Garden River First Nation product Owen Headrick, fresh from an eye-opening season as a freshman defenseman with the Lake Superior State University Lakers, has been ranked as a potential late-round pick for the upcoming National Hockey League draft.
North American Central Scouting, which is a service that is independent of NHL Central Scouting, has Headrick rated 176th among prospects for the June 24-25 draft.
A 6-foot-1, 205-pound defender with a 1997 birth date, Headrick played a regular shift and was on the Lakers top power-play unit as the youngest player in the 10-team Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 2015-2016.
Mark Seidel, who is the chief scout for NACS, had plenty of good things to say about Headrick in ranking him as a possible sixth-round selection for the upcoming NHL draft.
“A hidden gem up in northern Michigan who plays for Lake Superior State. Erie wanted him badly but he chose the NCAA route and it is paying off. Smart, heady decisions and a strong core allow him to battle grown men already. He had some rough outings as a freshman but he is only going to get better,” is what Seidel wrote about Headrick for the NACS 2016 NHL Draft Guide.
(Those wishing to obtain a copy of the NACS 2016 NHL Draft Guide can e-mail Seidel via email@example.com.)
To be sure, Headrick has come a long way since being selected as a 14th-round afterthought by the Erie Otters at the 2013 Ontario Hockey League draft.
The smooth-skating, highly-skilled blue-liner spent the 2013-2014 season as the youngest player on the Soo Thunderbirds and was named Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League rookie-of-the-year.
Headrick would play a second season with the Thunderbirds in 2014-2015 and after recovering from early-season surgery, was voted the most valuable player of the playoffs as the Soo won the NOJHL championship.
Along the way, Headrick accepted a full-ride, Division 1 scholarship to head across the International Bridge at the Soo to play at LSSU.
And not only did Headrick make the LSSU roster last fall, he became a top-four defenseman for head coach Damon Whitten’s Lakers.
Headrick played in 39 of the Lakers 41 games, missing only two contests with a sore back. Playing against grown men — many of whom are four and five years older than him — Headrick finished sixth in scoring on the Lakers with 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points.
More impressive about the 12 points is that Headrick figured in on just over 16 per cent of every goal that the offensively-challenged, freshman-laden Lakers managed. That’s right, in 41 games this past season, the Lakers managed only 74 goals — and Headrick was in on 12 of them, as a defenseman and the youngest player in the WCHA, no less.
Headrick made such an impression as a Laker freshman that Erie — which had drafted him three years earlier — tried to get him to leave school in January to join the Otters on their run to first place in the OHL. After considerable consideration, Headrick eventually turned down what was a very-attractive and lucrative offer from Erie to remain at LSSU.
Those who have watched Headrick closely and who know him well, marvel at his hockey smarts, skill and poise and believe that he has a good chance to eventually play at the NHL level.