By Dhiren Mahiban – The Canadian Press
Four years ago, David Levin convinced his parents to allow him to move to Canada to pursue his dream of playing in the NHL.
Two months into his second Ontario Hockey League season, the native of Netanya, Israel still finds it hard to believe he’s suiting up for the Sudbury Wolves.
“It went by fast, it went by really fast,” Levin said. “Four years… at first I was (playing) Double-A, then Triple-A, now jump to the OHL — it’s a big step, but I’m trying to learn more and more. I have my coaching staff to help me with that.”
Levin, who grew up primarily playing roller hockey, made the transition to ice skates at age 13 under the tutelage of coach Lindsay Hofford. The five-foot-10, 167-pound centre credits Hofford, now a scout with the Maple Leafs, for helping him make the transition to ice hockey.
“He helped me out a lot. I learned the game from him too,” Levin said. “Also my dad back home, he was my coach every day, eight hours a day almost on roller blades — he was always telling me to keep my head up, make some plays and that’s how I learned.”
After being picked first overall by the Wolves at the 2015 OHL Priority Selection, Levin scored nine goals and 30 points in 47 games in his rookie season with Sudbury.
Levin has four goals and six assists through 21 games of his second OHL season.
The 17-year-old is defensively aware and not afraid to throw a hit to make a play. His vision and excellent hand-eye co-ordination set him apart form his peers.
But the fact that Levin didn’t play organized hockey until four years ago is evident when it comes to his skating. He lacks explosiveness, and with the game getting faster it’s an area he will need to improve on.
“We’ve got to get him faster,” said Wolves coach David Matsos. “He makes some great plays, but it is a fast league and time and space is taken away pretty quick. I think that would probably be the biggest one for me: we’ve got to get his foot speed better.”
A Grade 12 student, Levin’s favourite high school subject is history because he likes “to learn about the wars.” Levin himself may have to do a tour of military service as required by the Israeli government.
Last summer he received a deferment so he can continue to play hockey this season.
“That was huge for me,” Levin said. “But it’s not over yet. They’re going to see how I’m going to play. That’s why it’s even more important for me this year ’cause next year is my draft with my army.
“If they’re going to take me, I can’t play in my (NHL) draft year. I have to do really good this year.”