Jonathan Drouin will undoubtedly be a top-five selection in the 2013 NHL draft. The Halifax Mooseheads forward has over-the-top talent and ridiculous vision—an offensive combination that will make a lousy lockout-shortened season worth it for at least one team.
He has been the most dominant player in the QMJHL this season by far, currently sitting only one point outside of first in the scoring race despite playing nine less games than leader Ben Duffy.
There had been some concern over Drouin and how he'd play and produce once he was no longer playing with Nathan MacKinnon. Those worries were all but erased once the Mooseheads lost MacKinnon to injury, only to see Drouin take over.
Where there was once a clear and concise view of MacKinnon and blueliner Seth Jones contending to be the first overall selection in 2013, Drouin has muddied up that picture quite a bit with his play.
Instead of the selection being a matter of skill, MacKinnon, Jones and Drouin give teams an opportunity to make a choice based on need rather than the usual "best player available" approach.
Still, if a team is looking for a creative, eyes-in-the-back-of-his-head forward, it'll be hard to pass on Drouin. While Macinnon might be slightly more dynamic with the puck and have a touch more upside, he simply doesn't make the same type of highlight reel plays that his Moosheads' teammate does.
Plays like this put fans in the stands, and while he may not have such an easy time undressing Zdeno Chara, the skills and puck handling of Drouin are undeniable. He draws defenders to him with his hands, opening up space and time for his teammates to get open. Get this kid a solid net presence for a center and you could have quite the dangerous forward line on your hands.
Who will be the top selection in the 2013 NHL draft?
Here's the same play from a different angle, and as you can see that puck is clearly his.
He isn't the biggest guy as he's listed at 5'11'', 176 pounds, but Drouin doesn't get knocked off the puck easily. He seems to rely on a Velcro-like handle on the puck once he reaches top speed and gets to stick handling.
And by stick handling I mean abusing poor, poor QMJHL defenders.
After watching about all the footage of the kid I could find, I feel comfortable comparing him to a guy like Pavel Datsyuk down low. I know he's at least a few light years away from reaching that level, but the way he handles himself in the corners and around the net is very similar.
He's shifty, can turn on a dime and create enough space for himself with his quickness and agility.
While he's not a surefire first overall pick, Drouin has made the discussion very interesting as we head towards the NHL draft in June.