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Edit: Drafted 69th Overall by the Buffalo Sabres.
The 6th overall pick in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Nick Baptiste (or Nicholas Baptiste) had been a good but not great player for the first year and a half of his junior career. Then at midseason, something clicked for Baptiste, and he became the offensive star that Sudbury Wolves management expected him to be. A solid second half included a run of 26 points in 27 games down the stretch. He helped the Wolves to a 5th place finish in the OHL’s Eastern Conference, and a 5 game series victory over the Brampton Battalion. However the team was swept in the second round by the Belleville Bulls.
Following the Wolves elimination, Baptiste joined Canada’s Under 18 Team at the IIHF U18 World Championships. He continued his hot play with 8 points in 7 games in the tournament finishing in a tie for 2nd on the team in scoring (behind the phenom Connor McDavid) and helping Team Canada bring home a Gold Medal. Baptiste was also a member of Team Ontario’s Under 17 team at the 2011 World U17 Hockey Challenge, winning a Bronze Medal.
Born Aug 4 1995 — Ottawa, ONT
Height 6’0.5″ Weight 189.2 lbs — Shoots Right
Baptiste’s offensive game is very simple, and based on power. His best work is done down close to the goal line, and he is extremely effective on the cycle. He protects the puck extremely well, using his body to shield the puck and make plays. Out of the cycle, Baptiste can power his way to the front of the net. He has a decent shot and release, but Baptiste scores the vast majority of his goals within 10-15 off the goal line. Baptiste drives hard to the net, and battles for position in front, banging home rebounds, and firing home passes. He also has good passing skills coming out of the cycle. Baptiste wins a ton of board battles and plays a very robust physical game. He will need to bulk up over the next several years in order that this style will continue to be effective.
Baptiste features a very powerful skating stride. The power he generates, allows him to battle through checks and play his game. His strong lower body gives him great balance and he is very hard to knock off the puck. His top end speed has really improved over the last year and in terms of pure top end speed he’s one of the faster skaters in this draft class. However he’s still a little awkward in his first step and in his acceleration, so it takes him a little bit more to reach that top speed, and this can certainly be an area for improvement. His edgework and agility are good, but his game is built on power, not finesse.
Baptiste is very good defensively, and one of the top penalty killers on the Wolves. He displays an excellent ability to make smart reads and go to the proper spots to apply back pressure when defending the rush. In the defensive zone he gets involved physically and shows the same commitment in battling for loose pucks at the defensive end as he does in the offensive end. He has good positioning and instincts, and is able to keep his body between his man and the net. Baptiste will help his defence down low when necessary or will stick close on his point man, depending on the situation and his read. He does a good job of making the smart play and this will help him in moving up to the pros.
Baptiste’s style is reminiscent of Nick Foligno. Baptiste’s potential is likely to see him as a third liner who can play a responsible defensive game, grind hard at the offensive end, and maybe add a few points as well. There is an outside shot that his 2nd half offensive explosion was a sign of things to come and that he’ll be able to continue developping into a top 6 forward.
Check back tomorrow for another NHL draft feature.
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