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TopicKemba Walker

  • Fri 28th Aug 2020 - 3:16am

    "Sometimes, it’s hard to forget that these are just kids. Reading the YouTube comments on Saturday during the OHL draft, you’d think these are experienced veterans we’re dealing with - players that have paid their dues and battled the grind for years. Personal attacks, spirited chirps among fan bases, you know it. But they’re just teenagers, still taking high school one day at a time - as well as they can at this time, at least. Spending time with friends is still a high priority and, above all, just having fun as a youth. And you could hear that in Ty Nelson’s voice after he went No. 1 overall to the North Bay Battalion this past weekend - he was so genuinely excited to be the first among his peers. As per league tradition, the Battalion announced a day prior to the draft that the club would select Nelson with the first pick Ja Morant Murray State Jersey. Nelson said he found out on Wednesday, but had to keep it quiet for a few days - something that’s not easy for a young kid, but at least it took the anxiety away. “It was breathtaking,” Nelson said. “When I got the call, I had no words. I was speechless. My dad and mom started crying. My sister jumped around in joy.” Nelson, a 15-year-old defenseman from the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, has been touted as a special player for much of his teenage life, going up against some of his generation’s top talents such as Shane Wright and Adam Fantilli. When the OHL eventually resumes, and, hopefully, that’s on time for 2020-21 in September, Nelson will be one of the most watched players in the league as he showcases why he’s the definition of a skilled, modern-day defenseman. Nelson models his game after Ryan Ellis and Morgan Rielly. Some scouts have likened his game to Jared Spurgeon and Brian Campbell. Either way, he’s in good company. “There isn’t a player more ready for the OHL than Nelson,” said an Ontario-based minor midget scout. “He reeks confidence. The way he moves the puck, the way he challenges bigger, stronger players, the way he doesn’t take any challenge lightly. There’s so much to love about his game.” In the past, the top draft prospects have met up in person for photo shoots and other activities shortly after the draft. Nelson’s teammate, Pano Fimis, went second overall to Niagara, but with an isolation order in effect, they were stuck to their respective homes on draft day - one of the biggest days of their lives. Still, Nelson has remained positive throughout the quarantine and has kept active as best as he can. He’s still taking part in school online and stickhandles and does some dryland training by himself to remain fit James Harden Arizona State Jersey, which is vital while entering the complete unknown of what the summer off-season has to offer. Hitting the ice at full stride will be important in living up to the high expectations placed on him as a No. 1 selection, especially after explosive campaigns from Jamie Drysdale and Brandt Clarke the past two years. But like the two top defensemen before him, Nelson has the makings of a future star. In 32 GTHL games, Nelson’s 32 points gave him an 11-point cushion over Matthew Morden for the lead among defenders. Overall, Nelson had 65 points in 61 games, by far surpassing the output of any other Ontario-based defenders - and he did it without Fantilli, considered the top Canadian forward prospect, to pass to for most of the season. Nelson played against older competition prior to his draft season, taking key minutes for the Jr. Canadiens against a stacked 2003-born draft class that included Wright, Clarke, Brennan Othmann and Francesco Pinelli, among others. Nelson said that experience playing against older Jimmy Butler Marquette Jersey, stronger competition will help in his transition to the OHL, where the 5-foot-8 defender will certainly be outmatched physically. But as scouts have pointed out, his elusiveness with the puck and high top speed will make up for any physical shortcomings, and if he hits a late growth spurt, he’ll be even more dangerous. In his free time, Nelson likes to watch hockey highlights online and research stats and other aspects of the game. And that’s something scouts appreciate - he’s a hockey junkie, of sorts. You tend to see that out of young stars these days: players such as Jack Hughes and Connor McDavid have a vast hockey knowledge that even makes hockey historians turn their heads. Nelson is always learning, both on and off the ice, and his determination to get better is unmatched by most kids his own age." "When you don’t have first-rounders Kemba Walker Uconn Jersey, you have to find your talent elsewhere. Even though the Toronto Maple Leafs already have some of the most exciting youngsters in the NHL on their squad, the pipeline of the future must always be fed and recently, the organization made a spate of free-agent signings from the college and junior ranks. One of the more intriguing names is Bobby McMann, the erstwhile captain of NCAA Colgate and the Raiders’ leading scorer the past three seasons. McMann had previously attended a couple rookie camps with the Nashville Predators and had multiple offers from other NHL teams this spring for an AHL deal, but Toronto (specifically, the Marlies) won out for his services. “It’s such a great hockey market and I wanted to go somewhere that fit my game,” McMann said. “They really liked my game and the speed I can bring; they want to play up the ice with a lot of speed and they thought I would fit well there.” McMann popped onto my radar last summer when I dropped in on Joe Quinn’s Power Edge Pro camp in Toronto. McMann has been in the PEP system for the past six years and came to the Toronto week on recommendation from one of Quinn’s instructors out in Wainwright, Alberta, where McMann hails from. “He was super-impressive,” Quinn said. “He’s got the whole package, lots of skill. He fit right in with our top players, like Jack Hughes and Connor McDavid.” Other PEP participants include Quinn Hughes and Dylan Larkin, so you know the competition level is elite. For McMann, the experience was illuminating. “That was really cool,” he said. “I had a couple camps in Toronto with the NHL guys and another one in Kelowna. You get to see the elite level they play at, how quickly they make decisions, how skilled they are with the puck. More than anything, how intense they are in their practises and in wanting to get better. That drives me to elevate my game, work hard and hopefully be at that level pretty soon.” Before Colgate Kevin Durant Texas Jersey, he had played in the Alberta Jr. A League with the Bonnyville Pontiacs, where he was named AJHL player of the year in 2015-16. That’s when a bunch of NCAA teams came calling, but McMann stuck to his previous commitment to the Raiders. “They were one of the first to reach out and similar to Toronto, they liked my game,” he said. “More than anything, they were going to give me a great opportunity there. I really liked the coaching staff and I got a chance to get a great education, too. It was the whole package.” Playing for a low-scoring Colgate program, McMann didn’t put up gaudy numbers in college, but playing that hard ECAC schedule did force him to adapt his game. “It was definitely tough to generate offense,” he said. “It taught me where you need to be at specific times and how to get to the front of the net, because that’s where goals are scored. It’s an older league, so it’s harder to play in and I hope that translates to the pros for me.” During his four-year tenure with the Raiders, McMann got a chance to put some more detail into his game, as well. “I would say decision-making was the biggest change,” he said. “The difference between junior and college is so many guys are strong and you have to pick your spots. If you think you’ll skate through everybody - that’s never gonna happen.” There are always reasons why some players get drafted into the NHL and others find their way later on. McMann clearly honed his game at Colgate and with his speed and skill, it’s obvious why Toronto wanted to bring him into the fold. “Sometimes players fly under the radar,” Quinn said. “Maybe a bit of a late-bloomer, but he got lots of development over the years. Sometimes all the elements come together and he has been maturing as a player. When you reduce his space, he’s got that extra gear down low where he can make quick decisions, he can react, he can move pucks to space and he’s got a quick release. He’s a real find.” This year’s edition of the AHL Marlies was rather depleted of high-end skill, simply because a lot of the top guys had graduated to the Maple Leafs, or were called up due to injury for stretches. McMann may not have been a known name to the average hockey fan, but Quinn has seen him go shot-for-shot with Connor McDavid in PEP drills - so there’s definitely something there to be intrigued by - and the Marlies hope to reap the benefits next year."

  • Fri 28th Aug 2020 - 10:57am

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