Weight: 230 pounds
Date of Birth: January 9, 1998 – Leuven, Belgium
OHL Draft: Round 1, 4th overall
What do Sean Day, John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid have in common? All four were granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada and allowed to join the Ontario Hockey League as underage players. What is dissimilar among the four? The latter three were first overall picks in the National Hockey League draft for their respective draft years. Day will not be in the elite trio’s company.
In fact, Day was not the first overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection back in 2013 after being granted exceptional status. Travis Konecny (Ottawa 67’s), Dylan Strome (Erie Otters) and Matthew Spencer (Peterborough Petes) were selected ahead of him.
Day enters his third OHL season – his draft year – after less than spectacular rookie and sophomore seasons. He scored 6 goals and added 10 assists finishing with a minus 35 in 60 games during his rookie campaign. Day was named to the OHL second rookie team.
Last season he upped his totals to 10 goals and 26 assists with a minus 27 in 61 games. Don’t let the horrid plus/minus fool you – that can also be attributed to the less than stellar performance of the Steelheads.
Day has shown flashes of brilliance, but not with the consistency needed from a possible (as some opinions would have it) top ten NHL pick. Day is an effortless skater who can get up and down the ice with relative ease which has led to a few Paul Coffey comparisons (Day also compares himself to the Hall of Famer). He can carry the puck up ice with confidence and poise a la Coffey and like Coffey, he thinks offense first but can get caught up ice. His elite skating, however, allows him to get back more often than not. Day can throw a big hit but his physicality isn’t where it should be considering his size. Too often he shows a lack of interest or desire to battle along the boards for pucks.
There is no doubt Day can be an exceptional offensive catalyst with elite skill. He needs to work on his decision making skills by learning when to pinch or join the rush and not always being reliant on his skating to get back to the defensive zone. Instead of going end to end he could simply better read the play in front of him and dish off to a teammate, that way he would not get caught up ice. In the O-zone he has the ability to get pucks through lanes or find the seams but needs to do it on a more consistent basis.
Day has the ability to make a good first pass but too often he tries to force a play that isn’t there. He possesses an excellent shot and can quarterback the power play. His downfall may just be his decision-making skills or lack thereof. I just haven’t seen the hockey sense that should go hand in hand with elite talent such as Day’s. He certainly has all the tools of a potential high first round pick –there are those that still rank him as a top 10 pick – but to me, his lack of hockey sense drops him all the way down to the second round.
It’s a long way off until June 2016 when NHL teams gather in Buffalo, NY to find the next big superstar. Anything can happen and Day will have 68 games and the playoffs (?) to prove that.
Being cut from Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August was not a good start entering his draft year. However it is one tournament and not the be all end all.
Now, if he can use it as motivation….
Sherry Bassin to CBC Sports:
“He outskates everyone so much at this level,” said Bassin. “He joined the rush in some of the games I saw and he literally had to stop at the [opposing] blue-line. He would be so far ahead of everyone else, as a defenceman.”
Brendan Ross on the Hockey Writers:
It will be a tragic day if Hockey Canada’s fourth ever exceptional player falls to the number four slot but it seems like a real possibility. In all of my years of watching minor midget hockey, Sean Day is the best skater hands down. In all areas of skating ability — acceleration, agility, top-end speed, edge work, etc. — Day walks away as the best of the best. His competitiveness and hockey sense are two areas of question but he likely owns the highest upside of any player in this draft class.