Sault Ste. Marie center Nick Cousins is riding a wave of positive momentum all the way to Minnesota for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
After scoring 29 goals and 68 points in as many games this season for the Greyhounds but getting lost in the shuffle a bit in one of the OHL's more remote outposts, he had a coming out party in Germany at the World Under-18 Championship tournament.
He's the classic underdog and overachiever- he doesn't have the height, but is strong and smart, allowing him to make his living in the dirty areas of the ice where he tends to get under bigger guys and win battles for loose pucks. He works extremely hard and has been underrated for some time now, falling to the second round of the 2009 OHL Draft (where he was the first pick by the Soo).
Cousins was one of Team Canada's top forwards at the U-18s and has quietly established himself as a player who will likely get picked on June 25 despite a lack of fanfare, but who appears to have the intensity, hockey smarts and moxie to eventually earn his way into the NHL. Before that, however, Cousins has his sights set on getting the chance to compete for Canada in the 2012 World Junior Championship (Under-20) which will be played on home soil this year in Calgary and Edmonton.
Character and competitiveness- you can't go wrong with those attributes and even if Cousins may not be the biggest or most skilled player in the draft, he won't ever cheat his team or himself with less than his best. They're a few of the reasons why he made the B2011DW top-50 list and could see a similar draft position scenario playing out in a few weeks.