Prospect of Interest: Why Jamie Drysdale could be best defenceman in 2020 class

You can’t talk about Jamie Drysdale without marvelling at his skating. Both light and powerful on his feet, the Toronto native is flat-out fun to watch.

Here’s what you need to know about Drysdale, who looks poised to be the first defender drafted in the class of 2020.

Age: 18 (April 8, 2002)
Position: Defence
Current team: Erie Otters (OHL)
Hometown: Toronto, Ont.
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Right

He’s a gifted skater

In today’s NHL -- one that values skating is above all else -- Drysdale’s skill-set makes him a can’t-miss prospect. He navigates the neutral zone in a way that looks almost effortless, and uses his elite hockey sense to drive offensive plays from the blue line like a pro.

He’s not a physical defender -- he’s more likely to out-smart, out-position and skate circles around his opponents than knock anyone over. He’s a true offensive defenceman, with a knack for playmaking, posting 33 assists in 63 games with the Erie Otters in 2018-19 and 38 in 49 games last season.

He was named to the OHL’s 2019-20 First All-Star Team

One year after being named to the All-Rookie squad, he’s one of two draft-eligible skaters to earn First All-Star honours in 2019-20.

He could be the first defender off the board

Sportsnet’s draft expert, Sam Cosentino, consistently ranked Drysdale as the top D-man in the class from October through April, though Jake Sanderson gave a late push. Lots of teams like what Drysdale offers, though, so it would be no surprise if he was the first defenceman chosen. And it's easy to see why.

NHL Central Scouting senior manager David Gregory believes he’s a prospect that would be tough to pass on:

"Jamie Drysdale is the type of player that every team is looking for," Gregory said, via NHL.com. "Very smart puck-moving defenceman who can beat you with his vision, beat you with his hockey sense. [He's] able to use that great quickness and thinking to defend and strip a puck and turn it around, and before you know it, it's going the other way and finding the open man on the attack. That makes him too tough to pass up if he's available when you're picking."

Even with a strong group of high-impact forwards barrelling towards that No. 3 spot behind Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield, it wouldn’t be all that crazy to see Drysdale drafted there.

He models his play after Morgan Rielly

"I think the way [Rielly] can play both ends of the ice and make an impact, be trusted in all zones, definitely a player that I like to watch and just kind of take anything I can and add to my game," Drysdale said.

He’s also got his eye on 2019-20 Calder winner Cale Makar -- and when you watch Drysdale’s smooth skating, excellent puck-handling and ability to quarterback a power-play, it’s easy to see the connection between the two young defenders.

"Cale Makar, he's pretty hard not to like when you watch him, how he's as young as he is and in his first full season and making the impact he is. That's just a big confidence factor, alongside the skill he has, so I think definitely another guy I like to kind of model my game after," Drysdale said.

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