While there is no consensus on how the top picks will come off the big board on June 27 in Philadelphia, most believe the first selections will be some combination of Sam Bennett, Leon Draisaitl, Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart.
Michael Dal Colle could be the dark horse to work his way into that group.
Dal Colle, who will turn 18 years of age with fellow top prospect Bennett exactly a week before the Draft, is the NHL’s Central Scouting Service’s fifth-ranked North American skater.
“He’s a combination of skill and finesse,” Tony MacDonald, the Canes director of amateur scouting, said. “He’s a very smart player.”
As a first-year OHL forward in 2012-13, the then-16-year-old Dal Colle ranked fifth in Oshawa Generals team scoring with 48 points (15g, 33a) in 63 games and skated alongside NHL prospects Boone Jenner (Columbus) and Tyler Biggs (Toronto).
|LEFT WING |
|HOMETOWN: WOODBRIDGE, ONTARIO |
|HEIGHT: 6'2" |
|WEIGHT: 182 |
|BIRTHDAY: JUNE 20, 1996 (AGE 17) |
In 2013-14, Dal Colle nearly doubled his point total, recording a team-high 95 points (39g, 56a) in 67 games. The Woodbridge, Ontario, native ranked tied for third in the OHL with 16 power-play goals.
“He’s got a great shot and a great release,” MacDonald said. “He can score, but he’s also a very creative player.”
Eight of Dal Colle’s 39 goals last season were also of the game-winning variety, as Oshawa finished atop the OHL’s Eastern Conference with 42 wins in 2013-14. The Generals would go on to sweep Mississauga and Peterborough before being swept by North Bay in the Eastern Conference Finals. In 12 postseason games, the winger was better than a point-per-game producer and led Oshawa in goals (8), power-play goals (4), assists (12) and points (20).
“He’s a money player,” MacDonald said. “When he has to step up in a big game, he usually can come up with that big goal.”
With his creativity and dexterity with the puck comes a fairly responsible two-way game, as well. Dal Colle is a plus-27 player over two junior seasons.
As is the case with many draft-eligible teenagers, Dal Colle will need to bulk up to be a difference-maker in the NHL on a nightly basis, but he’s already got the frame in place at 6-foot-2 and 182 pounds.
“He’s got to get stronger, but he’s got pretty good size,” MacDonald said.
Once he does add some additional muscle mass, Dal Colle will become even harder to handle as he barrels toward the net and uses his body to his advantage. This size projection combined with his offensive utilities and well-roundedness will lead to Dal Colle being a top-ten pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
“He’s not going to have to wait too long for his name to be called,” MacDonald said.