No, it’s not Nathan MacKinnon, though he certainly is talented, but it is his linemate Jonathan Drouin. Earlier in the season, Drouin was but an afterthought in a projected deep top-10 batch of prospects for the upcoming draft. With every new ranking, however, Drouin’s name continues to vault over two or three other high-end prospects as he fights his way towards teammate Nathan MacKinnon. Some say it’s a result of playing with the top-ranked MacKinnon that Drouin’s offensive totals are what they are, but those who watch Drouin insist he’s the real deal, and capable of doing it himself.
Comparisons aside, Drouin’s incredibly quick and nifty hands, high-end vision, and ability to bury the puck consistently might bring to mind flashes of a Jordan Eberle type player. Drouin made a name for himself last season with the Halifax Mooseheads when he potted 29 points in 33 games, and then exploded onto the scene with 26 points in 17 playoff games. Picking up right where he left off, Drouin has amassed 48 points through 24 games this season with the same Mooseheads, and has the tools to develop into a first line player in the NHL. Originally listed in the 175lbs range, Drouin is now listed as 180+lbs, and getting stronger.
Both Drouin and MacKinnon have been mainstays on Halifax’s top-line and have been key cogs in helping the Mooseheads reach an unbelievable record of 29-3-1-1, better than any team in the CHL as of this writing. The dynamic duo’s excellent showings thus far has earned them some rare rewards as they were selected to play for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships, both at the age of 17. For MacKinnon, the Crosby comparisons continue given that during the last NHL lockout in 2004-2005, Sid was the only 17 year old to make the junior team. A decade earlier, Wade Redden earned the same honour, but for Jonathan and their simultaneous selection for the team marks the first time a pair of 17 year olds have accomplished such a feat.
While MacKinnon remains the favourite to be drafted 1st overall in June – though Portland Winterhawks’ defenseman Seth Jones might have something to say about that – both Jonathan and Nathan remain focused on the task at hand. First off, winning a gold medal with Team Canada, and then heading back to Halifax to join their teammates and continue their historic winning pace in the QMJHL. When the time for the draft comes, no matter who is selected before the other, there will be two teams landing some incredibly talented and motivated young men. Jonathan Drouin has come a long way from being a relative unknown in the prospect world, but you get the feeling he’s not done yet. He seems to make two or three plays a game that just leave you speechless, like the wonderful deke he made on a breakaway in just his 2nd game with Team Canada in a pre-tournament game (see video below). Just can’t wait to see what he does next.