At the outset of 2011-12 season, then-16-year-old Jonathan Drouin was lacing up the skates for a midget AAA team in Quebec. Twenty-two games later, he was called up to the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. As a 17-year-old, he represented Team Canada in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship. Now, he is pegged to be a top-three selection in the 2013 NHL Draft.
This meteoric ascent is not happenstance; Drouin is a high-end prospect with super offensive talent.
“He’s speedy, quick and smart,” said Tony MacDonald, the Hurricanes’ head of amateur scouting. “He’s got a great hockey IQ and great vision of the ice. He’s a very creative guy for a winger.”
A smidge undersized like the previously profiled Max Domi at 5-foot-10 and 186 pounds, Drouin is a shifty skater who can make a highlight-reel play out of nothing with wizard-like stick work.
“He’s a tough guy to pin in small spaces,” MacDonald said. “He’s very elusive, and he finds people. He’s got a little bit of Patrick Kane and (Jeff) Skinner in him. He’s a guy that can work off that half-wall and make some things happen. He’s a very good hockey player.”
After being recalled by Halifix midway through the 2011-12 season, Drouin played in 33 games, recording 29 points (7g, 22a). In 17 ensuing playoff games, he erupted for nine goals and 17 assists (26 points), as the Mooseheads bowed out in the QMJHL semifinals.
Drouin broke loose for Halifax in 2012-13, ranking second in the QMJHL with 105 points (41g, 64a) in just 49 games. He led Halifax – which won 58 of 68 regular-season games – in goals, assists and points and was a plus-48. The dominant Halifax squad lost just one game in 17 postseason contests en route to the QMJHL championship; Drouin again was a key factor, notching 35 points (12g, 23a) in 17 games. He then helped Halifax capture its first Memorial Cup in franchise history, scoring a goal and adding a tournament second-best eight assists (9 points).
The Huberdeau, Quebec, native took home three QMJHL awards for his 2012-13 season, including the Michel Briere Trophy as the league’s most valuable player and the Michael Bossy Trophy as the league’s best professional prospect. Additionally, Drouin was crowned the Canadian Hockey League player of the year.
“He played a lot with (Nathan) MacKinnon, and that helps to boost your totals. But he had 105 points, and he wasn’t with MacKinnon all the time,” MacDonald said.
MacKinnon was sidelined with a knee injury in mid-February, and in his 14-game absence, Drouin posted 11 goals and 16 assists (27 points).
“[Drouin is] as responsible for Nate MacKinnon’s success as much as the other way,” MacDonald said. “They work well together, and you’re looking at two guys that are going to fit in.”
In international competition, Drouin competed for his country in the 2013 World Junior Championship, particularly notable since he was a 17-year-old on an under-20 squad stacked with talent during the work stoppage. In Canada’s final preliminary round match-up against Russia, Drouin earned the wing slot on the top line alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Mark Scheifele. In six tournament games, Drouin recorded a pair of goals and assists (4 points), as the Canadians fell 6-5 in the bronze medal game.
With the fifth overall pick in the draft, the odds that the Hurricanes land Drouin are quite slim, as it’s highly unlikely he falls out of the first three picks.
“He should be able to jump in and contribute right away,” MacDonald said.
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