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2013 NHL Draft Prospect: Aidan Muir

Western Michigan recruit Aidan Muir may be one of the draft's best-kept secrets.

One of the bigger wildcards in this summer's NHL Draft is Victory Honda Midget Major forward Aidan Muir. He was the only player to play Midget AAA hockey this season ranked in the top 200 among North American skaters in the final Central Scouting rankings, when he made the highest debut of any newcomer on the list at 108th. Playing in a league that doesn't traditionally yield a lot of NHL draft picks, Muir hasn't received a lot of attention from most media that follow the draft, but an excellent season definitely put him on the radar of a lot of hockey people.

Muir is originally from Brampton,Ontario, but has lived and played hockey for the past number of years in Michigan. He's a case of a "late-bloomer" by NHL Draft standards. Last summer, he attended tryout camps as a free agent for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL and Erie Otters of the OHL , but rather than being a fringe junior player, he chose to return home to play for the Victory Honda Midget Major team where he could get more ice time and play a larger role.

That move proved to be a wise one for him. Muir took a huge step forward in his development at the start of the season and became one of the best players at the U18 level. He began to receive a lot of offers from both USHL and OHL teams to join their teams and gain more exposure, but Muir chose to honor his commitment to his Victory Honda squad, where he had been elected a captain. As his strong play continued, he also began to generate interest from NCAA schools, and in February, he committed to play for Western Michigan. His play also started to draw the attention of NHL teams who began focusing more on him as the season went along. In May, Muir was the first overall selection in the USHL's Entry Draft to the Indiana Ice, where he will play next season.

Muir is a 6'3" 180 lbs. power forward. He's a decent skater for his size, though there is still some room for improvement. With his frame, there's also the potential to add a little more strength. His biggest attribute is his grit and toughness in the dirty areas of the ice along the boards and in front of the net, and that he has the hands to make plays in tight spaces. He's also a very high energy player and a tireless worker.

The biggest concern with Muir heading into the draft is that for as strong of a season as he had, he still did it against lesser competition, which means the risk factor of picking him is all the higher. Last year's draft, however, proved that teams are willing to overlook that risk if they feel a player's upside is high enough, as evidenced by picks like Mark Jankowski in the first round, Anthony Stolarz in the second, and MacKenzie MacEachern in the third. This year's draft is a little deeper than last year's, so teams can afford to be a little pickier, but overall, they don't care where a player comes from, as long as they can see long-term potential.

A good comparison for Muir may be MacEachern, who was the top player in Michigan HS hockey last season, and was eventually drafted early in the 3rd round by the St. Louis Blues In terms of style, Muir is much more of a physical player, while MacEachern is more of a finesse player, but both were bigger players with a lot of upside that played in relative obscurity last season in Michigan. Both were also first round selections in the USHL Entry Draft prior to being drafted. Muir is likely the better prospect of the two, though also in a deeper draft. Expect Muir to be selected somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft. I'd begin looking at selecting Muir somewhere in the late third to early fourth round of the draft, though wouldn't be shocked a team was interested in him even earlier than that.