Jonathan-Ismael Diaby THW Close-Up
Date of Birth: November 16, 1994
Place of Birth: Blainville, Quebec
Ht: 6’5” Wt: 230 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2013
Jonathan Diaby has both the benefit and the misfortune of being an older draft-eligible player. Due to his mid-November birthday, he’s roughly nine or ten months older than the glut of potential draftees. That means he’s more physically developed than they are – and has the benefit of an extra year of major-junior – but it also means that he’s much closer to being a finished product than they are. The ceiling for his development is slightly lowered.
As it stands, Diaby is an interesting project. His main asset is his size. He’s very physically mature for his age, tipping the scales at over 200 pounds and putting the fear of God into forwards in the QMJHL with his checks and aggression. He also had the benefit of being part of the Victoriaville Tigres, who finished 11th in the QMJHL. The Tigres don’t boast a lot of high-end NHL prospects. That means that Diaby’s offensive numbers – which are somewhat modest – are probably a good reflection of where he stands, not inflated by team offensive like players for Halifax or Rimouski may experience.
While he doesn’t have massive offensive upside, Diaby has emerged as a leader on Victoriaville’s blueline and a steady, if unspectacular presence. He’s big and strong, and is prone to use his size to punish forwards if they stray too close to the net. He may need to be careful with that, though, as he could risk pulling himself out of position if he telegraphs hits too much at higher levels.
The big question mark regarding Diaby and his progression lies in his hockey sense. While he’s physically mature and generally dependable, some scouts have questioned his ability to read the game and adapt. That said, he’s physically mature, big and defensively sound.
“A team-high plus-12 for the Tigres, Diaby is a defense-first blueliner who can dish out punishment and has no problem dropping the gloves, something he did nine times this season. Along with proving that the Quebec League can bring toughness to the table, Diaby also helped his team to a huge upset of the Moncton Wildcats in the first round of the playoffs, despite the fact the Cats had 10 more wins in the regular season.” – Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News
“His skating has developed well, which has helped his prospect stock, although he is still just an average skater. He moves well for a big man, and with his wingspan, he is able to make a lot of stops with his stick when he is not forcing attackers off of pucks. While he is aggressive, he is also a smart player, and he will not take ill-advised risks. He positions himself well, and he won’t hurt his team with his puck play. That being said, his ability with the puck is limited, and he does not project as capable of running a professional-level power play.” – Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus
No significant international experience.
Risk 1.5/5, Reward 3/5
Third-pairing defenseman. Shut-down specialist.
- Great size.
- Very strong.
- Physical and aggressive player.
- Athletic family background.
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
- Mobility may become an issue if he gets much bigger than he is.
- Speed may be a concern against stronger/faster NHL forwards.
- Offensive upside is questionable.
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive 7/10, Defensive 8/10
NHL Player(s) Comparison:
A good comparison for Diaby may be former NHL (and current RDS analyst) Denis Gauthier. Gauthier was a big kid who made life difficult for the opposition, but lacked offensive upside and made a good career out of being a solid #5 or #6 blueliner. He’s patterned his game after Marc Methot.
When He’ll Go In June:
Diaby doesn’t have massive upside offensively, which lowers his ceiling as a development project and probably keeps him out of the first two rounds. He’ll likely go sometime during the third round of the draft.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.