(Photo by anothersamchan)
Of all the rookie prospects likely to see time in Albany in 2009-10, Drayson Bowman, 20, of Littleton, Colorado, has perhaps the most potential.
Bowman has all the makings of an elite goal-scorer. He is a dynamic play-maker and hungry opportunity-seizer. He is intelligent, fast, good with his stick, and quick with his shot. He feeds on competition and leads by example.
Listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Bowman was selected by the Hurricanes in the third round in 2007. Last summer he signed a three-year, two-way deal with the Canes. The contract allowed him to return to his junior team in the WHL for the 2008-09 season.
Last year with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, Bowman scored 83 points (47 G, 36 A) in just 63 regular season contests. The alternate captain racked up another 13 points (8 G, 5 A) in 12 games during the playoffs. Bowman finished the season with a combined +/- ranking of +38.
The previous year Bowman helped the Chiefs win the Memorial Cup. He ended the 2007-08 season and playoffs with 102 points (55 G, 49 A) and a +37 ranking after 97 contests.
Bowman also played for Team USA during the 2009 World Junior Championships, scoring three goals and an assist in six games.
After completing his season, Bowman traveled and practiced with the Canes during their 2009 playoff run.
"He is an excellent goal-scorer with good hockey sense," said Hurricanes' assistant general manager and director of player development Ron Francis last year after Bowman signed. "He's got great vision, can make good passes with the puck and understands the game extremely well," said Francis.
USA Hockey's Jim Johannson was equally impressed.
In an interview with USA Today, Johannson described how Bowman turns ugly plays into beautiful goals. "He catches bad passes," Johannson said. "He has an innate ability to handle the puck so well that he turns bad passes into good passes."
"That helps offensively," Johannson added, "but he's good along the boards when there is a bad breakout pass. He has a good stick."
Bowman is also known for being a clutch player. He appears to thrive in pressure situations.
Ron Rolston, coach of the 2009 U.S. junior team, said Bowman has a reputation for "scoring big goals in big games."
"I can't explain it," Bowman said in an interview. "I've always scored big goals because I guess I put extra importance on big games. For whatever reason, when the score is 10-2, I usually have trouble finding the net. And when it's 3-1, I get on the score sheet."
This is the exact type of player the River Rats need. Someone with an extra special drive to compete and motivate others. Someone that can give the team a chance to win every night.
The website Hockey's Future, which lists Bowman as Carolina's third top prospect, says he "could be NHL-bound as early as next season."
He'll have to prove himself in Albany first. Rats' fans won't have it any other way.