from as he continues to add finer points to his game.
Samberg is a good golfer that is known for booming the ball off the tee. That big shot carries over onto the ice as well. Samberg saw some power play time at the end of this season with the Waterloo Blackhawks and displayed a nice ability to get off his big shot. He has potential to be a power play weapon at the next level.
While some other prospects in this Draft have been followed closely since they were peewees, and have plateaued a bit in their development, Samberg was barely on the radar for the NHL Draft as little as 12 months ago. The fact that he has shown such a strong upward trajectory over the past year bodes well for him continuing to trend upwards in the coming years.
What I Don’t Like
Samberg is one of the most unproven players in the early rounds of the Draft. He’s played a grand total of 14 games of junior hockey. He’s got great physical characteristics and looked great at the high school level, but there are a number of players eligible for this Draft that once fit that profile, but fell off the radar because they couldn’t translate those skills to the faster pace of junior hockey.
Lacks poise with the puck
When pressured with the puck, Samberg sometimes has the tendency to punt away possession too quickly, rather than holding the puck and making a play to find a second or third option and maintain possession of the puck. That’s something that may improve with more experience and development, but if he can’t make that jump, it will really limit his upside.
In a deeper draft, Samberg might be a later round pick, but with a scarcity of options available, teams may be more willing to gamble on a raw player with lots of upside. Most projections seem to have Samberg in the third round range, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he snuck into the second round of the Draft for a team willing to take a home run swing.
Samberg is one of the rawest players in the Draft and will definitely be a project, despite being a relatively high pick. He was originally scheduled to play a year in the USHL before college, but after Minnesota Duluth lost defenseman Neal Pionk to the NHL, Samberg will head straight to college hockey. It may take Samberg a few years in Duluth to adjust and develop, but if he continues on his upward trajectory, he has potential as a first or second pairing defenseman at the NHL level.