Every year, a handful of draft prospects slip as teams focus in on their mid-to-late round targets.
Last season, Ottawa 67’s leading scorer Dante Salituro went undrafted after posting 78 points in 68 games. Despite registering a 1.15 points per game clip, higher than teammate and first round pick Travis Konecny’s 1.13, Salituro watched 211 other players get their name called at the end of June.
After failing to earn a contract from a camp invite from the Columbus Blue Jackets, the undrafted, highly skilled winger and centre has picked up where he left off in the OHL to make sure he isn’t forgotten twice.
Through 16 games, Salituro has elevated his points per game to 1.38 this season with nine goals and 13 assists for 22 points.
Ranked 50th overall in my final top 60 ranking for the 2015 NHL Draft and 49th in my November ranking for the 2016 class, Salituro is performing well enough to merit being selected as an over-aged draftee.
In fact, Salituro was one of only three players ranked in my top 60, along with Sweden’s Sebastian Aho and two-way centre Nathan Noel, who went undrafted in Florida.
Despite standing just 5-9, Salituro is one of the OHL’s most gifted players with the puck.
“I’m working hard and trying to get chances,” he said following a 3-1 loss to the undefeated-in-regulation Kitchener Rangers on Friday, when he registered an assist on the only 67's goal. “I’m just trying to make my game better and not worry about the draft, I’m going to be successful in the long run if I keep working hard."
Here's my scouting report:
Dante Salituro: C/RW, #96, Ottawa 67's
Playing to prove people wrong after being passed up in the 2015 NHL Draft .. prone to over handling the puck but he can also hang onto it to create plays that few others can .. can get caught taking unnecessary penalties away from the puck at times .. can make poor decisions with the puck at times with soft, careless passes .. excellent at managing the wall on the PP .. great vision and is often rewarded for his risks .. shies away from contact and turns the puck over too much, often in dangerous situations .. keeps his knees bent when stationary with the puck in order to spin off checks and maneuver between defenders, almost invites players to challenge him with the puck at a standstill .. plays with a chip on his shoulder and exudes confidence .. shifty player who loves to make high risk no-look plays .. loves to have the puck on his stick, but it can be at the expense of his line mates, even with open opportunities .. incredible stick handler who can embarrass defenders one-on-one .. strong skater with lower body strength to fight off defenders despite being one of the smaller players on the ice .. agile, particularly in an inside-out transition .. loves to shoot high and has the accuracy to go to post-in .. will draw intrigue as one of a handful of strong over-aged players worthy of a 2016 selection .. has the skill to push 100 points with the right usage.