USHL a stepping-stone to OHL for Rangers’ Magyar

By Jason Menard

Nick Magyar - Kitchener Rangers

Photo: Kitchener Rangers forward and 2014 prospect Nick Magyar is the Rangers leading scorer so far in 2013-14 with 35 points in 47 games (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Nick Magyar may be a rookie in the OHL, but to hear him talk about it, he took care of those rookie jitters last year with a one-year sojourn in the USHL.

“It wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be. Going [to the Sioux City Musketeers] last year was a big step in my development — just getting used to the league early, so I didn’t feel there was a big adjustment period going from league to league,” Magyar explained. “I feel like I missed out on most rookies who come to the league in their first year and have to adjust — I feel like I already have that gone, so I feel that was great.

“It’s definitely tough at first, but you get used to it. In the end, I think it’s definitely a benefit to play against the older guys, because you’re just getting used to the next level. That’s what you’re going to have to deal with for the rest of your career. Start young, get used to it earlier.”

Whatever the experience, the result has been a positive one for Magyar. In Central Scouting’s latest ranking of the top North American skaters, the Mentor, OH native came in at #52. In 47 games to date, the 6’2” forward has accounted for 13 goals and 22 assists.

“It’s definitely an honor to be on it, first of all, not to mention to be up there pretty high. So it’s motivation to get higher all year, but it’s definitely great to be on it,” Magyar added. “It’s something I’ve worked on all year; I’ve worked hard to get up there. But now you want to be higher. You have to work hard every day to get better and move up the list.”

He’s joined on the list by linemate Ryan MacInnis (33) and teammate Darby Llewellyn (113). Magyar said any competition is friendly, as all the draft-eligibles are pulling for each other.

“We all talk about it and we’re all excited for each other. I don’t really think it’s a competition — who’s first, who’s second,” he said. “We just want to help each other out and get higher and higher on the draft board.”

The Kitchener Rangers are one of the OHL’s most storied franchises and they have a history of sending talent to the NHL. Magyar said access to that talent has been helpful for all the draft-eligibles in learning what to expect during this key year.

“We talked to Justin Bailey and a bunch of them who have been through this process and been drafted before,” he said. “They’re helping us get through it and giving us advice, so we can learn from them.”

That history is also part of the reason he chose to go the OHL route, despite considering playing at Ohio State in the NCAA.

“I just feel like this is the best place to reach my dream, which is to play in the NHL,” he said. “Kitchener is one of the best organizations which has, in the past, helped to get guys to that level, so I really couldn’t pass it up.

“After I came to Kitchener, visited everyone, and saw what they have to offer — it was an easy decision after that.”

An easy decision, maybe, but not one that was taken lightly. Magyar explained that for an American-born player, the call of the collegiate ranks can be a tough one to ignore — especially from a social and friendship perspective.

“That’s what I’ve been used to growing up for my whole life. So seeing a bunch of guys go that way, and I’ve gone to a few college games — you see the atmosphere and what it’s like, and it’s definitely something that I could say I’ve missed,” he said. “But I definitely don’t regret this decision coming here. In the end it’s not about the atmosphere — it’s about making it to the next level and I feel like the OHL is the best route for that.”

With the NHL Draft approaching, Magyar knows there are still areas of his game that need to improve. But overall, he’s pleased with how his “rookie” campaign has gone.

“I need to work on skating — getting those first couple of steps quicker. I’m working on that,” he explained. “I have a power skating coach back in Kitchener. I’ve been doing a lot of ladder work, too — just quick agility.

“Other than that I think it’s been a great transition so far.”

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