Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the results of the Eastern and Western Conference Coaches Polls for the 2015-16 OHL regular season.
The OHL Coaches Poll provides member club coaches with the opportunity to recognize the top three players in 20 different skill categories within their own conference.
In the Eastern Conference, the Central Division champion Barrie Colts lead the way with eight players represented across 16 of the 20 different categories highlighted by Calgary Flames prospect Andrew Mangiapane who was named Most Underrated, Best Skater, and Best Shootout Shooter. Fellow Colt and OHL top scorer Kevin Labanc, a San Jose Sharks prospect, appeared in five categories finishing first in Best Playmaker, and Best Penalty Killer. The East Division champion Kingston Frontenacs finished second in team voting with six different players appearing in 12 different categories including Jeremy Helvig (Most Improved), Spencer Watson (Most Dangerous in the Goal Area), Lawson Crouse (Best Body Checker), and Roland McKeown (Best Defensive Defenceman) finishing first.
North Bay Battalion captain Mike Amadio was the top individual winner by appearing in the Top-3 in seven different categories. The Los Angeles Kings prospect finished first in four different categories including Smartest Player, Hardest Worker, Best Shot, Best Defensive Forward. Other multiple category winners in the Eastern Conference include Niagara IceDogs goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic who tied for first in the Best Puck Handling Goalie vote, and Best Shootout Goalie category. Fellow IceDog Josh Ho-Sang was named Best Stickhandler for the second straight season.
In the Western Conference, the Erie Otters lead the way with seven players represented in 12 of the 20 categories including a league-high nine first place votes. Arizona Coyotes prospect Dylan Strome is the Conference’s top individual winner leading the way in three different areas including Smartest Player, Best on Face-Offs, and Best Shootout Shooter. 2016 NHL Draft prospect Alex DeBrincat was also one of seven Otters to earn first place recognition earning Most Dangerous in the Goal Area accolades for the second straight season. The Midwest Division’s Kitchener Rangers and London Knights also factored heavily into Western Conference voting. Seven different Rangers appeared in 11 different categories, while six different Knights were spread across nine different categories. Most notably, the Rangers’ Adam Mascherin was listed in four categories receiving first place in Best Shot, while Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner headlined the Knights’ representation winning Best Playmaker and Best Stickhandler after appearing among the Top-3 in both categories last season.
New York Rangers prospect Brandon Halverson of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the league’s only three-time winner earning Best Puck Handling Goalie recognition for the third consecutive season.
The Coaches Poll is tabulated when each team submits one nominee per category, and coaches then vote for the top three players for each category within their conference. Players receive five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote. Clubs are not permitted to vote for players from their own team allowing for a maximum of 45 possible points for each winner. This season all 20 OHL clubs are represented in at least one category.
All 20 categories are listed below with Eastern Conference and Western Conference winners including their final point totals in brackets.
Most Underrated Player:
Eastern Conference: 1. Andrew Mangiapane, Barrie Colts (28)
2. Jordan Maletta, Niagara IceDogs (16)
3. Juho Lammikko, Kingston Frontenacs (15)
1. Aaron Berisha, London Knights (22)
2. Jeff King, Sarnia Sting (14)
3. Jalen Chatfield, Windsor Spitfires (12)
Most Improved Player: Eastern Conference:
1.Jeremy Helvig, Kingston Frontenacs (30)
2. Mathew Santos, North Bay Battalion (18)
3. Nic Hague, Mississauga Steelheads tied Riley Stillman, Oshawa Generals (10)
1. Kyle Maksimovich, Erie Otters tied Logan Stanley, Windsor Spitfires (25)
3. Adam Mascherin, Kitchener Rangers (10)
1. Mike Amadio, North Bay Battalion (32)
2. Kevin Labanc, Barrie Colts (25)
3. Hunter Garlent, Peterborough Petes (8)
1. Dylan Strome, Erie Otters (41) – finished third in voting in 2014-15
2. Matthew Tkachuk, London Knights (18)
3. Petrus Palmu, Owen Sound Attack (7)
1. Michael McLeod, Mississauga Steelheads tied Mike Amadio, North Bay Battalion (24) – McLeod finished third in voting in 2014-15
3. Lawson Crouse, Kingston Frontenacs (21) – finished first in voting in 2014-15
1. Hayden Verbeek, Soo Greyhounds (32)
2. Jonah Gadjovich, Owen Sound Attack tied Josh Jacobs, Sarnia Sting (13)
1. Kevin Labanc, Barrie Colts (31)
2. Josh Ho-Sang, Niagara IceDogs (26) – finished third in voting in 2014-15
3. Michael Dal Colle, Kingston Frontenacs (12)
1. Mitch Marner, London Knights (35) – finished second in voting in 2014-15
2. Dylan Strome, Erie Otters (27)
3. Jeremy Bracco, Kitchener Rangers (12)
Most Dangerous in Goal Area:
1. Spencer Watson, Kingston Frontenacs (35) – finished third in voting in 2014-15
2. Kevin Labanc, Barrie Colts tied Mike Amadio, North Bay Battalion (24)
1. Alex DeBrincat, Erie Otters (37) – finished first in voting in 2014-15
2. Christian Dvorak, London Knights (32)
3. Zach Senyshyn, Soo Greyhounds (9)
1. Andrew Mangiapane, Barrie Colts (18)
2. Sean Day, Mississauga Steelheads tied Mitchell Vande Sompel, Oshawa Generals, and Jonathan Ang, Peterborough Petes (17) – Day finished second in voting in both 2013-14 and 2014-15
1. Zach Senyshyn, Soo Greyhounds (33) – finished third in voting in 2014-15
1. Jacob Middleton, Ottawa 67’s (25)
2. Roland McKeown, Kingston Frontenacs (15)
3. Dylan Sadowy, Barrie Colts (14)
1. Damir Sharipzyanov, Owen Sound Attack (24)
2. Darren Raddysh, Erie Otters (18)
3. Will Petschenig, Saginaw Spirit tied Patrick Sanvido, Windsor Spitfires (11)
Best Defensive Forward:
1. Mike Amadio, North Bay Battalion (32)
2. Juho Lammikko, Kingston Frontenacs (29) – finished third in voting in 2014-15
3. Cordell James, Barrie Colts tied Anthony Cirelli, Oshawa Generals (9)
1. Kyle Pettit, Erie Otters (31) – finished third in voting in 2014-15
2. Ryan MacInnis, Kitchener Rangers (22)
3. Kris Bennett, Saginaw Spirit (14)
Best Penalty Killer:
1. Kevin Labanc, Barrie Colts (26)
2. Mike Amadio, North Bay Battalion (25)
3. Jordan Maletta, Niagara IceDogs (17)
1. Pavel Zacha, Sarnia Sting (26)
2. Kyle Pettit, Erie Otters (19)
3. Darby Llewellyn, Kitchener Rangers (16)
Best Offensive Defenceman:
1. Rasmus Andersson, Barrie Colts (31) – finished third in voting in 2014-15
2. Mitchell Vande Sompel, Oshawa Generals (23) – finished second in voting in 2014-15
3. Cam Dineen, North Bay Battalion (17)
1. Roland McKeown, Kingston Frontenacs (30) – finished third in voting in 2014-15
2. Jacob Middleton, Ottawa 67’s (29)
3. Michael Webster, Barrie Colts (19)
1. Darren Raddysh, Erie Otters (37)
2. Frank Hora, Kitchener Rangers (13)
3. Chris Martenet, London Knights tied Colton White, Soo Greyhounds (9)
Best Puck-Handling Goalie:
1. Mackenzie Blackwood, Barrie Colts tied Alex Nedeljkovic, Niagara IceDogs (21) – Nedeljkovic finished third in 2014-15 West vote
2. Jake Smith, North Bay Battalion (18) – finished second in voting in 2013-14 and 2014-15
1. Brandon Halverson, Soo Greyhounds (28) – finished first in 2013-14 and 2014-15
2. Michael Giugovaz, Guelph Storm (12)
3. Michael McNiven, Owen Sound Attack (11)
Best Shootout Shooter:
1. Andrew Mangiapane, Barrie Colts (29) – finished third in voting in 2014-15
2. Alex Nylander, Mississauga Steelheads (20)
3. Josh Ho-Sang, Niagara IceDogs (16)
1. Dylan Strome, Erie Otters (23)
2. Christian Dvorak, London Knights (22)
3. William Bitten, Flint Firebirds tied Petrus Palmu, Owen Sound Attack (16)
Best Shootout Goalie:
1. Alex Nedeljkovic, Niagara IceDogs (24) – finished second in 2013-14 and 2014-15 West voting
2. Mackenzie Blackwood, Barrie Colts (18) – finished third in voting in 2014-15
3. Jack Flinn, Mississauga Steelheads (16)
1. Devin Williams, Erie Otters (36)
2. Michael McNiven, Owen Sound Attack (16)
3. Charlie Graham, Sarnia Sting (11)
There is no questioning the fact that Sean Day possesses some very elite talent. He is arguably the best skater in his draft class. The tool box is full but at times it looks like he’s using a hand saw instead of a skill saw.
Over the years, I have not always been a big supporter of NHL Central Scouting, and frankly, it appears some NHL teams would rather go their own way as well. Day is ranked 43rd on Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings among North American players. By the time you add in a goaltender or two and Europeans, you are looking at a player ranked in the latter part of the second round.
Will NHL teams see the same thing or will they look at Day as a low risk, very high reward player? Only time will tell. I talked to some of the brightest people covering the Ontario Hockey League and put together their opinions.
OHLW: Personal opinion on exceptional status aside, do you think Day would have benefited more from forgoing exceptional status, say the way Jakob Chychrun did?
While it would be easy to place fault at the decision to accept exceptional status, Sean Day was a beast during his underage draft year and showed the physical maturity, advanced skills and on-ice success to warrant the rare tag. With hindsight to our advantage, maybe he wasn’t quite ready for the psychological pressures accompanying the exceptional status pressures but from an on-ice perspective, he showed he was ready to handle the OHL. – Brendan Ross
Yes. There is always something a player can learn from minor midget. In most any year, the top defencemen in the minor midget age cohort are capable of playing in the OHL and not looking that much out of place. That’s not really what development is about. – Neate Sager
It’s hard to say in the moment, but looking back at it a couple years later – yes, he absolutely would have benefited from forgoing exceptional status. Day and his father have recently had similar comments including that they would have looked into NCAA options as well. When you are blowing out the competition in minors, it’s hard to predict that you won’t do well going into the next level as an underager. Hockey Canada granted him exceptional status for a reason, but if there were any reservations, this process may need to be looked at. Lack of emotional maturity when he entered the OHL has been brought up a couple times and that is important as you are playing with and against 19 & 20-year olds. – Kathryn Jean
That’s a tough question in hindsight. My gut says no. Day was so much bigger and physically mature than the kids he was playing against, so I’m not sure how much he was really learning. Being able to physically overwhelm people is always going to be a natural instinct over outsmarting them. By transitioning early to the OHL, he was forced to finally not be able to rely on his physical gifts, but instead have to improve the way he thinks the game. This is obviously something he still struggles with at times, but I do think it was probably the right decision to apply for that exceptional status. – Brock Otten
That is so hard to say and easy to judge with the benefit of hindsight. As a 15 year old in this league Sean Day did not seem overmatched as some 16 year old 1st round picks are when they enter the league. On top of that he was getting plenty of ice time and playing his trade in games and practice against players older and better then what he would have faced if he had played minor midget or 18U hockey in Michigan. – Peter Knuelman
It’s looking that way I suppose. Obviously there were red flags even early on or he wouldn’t have dropped to fourth in his draft year. – Grant McCagg
There’s a point where players are so above the competition that they aren’t learning much anymore and that was partly the case with Day, dominating at lower levels. I think it’s more about what a player does after the process has played out rather than resting on the laurels of being granted exceptional status. – Gus Katsaros
The thing with the exceptional status rule is that it should be granted to absolute, no-questions-asked home run kids, and no one else. From what I’ve been told by scouts, Day wasn’t a home run when he applied; there was uncertainty. Chychrun was closer to being “exceptional”, however, I’ve spoken to him about the topic and he doesn’t regret not applying. There’s no rush, especially for defencemen. While hindsight is always 20/20, I think Day would have benefited from either not applying altogether or declining the status when he was accepted. – John Matisz
That’s a near impossible question for me to answer. It’s equivalent to asking if the butterfly didn’t flap his wings, would the tornado have happened? Every action triggers an unpredictable sequence of events. Maybe he would have. Maybe it would have been worse. It’s not like we’ve had a ton of exceptional candidates who have opted out to measure him against either. – Corey Pronman
OHLW: One could make the argument that the pressure of being tagged with exceptional status may have affected his performance. How close/far has he been to living up to the expectations?
Given the names and successes of the players who have been granted exceptional status prior to Sean Day (namely, John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid), the young defender certainly had big shoes to fill. Despite the legwork and due diligence that Hockey Canada performs with its lengthy exceptional status application process, it was a matter of time that one of these talented kids would fail to live up to the lofty expectations that accompany the tag. There’s no reason to fault Sean for not meeting those expectations. His “failures”, “disappointments” or whatever term you want to apply to his inability to EXCEED expectations (like Tavares, Ekblad and McDavid all did) more so reflect the media’s intense pressures that landed on his shoulders. It’s not as if Day stepped into the OHL and fizzled out in his first year. The big strong, mobile defender stepped into OHL as an underage defenceman (a tough position to play for a player any age) and earned important minutes as a rookie. Since arriving in Mississauga, he’s played in all situations and while he hasn’t necessarily excelled, he has established himself as an OHL player. So, Sean Day hasn’t developed into the go-to stud defender that everyone expected from him but his future still remains bring – as an above-average OHL’er and a professional moving forward. – Brendan Ross
Everyone every day is fighting a battle the rest of the world has no idea about it; I’m sure most people read the recent Damien Cox profile where Day opened up about his closest sibling’s incarceration and his mother’s health challenges. That’s going to weigh on a sensitive 17-year-old whom the hockey world expects to magically turn into a 30-year-old maturation-wise — which some prospects do, to their credit. Day has been pretty far from the hype that was generated, but he was oversold. We should try to extrapolate we would look at him if he had played that minor midget season and entered the OHL in 2014-15 — and Chychrun still goes No. 1 in that hypothetical.– Neate Sager
The exceptional status tag has put more pressure on him and I have no doubt that this affected his performance. The fact he wasn’t selected 1st overall like all the other exceptional players and continued to fall to 4th overall already put scrutiny on him before he stepped onto OHL ice. Exceptional players are looked at with a microscope and with the tag people expect to see a great performance each shift. Instead of being compared to guys like Jakob Chychrun, Mikhail Sergachev, and Olli Juolevi, he’s being compared to John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid.
I thought Day had a decent first season considering his age finishing with 16 points in 60 games. He finished the season at -35 but on a struggling Mississauga Steelheads team that had a goal differential of -100 and just squeaked into the playoffs. He earned a spot on the U17, but was cut from the U18 team and didn’t get invited to U20. Since he started, he’s struggled with consistency and discipline at times. He looks more refreshed this season and I expect to see him have a good run with Mississauga down the stretch. – Kathryn Jean
I don’t think that there is any question it has affected his performance. And it depends on what the expectations are/were. If we’re talking about comparing him to the others who have received exceptional status (Tavares, Ekblad, McDavid), then he’s obviously nowhere near the level of play they had reached by their NHL draft seasons. If we’re comparing him to the average top 5 OHL priority selection (and 18 year old kid), then I don’t think he’s that far off where most kids are. – Brock Otten
Well in my opinion he is not the top player in that age group currently playing in the OHL and that is the expectation when one is granted exceptional status. We have been spoiled with Tavares, Ekblad and McDavid and maybe those 3 raised our expectations to unreasonable levels. Just because you are the best player at 14 or 15 doesn’t mean you will be the best player at 17. At the end of the day I would say he is somewhat close in terms of skill but far off in terms of production and putting it all together. – Peter Knuelman
Reaching the high expectations that come with being honoured with an entry to the league in such a fashion is difficult for even the most talented players. Some of that falls on Mississauga though, not having iced the greatest teams in the last couple of seasons prior to 2015-16. I’m not convinced he’s lived up to the hype of being a highly touted prospect, but he’s shown the brief glimpses that made him such a desirable asset for an OHL team. A little hot/cold, but he’s shown more with an improved support cast. – Gus Katsaros
One could argue he shouldn’t have gotten the tab to begin with. The OHL scouts certainly didn’t seem to buy in, he went 4th overall in his class, the only exceptional player in any CHL league to do so. – Corey Pronman
OHLW: There is no questioning the toolbox is full. Some believe the battery that powers the tools isn’t always fully charged. How would you say his work ethic has been, more so this season over past seasons?
Good question and I am glad you asked it because this is where the frustration comes for scouts watching Sean Day. Above, I spoke to the fact that even though Sean hasn’t met the large expectations that previous exceptional players have met, he is an above-average OHL defender. Conversely, I think where most people become frustrated and critical of Day’s game is when they see how gifted his skill set is and can’t comprehend how he isn’t more driven to reach his fullest potential. To be fair to the young defender (who has had some personal challenges off the ice as well), it’s nearly impossible to measure “desire”, “competitiveness” and similar traits. Under what appears to be a lackadaisical approach, Sean Day may actually be extremely driven to become an NHL all-star. Only he will know. But on the surface, it appears he just doesn’t have the desire to challenge himself to really maximize his elite skills. After watching an impressive Sean Day as an exceptional Compuware defender, I was pretty confident that he’d have no problems translating his ability to dominate with end-to-end rushes in the OHL like he did in minor midget. People forgave Day as a rookie and chalked it up to a slow start and him needing time to adjust. Now, years later, we are still witnessing flashes of high-end skill with the occasional end-to-end rush but because of his inconsistency and underwhelming intensity, I think people tend to prefer players who are ready to skate through walls to reach their fullest potential and that’s why he’s getting passed by. His high end skill still exists but until he shows a consistent spark, I think it’s easier to choose players with more drive and impact in their game. – Brendan Ross
His work ethic has not been great in past seasons but this being his draft year he seems to be a lot more focused. Consistency has always been an issue and continues to be, but his talent alone helps keep him in discussions. I think coming out to the media about his personal battles will only help him from this point on. That’s a lot of weight that was lifted off his shoulders considering the fact that most his teammates didn’t even know. – Kathryn Jean
With everything that has come out to the public lately, about the issues with his brother, I think that puts a new perspective on things. He even admitted that his head hasn’t been in every game he’s played, thus explaining the hiatus he took from the Steelheads. Is it a work ethic thing? Or is it a motivation (psychological) or conditioning issue? The NHL combine interview process will be incredibly important for him, as he’ll likely have to convince NHL teams that his passion is to play in the NHL (despite everything that’s gone on the past couple of years). – Brock Otten
Hard to judge players work ethic based on games as it is just a small piece of the puzzle. You have practice, gym time and other factors that go into developing a hockey player. My main qualm with Day would be that his game seems to lack urgency which some may point to a lack of work ethic or drive. One factor in this may be that since Day is such an effortless skater he comes off as a player who may not be putting in 100% effort at all times. – Peter Knuelman
I scout draft eligible players, and really don’t pay much attention to underage players, so I really don’t know how Day played the past few season..Mississauga did not have a lot of draft eligible prospects the last couple of years. He needs to keep improving his work ethic IMO. – Grant McCagg
There are some nights that he can look labored or disinterested on the ice, but that’s subjective and not always fully the case. Sometimes I think that’s more of a one-off perception rather than progressive or accurate, because he can show a relaxed state, while being ready to compete. Players don’t have to always be doing something to show that they are working, the observer sometimes I think expects that. Patrolling a defensive zone and ensuring there aren’t holes, or loose men in the area don’t require a lot of movement, it requires diligence. I think that the ‘effort’ should be replaced by an element of smarts, and Day is clearly a cerebral player above and beyond the strict tools. I don’t think there’s been a big difference in how he’s approached the on-ice work ethic, I can’t comment on the off-ice activity. – Gus Katsaros
OHLW: Day is arguably the best skater in his draft class and has shown world class talent at times. He himself has said that his weight control may be the hardest thing for him. Personally, I don’t see it as having a negative effect. What are your thoughts?
I don’t have the luxury of being behind the scenes to assess his fitness levels, nutritional challenges and other off-ice facets of the game that may trouble players so it’s a tough question to address. With that said, in today’s game with players having access to an infinite amount of fitness, nutrition and supporting resources, I don’t believe it to be an insurmountable challenge. OHL players and aspiring athletes have extensive networks and if players are willing to put in the work, they’ll be surrounded by all the help that’s needed to achieve their goals. – Brendan Ross
If he gets to the NHL level, where a team can make the investment in a nutritionist and dietitian, it wouldn’t be a negative. Generally, though, the lower your body-fat percentage, the easier it is to move on the ice and have the aerobic capacity to recover for your next shift. – Neate Sager
I think his comments on his weight control being an issue stems from him coming in overweight last season. Along with him being late, his weight was a reason he was turned away from U18 team. I can see that extra weight making him a slight step slower which could have also led to his poor play at the U18 camp. – Kathryn Jean
Ask NHL teams if they’d like to have Drew Doughty on their team. How many of them would say no? No question that Doughty wasn’t in the best shape when he played in the OHL, but that’s obviously not the case anymore. We have to remember that these guys are teenagers and learning how to eat/train/maintain is going to have a learning curve. Some kids are just natural gym rats who thrive on being in great shape. Some don’t figure that out until later in their OHL career as they get ready to transition to the pros. Day has already cut some weight and I’m sure he’ll continue to do that. As his conditioning improves, he should be able to take more chances offensively without sacrificing his play/effort at the defensive end. – Brock Otten
It doesn’t seem to have had any negative effect on his play in my opinion. It is worrisome though if it becomes a bigger problem down the line. If he has trouble with his weight now how will he control it in the future? Does this point to an issue with work ethic as discussed in the previous question? Based on his play I would not have been able to tell that he has weight control issues. – Peter Knuelman
Weight control problems are usually a concern for NHL teams..i think it will affect his draft position, because it points to character and leadership issues in addition to weight concerns. – Grant McCagg
He’s going to put on some weight as a pro as well so he’ll have to adapt to a bit of a different body style playing in the professional leagues too. He’ll have to find that optimum weight and then ensure he can operate within that band. I think it will be much worse if he doesn’t get a handle on that after being drafted, however to his benefit, he’ll have support and NHL clubs providing nutrition and lifestyle training. On the grand scale, as long as there’s no adverse effect on the type of skills he brings to the table, I don’t see a major negative here. – Gus Katsaros
I could watch Day skate all day. It amazes me; it looks like he’s floating out there, like his stride doesn’t require an ounce of energy. I don’t know the exact relation between weight and skating, but I would imagine dropping a few pounds wouldn’t hurt. I think everybody, athletes or fans or media, can relate to Day when he says cutting weight is difficult. It’s not easy for anyone. But if he wants to be a world-class athlete, he has to figure it out. There are trainers and nutritionists out there who would gladly take him on as a client. – John Matisz
OHLW: I’ve seen it mentioned that at times Day looks disinterested/bored out there and that he is just too good for the OHL, much like he was too good for Midget and made the early jump to the OHL. What are your thoughts and does he have a legitimate chance to play in the NHL next season?
Not to be a pessimist but playing in the NHL next season won’t be a reasonable option for Sean Day. Making the direct jump to professional hockey is challenging enough for even the two or three drafted prospects each year. In Day’s case, whoever decides to draft him will want to see progression and consistency in his game. He needs to dominate the OHL, show an interest achieving an elite level of play in the OHL and prove that he can handle the challenges that professional hockey will throw at him. – Brendan Ross
As far disinterested/bored goes, people project what they want to see on to a player, and that theory sounds like confirmation bias — ‘he was so good but he’s not performing, ergo, he must be disinterested/bored.’ Now, sometimes gifted players can get frustrated playing with less skilled teammates than they will have at the next level, that’s true, but ultimately successful people in any endeavor find a way.
As far as the NHL next year goes, it’s hard to see that happening. – Neate Sager
I think that’s more of the case when he played in midget. I don’t think he got off to the start he wanted and that with a mixture of off-ice distractions and lack of success may have resulted in him not enjoying hockey. I believe he is a bit of a project player and I don’t see him making an immediate jump to the NHL. I think he still has some things he can work on in junior. While the skills are all there, his consistency continues to be a question. If he returns, he has a great opportunity to be on another contending team unless Michael McLeod, Alex Nylander and Nathan Bastian all make the jump. He also has the chance to make the World Junior team which would make for a great experience before turning pro. – Kathryn Jean
I’d say that’s ridiculous. I’d say he definitely goes through stretches of looking disinterested, but I think we can chalk that up to the issues I touched on earlier (with his brother), and not being above his competition. He still has a ton to learn at this level. He’s no longer on the top powerplay unit for the Steelheads and his offensive decision making often leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t think there is any chance he ends up in the NHL next season. – Brock Otten
I have seen Mississauga play live 5 times year and Sean Day has looked for the most part invisible every time except for when he received a 5 minute boarding Major against Niagara. I’m not sure if he is disinterested or board, again I feel it looks as though his game lacks urgency. He has seemed better since the Christmas break when he had an extended absence from the team. The chance to clear his mind seemed to have done some good.
As for playing in the NHL next year: It is so hard for defencemen to make that jump that I would go out and say there is a 0% chance he makes that jump next year and I don’t think he makes the jump for his 19 year old season either. If he is having troubles with the mental side of the game at the OHL level then he will get buried in the NHL. – Peter Knuelman
I’m not sure why he’d be disinterested. He’s far from being a dominant player this season. I think his chances of playing in the NHL next season are very low….there are question marks about his hockey sense, attitude, competitiveness, vision and offensive upside. Great skating alone won’t get you into the NHL. – Grant McCagg
He’s been a pretty good not amazing OHLer, so not sure I agree with that. He has a ways to go still before he’s a top-tier player in that league. – Corey Pronman
I’ve talked about this with an OHL scout. He said there’s a difference between making being good at hockey look effortless (Joe Thornton) and appearing disinterested (Day). The scout told me to watch a player compete for puck possession along the boards (Is he tentative? Submissive? Does he battle? Does it look like he cares?). Apparently that’s the best way to identify disengagement. At times — in other words, only on certain plays — Day seems disengaged. No, he will not play in the NHL next season. I don’t think that’s on the table at this point. – John Matisz
I’m not sure I buy that he’s bored or too good for the OHL. It’s still quite the leap from the developmental leagues to the OHL, and an exponential jump to the NHL even for exceptional players. Personally, while I think he can earn a spot with a team that drafts him, it’s not as likely that he ends up in the NHL 2016-17 beyond the nine games allowed prior to burning a year off the entry-level contract. Having said that, there’s an exceptional skill set there and sometimes the biggest motivation is someone telling you, ‘you can’t do this.’ – Gus Katsaros
OHLW: If you were running the draft for an NHL team and had multiple first round picks, would you select him in the first round? On the flip side, if you only had one first round pick, would you select him?
I will politely answer ‘no’ to both scenarios. Sean Day certainly owns first round worthy skills and I’ve said that for years now but if I’m putting my name to a first round player, I want to see several key attributes and he’s lacking in one major one. While skill is a major indication of many players selected in the opening round, I think determination and an ability to exceed expectations through an unrelenting work ethic (on and off the ice) is one attribute that I wouldn’t want to budge on. I think you want a player you know will dig down deep and do whatever it takes to win. You want to know that there’s an excellent chance that a first round pick will persist and earn a roster spot regardless of what’s thrown at him. At this point, Day’s biggest question marks are surrounding his work ethic, desire and determination. – Brendan Ross
Depends on the draft slot, but with only one first-rounder, no, since that is the pick a team has to get right. If I had a second, somewhere in the 20s, I would take the home run swing, especially if I had wind of a divisional rival hankering to do the same. – Neate Sager
If he was the best player available, then yes on both questions. I think he will go as high as a late first round pick but there are better defensemen ahead of him. – Kathryn Jean
No (to both). At this point, I don’t think Sean Day is a first round pick. When you factor in his level of play and the concerns over his passion for the game, an NHL scout would be crazy to use a first round pick (in a quality draft year) on him. At this point, I think he’s still a top 100 selection, and will have value as a second or third rounder. – Brock Otten
First off whether a team has 1 first round pick or multiple first round picks it shouldn’t make the selection of Sean Day more or less palatable. Once the other first round picks have been taken they become sunk costs and in no way should affect a team’s justification in drafting Sean Day. At the end of the day it should come down to risk/reward and if the reward of drafting Sean Day outweighs the risks when comparing him to other options at the draft table. As of right now I would not draft him. There is no denying that he has a higher ceiling then those who will be available near the end of round one but his low floor and questions about how likely he is to reach his ceiling would be enough for me to look in another direction. – Peter Knuelman
I don’t think multiple picks would affect my strategy at all. Best player is the best player. As of now, he’s not a first round prospect. – Corey Pronman
No and no. – Grant McCagg
I think this is a difficult question to because it’s likely that if I have multiple picks in the first round, I’m in a spot where I’m rebuilding my club, or have the good fortune of picking up a late first by giving up a valuable asset. His skating is the element that I feel would be the biggest asset in the NHL, especially with the requirement to have a mobile back end. On a personal note, I probably would look at a forward prior to the defenseman in that scenario, however, and then wait for project rearguards in the second round and beyond. With a lone first round pick – likely mid to late in the round – once again, I’d lean towards a forward prior to taking a defenseman, even with the potential that Day exhibits. – Gus Katsaros
I’ve been told by multiple talent evaluators that he’s a first-round talent, no doubt, but there are too many question marks for a team to use a top pick on him. We’ll see what happens between now and June. Don’t be surprised if he is interviewed by every NHL team. I don’t know enough about him or the draft class to peg him in or outside the top 30. – John Matisz
OHLW: Predictions at this stage are virtually impossible to make. Given what you have seen, how do you see his NHL career playing out?
Most people in the hockey world are rooting for Sean Day. I know I am. He’s just too gifted not to warrant being drafted but once his name gets called out, the onus will be on him to earn his NHL spot. Can I guarantee that he’ll become an everyday NHL’er? No. I’ve seen too many talented players bounce between minor leagues. With that said, I think Day’s game is starting to show more signs of life and he’s been playing better since returning to the lineup. The battle is still an uphill one and he’ll be challenged a lot to really show his stuff – maybe more than the average draftee – because people want to see him capitalize on his skill. He has the potential to become a top pairing defender but realistically, I think he’ll comfortably land as a 5/6 defender who can chip in offensively. All eyes will be watching come draft day and it will be very interesting to see who takes a chance on this talented but polarizing blue liner. It only takes one team to like him! – Brendan Ross
He might need some more obstacles and second and third second chances, but he can get there. It might just come at age 22, not age 18 like so many people anticipated. – Neate Sager
I think he has the ceiling to be a top 4 defenseman in the NHL with significant power play time. Another year in junior and perhaps even a year in the AHL will only benefit his game. I think it is important that whichever NHL teams drafts him, does not rush him. – Kathryn Jean
I see a lot of people talk about how high Sean Day’s potential is. Most potential of any defender in the draft is something I’ve seen uttered. I just don’t think I agree with it. That isn’t to say that I don’t see Day as an NHL player: far from it. It’s more that I’m just not sure I see a defender who has significant offensive potential at the next level. Just because a defender is an elite skater doesn’t mean that he has to be (or have the potential to be) a dominant offensive player. There are other skills which have to factor into the equation. I’m just not sure Day is a natural distributor or play creator. He’s at his best when he keeps the game simple, using his skating ability to get the puck out and making a good outlet pass to start the rush. When he starts to push towards the offensive zone, he can be turnover prone in the neutral zone. And his ability to run the point on the powerplay remains a major work in progress (a place where most offensive defenders make their mark). In reality, I see Sean Day developing into a quality NHL defender, but I think it will be more of a stay at home guy; using his mobility and size to play a shutdown role. We saw this at the Top Prospect’s Game this year. When he keeps the game simple, he becomes a very effective player in his own zone. – Brock Otten
I’m an optimist so I would like to think that he gets over whatever has seemed to have stunted his development the last few years and turns the corner with the mental aspect of his game. His skating skills alone give him a heads up on his competition when it comes to a future at the next level. I believe he will find a spot somewhere and with continued development make his mark in the NHL. He may not be the star that people predicted when he received exceptional status but should have a long NHL career ahead of him. – Peter Knuelman
I’m not certain he’ll play in the NHL. I believe he might be be anywhere from a second-pairing defenceman to a bust. – Grant McCagg
Projecting players here is an art. Raw skills can reach potential, or can just as easily fade away without proper development. I’m not convinced he becomes a big impact blueliner at this point, likely settling into a solid second pairing with spot duty on the first unit power play or a solid second unit. If I had to make a certain projection, I’d lean towards the second pairing and second power play unit and rank him in our lists accordingly. – Gus Katsaros
The London Knights power forward believes his best friend has been painted with the wrong brush throughout a turbulent major junior hockey career.
Day, who visits London Saturday with the Mississauga Steelheads, was the fourth 15-year-old granted early entry to the OHL after Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad and John Tavares in 2013.
But unlike the others, the big defenceman was not picked first overall in the OHL priority selection and he is no longer even projected to be a first-rounder in the next NHL draft (the other three were all No. 1 picks).
“He’s really patient but people don’t notice that,” said Jones, who last played with Day in minor hockey with Detroit Compuware. “That’s why NHL scouts have their jobs. They see the stuff most people don’t. I think Sean is outstanding and he’s playing the way he’s always played.
“He’s in a tough situation and it’s not his fault. Stuff will come his way and he’s a great player.”
Six reasons to believe in the Rangers, post-trade deadline
KITCHENER — The Ontario Hockey League trade deadline has come and gone and the Kitchener Rangers did not make any improvements to their current roster.
The Rangers did acquire the rights to St. Louis Blues forward Robby Fabbri from the Guelph Storm for a trio of draft picks. Two of the selections are conditional on Fabbri reporting to the Aud which, at this time, seems very unlikely.
So what you see is what you get with this year’s Rangers crew, who take on the Mississauga Steelheads Friday at the Aud.
And that has some fans down in the dumps. After all, the veteran-laden squad is off to one of its best starts ever and is poised to be a real contender for the league championship and, perhaps, the Memorial Cup.
One or two elite additions could have put the Rangers over the top in a year when there really isn’t a clear cut favourite to take the OHL crown.
Some see it as a missed opportunity. Others understand the sense in standing pat after watching the ridiculous amount of draft picks and prospects that were tossed around by other teams at the trade deadline to land marquee players.
The winding road that led Travis Konecny to Sarnia
As a youngster, Travis Konecny wasn’t sure he wanted to play hockey.
Even now at age 18 he can get nervous meeting new people, so as a four- or five-year-old kid the prospect of joining a minor hockey team full of fresh faces seemed terrifying.
“I turned down playing hockey, I really didn’t want to,” Konecny recalled. “My parents signed me up behind my back and made me throw on the gear.
“I’ve never looked back, I love it.”
It’s been quite the winding road for the right-handed shooting winger from Clachan, Ont. ever since his parents stepped in and registered him with the Ridgetown Rebels program. He’s gone on to become a first-round OHL and NHL draft pick and a Canadian world junior, but now in his third Ontario Hockey League season he had to go through another new, and perhaps somewhat scary, experience: Being traded.
Just over one week ago, Konecny was involved in a massive deal – four players and 11 picks changed hands – that sent him from the Ottawa 67’s to the Sarnia Sting.
“I’ve never been through a trade, so it was obviously difficult at the start leaving a place that I’ve been for almost three years now and friends and all the connections that I had there,” he said. “But coming to a team like Sarnia and the way they’re moving in the right direction, all the things were so promising here, even coming to a contender has just made it that much easier for me to decide to come here, and I’m really excited.”
Weeks prior to his enshrinement in the American Hockey League Hall of Fame, Bruce Landon skimmed over nearly a half-century of hockey memories back to his hockey baptism.
Roger Neilson brought Landon, a Kingston native, to Peterborough in 1968 to serve as the Petes’ first string goalie. The next season he joined the AHL’s Springfield Kings starting a nine-year pro career split between the AHL and World Hockey Association (WHA).
But Landon said it all started because one person — big brother Terry.
“Terry’s the one who stuck me between a pair of boots when I was four years old and began shooting frozen tennis balls at me,” said Landon, from his adopted home in Springfield, Mass.
Landon is set to become the AHL hall’s first Kingston-born member (Fred ‘Bun’ Cook, born in Saskatchewan but raised in Kingston, was inducted in 2007).
“He was there for me when it counted,” Landon added, turning serious. “Long story short, if it wasn’t for my brother, I would’ve never been able to follow my (hockey) dream.”
The erstwhile goaltender-turned-front office executive refers to a time of financial strain in the Landon family, in the mid-1960s, that threatened his looming junior career. “Terry gave up his own hockey dream and took a job with the Kingston Fire Department so I could continue mine,” explained 66-year-old granddaddy of two. “If he hadn’t done that, I doubt I would’ve been able to go to Peterborough to play with the Petes. I owe him a lot.”
Yes, the Sudbury Wolves are still at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, 13 points out of a playoff spot.
But improved play of late that has the team playing .500 hockey at 5-4-0-1 in their last 10 has made it a confident group not that is not afraid to talk publicly about a goal that might cause many to raise an eyebrow.
“I think looking at the standings should motivate us,” Wolves head coach Dave Matsos said. “We have a steep hill to climb, but mathematically it’s doable and we still have to focus on our game and hopefully get some breaks from the rest of the league, but if we continue to chip away and keep the wins coming, it will make it exciting to wake up each morning to see how close we are getting.
“It is good to give these guys a goal, though I think our goals need to be set real short term, maybe every weekend or just every 60 minutes,” he continued. “If we do get there, and we have every intention of throwing our hat in the ring, it’s going to be a grueling two-and-a-half months here and the process will happen slow. For us, I think short term focus is the best way to go, and myself and (fellow coaches) Drake (Berehowsky) and Bryan (Verreault) will figure out the best way for us to get there.”
Improved play from the team’s youngsters of late have given Matsos more options, which has led to a better effort on the ice.
“I really like the balance we have right now,” he said. “We took (Ben) Garagan out of that fourth line role and put him with (Dmitry) Sokolov and (Mikkel) Aagaard and he gave us some great minutes last weekend and didn’t look out of place against other teams’ top lines, and I think by putting more trust into our young guys, we now have the ability to roll four lines without numbering them. We still prefer to get (Danny) Desrochers’ line with the older guys out there against the opposition’s top line, but after that I think just let them go.”
Some veterans might seek a trade that would allow them to finish their careers playing for a powerhouse.
North Bay Battalion forward Mike Amadio apparently isn’t one of them.
In the midst of his finest season, the Sault native says he had no interest in joining a championship contender prior to Monday’s 12 noon OHL trade deadline.
And while his name was prominent in numerous trade rumours – Barrie, Kitchener and Kingston were thought to be possible landing spots — Amadio says the Battalion never spoke to him to gauge his interest in moving on.
Meantime, North Bay head coach and general manager Stan Butler spoke of “not really having an interest,” in dealing Amadio.
“Anyone can be traded – Wayne Gretzky was traded,” Butler said Friday. “I listened to offers. But we’re an organization that likes to have our guys finish up here.”
Amadio said he loves playing for the Battalion and living in North Bay.
“I didn’t have any thought at all of asking for a trade,” said Amadio, who captains the Battalion and is the team’s leading scorer. “I wanted to finish my career with the same organization with which I started.”
Expect more butts in seats during the second half of the season, not only in Hamilton but across the Ontario Hockey League.
According to George Burnett, attendance is typically higher following the holiday break — in particular, for midweek games. “I think it’s traditional that crowds generally pick up after Christmas on the run to the playoffs,” he said. “It’s legitimately hockey season.”
The numbers appear to back up the Bulldogs coach and general manager.
A quick analysis shows the average draw rose for all but one of Hamilton’s divisional rivals in the second half of last season. In Belleville, when the Bulldogs were still the Bulls, the turnout swelled from 2,326 to 2,740 in the wake of the break — an 18 per cent increase.
Burnett said one of the reasons for the jump is that folks have more opportunity and more time to take in a game. Fall sports have wrapped up, minor hockey is winding down and the holiday gauntlet has come to an end. On top of that, the games just seem to matter more in the midst of a post-season push.
Jeff Brown, his Ottawa 67’s counterpart, agrees.
“In the first half, there are still other sports around,” he said. “People are getting into hockey, but it’s more just getting a feel for how the team is looking, that kind of thing.
“In the second half,” he added, “it’s the only game in town.”
Another possibility is that interest in tournaments such as the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship peaks around the holidays. That certainly could excite people, Burnett said — especially when the marquee names come into your building.
40 top NHL Draft eligible CHL players will compete January 28, 2016, in Vancouver, BC
Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with the host Vancouver Giants Hockey Club, and title partner BMO Financial Group, today announced the 40 players that will compete in the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver, BC, on Thursday January 28, 2016.
The 40 CHL players competing in the game were chosen by all 30 NHL clubs and divided into teams by NHL Central Scouting. This season’s event marks the 21st annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL Draft eligible players featuring talent from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League competing before hundreds of NHL scouts in attendance.
“The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is one of the highlights of the hockey season,” said CHL President David Branch. “Since 1996 the CHL’s top prospects have showcased their skills in this event providing NHL scouts, General Managers, and fans the opportunity to catch the next wave of NHL talent which in recent years has featured first overall picks Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Nathan MacKinnon, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. We look forward to January 28 with coaches Don Cherry and Bobby Orr, and 40 of the top CHL players eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft competing before the passionate hockey fans in Vancouver and to CHL fans across Canada watching live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.”
The Giants’ Tyler Benson and Port Moody, BC, native Lucas Johansen of the Kelowna Rockets are among the 20 players to suit up for Team Cherry along with Canadian National Junior Team member Julien Gauthier of the Val-d’Or Foreurs, and OHL top goal scorer Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters who won World Junior bronze with the United States. Team Orr features World Junior gold medalist Olli Juolevi of the London Knights, fellow Knight and World Junior bronze medalist Matthew Tkachuk, Canadian National Junior Team Selection Camp invite Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, and Alexander Nylander of the Mississauga Steelheads who led Sweden in World Junior scoring.
“We are thrilled for the up-and-coming talent chosen for this year’s BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game,” said Michael Bonner, Senior Vice President, BC and Yukon Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. “As the Official Bank of the CHL, we’re proud to sponsor an event that allows Canadians to watch some of the top young athletes across the country, and we’re excited to bring them to Vancouver later this month.”
25 of the CHL’s 60 member clubs are represented on the rosters. The 40 competing players include 20 from the OHL, 12 from the WHL, and eight from the QMJHL. 13 CHL Players who competed in the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in St. Catharines, ON, were selected in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. In 20 years, 278 CHL players from this event have been chosen by NHL clubs in the first round of the NHL Draft representing 47% of all players selected.
“The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game provides a unique opportunity for NHL scouts and General Managers to evaluate top CHL talent for the 2016 NHL Draft in a best-on-best competition,” said NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr. “The game is also a unique opportunity for the players to take advantage of the spotlight in what is consistently an exciting and highly competitive showcase.”
Since the event was first introduced in 1996 the game has featured 13 players selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft including Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, Marc-Andre Fleury, Rick Nash, Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Thornton, and Chris Phillips.
2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Rosters:
Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke Phoenix)
Zach Sawchenko (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting)
Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings)
Sean Day (Mississauga Steelheads)
Samuel Girard (Shawinigan Cataractes)
Lucas Johansen (Kelowna Rockets)
Markus Niemelainen (Saginaw Spirit)
Vitalii Abramov (Gatineau Olympiques)
Tyler Benson (Vancouver Giants)
Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires)
Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters)
Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets)
Julien Gauthier (Val-d’Or Foreurs)
Tim Gettinger (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Noah Gregor (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Max Jones (London Knights)
Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)
Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads)
Sam Steel (Regina Pats)
Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)
Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes)
Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen)
Luke Green (Saint John Sea Dogs)
Libor Hajek (Saskatoon Blades)
Olli Juolevi (London Knights)
Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires)
Logan Stanley (Windsor Spitfires)
Nathan Bastian (Mississauga Steelheads)
Will Bitten (Flint Firebirds)
Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)
Brett Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Jack Kopacka (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville Tigres)
Alexander Nylander (Mississauga Steelheads)
Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters)
Otto Somppi (Halifax Mooseheads)
Simon Stransky (Prince Albert Raiders)
Matthew Tkachuk (London Knights)
The 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner BMO Bank of Montreal, and CHL associate sponsors Cooper Tire, autoTRADER.ca and Sherwin-Williams. The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
BMO and the Canadian Hockey League:
BMO Financial Group and the Canadian Hockey League announced BMO as the Official Bank of the Canadian Hockey League in 2011. The sponsorship builds on BMO’s partnership with the CHL of more than 10 years and affirms BMO’s exclusivity as a financial services sponsor of the league in the retail banking category. It also engrains a presence with the 48 teams which currently participate in the BMO CHL Affinity MasterCard program, which enables CHL fans to support their favourite teams through a co-branded credit card.
Even in a casual conversation, Day sounds like a young man searching hard for an upside to his decision to enter major junior a year ahead of his class. “A lot of people would say that [my rookie season] was a bad year, but I think it was good for my development,” he says. “I went into that season not knowing a lot about defence. I wanted to jump up into the rush a lot. I had to learn about playing in my own end, thinking defence before offence. Even coming in as a 16-year-old in your first season, it’s tougher [than other positions] because you’re the last line of defence and all eyes are on you. And there’s just that much more scrutiny on you as an exceptional player. They want to see something exceptional every shift.”
The scouts’ eyes will be trained on Day this winter. When quizzed by NHL Central Scouting this fall, Day was asked what aspect of his game he has to work on. Most kids cite strength or skating when the question is posed. These, however, aren’t holes in Day’s skill set. His reply was a rare one, exceptional in its own way, but honest: “Weight control,” he told them.
In its early-season rankings, NHL Central Scouting had Day as a “B prospect,” projecting him to be a second-rounder at best. Day expressed disbelief when asked about mock drafts that have him falling off the first-round grid. “I’m not going to say the clichéd answer about not looking at the draft lists,” he says. “Everybody does. I know what people have said or written about me. People forget I’m 17. I have a whole season to help my [draft] stock. When I see the draft boards and I’m not even in the first round, I just tune it out and say to myself, ‘C’mon, that’s dumb.’”
This first appeared on Sportsnet and is an excellent read for everyone. Find the complete article here.
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.