The Toronto Maple Leafs selected defenceman Sean Durzi in the second round of this year’s draft, adding yet another strong puck mover to the pipeline.
Toronto took defencemen with each of their first two picks for the second straight year, after selecting Timothy Liljegren and Eemeli Rasanen back in 2017. This high-scoring OHL defenceman debuts at #18 on this year’s Top 25 Under 25.
Durzi was passed over in the 2017 draft after scoring just two goals in 60 games for Owen Sound, despite being one of the oldest players in that draft class. He later attended Toronto’s development camp, then broke out in a big way when he returned to the OHL.
The 6’0” defender posted 65 points in 51 games, and he ranked second among OHL defenders in points per game during the regular season.
He played on one of the OHL’s top teams, and while he benefited from playing with Nick Suzuki and Jonah Gadjovich on the powerplay, his scoring production also stood out at 5-on-5.
When you are the best puck-moving defenceman on a top team, scouts are bound to take notice, and his quickness and vision helped him to rank 50th on my June Draft Rankings.
Sean Durzi via Elite Prospects
|2013-2014||Mississauga Rebels Mn Mdgt AAA||GTMMHL||31||4||10||14||8|
|2014-2015||Mississauga Rebels Midget AAA||GTHL||24||1||5||6||8|
|St. Michael's Buzzers||OJHL||2||0||1||1||2|
|2015-2016||Owen Sound Attack||OHL||45||10||6||16||19|
|2016-2017||Owen Sound Attack||OHL||60||2||36||38||24|
|2017-2018||Owen Sound Attack||OHL||40||15||34||49||12|
A Glimpse of Durzi in Action
This GIF provides us with a look at just how dominant Durzi was in the OHL this season, as he dances around a defender during an end-to-end rush. While this certainly shows what he is capable of, he’s more of a standout puck mover in terms of his passing rather than his puck carrying.
Yet again, Durzi brings the puck to his back-hand and pulls off a power-move to score a goal. Clearly, the Kitchener Rangers had their fair share of trouble when trying to defend him this season.
The above GIF is a strong representation of his style of play, and he spins around and showcases his patience with the puck, then lets his vision and playmaking takeover.
Durzi completes a tape-to-tape cross-ice pass once again in the above GIF. Although he benefited from playing with high-end forwards on the powerplay, they certainly benefited from playing with him as well.
His ability to anticipate the play and jump up into the action helped him to score 19 goals last season. He does not have the hardest slap-shot, but proved that he can effectively pick a corner with his wrist shot on the rush.
Durzi is a right-shooting and offensively-talented defenceman, and at 6’0”, he’s not exactly small. The Leafs did not reach off the board to take him in the second round, and while I expect that Evan Bouchard will be the best defenceman in the OHL next year, Durzi could compete for the podium.
He’s not as elusive as top prospects Quinn Hughes or Adam Boqvist, but he sees the ice well, and started to get his shots off incredibly quickly last season. The question becomes: Is he fast and physical enough to defend against top NHL forwards? He’s not as heavy as Morgan Rielly or Travis Dermott, and while I’d like to get a look at him against AHL competition this year, the Marlies are loaded on right-shooting defenceman.
I see Durzi as a solid, though not spectacular, second-round pick at this point. It’s always nice to add talented right-shooting defenceman to the pipeline, and he ranked 13th on my list as a result. While recent draft picks typically have a greater chance of being an absolute bust compared to many of the older players on our Top 25 Under 25, I think Durzi can make a more significant impact if he does make the NHL.