The name of the Devils draft game appears to be mid/late round picks right now, as excluding the 17th overall, New Jersey will not see the podium again until Round #4. With that in mind, Jersey’s Team still needs to be looking to select talented players in later rounds to continue growing their prospect pool. One player who could fit the bill is Nathan Dunkley.
Who is Nathan Dunkley?
Dunkley was born on May 3, 2000 in Campbellford, ON, CAN; he began his career with the Quinte Red Devils Minor Mdgt system before being taken #17 overall by the Kingston Frontenacs in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection. He’s a fairly average sized prospect at 5’11” and 185 lbs; here are his full stats courtesy of Elite Prospects.
Dunkley had a good start to his career with Kingston with 31 points in 58 games during the 2016-17 season; the 2017-18 saw him start off with 33 points in 31 games before Kingston traded him to the London Knights where he put up an additional 24 points in 29 games for a total of 55 points in 60 points. His lack of point production in 4 playoff games (just one assist) was a steep drop off from his 7 points in 11 playoff games the season prior, and considering his overall improvement during the season, this could be of concern.
Where is he Ranked?
NHL Central Scouting: #109 (North American Skaters)
Dobber Prospects: #109
The Draft Analyst: #117 (as of January - up from #134 in September 2017)
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #71
Based on the available rankings (including the fact that two separate outlets have him at #109) Dunkley projects to go in the mid to late parts of round four; at worst, he’s an early fifth rounder. McKenzie’s ranking intrigues me, as I wonder if some could be sleeping on Dunkley a bit.
What Others Say About Nathan Dunkley
McKeen’s Hockey was one of the few outlets to have information on Dunkley, but they had an extensive write-up on him that you can go through should you want to read a good in-depth breakdown of his game; for a snapshot of him as a player, I’ve attached the overall summary below:
One of the more intriguing players entering the NHL draft this year, Nathan Dunkley is strong in some areas, but lacking in others. He is a decent skater, but either lacks the speed in his skating or chooses to play a slower style that is questionable once he graduates to the pros. A consistent scorer this year thanks in large part to his smart play in front of the net and his ability to get open in front of the net. An extremely smart player at both ends, especially in the defensive zone, but he needs to improve his stick handling work. When he is moving at a slow pace he can protect the puck, but once the speed of the game changes he struggles and depends on his teammates to bail him out. Physically he needs to be consistent because he can be intense in some moments in the offensive zone and when he backchecks, but completely disappears when he is challenging in the defensive zone and the neutral zone.
The speed comments are worrisome, as we all the Devils are playing a speedy attacking style of hockey nowadays. The remainder of the blurb shows why Dunkley is projected to go late: yes, he has some good qualities, but there are a lot of inconsistencies in his game that need to be improved upon should he ever hope to be an NHLer.
A Little Video
Today’s first video is a clip from London’s March 1st game against the Peterborough Petes:
Dunkley pulls the teams into a tie before London’s eventual victory. He does a good job in this clip to find some open space and to rip off a quick, accurate wrister.
Next, we see a penalty shot goal of his against the Erie Otters just 8 nights later:
It’s not the best video clip, and it certainly isn’t the fanciest goal, but again Dunkley shows off some good accuracy to beat Erie’s goaltender.
An Opinion of Sorts
The Devils will be looking for talent in any round where they have a draft pick, and Dunkley could be the type of high reward prospect that New Jersey should be looking into. In limited viewing, Dunkley seems as though he has enough scoring talent to merit spending a mid-late round pick on him, as any prospect in his position is going to have some imperfections to work out of their game; the speed, however, is again more worrisome, and if the Devils do not believe that will improve, they should look elsewhere in Rounds 4 and 5.
One additional drawback I see to Dunkley is that he’s a centerman; while Jersey’s prospect pool isn’t exactly overflowing with talent, they do have a number of young centers in the organization, so spending a draft pick on a position of greater strength may not be the best bet. If I were Ray Shero, I would be looking for defenders and wingers with high-risk/high-reward potential with later picks; I know centers are always a hot commodity in the NHL, but the Devils have others positions that need addressing first. Couple that again with his skating speed issues, and Dunkley becomes an easy pass at least from where I’m sitting.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on Dunkely as a potential choice in this year’s draft; would you be in favor of seeing the Devils select him? Anything in particular that stands out about his game that you are a fan of? Anything you’re not a fan of? Is his speed enough of a concern for you to pass as well? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading!