John Tavares. Aaron Ekblad. Connor McDavid. Sean Day. This fab four shares the distinction of having been granted “exceptional” status by the OHL. Each player was allowed to start their career at age 15 because of the immense level of talent possessed. The group–sans Day–also shares the distinction of being selected No. 1 overall in their various draft year.
There once was a time in which Day looked like he would be a No. 1 overall pick, because he was a 15-year-old wonder kid who happened to be a smooth skating defenseman. Defenders often taken longer to develop than forwards, and that was what made Day special in addition to being “exceptional.” Somehow he fell to No. 81 overall in the third round on the second day of the NHL entry draft, but no one from the Rangers’ organization is complaining.
RangersTown, let's welcome Sean Day! pic.twitter.com/HrNcGLjEtg
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) June 25, 2016
General manager Jeff Gorton was not necessarily surprised when Day was available, and said
“I think the guy’s have done their homework, done a lot of research on the player, talked to everyone around him and I think we knew it was a possibility.”
The Blueshirts’ GM compared the situation to that of when the Rangers drafted Anthony Duclair in the third round, and being in a position of being able to select a talented player who just happened to fall.
Ultimately Day was thrilled to get drafted by the Rangers and is looking forward to showing why he was an exceptional player.
“It’s amazing,” said Day after being selected by the Blueshirts. “I think just being picked by any team would be awesome, I think hearing your name finally called it is awesome. I can’t even describe it, I was shaking and smiling the whole time I was walking down the stairs.”
Day sees himself as being a solid two-way defender, and said he’s working on his offensive game. “With my skating, I can be more offensive. Defensively I think I have come a long way just using my body.”
In his own words,”it’s a new Sean Day, and hopefully the Rangers like that.” The Mississauga Steelheads rear guard was very precise when he spoke to the media shortly after having his named called, and it was clear that he wanted to set the record straight.
“I’ve improved from last year to even now. I’m down to 12 percent body fat from 19 last year,” the Rangers’ newest blueliner said. “I can tell my skating’s improving and I’m still a big guy, so hopefully I can fit into their style of play I guess and bring something new that hopefully (the Rangers) don’t have.”
The Rangers’ defense corps understandably needs some major work, and Day was correct in saying he wants to bring something new that the franchise doesn’t have. If he can put it all together, Day has the opportunity to be an impact player on the blue line in a top-four role. He is an amazing skater and he moves impressively well for someone who stands 6’2” and 229 pounds.
He has become a very strong player and that’s a welcome change from previous years. Originally Day’s bread and butter was his given talent and ability, and it is fair to say he wasn’t serious about his strength and conditioning. What changed for Day was seeing the results of his efforts, and it became something he just stuck with.
I think seeing results with the work I’ve been doing and finally seeing I’ve been getting stronger. I don’t think I had that before. I’ve said this a lot. I’m almost addicted to working out,” Day said. “So doing a lot of extra work with running and my conditioning afterwards just to burn that extra bit off.
While Day has been excited with what he’s accomplished thus far, he feels he can take things to another level. “There is extra scrutiny with everything that came with the special exceptional status. I think I have handled it pretty well and I don’t let it really get to me. Hopefully I can get the last laugh with the criticism I have had. I am working every day to get that