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2017 NHL Draft prospect profile: Shane Bowers brings a defence-first approach to the centre position

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Is this two-way centre a key piece of Montreal’s future?

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 03: NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr speaks with Shane Bowers during the NHL Combine at HarborCenter on June 3, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. 
Bill Wippert/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens‘ prospect depth down the middle is about as deep as a kiddie pool right now. There’s Jacob de la Rose, and maybe Michael McCarron depending on the day of the week and the phase of the moon. In Europe there’s Lukas Vejdemo, who is currently hashing out a spot for himself for Djurgården in the Swedish league.

Enter the Boston University-bound Shane Bowers, who just wrapped up his second full season for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL. While his offensive numbers are solid, they are not going to blow people away like some of the other forwards in this draft. Bowers, however, is a intelligent player who reads the play well and uses a strong skating ability to create chances.

Birthplace: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Shoots: Left
Position: Centre
Height: 6’1’’
Weight: 185 lbs.

Image credit: EliteProspects

First and foremost, Shane Bowers is not overly flashy or a risk-taker, often taking the safe option in the offensive zone. However, with his outstanding hockey sense and a high energy level, he’s a threat in all three zones on the ice, and is heavily relied on in all situations.

His skating helps him create separation from defenders, allowing him to get into the offensive zone with ease. Even when he makes the safe chip into the opponent’s zone, he uses his powerful strides to beat them to the puck and find open teammates.

Despite his two-way play being the focus of his game, Bowers possesses a sneaky good shooting ability, and can utilize it from almost anywhere in the offensive zone. He has a nose for the net, driving to the crease even without the puck, putting himself in position for passes or deflections.

Scouts rave about the maturity of his game. He’s an extremely responsible, detail-oriented player. It’s his attention to his defensive assignments, and making the smart play. Being relied upon in every situation, including the penalty kill, and almost all key faceoff spots late in the game with Waterloo are sure to make him a coach favorite in Boston next year.

The knock on him is that compared to other options at the same position, he’s the safe choice. He does not possess the pizzazz or razzle- dazzle of other forwards in the draft, often taking what’s in front of him instead of opting for a more creative, higher-risk play. While it’s likely that this endears him to the coaches in his future, with a first-round pick you often want someone who is going to be a major difference-maker on the offensive side of the puck.

Scouts also noted that his consistency and effort is a bit sporadic, with some games where he is a dominant force, to other where they were unsure if he actually took a shift.

Being a defensively responsible centre is likely something many people consider a positive, and as for consistency that will likely even out as he matures in the NCAA.

Scouting

Future Considerations

Makes the smart play nine times out of 10, but has a tendency to force things when he gets frustrated.

Hockey Prospect

Bowers will likely leave some points on the board throughout his career due to his commitment to playing a reliable two-way game.

Rankings

Hockey Prospect: 26
Future Considerations: 31
ISS: 27
Central Scouting Service: 16 (NA Skaters)
McKeen’s: 29
Corey Pronman: 42

Thoughts

The Montreal Canadiens need some help down the middle at centre, especially with their thin prospect pool right now. Shane Bowers is a centre who should be available when the Canadiens pick at 25th overall.

Bowers wouldn’t be a bad pick. In fact, he’ll probably be a huge favourite for Claude Julien and Marc Bergevin, who lean heavy on defence first. He’s not lashy, but can still generate some offence, and is projected to be a middle-six NHL starter.

This draws some comparisons to former Habs pivot Lars Eller, and if that’s who Bowers turns out to be, then it may be a first-round pick well spent.