The Edmonton Oilers have a tremendous number of quality prospects in college this season. Taylor Chorney is at #4 on my list, and any or all of Chris Vande Velde, Jeff Petry and Cody Wild may end up on the top 20 this month.
The reason I’ve chosen Nash ahead of all but Chorney is simple: age. The stats being put up currently by all the players mentioned above are attention grabbing, even at their current age (they are all 20). Nash’s NCAA season comes at age 18 (he’ll be 19 in May) and therefore is far more impressive even considering he plays in a weaker college conference.
Nash is tied for his team’s scoring lead (9gp, 3-6-9) with a 20-year old (Colin Greening) Ottawa draft. He’s getting powerplay time (2 goals on the PP) and he’s clearly competing against players much older (Cornell’s roster boasts only 2 teenage regulars and that is common in the NCAA) and bigger (Nash’s 175 pounds make him and every other teenager in college vulnerable to early-to-mid 20s men whose height and weight would not look out of place on an NHL roster).
Nash’s resume from his draft day did not lead with his projected point totals or his skill level. He falls into the “complete” player category as a prospect, with well developed skills married to discipline, speed, touch and grit. The two best scouting services hockey fans can get their hands on liked him a lot before the draft:
- A really well schooled, all-around player who can play it any way you want (RLR).
- Well rounded player, competes hard every night (ISS).
- Big, raw, naturally athletic kid who can skate, shoot and pass (RLR).
- Utility player who can contribute in a variety of areas (ISS).
- Also likes to get his nose dirty and really carried his club down the stretch (RLR).
- Solid two way player (ISS).
Redline especially is a hard marker, those quotes aren’t available for every prospect they write about each spring. It’s early in Nash’s college career and we can’t get ahead of ourselves, but his BCJHL season at 17 was superior to some famous kids who came before (Zajac) and his resume reads in a somewhat similar fashion to another BCJHL grad (Horcoff) who improved by leaps and bounds during his college career.
Riley Nash may end up being something special.