Not many players have risen up the rankings over the last 10 months as much as Graham Black has.
The Swift Current Broncos forward has had an amazingly strong year, putting him in an interesting spot.
At this time last year, he wasn't even in the WHL. In fact, he made his debut as a 17 year old rookie last March, playing 6 games and posting 2 points with the Broncos.
That also means that this year, Graham is an overager in regards to the draft. That makes his position on scouting lists even more intriguing.
I've had the chance to see him three times this year, with my fourth viewing taking place tonight. One thing has become apparent from this left-handed centre from Regina, he's one of the best defensive draft eligible players from the WHL. He's a very strong skater with excellent edge work, acceleration and overall speed. I've seen him use his speed breaking up the middle or down the wing, he can burn you in a variety of ways. He also uses his excellent skating to show off his committed defensive play, often backchecking hard and defending his ice well.
He's got strong playmaking skills and enough size and reach to use his body to shield the puck from defenders. He's not the biggest of players at only 6'0 and 173 pounds, but it doesn't stop him from playing physical and being a very good defensive player.
On the offensive side of the puck he also has very good puck skills, showing off a hard and accurate wrist shot along with great passing. In my most recent viewing, he held off a defender with one hand while circling the net before dishing the puck in front for a one-timer goal. It was an impressive play that really makes you think about what could be possible once he gets more experienced, bigger and stronger.
Black's been ranked by Central Scouting, so he's definitely on the radar. I have to concur when saying he's going to have his name called come the June 2012 NHL Entry Draft. How high will he go? I would imagine somewhere around the 5th round, but maybe higher. One thing is for sure though, Graham Black is Officially On The Radar.