|5’11”||182||9-16-03||D||R||84th 2019||48 NA||CANADA|
Patiently, I waited a couple of months for NHL Central Scouting to release its final draft rankings to see where they were going to slot Erie Otters Defenceman Christian Kyrou because I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me based on how Central Scouting was seeing him.
Not since 2010 when they ranked Jeff Skinner at 47 among North American skaters have, I waited with such anticipation. In the end, they ranked him at 34 but we all know by now he went 7th overall to the Carolina Hurricanes. At the time, I had OHL players ranked: Tyler Seguin (1), Taylor Hall (2) and Skinner (3) saying Seguin would be the better overall player, Hall would record the most points and Skinner would score the most goals in their NHL Careers.
So, What about Kyrou? Well, the younger brother of St Louis Blues forward Jordan Kyrou wasn’t listed on Central Scouting’s pre-season Players to Watch List. They saw some of the light and, on their midterm, placed him 179 among North American Skaters. That still shocked me because by the time you add in European skaters and Goaltenders, that leaves him outside the 224 players that will get drafted.
I was pleased to see that on their final ranking for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, that they bumped him up a whopping 131 spots to the 48 spot among North American Skaters (and that might still be a tad too low for my liking).
On OHL Writers, I gave him serious consideration as our Draft Eligible Defenceman of the Year. In the annual OHL Coaches Poll he was voted the most improved player in the Western Conference and the Most Underrated Player in the Western Conference as well as the second-best Offensive Defenceman in the Western Conference. Among draft eligible defencemen, he finished first in goals, second in points and third in assists. Among all OHL defencemen, he finished second in goals, ninth in assists and fourth in points.
With a September 16 birthdate, Kyrou missed the 2021 Entry Draft eligibility by just one day, making him the oldest first-time eligible player for the draft. And there are some that believe that alone is worthy of dropping him a few spots. However, I disagree. There has to be a cut off somewhere, and for Kyrou this just happens to be it, but with the lost season a year ago, everyone is on the same level in my opinion.
Kyrou’s strengths are in his offensive game. He has a tremendous shot from the point. His hockey IQ in the offensive zone is off the charts. He reads the plays quickly and always makes the right decision. He is an extremely dangerous powerplay quarterback. To put it simply, his offensive game is NHL caliber for a blueliner.
Where most have an issue in Kyrou’s game – and I can agree to a point – is in his skating and defensive game. He is okay on his blades, but I would love it if he could add an extra gear that will not only help him in transitioning to offence, but also in retrieving pucks. I’m not always as concerned as some when it comes to skating because with good pro coaching, that development can come along.
That improved skating would also help him defensively in keeping gaps tight and in forcing players to the outside. I will also say that you can’t get a true read on his defensive abilities. Erie was a bad team, finishing a collective minus- 44 on the season and Kyrou was the best blueliner at minus-3. Sure, putting up 60 points helps alleviate that, but teammate Spencer Sova, who for most of the season has been ranked ahead of Kyrou finished a minus-24 and put up 28 points.
Kyrou was used on the penalty kill throughout the season (and he was a threat to go on offence even then) so the Otters coaching staff saw something there.
Kyrou is going to be interesting to watch come draft day to see how NHL teams view him. But he’s definitely a player I would look to very late in the second round or early in the third. Older brother Jordan was ranked 34th among North American skaters in 2016 and ended up going 35th overall. Maybe the St Louis Blues will like the bloodlines.