By Warren Kozireski —
After the 2021 National Hockey League Entry Draft, a Buffalo Sabres fan might have read the biography of their second selection in the third round, Josh Bloom, and wondered what the front office was thinking.
Six goals scored in 54 games? In the third round?
For many scouting staffs, slotting especially Ontario Hockey League prospects in 2021 was difficult to impossible due to the covid season shutdown. Many were reverting to notes from when the draft class was 16 years old and competing against players as many as four years older.
But still Central Scouting had Josh Bloom ranked 113th among North American skaters. And the Sabres used their pick acquired from Montreal in the Eric Staal deal—95th overall to take the 6’2”, 183 lb. winger.
And now looking like geniuses.
Through the first 25 games this season, Bloom leads the Saginaw Spirit in goals and points. His 15 goals have him tied for 19th in the OHL and his 26 points is tied for 26th.
But it gets even better.
He leads the entire league in shorthanded goals with six and is tied for the league lead with five game-winners.
“My teammates have a lot to do with it; you can’t do anything without good teammates,” Bloom said after a December game in Erie.
“Just being in the right spots and jumping when I know we have full possession, stuff like that contributes to the success there (shorthanded) and, at the end of the day, just looking not to get scored on and if the goals come, they come.”
The Oakville native uses a quick wrist shot to surprise goaltenders and likes to model some aspects of his game to Evgeni Malkin of Pittsburgh.
“Getting it (wrister) off quick has been big this year and having the goalies not be ready for what’s coming, so just continuing to work on different angles of shooting and getting it off my stick quick,
“I look at Evgeni Malkin and he’s a big body but at the same time he brings a lot of speed and pace to the game and can skate like the wind, so I look at him with his skill and talent and uses his body really well, so I try to bring some aspects of him into my game.”
Since the draft in July, Bloom has hit the gym hard and was part of his first training camp.
“Maintaining that strength that I put on over the summer because it was a big summer to just mature a bit physically and at the same time just always working on stuff like my shot and skating just to stay up with it.
“I loved Prospect Camp and then got the opportunity to stay around for main camp, so it was a pretty exciting time for me and I absolutely loved it.”
Over the past two years, players have lost out on the experience of being at their draft, donning the jersey of their new team and the interview process, but they are still basking in the memory of their dream to be selected.
“It was just me and my family at my house and we didn’t really know how the day was going to go, so it was just immediate family. We were sitting around and I got a call from my agent saying that he thinks I would be taken soon so we all sat around the TV and watched and saw my name pop up. So, it was really exciting and an unbelievable day.
“I had a little feeling it was going to be Buffalo, but I didn’t know anything for sure and I just couldn’t be happier about it.”