Sean Day was once considered a can’t miss prospect, however, he fell all the way to the third round. Is he an early bust or a blossoming star for the New York Rangers?The New York Rangers lack of draft picks over the last few years is somewhat alarming to most, but Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather have done a rather nice job filling the cupboard in different fashions.
Signing Kevin Hayes was like a “first round pick” for them. Same goes for Jimmy Vesey, who equates to a fifth-rounder. However, long gone are the days where most of the roster was filled with homegrown talent as guys like Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Ryan Callahan have all been traded.
In the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, which was Jeff Gorton’s first as full time GM, he was able to select one of the most polarizing prospects in the third round, Sean Day.
Day, at one point, was once considered more of a can’t miss prospect than a third rounder when he was granted exceptional status into the OHL, which for those who don’t know, is special permission for a player to join the OHL as a 15-year-old. Now, there have only been three others and you may recognize their names: John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, and Connor McDavid. So yeah, that kind of can’t miss prospect.
As time went on, it seemed something was amiss for Day.
Stuck on an OHL team that was definitely short a few NHL prospects, the team struggled to losing records for Day’s first two years. It appeared that flashes of offense were there as Day recorded 36 points in his second season, but his -62 in 121 games played was an ugly blemish and a massive red flags.
From there, the rumors began. Whether it was lack of motivation, overweight, out of shape, lack of effort or lack of actual hockey sense, Day began a true free fall out of favor in draft circuits.
After he was drafted, Day addressed all the questions about his fall from grace and addressed the rumors about his conditioning and seemed to have turned a corner.
“I can see it in my on-ice training every day, how much better I’m getting, even from the end of the season to now. With my skating I feel even faster and I never thought I’d say that. I feel unbelievable. I feel really positive and confident in next year. With the summer it’s going to be awesome,” Day said.
Maybe this kid is a late bloomer? Maybe he’s matured more and sees what’s at stake? Who knows but for Ranger fans, the gradual, and I do stress gradual, improvement in Day’s game and attitude could mean big things on the horizon.
“I want to keep crushing it and keep showing people that I can be in shape and I can be that good,” Day added. “They’ve never seen me play when I am in shape, so I’m excited for next year when I’ll be in that top-calibre shape and just show what I have.”
This year, 2016-17, Day started the season with his former club the Mississauga Steelheads on fire, posting five points in five games played. Then, somewhat of a small miracle happened for Day as he was traded to the Windsor Spitfires, host of the Memorial Cup, a team chock full of future NHL talent. Day blossomed with 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points and even more impressive, he improved his plus minus to +20.
When you watch Day on film, it’s quite hard to believe a kid this big (6-foot-3, 224 pounds) can just glide on the ice. Quite honestly, he makes everyone look like they’re in slow motion, when he wants to. Day also has a tremendous ability to jump into the rush and add to the offense that way. Day can close gaps so quickly with his reach and his exceptional skating ability, which he almost uses to a fault.
As most busts in the NHL, they will use their exceptional physical ability over using their hockey sense and that’s what carries them through the younger ranks. But the big thing with Day is his marked improvement over the years and his newfound motivation given to him by the Rangers. No one wants to be known as a bust, so if Day can continue on his path, he will most definitely be a solid NHLer.
- Projection: Second Pair Two Way Defenseman w/ Power Play Ability
- Projected Arrival to NHL: 2019-2020
- NHL Comparable: Jake Muzzin (LA Kings)