For a guy who spent most of his minor hockey career as a defenceman, 16-year-old Vimal Sukumaran has proven a relatively quick study as a forward for the Lac St. Louis midget AAA Lions.
Sukumaran was named Offensive Player of the Month in the Quebec Midget AAA league after scoring 11 goals in eight games during the month of October.
He also collected 6 assists. In 16 games this season, the Pierrefonds resident has tallied 14 goals and nine assists for a team leading 23 points.
The hard-hitting Sukumaran also has 26 penalty minutes to go along with a team-leading six power play goals.
Lions GM Raz Saltarelli said Sukumaran, who stands a shade under 5-foot-9 and weighs 187 pounds, possesses all the right stuff to be a top forward in the league.
“Vimal has got a lot of good attributes,” Saltarelli said. “He’s a good skater, he’s got pretty decent hockey sense and he’s a big, physical strong kid.”
He said Sukumaran’s desire “to go for the big hit” could’ve become a liability on defence where getting caught out of position is a no-no.
“However, as a forward it’s more of an asset trying to make big hits,” Saltarelli noted. “You create more space with those plays. I don’t know if he’s natural forward, but he’s effective. I think he could still play defence very well at our level – even power plays. He can play both positions and play them pretty well.”
After putting up 4-12-16 point totals last season, Sukumaran was drafted in the seventh round (127th) overall by the Victoriaville Tigres.
Saltarelli said the decision to convert Sukumaran to forward took place during last year’s tryout camp.
“It was interesting because he was a defenceman coming out of bantam with Deux Rives. We thought we were pretty deep at the defencemen position last year, so we pulled him aside during camp last year and said, ‘We think you have a chance to make this team as a forward. We don’t really see you making it as a defenceman this year’.
“We thought he was a kid who could or should play midget AAA, but we needed to find a spot for him and a role for him.
“So he played forward and liked it. He came in at the bottom because he had switched positions, and by the end of the season had worked his way up to the No. 6 or 7 spot as a forward.
“Funny enough, this year we gave him the option,” Saltarelli added. “We thought he’d want to go back and play D, but he told us he wanted to play forward.”
Sukumaran has assumed a leadership role on a team that is sailing along in second place of the Reebok Division.
Only the Chateauguay Grenadiers are doing better.