Look up. Waaaaay up.
Soaring six feet, seven inches tall, Windsor Spitfires defenceman Logan Stanley is impossible to miss in just about every facet of the game.
The stay-at-home blueliner had 17 points (5G, 12A) and 103 penalty minutes in 64 games last year, helping him jump from No. 23 at the midpoint to No. 19 on NHL Central Scouting's list of its top North American skaters, meaning he could be available when the Jets make their second pick
of the first round, 22nd overall, next Friday at Buffalo's First Niagara Center.
While the Spits enjoyed a bounce back season after a disappointing 24-win campaign the year prior, they were bounced in the opening round of the OHL playoffs in a five-game series loss to the Kitchener Rangers. Stanley had one goal and 16 penalty minutes in the series before heading off to Grand Forks, where he donned the red and white at the Under-18 World Championship. There, he compiled one assist and 17 penalty minutes in seven games en route to a fourth-place finish.
Stanley played much of the year alongside fellow draft-eligible blueliner Mikhail Sergachev, who is a projected Top 10 pick, and saw his ice time increase throughout the season after starting the year
on the second pairing.
Stanley prides himself on being "hard to play against," which could not be more accurate. On the defensive side, he's nearly impossible to beat, challenging oncoming forwards with the reach and lateral wingspan few possess.
"He's mobile and very tough to beat one-on-one," Dan Marr, the NHL's director of Central Scouting, said in the player's dot com scouting report. "He has a good understanding of his position, has a good stick-to-puck technique utilizing his size and long reach, and plays with authority. He's very composed under forecheck pressure and is able to make that good first pass out of the zone."
But he's far from satisfied.
When things quiet down later this summer, Stanley plans to work on his foot speed, citing the fast pace of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs as an example of what's to come.
"It's clear it's a faster game now, so I'm looking to improve that," he said.
After a few weeks off ("It never really stops," he chuckled), Stanley will soon be back in the gym alongside his cousin and trading partner, Washington Capitals forward Michael Latta.
Like many tall boys, including one right here in Winnipeg - Jets defenceman Tyler Myers - Stanley had trouble, at times, coordinating that long, vertical frame with an effectual skating stride.
"I try to watch (Nashville Predators defenceman Shea) Weber and play like him. He's a good skater, a leader, and he's had a great career so far. Definitely someone I look up to. … I love how hard he plays the game."
At age 15, he was already a towering presence with a blustery physical edge. 6-foot-6, 210 pounds - nearly double the size of most in Waterloo's competitive minor midget league. His offensive contributions - 28 points (8G, 20A) in 28 games that year - made him a strong, two-way defender and as a result, he was taken with the 12th pick in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection Draft.
It literally took years for the now 18-year-old Stanley to master the movements. A challenge at first, he's learned to adapt and make the most of his God-given talent - just like his idols have.
-- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com