When the Ottawa Senators drafted Ben Blood in the 4th round of the 2007 Entry Draft, when he was still playing at the Shattuck-St. Marys prep school in Minnesota. He was drafted as a project, who had intriguing size and skill, but was still very raw and needed time to develop. Four years later, Blood is entering his senior year at the University of North Dakota. He has developed into a 6’3″, 215 lb hulking defenseman who has some offensive upside and now has moved from project to prospect.
In the fourth installment on our series of prospect profiles, we gain some insight on Ben Blood from Brad Schlossman, who has covered the UND Fighting Sioux for the Grand Forks Herald for the last 7 years. Here are his thoughts:
Where would Ben Blood fit right now on a depth chart?
Blood was a first-pair defenseman last season, playing alongside Los Angeles Kings first-rounder Derek Forbort. Blood should be UND’s top defenseman this season.
Is he a part of the special teams units?
Blood has been killing penalties for the last two years. He will be their top penalty-killing defenseman this season. I’m also expecting him to see some power play time. He was on the power play two years ago after UND had some injuries on the blue line. The Sioux lost their top two point guys on the power play in Chay Genoway (Wild) and Matt Frattin (Leafs). I think Blood will get a shot there.
UND is a traditional college hockey powerhouse. I assume the environment lends to a pro-type pressure? Has Blood been able to handle the pressure successfully?
I think the pro atmosphere is probably an advantage rather than pressure. When you are hanging around and working out with a bunch of guys who have the attainable goal of the NHL, it pushes them. Ralph Engelstad Arena is the nicest rink in the NCAAs and is nicer than most NHL rinks. It has fantastic weight facilities and Blood is one of the players who really has used that to his advantage. He has been one of the guys setting the tone in the weight room the last couple of summers and I’m guessing he’s doing the same this year.
What are Blood’s strengths (besides a great hockey name!)?
He’s got good size, good reach and is very good defensively. He’s capable of producing at least one big hit per game. Almost never lets guys around him. He’s very good at doing the little things. He can win a battle along the boards and flip a backhand high off the glass to get it out of the zone. Just a reliable defenseman.
Any weaknesses that need to be addressed in Blood’s game before jumping to the next level full time?
He has better than average puck skills and I think we really started to see some of those come out last year. You don’t expect him to ever take the puck to the net, but he did it on a couple of occasions last year. I think he can further develop his offensive skills this year.
Can he ease into a pro environment (can he handle the increased number of games)?
Yes. I don’t think that’s as big of a deal as some people do. Blood played in the USHL before college and played that number of games. He probably played a ton of games at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, too.
Is he a legitimate NHL prospect or do you expect him to be a minor leaguer?
He’s a legit prospect. He will play in the NHL. Most defensemen have a stint in the AHL to start their careers and Blood may as well. But I would be surprised if he doesn’t reach the NHL during his rookie season.
Anything else you can add to create a profile of him for Sens fans?
I would say that he will make his mark as a big, physical, stay-at-home defenseman. If he can continue making strides offensively, that would certainly help. He loves the role of going against other teams’ top lines. He’s a guy who is outstanding at the little things and isn’t a fun matchup for opponents.
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So there is some insight on the player that Ben Blood has turned into, and what he could potentially be. By Brad’s description, I see a young Chris Phillips, who might have a bit more killer instinct in terms of physical play. Blood will play for the Fighting Sioux this season, and depending how long his season goes, could sign right after the NCAA season ends and see some time in Binghamton at the end of the year.
Thanks go out to Brad Schlossman for his insight. You can follow him on Twitter to get information about Ben Blood the UND Fighting Sioux!
You can see previous Prospect Profiles here:
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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