Defenseman Josh Mahura has known for a long time he’ll have some extra games to showcase himself for the 2016 NHL Draft.
Mahura, part of the Memorial Cup host Red Deer Rebels, will be the key draft eligible scouts watch when his club takes to the ice.
And for good reason.
“He’s the top eligible to watch on the host team,” Future Considerations head Western scout Zenon Herasymiuk said. “He is incredibly smart with the puck and consistently makes excellent reads in transition. He will be closely watched after missing a large part of the year due to a lower-body injury. His skating has steadily improved since his return to the lineup and he has been a very reliable piece for the Rebels. Given the time he missed, he might be the draft eligible with the most to gain at the Memorial Cup.”
Mahura was limited to just two regular season games after sustaining a lower-body injury. He returned to skate in 17 playoff games, and had two goals and two assists.
In 51 games in 2014-15, the 6-foot, 170-pound defenseman had two goals and eight points, and helped Canada to gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August, recording an assist in four games.
“Mahura is a game breaker with his feet,” Future Considerations’ scout Donesh Mazloum said. “He is a mobile defender who is always looking to attack. While many possession-based defenders excel at passing the puck out of trouble, Mahura is more at ease skating it out of trouble himself. He is quite comfortable in-tight and has a knack for exploiting space. He’s a rare defenseman that opposing defenders need to be aware of when he’s on the ice.”
Mahura isn’t the only Rebels skater who can benefit from an extended audition.
Brandon Hagel, who had 47 points in the regular season, is another scouts will key in on.
Hagel had one goal and 10 points in 17 playoff games.
“He came onto the scene early in the year with his ability to smartly distribute the puck in the offensive zone and act as a catalyst for offensive chances,” Herasymiuk said. “He has added an element of fearlessness to his game which compliments his skill and made him even more of an impact player. He will get greasy in the corners and in front of the net to try and open up space for his linemates and he can slip through holes to retrieve loose pucks.”
Jeff de Wit, playing in his hometown, will also garner some looks.
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound forward had seven goals and 23 points in 70 regular season games.
He’s an intriguing package, according to Mazloum.
“He has NHL size and has the ability to feather passes through tight spaces, however he is very raw in many other areas,” Mazloum said. “His stride is choppy and off balance, however when he gets moving he carries speed fairly well. He has a good frame, however he needs to add a lot of strength. He is very much a gentle giant. Offensively, de Wit has sneaky good vision. He is an extremely precise passer and finds teammates with ease.
“What’s holding de Wit back at this point is some polish in his physical tools as well as developing more confidence that he can be an impact player in the offensive zone.”