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Sens vs Devils

Howden defies odds to become hot draft prospect

Warriors forward wouldn't let childhood mishap keep him from hockey dream

Thursday, 10.06.2010 / 2:31 PM / Draft 2010
By Rob Brodie  - OttawaSenators.com
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Howden defies odds to become hot draft prospect
When he was six years old, Quinton Howden broke his femur so badly in a biking mishap that it left him in a full-body cast up to his chest for two months. Today, his skating is the asset that has done the most to make Howden a potential first-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, to be held June 25-26 in Los Angeles  (Claus Andersen/Getty Images).
(Editor's note: This is one in a series of features about prospects who might possibly be available when the Ottawa Senators make the No. 16 selection of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, set for June 25-26 in Los Angeles. Choices are based on rankings by several services, including NHL Central Scouting)..

Ask any scout to assess Quinton Howden's ability and they'll no doubt rave about the Moose Jaw Warriors centre's biggest asset.

"One of the best, if not the best, skaters in the (Western Hockey) league, for his size," NHL Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan said when asked by NHL.com about the 6-2, 182-pound Howden. "His skating is so good for his size. His threat is his speed, not only to score goals, but to cause turnovers.

"He's excellent on the penalty kill, always a threat out there. If he gets a step on anybody, he's gone."

It's that level of skating, along with his two-way play, that elevated Howden to the No. 16 spot in International Scouting Services' June 1 rankings — exactly where the Ottawa Senators pick in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, set for June 25-26 in Los Angeles. NHL Central Scouting rated the 18-year-old Winnipeg native at No. 19 among North American skaters in its final season rankings.

There was a darker time, however, not so long ago, when Howden and his parents, Sheldon and Krystal, wouldn't have considered pondering such a thought. When he was six years old, Howden shattered his femur in a biking mishap and his leg was mangled so badly that he spent eight weeks in a full body cast. He spent most of that time in a wheelchair.

"(The cast) went all the way up my one leg, up to my chest, then all the way down the other leg," said Howden, 18. "I did the splits with a bar in the middle holding it together.

"It was pretty difficult, but it's just something you have to go through. Every kid has their good days and their bad times and stuff like that. That was one of my bad times, but I made it through."

"(The cast) went all the way up my one leg, up to my chest, then all the way down the other leg. I did the splits with a bar in the middle holding it together. It was pretty difficult, but it's just something you have to go through. Every kid has their good days and their bad times and stuff like that. That was one of my bad times, but I made it through." - Quinton Howden
After intense physical therapy strengthened the leg, Sheldon Howden made the decision to put his son into hockey — even if doctors doubted his ability to skate. But Howden wouldn't be denied, saying "I just ran with that opportunity."

And there was Howden two years ago, racking up 121 goals and 76 assists in just 51 games of midget AA hockey. It was enough to convince the Warriors to make him the top pick in the 2007 WHL bantam draft. All the while, his fire was fuelled by the doctors who once told him he'd never make it as an athlete.

"That drove me even harder in life, trying to prove people wrong," said Howden. "Look at me now — I'm just getting the opportunity now and I'm running with it."

Ironically enough, that passion and drive to succeed manifests itself most of all in an area in which he was once told there was little hope.

"I think the challenges he had when he was younger probably helped him with the drive he has to becomea pro player," Moose Jaw coach Dave Hunchak told NHL.com. "He's a guy that has tremendous skating ability. He can go from gear 2 to gear 5 and that's strength, that's natural ability, that's the drive he has to become a pro player."