BUFFALO, NY — Logan Stanley had no shortage of help to prepare for the NHL draft process.
Stanley leaned on his cousin, Washington Capitals forward Michael Latta, for advice as he attempts to carve out his own path to the NHL.
The cousins usually connected once a week during the hockey season, with Latta, a 2009 third-round selection of the Nashville Predators, providing guidance for his younger cousin.
“He went through all this — the combine, the draft — he kind of just said, ‘Enjoy it, work hard, you’re still a young kid so they’re not going to base your career off of this week,’” Stanley said at the recent NHL scouting combine. “He just said work hard, enjoy it and do your best.
“He watches [my games] when he can, he’s busy too with Washington, but he sees some.”
Anyone who watches Stanley can immediately see his biggest asset is his size. At 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, he had the longest wingspan during the combine testing at 82.75 inches — a full 1.75 inches longer than the next prospect.
With his size, it’s not surprising the scouting report on the defenseman is that he’s an intimidating presence on the blue line. However, Stanley also skates well for his size and rarely gets beat wide. His size also gives him a large reach, making it difficult for opponents to get around his active stick.
Stanley is at his best when he’s playing a simple, physical puck-moving game. For Team Canada at the Under-18 World Championship in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Stanley helped make up a strong second pairing along with under-aged blue liner Nicolas Hague.
“Someone who is hard to play against defensively, going to give a good effort every night and someone who competes hard,” Stanley said, describing his game. “Trying to watch [Shea] Weber and try and play like him, [he's a] good skater, and obviously he’s had a great career so far. He’s a leader, definitely someone I look up to.
“I think just how hard he plays every game. He works hard and plays a hard game so I think just playing like that.”
Stanley was the 19th-ranked North American skater in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, up from 23 in the mid-term rankings.
With ISS Hockey, Stanley went from 27th in the February ranking to 25th in the final ranking.
“He’s a real draft wild card,” ISS Hockey Scouting Director Dennis MacInnis said. “He’s the type of guy that anytime after 17, I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes. He’s one of the most improved players since the start of the year.
“I think most of it was his confidence. For a big guy, he’s very mobile. There’s no questions about his skating or anything like that. He’s just got that tremendous combination of size, skating, compete level and hockey sense.”
Stanley scored five goals and 12 assists in 65 regular-season games while playing for the Windsor Spitfires this season. He added one goal in five Ontario Hockey League playoff games.
Away from the rink, with his down time, the Waterloo, Ontario, native likes to work on his golf game.
“I took a few weeks off after the season, but [working out] never really stops,” he said. “On a day off, I play a round of golf or just hang out with my family. [My golf game] is all right, needs some improvement.”
On the ice, scouts would like to see him improve on his offensive creativity. Additionally, he needs to learn to release his shot from the point quicker and use his large frame more to his advantage on a more consistent basis.
With the Flyers picking at No. 18 on Friday, Stanley will likely be available for them.
“He just needs time to figure out what [type of defenseman] he is because he likes to go with [the puck] once in a while,” MacInnis said. “He can’t handle the puck [well], but he can skate. Once he figures out what he is, I think there’s tremendous upside with the kid.
“Once he figures [the puck handling] out, his confidence has come a long way, and his game has really grown as the season has gone on. We project him more as a Top-4, shutdown, defenseman more than an offensive guy.”