Drouin rode meteoric rise into draft year
Not many teenage players can claim going from midget AAA to major juniors to a first-line role for Canada at the World Junior Championship in the span of a year. Then again, forward Jonathan Drouin of the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is unlike many forwards eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft. For starters, he has never experienced the mental anguish associated with being cut from a sports team. While Drouin may be slightly overshadowed by linemate and highly regarded center Nathan MacKinnon in Halifax this season, some scouts wouldn't be surprised if he earned a roster spot on an NHL team next fall. "If he went to training camp in September and made a team out of training camp, I don't think anyone would be surprised," NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr told NHL.com. Drouin's remarkable stick skills and soft hands have been the talk of many this season. He's certainly in the running to hear his name among the top-five picks at this year's draft on June 30 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. MacKinnon, rated No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of North American skaters, finished fourth on the team 75 points (32 goals, 43 assists) in 44 games. Drouin, No. 3 on Central Scouting's midterm report, ranked second in the league with 105 points (41 goals, 64 assists) in 49 games. "Nathan MacKinnon makes players around him better, but if you appear to make Nathan MacKinnon better, you're doing yourself a solid," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "It's not as if people think MacKinnon made [Drouin] better. It's more Drouin's ability to play at that level and side-by-side with him. Drouin has responded very well this season, and that's why we think of him so highly." In the absence of MacKinnon, who sustained a lower-body injury Feb. 8 and missed 11 games, Drouin proved his ability to get the job done by generating 11 goals and 27 points over that stretch. The meteoric rise of Drouin began in Lac St-Louis (QMAAA) in 2011-12 when he scored 22 goals and 53 points in 22 games. The incredible start forced the Mooseheads, who chose Drouin with the No. 2 pick in the 2011 QMJHL draft, to create roster space for the 16-year-old midway through their season. He'd connect for seven goals and 29 points in his 33-game audition with Halifax during the regular season and, for an encore, add 17 goals and 26 points in 17 playoff games. "I guess [the Halifax staff] saw that I was making a difference [in the QMAAA]," Drouin said. "I also think my name got bigger at the Telus Cup [with Lac St-Louis in 2010-11]." Drouin recorded two goals and six points in seven games at the Telus Cup for bronze medal-winning Lac St-Louis.
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