#7. Jonathan Drouin
Drouin came onto the CHL scene later then usual last year as he choose to stay awhile in midget hockey and not report to the Mooseheads early in training camp. For whatever the reason, Jonathan and his agent felt the need to make the jump in the middle of the CHL season. He jumped ship and looked pretty good after only a few games in. Granted he did not light it up but did score close to a ppg. Within no time he was paired with #1 Draft prospect MacKinnon and the two have been making headlines ever since.
During the playoff run the two excelled and had a incredible run for young 16 year old players. Drouin in the shadow of Nathan did not make believers out of all the scouts and media type. Some believed he was riding some on the coattails of one Nathan MacKinnon. I am one who did not believe that to be true. If you check his draft ranking before the season began, most had him out of the top 15, a couple 10-15 and maybe 2 or 3 said they believed he deserved a top 10 ranking. His playoff performance was no 'one time thing'. This kid is for real and I gave him his due in my draft rankings early. I have been asked, 'if you believed in him why not rank him higher?' Have you seen the top 6 in front of him? It's a tough group to crack! Because I am not doing a mid-season ranking, he will sit here at #7 but unless something changes this kid is moving up the ranking big time. Currently I have him ranking in the top 4 and he is still pushing his way upward.
Some Scouts have gone as far to say that his upward trend is looking much better as he grows and matures at the CHL level. He has been continuely growing in his skill and his strength and he plays against the much stronger opposition defencemen. Drouin is a highly skilled and creative player. His Hockey IQ is right up there with the best at his age if not the top 2 in the world currently. Even though he is a smaller stature player at 5'11 and 185 lbs he seldom gets knocked around by players who are 6'1 or 6'2 weighing in around the 200 mark.
His speed on skates is above average but his agility on the blades reminds me alot of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Drouin's shot is pretty accurate but as a playmaker he makes any power play dangerous. It should be noted that Nugent-Hopkins considers Jonathan's game to be elite level with very high end skill. He really enjoyed playing with him.
Jonathan started this season with 15 pts in his first 7 games before a shoulder injury sidelined him for 6 games. Since returning from injury, Drouin has continued to be on fire and last time I looked is the highest ppg player in the entire CHL. His greatest asset is his ability to excel in close to the net and in breakaway situations where he can utilize his lethal backhand shot.
Not too many players posses his ability to use shoulder fakes to quickly change angles and open up seams that catch penalty killers off guard when on the PP. Drouin's game remains effective down low and along the boards as he is very shifty and able to pivot, and spin himself out of trouble more often than not. This is where he and MacKinnon wreck havoc on any team they face when they really start to cycle the puck together down low. It was very evident on Team Canada when given a few shifts together how that chemistry was displayed and they both brought out the best in one another.
It's funny cause a couple months back at a Beer League hockey game I was subbing for, I had a discussion with some of the guys in the locker room about this player and how impressed I was with his play. Gave them a heads up to be watching for this guy to be rising in the coming months and then it continued into a debate with the teams coach. (he knows who he is if he is reading this blog....lol) His argument was lots of players who are small may put up big numbers offensively but that doesnt mean lots. It's not about numbers he told me. While I agreed its not, its about the full body of work (As Tom Renny so often told us). Don't think he was a believer or even agreed with me on this player in the slightest but today he has got to take notice because believe me, the rest of the hockey world is taking notice! It was interesting cause he is a big believer in Curtis Lazar and while I really like his game as well, their total body of work has dropped Lazar in the draft rankings and increased Drouin's.
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