One of the rarest commodities in hockey is the big centerman. Nobody in college or professional hockey is looking for somebody who's 5'10 or shorter who could probably be had for a cheaper price or in a later draft round; they're looking for the big guys who can handle themselves in the corners and in front of the net. And the Ohio State Men's Hockey team seems to have found one of those rare commodities in 6'2 center Dakota Joshua out of Dearborn, Michigan.
Playing Style: Joshua may stand at an above average 6'2, probably the ideal size for a center, but he's currently just 185 lbs. according to EliteProspects. Obviously, since he's only been 18 since May 15th, he has a lot of time before he gets to Columbus and into the professional ranks to grow into his frame.
But because he still has a lot of filling out to do, there's a lot of projection in Joshua. Coaches and scouts tend to fall in love with players like that. You see it with some giant offensive linemen in college football too: when a guy is 6'7" but only 250 lbs., it's easy for a coach to see what he could become, not what he is. Joshua is like that. You could easily see him becoming a force in the middle like Patrice Bergeron, who's 6'2 as well but a robust 10 lbs. of muscle bigger. Joshua hasn't had the NHL fitness plan yet, so he's got a ways to go to get anywhere close to Bergeron or someone of that ilk, but that's what you're projecting as the highest of upsides.
There's little chance Joshua will actually become something akin to Bergeron, or even a Travis Zajac two-way type, though, as he projects more as a power forward winger with his long reach and production so far.
If he transitions to wing, that may be a better track. Power forwards are traditionally wingers unless you're Vinny Lecavalier or Evgeni Malkin. Unless you're a world beater like they are or were, you have to be responsible on defense and be able to play that two way game that Bergeron and Zajac do so well for players of that size. You aren't spending a later round pick on a guy to become a pure scorer; if Joshua had those abilities he'd be going in the first round. You're hoping for the poor man's Zajac or James van Riemsdyk if he shifts to wing.
More than likely, you'll be getting a Bottom 6 winger with Joshua once he shifts over. He projects as a checking power forward as of now. His penalty minutes last year, 58 in 55 games, and lack of assists, 21 in 55 games , for the USHL Sioux Falls Stampede don't show a defensively responsible creator, which is what he'll have to be to remain in the middle. His goal total was decent, however, at 17. Combining his size with the decent goal total will get him an abundance of chances on the next level. Coaches will be salivating, hoping they can unlock that power forward potential. We just don't know if it's there yet.
Once he's more responsible and disciplined, provided he doesn't blossom as a playmaker, Joshua projects as a checking winger at the professional level and second line winger at the college level. You'll want him to be van Riemsdyk but he might just be Steve Bernier.
NHL Central Scouting Ranking: 157 among North American Skaters
Family History: Joshua was born in Dearborn, Michigan, hometown of 3 time Stanley Cup Champion Brian Rafalski and is a product of the Honeybaked AAA program, which may be the best team name in hockey. Unlike some of the other potential OSU draftees like Tyler Nanne and Miguel Fidler, Joshua seems likely to be the first member of his family to play professional hockey.
Who is Dakota Joshua?: You may think of Mr. Joshua as just a center filled with potential, but who is Dakota Joshua REALLY?
He just broke his phone screen last Saturday, and seems to be in good spirits:
Gotta love when you crack your screen!! #BadBounce— Dakota Joshua (@DakotaJoshua) June 21, 2014
He knows who's boss:
Either you run the day or the day runs you #LifeLesson— Dakota Joshua (@DakotaJoshua) June 3, 2014
He's a big boy now!:
Tomorrow I graduate High School, Get to go home and turn 18! #ImABigBoyNow— Dakota Joshua (@DakotaJoshua) May 14, 2014
And his brother's name is Jagger. Really:
Draft Prediction: Some scout out there will fall in love with his potential, and despite the 157 ranking by Central Scouting, I'm predicting a fourth round selection of Dakota Joshua.