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Prospect File: Jesse Graham

Who’s that guy playing with Dougie Hamilton? No, he may not be a household name like Mr. Hamilton, but he is quietly making a name for himself inside the OHL circles. I am back after a one-week hiatus where I let the girlfriend take over the blog. She did a great job, but unfortunately for you, I'm back behind the keyboard. It's time to get the show on the road! let’s see what makes Jesse Graham special…

The Line:

Height: 5’11”
Weight: 160 lbs
Shoots: Right
Position: Defense
Draft Eligible: 2012

After being drafted 6th overall in the 2010 OHL priority selection draft, Jesse Graham was compared to Duncan Keith, lofty expectations for even a first overall pick, but Graham had a good start to his rookie season in the OHL and was named to the 2011 U-17 team Ontario squad.  Jesse’s play continued to rise, especially when compared to fellow-rookie, Luke Mercer who was drafted just two picks after Graham.
The 2011/2012 season held high expectations for the 17 year-old Toronto, Ontario native. He was expected to take on a larger role with a veteran team looking to make a serious push for the Memorial Cup. Jesse has not disappointed, playing on Niagara’s top pairing with Dougie Hamilton on a nightly basis and not looking out of place doing it.
Jesse’s game is more elite than his 119th ranking in the recent NHL Central scouting services mid-term rankings would dictate. He sees the ice well in the defensive zone and is a good defender but he strives in his transition game. He places passes well and can spring guys as good as anyone I have seen his age. He is out muscled from time-to-time down low in his own zone, but it is not from lack of effort. Jesse never takes a shift off which gives the coaching staff confidence to put him out there in key situations.
The first time I saw Jesse Graham play live last October; the first thing I noticed after seeing his slender frame was his impressive skating ability. He may be the best skating defenseman in this draft class and that is saying a lot for someone ranked that far down the list. His passing ability is as good as his 18 assists to date would hint at. His shot is impressive for his body size and his intelligence is far above average.
What is going to hold Jesse back is his size. Scouts are afraid of how that will transfer at the next level. I still think he can be an elite NHL player with adding just 20 pounds to his frame and he may be one of those mid-round picks who end up becoming a mainstay in the NHL before too long. He skates so well that he should be able to get away from any pressure coming at him.
He is never going to be your shut down guy, but he is the quintessential puck-moving, smooth skating defenseman. His CSS ranking does not do him justice. Get out to the Jack in St. Catherines and watch this kid play, you will not be disappointed.  
NHL Player Comparison:  John-Michael Liles

Comments :

Anonymous said...

Jesse Graham is the most underrated player in this draft. Somebody is going to love this kid. 2nd round at worst.

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