It’s not often you see a late-round draft pick make such a large jump in our Top 25 Under 25. For David Pope, he went from unranked, to top-15. That’s all thanks to a surging performance in his last season in the NCAA. Now the lanky winger will look to translate his scoring to professional hockey this season.
Birthplace: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Drafted: 2013, 4th Round, 109th pick overall
2017-2018 Team: University of Nebraska-Omaha, NCAA
2017-2018 statline: 35 GP, 20G/21A/41Pts 13PIM
Projected 2018-19 Team: Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL
David Pope entered his final season at Nebraska-Omaha looking to continue the improvement he showed in his junior year and potentially earn a contract with the Red Wings. He did exactly that and more. Using his size and shot to help him, particularly on the power play, Pope was able to turn his hard work into 20 goal/41-point senior season and even had some Red Wings fans concerned that he might elect to not sign with the Red Wings and instead become, likely, a sought after college free agent. This proved to not be an issue as he signed a two year entry deal with the Wings in May, and while the addition of Tomas Vanek and drafting of Filip Zadina will make it quite difficult Red Wings have said he has a shot at winning a spot on the roster out of camp. The more likely scenario sees Pope starting out in Grand Rapids with a potential call up for injuries if he shows he can hold his own.
Here is a bit of a player profile from the Grand Rapids Griffins on David Pope.
In a nutshell, David Pope is a hard-working winger with good size and an above average shot. At Nebraska-Omaha he saw a lot of his success come on the power play last season as he used his size and ability to shoot off the rush to take full advantage of his accurate wrist shot and become a key player with the man advantage. Because he was a bit of a late bloomer offensively he is also good at a lot of the little things on the ice that a lot of more offensively gifted forwards need to work on to stick in the NHL. In the video below David talks a little about his shot and how he likens his game to that of James Neal (with less physicality). That is not to say he is without his issues, particularly his skating.
While certainly not bad by any means, he has had to put in a lot of time and effort into improving his skating, specifically his skating endurance, to get to the point where he could be on the ice with the better players more often and be able to keep up with the play
As I said earlier, baring something unanticipated, David Pope is likely to begin his professional career in Grand Rapids. Ultimately this is probably the best position for him as well. He found a lot of success last season on the power play, something he is unlikely to see much of right now in Detroit with the likes of Larkin, Mantha, Zadina, Rasmussen, Athanasiou, Bertuzzi and Nyquist (as well as Zetterberg if he happens to actually play) likely to eat up most of the time with the man advantage. Starting off in Grand Rapids he will have the opportunity to earn plenty of ice time on the PP as well as at even strength, which should position him nicely as a potential injury / trade deadline call up that could provide some much-needed secondary scoring from the bottom of the forward lines.
Do you agree with David Pope ranking at 12?
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Yep, that’s about right
No, he should be higher
No, he should be lower