The USHL has been churning out talent over the last couple of years as the league gets more and more talent. Some players are even choosing the USHL over the CHL due to the ability to attend to the NCAA. That may have not happened a few years ago, as the competition level was so much lower. But now, players are wanting to go to the USHL as it still challenges them athletically but allows the option of going to college hockey.
One such player is Shane Bowers. Selected fourth overall by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft (and then again at 32nd overall in 2016 by Saint John), Bowers opted to go to the USHL to ply his trade. Now, he is still in the conversation as a first round pick and is committed to Boston University next year.
Coming in as our 35th ranked prospect for the 2017 NHL Entry draft is Halifax, Nova Scotia born Shane Bowers.
- Age: 17-years-old, 1999-07-30
- Birthplace: Halifax, NS, CAN
- Position: C
- Handedness: L
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 170 lbs
- Draft Year Team: Waterloo Black Hawks – USHL
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[Bowers] doesn’t have one thing that stands out about his game, but is good at a number of things. Plays the full rink and brings a strong work ethic to every game.
A solid 200-foot player who works hard…adequate top-end speed that will only improve as he gets stronger…balanced on his skates and when he explodes, he can create breaches in the other team’s defense…shows good initial burst…plays with a lot of gumption and makes life hard for opponents…willing to play in the dirty areas of the ice…a nice ability to read the play…does a good job of using his body to protect the puck…hands are not overly flashy, but he does a good job of using his body to protect the puck…dangerous as he takes a quick step out from the wall to the front of the net or comes from behind the net to get off a quick shot…intelligent decision-maker who moves the puck well and makes the right choices…defensively, he plays with some grit, making life tough on his opponent…patiently lets the play come to him…just a real versatile difference-maker at both ends of the rink.
It’s always interesting to go back and look at the history of a player as they approach they draft. As mentioned above Bowers was selected by Cape Breton with the 4th overall pick in the 2015 QMJHL draft even though he was never going to play there. Ryan Kennedy from The Hockey News, was on the story back in July of 2015, and it was clear then that Bowers was going to go to the USHL:
Cape Breton had been told very explicitly by Bowers’ advisor Pat Brisson that the gifted young center would be keeping his NCAA options open and that selecting him would be pointless, but GM Marc-Andre Dumont decided to gamble. I can understand Dumont’s drive to select the best player available, but there was no reason to believe Bowers’ camp was bluffing.
A story like that is fascinating to see now, as Bowers kept his NCAA options open, has now committed to the esteemed Boston University Terriers and could have his name called in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He is a player that you can point to, showing that the CHL isn’t always the best way to the NHL. As a Canadian, you can still get your college degree, play hockey at a high level and still have a chance as a professional player.
As for Bowers, the hockey player – he doesn’t have any specific skill that stands out, he just does everything well. He is strong on his skates, but can and will add strength there. That will improve his top-end speed and acceleration, both of which are good but he isn’t a speed demon. He is a complete player with a good release who uses his teammates well. As the future considerations scouting report alludes, he is particularly adept at attacking off the wall, whether that is going to the net himself or drawing opponents to him and then moving it.
Bowers did fall into the middle of the pack for point per game (9th amongst draft eligible) and primary points per 60 (10th). But he was second in primary points with 45 of his 51 points being primary points. That 88% was much higher than everyone of the players with higher point per game rates.
When looking at shooting rates, he finished third in that same peer group with an average of 2.7 shots per game:
Bowers only had four games where he didn’t register a shot on goal.
After some digging it became very clear that Bowers’ production was primarily at even strength play, and broke down as follows:
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When combined and visualized:
Some of the higher end prospects like Casey Mittelstadt and Michael Rasmussen have been criticized for their reliance on power play production. It’s clear that Bowers gets the majority of his production from his even strength play.
Bowers shot rates and even strength production after encouraging. He may not ‘wow you’ in any particular way on the ice, but he gets things done in all three zones. It’s clear why scouts are intrigued.
To some degree, pGPS reaffirms the thought process behind Bowers. With 20.7% of his comparable players going onto becoming NHL regulars. Nothing spectacular, but not something to overlook. The ‘line’ chart is just another confirmation of this thought process
Production and role quite limited, but still showing some sort of impact.
It’s fair to believe that Bowers will never be a dominant forward at the NHL level but he has all the makings of being an effective two way player that helps push the needle. If he goes in the first round, there are enough reasons to justify the selection, but if he falls out of that first day, expect him to be snapped up pretty quickly in round 2. He’s just has that skill set that makes him destined to be an NHL player in some capacity. What capacity that may be will depend on Bowers developing some of his skills to stand out levels.