Photo Credit: Luke Durda/OHL Images
Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler
Isaiah George is a 2022 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who hails from Oakville, Ontario. Before making his debut as a London Knight, he played U15 AAA and U16 AAA hockey for the Toronto Marlboros. During his time with the Marlboros, he played alongside a few 2022 NHL Draft eligible prospects including Paul Ludwinski (Kingston Frontenacs) and Kaiden Muir (USNTDP). In addition to playing for the Marlboros, he also had a very short stint with the OJHL’s Oakville Blades. George played in one 2019-2020 regular season game for the Blades and one game in the playoffs.
George was drafted by the London Knights in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection Draft at pick #68 in round four. He was also selected at #76th overall (sixth round) in the 2020 USHL Futures Draft by the Tri-City Storm, but he preferred to play for London.
Since the OHL’s 2020-2021 season didn’t take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, George made his Knights debut this season. In 67 games played this season, he recorded six goals and 17 assists. The majority of his assists were secondary 5v5 assists.
D.O.B – February 15, 2004
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –194 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left
George’s Style Of Play
If you asked me to describe Isaiah George’s offensive game in two words, it would be “conservative creativity”. Throughout the course of my viewings, I noticed that George wants to be far more involved offensively and he wants to utilize his mobility to get himself space down low in the slot. But, George seems very cautious about pinching up and trying to work the cycle. In every shift that you see George carry or pass the puck to the slot to key up high and medium danger chances, there are two to three shifts in which he has a more relaxed approach.
Not only does George like to weave through the opposition with his mobility, but he will also pinch up along the boards, push past traffic with his upper body strength and feather passes to the slot from the corner. George’s ability to drive down low is in large part due to his stick-handling reach. He has a solid wingspan that allows him to take up a lot of space with puck on his stick. His hands are quick too. George has the ability to move the puck quickly when facing pressure at the point, use his upper body to push past multiple attackers along the half-wall boards while at the same time extending his stick blade further out to ensure than an attacker won’t be able to catch up easily.
You can also expect George to pinch up for pucks rolling around the corner boards.
From a positional standpoint, George checks the boxes. George will move up to the perimeter line when he’s got a teammate behind the red line. He offers an open passing option. In situations in which the F1 gets stuck due to an aggressive backcheck and there is no one else around for support, George skates in at centered ice to provide his teammate with a passing option.
When he has possession of the puck and is passing from the point, he likes to use bounce passes along the half-wall to a winger. That is rather effective as you can get the puck around an attacker if you don’t have a clean tape to tape lane to exploit when he is closing in on you. But, George does need to be more selective on when he uses bounce passes in the offensive zone. For instance, if there isn’t a ton of pressure and he can utilize his mobility / shiftiness to navigate away from the pressure, he shouldn’t look to complete a bounce pass. By bouncing the pass in situations in which George didn’t have traffic immediately in front of him, he slows the puck movement down. George is also giving away the passing route and that allows the attacker to skate up to the puck and trap possession.
George does need to work on shot selection. When George has possession of the puck, but doesn’t feel like he has the confidence to shift around pressure and bring the puck up towards the perimeter and/or the slot, he will fire a shot on net from the point and it will be an easy save for the net-minder. The thing is I know that he has the ability to shift out and be dangerous with the puck on his stick. He has the tools.
While his shot selection needs more refinement, he does have a solid shot from range. Check out this clip against Kitchener. George pinches up towards the perimeter, gets into a jam with four Kitchener Rangers looking to box him in and he fires a quick shot low post. He knows that with multiple attackers closing in on him that he has to shoot low not high. If he shoots high, the shot might re-direct off the attacker’s stick if they are skating at the same pace.
George’s defensive positioning is quite good. When defending down low against non puck carrying attackers who are looking to net open ice in high and medium danger, he does a good job of staying aligned and standing in front of the attacker to ensure that a teammate behind the red line can’t pass to the attacker. He is a smart interior defender.
When looking to take away space for an oppositional puck carrier, he is quick to coverage. Stays aligned with him as he skates with attacker in low danger. George lowers and widens himself to take up more space and then will use his reach to completely trap the attacker.
Another awesome clip of Isaiah George trapping an attacker with support his teammate, netting possession and then driving the rush up the ice. But, this time around, you can see how he can leverage his mobility and stick-handling to navigate around multiple attackers to create space for himself to skate.
George uses his upper body strength well when defending. Does a good job of leaning into the puck carrying attacker with his shoulder in the corner and then he pokechecks to grab control of the puck. Behind the red line, George will look to shoulder check his opponents to cause puck disruption.
George does need to work on where he should be when defending in 2-on-1s. He will give up slightly too much space for the non-puck carrying attackers. George struggles with identifying the best spot to be at when countering against the 2-on-1. Since he isn’t in a true centered position that allows for the non-puck carrying attacker to start to drift away more and get quality separation.
Defensive puck recoveries are no issue for George. If George needs to adjust to rapid changes in puck movement, he leverages his crossovers to get the necessary acceleration to get in front of the attacker and net possession of the puck. He has the foot speed to pick up pucks routinely.
When he has control of the puck, he typically looks to make a pass to a teammates in the neutral zone instead of bringing the puck up the ice himself. Just like in the offensive zone, he loves to utilize bounce passes. George will look to complete bounce passes off the boards to teammates who are further up along the boards when he has the forecheck right in front of him and no other passing lane. But, he tends to over use his bounce pass. My belief is that he doesn’t feel too confident in his long range passes as they typically are too powerful for his teammates to trap and a bounce pass will start to slow down after it makes contact with the boards.
When facing oncoming pressure and he is stuck behind the red line, he has shown that he can quickly get the puck out of his hands and up the boards to a winger. George will also look to utilize his upper body strength to push off of attackers when they are coming towards at speed. He pushes them with his shoulder and with the other arm he will complete one handed shovel passes to teammates further up the boards.
When defending against the rush, George uses an active stick to take away space for the puck carrying attacker and force the attacker to dump the puck into the London zone. Yet, he doesn’t just use an active stick to take away space for puck carrying attackers. George will use his active stick to take away an opponent as a potential target for an opponent who has possession for the puck to pass towards. So, when he has to defend against multiple attackers in the neutral zone, he is well-aligned with the non-puck carrying attacker and puts pressure on him from the get-go. He also has an eye on the puck carrying attacker but he knows that the presence of his defensive partner will be enough to force the puck carrying attacker to dump the puck.
Given his preference to complete a zone exit pass and get the puck out of his hands, he isn’t often carrying the puck from the defensive zone to the offensive zone. But, when he does carry the puck up the ice, he can rely on mobility and edges to dance around attackers. He will use his reach to push the puck away from attackers and keep it as secure as possible.
When he doesn’t have possession of the puck but his teammates do, he has shown a desire to go jump into the neutral zone and look for open ice to establish passing lanes. But, he picks his moments. Usually it’s when his teammates don’t seem to be providing his puck carrying teammate with passing lanes to move the puck up the ice. That’s when George comes to the rescue.
George will communicate with his defensive partners and let them know if they have a quality lane to use to get the puck into the offensive zone. For instance, I noticed in a game against the Barrie Colts the his defensive partner wasn’t aware of a bad Barrie line change after doubling back in the neutral zone. George noticed the bad line change and told his defensive partner to pass the puck to the open London winger at the offensive zone blue line. While George wasn’t in control of the puck in that situation, he is being a good on-ice leader and supporting his teammates with real-time feedback so that they can look to generate an odd man rush while the attackers are completing a line change.
Throughout the scouting report, I’ve mentioned how George does a good job of leveraging his crossovers to net quality acceleration, but I haven’t done him enough justice. There is more to go. When looking to toe the blue line, he has quality lateral crossovers that allow him to shift from the boards to center ice at a quick pace. He does an excellent job of activating his speed right after completing a turn by deploying a few crossovers. When he looks to skate in a straight line, that is when he looks to integrate quality stride extensions. But, for the most part, he looks to keep himself moving with crossovers.
From a posture perspective, George maintains solid posture when deploying stride extensions, edges and crossovers. He keeps his knees bent, good ankle flexion (knee aligned with the toe of his skate) and he is in a crouch position. Doesn’t hunch over. When completing turns, he leans on his edges to retain speed and then quickly looks to implement crossovers to build up the speed. George’s posture also allows him to be as mobile as possible and the bending of his knees nets him a lot of power in his initial skate push after completing a turn.
Isaiah George has second pairing upside at the NHL level, but in order to get that point, he needs to push play more and more in the offensive zone. When pressure seems to be building up, George needs to use his mobility to buy himself separation and skate towards the slot. Sometimes he does it. Sometimes he doesn’t and instead opts to put a low danger shot on net. NHL teams are going to want more offensive creativity and he has the tools to give them the creativity that they desire. Ideally, we will see George continue to become confident in his ability to push play and run the cycle even more so in his DY+1.
June 8, 2022
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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