2021-22 Team: Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Date of Birth: April 5, 2004
Place of Birth: Calgary, AB, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 181 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 81st (amongst NA skaters)
- Recruit Scouting: 68th
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 87th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 78th
- Bob McKenzie (TSN): 50th
- Draft Prospects Hockey: 60th
- FC Hockey: 79th
Jorian Donovan is probably already on a lot of NHL teams’ draft boards just for his explosive skating, offensive awareness and ability to move the puck quickly out of his own zone. As a defenceman in the modern NHL, you have to have all three to succeed, and Donovan has them all in spades. In only his first season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), he has already become a key part of the powerhouse Hamilton Bulldogs as he scored 3 goals and 22 points in 64 games with them this season. He also has two points in six games in the playoffs so far as the Bulldogs are now in the OHL Final against the Windsor Spitfires.
Related: THW’s FREE 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Selected sixth overall by the Bulldogs at the 2020 OHL Priority Selection, Donovan credits his upbringing for his work ethic and competitive nature. Being the son of former NHLer and noted competitor, Shean Donovan, who played 951 games and racked up 705 penalty minutes, certainly helps as he was able to get advice and pointers from him as he grew up.
“I was obviously born into a competitive family, and growing up being competitive you always want to strive for the best and chase whoever is ahead of you.”
Jorian is a better skater and has a lot more offensive upside than his dad, even though Shean did put up a career-high 18 goals and 43 points for the Calgary Flames in 2003-04. Despite that outburst, Shean wasn’t known for his offensive side, rather his physicality, penalty killing and strong defensive game. Having said that, Jorian does credit his father for his skating and why he is the player and person he is today.
“One thing he told me is that you just have to hate losing more than you like winning,” said Donovan of his father. “You obviously get your genes from someone and I definitely got my skating from him. I thank him for that. I’m blessed to have good feet.”
In the future, Jorian will be able to keep leaning on him for direction as Shean is now a player development coach for the Ottawa Senators. He was very young when his dad was an NHL player, so the time he’s spent around the Senators’ organization on the development side has been invaluable, as he’s been able to experience an NHL dressing room before being drafted. That’s something not all draft-eligible prospects are privy to. Not to mention access to a resource of a veteran NHL player who played close to 1,000 games.
Donovan definitely has the makings of a top-four defenceman. With his size, mobility and confidence with the puck, he is perfectly suited for the NHL game right now. Add in his willingness to drive the play and attack the net, along with his competitive work ethic, and whatever team gets him could have a bigger Adam Fox-type defenceman on their hands. He, of course, still needs to keep improving his strength, decision-making, and consistency, but that will come with time and coaching. The two-way toolbox he has is intriguing and will probably keep him in the running for the second round come July 8.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Jorian Donovan – NHL Draft Projection
Ranked anywhere from the mid-second to early third round, Donovan will probably fall between 50 and 65 when all is said and done. In a league based on speed and transition, I’m sure he is well-liked in the NHL scouting community. Too bad we won’t be able to glean more about his personality at the 2022 NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. Since the Bulldogs are currently in the playoffs and potentially will be competing for the Memorial Cup as well, he will not be attending despite being invited to the event. Regardless, scouts will still be able to watch him perform in the most pressure-packed of scenarios, the OHL Final, which could be more valuable than what information the Combine would ultimately provide.
“Donovan is a quick, puck-moving defenseman with great mobility who can double as a power play quarterback. Compared to his peers, Donovan’s confidence with the puck stands out. He has a great first step and loves to jump into the rush. With the puck on his stick, he is not afraid to attack open lanes in the neutral zone and drive towards the net.” – Mat Sheridan, FC Hockey
“Donovan is an excellent puck handler and once he reaches top speed is difficult to contain and separate the puck and is excellent at using his body to protect the puck. While he can create space for himself, he has the vision, hockey sense and passing abilities to recognize where the next play is and usually makes the right decision. He has an excellent shot from the point that almost always finds the target and he shoots with a purpose – not always trying to beat the goaltender.” – Dominic Tiano, OHL Writers
“Another strong two-way defenseman, Donovan is a raw prospect that’s good at many things but not a star at anything particular. And that’s OK, because, as one Ottawa area scout described, “he’s an untapped talent ready for a huge boom.” Donovan is a smart puck-mover, but he needs to find a way to stay consistent and competitive shift-to-shift.” – Steven Ellis, The Hockey News
- Two-way game
- Hockey IQ
- Puck handling
- Confidence with the puck
- Work ethic
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
If all goes well, Donovan has the potential to become a top-four defenceman in the NHL, or at the very least a solid bottom-pairing guy who can jump into the top four in a pinch. He will also be a contributor on the power play due to his mobility, hockey IQ and strong shot from the point. As I mentioned before, think a poor-man’s Adam Fox, except with more height.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7/10, Defence – 7/10
Donovan was selected for the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game where he played for Team Red. He also placed third behind Danny Zhilkin and Matthew Savoie in the “Reaction with Puck” test during the Top Prospects Game sport testing combine finishing with a rating of 9.920 seconds. Finally he was invited to participate at the 2022 NHL Draft Scouting Combine, but did not attend due to OHL playoff commitments.
- OHL Futures Watch – Jorian Donovan
- Bulldogs Live, The new guys. Jorian Donovan
- Max and Ben Talk Hockey
Jorian Donovan Statistics
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.