Photo Credit: Candice Ward/Calgary Hitmen
Scouting Report written by Matthew Somma
Conor Geekie is another top prospect to come out of the WHL this season and one of two potential first round picks on the Winnipeg Ice. Geekie is an elite playmaker and possesses high amounts of skill with the puck on his stick, giving him the ability to create offense at an impressive rate. Geekie can do things with the puck that few other skaters his size can, which will undoubtedly make him one of the most talked about players heading into day one of the 2022 NHL Draft.
Geekie does most of his work in the offensive zone and sees time as a distributor on the power play. Winnipeg is one of the best teams in the WHL, and Geekie makes them a better team both at even strength and on the power play. It’s clear that their coaches trust Geekie with some tough matchups, an encouraging sign for such a young prospect.
Geekie is one of those players that I’ve been hot and cold on this season. On one hand, I see that his high hockey sense, playmaking ability and size give him a high chance of seeing NHL games. On the other, I see a player whose skating handicaps him in transition and limits his effectiveness both on the rush, the forecheck, and the back check. I have concerns about Geekie’s projectability to the NHL that I hope to illustrate in this profile. I’m fairly confident hat Geekie will play NHL games, but I have concerns about how he’ll slot into an NHL lineup.
D.O.B – May 5, 2004
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –205 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Left
Geekie’s Style of Play
When I’ve watched Geekie, two things have stood out above the rest. First, Geekie’s hockey sense. Geekie is one of the smartest players on the ice at any time and can find open teammates before defenses have a chance to notice that they’ve missed an assignment. His ability to read and react to the play is elite. Geekie scans for opportunities to pass or shoot and is skilled enough to execute on those plays. What makes Geekie so special is his ability to not only think ahead of the opposition, but to react and act on it quickly. This play is a perfect example of Geekie’s hockey sense. He keeps moving forward to receive the pass and knows exactly where his teamate is. He then makes a perfect pass to set up a goal.
When I was watching Sasha Mutala back in 2019, he frustrated the hell out of me because although his mind was thinking at a mile a minute, he wasn’t able to keep up physically and his game suffered because of it. That’s not the case with Geekie. He is able to move in sync with his brain, making him one of the WHL’s most potent offensive players.
Geekie’s playmaking is elite. He excels at seeing the ice, assessing all of his options and making a pass to an open teammate on the tape.
Give Geekie space and he’ll make you pay. Take away a shooting lane and he’ll find a way to get the puck to his teammates for a goal. Geekie doesn’t always carry the puck in transition, nor is he the primary shooting option for Winnipeg. He has carved out a nice role for himself on the Ice that sees him receiving the puck upon entering the zone and making a play happen shortly afterwards. It’s effective, too, as seen in the first clip. Would I like to see Geekie carry the puck in transition more often? Sure, but as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Geekie can do things with the puck that few other skaters his size can. I wouldn’t say that he’s making the All-Hands team of the draft, but I’d like to see other skaters do what Geekie can do at 6-foot-4. First, a simple looking toe drag at full speed to pull the defender out of position.
Next, a nifty chip to avoid a poke check.
Geekie’s hands make him even more of a nuisance for WHL goaltenders, who haven’t seemed to find a way to stop him yet.
Much like his brother Morgan, Conor Geekie’s most underrated part of his offensive game is his shot. There’s a lot to be said about his hockey sense and playmaking ability, and it’s completely justified, but man oh man does Geekie have a howitzer. Geekie’s snap shot might be the best out of all WHL draft eligible skaters this season, with Jagger Firkus coming in at a close second. Geekie’s shot makes him a triple threat scorer. He can beat you with his mind, his playmaking, and his shot. When defenses think they’ve found a way to stop Geekie, he’ll find a way to exploit their weaknesses. It’s like a villain thinking they’ve won, only to hear Giorno’s theme playing in the background.
Of course, Geekie’s size is going to be an advantage at this level. It can mask his average skating and allow for him to bulldoze through the opposition. Geekie uses his size to his advantage but doesn’t force a play just because he’s bigger and stronger than the opposing defense. Instead, he’ll utilize his size and strength to protect the puck and utilize his teammates rather than relying on individual skill all of the time. I watched Julien Gauthier develop over the course of four years with the Hurricanes. He was a dominant force in the QMJHL simply because he could run over the competition. Gauthier struggled early on in his professional career because his competition was used to playing against guys like him. It was a major hurdle for Gauthier to overcome and one that could have been prevented if he began to change his game in the QMJHL. I say all of this with Geekie in mind. Geekie already utilizes his teammates and isn’t going to force a play if it’s not there. He already knows when he’s outmatched and can get rid of the puck to allow a teammate a better opportunity. It’s why I believe that Geekie will have a relatively seamless transition to the professional game rather than a bit of a rocky one.
Now, Geekie isn’t a perfect player. I have concerns about his skating that may impact his effectiveness at the NHL level. Geekie is an average skater in the WHL, and while his skating isn’t awful due to his size, it has a long way to go before it becomes NHL average. It tends to hold him back and I find that Geekie is often the last player to enter the offensive or defensive zone. He can’t help his team if he’s lagging behind on the play, but I feel that some time with a skating coach could help Geekie. He could stand to get a little more power on his first few strides and work with a conditioning coach to increase his top speed. Right now, I feel that his stride can be a little clunky and not always consistent. There are games where I’ll be blown away by Geekie’s speed while moving the puck and there are other games where it looks as if Geekie is skating through cement that has already dried around his skates.
The lack of consistency in his stride concerns me. Plenty of players have made it to the NHL while being only average skaters, but fewer players are able to break into a team’s top six as an average skater. If Geekie reaches his full potential and improves on his skating, I could see him becoming a 60 to 70-point player at the NHL level. If he doesn’t improve his skating, I have a difficult time seeing Geekie playing any higher than the third line on his team. I’m more inclined to believe that Geekie will be successful because you can help him become a better skater. You can’t teach hockey sense.
Here’s where I really start to doubt Geekie’s future. Yes, the skating is poor. That can be improved upon. What frustrates me the most about Geekie is how much of a passenger he can be on his line. Geekie is not the primary play driver on his line and is almost never the player to carry the puck into the offensive zone. To me, that doesn’t scream “NHL center.” I find it hard to believe that Geekie can be an NHL center if he isn’t carrying the puck into the zone and creating plays himself rather than waiting for the play to come to him. He can be passive and flips the switch once the puck comes to him. Once he dishes the puck to a teammate, he disappears again. It’s frustrating to watch because a player with his size and skill should be driving the play and manipulating defenses. He should be a constant threat whenever he’s on the ice, but he isn’t.
Geekie’s defensive play can be frustrating as well. He’s consistently the last to enter the defensive zone, skates around aimlessly, then flails his stick once a player skates past him. I hesitate to call Geekie a lazy player, but that’s almost how it seems at times. You can help him play defense, but the effort level in the defensive zone is what concerns me the most. It’s not there most nights.
Lastly, Geekie can get pushed off of the puck easier than most players because he is often unable to skate around players or create space for himself in close. I notice a bit of panic in his game once two defenders start to press the attack on Geekie. He’ll turn his back and then turn the puck over, killing any offensive momentum that his team might have had.
I hinted at my projection for Geekie earlier. I believe that Geekie can be a top line NHL player if his skating gets to be NHL average or better. That’s the biggest question, though. Can Geekie improve his skating enough in order to be effective at the NHL level? Or a better question might be this: How will Geekie adapt and change his game once the competition gets bigger, faster, and stronger? He isn’t going to be able to run over the competition for much longer, and his effort level sure as hell won’t cut it in the pros.
There are times when I’m enamored with Geekie’s skill level. He thinks the game ahead of players and creates a lot of high danger chances. When he’s on his game, Geekie looks like a legitimate top ten pick. When he’s off his game, however, Geekie looks like a player that I’d avoid entirely if I were drafting in the top 20. Yes, the size and skill combination will be enticing for an NHL team, but the risks in his game make me wary of his odds at making a big splash in the NHL.
If I’m being honest, I haven’t liked Geekie very much this season. I see the skill that others are seeing, and it’s easy to look at his highlights and go “man, this kid has it.” But when I’ve watched Geekie play, I’ve seen an underwhelming player with very obvious flaws in his game that will affect his NHL chances. The skating is an obvious issue, but his effort level in the neutral and defensive zones concerns me even more. Again, I don’t want to call Geekie a lazy player, but his efforts in the defensive zone can definitely look lazy at times. Then there’s the issue of whether or not Geekie is an NHL center moving forward. It’s a major concern of mine that Geekie is not dictating the play when he’s on the ice. He doesn’t even carry the puck into the zone. I see him waiting for the play to come to him instead of actively seeking opportunities, making me question if he can be more than just a complementary player at the NHL level.
If I were an NHL team with a top 20 pick, I would hesitate to draft Geekie. It’s easy to be enamored with the size and skill, but under the surface, you have a player that’s going to take a long time to get to a top six role at the NHL level. Geekie could easily peak as a third line player in the NHL, which, in this scout’s opinion, is not worth a top 20 pick. Again, the upside is there, but there are a lot of holes in Geekie’s game that could limit his effectiveness at the NHL level.
January 3, 2022
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Matthew Somma. If you would like to follow Matthew on Twitter, his handle is @Mattsomma12.
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