2012 NHL Draft Scouting Report: Max Iafrate
Max Iafrate has been a player to watch for a few years now. Dating back to his years in the Detroit minor hockey season, Iafrate was always someone who attracted attention. Drafted in the first round of the 2010 OHL Draft by the Plymouth Whalers, Iafrate came into the OHL as a puck moving defenceman with high upside. In his first year in the OHL, Iafrate struggled with getting into the lineup on a daily basis. He had the same struggles that most rookies in the OHL have, however not having an opportunity to play consistently was an issue. In the offseason, Iafrate was traded to the Kitchener Rangers, and really found his role. In the past he tried to play an offensive, high-pressure game, however he really lacked consistency. In Kitchener, Iafrate focused solely on his defensive zone play. He quickly became one of the most consistent defenceman in Kitchener this season, and has really improved his NHL Draft stock. Iafrate projects as a top 6, defence first defenceman at the next level, and should be drafted in the mid to late fourth round.
Iafrate found his role as a smart; stay at home defenceman this year. Last season he seemed a bit lost at times in his own zone, but this year he almost looks like a different person. He showed strong positional play in his own zone, and was strong at angling opposition forwards into the boards and away from high potential scoring areas of the net. He is effective down low in puck battles, and really is effective at pinning opposition forwards away from the play. He continues to show strong mobility and agility, and above average footwork. He has strong four-way mobility, and strong transitional footwork. He reads the play well, and although he makes some questionable decisions at times, he does show some good individual puck skills.
My concerns with Iafrate are two fold. First, I’m not sure how much offense he will bring to the next level. In his younger days, he was a strong puck moving defenceman, however in his first year in the OHL he didn’t seem to be as confident with the puck. He still makes some skilled plays with the puck from time to time, however I really don’t see how much offense he will be able to bring at the next level. Perhaps its something that he develops as he gets older, but to this point, I’m not confident that he will. He also has some room to develop with his decision-making with the puck in all three zones. He has improved significantly versus where he was two years ago; however more work is still required.
Individual skill Rankings (out of 10)
Skating: 6.5 Skill : 6.5
Hockey Sense: 6.5
Positional Play: 7.5
Iafrate projects out as a 4-6 defenceman at the next level. At this point I still have questions about his offensive upside, however I like where he has taken his game this year.
Iafrate is projected to be a mid to late fourth round draft selection, and should be drafted anywhere between 100th to 120th overall.