Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2013 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical draft profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2013 Draft Articles Click here.
A couple days ago, I looked at Keaton Thompson one of the youngest players available in the NHL entry draft, missing the cutoff by just 48 hours, and slipping under the wire as a 2013 draft eligible player. Today I look at a player who trumps him, being the youngest player available in the draft, born on the exact day of the cutoff, September 15, 2013, Connor Hurley.
Hurley spent the year split between playing for his high school team, Edina, playing for the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the USHL, and as an injury fill in for the US NTDP. This report is based entirely on the USHL and NTDP games, as it is near impossible to get tapes of USHS games (nor would I really have the time to watch another level of hockey to be honest). Hurley is committed to attend the University of Notre Dame next year. All indications are that the Irish plan to put him straight to the roster even though he will be a true freshman.
Born Sep 15 1995 — Eagan, MN
Height 6.02 — Weight 175 — Shoots Left
Hurley is a very good skater. He has good top end speed, and very good acceleration, due to a solid technique. His edgework and turns are excellent, as is his laterally agility, allowing him to slip though checkers, and play a finesse style. He also has very good strength, balance, and power, allowing him to fight through checks and play a power game. Overall Hurley’s skating is extremely well rounded, which is true of most parts of his game.
Offensively Hurley has the whole package. He has very good vision, and as a playmaker can thread passes through the tiniest of openings. His stickhandling as well as his puck protection are very good, and he can be quite the handful in the cycle game, buying time to make those passes. He drives the net, and has the soft hands necessary to finish plays in tight, but can also score from further away with an accurate wrister and good release. His shot however could use more power. He has good hockey sense and is able to find openings to work his magic in the zone. Hurley does get involved in board battles, and he isn’t afraid to mix it up, or be hit, however he isn’t a big hitter himself, as he rarely initiates contact.
Hurley has good defensive instincts. He uses his stick to cut down passing lanes and his great anticipation causes turnovers which he is quickly able to capitalize on in the transition game. Hurley is a strong backchecker who works hard in his own end and doesn’t neglect his assignments. Unlike on the forecheck, he is more likely to initiate contact in the defensive zone. However he needs to pick his spots better as he can sometimes get himself caught out of position looking for the big hit.
Hurley’s game is comparable to Bobby Ryan in terms of style. He is a good sized forward who can do it all, whether it is being a playmaker, being a sniper, playing physical, or playing defensively, Hurley can do all of those things well. This is a stylistic comparison, as I don’t believe he is quite as good as Ryan. Still Hurley can be a valuable top 6 winger or centre if he reaches his maximum potential.
Check back tomorrow for our number 51 prospect.
Thanks for reading, as always feel free to leave comments below and follow me on twitter @lastwordBKerr. Give the rest of the hockey department a follow while you’re at it – @BigMick99, @IswearGAA, and @LastWordOnNHL, and follow the site @lastwordonsport.
Interested in writing for LastWordOnSports? If so, check out our “Join Our Team” page to find out how.
Photo Credi: US NTPD.