Photo Credit – Aaron Bell, CHL. Photo Taken By Terry Wilson, OHL Images.
Ethan Cardwell split his first full season in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) between the Saginaw Spirit and the Barrie Colts. The Spirit ended up trading Cardwell to Barrie as part of the Ryan Suzuki (Carolina Hurricanes prospect) trade that happened prior to the OHL trade deadline. The move to Barrie was a good one for Cardwell. In his 26 games played with Barrie, he was a point-per-game forward and helped fill the void that Matej Pekar (Buffalo Sabres prospect) opened up once Pekar was dealt to the Sudbury Wolves.
DOB – August 30, 2002
Draft Eligibility – 2020
Height – 5’10″
Weight – 157 lbs
Position – Centre
Handedness – Right
Cardwell’s Style Of Play
In the offensive zone, Cardwell has proven to be an aggressive forechecker. He uses his tight turn radius to chase after the puck in the offensive zone and his tight turns play a big roll especially when his opponent is an efficient stick-handler or has strong edges. In addition, Cardwell likes to park himself in the middle of the slot. It appears that the Barrie Colts noticed that pretty quickly on and moved him to the middle slot on the power play. It is where Cardwell feels comfortable regardless if he is playing at even strength or up a man. When Cardwell has possession of the puck or a teammate has control of the puck in the low slot, he will often glide to the left of the net and hope for a pass that the goaltender can not stop so that Cardwell can sneak the puck in the back of the net.
When Cardwell is shooting the puck from outside the perimeter, he is more of a point and shoot forward than a triggerman. Cardwell should be looking to further develop his shot and work on aiming the puck towards the top of the shelf. But, as mentioned, that is only applicable for his shot beyond the perimeter. When Cardwell is in the low slot, he is constantly planting himself along the edge of the crease and looking for the best opportunity to snag a rebound and score.
In terms of Cardwell’s passing, his bread and butter is the drop pass. No matter what zone Cardwell is in, he can execute the perfect drop pass. He has the capability of gently placing the puck behind him while he is on the rush. His opponents constantly seem phased by Cardwell’s drop passing. Not only can Cardwell deliver robust drop passes, but his centering pass is on point and he can even float a backhand cross ice pass. While Cardwell is a solid passer, there are some areas where he can improve. For one, his accuracy needs improvement. Cardwell has a tendency to pass the puck without taking the time to identify the teammate that has the most amount of open space/room. He needs to peripherals to identify the best teammate to pass to and not fire at will. Due to this tendency, Cardwell will turn the puck over from time to time.
In addition, he needs to look at his passing in the defensive zone. Aside from his drop passing, which he can execute cleanly in the defensive zone, when he retrieves the puck in his own zone, more than often he will dump the puck. Dumping the puck is extremely useful when it is either the last option due to heavy traffic or looking to shatter your opponents’ momentum. Unfortunately, Cardwell dumps the puck in situations where it does not appear that a dump-out is needed. He needs to work on controlling his instincts and executing zone exit passes to help spark a rush.
In the defensive zone, you will notice quickly that Cardwell’s positioning is slightly off. Given that Cardwell is a centre, you would expect that he will hover all over the defensive zone and apply strong pressure. Instead, Cardwell will often hug the boards and wait for the Colts to breakout from their own zone. If Cardwell can apply the same pressure that he demonstrates in the offensive zone but in his zone, he will warrant more playing time (even more time on the penalty kill) and demonstrate just how explosive he can be in killing the cycle and starting an offensive rush.
In terms of his skating, Cardwell has a short stride, which can limit his speed. This can be improved upon with some power skating instruction. Aside from his stride, his best skating attribute is his ability to create tight turns and button-hooks. As mentioned before, his tight turn radius proves to be pivotal to his aggressive forechecking as he is chasing after the puck. When Cardwell is along the boards and facing a potential body check, he is quite good at reading the timing of the check and spinning to avoid a collision.
Zach Hyman, LW/RW, Toronto Maple Leafs