Photo Credit: Cataractes de Shawinigan / Olivier Croteau
Lorenzo Canonica is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect from Lugano, Switzerland. In 2019-20, Lorenzo tallied 43 points in 42 games with Lugano in the Swiss U20-Elit. It can be challenging to put those numbers into context as most Swiss-born players on the NHL radar play in the Swiss pro ranks or have departed to superior junior leagues by the time they are approaching their draft year. To help add some perspective, two notable players to recently play in the Swiss U20-Elit were Marco Rossi and Nico Hischier. In Hischier’s D-1 season, he totaled 28 points in 18 games, and in Rossi’s D-2 season, he totaled 51 points in 34 games. Lorenzo’s D-1 season was impressive as a 16-year-old playing in a U20 league but was not entirely on par with top-end draft picks we have seen come through the Swiss junior system.
He began this season playing with Lugano in the Swiss U20 and continued on his point per game pace that he was on in 2019-20. He was one of two 2003 born players to be selected for the Swiss World Junior team. Unfortunately, his performance was slightly underwhelming, tallying only one assist in 4 games. However, the tournament is historically challenging for players in their draft years, especially for a player under two weeks away from being a 2022 NHL Draft eligible. After the World Juniors, he joined the Shawinigan Cataractes alongside fellow 2021 draft-eligible Xavier Bourgault and top 2020 draftee Mavrik Bourque. With Shawinigan, he scored 16 points in 24 regular-season games and 4 points in a best of 5 playoff series loss against the Rimouski Océanic.
D.O.B – September 3, 2003
Nationality – Switzerland
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –179 lbs
Position – Center/Left Wing
Handedness – Left
Canonica’s Style Of Play
Lorenzo Canonica is the type of player that any coach would love to have on their team. He never takes a shift off, is constantly engaged in all areas of the ice, and is incredibly responsible defensively. Canonica’s game leans on a consistently high effort level and solid positional play, especially in the defensive zone, to drive positive results for his team. So when you hear the phrase “plays the right way,” a player like Canonica should be who comes to mind.
It is common to see a draft-eligible prospect labeled as “great with the puck, but…” Lorenzo Canonica is a bit of the opposite. It’s not that his play with the puck is flawed; it’s just not the main element of his game that stands out when you watch him play. He is a conscious puck manager as he is never overhandling the puck and is always looking for a simple pass to an open teammate to avoid any risk of a turnover. His play away from the puck is the key to Lorenzo’s game. He offers a combination of attention to detail, high effort, and sound positioning that contribute to suppressing dangerous changes againt, pushing play out of his team’s end and maintaining it in the attacking third of the ice. All in all, Lorenzo displays a high level of maturity in his style of play that is impressive to see in such a young player.
Strong defensive play is the main area of his game where Lorenzo provides positive value to his team. He traditionally played the center position but spent most of his time in Shawinigan playing on the wing. His history of playing center shines through in how he approaches the defensive zone as a winger. At all times, Canonica is scanning his surroundings to ensure all potential threats are covered. He is constantly checking over his shoulder to ensure no opponents are sneaking in behind him. If he sees an unmarked opponent in a dangerous area, Canonica frequently provides supplementary coverage down low around the net to prevent dangerous scoring opportunities from developing. When the puck is at the point, he provides pressure to the puck carrier and contains them to limit their ability to find an open shooting lane. In addition, he pays specific attention to regularly having his stick in the passing lane taking away options from the opposition. Canonica’s defensive efforts are a primary contributor to the minimal high danger chances the opposition generates while he is on the ice.
A reoccurring theme with Canonica is back-pressure. Back-pressure is a crucial component of team defense as it helps neutralize odd-man rush opportunities from developing into premium scoring chances. The more time and space a team on the counter-attack has, the more likely they will score. As such, a solid back-checking presence is mandatory from a team’s forwards. Upon his team losing possession of the puck, Lorenzo has little to no hesitation to move his feet and begin his pursuit to retrieve the puck back for his team. His relentless back-pressure puts him in a favourable position to take away time and space from the opposition and help regain possession for his team. Not only is the effort level high, but he is back-checking optimally as he is scanning for the most dangerous threat to mark. Back-pressure isn’t typically an exceptionally significant component of a player’s game, but the level of consistency and attention to detail Lorenzo applies to his back-pressure made it stand out as an element worth mentioning.
Up until this point, everything has been overwhelmingly positive about what Canonica offers to his team. The challenge is that the offensive sample was limited in his season with Shawinigan, as he usually wasn’t the line-mate directly creating the scoring chances. When attacking off the rush, he frequently enters the zone and takes a low danger shot as he lacks the lethal combination of change of pace and deception to beat a defender one on one and create space for himself. He could use more patience with the puck upon entering to look for a better option rather than a shot from the perimeter. With the puck, Lorenzo usually can find the simple pass to a teammate in a better position. But, his lack of deception hinders his ability to open up passing lanes by pulling defenders out of position, which is essential to excel as a playmaker. There were definitively flashes of offensive moments from Lorenzo, but they were simply not frequent enough.
However, his strong play in the defensive and neutral zone are integral components of a successful line as he routinely drives play into the offensive zone where his more offensively minded line-mates can thrive. Canonica’s offensive contributions mainly come from his relentless efforts to apply pressure to defenders on the forecheck and force turnovers to regain possession for his teammates. Lorenzo frequently pounces on loose pucks to secure control in the offensive zone. He can operate well off the cycle, protecting the puck down low and rotating into space in front of the net to become a passing option. Like in the defensive zone, Lorenzo plays a positionally sound game, resulting in him being in prime positions to receive a high danger pass around the net where he is more than capable of finding the back of the net.
There is an intriguing set of tools that are visible in Canonica’s game today. At a minimum, a team would be happy to find a defensive-leaning play driving forward in the middle to later stages of the draft. However, it’s reasonable to believe the offensive ceiling may be higher as he is one of the youngest in the 2021 class and has lots of time to continue developing. Lorenzo would benefit from an extended stay in the Junior ranks to maximize puck touches and explore the untapped offensive potential he may have. He has been playing up multiple age groups for his entire hockey career, so taking things slow and not rushing to the professional ranks would allow him to dominate against his peers for a couple of seasons. In Shawinigan this past season, he was fortunate to play with offensively gifted linemates, which may have limited his offensive opportunities. It is possible that in future years and was the “go-to guy,” he could flourish offensively.
Middle or bottom-six winger with the flexibility to play center and handle defensive matchups and penalty kill assignments
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Jordan Malette. If you would like to follow Jordan on Twitter, his handle is @jordanmalette.
Looking for other scouting reports? Check out the Prospects tab for our other scouting reports.
Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!