If it seems recently that there is a new junior hockey hotness coming along every season, a prospect or two that gets labeled the next one by scouts and media types, it is probably because there is.
Over the last eight seasons, scouts and fans alike have heard about exceptional talents requesting to join the Ontario Hockey League a year before eligible such as John Tavares in 2005, John McFarland – who requested but was turned down in 2007 -, Aaron Ekblad who was granted the status in 2011 and last season Connor McDavid, who has done nothing but justify the hype so far.
Queue the next exceptional talent.
Meet Sean Day, a six-foot-two, 190-pound defenseman playing this season with the strong Under-16 Detroit Compuware midget minor program. Day is a ‘98-born phenom that many are predicting will request and receive the ‘exceptional status’ provision from Hockey Canada and be granted early eligibility to the 2013 OHL Priority Selection.
In our viewings from this season, Future Considerations scouts have come away impressed to say the least. Day has many of the elements that have OHL teams as well as NHL teams already salivating for what this talent is and could become.
The attention Day has been getting this season has not surprised Compuware U16 head coach Andy Copp.
“We have a lot of high end kids on our team so a lot of our players get quite a bit of attention,” Copp said. “Every time we play we have lots of scouts watching us so it was just a matter of time before everyone started talking about Sean.”
Starting off, Day’s skating is already elite and couple that with the size he already possesses as a freshly turned 15-year-old and he already has outstanding natural tools to work with. His lateral movements and pivots are incredibly fluid and something that scouts love to see in a guy with his size.
And Copp knows it.
“Normally, the highest evaluation that I would put on a skill would be ‘elite’, well…Sean’s skating is a step above that,” Copp said. “His stride is long, powerful and effortless. He can stop on a dime, change direction and be completely gone in one stride.”
His puck skills, especially his quick hands and poise under pressure as well as his ability to elude checkers, has us believing he has high end upside as a future NHL puck rusher. Day’s passes are sharp, on the mark and made with perfect timing. His positional sense of where to be on the ice to defend or have the puck find him is also something that not many kids his age can boast.
Day’s decision making with the puck and willingness in utilizing his teammates are both areas that are seen as a work in progress by evaluators as he can be a little too individualistic; a common side effect phenom’s have to learn to control coming from being a tier or two ahead of one’s competition and their teammates.
“His only real weakness is that he is just a fresh faced 15-year-old and he is still learning the game and maturing,” added Copp.
While his size would lend to being physically dominant – especially against his own age group – Day is not an overly physical player by nature and picks his spots rather well to deliver hits. He does utilize his size along the wall and to keep his net clear form traffic as well.
His physical package is matched by what’s in Day’s head, according to Cobb.
“I was a little concerned with him coming in as an underager as I have never allowed one in the past, but the team quickly accepted him,” Cobb said. “Sean is humble and just has fun playing the game. He knows when is the appropriate time to goof around and he certainly knows when it’s time to work hard. He is humble. He still likes to be a 15-year-old kid but he has a maturity about him. He is very focused and hardworking when it’s time to work.”
His constant desire to be a difference maker on the ice is another positive trait that scouts love to see.