Big upside for Ryan Kujawinski
Lack of size isn't an issue for Ryan Kujawinski of the Kingston Frontenacs. Built tall and thick, the imposing OHL centerman is a pick-up truck competing in a parking lot full of sedans. And the Northern Ontario native is more than just a big body.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds (he appears even bigger in person, to be honest), Kujawinski is also lauded for his strong skating, vicious shot, adeptness in the faceoff circle and positive attitude. He collected 17 goals and 31 assists in 66 games through the 2012-13 regular season. Projected as a third or fourth-round pick this June, the not-yet-18-year-old is attracting plenty of attention from the NHL scouting community. The Vancouver Canucks are rumored to be one of several teams with a particular interest in the Frontenacs' top center. (Some Canucks' fans would argue they could use such a player right now.) But Kujawinski is still considered "raw" by many, including his own assistant coach/general manager.
"The biggest thing is -- and he's not alone in this category -- consistency," Darren Keily conceded, following a regular-season 5-2 loss to the Oshawa Generals. "He's going to have to bring 'it' each and every shift ... He's going up against [Generals forward Boone] Jenner, seasoned guys that are two years older, and world junior guys. That's something Ryan really has to do, is find a consistency shift after shift after shift. And that's hard to do when you're up against older guys."
Watching Kujawinski compete in person, it's clear he doesn't have the same heightened sense of anticipation as, say, projected first-round pick F Sean Monahan (Ottawa 67's). But, as the Frontenacs' assistant GM/coach suggests, that intuition will further develop with experience.
"He's got some growing pains to get through," said Keily, adding he would like Kujawinski to play a bit more physical on a regular basis. "But when he gets to be 19 like the Jenners and guys like that, he's going to be a dominant force."
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