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NHL Draft Profile 2016 - Nathan Bastian (C/RW, Mississauga Steelheads, OHL)

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With the draft lottery fading into the distance, it's time for B's to focus on the value of later picks and finding hidden gems. One of them, we profile today.

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Not every precious gem is easy to find.

Some, like gold, can literally be picked out of the water if you're lucky enough to find the right river. Some, like sapphires, you can make yourself with access to a Bunsen burner, time and the right chemicals (no, really).

And then there are diamonds. Forged deep out of human sight, using immense reserves of pressure, time and energy, they are the gems everyone knows are there and wants to find, but it requires a bit of faith in them.

It is diamond-mining in the draft that makes NHL teams from good to great - and in Mississauga's pugnacious forward Nathan Bastian, there is a damn good reason for Boston and any NHL teams to make sure they're there digging at the lower end of the first round after all the "easy" gems have been stripped away.

Bastian, a 6'4, 207lb center/right winger from Kitchener, Ontario, has flown just under the surface of the NHL draft radar all season. While focus has flown to the superstars up in the top half of the draft, Bastian's draft stock has consistently seen him drifting just outside the top 30, sometimes even lower, although a hot streak earlier this season did see him briefly step u into the top 30.

He is a gritty, hard-working, honest power forward of a player. The frills in Bastian's game are ones that others will miss at first glance...his shot is very useful and he can pass as well as many far more heralded playmaking prospects.

The trouble is, he's the kind of honest power-forward that often doesn't really light up the top tier of the draft board. He is not, for example, as flashy as Julien Gauthier, as much of a human wrecking ball as Max Jones, or as fancy a playmaker as Logan Brown or Jesse Puljuharvi.

What he is is a Swiss Army Knife of a power forward. Want him to thump bodies around the boards as part of a grind line? He can do that. Want him to find space in the slot and fire home a wrister? He can do that. Need a pass to find a more heralded linemate after digging the puck out of the corner?

He can do all that.

Paired with fellow 2016 prospects Michael McLeod and Alex Nylander, both of whom are far more highly-rated and attention-grabbing, Bastian is the face on the edge of the screen. The second assist. The ugly tap-in. The player who makes the play that leads to the guy MAKING THE PLAY.

Look at these highlights, for example.

The first three instances alone give you a pretty damn good idea of what Bastian is about. The first goal is a nice wristshot finish, the second is a banner example of using size and strength to force position and score an ugly goal, and the third is probably one of the less spectacular end-to-end-rush goals you'll ever see...but look how Bastian wins the puck...by cleanly flooring an opposition defenseman in his own end and leaving him sprawled on the ice like a bug on a windshield with the most beautiful example of the original definition of a check - "a move to seperate player from puck".

Later in that clip, you can also see examples of Bastian's puck awareness with his assist efforts, as well as the obligatory "big bloke smears smaller bloke into glass" section expected of power forwards...a part of the game Bastian does willingly, although not to excess as is the danger when you're among the physically biggest on the ice.

He is not the finished article by any means, nor is he a player Boston should be looking at with their first or arguably even their second pick (although as we drop towards the bottom of the first round Bastian will figure more and more in GMs thoughts)

But in the second, or even (should he somehow last that long) later into the second?

That's when the "rough diamonds" shine brightly. That's when the likes of Swiss Army Knife forwards like Bastian suddenly become a lot more appealing.

Like Julien Gauthier, he fits the traditional Bruins template of a player while offering so much more. While Gauthier's flashiness and speed appeals, though, it is Bastian's versatility (he's played at both wing and center seemingly without missing much of a beat this season and been used in many different situations) that makes him so interesting.

In the second or third round? It makes him among the hottest prospects on the board by a long way, as well as a gem that can be plucked possibly from under the noses of teams attracted by more sparkly, fancy players.

Keep an eye on this one. If you've not noticed him yet, maybe your radar needs a little recalibrating.

Just in case you miss the diamonds hidden just below the richest seam.