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NHL Draft feature

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by ports, Jul 28, 2007.

  1. ports

    ports Guest

    Hey everyone, I've been reading here for a few months and the discussions are enlightening. I'm just getting started in the biz (no pity please, but beer and free lunches are acceptable) and I'd appreciate any feedback on my stuff. Here's a piece I did for a New England hockey magazine's website. Let me know what you think! Many thanks.


    First there's the name.

    How's it spelled? Is it vanRiemsdyk? Van Riemsdyk? van Reimsdyk?

    And, how do you say it? “van-REEMS-dyk?” “van-RYMS-dik?”

    “It's a tricky name,” said James van Riemsdyk with a laugh. “That's for sure. More people get it wrong than get it right.”

    Newspaper copy editors and broadcasters are likely unexcited about the rise of James van Riemsdyk to the top of this year's draft class. But his name will be on the minds of many at the June 22-23 NHL Entry Draft in Columbus.

    That's because Van Riemsdyk (van-REEMS-dyk, to be clear) has a mix of size, speed and scoring prowess unlike any other player in the Class of 2007.

    “He's the best combination of size and skill in this draft,” said Kyle Woodlief, chief scout and publisher for Red Line Report. “He's got as big an upside as anyone.”

    “He's got all the skills,” said Jarmo Kekalainen, assistant GM and head scout of the St. Louis Blues.

    The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Van Riemsdyk, a product of the U.S. Under-18 National Team, brings tons of game to the table. Since going to Ann Arbor, Mich., to join the USNTDP he's turned from what Woodlief called a “really big, raw kid” into a force who can serve up goals in a variety of ways.

    “He's got a wicked snap shot and a nasty wrister which he can use from anywhere,” said Woodlief, who first saw van Riemsdyk at 15. “I've seen him beat goalies, at the international level, from 45 to 50 feet out. He can get garbage goals, he's so big and strong he's impossible to move in front of the net.”

    Simply put, he's got more tools than your dad's garage. And van Riemsdyk has already showed them on some big stages.

    After posting 42 points in 55 games for the Under-17 National Team in 2005-06, he was called up by U-18 coach Ron Rolston. He registered a goal and three assists in 14 games, as Team USA struck gold at the 2006 U-18 Worlds. He also helped the U-17's win a silver that year.

    This season, van Riemsdyk led the U-18's in scoring (33-30-63 in 42 games), his team playing a schedule full with some tough NCAA Division 1 opponents.

    “For the U.S. Team, he was by far the most skilled player on the ice,” said an Eastern Conference scout. “Playing against kids two, three, four, five years older than him, he was one of the top players.”

    Woodlief recalls van Riemsdyk's performance in February at the Five Nations tournament, where the US took the gold. “He was the best forward in that tournament,” he said, describing him as a freight train. “He put them over the top in several tight games – he was the man at crunch time,” said Woodlief.

    Van Riemsdyk also made his a splash in April's World Junior Championships. In the title game, he tallied a goal and two assists as Team USA gained a silver medal.

    “I've had the opportunity to play on some great teams to play on these big stages,” he said. “That's what I thrive on.”

    In the 2005 New Jersey state final, van Riemsdyk's overtime goal gave Christian Brothers Academy its first title in over a decade. Shadowed heavily in that game, he recalled being frustrated with a number of chances he missed. He knew it was up to him to get one.

    “I saw a guy asleep, and I sped up and got a home run pass. I put my head down and fired. That was the thrill of a lifetime,” he said.

    Those holding top picks in Columbus are thrilled with his size. His rugged frame makes him an attractive option when put up against other potential top picks.

    “He doesn't have as much offensive upside as (Kyle) Turris and (Patrick) Kane,” said Woodlief. “But how are they going to handle the nightly wars in the NHL? We know he can handle the pounding.”

    Van Riemsdyk doesn't use his frame to destroy opponents, but he's a bull in the corners, along the boards, and in front of the net, drawing comparisons to top NHL power forwards. He said he tries to model his game after that of Columbus Blue Jackets sniper Rick Nash – a comparison that fits on a few levels.

    Last season, Nash became something other than just a skilled sniper when given added duty, while van Riemsdyk found himself killing penalties and drawing top defensive assignments.

    “I'm no slouch in my own end,” he said. “I describe myself as a good all-around player with an offensive touch.”

    One thing van Riemsdyk needs to improve, according to scouts, is his strength and explosiveness.

    “Physically, he'll need two years to develop,” said the Eastern scout. “When you project him out, he's going to be a strong, lean 215 pounds on that frame. I think, if his trajectory continues, he'll be ready to jump to the NHL then.”

    Growing up a rabid New York Rangers fan, van Riemsdyk said his favorite hockey memory is when Mike Richter stoned Pavel Bure's penalty shot in Game 4 of the 1994 Cup finals.

    “Bure was lights out back then, but Richter was a little bit quicker. My dad jumped out of his chair and almost hit his head on the ceiling,” he recalled.

    If forced to pick a destination, van Riemsdyk says he would head to Broadway. But to be sure, he's jumping at the chance to play for any team in The Show.

    “It'd be a thrill to play for any of them,” he said excitedly. “You've got an Original Six team up there in Chicago, an Eastern team in Philadelphia (about 85 miles from where van Riemsdyk grew up), you've got Phoenix, with Wayne Gretzky calling the shots, Los Angeles with all their young talent, and Washington with Ovechkin. There's no bad place to go.”

    For now, van Riemsdyk's path takes him to Durham, N.H. He'll play for UNH this fall. He said after a summer of training hard, he's already circled Oct. 19 on his calendar, when he'll make his NCAA debut against Boston University at Agganis Arena.

    “I'm gonna be all jacked up, pulling on that UNH sweater for the first time,” he said. “I can't wait to put up some wins for the Wildcats.”
  2. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Ports -

    Thanks for posting your work for us to share. Welcome to the Workshop.

    A couple of quick thoughts this morning.

    - It's a sound piece. The lede is weaker than it should be, though, in part because of the way it's ordered. Start with the line about newspaper editors and broadcasters. Add a beat or two for effect. Then cycle through the spellings and pronunciations. I.e.,

    Newspaper copy editors, broadcasters and public-address announcers at every rink in the northeast are unhappy about the rise of James van Riemsdyk. Nothing personal, really, but how's that spelled again? vanRiemsdyk? Van Riemsdyk? van Reimsdyk? And how is it pronounced? “van-REEMS-dyk?” “van-RYMS-dik?”

    Even so, the Great Unpronouceable is at the top of this year's draft class, so his name will be very much on the minds - if not comfortably on the tongues - of many at the June 22-23 NHL Entry Draft in Columbus.

    - Your pronouncer for the name is still incorrect. (van-REEMS-dyk, to be clear) Is it "Dyke" or Dick?"

    - Right now the piece doesn't have an ending, it just stops. Try to get in the habit of bringing your endings back to echo your beginnings. In this case, for example, when he pulls on that UNH sweater for the first time, will his name be spelled right?

    - Avoid words that only ever appear in sports writing, like "tallied." And stay away from weak cliche, like "sniper." Also, check your copy before you file for problems beyond spelling and grammar - like repetition. In this case the word "sniper" appears twice, in two consecutive sentences.

    - UNH should be University of New Hampshire on first citation.

    - In a piece this long, we need a physical description of the subject beyond his program stats. What does he actually look like?

    Thanks again for posting with us. Hope this helps.
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