Boston Bruins prospect Seth Griffith is an early candidate to become the sleeper gem of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Selected 131st overall with Boston's fifth-round pick, Griffith is on a mission to prove that he has what it takes to be an elite NHL player.
Last season, Griffith caught Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli's attention with an impressive 85-point campaign for the OHL champion London Knights. His 35 goals ranked third in the league, and with the help of fellow Bruins prospect Jared Knight, he led London to the brink of the CHL's coveted Memorial Cup.
Now in his fourth OHL campaign, the 19-year-old center has exploded offensively, solidifying his place among the CHL's elite scoring threats.
Though he only ranks 13th among OHL goal-scorers this season, he sits second in the points table. Through 33 games, he is wedged firmly between first-round draft picks Ryan Strome and Alex Galchenyuk with 54 points.
To put Griffith's numbers in perspective, he is averaging 1.636 points per game. If he maintains that average until season's end, he is on pace to finish in the 110-point ballpark.
Such a point total would be a 25-point improvement from his 2011-12 campaign. It would also surpass the league-leading 106 point total put up by Plymouth Whalers forward Tyler Seguin in the 2009-10 season.
As all Bruins fans know, those 106 points made Seguin the second overall pick in the 2010 draft, and Seguin went on to lead the Bruins in both goals and points as a second-year player in 2011-12.
Not to say that Griffith can match Seguin's elite talent level, but his numbers certainly cannot be dismissed.
Griffith opened the season with a bang, netting five goals in his first two games and seven points in his first three. The lightning-fast start, which earned him OHL Player of the Week honors, portended Griffith's massive November.
Last month, he averaged nearly two points per game totaling 27 in just 14 contests. What is truly impressive about his numbers this fall is the improvement of his playmaking.
In 2011-12, Griffith was a pure goal-scorer, totaling a modest 40 assists in 68 games. This season, while maintaining his goal-scoring numbers, he has nearly matched that total with 33 assists, averaging exactly one per game.
He has been especially effective on the power-play, ranking fourth in the league dishing out 17 assists with the man-advantage.
His two-way game has also been noteworthy. Griffith is tied for 13th in the OHL with a plus-17 rating, and he has spent considerable time on London's penalty kill.
During the Knights' postseason run last spring, Hockey's Future praised him for "an impressive compete level that saw him winning pucks from much bigger defenseman all through the playoffs."
He has built on those skills this fall and has seen major rewards for his hard work, having earned three shorthanded points.
With regard to the elite hockey sense that forms the foundation of Griffith's strong all-around game, Hockey's Future claims that "he thinks the game at a high level and knows how to get the most out of his linemates."
With his team currently riding a wild 18-game winning streak, Griffith seems to be climbing the hockey ladder at a rapid pace. At age 20 next season, he will become eligible to play for the AHL's Providence Bruins to further prepare for a career in Boston.
When he finally takes the ice at the TD Garden, his impact in the NHL could far surpass draft-day expectations.