By the OilKnight 11/10/19
I understand everything Quinton Byfield brings to the table and his potential is enormous, but Jamie Drysdale is the most complete defenceman to come out of the CHL since Drew Doughty in my opinion, and projects as a legit #1 defenceman and potential future Norris Trophy winner. That’s why he’s number one for me. A can’t miss prospect who is the total package, and who will thrive in the new age NHL which is focused on speed & puck moving ability. For all the elite qualities he has offensively, it’s his work on the defensive side of the puck that makes him the best OHL prospect for me.
19 GP – 5 Goals, 15 assists, 20 points
Drysdale had 7 goals & 40 points as a 16 yr old defenceman last year, and has picked up where he left off last season with over a point per game so far this year.
Drysdale has several ELITE qualities. His skating is the first thing that jumps out at you when you watch him play. He is an elite skater in every fashion; he has tremendous speed and is very fluid in his stride. He also has terrific agility and moves extremely well from side to side. His backpedal is astonishing and he generates great power in his legs. He can burn you on a breakaway with that speed, or can you shut down if you have a breakaway of your own.
Because of his fabolous skating, Drysdale also excels at breakouts and transitioning from offence to defence. His head is always up, he makes a good clean first pass out of his zone, and is a zone exit machine. He confidently leads breakouts and is an offensive threat every time he is on the ice due to his ability to quickly jump up into the rush, and act like a 4th forward out there. He has great offensive instincts. Here’s a great example of how he breaks up a play defensively, then immediately transitions to offence.
Defensively, Drysdale is extremely difficult to beat one on one due to his speed & smarts. His positioning is always strong and even if he is beat, his acceleration allows him to close the gap quickly. He loves to get his stick in there to break up a play with one hand, while using the other arm to steer the attacker aside. Here’s a defensive play against one of the fastest players in the league Liam Foudy who appears to have a step on Drysdale:
Drysdale is not a real overly physical player, but he is so strong positionally and is a step ahead mentally over his competition that he more than compensates for that lack of size. Watch here at this puck retrieval race versus an 18 yr old Yegor Afanaseyev who’s listed at 6’3, 205lbs. Drysdale never hesitates against the bigger man. He outskates him, then cuts him off and takes away his stick without putting himself in a vulnerable position. Textbook defense and proof smarts beats size.
Lastly, Drysdale doesn’t have a ton of PP points so far in his OHL career but there is no reason to think he can’t successfully run one at the NHL level. He exhibits all the traits necessary to be a true quarterback – ability to walk the line, keep pucks in, move the puck quick with soft crisp passes, and get shots on net with a quick shot and release. Here he is with Team OHL recently:
Every prospect has something they can work on but for Jamie Drysdale there is no glaring weakness in his game. He does need to put on some weight and get stronger but so do most NHL prospects.
Physicality on the defensive side of the puck could improve but as mentioned he does do a good job of competing hard and being difficult to beat as is.
Some, have mentioned he still has to prove he can be a bonafide PP quarterback but he exhibits all the traits that most successful NHL defencemen in that role possess. 2 goals and 23 assists on the PP over the last season and a quarter so far suggest he could be more productive – and likely will.
DRAFT YEAR COMPARISON
The way Drysdale defends with his closing speed, smarts, and that ability to quickly eliminate time and space is very reminiscent of Drew Doughty in his draft year. They both are very competitive and have great leadership skills with a great 2 way acumen. In fact, I would argue Drysdale is a much more smooth, quicker version of Doughty and in fact actually reminds me Scott Niedermayer back in the day. Niedermayer wasn’t a great defender till later in his career, but once he did improve on that side of the puck he became a true elite dman. I see Drysdale with that kind of ceiling. A true #1 capable of playing in all situations and capable of not only putting up a pile of points, but shutting down the opponents best players as well. A complete player with true Norris trophy potential.
The general consensus is that Jamie Drysdale is the best defenceman in this draft class and is a lock to go somewhere in the Top 10. Bowen Byram was in a similar situation last year as the undisputed best d-man available and he went 4th overall. Due to the NHL transitioning to smaller, faster defencemen who can move the puck, and the lack of other clearly identifiable Top 10 defensive options – Drysdale could easily go in the Top 5 in 2020 and probably should anyways.
Prediction: Top 5 pick
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