Jesse Graham - Niagara Ice Dogs
5'11" 160 LBS
D.O.B. May 13, 1994
Graham was selected by the Ice Dogs with the sixth overall pick in the 2010 OHL Priority Draft after notching 14 goals and 88 points in 84 games for the Toronto Young Nats. After the draft, Ice Dogs GM Dave Brown was asked to describe Graham, to which he replied: " If I could describe Jesse Graham it would be like Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks."
Those are words of praise from his general manager and tough shoes to fill. But the Ice Dogs set Graham up for success immediately. Paired the majority of time with Dougie Hamilton, who himself is on the verge of being at top pick in the NHL Entry Draft, Graham could take chances offensively knowing that Hamilton was on the ice with him and it alleviated the pressures of having to produce for the same reasons.
Graham started the season with 7 assists in his first 21 games and trailed only Hamilton with a plus/minus +10, and that led Graham to being named to Team Ontario in the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge where he won gold. Graham finished the tournament with 1 goal and 5 assists in 6 games.
He came back to Niagara after the tournament and finished the season with 1 goal and 17 assists in 63 games. He was named to the OHL All Rookie First All Star Team.
Graham is an excellent skater and possesses an explosive first step and overall speed. He won the Ice Dogs skills competition as the fastest skater. He has good vision and hockey sense, which makes him hold his own defensively. He makes a very good first pass. He plays in any situation, and did this all as a rookie.
There will always be questions about his size. After all, when he was drafted he weighed in at 145 pounds. But he added 15 pounds in the off season and will continue to do so. But, it seems, more and more teams are not shying away from the smaller puck moving defensemen.
The 2012 NHL Entry Draft is shaping up to be the draft of offensive defensemen. Graham will be in tough against some of the others available in the draft, both from the OHL and outside, but make no mistake about it, Graham will be in the conversation.