Without doubt, Nathan Pancel has a bright future in the Ontario Hockey League.
The dynamic Sudbury Wolves winger simply has premier player written all over him. Just check his stats over the past three seasons.
In his final year of Midget hockey, he racked up 29 goals and 58 points in 28 games with his Ottawa Jr. 67s AAA club. Last season, he made the jump to Jr. A, and scored 37 goals and 62 points in 59 games with the Gloucester Rangers, en route to winning CJHL Rookie of the Year honors.
This season the 18-year-old phenom has potted 22 goals and 39 points in 58 games, and is an impressive plus-17 for a Wolves team that isn’t known for their defense. While he isn’t overly big at five-foot-10, 182-pounds, Pancel can beat opponents with his speed, elusiveness, puck skills and tremendous hockey IQ.
With his vast array of offensive weaponary, he is a threat all over the ice, and creates time and space for both he and his linemates. Along with his superb skill set, Pancel has a high compete level, and works hard down low and along the boards.
I had the opportunity to catch up with the budding young sniper, for a quick Q and A.
Who has been your biggest influence and help in developing your game thus far?
Nathan: I’d have to say my father, Chris Pancel, he has given me so much support over the years.
You are a high octane forward, with such explosive scoring ability, what do you see being your best attributes as a player?
Nathan: My play away from the puck is one of my best assets, just to be be able to read the play very well.
Is there an NHLer you model your game after?
Nathan: Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
What was your ‘welcome moment’ to the OHL?
Nathan: Just realizing how fast the game was, and the skill level of the players.
You’ve scored a bunch of goals over your young career in minor hockey, with the Gloucester Jr. A Rangers, and now with the Wolves, do you have one that stands out as your biggest?
Nathan: My first OHL goal is the one that stands out the most to me.
What is the highlight of your career thus far?
Nathan: Signing with the Wolves, and having the opportunity to play with world class players such as Michael Sgarbossa.
I know you were heavily recruited by NCAA clubs last season, what made you choose the Wolves?
Nathan: The OHL produces more NHL players, so it was the best route to achieve my goal of making the NHL. Also the organization in Sudbury is amazing.
With this being your draft year, have you felt any added pressure to perform?
Nathan: Yes, however I just try to play my game and not worry about it.
I know being selected is a huge honor, but if you could pick the team that chooses come Draft day, who would it be?
Nathan: Yes, it would be a tremendous honor for sure, but if I had to pick I’d say the Minnesota Wild.
Best player you’ve played with and against?
Nathan: Mike Sgarbossa is the best player I have played with, and Ryan Murphy is the best I have played against.
Any hidden talents?
Nathan: I am a great chess player, and love the game!