Nathan Dunkley – 2018 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Nathan Dunkley

2016-17 Team: London Knights (#17)
Date of Birth: March 5, 2000
Place of Birth: Campbellford, Ontario
Ht: 5’11” Wt: 185 lbs.
Position: C
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2018 first-year eligible

Rankings

  • NHL Central Scouting: 109th (among NA Skaters)
  • Future Considerations: 72nd
  • Bob McKenzie: 71st

He started the year with the Kingston Frontenacs – the team that drafted him out of the Quinte Red Devils minor midget program in 2016. In his first year with the Frontenacs in 2016-17, the small forward tallied six goals and 31 points in 58 games while solidifying himself as a legitimate playmaking center.

At the time of the trade – leading up to this year’s OHL Trade Deadline – Dunkley already had 33 points in 31 games with Kingston. On a young Knights squad, he added another 24 points in 29 games to finish the year. Altogether, he finished his second OHL campaign with 57 points in 60 games – an impressive step up from his 31-point rookie season.

RELATED: THW’s 2018 Draft Guide

Now, a lower ranked center in the upcoming NHL Draft, Dunkley is looking ahead to the next level. While his five-foot-eleven stature might suggest a smaller player, the 17-year-old uses his lower body strength to play a much bigger game, while his 185-pound frame allows him to delve into the physical play as well.

Nathan Dunkley, Kingston Frontenacs, OHL
Dunkley came over to the Knights in a trade leading up to the OHL’s deadline. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

That said, he does see the ice like few others. He has soft hands in close and can help his team in many aspects of the game. While his shot is definitely a tool for him, his playmaking might be the biggest factor for teams looking to add the young center.

Other THW Draft Profiles:

Nathan Dunkley – NHL Draft Projection

The skill is there. While he does need to develop it to an NHL-calibre level, teams will certainly be eyeing Dunkley as a possible late-round target. That said, his size might be one factor playing against him. With that in mind, he could go somewhere in the late-third or early-fourth round. Or he could fall even further to the fifth or sixth round. But if he does plummet that far, he should be considered a late-round steal.

Quotables

“Ultra competitive forward who isn’t the biggest, but really does well to create room for his linemates. He’s excellent down low and at his best working the cycle. Great strength along the wall and is great at protecting the puck and looking to extend possession. A really strong complimentary player. Dunkley also shows a high compete level in all three zones and is a physical player who loves to get his nose dirty. Really didn’t get a good grasp of his true offensive capabilities moving forward though. There’s obviously skill there, but just how much remains to be seen, in my opinion. Would really love to see him become more of a consistent goal scoring threat improving his shot and ability to drive the net to add that extra dimension to his game.” – Brock Otten/OHL Prospects

“One of the more intriguing players entering the NHL draft this year, Nathan Dunkley is strong in some areas, but lacking in others. He is a decent skater, but either lacks the speed in his skating or chooses to play a slower style that is questionable once he graduates to the pros. A consistent scorer this year thanks in large part to his smart play in front of the net and his ability to get open in front of the net. An extremely smart player at both ends, especially in the defensive zone, but he needs to improve his stick handling work. When he is moving at a slow pace he can protect the puck, but once the speed of the game changes he struggles and depends on his teammates to bail him out. Physically he needs to be consistent because he can be intense in some moments in the offensive zone and when he backchecks, but completely disappears when he is challenging in the defensive zone and the neutral zone.” – Scott Crawford/McKeen’s Hockey

Strengths

  • Compete level
  • Playmaking and on-ice vision
  • Net-front presence

Under Construction (Improvements to Make)

  • Skating
  • Defensive zone coverage
  • Neutral zone possession

NHL Potential

Dunkley has a ceiling that he hasn’t reached yet. The potential is there, but the realization of that potential hasn’t hit the player yet. Still, he’s only 17 years old with a lot of growing to do. While he does have some areas of his game that need work, he does see the ice well and could slot in as a bottom six forward down the road. He’s a quality depth player at this point in his career.

Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk – 4/5, Reward – 4/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offence – 7/10 Defence – 7/10

Awards/Achievements

At this time, Dunkley doesn’t have any major achievements to his name, however, he is carrying a 0.75 point-per-game average in his 118 regular season OHL games so far in his career. That’s worth talking about.

Interview/Profile Links

Videos

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