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Jonathan Diaby: 2013 NHL Draft Player Profile #57

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.

TopShelfProspectsEdit: Drafted 64th overall by the Nashville Predators

Jonathan Diaby, or Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, looks like a man amongst boys in the QMJHL. Checking in at 6’4″ tall and 223 lbs, he towers over most junior age players. I say most because there must be something in the water in Quebec this year, what with Diaby, Frederik Gauthier, and Samuel Morin.

Diaby was an important defender for the Victoriaville Tigres this season, and really blossomed in his draft year.   The defensive defenceman showed some signs of offence going from 9 points in 11-12 to 26 this past season.  He helped the team to an 11th place finish this year, and was a big part of the first round upset of the Moncton Wildcats.  His play took him from someone who was flying a little under the radar and was a likely late round pick into a player who is now ranked in the 2nd round by LWOS.

Born Nov 16 1994 — Blainville, PQ
Height 6.04 — Weight 223 — Shoots Left

Diaby is best known for his defensive prowess.  He’s got the size that NHL teams crave, and he absolutely knows how to use it, playing a rugged and very physical style.  He loves to hit and punishes opposing forwards if they try to get by him along the boards.  He clears the crease, and uses his size advantage to dominate board battles.  Diaby has also been known to drop the gloves from time to time.  Diaby’s size allows him to cut down shooting and passing lanes, and he has not been afraid to use his big body to block shots.

Skating wise, Diaby has very good straight line speed for a big man, and this is true moving forwards or backwards.  However he is going to need to work on his mobility.  His turns are wide and slow, and his pivots really need some work.  This is stuff that is correctable, and has even improved over the last year, but it means that Diaby is very much a project defenceman who is several years away from the NHL.  He has trouble with quick and shifty forwards right now, and will need to improve his mobility in order to handle even faster, shiftier players as he moves up to the pro level.

Offensively, Diaby’s biggest asset is a hard slapshot from the point.  He needs to work on keeping it low and on net, to maximize its potential to create tip ins and rebounds.  He is becoming more confident and poised with the puck on his stick, making big strides in improving his first pass, and his play at the point in the offensive zone.  While he will never get confused for an elite offensive defenceman, there may be some untapped potential here that he can grow over the next few years.

Diaby’s style is similar to Brooks Orpik.  This is a stylistic comparison and not one based on potential.  In terms of potential he can be a 2nd pairing defensive defender who brings size, toughness and a little bit of snarl at the back end.  However, as mentioned, he’s a bit of a project pick and will need plenty of time developping in the QMJHL for one more year (as a late birthday) and then the AHL.

While I couldn’t find any highlight videos of Diaby in game action, here are some examples of his toughness as he fights Jack Nevins (a noted QMJHL enforcer) and fellow draft eligible giant Samuel Morin.

Check back tomorrow for another NHL draft feature.

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