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Edit: Drafted 3rd overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning
It’s been one wild ride for the Halifax Mooseheads this season, and particularly for the dynamic duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. The team finished first overall in the QMJHL with record setting performances, and has been rolling so far in the Q’s playoffs. While MacKinnon took top spot in all of our previous rankings cycles (summer, November, and February), Drouin has continued to rise all season long, from outside the top 10 last summer, to number 5 in November, to number 3 in February, and now today, where we name him our #1 overall prospect for the 2013 NHL draft.
Drouin has overcome the doubters all season long; whether it was outscoring his more highly-touted teammate, making Team Canada for the World Juniors and forcing himself onto a top line, or carrying Halifax while MacKinnon was injured last month. While Drouin might be the riskiest of the three players vying for first overall (include Seth Jones in this conversation), we feel that he has the biggest potential upside. The sky is the limit with Drouin and that is why we’d take him first overall.
Born — Ste-Agathe, Quebec
Height 5.11 — Weight 176 — Shoots Left
February Rank: 3
The first thing that stands out about Drouin, is his incredible hands. Drouin has the ability to stickhandle in a phone booth and can make tremendous plays both off the rush and by controlling the puck in the offensive zone. He regularly beats defenders one-on-one leading to high quality scoring opportunities for himself and his linemates. He has tremendous vision and is more of a set-up man than a goal scorer, and is able to thread passes through the tiniest of openings. However, those great hands in tight situations, and a very good wrist shot and release, also help Drouin to score goals. He plays a fearless game. He’s willing to battle in the corners and at the front of the net, getting in the dirty areas he needs to be in to score points. While many are concerned with Drouin’s size, we feel that due to his extremely high skill level, his non-stop motor and compete level, and his tremendous hockey IQ, the issue of size will not hold him back at the next level. Just check out this incredible shift by Drouin:
Drouin is a tremendous skater. His balance, agility, edgework, and ability to change speeds makes him extremely dangerous off the rush. There are a number of tools in his arsenal that he can use to beat a defender one-on-one off the rush. Add to that his ability to get by you and make a play towards the net in the cycle game, and you have an offensive terror. To top it all off, Drouin’s top-end speed is above average, and once he gets by, it is very difficult to chase him down from behind.
Defensively, Drouin has shown the willingness to improve his weaknesses all season long. Still not a staunch defender, he has greatly improved. His quickness and hockey sense are definite assets in his own zone, as well as his compete level. A concern is his inability to contain big opposition forwards and this is where his size can hurt him the most. He will need to bulk up and add some mass and strength to fully maximize his potential in all three areas of the ice.
Stylistically, Drouin plays the game as a bit of a cross between a Claude Giroux and a Martin St. Louis; but remember that these comparisons are for style of game only, and not potential. When it comes to Drouin’s potential, as we said before the sky really is the limit. With his high end skill level, and the fact he continues to improve every time we see him, the ceiling for this player is very hard to define. If he reaches his maximum potential, Drouin will be an NHL superstar. We would not be surprised to see him make an NHL squad next fall as an 18-year old.
Check back tomorrow when I will reveal who is #2 on our list of top prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft. Will it be Nathan MacKinnon or Seth Jones? On April 10th, we’ll find out.
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