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2020 NHL Draft prospect profile: Jack Quinn defends almost as well as he scores

Complete players are always in high demand on draft day. This year NHL teams have a chance to select one who also found the net 50 times.

Terry Wilson / OHL Images

An Ontario Hockey League championship and the berth in the Memorial Cup tournament that follows seemed inevitable for the Ottawa 67’s this season. One of two CHL teams with 50 wins (the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats being the other) when the season was halted, they were a proper juggernaut, leading the OHL not just in goals, but also allowing the fewest, outscoring opponents by nearly a two-to-one margin. The season cancellation was therefore devastating news to a club seeking its first CHL title since 1999.

While the team didn’t get to reap the benefits of that stellar play, the young players certainly will when the NHL Draft is held later this year. We’ve already looked at Marco Rossi, who led the league with 120 points and is expected to be a top pick, but his teammate, Jack Quinn, turned a lot of heads in the 62 games he played this year.

Birthplace: Cobden, Ontario
Date of birth: September 19, 2001
Shoots: Right
Position: Right Wing
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 179 lbs.
Team: Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Part of the difficulty in projecting the two of them is deciding how much weight to give the strength of the team. It’s not just the two draft prospects who had exceptional years; four of the OHL’s top-nine scorers, and five of the top 15, played for Ottawa. No other team had even two players in the top 10. That certainly plays a role in Rossi’s case, as normally a player who scored better than two points per game in his draft year would be in contention for the top pick, not expected to go somewhere around fifth. The confidence isn’t there that he can replicate that type of offence at the NHL level, though he’s still expected to be an effective player.

Despite finishing 30 points behind Rossi on that strong team, Quinn is still regarded as a top-end prospect, ranking just a few spots behind his teammate, and at one outlet actually ahead. The reason for that optimism is that offence isn’t his only trait, and perhaps not even his most impressive one.

Elite Prospects

The most obvious quality of Quinn is his work ethic. He’s relentless in his own end when he doesn’t have the puck, and is a physical defender despite his average build. To go with that tenacity is a good awareness of what’s going on around him, allowing him to easily close down passing lanes and keep his man in check in defensive situations. While defensive lapses are usually features of top-tier forwards, Quinn is the rare prospect for whom own-zone play is a strength.

Those qualities aid in transitions. If he’s not the one who won possession and is carrying the puck himself, he’s finding a spot on the ice where he’s away from pressure to be a support option, and racing into open space to attack the blue line with speed.

He’s just as determined in the offensive zone, and easily forces his way to the high-danger area for scoring chances. That not only improves his opportunities, but opens up lots of options for teammates who had to be abandoned by opposition defenders as they react to Quinn’s presence.

That close proximity to the goaltender is enough to find success in Junior hockey; many players go on to earn professional contracts based on their willingness to get to dirty areas. Other goal-scorers have shots that are so quick and/or precise that they’re able to beat netminders from distance. without needing to leave the perimeter In Quinn’s case, he has both of those traits, making his prospects of becoming an NHL scorer very high.

Often working in traffic, he isn’t given a lot of space to get a shot off, and his release doesn’t require it. A quick twist of his body with a short backswing is enough for him to generate a lot of torque to get pucks on net even if he has opponents closely monitoring him. An upward motion with his stick while his knee drops to the ice usually allows him to elevate the puck over goalies who believe just taking away the bottom of the net at such close range would be sufficient.

Add his awareness into the mix, and he doesn’t just fire the puck when his path gets closed off and hope the goaltender isn’t there to stop it. He’s often gauging the position of the opponents, getting himself to the best position before taking a higher-percentage shot. All of those abilities combined helped him find the net 52 times in 62 games; the highest goal total among draft-eligible prospects playing in at least the Major Junior ranks (Carter Savoie scored 53 in the Alberta Junior Hockey League).

Rankings

Elite Prospects: #16
Future Considerations: #20
Hockey Prospect: #6
McKeen’s Hockey: #10
McKenzie/TSN: #10
NHL Central Scouting: #7 (North American skaters)

In a first round filled with quality players, Quinn is one of the more all-around talents, which is probably unexpected given his goal-scoring numbers. Even if his finishing ability doesn’t translate — which it should given how faceted it is — his 200-foot game is enough to carry him to at least replacement-level status.

Other than the fact that’s he’s one of the older first-year prospects in 2020, concerns are mostly about his skating ability. He’s not particularly quick and does need time to get to his top gear, instead relying on his awareness and instincts to get an early jump on opponents. That’s not going to happen nearly as often in the NHL, where runways aren’t often left for players to build up speed, and that will limit some of his transition skills.

HockeyProspecting

In a model based on his offence alone, he’s projected to be just about as effective in the attacking end as last year’s top goal-scorer, Cole Caufield. Only a fraction of his production is expected to carry over, but he’ll have little difficulty being a positive-impact player in the NHL.

Jack Quinn is a player who will be high on many draft boards. NHL teams may have some of the more skilled options and better skaters ahead of him, but we won’t be very deep into the first round when one of them calls his name.