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Friday, October 1, 2010

Dillon Donnelly: A guy you should know

The son of former hard-nosed NHL defenseman Gord Donnelly, Dillon isn't going to be a high pick in June, but with his size and toughness (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, apparently), the younger Donnelly is one of those lower-pairing defenders you win with.

He's got good size (6-1, 188)and physical attributes to make him a potential crease-clearer when he fills out, but one thing he also has going for him is a September 7, 1993 birthdate, making him one of the youngest players in the class. That means that he's only starting to come into his development, and with what is seen by some scouts as some pretty adept puckhandling skills, he could evolve into a better prospect than he's being projected as right now. On the downside, he doesn't seem to have an abundance of vision and natural instincts and is susceptible to an aggressive forecheck.

The Shawinigan Cataracte blue liner isn't flashy or spectacular, but Red Line Report has him as their 11th-ranked prospect in the QMJHL in their September issue, and if he has a strong year, I think you'll see him emerge as a solid mid-round option at the draft.

The drawback of picking a player like Donnelly is that they often take a longer timeline to develop and contribute. In the old days, it wasn't that big a deal, but with earlier free agent dates, teams are spending less time and emphasis drafting the meat-and-potatoes types because they feel that they can acquire older, more experienced "NHL-ready" prospects who were drafted and developed by other teams.

Will Donnelly prove to have enough upside to be a top-100 pick? It will be interesting to see what kind of year he has and where he ends up in St. Paul.

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