Michael Dal Colle took a backseat to the likes of earlier selections Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett in terms of pre-draft hype, but that didn't stop the New York Islanders from selecting the big-bodied forward with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft, as indicated by the NHL:
NHL.com has more on Dal Colle's story:
The 6'2", 182-pound native of Vaughan, Ontario, Canada, enjoyed a spectacular 2013-14 season that saw him lead the Oshawa Generals with 95 points by virtue of 39 goals and 56 assists. He added another 20 points in 12 playoff games and improved his draft status significantly throughout the year.
It is difficult to find too many holes in Dal Colle's game, which is largely why Jeff Marek of Sportsnet viewed him as one of this year's best overall prospects leading up to the draft:
Marek was far from the only one who thought that way. ISS Hockey ranked him as the No. 3 overall prospect in the class due largely to his ability to produce at important times:
Michael Dal Colle of the @Oshawa_Generals is just such a treat to watch. just a solid, smart, talented player. Top 5 in the draft for sure.— Jeff Marek (@JeffMarek) March 23, 2014
Despite the massive strides that Dal Colle took in his second OHL season, even he knows that he still has to improve in certain areas before he is truly ready to take the NHL by storm. According to Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com, Dal Colle intends to fill out his frame and refine his skating in order to fulfill his potential as a power forward.
"I'm always looking to get faster, quicker," Dal Colle said. "That was my weakness growing up. I was always a little bit sluggish. I still need to get bigger. I'm only 180 pounds, so if I want to be a successful at the next level I need to put on some muscle mass."
One thing that seemingly comes naturally to Dal Colle, though, is intelligence. In addition to usually making the right reads on the ice thanks to a superior hockey IQ, Dal Colle also possesses smarts off the ice as evidenced by his spot on the OHL East Scholastic Team:
Dal Colle is a thinking man's player, which makes him extremely dangerous from the opposition's point of view. Add in his size and offensive instincts, and it is clear that Dal Colle has everything that NHL teams look for in a potential star forward.
Although Dal Colle may not quite be viewed on the same level as guys like Reinhart and Bennett, he certainly offers some different qualities. He is one of the biggest and most physical forwards at the top of the draft and he likes to contribute on both ends of the ice, per Morreale.
"I like to pride myself on my two-way game," Dal Colle said. "I'm not a guy who is geared for all offense, but I like to play all over the ice. I'm best with the puck on the stick, creating my chances off the cycle and using my big body to an advantage."
The big question regarding Dal Colle is whether or not he will be ready to make the jump to the NHL immediately. He admittedly doesn't have much left to prove at the junior level, but bringing him up to the NHL too soon might be detrimental.
Congrats to 2013-14 #OHL East Scholastic Team: Mangiapane, Laishram, McKeown, Barwell, Perlini, Bruce, Dal Colle, Konecny, Webb, Baptiste— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) April 23, 2014
With that in mind, it wouldn't be surprising to see him get a nine-game trial run before being sent back to Oshawa so as to not burn a year of his entry contract. If he plays well enough then he may earn his way onto the NHL roster immediately, but he seemingly still has a lot of growing left to do.
Dal Colle himself admitted that he still needs to fill out his frame, which is significant considering how tough and physical the NHL is. Dal Colle just turned 18 years old and there is absolutely no shame in keeping him in juniors for another year of seasoning.
Dal Colle is oozing with talent, so there is a responsibility for his new team to ensure that he is ready before embarking on an NHL career. If that situation is handled correctly, then it's tough to not got excited about what the future holds for Dal Colle.
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