Photo Credit: Allen Douglas / Kamloops Blazers
Scouting Report written by Matthew Somma
When I first started watching the Kamloops Blazers this season, I was more focused on what Mats Lindgren and Fraser Minten were doing. I didn’t pay much attention to Seminoff at first. However, as time went on, one player stood out above all the rest on the Blazers. Every shift, Matthew Seminoff was making something happen, hounding the puck and becoming a legitimate nuisance for opposing teams trying to execute a breakout. Seminoff grabbed my attention almost immediately with his work ethic and speed, and I’ve been a fan since that moment.
One of my colleagues at Smaht Scouting, Jordan Malette, described Shane Wright as an airport. If Wright is an airport, Seminoff is a Formula 1 car. He’s constantly moving, but the slightest deviation can knock him off track and be disastrous. With time and some fine-tuning, though, those problems will become a thing of the past. You’ll just have to be patient. In our preliminary rankings, I didn’t list Seminoff in our top 50 or as an honorable mention. Part of that is for the reason I stated earlier, in that I hadn’t watched Kamloops for Seminoff at that point. As of right now, I’d consider Seminoff to be a fringe 2nd/3rd round pick.
Seminoff’s work ethic is something that will carry him a lot further than it probably should, which is a good thing. There are always going to be players more skilled than Seminoff that don’t make it as far because he’s willing to out work all of them. The work ethic won’t be everything, though. There are a lot of areas in Seminoff’s game where he’s just starting to develop and improve upon, and as a result, he’s fairly raw as a prospect. In this profile, I hope to paint a picture of Seminoff as a player and give my assessment as to why I believe that Seminoff will be an NHL forward in the future.
D.O.B – December 27, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –182 lbs
Position – Right Wing
Handedness – Right
Seminoff’s Style of Play
I’ve already mentioned what stands out about Seminoff from the get go. His speed is close to elite, he has good crossover speed and mobility and can accelerate to top speed quickly. Seminoff’s straight line speed makes him a weapon for Kamloops both in transition and on the forecheck. He’ll exit the zone with possession and ensure that his zone entries result in either shots or passes. Give Seminoff the puck and he’ll ensure that your team at is at least able to generate some offense off of the rush.
Part of what makes Kamloops so dangerous is that Seminoff will work his absolute hardest to create some offense, and even if the puck doesn’t go in, he’s still creating scoring chances. They’re a team that can beat you off the rush, and even though they’re a young team, they have the talent to burn you if you’re not careful. The only complaint that I have about Seminoff’s skating is that his turns could use some work. Occasionally, he’ll be going too fast and have to turn around with the puck in order to establish better positioning. If that happens, he won’t be able to make a tight turn. He’ll have to kick it out wide and take a slower turn, slowing the play down or allowing attacking players to get past him. Some time with an NHL skating coach should iron that issue out, but it’s worth mentioning.
Seminoff’s forechecking ability is something I could see frustrating teams for years to come. He constantly looks to establish an inside presence and get to loose pucks quicker than a defender. At that point, he’ll already be on the inside and have a clear shot at the net or an open teammate. Seminoff is so effective at stealing the puck and immediately moving it to a teammate for a scoring chance. He’ll work or force the puck into the middle and create high danger scoring chances. Again, it comes down to his work ethic. He never gives up on a play and will actively try and force the opposition to make a mistake and cough the puck up. He’ll pressure the puck and force a bad pass or simply take the puck for himself and continue going to work in the offensive zone.
What makes Seminoff so frustrating to play against is how relentless he is. He’s undersized, but that doesn’t mean that he’s weak on the puck. Seminoff’s puck protection is among the best I’ve seen in draft eligible skaters in the WHL this year and is a major factor in his effectiveness on the forecheck. Not too much changes in Seminoff’s game when the puck is in the neutral zone, either. He’ll look to capitalize on bad passes and work an effective back check in order to prevent a zone entry. If he fails to do so, he’s quickly back in position in the defensive zone.
Seminoff’s hockey sense is average to above average. He is able to anticipate passes and predict where a play might be headed in order to create offense or play defense. He’ll be in the right spot at the right time in all three zones. There aren’t many times where I’ve noticed him out of position in the offensive zone, and even if he is, he keeps his feet moving and is able to recover. Defensively, Seminoff can take away some lanes and utilize the same tactics he uses on the forecheck in order to take the puck away in the defensive zone. Seminoff’s mind is usually able to keep pace with his feet when the puck isn’t on his stick. When he’s on the forecheck, you can see him think the game in unison with his feet and adjust to a play on the fly. Occasionally, Seminoff can make rushed decisions with the puck on his stick and either take a bad shot attempt or skate the puck into the corner. Those types of plays will occur less often as he matures, though.
When I’ve watched Seminoff this season, I’ve noticed that if he’s faced with a decision, he’ll choose the option that gets the puck on net nine times out of ten. He’ll do this even if it means taking a weak shot from a bad angle that the goalie can easily cover. I’d like to see Seminoff take smarter shots. Getting pucks on net is almost always a good thing, but not when the goalie has the post completely sealed. Seminoff isn’t a sniper and I can’t see him picking the corner very often. If he holds onto the puck a little longer or keeps it moving by passing it to a teammate, he might experience more success in the offensive zone.
Seminoff isn’t the most gifted passer, nor is he the most gifted shooter. He gets decent power on his shot and it’ll be good enough for the NHL, but I wouldn’t consider him a sniper. More like a player that can surprise a goalie on the rush. Where Seminoff excels, however, is when he has the puck close to the net. A lot of his scoring chances come from in close, like in this clip.
Seminoff elects for the high danger chances but too often tries to pick a corner instead of trying to shoot where the goalie may have a gap in coverage. In fact, his offensive game is average compared to some of the other WHL skaters in this draft class. What makes Seminoff stand out, however, is his work ethic. Seminoff’s work ethic is among the best in the draft class and he’ll never give up on a play. I mentioned earlier that his work ethic will propel him further than one might expect because he’ll quickly become a favorite amongst the coaching staff. Seminoff will outwork the opposition every play, dog the puck and create turnovers. I’ve found that this is where Seminoff is the most effective. He can make a team pay off of a turnover or at the very least, be the player to set up a goal by forcing a rushed decision and bad pass. It may not always show up on the scoresheet, but these types of plays are valuable.
I don’t think anyone can question Seminoff’s work ethic. That alone has me fairly confident that he’ll see at least a handful of NHL games over the course of his professional career. The biggest question that I have about Seminoff is his upside. His offensive skills don’t pop enough for me to confidently say that he’ll be more than a 40-point player at the NHL level. Seminoff is a player that will get by on his speed and determination, forcing his way into an NHL lineup and carving out a nice third line role for himself. It’s possible that he takes major strides over the course of his development, but given his current skill level, I feel that his ceiling is a third line forward with occasional power play and penalty kill time.
I see Seminoff fitting on an NHL third line because he has enough offensive IQ to contribute and a lot of NHL third lines blend a mix of skill and grit into a line that can wear the opposition down. And that’s what Seminoff is doing in the WHL right now. He’s wearing opponents down and forcing them to make mistakes. Seminoff could work on an NHL fourth line, but I believe that in most cases, that would be a waste of his talents. He doesn’t fit the style of an NHL fourth line in a lot of ways and will need some more skilled players on his line in order to maximize his effectiveness.
In our Winter rankings meeting, I pushed for Seminoff to be ranked. Although I tend to prefer players with high ceilings, I could see Seminoff fitting into an NHL lineup. We ranked Seminoff 57th, projecting him as a mid-to-late second round pick. Sometimes, a player’s projectable tools make them a more attractive option than a player with top six upside but also major flaws in their game. Seminoff’s projectable tools are his elite top speed, forechecking ability and play in transition. He utilizes his teammates effectively and creates offense off of the rush, something that more and more NHL teams are looking for. An NHL team can develop Seminoff into a player that will have a long NHL career. His stats might not jump out at you at the NHL level, but he’ll contribute in ways that won’t always show up on paper.
Seminoff is the type of player whose relentless drive could push him into a team’s top six on occasion. I don’t believe he’ll stick in that role for an entire season too often, but he has enough skill to compete on that line and not weigh it down. And like I said in the scouting report, it’s entirely possible that Seminoff takes some major strides in his development and turns into a legitimate second line forward. Right now, I see a middle six forward that can see time on a team’s second power play and penalty kill units.
It’s entirely possible that Seminoff falls on draft day due to his size. I think it’s a stupid and irresponsible decision to pass on Seminoff for that reason, though. Some team is going to be very happy when they draft Seminoff, and they’ll look smart if they take him later than he was expected to go. If you’re able to, watch one of Kamloops’ upcoming games. I guarantee that he’ll catch your eye as one of the hardest working players out there, even if he doesn’t show up on the scoresheet.
January 25, 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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