NHL-caliber shot makes Pulock one to watch
TORONTO -- Simply put, defenseman Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings is a warrior.
Despite missing considerable time in 2012-13 with a fractured orbital bone and then a broken wrist, he impressed the scouts enough to earn a No. 12-ranking on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top 2013 NHL Draft-eligible North American skaters.
"He does everything well," Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan told NHL.com. "He's got the hardest shot I've seen in years. He's so smart. The thing that's even more impressive is I've seen him take seven or eight super hits -- body checks and hip checks -- laying guys into the boards. He's got all the tools to be a top pick."
Sullivan went as far as to say that Pulock has an NHL-caliber shot right now.
"He's got one of the hardest shots not only in the Western Hockey League, but would have one of the hardest in the NHL," Sullivan said. "Don't laugh … it's that good."
It was only a season ago Pulock finished third among Western Hockey League defensemen with 60 points, while also finishing with an eye-popping plus-43 rating, in 71 games. In 61 games this season, he had 14 goals -- including seven on the power play -- 45 points and a minus-7 rating as one of the leaders for a relatively young Brandon squad.
"He was their go-to guy because they really didn't have much offense up front," Sullivan said. "Coach [Dwayne Gylywoychuk] told me he's never had a player like him in Brandon."
Pulock admitted it was a frustrating season dealing with the injuries while the team struggled. The facial injury in November prevented him from being invited to Hockey Canada's selection camp for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.
"It was a little frustrating," he said. "We didn't have the year we wanted and were a young team. For me, with the injury problems and missing some time, not playing at 100 percent was tough. But I'm feeling 100-percent healthy now."
The 6-foot-0.5, 211-pound right-handed shot is hoping to provide scouts and general managers a good showing this week at the NHL Scouting Combine. Pulock will undergo his fitness test on Friday at 11:30 a.m. ET.
"My expectation on draft day is I want to be drafted in the first round and, obviously, as high as possible," Pulock said. "That's everyone's goal. For me, I think the draft is the first step. I want to play in the NHL as soon as possible -- that's my highest goal."