Photo Credit: Rob Wallator/Calgary Hitmen (photo of Jace Weir)
Scouting Report written by Matthew Somma
We’ve nearly arrived at the NHL draft after what feels like a long season given how short the last season was. I’ve been honored to have the opportunity to scout the WHL this season and there are plenty of players that I have watched this season that I will be unable to profile in the coming days. That’s where this post comes in. Below, you’ll find brief scouting reports on most of the players that I kept track of this season. These will give you a brief understanding of the player and what I like or dislike about the player, as well as what some projectable tools are. I’ll be giving my take on each selection from the WHL on draft day, so be sure to follow along on Twitter for more. I’ll follow along with our final rankings and then go with players that I believe could be drafted at some point.
Weir has potential as a fifth or sixth defenseman at the NHL level due to his size, physicality and strong passing ability. He’s a smart player that can get the puck out of the zone and initiate a breakout, allowing for his team to turn the other way and create offense. Weir’s skating is average at best and will need to improve in order to keep up with an NHL pace, but the other tools in his game make me believe he’s worth a flyer starting in the middle of the third round. Weir is a capable defender with very few weaknesses other than his skating, so I believe that he could be an NHL defender. His upside is my other question mark. I don’t see a lot of offense in his game beyond the occasional simple pass to a teammate in the offensive zone. He likes to carry the puck and isn’t afraid to shoot, but there’s no one area of his offensive game that makes him a true threat on the power play.
Schuurman is a player that I’ve liked more and more over the course of the season. After watching more of his games from this past season, I’d feel comfortable taking him in the third round or later. He’s a shifty skater that moves with a ton of pace through the neutral and offensive zones. Schuurman can be a dual threat in the offensive zone with his solid playmaking and goal scoring abilities, but what surprises me the most about him is how strong he is on the puck. A lot of undersized forwards struggle to win puck battles in their draft year, but not Schuurman. He’s a strong player that can hold his own against bigger players, giving him an edge along the boards and in the middle of the ice.
Thornton scares me a bit. I don’t question his offensive game. In fact, I think he’s a great passer and a legitimate power play quarterback at this level. The issue that I have with Thornton is that he is very rough defensively. He struggles with decision making at times and it can lead to turnovers in his own end. There’s upside in Thornton’s game, but the risk with his poor defensive play will cause teams to shy away until the second half of the draft, in my opinion.
Filmon has real potential, especially considering the fact that he’s a 6’2″ forward that hasn’t filled out yet. Once he adds muscle, he could be a force in the WHL. I liked Filmon at times this season, particularly when it came to goal scoring. He’s a great shooter with solid hockey sense and can find open patches of ice with relative ease. I do find that he can be inconsistent, and his effort level can dip from time to time. I’m not as worried about his slight frame since he still has plenty of time to add muscle. Filmon has top nine upside, at least in my opinion. I don’t see the ability to truly take over a shift and dominate, but I do see enough offensive skill for Filmon to be a nice complementary piece down the road.
Siepmann and Weir fall into the same category, in my eyes. Both are defenders whose ceilings max out as fifth or sixth defensemen, but both have enough tools to have relatively high floors. Siepmann is a much better skater than Weir but lacks the physicality that makes Weir such a good defender. They’re both great passers and read the play exceptionally well. There’s more offensive potential in Siepmann’s game than we got to see this season. I think his hockey sense will make him a setup player in the offensive zone and that we’ll start to see him break out next season.
Ward is feisty. He’s a gritty player that can create turnovers and be a general pain to play against in the neutral zone. I find that I love how Ward plays in the neutral zone more than the offensive zone because that’s where he is able to be the most effective. In the offensive zone, his size can be a limitation and he isn’t able to gain separation as effectively. In the neutral zone, Ward can catch opponents napping and turn the puck the other way in a split second. He’s typically the setup player once he takes the puck from an opponent in the neutral zone.
I watched Portland a good bit this season, mostly for Marcus Nguyen, but I always came away impressed with Alscher. He’s a big, rangy defenseman that is great in all three zones, but I’m most impressed with his defensive play. He’ll knock players off of the puck, break up passes, sacrifice the body to block a shot, and more. Just an all around solid defender that can cover distances quickly. Alscher has some offensive potential in his game, and while I don’t believe that he’ll ever be a dominant offensive player, there’s potential in how he joins the rush and excels at keeping the puck in the zone. Alscher will be a sneaky good selection by some team in the middle rounds of the draft. After watching more film on Alscher in the past few months, I’ve been liking him more and more.
Beaupit is a massive, six foot five goaltender that had a decent season on a middle of the road Spokane team. I see a project here. Obviously, he has his size working in his favor, but I don’t see a lot of strong NHL tools. He’s fairly slow and struggled to track the puck in a lot of my viewings. His rebound control was iffy, and while I do find that he stops a lot of high danger chances, he isn’t as great with ones from a medium danger area. Beaupit has potential as a backup at the NHL level. I don’t see the dynamic ability in his skill set to give him the ability to steal games for his team. I just see a reliable goalie that could play in the NHL.
Brennan is so smart and knows exactly where the puck is going to be at any given time. He’s always square to the puck and makes it difficult for shooters to beat him because he’s already there to take away as much apace as he can. Brennan tracks the puck incredibly well and is arguably one of the smartest goalies in this entire draft. He’s one of the top goalies in the draft because of how smart he is and how easily he projects into an NHL role. I doubt he’s a starter in the NHL, but he’ll play games. The biggest concerns for me are Brennan’s recovery and his puck playing. He isn’t the quickest goalie, nor is he the most athletic, so if he gives up a rebound, opposing forwards can usually get a slam dunk goal. Cross ice passes are occasionally an issue, but he can also predict when a player will pass in order to get over, so he does have that going for him. The puck playing is frustrating. I’ve written down that I will order him bungie cords so he can stay in the net because he either turns the puck over to a player on the forecheck or he’ll throw the puck to an open area where it’ll result in a board battle. Like I said, he should play NHL games, but he’ll need work in those areas first.
Davies is one scrappy *redacted* and gives 100% every shift. I’m not sure about his long term NHL upside but he plays hard and his motor never gives out, which will draw the attention of NHL teams. That work ethic and energy could carry him further than it should. Other than that, I’m not sure what I see. He has a solid shot and some offensive skill, but nothing that blows me away. He’s likely a fourth line energy forward at the NHL level, so I wouldn’t draft him until the last round of the draft, personally.
Dyck had a fantastic showing at the CHL Top Prospects game, which put him on the radar for a lot of people. He played on a tough team this year, so his stats aren’t fantastic, but there’s real potential. He’s an athletic goalie with size and solid recovery time, which could carry him to the NHL. Out of the three “big” goalie names from the WHL this year, I’d put my money on Dyck having the highest upside. He may not pan out due to his erratic style, but if he does, he’s the only one of the three that I could see being more than just a backup at the NHL level.
I didn’t really pay much attention to Hanzel during the regular season. I was much more occupied with watching Korchinski, Schaefer and Gustafson, so Hanzel wasn’t really on my radar since he was an overage skater. After watching Seattle’s playoff run, I decided to go back and watch Hanzel because I believed that he was one of Seattle’s best defensemen during their run to the WHL finals. He was everywhere. Physical, carrying the puck in transition, quarterbacking plays in the offensive zone, you name it. Hanzel showed legitimate NHL upside and competence in all three zones, and I can now say that I’m confident that he’ll hear his name called at the draft. I don’t see top four upside, but he fits the bill of an excellent third pairing defenseman with elite skating.
He’s a fantastic goal scorer and has one of the best shots out of the players that I’ve watched this year, but I don’t see much else in his game. There’s good skating, but he’s very one dimensional. Other goal scorers from the WHL in this class are able to impact the game in other ways, and I just don’t see that in Sidorov. Or I’m missing something.
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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