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NHL Draft

NHL Draft: Bastian a study in power

Right wing prospect provides rare combination of size, savvy

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

Every Thursday, will look ahead to the 2016 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

Mississauga Steelheads right wing Nathan Bastian doesn't mind the daily grind associated with being a prototypical power forward in the Ontario Hockey League.

It's a role the 6-foot-3, 205-pound right-hand shot has become accustomed. Bastian is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of player and that's usually by way of using his size and skill to create offense.

"I'm able to play a power-forward game, but it's hard sometimes," Bastian said. "I'm always in the corners, trying to be first on the puck. I don't look at it as much as a grind as maybe it might look like because I'm also having fun and running into guys. That's my style and that's how I've been playing the past couple of years.

"That's what helps make me be successful."

Bastian has a knack for working hard below the dots, which isn't all that common among junior hockey players. It's a quality that has made him an attractive prospect to NHL scouts. Bastian is No. 35 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft.

"He's responsible with and without the puck and plays with an edge, making himself hard to play against," said Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting.

The 2016 draft will be at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., from June 24-25.

"[Bastian] is a big, strong forward who possesses good hands and a scoring touch," Central Scouting's Matt Ryan said. "He has good hockey sense and underrated passing ability. I like the fact he's hard on pucks and plays a physical game."

Bastian finished third on the Steelheads in assists (40) and points (59) in 64 games this season. He also had five goals and 22 power-play points.

Playing on a line with Alexander Nylander, No. 3 on Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, and No. 13 ranked Michael McLeod, Bastian learned how to become an effective playmaker by doing much of the grunt work.

"[Bastian] brings strong puck work and has the ability to get pucks out of the zone," McLeod said. "He rarely misses getting the pucks out and that's good for me because I'm coming through the middle pretty fast, so moving the pucks out really helps. He really makes the perfect plays all the time."

Nylander said Bastian is easy to skate with since he plays an honest, two-way game.

"He's good overall," Nylander said. "He's good in the corners and has good vision and can get you a pass on the tape every time. He's impactful in the offensive zone and has a good shot."

Nylander led Mississauga with 75 points (28 goals, 47 assists) and McLeod was second with 61 points (21 goals, 40 assists).

Bastian enjoyed his time on the top line, something he never really thought possible when the Steelheads drafted him in the seventh round (No. 127) of the 2013 OHL Draft.

"I'm maybe not the flashiest guy but I do a lot of the little things well and am a good linemate," Bastian said. "I'm pretty responsible in my own end and along the wall. If I need to take a faceoff or kill a penalty or help a power play, I'm there. I'm used in all situations."

Bastian won 46.5 percent of his faceoffs (191-of-411) in his second full OHL season. He would like to improve his skating, which would certainly enhance the productivity of linemates Nylander and McLeod.

"I've been working with assistant coach James Richmond and went on the ice in the morning two or three times a week," Bastian said. "It's just all skating. I don't think, technically, I'm that bad a skater, but it's just getting that strength. I think that'll come; it's only been getting better this season."

Bastian is also a bit of a comedian in the locker room and enjoys breaking the tension with a few words every so often. He views himself as a big, right-handed shot with power.

"I guess I'd like to play similar to [Los Angeles Kings center] Jeff Carter, a big righty shot and leader who does the little things well," Bastian said.

Bastian scored the first goal for the Steelheads six times this season and had two game-winners. A native of Kitchener, Ontario, he has 38 goals, 91 points and 78 penalty minutes in 153 career OHL regular-season games.

"He's taken another step in his development this year showing that he can be a consistent offensive performer for his team," Ryan said. "He has taken on a leadership role within his team and provides them with size and skill up front. His ability to play a highly skilled game but with a physical edge makes him an exciting prospect."

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