Something to look forward to; A New Day

Sean Day draft day

Sean Day draft day

New York Rangers selected with the 20th pick of the third round, Sean Day, a defenseman from the Mississauga Steelheads. Sean Day? Is that the Sean Day that was granted elite status by the OHL in 2013? Yes, THAT Sean Day.  

At the time he was granted that status, only John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, and Connor McDavid were bestowed that stature and permitted to play in the OHL at the age of 15. What Tavares, Ekblad and McDavid have in common is that they were all drafted into the NHL first overall. Sean Day was drafted 80 picks after 1st overall. The question is, why?

Trouble at Home

On October 25, 2014 Scott Day, Sean’s older brother was involved in a head on collision in Michigan, where he had crossed the double yellow line into on coming traffic, while driving drunk. A 62-year-old grandmother was killed in the crash. Scott pleaded “no contest” and is serving 5-15 years in prison.

Sean was deeply effected by his brother’s actions. His older brother was a hero to him and the reason he loved and played hockey. He wore the number 4 for the Steelheads because it was Scott’s number. At the time Sean was 16, and was shuttling back and forth from Mississauga and Michigan. Because of that and also his mother was having serious complications with lupus, his conditioning suffered and his weight increased. He ballooned up to 245 pounds. His on ice play was erratic and his draft stock plummeted.

Bouncing Back

Around the mid-point of his draft year season of 2015-2016, Sean Day started to turn it back around. He got his weight down to the low 220’s. His body fat index went from 19% to 12%. His play on the ice improved, but questions lingered.

His play without the puck was not strong. His focus, and decision-making on the ice would sometimes wane, and his dedication was questioned. But he is also blessed with incredible skills, and at 6’3′ 224 lbs., he skates like the wind; a strong hurricane like wind.

He has a hard and accurate shot, and exceptional hands. He is very physical, and shows no fear on the ice. His acceleration and ability to rush the puck remind many scouts of Paul Coffey. Except this is a linebacker size version of the hall of fame inductee.

Steelheads to Spitfires
Day (Getty)

Day (Getty)

In October, Day was traded from the Steelheads to the Windsor Spitfires. When a junior player is traded there are usually reasons. His agent, Pat Brisson may have been involved. The Rangers may have been involved in the background. But, the bottom line he went from a poor Mississauga team(7-14-3) to a strong Windsor squad (18-5-4) that has far superior talent for Day to play with.

Windsor also hosts the prestigious Memorial Cup this year. So, Sean will be playing with and against high-end talent. His defense partner is top prospect Mikhail Sergachev, drafted by the Montreal Canadiens. This past Sunday this tandem combined for 15 shots on goal, and a whopping 40 SOG in the last 4 games.

Oh, and Day on Sunday, scored a natural hat trick, with the third goal coming on an end to end rush in overtime, to win 3-2.

He had tied the game by scoring 2 late third period power play goals on one time bombs. To date, in 22 games he has 10 goals 8 assists, and is a +8. And in those 22 games he has an unreal 70(!) shots on goal. The doubts are quickly and emphatically being erased.

Sonic Boom

Day, himself, wants to emulate his game after Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. His skill set is similar to Ryan McDonagh and Brady Skjei as far as skating and size. Except Sean Day has even more skating ability, and more size, believe it or not. Taking all that into consideration I am really hoping the Rangers sign Day in 2017, and have him spend the summer training with McDonagh and Skjei. He could learn a lot and progress quickly.

He will be 19 in early January, and could challenge for a spot on the big club in September. Either way, Sean Day has a huge upside and is on track to proving his critics wrong. Scouts say he is a “boom or bust” prospect. I don’t see the downside being anywhere near bust. And, based on what we have seen this year so far, we may see a sonic boom in Sean Day.

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