One of my favorite hockey writers is Justin Bourne. With the POV of a former player, Bourne wrote for The Score about systems and stats before turning to coaching — doing video work for the Toronto Marlies for the last two years. Now he’s returning to writing, joining The Athletic next month.
With all that experience in mind, check out what Bourne said when Dimitry Filipovic of the Hockey PDOcast asked him which AHLers could have a breakout season in 2017-18.
After naming Kasperi Kapanen in Toronto and Kyle Connor in Winnipeg, Bourne chose Hershey Bears defenseman Christian Djoos as a player to watch next season.
“Christian Djoos in Washington’s system, defenseman there, he’s just a dynamite offensive player”, Bourne said. “If you like watching defensemen skate the puck, this guy is really dynamic.”
That lines up with what Chocolate Hockey’s Kyle Mace said on the RMNB Podcast last month. “He’s a Mike Green kind of guy,” Mace said of Djoos. “He’s not afraid to play the puck. . .His hockey IQ is out of this world. You see him do things with the puck that make you go, oh wow, oh wow.”
Djoos scored 13 goals and 45 assists in 66 games last season, third highest among AHL D defensemen, behind lifers T.J. Brennan and Matt Taormina. Djoos was named the AHL player of the month in March and in June signed a two-year contract with the Caps.
If Djoos is to make an impact with the big club next season, his size might be an obstacle. He’s listed at just 6 feet, 161 lbs. But lots of smart folks who’ve watched him closely are enthusiastic, and with the Caps defensive depth gutted by the offseason, he’ll certainly have a chance to win a spot.
Headline photo: Hershey Bears
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