2016 NHL Draft Profiles: Sean Day

Sean Day – 6’2, 230-pound left-shot defenceman from the Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

Sean Day Rankings

  • Ranked #59 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
  • Ranked #51 by McKeen’s Hockey Draft Guide
  • Did not make Craig Button’s Top 100 final rankings

Sean Days Scouting Report provided by Brock Otten of OHL Prospects

Sean Day Strengths

  • Sean Day is 6’2, 230 pounds and was ranked the best skater in the 2016 draft class by the McKeen’s Hockey Draft Guide. What you have here is an athletic freak.
  • I thought Day closed out the season exceptionally well. The two biggest reasons for that were an increased intensity level in the defensive end, and an increased propensity for starting the rush and looking to use his speed to push across the neutral zone.
  • In my opinion, Day’s future at the next level rests on his ability to defend his own end; using his size and mobility to be a shutdown type of defender. That’s why I think his increased desire to play the body and play mean in his own end towards the end of the year is a major step forward.
  • On the ice, I think Day is finally realizing what his role is and the way he needs to play to be successful.
  • From Sean Lafortune, speaking on the Steelheads’ selection of Sean Day back in 2013:
    “Sean Day’s talents are unique. His footwork and skating ability are unmatched. He’s innovative in possession, showing an ability to either impact the game with a sizzling outlet or flashing his slick in close skills. He would routinely impose his will on the opposition in our viewings. No doubt he needs to work on his decision making in all three zones, but the tools that he possesses are unmatched.”

Sean Day Weaknesses

  • No question Sean Day didn’t have a great draft year, and I actually had him lower on my list up until about the last month and a half of the season (in which he took some strides forward).
  • Certainly you have to look at the overall motivation levels (with everything that has come out in the media about his attitude and character), and NHL teams will have done their homework at the combine (I’m guessing he was one of the most interviewed players there).
  • For me, I don’t actually believe Day has a ton of offensive potential. While the skating ability obviously makes you hope that’s the case, I just don’t see a player who possesses a natural ability for creating offence.
  • From Gare Joyce’s piece at the Draft Combine:
    “Sean Day. Sigh. Okay, he’s down 20 pounds at least from last summer. At 230 he still looks like a beer leaguer but it’s a start. It didn’t look like he bought into the idea that the combine was a chance to make a big impression. He went from ordinary to very ordinary to below average at the stations, and seemed sort of nonchalant. You look at him and think: How does an unathletic kid possess plus-plus skating? This is one of life’s mysteries and the reason that someone will undertake Day as a challenge.”

The Verdict

You’re not looking at the next Drew Doughty. He’s not going to be that type of guy. But can Sean Day be a successful NHL player? Absolutely.

Sean Day Career Notes

  • Born in Leuven, Belgium to Canadian parents, Sean Day lived in Singapore for a few years before moving to Rochester, Michigan when he was four years old. He played all of his minor hockey in the United States.
  • In March 2013, Day was granted Exceptional Player Status by Hockey Canada, making him eligible for the 2013 OHL Priority Selection Draft.
  • Drafted round 1, #4 overall by the Mississauga Steelheads in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection Draft.
  • Named to the OHL Second All-Rookie Team in 2013-14.
  • Named to the 2015-16 CHL Top Prospects Game in 2015-16.

Interview: James Boyd on Sean Day

Mississauga Steelheads General Manager, James Boyd, on the Battle of Ontario:
Sean Day is a lightning rod for criticism, and part of that has to do with the exceptional status. He came into the league a year early. Sean is physically developed. He has been a grown man since he was about 15 years old. It benefitted him to come into our league — I really believe that — and learn the game at our level.

For all the criticism that Day absorbs, he’s still a top 1998-born defenceman in the OHL, if not in Canada. He’s a 6’3, 225 pound defenceman who skates like the wind. He has great hands. He’s got an accurate shot. He’s fearless, and he showed that this year in the second half and in the playoffs. He was extremely physical. I think the fact that he’s a lightning rod for criticism is unfair. I understand it, though. He continues to improve. He was the same age as a lot of first-year players on our team. When you look at it through that lens, or you compare him to the other ’98 defencemen in our league… people talk about “surefire pro prospects,” well, Sean is right there. I think two years from now, or a year from now, he will be capable of making the transition into the pro ranks. Hopefully everyone forgets about the exceptional status tag.

Someone brought up an excellent point the other day. Rico Fata being one, and Jason Spezza played in the OHL as an underage player; this is not the first time that a player who played early in the OHL is not going to be the first overall pick. I believe in Sean. I think that he’s going to improve his physical conditioning, which was one of the keys last year coming into the season. I don’t think he had a great summer, and Sean admits that, but he’s been in the gym. If he gets into shape and puts in a good year next year, he’s going to prove everybody wrong.

Sean Day Interview

Courtesy of The Pipeline Show in March:

On his interesting hockey upbringing:
I was born in Leuven, Belgium. I moved to Singapore when I was one year old. I moved back to Rochester, Michigan when I was four, and that’s where I’ve lived ever since. My dad’s job took us all over. By the time I was 12 or 13, I had already visited 24 countries. Hopefully I can add on to an already huge list. I first skated when I was three or four. I remember when I was in Singapore my parents threw me onto a rink in a mall, and they said that it was pretty natural for me to be on the ice. When I came back to Michigan, that’s when I saw my brother Scott play. Right away, I knew that that’s what I wanted to play. I started in a house league system in Michigan, and then just moved up from there.

During the first three years, I switched back and forth [between forward and defence], and then I kind of settled in when my dad said that, “it’s hard to find a good defenceman and it’s easy to find a good forward.” That’s when it kind of hit me that I wanted to play defence. I knew that I could skate and be a big body and play that all-around game.

On the evolution of the Steelheads team over his three years with the club:
I think, in my first year and last year, we played a really defensive style of game. With the addition of Michael Nylander and James Richmond behind the bench, I think they’re bringing an all-around game to our team. We are a lot more aggressive and more confident, I think, that all of the younger guys can step into league and play this style. All of our rookies can play and all of our older guys know their role and the system that we play. It’s been a really fun year.

Me, I play more of a physical [style of play]. If someone is coming down the wall, I can hit him and take the puck and try and join the rush, and get points like that. This year has been a lot more fun like that.

On his size growing up:
I was always in the pack [for the tallest kid], but it’s probably been the last couple of years where I’ve really shot up and kind of started looking over people, I guess. Height wise, everyone in my family is around 6’0 or 6’1, and then my oldest brother is probably the shortest in my family at 5’10 — that’s besides my mom. Muscle wise, I think that’s just from training, how big I’ve gotten.

On entering the year at 235 pounds and dropping some weight over the season:
It’s huge when you’re playing 30 minutes a night against the top guys. Right away I felt it. Every day I’m trying to ride the bike a little bit or wear a vest to just to try to cut off as much as I can.

You could tell I wasn’t in shape, I guess. I could still skate and play, but it was starting to affect what people were saying about me. I just wanted to cut off all the bad words in that case and just slim down and not give them anything to talk about, really.

On skating as well as he can at his size, and having his skating compared to Paul Coffey:
It’s hard to compare yourself to a Hall of Famer. I think I kind of have own style of skating just because of how big I am. Obviously, that’s pretty cool being compared to a guy like Paul Coffey. It’s always been one of my strengths growing up. I haven’t really had to develop into a good skater. It’s always been there. I’m trying to work on other parts of my game. Out of everything, that’s probably the main thing that I’ve always had [skating], for sure.

On looking ahead to the draft:
Going into this year, I knew we were going to have a good team. Scouts were going to be here watching the Alex Nylanders and the Mikey McLeods. Honestly, it probably kicked in in the last month that it’s coming up. It’s my third year in the league, and it’s time to make an impact. I’ve felt really good in the last 20 games or so with my play. I’m really confident going into the draft.

On whether he thinks he can play in the NHL as soon as next year, or if he has more to learn in junior:
I think I’m always going to have something to learn about. Size wise, I don’t think I have a problem, but I do think I’m going to have to take a couple of years developing my game. At the next step, you’re playing guys who are up in their 30s and 40s. They’re veterans of the game, and you’re a veteran of the OHL, which is nothing compared to what they are. I’m not going to be sad or mad at myself if I don’t make the NHL next year, you know?

On taking a step back production wise despite playing on a more offensive team:
I don’t know if it’s bad bounces, or what. I feel really confident in my game. Just lately I’ve been jumping up into the rush more and kind of showing the offensive side of my game. Last year it was really easy to get points, I guess, but I know NHL scouts aren’t looking at points as a main thing for a defenceman. I’m not going to look at last year — getting almost 40 points — and this year — having 20 points — as a bad thing.

On coping with his brother Scott’s personal troubles:
He was obviously my role model growing up. Everything he did, I wanted to take after him. He’s the reason I play hockey. Just last year, in November, he made a bad decision and ended up in prison. Obviously, it’s hard to try to play the game that you love. He’s the role model; he’s the reason I got into it. He can’t even be there watching you play or anything. It’s obviously tough, but I can’t use it as an excuse. Everybody has their problems, and that’s mine.

On how that might have affected his offseason last summer:
When I didn’t make Team Canada, I think everybody was saying that I wasn’t as good as I’m talked up to be. I’m not going to look back and be like, “ah, I didn’t make that U18 team.” I was thinking of my brother. He’s always going to be there with me. That team was just a one-time thing. Obviously I’m disappointed I didn’t get to make the team because of being out of shape, but there are bigger things in the world than that.

On taking after Drew Doughty, knowing the concerns surrounding his conditioning in his draft year:
He’s my favourite player. That’s kind of who I try to model my game after. He can play a really skilled defensive game and an offensive game. He’s the best two-way player in the game, I think. It’s pretty cool having James Richmond as one of our coaches. He worked with Los Angeles as the skills guy. He always talks about stuff that Doughty does. Just hearing stories about him makes me want to be similar to him. It’s pretty cool.

Sean Day Photo Gallery

Sean Day Statistics

2013-14Mississauga SteelheadsOHL606101634-35|Playoffs40114-4
Canada Ontario U17WHC-1750332|
2014-15Mississauga SteelheadsOHL6110263662-27|
Canada Red U17WHC-1751344|
2015-16Mississauga SteelheadsOHL576162227-13|Playoffs71234-4

Sean Day Video