The 6’1”, 179 pound left shooting right winger/center is a native of Ann Arbor Michigan and is in his second season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers.
Llewellyn played his midget hockey in 2011-2012 with Detroit Honeybaked U16 where he scored 13 goals and added 13 assists in 28 games. He was drafted by the Rangers in the 4th round, 71st overall in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection. Having no commitments to play in the USA, he almost immediately committed to the Rangers for the 2012 – 2013 season.
In his first season in Kitchener, Llewellyn played in 40 games scoring 7 times while adding 6 assists. He showed a willingness to do whatever was asked of him and an uncanny ability to learn. Through the first 65 games of this season, Llewellyn has scored 25 goals while adding 11 assists. And his goals have been clutch.
Llewellyn can play in any situation. He plays as hard in his own zone as he does in the offensive zone but it remains a work in progress. As his stats would suggest, he’s a shoot first player. He uses his size relatively well. He’s a good skater that makes him an effective forechecker. Positioning is a work in progress but he has made major strides. If he’s going to play center, improvements in the face off dot will have to come. While he has things to work on, his work ethic, smarts, commitment and coachability should get him there.
As usual when it comes to the Kitchener Rangers, radio analyst Mike Farwell took the time to talk to us about Llewellyn.
OHLW: Llewellyn can play both center and his off wing on the right side. Which position do you think is best suited for his game?
Farwell: I like him better on the wing. He’s more a shooter than a distributor and face-offs aren’t his strength. I’m sure he could learn but I think his game is best suited to the wing.
OHLW: Llewellyn is a smart kid with a willingness to learn and appears to be very coachable. Is that a fair assessment?
Farwell: Absolutely. Great story about that from his rookie season (last year). He was on the ice with another player, getting some instruction from a coach during practice. While the teammate needed repeated instructions to just understand the drill, Darby was asking questions about how the drill applied to the game and was creating scenarios where it could be used. It’s that “hockey sense” that makes him so coachable, and so eager to learn.
OHLW: His improvement in playing in all three zones has improved markedly since he first stepped into Kitchener. While there is always room for improvement, how close is he?
Farwell: He’s probably pushing 80% there. I would say his defensive game is the last area to come along and there were times even this year where he was the defensive liability and he knows it. But he accepts the coaching/criticism and works to improve his game. The improvement in his defensive game has been noticeable towards the end of the season. He’s also made some great strides as a penalty-killer, which is a tremendous aspect to his game.
OHLW: Llewellyn has a knack for scoring clutch goals for the Rangers, be it in 65 minutes or the shootout. Would you say that’s a product of his “win at all costs” mentality?
Farwell: Darby is as competitive a player as I’ve ever met. When he was a healthy scratch (with a veteran line-up last year), he made no bones about how unhappy he was. I think you want that in a player. If he’s an H-bomb, you don’t want him thinking of it as just a night off. Darby never did.
OHLW: Llewellyn has some natural leadership qualities. Ryan MacInnis names him as one of the players that made the transition to the OHL an easy one for him. It’s rare to find that in players the same age. How do you see him as a leader?
Farwell: He’s a quiet leader. Younger players can take notes from how Darby studies the game and how he responds to coaching. They can definitely learn from his controlled intensity. You know how competitive Darby is but you don’t see him kicking over jugs of Gatorade. I would say his maturity belies his years.
OHLW: How do you envision Llewellyn at the next level?
Farwell: I don’t, yet. The so-called “200 foot game” still needs to come together. He continues to work on that and it’s hard to overlook his offensive numbers. Darby’s production dropped drastically during the second half of this season but it’s also the first time he’s been through the 68-game grind. So I’m interested to see how he returns after a summer of hard work. If you project from this year, he should be a 35-40 goal guy in this league. If he reaches that, and improves his defensive game, you’ll start to see the stuff pro teams will covet.
You can follow Mike on Twitter here.
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