Jonathan Drouin – The Next Ones NHL 2013 Draft Prospect Profile

Jonathan Drouin THW Close-Up:

Date of birth: 1995-Mar-28

Place of birth:  Ste Agathe de Monts, QC

Ht: 5’11  Wt: 175 lbs

Shoots: Left

Position: Center/Left Wing

NHL Draft Eligibility: 2013 1st year eligible

Twitter:  @jodrouin27

THW The Next Ones Ranking (January 2013): 1st

Other Rankings:

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[NHL 2013 Draft Guide – The Next Ones Draft Headquarters: Your quintessential draft resource]

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Drouin: Maestro of the Halifax Mooseheads Orchestra

Coming soon to a NHL arena near you, conducting an ice symphony to the tune of blades on ice, composite sticks on rubber, rubber off iron and goal horns erupting in excitement – Jonathan Drouin.  

Jonathan Drouin

The secret is out – Halifax Mooseheads forward Jonathan Drouin is a sensational talent in his own right and now sits atop The Next Ones 2013 NHL Draft Midterm Rankings – Photo Mike Dembeck

(Note: Some of the following elaboration on the talented Drouin was first presented in my explanation of his place atop The Next Ones Midterm Top 100 Rankings.)

Ex-Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach was a guest conductor for the Florida Orchestra; Jonathan Drouin conducts the play on the ice game in, game out for the Halifax Mooseheads.

I have been a firm believer in Drouin prior to the start of this season, having him ranking higher than most (7th overall) in my Preliminary Rankings. While he is a consensus top three pick on many rankings from mid-season on, he was well out of the top 10 on most lists for the first half of the year.

Since then, Drouin has continued to make believers out of many scouts, NHL executives, writers and fans. The Jonathan Drouin Bandwagon is more like a German Transrapid TR-09 high speed train. All aboard!

Back in December, he made a surprisingly (to some) huge impact on Hockey Canada and was given a deservingly substantial role with the World Junior squad. He performed admirably well in Ufa, despite the disappointing ultimate team result. (To Mooseheads teammate Nate MacKinnon’s credit, he was sparingly used and in my view improperly deployed throughout the tournament.)

As I noted in January: before I am condemned to the asylum for even breaching the subject that Drouin deserves to be taken first overall over MacKinnon and Jones, let’s examine the evidence.

Two words sum up the case (or at least make a good starting point) for choosing the sublime winger over the two aforementioned potential cornerstone prospects – hockey sense. Often used when describing prospects, but what really do we mean when we talk about hockey sense. Not easy to put to words, but his awareness, vision, anticipation, poise and focus are all off the charts.

Jonathan doesn’t just go where the puck is; he goes to where the puck will be.

While MacKinnon and Jones both possess high level of hockey sense to go with their superlative skills, Drouin is at another level in this aspect – a level rarely witnessed, even in the NHL.

If there was a school of hockey, Drouin would be at the top of class in his quest for a PhD in hockey sense. He is a student of the game and should only continue to develop his immense potential.

Drouin has more than shown that he is not just along for the ride when playing with the uber-talented Nate MacKinnon.  In fact, no other player in this draft makes those around him better. I would compare this trait of Drouin’s to that of NFL quarterback Tom Brady - love him or hate him, Brady elevates the game of those around to stratospheric heights.

Like a master orchestra conductor, Drouin is a maestro on the ice, controlling the tempo, anticipating play, dictating play, executing and striking precisely when his composition comes together.

And just when you think he’s done all he’s going to do in a given game, he’ll strike again for an unexpected encore.

His hands – oh my, his hands. This kid is already a highlight reel machine and he should only come to develop his body of work more in the future.

While Drouin can dissect an opposing defense with a variety of his weapons including deft passing and a lethally quick shot, his defensive acumen will continue to evolve given his outstanding anticipation, adaptability and ability to read the play.

He sometimes looks like a defensive back in the mold of Denver Broncos Champ Bailey with his ability to intercept plays.

Keep in mind, in choosing Drouin back in January as the 1a (MacKinnon was 1b at the time and Seth Jones 1c) prospect in this draft class, it is an interpretation and prognostication of the player he will be 5, 10, 15 and 20 years or more (if you look at the hockey lifespan of Selanne and Jagr) down the road. Stay tuned in June to see who comes out atop The Next Ones Final Rankings.

The case can rather easily be made for his two companions sitting alongside him to be atop the rankings to be number one. MacKinnon and Jones, because of their physical development and skillset, are even more likely to make an immediate impact in the NHL sooner than Jonathan.

Although he has shown on multiple occasions already in his short career, he can overcome almost any odds stacked against him. Do not bet against Drouin.

Where He’ll Land in June:

 While he was ranked 1st overall in The Next Ones Midterm Top 100 Rankings (January, 2013; final rankings due to be released early June), he landed in Tampa Bay with the 3rd overall slot in The Next Ones Memorial Cup Edition Mock Draft. He’ll likely land anywhere from 3rd to 5th overall, with any team landing him outside of the top 5 receiving an absolute gift.

Scout’s Honour:

“Drouin is a good, not exceptional, skater. He’s very agile and shifty. He has enough acceleration to break away from opposing defenders. His balance is impressive for a player of his stature. He shows some of the best puck handling skills in the entire 2013 draft class. The puck just seems to be glued on his stick at times. He’s very creative in the offensive zone, almost to a fault. He protects the puck very well, especially for a player of his size. A natural playmaker, his head is always up looking for an open teammate. His vision is very impressive, setting up players even when they don’t expect it. He’s an incredibly accurate passer but also has a very accurate shot and doesn’t mind getting into the dirty areas to score a goal.” 

- Aaron Vickers, Future Considerations – Player Profiler

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“Mr. Smooth and Easy – Vision, passing, stick-handling are sublime; makes everyone around him better, even the dynamo named Nathan MacKinnon.”

-  Eldon MacDonald, THW (War Room Series)

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“Drouin played beyond his years (at the 2013 WJCs)…He had that swagger and inner confidence that he wanted to be a difference-maker every time he was on the ice,” Spott told NHL.com. “His skill set, hands and vision, really are at an elite level, so he’s going to be a prime-time NHL scorer.”

- Canadian National Junior Team coach Steve Spott (NHL.com)

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“He finished the season so strong in the playoffs (2011-12 season). We didn’t set any numbers but we knew that with the way he plays, he would be able to reach the level that he is. What we like about him is that he keeps getting better and better. We just have to stress the details, the little things. He’s so competitive and he wants to become the best.”

- Dominique Ducharme, Halifax Mooseheads Head Coach (via Yahoo Sports)

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“The foundation of Jonathan’s game is built on exceptional intelligence as well as quickness in his hands and feet to execute on his intentions. He has the ability to recognize opportunities and can exploit them quickly. What seemingly looks like an innocent play is anything but when he’s on the ice. Very adaptable to the challenges he faces in the game and has a calm, poised ‘go about his business’ approach. He’s dangerous with the puck because he can shoot, pass or beat you one-on-one and there is no easy way to play versus him because he’s a multi-faceted threat.”

- Craig Button, TSN Scout 

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Statistics:

Bio/Interview(s)/Link(s):

International Tournaments:

  • Drouin struck gold, winning a gold medal at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament on Team Canada’s under-18 team.
  • Drouin and Team Canada failed to win a medal in Ufa, Russia on the WJC U20 squad. Though it was a disappointing finish, Jonathan was very impressive from an individual standpoint, making an impact as a 1st year draft eligible player.

ETA : 1-2 years

Risk-Reward Analysis:  

Risk = 0.5/5   Reward = 5/5 

NHL Potential:

Franchise cornerstone forward 

Jonathan Drouin

Jonathan Drouin [photo: David Chan]

Strengths:

  • Super hockey sense and IQ
  • Elite vision; brilliant creativity
  • Incredible hands
  • Very good, ever evolving skating – deceptive agility and acceleration
  • Shiftiness and elusiveness
  • Very high panic threshold
  • Utilizes teammates exceptionally well
  • Adaptability
  • Deceptive and tough to separate from the puck
  • Superior level of competitiveness and work ethic; always striving to improve his game (sound familiar?)

Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:

  • Continue to develop defensive acumen, but had a lot of potential defensively given his innate anticipation ability.
  • Though some count size as a count against Drouin, I don’t think it’s an issue for him given his hockey sense, vision and awareness. He is shifty and extremely elusive, anticipating the inner workings of the game with his high end hockey IQ. In addition, he simply is not that small. He also doesn’t shy away from contact and actually initiates it, as the following quote attests:

Fantasy Hockey Potential:

Offensive = 9.5/10   Defensive = 8/10

NHL Player(s) Comparison:

- Pavel Datsyuk and Claude Giroux

- Hall of Fame comparator: Joe Sakic

- Cross-sport comparison: Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers: processes their sports at a different level and elevates the games of all of those around them.  Throw in Roger Federer, who Jonathan admires as an athlete outside of hockey. Both Drouin and Federer play their respective sports so smoothly, they make it look easy.

Video(s): In February, I anointed him The Human Hockey Highlight Film

- In addition, see the Best of Drouin:

 http://youtu.be/CLiaf9W4_U0

Off The Iron (Interesting Notes):

-       “Jonathan Drouin recently cleaned up at the QMJHL year-end awards taking home the following honours: Michael Bossy Trophy (Best Professional Prospect), Paul Dumont Trophy (Personality of the Year), Michel Briere Trophy as the leagues Most Valuable Player and was named to the First All-Star team. In only 49 QMJHL regular season games with Halifax, Drouin finished with 41 goals and 105 points which was good for second and the highest points-per-game pace. The young forward also had a remarkable plus-49 ranking” (DobberProspect.com)

-       Drouin shares the same birthday as fellow highly touted 2013 NHL Draft eligble QMJHL prospect, Laurent Dauphin.

Jonathan Drouin

Jonathan Drouin [photo: David Chan]

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THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph

Christopher Ralph

Christopher Ralph

Managing Editor/Lead Prospect/Draft Analyst at THW
Chris is THW's senior draft/prospect analyst and a Managing Editor. Watch for Chris' regular column "The Next Ones" Prospect Profile series as well as the annual THW NHL Entry Draft Guide. Follow @ChrisRalphTHW on Twitter as he infiltrates, dissects and analyzes all happenings of hockey prospects and the NHL entry draft. Email: cralph[at]thehockeywriters[dot]com
Christopher Ralph

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