WHO DO WE HAVE WITH JUSTIN LEMCKE?
Justin Lemcke is one of the best OHL defenseman available in this year’s draft and is an effective, big, two-way defender. He’s probably within the best 10 OHL defensemen in the upcoming NHL draft, ranked No. 137 on the NHL Central Scouting ranking. There is every chance that teams are more interested in him beyond his ranking number, as Lemcke has something you can’t teach – size. Standing at about 6’2 currently, Lemcke can still end up growing a bit as genetics are in his favour; his father is 6’7.
My new ‘Tyler Bertuzzi award’ (Guy I think will go way ahead of everyone’s projections) is Justin Lemcke. Right shot D has a lot of tools
— Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune) May 22, 2015
Lemcke progressed offensively, continued to play a hard, aggressive style while playing an effective deface first game. He’s a player.
— Sean Lafortune (@SeanLafortune) May 22, 2015
- Sean Lafortune, The Scout: “I’ll be the first to admit that I’m probably higher on Lemcke then most other who invest time in the OHL. I appreciate the way he plays, the compete level that he brings and the growth offensively that he has shown throughout the year. A smart, calculated defender who oozes toughness, he won’t be for everyone. While his primary tools project for him to be ah honest, shut down defender who leans on guys and plays safe, honest minutes, he showed some offensive growth this year, managing the puck well and utilizing his shot on the powerplay. His offensive numbers, specially his goals, improved significantly this year, and if he continues on the same projection he may surprise those who doubt the offensive tools. He will need to continue to work on his footwork and agility, he’s a quality skater north to south, moves well given his massive frame, just need to continue to work on his edges/pivots, as he lacks explosiveness and can be exploited in transitions, but makes up for it with his hockey sense and ability to read plays. Add in the fact that he’s a right shot defender, his value is higher than similar players. Could go either way, but there’s alot to like about what he’s done this year, thoroughly believe he’ll be an NHL defender.” Source
- Brock Otten, OHL Prospects: “An underrated player for this year’s draft. Seems to be left out of the conversation among OHL blue liners because his stats aren’t as sexy. But Lemcke was a horse for the Bulls this year, playing a ton of minutes in all situations. He’s got great size at 6’2, 200lbs and really gained the confidence to play with more of an edge as the season went on. With his terrific mobility and his increasing desire to assert himself physically, he profiles as a big time player in his own end. But his offensive skills are improving as well. He really seemed to get better in this regard as the season went on, especially when it came to using his skating ability to jump up in the play as the 3rd or 4th man in. He’s still got some work to do with his first pass and decision making with the puck, but the necessary skills are present for him to develop into a quality defender at both ends.” Source
- George Burnett, Hamilton Bulldogs: He’s a physical, steady leader in the D-zone with an ability to contribute at both ends of the ice. He had the second most points among Belleville defencemen, and the team’s second highest penalty minute tally at 79. Lemcke is the ultimate teammate — a quiet but confident guy who is more than worthy of being considered in the top 100. (Paraphrased from The Spec’s Teri Pecoskie)
Lemcke has had a steady season on a Belleville Bulls team that was trending up at the end of the year. There was most likely a few NHL scouts taking in some of the final games at the Yardman who may have liked what they saw. Lemcke earned an invite to the Draft Combine despite a low North American ranking.
WHERE WILL HE GO?
Steady, large, physical defensemen who can skate well but have yet to post impressive numbers are hard to project. A lot will depend on what specific teams are looking for. Something scouts/managers may consider will be the development potential that Lemcke will have in the next 2-3 years. The Bulldogs will have an elite facility by OHL standards this upcoming season. Jordan Subban will surely be playing in the AHL next year, which should correlate to an increase in power play minutes for Lemcke. As the Bulldogs should be pushing for a deeper playoff run over the next two seasons, taking a flyer on Lemcke in the 4th round may end up being a huge feather in the hat of an NHL GM.
THE 2015 NHL DRAFT SERIES
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Featured Image: Aaron Bell/OHL Images