Huge congrats are due to Swift Current Broncos defenceman Dillon Heatherington as he was drafted tonight by the Columbus Blue Jackets 50th overall in the NHL draft. Heatherington’s stock rose quite a bit over the last six months and his play in the U18 tournament took him over the top. It’s special enough to be drafted by an NHL team… but to be one of the top 50 prospects in the world is a tremendous honour.
It’s interesting Heatherington ended up in Columbus. We had Blue Jackets scout and former Broncos Assistant Coach Andy Schneider on Home Hardware’s Overtime last week. He has consistently raved about Heatherington and in his first draft as a scout with Columbus he and the team there got a chance to bring Dillon to the rising Blue Jackets organization.
What is Columbus getting? An exceptional defensive talent. Heatherington is big, a very strong skater and can shut down the top players at this level as a 17-year-old. I’m not sure if there is a better 5 on 3 penalty killer in the Eastern Conference. Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb raves about how much of a coach’s dream Heatherington is and he also earned the respect of legendary junior Coach Don Hay to the point that Hay used him as much as any other defenceman in the U18 gold medal game.
Heatherington even earned an invitation this week to the Canadian World Junior camp this summer. It’s amazing how far the respect level for him has come since he was left out of events like the U17 tournament and the top prospects game.
While Heatherington is primarily known as a shut down defenceman he can also bring it in the offensive zone. He has a good first pass and is never afraid to get the puck to the net for a tip or rebound. That part of his game will evolve because he has strong hockey sense and plays with intelligent aggression.
The other underrated aspects of Heatherington are things like character and work ethic. Schneider would bring some special insight to the Columbus scouting staff on those issues because he worked with him all year in Heatherington’s 16-year-old season.
It looks like a very strong fit.
Congratulations to Heatherington. It couldn’t happen to a more deserving young man. The future is bright and this is just step one in his dream.
Now we wait and hope to see some of the other Broncos get their names called.