2021-22 Team: Sioux City Musketeers
Date of Birth: October 12th, 2003
Place of Birth: Calgary, AB, Canada
Ht: 6’0″ Wt: 181 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligibility
Every year a handful of junior players climb the rankings in their draft season. Reasons typically include growing into their body, figuring something out mentally, or have an increased role on their club. These players are hard to get a gauge for where they will end up being selected in the draft due to their smaller sample size. Dylan James is a great example of one of these players.
James exploded on mock draft boards in 2021-22. In his first season in the United States Hockey League (USHL), he was named the league’s Rookie of the Year. His 61-points in 62 games led the USHL in rookie scoring. The award put him in reputable company among Sioux City Musketeers alumni. Jake Guentzel and Max Pacioretty also won the award while playing for the Musketeers. James’ strong campaign rose his draft stock mightily, as he jumped 30 spots in the NHL Central Scouting rankings from the midterm to final rankings for North American skaters. However, draft boards have James all over the map. Some project him as high as the second round, while some do not even have him as a top 120 prospect.
He’s also a proven option when the moment gets bigger. Helping the Sioux City Musketeers win their first Clark Cup (USHL Championship) in 20 years, he had 8 points in 10 playoff games. In the final, he had three goals and an assist in just four games to help pace the Musketeer offense. Clearly stepping up and performing when the light shines brightest.
In terms of his game, he’s a mature two-way forward. Already at 181 pounds, James plays a hard, physical game, scoring most of his goals from close to the net. However, scouts have been quick to note his speed and the ability to score from the slot and beyond. He has all the makings for a power-forward with his skill set.
Critics have noted that he isn’t an elite talent at creating offense for himself. They say that he’ll struggle to create offense for himself at the next level, due to his offensive skill set off the rush. Although, even his critics note that his combination of size and skill outweigh the minute flaws and that he’s able to contribute in all three zones at a high level.
James will be heading to the University of North Dakota next year, a highly regarded program where players are treated as professionals. They’re also no stranger to NHL talent with a plethora of prospects coming in and out of the program over the last few years. He’ll look to be another name on a long alumni list of NHL players for the Fighting Hawks.
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Dylan James — Draft Projection
James is a bit of a wild card to predict where he’ll end up being picked. Given his rise over the last couple of months, he could go as early as the second round. That size and speed combination will be highly regarded come draft time, however, his lack of sample size may hurt him. As an invite to the 2022 NHL Combine, his performance there will likely tell us a lot about where he may end up being selected due to his late rise in interest. Look for James to be a mid-third-round pick come draft time, a possible steal for whoever selects him that late.
“James is fluent skater who can generate good speed and plays his best when skating in straight lines. He competed hard every shift while doing a lot of little things right that made him an effective player for his team. Very often, James used his speed to be first in on the forecheck, and was able to engage and win some puck battles. His speed also allows for him to be a solid puck transporter up the ice, however he wasn’t able to connect on plays when it was time to make something happen.” — Douglas Larson, FC Hockey (from ‘23847 — Sioux City vs Tri-City, FC Hockey, 5/9/22)
“James is a skilled and speedy two-way winger. His speed, creativity and ability to control the puck at top speed set him apart as a prospect. He has a great one-timer and is great at finding space to set himself up. He is one of the rare prospects that is as good at putting pucks in the net as he is setting them up. He can improve in a few areas, with the most important being holding onto the puck too long on zone entries and trying to make the pretty play. He is so good at getting out of his own zone that once he can simplify his entries there is a chance his game improves significantly. This is something he will definitely learn if he wants to earn ice time on a talented University of North Dakota team. His has trended pretty steady with a slight uptick given his great rookie campaign in the USHL. I believe he has a solid floor and see him developing into a top-six tweener winger role, but is best suited for the third line to provide much needed secondary scoring for an NHL team.” — Josh Thomas, FC Hockey (from ‘23264 — Sioux City vs. Omaha, FC Hockey, 1/23/22)
- Two-way Forward
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Creating offense for himself
- Zone Entry
James has all the intangibles to be a good power forward in the NHL. He has an innate goal-scoring ability while being a strong and physical player in his own zone. However, with most of his goals coming in close to the net, the question marks about his offensive abilities off the rush make it questionable whether he’ll be a top-six forward in the NHL. Given his skill set, a more realistic prediction is that he’ll fit in nicely in a third-line role where he can provide depth scoring while playing a hard-nosed, two-way game. A good comparison would be someone like Barclay Goodrow, a big, strong, and physical forward who plays good defense while being able to chip in offensively when needed.
Risk — 3.5/5 Reward 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense — 6/10 Defense 5/10
Awards and Achievements
Dylan won the USHL’s Rookie of the Year for the 2021-22 season, leading rookies in scoring. He also won the Clark Cup in 2021-22 with the Sioux City Musketeers as champions of the USHL playoffs. He was also awarded Postseason All-USHL honors for his performance for the Musketeers during those 2021-22 playoffs.
Dylan James Statistics
Law student, who loves all thing sports. Connor is a former college athlete who understands sports from a players perspective. Based out of Detroit, fell in love with hockey by going to the old Joe Louis Arena watching those legendary 2000s Red Wing teams. Connor will talk to anyone who will listen on player performance, draft prospects, and front office management around the NHL. In his free time he loves to golf, although his scorecard may tell you otherwise. Covering all things Tampa Bay Lightning.