Sean Durzi enters the foray at #6 this go-around, his first year as a Leafs prospect. The mobile, high-scoring right-handed defenceman, Durzi was an exciting acquisition and immediately shoots up the depth chart of available defensive talent within the Leafs system, although that’s sort of by default as it’s been pretty thin the last few seasons.
A member of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, Durzi found his way into the Leafs organization as the team’s 2nd round pick. Ranked 124 by NHL Central Scouting among North American Skaters heading into the 2017 draft, an ankle surgery lowered his draft stock and he was passed on by all 31 teams on his first go-around.
This video from Popternative discusses much about Durzi’s season and his OHL career to date, discussing all the typical questions about perseverance and the possibility (and eventual actuality) of being selected in his second go-around at the NHL draft.
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A player with better junior stats than minor midget and midget? Now that’s development!
From an offensive standpoint last season, you can’t really ask for much more than a point-per-game from a defenseman.
2017-18 season recap
Durzi needed to have a big year to remain on NHL draft radars, and deliver he did. He put up 49 points in 40 games and followed it up with 16 points in 11 playoff games, which put him second in the OHL in points per game behind 10th overall pick Evan Bouchard.
As Seen on TV
As you can see, he’s a gifted skater who’s able to make plays all by himself, and get his shot through traffic.
Has his progression been as expected?
Durzi’s last season would’ve been a great D+1 year. As one of the better defencemen in the OHL last year, there’s really not much more you could’ve asked from him.
McKeen’s had this to say about him:
Our favorite second time eligible draft prospect…. Where
his shooting was pop-gun caliber, he has since improved greatly in the timing of his shot
as well as its accuracy. He is more patient with the puck along the blueline, willing to
shimmy up and down across the line until he gets a lane to release an impressive wrist
shot. He has also become much less prone to trying to force plays, letting the play come to
him and reacting in a more appropriate way. He has not yet blossomed into a perfect
player, with improvement still needed in his edge work, his pinching decisions, his
propensity to try to do too much with the puck (especially in carrying it out of his own
zone) and his ability to play a physical game effectively. … He will never be a perfect defenseman, but he does enough well that there should be a role for him at the next level.
Plus, he got the virtual upgrade:
— Sean Durzi (@seandurzi) August 30, 2018
Some fancy stuff about the guy:
Durzi looks like an excellent offensive selection.
SDA is an extreme pass first player who rarely shoots.
Stotts is a solid 2nd line player on his team at the moment. pic.twitter.com/CcVynnMmJo
— Stephen Burtch (@SteveBurtch) June 23, 2018
#Leafs picked 6' RD Sean Durzi with their 52nd pick.
He will turn 20 in Oct.
One of the things that caught my eye was his 1.23 points P/GP, 2nd among OHL defensemen to Evan Bouchard.
(Rasmus Sandin ranked 8th on P/GP although he was a rookie who turned 18 in March.) #NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/hWem8BeIYq
— Bill Comeau ???? (@billius27) June 23, 2018
Sean Durzi= Erik Karlsson? But in the organization, you won’t find too many right-handed defenceman with a better future projection than Durzi himself. Outside of Timothy Liljegren, Durzi slots in as their second best RD prospect moving forward. Comparing the draft year woes, would it be fair to call him Liljegren-lite?
At 6’0″, 196 pounds, he’s about the same height and weight as Connor Brown. That means next to nothing, but it is kind of a fun fact.
From Thomas Williams, on our site a few days ago:
Taken as an overage defenceman, Sean Durzi has one of the more interesting options among his draft peers. Since his birthday is in between the September 15th draft cutoff and the December 31st AHL eligibility cutoff, Durzi has his choices.
He can play his fourth year with the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL – surely playing tons of minutes for a contending team and racking up the points – or he can play in the AHL. He has not signed an NHL contract yet, so it is still very uncertain.
On the Marlies, he will be behind Liljegren and Subban on the right-side and will most likely not play very important minutes. So the question is if the Leafs really want him to forego his overage year in the OHL and play on the Marlies, to have a limited role.
Either be “The Guy” with Owen Sound and potentially lead scoring by defenceman in the OHL, or be a 19-year-old defenceman in the AHL most likely not getting powerplay time and on the third pair.
Thomas pretty much nailed it. It’s either the opportunity for Durzi to round out his game and dominate in the OHL, or be thrust into the pro hockey sphere and face a bit more of a challenge. He’ll have to sign his ELC first though if the Leafs do decide to keep him up. He’s already a year past his “true” draft year, but at the same time likely has less time to develop before he’s deemed pro-ready.
Either way, we should expect him on the Marlies to start 2019-20. There’s no need to rush him, but he seems to be a great depth add to a team that could use some defensive prospects in the system.