(NCP COMMUNICATIONS) – When
it comes to hockey, talent rather than the size of the market you play in is
Case in point is North Central Predators alumni Nathan Schaap who opened
a lot of eyes and garnered plenty of attention after a solid season last year
with the AAA Preds.
“I got excellent coaching and developed a lot during my time with the
Preds,” said Schaap. “I totally would recommend the Preds program because you’re
still going to get looked at if you want to get to the next level.”
One of the most sought after players in all levels of hockey is a
good-sized defenceman that can play in all situations.
The Midland native is just that type of player.
The right-shot defenceman ticks off all the boxes. Size (6’2”, 201 pounds), plays in all situations (5-on-5, powerplay and penalty kill), adds offence with a heavy shot from the point and is solid in his own end.
As a member of the Preds U16 squad last season, he was one of the team leaders from his defensive position and also chipped in offensively at a clip of more than a point a game with 12 goals and 33 points in 26 outings. He finished third in scoring among ETAHL rearguards.
OHL Central Scouting had glowing things to say about Schaap concluding, “he is solid defensively, uses his reach and size to separate the man from the puck. He is the leader of his team from the back end and plays in every situation. He has the potential to be a very effective two-way defender at the next level."
The Flint Firebirds took notice and drafted Schaap in the fifth round (100th overall) in this year’s OHL Priority Draft in April.
Schaap, along with teammate and Preds captain Ethan Procyszyn from Wasaga Beach, also attracted interest on a National scale and both were invited to attend Hockey Canada’s U17 Development Camp July 10-16 at Olympic Park in Calgary.
Schaap was one of three Firebirds’ draft picks taking part in Calgary.
“It was a good experience to play with so many top-end guys from across the country,” said Schaap, also noting that it was nice to have a familiar face in Procyszyn at the camp.
“Knowing how Ethan plays and what he’s going to do on the ice was a real benefit.”
Schaap wasted little time being noticed not only for his solid defensive play, but also his offensive prowess with a goal and an assist in the first of four games in Calgary. He added another assist before the camp wrapped up.
A total of 100 invitees (10 goaltenders, 30 defenceman and 60 forwards) took part in the Camp which featured on- and off-ice training, fitness testing, practices, intra-squad games and classroom sessions.
Schaap, along with the others from that Camp, will continue to be evaluated through the early portion of the 2022-23 season before 66 are named to one of three Canadian national teams – Team Canada Black, Team Canada Red and Team Canada White – that will compete at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, scheduled for Nov 5-12 in Langley and Delta, B.C.
Where he plays this season is still up in the air, but he has his sights set on the Firebirds and the OHL.
“I’ll be heading to camp the end of August and hopefully can stick with the team, but if not then it will be Jr. A or Jr. B,” said Schaap.
In the meantime, the rearguard is putting in the work.
“I have a parttime job but have been working out five days a week and on the ice five days a week,” he said. “Hopefully cut back a little bit before heading to camp.”
His main focus over the summer has been improving his defensive play as well as working on his skating.
Watch for this former Predators star coming to an OHL rink near you soon.
Photo credit - Flint Firebirds