After spending much of the 2015-16 season on a line alongside Michael McLeod and Alexander Nylander, Nathan Bastian has emerged as a key contributor in Mississauga.
Bastian and McLeod, whose close friendship has its own #SuperBuddies hashtag on Twitter, both heard their names called by the New Jersey Devils this past June. The two return to Mississauga as cornerstones of a Steelheads team poised to contend for Central Division supremacy this season.
“He’s really blossomed and grown into a big, strong, confident player,” said Steelheads general manager James Boyd.
The 6-foot-4, 219Ib. Bastian, who was chosen in the seventh round (127th overall) of the 2013 OHL Priority Selection, is a diamond in the rough of sorts after putting up 19 goals, 40 assists and 59 points in 64 games last season. He competed in the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver.
“He’s exactly what you’re looking for on draft day,” Boyd continued. “A seventh round pick who has worked hard and seen incredible improvements to his game.”
Known as a character in the dressing room, Bastian’s latest venture saw him take on the role of being Michael McLeod’s self-appointed ‘social media advisor.’ He is credited for the fellow Devils prospect being on Twitter today.
“It was halfway through the year, and he didn’t have a Twitter account,” Bastian told NJ.com’s Chris Ryan. “I’m like, ‘Mikey, where have you been?'” Bastian laughed. “‘We’re about to be verified.’ And he said, ‘alright, you make it.'”
It’s these high jinks, paired with his love for the game and willingness to get better that make Bastian a great teammate.
It remains to be seen if McLeod and Bastian will remain line mates this season. Bastian’s versatility affords newly named Steelheads head coach James Richmond the opportunity to find a good fit for him on either centre or the wing.
Wherever he plays, Bastian can be counted on to play a 200-foot game and use his size to his advantage.
“He’s really become a go-to guy for us,” Boyd added. “He’s got a passion for the game and he loves coming to the rink everyday and keeps things light with the guys. You need that on the team.”
“He has an enthusiasm and a will to win that is contagious.”
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