2014 NHL Draft Prospect: CJ Franklin

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The Player

CJ Franklin

Forward

Sioux Falls Stampede(USHL)

2013-2014 stats: 53 games 22 goals 29 assists 51 points 43 PIMs

Height: 5'11" Weight: 190 lbs. (unofficial)

Final NHL Central Scouting ranking: Unranked

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Franklin is a tenacious worker that competes hard every night. He's willing to play on both ends of the ice, block shots, do whatever it takes to help his team. He's an all-around strong skater too; the type of player that is both quick and fast.

On the downside, Franklin has always been more athlete than hockey player. He's scored at the USHL level, but doesn't have exceptional hockey sense, relying more on speed and grit to put up points

How was his draft year? Trending up or down?

Franklin was born in 1994, so this is his last year of eligibility for the NHL Draft. Two years ago, in his first time eligible for the draft, Franklin showed good speed and athleticism as a senior at Forest Lake High School in Minnesota, but was a multi-sport athlete and never quite showed enough as a hockey player to justify being drafted. But in his first season post-high school, focusing solely on hockey, Franklin had a breakout season scoring a point-per-game in the USHL. This past year, he was nearly a point-per-game scorer again in the USHL, and had an impressive showing in front of many NHL teams at the World Junior A Challenge, which put him on the NHL's radar.

Draft projection?

Franklin wasn't ranked by NHL Central Scouting, so he's clearly not a consensus draft pick, but has drawn enough interest from various NHL teams that he might be picked in the later rounds of the draft. Franklin shows the classic signs of a late-bloomer; the type of prospect NHL teams usually battle over in the post-NCAA season free agent market. A team could get exclusive negotiating rights to Franklin for the relatively cheap price of a late round draft choice.

Pro upside?

Being an older player would suggest Franklin's upside is a little more limited. There are already players his age and younger playing, and excelling at the NHL level--he's a full year and half older than Nathan MacKinnon. But players develop at different ages, and Franklin has shown signs that he could develop into a solid NHL player, even if he does so a bit later than most prospects are traditionally identified.

A good comparison to Franklin would be Tampa Bay's JT Brown. Like Franklin, Brown showed flashes of talent as a high schooler in Minnesota, but was never consistent enough to draw much NHL attention. But Brown went on to star for two seasons in the USHL, and after two good seasons at Minnesota-Duluth, was a prized free agent, and went on to play on Tampa Bay's second line this past year.

Where will he go next?

Franklin will begin his NCAA career at Minnesota State University next season. He'll likely play a more limited role next season as a freshman on a team with many returning forwards.But he should see his role with the team increase as a sophomore. As an older prospect, Franklin is physically closer to being ready for the pro game than most other potential draftees. If he continues his upward trajectory in Mankato, he'll likely be ready for the pros in two to three years.

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