OHL Hot-Stove: Who's the Best 2013 Draft Eligible Defenseman?
Instead of looking at the success, or lack thereof, that OHL franchises are having early on in the season, the hot-stove has decided to change things up and look at individuals. In this week’s hot-stove the panel examines who the best 2013 draft eligible defenseman in the OHL is.
Joining me in this week’s hot-stove is Dominic Tiano and Phil Phillips.
This is a tough one for me as there is a group of three or four elite draft eligible defenseman in the OHL, but I’m going to go with the most well rounded defenseman of the group, which is Soo Greyhounds defenseman Darnell Nurse.
Nurse is an excellent skater, can make a good first pass, quarterback a powerplay and contribute offensively on a regular basis without hurting his defensive play. He logs huge minutes every night and has really stepped up with Ryan Sproul out of the lineup. If Nurse can continue his solid two-way play and keep his consistency level high, he should not only be the highest defenseman drafted out of the OHL but the best one, too.
Tough question this early in the season. If we were looking for the best offensive defenseman right now I'd have to go with Belleville Bulls' Jordan Subban. If we're looking for the best defensive defenseman at the moment then I'll go with Nikita Zadorov of the London Knights.
But the best all around defenseman right now is the Soo Greyhounds Darnell Nurse. His 2 goals and 9 assists for 11 points are just one goal and one point shy of Subban's among draft eligible defensemen. He's a big mobile defenseman who can be physical, but not as physical as Zadorov and he can shut down the opposition’s top line.
The knock on Subban is, and always will be his size, which will keep him from reaching the top. But while some are drawn to him simply because of his name, Subban does have talent of his own. For Zadorov it's his offensive ability, or the lack of it at the moment. Playing behind Scott Harrington and Olli Maatta, he doesn't get top quality minutes and virtually no powerplay time and second unit penalty kill time. Nurse on the other hand is out there in every situation, usually the first one over the boards, and he excels in those situations.
If I was running the draft for an NHL team and that draft was today, I'd select Nurse, Zadorov and Subban in that order.
For me it’s Jordan Subban of the Belleville Bulls. I know it’s a shocker that I would take a Bull, but its true. The youngest Subban has showed amazing strides in his game at both ends of the ice, being a real leader on a Belleville team that is off to a nice start. One thing we know about the Subban's is how quick they develop. PK was a 6th round pick for the Bulls and became the franchises all time defenseman scoring leader, along with 2 World Jr Gold Medals with Team Canada and is a star on the rise in the NHL. Malcolm's story we all know, an 11th round pick by the Bulls and is now arguably the best goaltender in the CHL and a 1st round NHL pick. Jordan was a higher pick (5th Overall) and is expected to live it up to the hype. For my money he is.
After a fair rookie season, Jordan is already ahead of where PK was at this age. Subban can pass, he can shot (something he should do a lot more of) and he can skate. Jordan has lead the Bulls in point scoring since the 1st game of the season. His play with Jake Worrad has been the one part of a mediocre Belleville power play that has really worked. As of today (Oct 23/12) Jordan was 5th in OHL defence man scoring and has been in the top 10 D-Man scoring all season. Must of the players ahead of him are 2 or 3 years older, with some already drafted. He is one of two D-Men who is leading their team is scoring Michael Moffat of the Kingston Frontenacs is the other. Subban is 4th among all OHL draft eligible players in points and along with Max Domi of the London Knights is the only other first year draft eligible player to lead their team in scoring right now.
In a recent list of draft eligible players by TSN, Subban was left off the top 30 and off the next 41 "to watch list". What a joke! At the time of the list Subban had more or the same amount of points as 7 of the 8 D-man they had listed in their top 30 and more or the same point totals as 17 players in total on their top 30 list, but some how he can't even crack the top 71?. Mr Button tweeted me that it wasn't all about points, and that's fine, so never mind his points. Subban's biggest improvements have been his play with out the puck. Last year in his rookie season Jordan struggled without the puck, something that is not uncommon in top players coming from the minor midget level. It takes a while for their play without the puck to show up because they are used to having the puck all the time, coming to the OHL they have the puck a lot less. This season he has come a long way. When Subban does carries the puck in deep you hardly worry about him getting caught because his high end skating ability helps him get back in position. Jordan only has 2 penalty minutes this season, and that says a lot about the alleged under sized Subban. At 5'9" & 170lbs. Teams target him and he never shies away from the physical side of the game, he plays for a coach who demands discipline and Jordan has that to.
Jordan has chose a great time to put it all together if his play continues to shine we won't have to worry about him being one of top 71 players drafted to the NHL this spring, he will be one of the top 30.