W ebster’s has no definition for “toolsy”.
One draft preview, however, described Victoriaville Tigers defenseman Jonathan-Ismael Diaby’s style of play as “toolsy” – a word for which no definition appears to be readily available.
“I don’t really know either,” Diaby said. “I love to play more defensively. I love to hit, but I’m not scared of fighting either. So, yeah, we can say ‘toolsy’ if it’s a word.”
Regardless of adjectives – real or invented – the Nashville Predators took Diaby with their second pick in the 2013 NHL Draft on Sunday, the 64th overall pick.
“I’m kind of speechless, actually,” Diaby said. “I’m really happy. I’ve been working for this day for so long.”
The son of a former professional soccer player, Diaby was one of the bigger defenseman of the 2013 Draft Class. At 6’5″ and 223 pounds, Diaby was very easily given an “Excellent” rating by the International Scouting Service for his size and strength. After Nashville drafted a big defenseman – Seth Jones – with their first round pick, it was clear that David Poile was looking to bulk up the blue line for the future.
“Diaby is a huge, huge player,” Poile said. “With Seth Jones and him, that’s two of the bigger players and that was one of the things we wanted to accomplish.”
The ISS describes Diaby as a “stay at home D-man who grows on you”. Virtually every report on Diaby uses two words: “physical” and “raw”. He uses his 6’5″ frame to impede offensive players, but apparently is still developing an awareness of everything that is happening on the ice. However, several scouts say that the quality of Diaby’s decision making is becoming increasingly better. He is also reportedly virtually impossible to separate from the puck, while he appears to be gaining a sense of positioning. With some work, there are indications that Diaby could become a Hal Gill-type stay at home defenseman (Gill, interestingly, is nicknamed “Skillsy”).
For Diaby, he has landed in a franchise that has developed a knack for growing defensive talent. From Ryan Suter and Dan Hamhuis to Shea Weber, Kevin Klein and Roman Josi, over the last ten years, the Predators have been very, very strong on the back end.
“It’s exciting,” Diaby said. “They’re developing players very well. That’s encouraging for me.”
Photo: Sarah Fuqua