'99-born prospect Shane Bowers from Halifax, Nova Scotia, has officially decided that he will play for the Waterloo Blackhawks in the USHL next season, rather than reporting to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL. Bowers was selected third overall by the Screaming Eagles in June's QMJHL Entry Draft.
Bowers was the top scorer and league MVP in the Nova Scotia Major Midget League as a rookie last season.
Willy Palov of The Chronicle-Herald in Nova Scotia provided this intriguing report on Bowers:
As much as Bowers has already proven himself statistically, what is even more attractive to scouts and general managers is the game-breaking potential he displays. They evaluate players based on what they will become at their peak, more so than what they already are. People I’ve talked to whose opinions I trust tell me the sky’s the limit for the six-foot centre.
QMJHL scouting director Carl Bouchard was equally superlative:
"His mobility is nothing short of extraordinary. He’s extremely fast and is always a handful for opposing defences. Offence-wise, this might seem funny to say, but he’s almost too generous with his teammates. Sometimes he should instead shoot the puck," said Bouchard before adding that Shane should also look to raise his confidence in himself especially in big moments.
There was heavy speculation that Bowers would be the first overall pick in the Q Draft until 2000-born forward Joseph Veleno was granted exceptional status by Canada at the last minute and ended up going first overall. That caused Bowers to slip to third overall and end up with the less desirable Cape Breton organization. The situation is very reminiscent of the 2005 OHL Draft, in which Logan Couture was projected as the top overall pick until John Tavares became the first modern-era player to be granted exceptional status a week prior to the Draft. Couture briefly threatened bypassing the OHL to play in the NCAA following that decision. As a result, Coutre slipped to 12th overall in the OHL Draft and the Lincoln Stars selected him 100th overall in the USHL Entry Draft.. But ultimately, cooler heads prevailed and Couture ending up signing in the OHL.
Bowers seems more interested in the NCAA route than Couture was however. Even prior to Veleno being granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada, Bowers had reportedly reached out to a few NCAA schools expressing an interest in that route. He will undoubtedly be recruited very heavily by NCAA programs this upcoming season and will likely be a high-end NCAA prospect should he keep his eligibility.
Much could depend on what Cape Breton decides to do with Bowers' rights. If they decide to trade his rights, like they did with 2013 first overall pick and recent fourth round selection of the Carolina Hurricanes, Nicolas Roy, Bowers may be more inclined to sign with a QMJHL team after this upcoming season. If Cape Breton decides to hold on to Bowers' rights, similar to what they've done with 2014 first round pick and current Cornell commit, Michael O'Leary, it may make it easier for Bowers to stick with the NCAA route.
In the meantime, it seems the Blackhawks, who selected Bowers in the third round, 38th overall in last May's USHL Futures Draft, hit a home run by getting an extremely talented young player to report to them.