It’s not often that a young Canadian hockey player goes from playing Midget AAA to a highly touted NHL prospect with a year.
Yet Ryan Sproul is on the verge of doing just that, slated to go within the first three rounds of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft come June 24-25 in Minnesota.
One of the top risers in the 2011 NHL Draft Class, Sproul wasn’t even on any scout’s lists at the half way mark. The ascend hasn’t been lost on Sproul.
“It’s overwhelming and it’s exciting,” Sproul explained. “For me, it’s kind of shocking from where I was last year, to be in this position now. I feel like everything that’s come to me, I’ve worked real hard for it.”
When the season began, the Mississauga native was wearing the purple uniform of the OJHL’s Vaughan Vipers. When he finally got his call up to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, he never looked back. Starting as the team’s seventh defenseman, Sproul eventually worked himself into the line-up as one of its top blue liners, and a guy on scout’s radar.
So why the sudden attention?
“I can run a powerplay, and skate well for a big guy,” he explained.
Simple enough explanation for the high praise he’s received throughout the scouting world. But did he see it himself?
“Not a year ago,” the six-foor-four rear guard said. “I probably would have sat at home wondering what I was going to do all summer, never mind getting ready for the draft. And I kind of don’t even know where I’m going to go in the draft,” he said with a laugh.
Future Considerations’ 64th ranked prospect is certainly a case to watch on draft day. Following January 1st, Sproul joined an elite company of defenders in the OHL, adding 10 goals to his resume. By comparison, only Ryan Ellis had more with 12. Ryan Murphy, regarded as the top offensive defenseman available in the draft, managed nine.
Which is pretty good company to be in for the smooth skating defender.
That’s without mentioning the 33 points in his last 44 games that Sproul recorded to close out the season.
“I really felt like I wanted to escape this year with experience, and then hopefully, in the next couple of years, do big things, but I was lucky enough to have a really good year,” Sproul remarked.
And while the Draft is likely weighing heavy on his mind at the moment, the next few years will really lay their impact on his career going forward. Described as ‘raw’ by Future Considerations’ scouting director Dan Stewart, Sproul knows he has a long journey ahead of him, and it will require hard work.
“My defensive awareness in my d-zone is something that I need to work on,” he explained. “I’m going to be working on it all summer.”
With the recent departure of Greyhounds captain, Brock Beukeboom in a trade to the Niagara Ice Dogs, much will be expected of the sophomore defenseman going into next season. He’ll have a new team to call his own once drafted, and his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds ready to go to war with him on the ice.
With lofty expectations, many eyes will be on the local Greater Toronto Area kid, as he continues to make his mark on the OHL.
But for now, his eyes are set on the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
“There’s no team I wouldn’t want to go to; it’s just a dream to be in the NHL, so any team I go to is excellent.”
Brian Huddle is a Future Considerations correspondant and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!