Kitchener Rangers defenseman Michael Vukojevic is one of 14 Ontario Hockey League players attending the 2019 NHL Combine, the event that is being held at the Harbor Center in Buffalo, NY, USA.
Michael, an Oakville Ontario native, and former Mississauga Rebels rearguard has emerged as a talented d-man who contains the total package. Vukojevic was drafted, 1st round 8th overall by the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL Futures draft in 2017.
The 6’3″ blue-liner was then selected in the 2nd round 33rd overall by the Kitchener Rangers in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection draft. He ultimately took his talents across the border to the States and began the ’17-’18 season with Green Bay.
The talented Ontario born defender would return to Canada and debut with the Kitchener Rangers during the 2017-2018 season. Vukojevic played 24 regular season games for Kitchener, going on to become a key player during the deep playoff run that same year, he tallied 10 points in 19 playoff games.
The 2018-2019 season was the first full season with the Rangers for the NHL draft prospect, he tallied 29 points and showcased his durability as he played in all 68 games. He also played all 4 playoff games. It was a year for Michael to shine as one of the top young defensemen on Kitchener’s blue line and he did not disappoint.
Vukojevic is a talented skater with impeccable awareness and terrific hockey senses. He can move the puck with crisp, accurate passes or he’ll utilize his great skating abilities and still be extremely effective. With his 6’3″ frame and weighing in at 212 pounds he can be physical along the boards and takes away passing and shooting lanes with ease.
He possesses the tools to make transitioning to the next level easier for himself, a reason why you’ll find him in the top 100 North American skaters ranked by Central Scouting Services. There is no doubt that Michael will be selected during this years NHL Entry draft, the only questions are when and where.
With many teams adapting to the style of taking the best player available regardless of position, it may not be too long before you hear Michael Vukojevic’s name at the draft.
Returning to the Kitchener Rangers for 2019-2020 will be the likely scenario for the young defender. Another year to grow and round out an already, nearly sound playing style will work wonders for Vukojevic.
He will be a key component in a defensive group that will transition into a much younger looking group next season. With Justin Macpherson and Joseph Rupoli returning as the ’00 born players, it will be up to Michael Vukojevic, Donavan Sebrango who as of now is the only ’02 born defenseman. That leaves ’01 left-handed rearguard Arber Xhekaj to round out the returning defenseman for the 2019-2020 season.
I asked Kitchener Rangers General Manager Mike McKenzie about his defenseman, he said. ” ‘Vuks’ was a big part of our back end all year long. He was in the unique position of playing against top lines every night as a 17-year-old which is rare and also difficult and his game continued to improve throughout the season. We will heavily rely on him this coming season to be a rock for us back there.”
In terms of growth and development with plenty of in-game experience ahead for Michael and his Rangers teammates. The projections point to a bigger, faster and extremely determined Michael Vukojevic next season. The NHL Draft will likely give him an added boost to his off-season as he gets ready for next year.