Welcome to the second day of the 2016 NHL Draft. The second round is well underway and New Jersey Devils have made their selection in the 2016 NHL Draft. The Devils selected forward Nathan Bastian out of Mississauga with the forty-first overall pick.
My Initial Reaction
My initial reaction is contentment. For the first time since 2008, the New Jersey Devils drafted a forward in the second round. What's more is that the Devils scouts got to see a lot of him as Bastian is McLeod's teammate. Per Elite Prospects, Bastian is a big right winger at 6'3" and 207 pounds with a right handed shot. That certainly fits a need within the system. He was fairly productive alongside McLeod. Paul Wheeler at Stanley Cup of Chowder had this profile on the player and he came away pleased with what he saw. I can't disagree. Of course, I'll dig out more information on him later.
Let's Learn More About Nathan Bastian
Again, per his EP profile, Bastian is big, he's played right wing, and he's got a right handed shot. Here are his stats.
Bastian's 59 points last season were third on the Steelheads behind McLeod and Nylander. He also finished third on the team in shots on net with 159. That's an average of 2.48 shots per game and a shooting percentage just below 12%. Those aren't bad numbers, although like McLeod, it makes me wonder about his finishing.
Let's look at some profiles. Steve Kournianos has this profile on Bastian at The Draft Analyst. Here's a key part of his profile:
Bastian won’t wow you with any particular skill, but he’s great to have both in the room and on the ice. He is a patient player who pounces on mistakes, and can fire off a heavy shot that will beat goalies from distances beyond the tops of the circles. Bastian isn’t fast but will win his share of 50/50 battles and on occasion can barrel past a defender in a one-on-one scenario.
Korunianos notes he can play all three forward positions. That said, my read on this is that it's consistent with someone who's got a high floor but not a particularly a high ceiling. Someone's who is good but not particularly adept at a particular skill.
Ben Kerr at Last Word on Sports also profiled Bastian and noted that he's made improvements in the 2015-16 season. This part of his profile focuses on one area of improvement, his skating:
Bastian was a weak skater in 2014-15 but has really improved and now shows good skating skills for a big man. He has a quick first step and very good acceleration. His decent top end speed allows him to get in quickly on the forecheck and cause turnovers. Bastian has excellent balance and power in his stride, allowing him to fight through checks and get to the front of the net. This could even improve as he adds lower body strength. He could stand to have a bit more agility which would allow him to better maneuver through traffic.
This is encouraging to read. No matter what the role is, skating is crucial for success. That Bastian has improved in this area is a plus. Kerr has generally good things to say about his play in both ends of the rink. While he does think Bastian needs to get stronger, Kerr noted that he was difficult to move from in front of the net and he fits in the "power forward" mold. He compares his style to Nik Antropov; I'll leave that to you to decide if that's a good thing or not.
Ryan Biech at Canucks Army has an in-depth profile on Bastian, including his production. This part of the profile stood out to me.
As all the scouting reports suggest, Bastian is a player that doesn't do anything elite but does everything well. The Kitchener native does possess a good wrist shot, but it can't be classified as elite. He skates well for his size, but could see an improvement in that aspect, which in this day and age seems to be a workable skill when the player is starting at a reasonably adequate level. He also sees the ice well and is defensively responsible. What makes him attractive is that he has played with two high end talents in Nylander and McLeod and didn't look out of place.
That last part seems like a backhanded compliment, but I don't see it that way. The challenge for any prospective player who does play regularly with more talented or more highly touted prospects is to fit in and stand out. To make sure they aren't an anchor. To that end from this profile and the other two cited here, Bastian wasn't just a guy along for the ride. He helped make that line go. Biech noted that Bastian's production does bode well for a future in pro hockey. Biech's general conclusion is that Bastian does things well on the ice but nothing exceptional combined furthers my thinking that he's a low risk/not-so-high ceiling player.
The other profiles I've (quickly) read and cited here support that notion. Someone who will make it to the pros and could be a useful player, but not somebody who's necessarily going to be a difference maker. That's not necessarily a bad thing as the Devils need these kinds of players in development. They need the picks to become actual players to have their re-build progress. And Bastian certainly fits in from a positional standpoint as well. Does he fill the glaring need for a great offensive hope? Not necessarily. So, again, I'm left thinking this is an OK pick and in the second day of the draft, it's hard for me to state that they should have picked someone else or better.
A Little Video
Here's something also encouraging about Bastian: a highlight video. From the amazing bigwhite06, here's just under seven minutes of Bastian succeeding on the ice:
If this is a sign of things to come for the future and the offense becomes more plentiful, then I will certainly be more pleased with this pick. I will say this: he's not just a dude riding the coattails of Nylander and McLeod.
All the same, regardless of my initial thoughts and the other information I've added, I welcome Nathan Bastian to the New Jersey Devils organization. I wish him the best of luck in his development within the organization.
Stay tuned to this page as I will update it throughout the day with more information and reaction about the player. In the meantime, please have your say about the pick in the comments. Do you think it was a good pick or not and why? What do you expect this player will become for the Devils? Of course, don't forget to vote in our quick poll on the selection. Thank you for reading.