Landing in the 36th spot in our 2018 NHL Entry Draft rankings is Nathan Dunkley.
The young pivot had a good start to the season with Kingston before being traded to the rebuilding London Knights. He didn’t produce at the same rate with the Knights and thus isn’t a player that people immediately think of a 2nd round prospect in this draft class. But there is a lot to like about his game and with some improvements could be a good bet as a puck moving centre who uses his skills effectively in all three zones.
Let’s take a look at the Knights forward.
- Age/Birthdate: 17.37/ March 5, 2000
- Birthplace: Campbellford, ON, CAN
- Frame:5-foot-11/ 185 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Kingston Frontenacs/London Knights (OHL)
- Accomplishments/Awards: N/A
Dunkley was originally selected by the Frontenacs with the 17th overall selection in the 2016 OHL Priority draft.
As mentioned above, Dunkley was moved to the Knights as the centrepiece of the Cliff Pu deal. He saw a slight downturn in his offence after the move but still produced fairly well.
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He rates fairly well in the categories above with SEAL, GF%, GFREL% and XLS% standing out.
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
With the mid-season move, we see a mix of Knights and Frontenacs in there. Overall, his points per 60 were encouraging and couple with the fact that he helped almost all of his most common linemates, on both teams, produce better GF% in WOWY, there are good things to take from this.
Even with the drop in production to close out the year, an impressive 32.0% of comparable players went onto becoming NHL regulars. That follows his D-1 season that saw 24.9% of his comparables go onto becoming NHL regulars.
There are two flaws in Dunkley’s game when looking at the various scouting reports. The first being his skating abilities, pointing to a low top speed as an issue. The second one is that he struggles to keep pace when the game speeds up.
Both are valid concerns but are likely overstated.
His skating lacks explosive quickness and a high speed but he is able to keep up with the majority of players by using his long and powerful strides to get up to speed. The other concern is likely tied to those skating issues as he can isn’t the most agile on his feet.
When pointing out those issues, it’s easy to just see that every time you watch him and glossing over the fact that he isn’t a bad skater or can’t keep up. His skating is not a strength but it’s not a hindrance to his overall game.
— Fronts Nation (@FrontsNation) November 30, 2017
Dunkley is a methodical player, who does a lot of things correctly on the ice – he is protective of the puck, at slower speeds, and can dish it or shoot it when either chance is there. Ultimately, he is a player that likes to slow down the game and dictate how he sees fit in the offensive zone.
I’ve liked his defensive zone play as he uses his hockey IQ to read off opponents and just eliminate opportunities. He couples that with a relentless work ethic and the desire to do whatever it takes to win a puck battle.
His game has its flaws but he has a good two-way game.
His underlying numbers suggest that he made the most of the opportunities given to him and provides a very high success rate among his cohorts.
You will never be blown away by Dunkley’s game and sometimes it can frustrating to watch as you think there is so much more to his game but he is a good player with a good two-way game that produced fairly good numbers. Personally, there are a few players that we recently covered that I would take over him but can understand why a team might be interested in him.
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Nathan has a very strong and low center of gravity which makes it very difficult to knock him off the puck. He is a powerful skater with a very strong 10-foot game which allows him to gain a step on players in every zone. Nathan is a skilled center that is good offensively in every aspect. He sees the ice well and can beat players one-on-one. He shoots the puck well and has scored a lot of nice goals this season. He is like a bulldog on the ice and will fight through anything to score a goal.
From Scott Crawford, McKeens Hockey
One of the more intriguing players entering the NHL draft this year, Nathan Dunkley is strong in some areas, but lacking in others. He is a decent skater, but either lacks the speed in his skating or chooses to play a slower style that is questionable once he graduates to the pros. A consistent scorer this year thanks in large part to his smart play in front of the net and his ability to get open in front of the net. An extremely smart player at both ends, especially in the defensive zone, but he needs to improve his stick handling work. When he is moving at a slow pace he can protect the puck, but once the speed of the game changes he struggles and depends on his teammates to bail him out. Physically he needs to be consistent because he can be intense in some moments in the offensive zone and when he backchecks, but completely disappears when he is challenging in the defensive zone and the neutral zone.
CanucksArmy’s 2018 NHL Draft Rankings