With an historical Quebec League season, a Memorial Cup victory and four players slotted to go in the first round of the NHL draft, it’s fair to say there may be a bit of Saint John Sea Dogs fatigue setting in. And once again, left winger Ryan Tesink finds himself just humbly going about his business amidst the chaos.
The latest news from the team revolves around just how high Memorial Cup MVP Jonathan Huberdeau will go in Minnesota, but Tesink is also draft eligible and has not been forgotten by his peers.
“I’ll guarantee it right now, I’ll call it,” said Saint John defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, an expected first-rounder next week. “Ryan Tesink is the most underrated player in the draft. He should be a second-rounder in my eyes.”
And while Beaulieu’s bias for his buddy is understandable, scouts do think Tesink can be a solid pick-up - if not later on in the draft.
“There’s different levels of interest in Ryan,” said one NHL scout. “He doesn’t have a whole lot of size, but he doesn’t take a back step to anyone. His coaches have tremendous things to say about his work ethic.”
And that work ethic has been important, since Tesink didn’t always see top-six minutes thanks to Saint John’s loaded-up lineup. He and fellow draft-eligible forward Scott Oke had to shine in spurts, based on what was needed from them on any given night. But teams don’t draft on good intentions, so limited exposure will not factor in to an NHL team’s decision.
“You don’t want to use that as an excuse,” said the scout. “If you’re a fifth round pick, you should be able to contribute and he did that.”
International Scouting Services tabbed Tesink as just that in its May release, while Central Scouting’s final ranking as the 47th-best North American skater projects him as a fourth-rounder (when Europeans and goalies are accounted for). But for the left winger himself - who hails from Saint John, no less - New Brunswick was the place to be this year.
“Of course I would have played more on other teams, but you don’t get to win like this,” Tesink said. “Everybody loves winning and I’ve always been a winner, so I love it.”
Speedy and tenacious, Tesink is a pretty good foil for Oke, a big, powerful winger ranked three slots ahead by Central Scouting. Tesink saw time on the wing with Huberdeau and Zack Phillips during the Memorial Cup and brings a whatever-is-needed attitude to the rink.
“I played on all four lines and I think I played well on all four lines,” he said. “To be honest, I don’t even know what my role was on the team. I played in so many situations and tried to do my best in all of them.”
Having grown up with the expansion Sea Dogs (this was their sixth year in the QMJHL), the league title and Memorial Cup were particularly special for Tesink, but he didn’t slow down once the trophies were handed out. That’s because the draft combine happened a week later and despite the quick turnaround, the Sea Dogs winger excelled. He boasted one of the top results on the grueling VO2 Max bike test and had the best body fat index in the whole competition.
At a shade below six-foot and just 153 pounds at the combine, Tesink knows he must get stronger as his hockey career progresses. But he’s also very confident in his own resolve.
“I’m not the biggest guy,” he said. “But I try to make up for it with my effort and my heart.”
THN.com's Prospect Watch focuses on up-and-comers from the AHL, Europe, major junior, the NCAA and even minor hockey destined to become big names in the NHL.
For more great prospect profiles and news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.