Guest post by Eldon MacDonald
Jonathan Drouin – “Mr. Smooth and Easy” – Left Wing/Center – Canada
Size: 5’11”, 190 lb.
Born: 27-Mar-95 – Ste. Agathe, QC
Team: Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL
2011-12 Stats: 33-7-22-29-12-(-5) + QMJHL playoffs 17-9-17-26-4-(+6)
HM – Bob MacKenzie’s Pre-season Poll of Scouts (HM = Between 11 & 20)
15 – ISS’ Top 30 – Aug-12
19 – Future Considerations – Sep-12
The Dynamic Duo
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Rocky and Bullwinkle; there have been some great duos in history. There is yet another duo on the way out of the QMJHL. Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon have been heating it up for the Halifax Mooseheads. Consider their exploits so far:
- 2011-12 QMJHL Playoffs: After losing the first three games of the semi-final series to Quebec, the Mooseheads, lead by the dynamic duo, fired back to win the next four games and the series. In 17 games of the playoffs, Drouin had 26 points; MacKinnon had 28.
- 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament: Led by the top line featuring Drouin and MacKinnon, Canada won the tournament. In five games, Drouin had 5 points and MacKinnon 11.
- 2012-13 QMJHL Regular Season: After week three and seven games, Drouin leads the duo with 15 points to MacKinnon’s 13. Drouin was also named CHL player of the week for week one.
Mr. Smooth and Easy, a star in his own right
For those of you thinking that Jonathan Drouin plays in Nathan MacKinnon’s shadow (the pre-season consensus number 1 ranked 2013 draft pick), you had better do a quick rethink. Jonathan Drouin is a serious star on the ice in his own right with or without his famous sidekick. In fact, I call him “Mr. Smooth and Easy” because of everything he does is so effortless and oh so smooth.
The smooth and easy comes from a combination of two uber elite skills – vision and passing. He sees the ice so well that he acts as the “game controller” and choreographs the action with his agility and adept passing.
The way he and MacKinnon play together reminds me of ex-Moosehead, Alex Tanguay playing with Jerome Iginla; the playmaker and the finisher. However, Jonathan can also shoot too and has a very quick release along with a hard, accurate wrister.
His lean body, his less than imposing stature and his ability to suddenly change directions and dart through traffic to the net also make you recall Jeff Skinner, in his draft year.
The Road Behind
The road to the NHL for any hockey player, even for a destined star like Jonathan Drouin, is not always paved. In fact, Jonathan has already braved a few bumps along the way. In his pre-draft year Jonathan, starting out at barely 150 lbs soaking wet, was so physically immature that he decided to delay his entry in the QMJHL even though the Halifax Mooseheads desperately wanted him to play for them. Luckily for the Mooseheads, a growth spurt and some additional pleadings caused Jonathan to rethink his position and he joined the Moose on December 13th, 2011, right before Christmas.
Jonathan did okay the rest of the regular season but it was not until close to the playoffs that the star arrived, and then he was put with Nathan. It was the comeback against Quebec in the playoffs (winning the semi-finals after losing the first three games) and the dynamism and leadership shown by Jonathan in that comeback that cemented in many minds that this kid was a star in the making. It is going to be hard to top his game-winning goal in overtime in game seven to finish the comeback and win the series but I believe he is capable of even bigger goals in the future.
Over the summer, Jonathan worked hard on his conditioning and added 15 pounds to his slender frame. He confirmed this week that he is now 5’10¾ and 190 lb. (14 lb. more than shown on the Moosehead web site). He also spent some time on his skating with Barb Underhill, former world figure skating for Canada in 1984. Barb is the person who is credited with greatly improving the skating of 6’7 New York Ranger, Brian Boyle. This is reminiscent of Jeff Skinner yet again as the Hurricanes star winger had figure skating in his background as well.
The road this current year started out extremely smooth. In week 1, Drouin earned CHL player of the week honours and by Week 3 he was only two points out of the Q scoring lead. However, in the game on October 6th, a bump occurred on the road to the draft. Jonathan took a nasty hit along the boards from Saint John Sea Dog, Benjamin Houde, and is currently listed as day-to-day with a sore shoulder.
The Road Ahead
I was just about to make a big mistake and write what Jonathan had to do to make the “bigs”. However, on second reflection, Jonathan has already shown sufficient high-end skills, has accomplishments that most players never come close to achieving and most important of all shown a willingness to do what it takes to address the short-comings in his game. So, yes, to reach his full potential Jonathan will need to continue to refine and improve his physical game to the point where it adds to the equation and not deducts from it. However, seeing what he accomplished over the summer with his strength and skating training, you know they will come. While most including Bob MacKenzie have this young stud in the teens for the upcoming NHL draft, I believe my editor, Christopher Ralph, has it right and that Jonathan is definitely in the top 10. How high in the top 10 depends on how much Jonathan is able to improve his physical game and not so much on how many points he puts on the board as the draft is done on projection as much as accomplishments. I will leave you with one last “wow” followed by “quel feint” so you do not forget this future star in the making.