Nicholas Draffin is a beast of a man.
Let me rephrase that, because he’s still a kid.
The Red Deer Rebels third round pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam draft is still 15, yet stands at a shadow-creating six-foot-two, 194-pounds.
The soft-spoken teen, was humble and honest about what he expects after joining the Rebels for the final month the season when the playoffs ended for his Lethbridge Midget AAA Hurricanes.
It’s unlikely that the defenceman will suit up for the Rebels in the final eight games this season, but after just a week of practice he said there’s been plenty to learn.
“Get a feel of the league and know what to expect for the next few years if I come and play,” the Lethbridge native said.
“Know what I’m here to expect and get the pace of the game. Know how to move the puck quicker and they’ve been teaching me lots. Helping me with how to move the puck quicker, less stick handling and more quick shots to the net. It’s been helpful.”
At his current size and likely to grow even more, Draffin is already one of the Rebels biggest defenders, slightly under 200 pounds. He’s five years younger than Colton Bobyk, but already sits in the same height and weight category.
Draffin isn’t really too sure where his height comes from, he cited both his parents are under six feet, but his uncle was six-foot-four.
His height does give him a huge advantage on defence, allowing his reach to disturb opponent’s offensive production.
“Having that long reach really helps with poke checks and stuff like that or getting good reach on guys and making plays off that,” he said.
Continuing to use that size more effectively is a key to his development. Draffin said so far he leans towards being a defensive guy in the WHL.
“I’m more of a good two-way defenceman. Not really an offensive guy. I can shoot the puck if I need to, get good shots on,” he said.
“Sometimes I like to carry it up a bit depends on the situation. Normally a pretty defensive guy, just protecting our zone and moving pucks quick and making smart plays.”
Despite his contention of being a two-way defender, Draffin produced at a high rate in Bantam AAA, with 28 points in 36 games. That season in the playoffs he also added nine points in 12 games.
As a first year player in midget AAA this season, he had three goals and four assists in 31 games.
While his debut might have to wait until next season, the 15-year-old is embracing the WHL learning curve in a big way.