A mere season removed from the Soo Thunder minor midgets, 1997 birth-year centre Blake Speers has shown he can shine at the Ontario Hockey League level as a first-round pick of the Soo Greyhounds in 2013.
Next up as a high pick from the Thunder midgets is 1998 birth-year centre Zack Dorval, who was selected by the Kingston Frontenacs in the second round of the 2014 OHL draft.
Now to the question.
Is the 5-foot-11, 167-pound Dorval capable of having the type of rookie season with Kingston in 2014-2015 that the 5-foot-11, 162-pound Speers had with the Soo in 2013-2014 when he produced 19 goals, 21 assists, 40 points in 62 games in his initial OHL campaign?
Let’s look at the numbers of both players in their respective seasons at the minor-midget level.
With the Thunder midgets in 2012-2013, Speers had 43 goals, 70 assists, 113 points in 61 games.
With the Thunder midgets in 2013-2014, Dorval had 48 goals, 33 assists, 81 points in 75 games.
While their stats as midgets do favour Speers somewhat, it should be noted that Dorval has a grittier side, as partially evidenced by the team-leading 122 penalty minutes that he racked up with the Thunder in 2013-2014.
From his end, Frontenacs head scout Jeff McKercher, who used Kingston’s second-round pick (35th overall) in 2014 to take Dorval, did not hesitate when the youngster was mentioned in comparative terms to Speers, who the Greyhounds selected in the first round (11th overall) in 2013.
“Speers is a stud and has already shown he can he play at the OHL level,” McKercher began.
“We like Zack exactly where we got him,” McKercher continued. “He has zero quit in his game and that is tough to find these days. What really separates him from others is his compete level. We feel he has what it takes to step into our lineup (in 2014-2015) and contribute.”
Enough said, at least for now.