Rebels prospect Donohoe a combination of size and mobility
Shaun Sutter watches Hunter Donohoe and he sees another version of a Red Deer minor hockey graduate who starred with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and is currently a top Toronto Maple Leafs prospect.
“He’s got some good tools. He reminds me a bit of a Red Deer kid, Andrew Nielsen, kind of a late bloomer who started popping when he was 17,” the Red Deer Rebels assistant GM/director of player personnel said Friday, during the team’s prospects camp at the Penhold Regional Multiplex.
It’s difficult not to take note of Donohoe, a Surrey, B.C., product who stands a shade over six-foot-four yet gets around the ice with a graceful stride.
“For a guy that big, he has a lot of athleticism,” Sutter said of the 185-pound defenceman. “He moves well, he can handle the puck and he’s got skill.
“Usually with guys that are that big, there’s some awkwardness or they have a ways to go with their mobility and footwork. But he’s pretty refined in those areas.”
Donohoe played with the Greater Vancouver Canadians during the 2016-17 B.C. Major Midget League, scoring three goals and collecting 15 points — to go with 34 penalty minutes — in 36 regular-season games and adding two helpers in eight playoff contests.
He and Canadians teammates Sam Pouliot, also a defenceman, and forward Chris Douglas were watched closely by Rebels B.C. scout Al Cyr and were all listed by the Western Hockey League team. Pouliot is also attending the prospects camp while Douglas joined the Rebels in January.
“There’s a lot of younger kids here (in the prospects camp), but it’s high tempo,” said Donohoe. “It’s good to see some new faces and meet some new guys. When I come back to main camp (in August) I’ll see some familiar faces.”
Donohoe also suited up briefly with the junior A Surrey Eagles last winter — registering two minutes in penalties in three BCHL games — and flirted with the possibility of pursuing a U.S. college scholarship.
“For sure I considered it. My older brother Taylor played (NCAA) Division 1 with Wayne State in Detroit, but the program folded,” said Donohoe. “I definitely thought about it but it was my goal at the start of the year to get listed by a Dub team and see what it’s like.”
There will be room for one or possibly two rookie rearguards on the Rebels roster next season, and Donohoe is clearly a front-runner in that regard.
“I’m a big guy who can make a good first pass,” he said. “I move my feet well for being a bigger guy and I think I have a good shot.”
That being said . . .
“If I’m going to play here next year I have to pick up on my foot speed over the summer,” he said. “I’ll also work out five days a week to get bigger and stronger.”
The Rebels prospects camp — featuring 27 drafted and listed players ages 15 to 17— resumes Saturday with a two-hour session starting at 3:45 p.m. and concludes Sunday with a 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. session.