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NHL Draft Prospect: Christian Dvorak

Claus Andersen

The Player

Christian Dvorak

Forward

London Knights(OHL)

2013-2014 stats: 33 games 6 goals 8 assists 14 points

Height: 6'0.25" Weight: 178 lbs.

Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 71st among NA skaters

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Dvorak's best asset has always been his tremendous skating ability. He's an elite-level skater that gets up and down the ice with ease., and that speed makes him a dangerous scoring threat. He showed promise as a goal-scorer at the AAA level.

On the downside, Dvorak is still relatively unproven. He scored 14 points in 33 games prior to getting injured this year, which isn't bad for a newcomer to the OHL, but he hasn't shown he can be a consistent scorer at that level yet. Dvorak also needed to add a lot of strength, and his time missed with a knee injury allowed him to work on that area, adding 10 pounds of upper body muscle, but nobody has really seen him use that muscle in a game yet.

How was his draft year? Trending up or down?

In a word: short. Dvorak signed with the London Knights last summer, breaking a commitment to the University of Wisconsin, rather than play with a rebuilding Chicago Steel team who held his USHL rights, in hopes of getting more exposure in his draft year. But in January, Dvorak suffered a tear in his ACL that required surgery. The rehabilitation from the surgery was expected to take 6-8 months, ending his season but through hard work, Dvorak was able to cut that down to just five months and return in time to play in the Memorial Cup with London and participate in the NHL Draft combine.

Draft projection?

Sometimes, a major injury like Dvorak suffered can be a red flag, but his injury came as a result of contact, and is expected to be a one-time thing with no further complications down the road. If anything, the allure of the unknown might work in Dvorak's favor here. Scouts only got to see a half season of games from him, and sometimes, that can benefit a player as scouts tend to get more nitpicky the more times they see a player. Instead, somebody might be willing to gamble on Dvorak's tremendous upside, even if they haven't seen much in results yet. It's a slightly different situation, but last year, London's Remi Elie was buried on the Knights third line behind some talented, and older players, but still ended up being pick in the 2nd round because of the potential that he showed in limited ice time. And that gamble appeared to pay off, as Elie became a point-per-game player in the OHL with a trade to a team where he got more ice.

I could see a similar rise for Dvorak into the second round of the draft. He might last as long as the third or fourth round, but not much beyond that.

Pro upside?

A lot will depend on just how much of a scoring touch Dvorak can develop next when healthy. His skating is strong enough to play on a top scoring line in the NHL, and once he fills out of his frame a little more, he could be a really dangerous player. There's a lot of upside here, but all of that is based on signs that he might be good some day, rather than what he has actually done, so the odds of him reaching that potential aren't as high.

Where will he go next?

Dvorak will return to the Knights next season, where he can hopefully stay healthy and play a bigger role in the Knight's offense. If he gets teamed up with 2015 Draft-eligible forward Mitch Marner, the two could form a dynamic, high-scoring duo. Depending on how his season goes next year, he'll either return to the Knights for one more year in 2015-2016, or start his pro career in the minors.