One of my favorite prospects that is primed for a breakout is Dakota Bailey of Gentry Academy. The 2008 DOB, sophomore forward has a plethora of high-end skills at his disposal and has shown steady progression since the end of his freshman campaign. His attributes will only get better with experience, and he will soon be considered one of the top prospects in the state. Let’s take a look at what makes Bailey so valuable on the ice and why colleges will be begging for his services when his commitment period opens next August.
Size & Strength:
The first is a bit obvious if you have watched Dakota, as he already possesses great size at 6’0, 170, and he plays with strength. During recent viewings opposing players had a difficult time trying to move him in front of the net or in the corners and most of the bodychecks on him were ineffective. Even against older/bigger competition, Dakotah holds his space and is strong on the puck.
Offensive Zone Play:
It’s hard to pick where I like Dakotah more, battling in front of the net, or cycling the puck, looking for breakdowns. Both of these aspects of his game are polished and definitely an asset. He has shown the ability to plant himself in front, ready to pounce on rebounds or tip a shot past the goalie. When working the perimeter, he uses his body position to shield the puck and look for open teammates, or an open shot. He is usually among the leaders of puck control time in the offensive zone, and of course, good things happen when you have the puck.
Dakotah possesses a strong stick and a good rhythm to his stickhandling. Doesn’t overdue the work with the puck, but also is keeping the puck moving and protected. Many stick checks are deflected off him or do little to alter his path. Dakotah can carry the puck though traffic and use quick hands to beat his opponent 1v1.
One of the reasons that his zone play is elite is his anticipation and ability to read defender. This skill is at play whether he has the puck or not. He is constantly moving and finding open ice, going to where the defenders are not, or to where he can bait them out of position. He can find open teammates and gives his mates outlets to pass.
An aspect of his game that had some questions in the past was his skating, but it has developed rapidly, becoming very noticeable that he has added lower body strength to aid quicker rpms. He appears quicker with an improved first couple strides and mobility. To his credit he has put extra work with one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the state.
Compete and Scoring Drive:
Dakotah is constantly involved in the play and is consistent with the effort that he puts out there each night. If he’s playing, he’s making an impact. He displays good body language and spirit, even when the scoreboard is not in his team’s favor.
Dakotah has a playmakers mentality with the strength and the grit of a power forward. He will be on a shortlist of candidates for NTDP Camp next March and will be a key member of Gentry Academy this season. Dakotah is a player I want on any team I’m putting together.