Photo Credit: Kristin Ostrowski / Everett Silvertips
Scouting Report written by Matthew Somma
For some players, their draft years can be a bit of a struggle for ice time. Some players have all of the talent in the world but play on a deep team and may not get the ice time that they deserve. Some players may be good enough for their pro teams but are relegated to being the extra player in their lineup. For Ben Hemmerling, he fell victim to the first group. The Everett Silvertips were a deep team this season, and despite having a ton of skill, his ice time fluctuated. Hemmerling is a player that has stood out to me as being one of the smartest passers in the WHL’s 2022 draft class. He can make passes at a high pace of play and showcases some impressive puck skills as well.
Hemmerling is a player that I have on my list of breakout candidates for next season. As the season went on, he was able to establish himself as a very good offensive player with a few elite qualities. He’ll have more of an opportunity to grow into his role next season and it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up leading his team in assists this time next year. I was a major advocate for Hemmerling during our rankings meeting. I felt that this was a player that was too good to pass up on in the third round due to his skating, hockey sense and upside.
D.O.B –April 21, 2004
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –159 lbs
Position – Center/Left Wing
Handedness – Right
Hemmerling’s Style of Play
As I mentioned above, the biggest thing that stands out in Hemmerling’s game is his ability to make decisions at a high pace. He’s a cerebral player that can make changes on the fly if he has to. He’ll predict the way a defender will react to a certain play, and if something changes, Hemmerling is able to react quickly enough to make that change a non issue. This year’s class of prospects from the WHL all have a very high level of skill, but only a few of those players can separate themselves from the pack when it comes to their hockey sense. Hemmerling may not be as skilled as a lot of the top players in this draft class, but he’s absolutely one of the smartest.
Even though Hemmerling loses the puck, he sticks with the play and makes a smart pass. This type of play happens a lot with Hemmerling, and while it may not always result in a goal, it shows me that he has the elite vision necessary to make plays at an NHL pace. His quick thinking results in a large amount of high danger scoring chances.
I like this play for two reasons. First, Hemmerling utilizes his strength to take the puck away from a Portland defender. He’s not the biggest player, but he’s able to make a power move and strip a player of the puck. Secondly, I really like the assist he makes. There isn’t a lot of space to put the puck on the tape of a teammate here, but Hemmerling is able to make it happen for a really nice assist.
Hemmerling is an excellent playmaker from below the goal line. He excels at finding gaps in the defensive coverage and exploiting blind spots in order to create offense.
Hemmerling plays at a quick pace and skates at a good level for an undersized forward. I wouldn’t call Hemmerling an elite skater, but he is able to move at a quick pace and make plays in transition. Despite playing more on the perimeter in the offensive zone, Hemmerling takes an active role in Everett’s transition play and is usually the player that carries the puck and makes a pass either right before a zone entry or immediately after.
Nothing too fancy here, but he does make a nice pass right as his team enters the zone.
I mentioned that Hemmerling isn’t an elite skater, but rather, a good one. This clip highlights his skating for a little bit, and what I’m seeing is that his acceleration is above average but his top speed is only average. He’s able to keep pace with Everett in transition here, but his speed isn’t going to allow for him to gain separation from a defender. Hemmerling will need to get at least a step or two faster in order to keep up with an NHL pace. There’s a certain shiftiness in how he plays, and some of the clips I’ve used have shown that Hemmerling’s puck skills are high end. That can make him gain more separation in the WHL, but the NHL is all about pace.
I see a lot of tools in Hemmerling’s game that could help him earn a top nine role in the NHL someday. His hockey sense, vision, play in transition and playmaking ability are all strong tools. He’s a competent defender that can defend on the penalty kill if given enough time to develop. In my viewings of Hemmerling, what has held him back from higher upside is the lack of dynamic ability. Hemmerling doesn’t dominate a shift or have the “wow” factor that most top prospects usually have. He’s a great complementary winger that can set up some of his team’s goal scorers, but I’ve rarely seen Hemmerling be truly dominant. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though. There are plenty of complementary wingers in the league, and his elite hockey sense could make him a more dominant player with more development.
One other area in which I’d like to see Hemmerling improve is his shooting. Most playmakers are at least able to score a handful of goals at the NHL level. As of right now, I feel that Hemmerling is mostly a pass-first player with a below average shot. Ten goals in 57 games as a draft eligible forward isn’t going to inspire a ton of confidence in how his goal scoring translates as he moves to the pros. Hemmerling’s shot release is fine, but his placement is poor and I’d like to see him make better selections with his shots. Most of the time this season, I’m seeing Hemmerling rush in to take a shot from the perimeter that goes straight into the goalie’s chest pad.
Lastly, I’d like to see Hemmerling attack the middle of the ice more consistently. There are some games where he is able to do just that, but there are games where he’ll be limited to the perimeter exclusively. Hemmerling has the puck skills to penetrate the defense and create space or passing lanes, but he isn’t able to get to the middle of the ice on a consistent basis. Improving his skating will help in that regard. He’ll be able to quickly turn on the jets and gain a step of separation, which is all that he’ll need in order to create space for himself in the middle of the ice. If Hemmerling is able to attack the middle, he’ll be a much more dominant player in the offensive zone.
I see Hemmerling as a player that is capable of 30-40 points at the NHL level. Most of those points will be primary assists, and he may see power play time on the second unit. The lack of a true dynamic element in his game will likely keep him from being a top six winger at the NHL level, but he’s a player that I could see making an impact in a lesser role. Hemmerling has elite hockey sense and playmaking ability and could be a great complement to a team’s third line if they’re looking to get some of their other players to score more goals. He’s a great setup man and can help move the puck and get it to high danger areas. His skill in playmaking should help to carry him to an NHL game, but he’ll have to work on a few areas of his game in order to get to that point. Like I mentioned in the previous section, Hemmerling will need to get to the middle of the ice more and he’ll also have to get a step or two faster. In addition to these two things, I’d also like to see Hemmerling get stronger on the puck. He’s able to separate players from the puck with his stick, but if he gets stronger, he’ll be able to throw his weight around and be even more of a danger on the forecheck.
Hemmerling came in at 81 on our final rankings. We believed that Hemmerling has the upside and skill set that teams look for in third round picks and that he’d be a strong addition to any team’s pipeline. He may be a little raw in some areas, but Hemmerling’s ability in the offensive zone gives teams something to work with. By the time he finishes in the WHL, he’ll have emerged as one of the league’s top playmakers and will be ready to take the next step and turn pro.
June 22, 2022
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Matthew Somma. If you would like to follow Matt on Twitter, his handle is @Mattsomma12.
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