Dwayne Norris’s son could be a first-rounder in NHL Entry Draft

American U18 star John Norris has been shooting up the rankings

Published on June 22, 2017

TSN’s Bob McKenzie had Josh Norris (14) of the U.S. national under-18 team at 60th in his mid-season rankings for the 2017NHL Entry Draft, beginning tonight in Chicago. However, the son of St. John’s native Dwayne Norris has become a much hotter commodity over the past few months, with McKenzie and others now predicting he will be a first-round pick.

©USA Hockey/Rena Laverty

Barring a huge surprise, there won’t be any Newfoundlanders selected in this weekend’s NHL draft, which opens tonight in Chicago. But that’s not to say there won’t be a player selected with a Newfoundland connection, and he’s one with a familiar name.

Josh Norris

Josh Norris, a 6-0, 190-pound centre from Oxford, Mich., is the 34th ranked North American player by NHL Central Scouting, but many pre-draft predictors have him as a fast-riser who could go in the first round.

He can hammer a puck. He can skate. He’s got a great first step. He competes, and he’s coachable. He’s got a lot going for him.

United States U18 coach John Wroblewski on Josh Norris

Norris is the son of St. John’s native and Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador Hall of Famer Dwayne Norris.

The elder Norris played minor hockey up through the Avalon system and Bishops College before heading off to Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask.

Dwayne Norris, who won a silver medal with Canada at the 1994 Winter Olympics, had been a seventh-round (127th overall) draft choice of the Quebec Nordiques four years earlier. His son will be selected much higher.
Canadian Press file photo/Canadian Olympic Association

From there, Dwayne Norris attended Michigan State University, played on the national junior team (he won a gold medal with Canada in 1990), was drafted in 1990 by the Quebec Nordiques, appeared in 20 NHL games, won an Olympic silver medal and 1994 and enjoyed a long playing and front-office career in Germany.

The younger Norris appears to be a chip off the old block.

Committed to attend the University of Michigan — his father’s arch-rival while attending Michigan State — Josh Norris was one of the top players on the U.S. National Team Development Program under-18 team last season, ending up tied for the team scoring lead with 61 points (27G, 34A) in 61 games.

He helped the Americans to a gold medal at the 2017 world under-18 championship and has been invited to next month’s summer showcase which will be used to help identify players who will help the United States defend its title at the next world junior championship.

Some pundits, like TSN’s Bob McKenzie, have Norris pegged to go as high as 23rd. TSN’s Craig Button has Norris at No. 25, and Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek has him in the 26th slot.

“He can hammer a puck. He can skate. He’s got a great first step. He competes, and he’s coachable. He’s got a lot going for him,” said U.S. U18 coach John Wroblewski. “I think he’s got a great deal of God-given talent. He is a heck of a kid and extremely coachable.

“Those items right there lead up to a player who has some ability and a bright future.”

Norris jumped a whopping 37 spots from 60th in McKenzie’s mid-term rankings for TSN and much of that meteoric rise has been credited to his showing at the NHL Scouting Combine. He finished first in five of the tests, including peak power output on the Wingate bike test, which measures a skater's explosive power in a 30-second sprint

Norris also had the best times in the pro agility test, a 20-yard shuttle run, the vertical jump and standing long jump.

He isn’t the only one of Dwayne’s three boys playing hockey.

Dalton Norris, a 15-year-old defenceman, played on the Oakland Junior Grizzlies U15 team in Michigan last season. Coale Norris, the oldest of the lot at 20, suited up for the Youngstown Phantoms in the USHL, the top junior league in the United States, last season. He is committed to play for Ferris State University.