Buzzing The Net - Junior Hockey

Wow.

I really don't need to say much more than that, but let me try to do Saint John Sea Dogs forward Tomas Jurco's skill justice with just a few words: unbelievable and awesome.

At this point, based on his YouTube clips alone, Jurco should be a household name considering he's also eligible for the 2011 NHL draft. But to this point he's still one of the Canadian Hockey League's best kept secrets.

Here's what I'm talking about -- this the shootout goal he scored in Cape Breton last year that made its way around Quebec Major Junior Hockey League email inboxes.

Not to be outdone, there was this move made during Saturday night's shootout. Another amazing goal in an eventual 7-6 loss to the Drummondville Voltigeurs that shows the slick Slovakian is blessed with otherworldly puck skills.



There's lots of Jurco to love for YouTube-mining hockey nuts. There's this video he put together in the summer.

It's early yet, but there's plenty of video evidence to stake Jurco's claim as the best 2011 NHL draft prospect when it comes to pure puck skills.

It was a pleasure to watch Jurco emerge last year alongside Russian Stanislav Galiev (who went on to be Washington's third-rounder in 2010). Galiev was the more heralded of the two, having been selected with the No. 1 overall Import Draft pick, and being draft-eligible in his rookie season.

That made Jurco (not too shabby at No. 4) the "other European" on the Sea Dogs roster.

With absolutely no disrespect to Galiev - a fine player and deft playmaker - it became clear as last season went on that Jurco (photo) possessed another level of pure offensive skill. If we're purely talking about offensive skills - the ability to dangle, to drop jaws, to give them the how's-she-goin', to put pucks in the net that have absolutely no business going in the net - Jurco may be at the head of the entire 2011 draft class.

One Eastern Conference scout stopped short of saying that, as he hasn't had a chance to see all the comparables yet. But he had high praise for the six-foot, 180-pound winger, who turns 18 on Dec. 28.

"He'd certainly be in there among the top two or three guys (in the QMJHL) for sure," said the scout, citing Drummondville's Sean Couturier and Yannick Veilleux of the Shawinigan Cataractes as other players to watch. "He's a smart player, he knows where to shoot the puck, how to find the open areas, and one thing he does really well is read off his linemates regarding positioning. I don't know if a lot of people pick that up or not, he's got that ability to read off their position and he's pretty good at getting himself open."

Jurco already has six goals and nine points in six games after turning in a point-a-game second half as a rookie (15-15-30 in his last 27 games). This kid is going to be fun to watch.

Writer Nathan White is the QMJHL correspondent for Buzzing the Net. 

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