Scouting Report: Gracyn Sawchyn

Photo Credit: Brian Liesse / Seattle Thunderbirds

Gracyn Sawchyn is a 2023 NHL Draft eligible prospect and he plays for the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. 

Sawchyn is originally from Grande Prairie, Alberta, but ended up playing 14U AAA and 16U AAA in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area.

He played for the Minnesota Lakers 14U AAA team in 2018-19 and then joined the Shattuck St. Mary’s 14U AAA team for the following season. Sawchyn remained at Shattuck in his DY-2 and played for their 16U AAA team. 

After his 2019-2020 season with Shattuck 14U AAA, he was selected in the 2020 WHL U.S. Prospects Draft by the Red Deer Rebels. 

Last season, Sawchyn played for the USNTDP U17 squad and instead of remaining with the USNTDP U18 squad for this season, he opted to sign a contract with the Thunderbirds. Seattle had acquired his contract from a 2021 trade with Red Deer. 

This season, Sawchyn has been a point per game player and has been a dependable playmaker for the Thunderbirds. As of March 8, 2023, Sawchyn has recorded 18 goals and 40 assists in 58 games.

Player Profile

D.O.B – January 19, 2005
Nationality – Canadian
Draft Eligibility – 2023
Height –5’11″
Weight –165 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Right

Sawchyn’s Style Of Play


Sawchyn does a great job of taking advantage of small areas of space and delivering passes through them to the slot.

He does such a great job of using whatever space is given to him and that comes in handy since he will struggle to navigate the puck in tight situations when driving the puck in towards the slot. Sawchyn will try to stick-handle the puck through tight spaces, but doesn’t always have the speed to completely escape the pressure.

When pressure is light, Sawchyn has good handling and strong mobility that he can leverage when driving play, but he has struggled to navigate through tighter waters. So, when Sawchyn does use his reach to extend the puck into the small gaps of ice that he has, he looks to pass through the gap. He has to make the pass since most of the time he struggles to generate enough east-west speed to shift around the attacker and enter into the slot with possession of the puck.

If both of his forward teammates are working the puck down low in the corner and behind the red line, he is skating along the perimeter line. But, if there is only one teammate behind the red line with the puck and they are facing heavy pressure, Sawchyn does a good job of providing an outlet lane. With the outlet, his teammate can feed him the puck and then Sawchyn looks to quickly re-distribute the puck to a teammate in the slot.  

If he’s got his back turned to an attacker and the pressure is intensifying, he will look to leverage his backhand to quickly distribute the puck to an open teammate in the slot. He’s got pretty good range on his backhand and will use pivots nicely to open up a bit of space for himself to use when looking to distribute. That’s led to quite a few high danger chances for Seattle. 

Should he run into pressure at the perimeter mid-rush, he will look to complete drop passes to teammates who are skating behind him. If a drop pass doesn’t seem like a realistic option to re-distribute the puck cleanly, he will opt to complete a lateral feed. While it’s not a pass to high or medium danger, lateral passing at the perimeter has led to success especially on odd-man rushes where the pressure is drawn to Sawchyn, but his teammate has quite a bit of breathing room.

Sometimes when in low danger mid-cycle, Sawchyn will be a bit indecisive with the puck when pressure is closing in on him and in those situations he will either end up taking a shot from low danger or passing the puck to a defenseman along the blue line.

Sawchyn can be gritty and physical in the offensive zone when he needs to be. But, I would like to see him build up his frame so he can be stronger on the forecheck with impactful shoulder checks that lead to changes in puck possession. Sawchyn does the dirty work and goes down low hunting for loose pucks on routine. After corralling the puck, should he draw pressure that intensifies quickly, he has the mobility Once he draws pressure as he is skating out from the red line, he pivots and find just a little bit of space to hit a teammate in stride who is headed to the slot.  

Sawchyn doesn’t just look to be physical on the forecheck. He will also utilize his reach too. Sawchyn will extend his stick out when skating behind attackers and pick-pocket with ease.

Sawchyn does a good job of shifting his positioning according to where his teammates are. Should a teammate shift a little further out to the corner, Sawchyn usually spots that and reacts by skating into the slot to provide a medium and/or high danger passing lane for his teammates. He times it so that the teammate gets open space to capitalize by timing the pace just right. That’s led to one-timer bar down goals. 

When it comes to his shooting range, he has found success with his snap shot from medium and low danger throughout the season. He keeps his stick-blade open to elevate the puck and nets bar down goals. Sawchyn finds success with his shot from range when the pressure in front of him is relaxed and the opponent has provided him with a decent amount of open space.


Sawchyn’s role defensively is more passive than assertive and that can be largely attributed to his skating. He has the crossovers and leans on his edges nicely to build up acceleration and then retain that acceleration where shifting lanes, but he has yet to develop a power stride and that means that his ability to silence the rush is a bit limited. If a skater is in an ear-shot, Sawchyn can close in on him, but if Sawchyn has to muster up quite a bit of north-south speed to catch up to an attacker, he will struggle to completely close on them. There are moments in the corners where he is assertive and looks to leverage his physicality to shoulder check and cause puck disruption, but its in situations in which he doesn’t have to skate too far to shut down the cycle.

When he does get in range of an attacker at open ice, he will use his reach to cause puck disruption by extending his stick blade out to make contact with the puck. He does a good job of corralling the puck quickly after silencing oppositional puck movement with his reach. Sawchyn will use his reach to quickly capture the puck and then push the puck closer to his frame. Plus, his reach comes in handy should he accidentally extend the puck too far out into oncoming traffic and has to maneuver the puck closer to his body to secure possession.

Transitional Play

When defending in the neutral zone and reacting to the opposition’s rush, he does a good job with his positioning to take away space that the attackers were looking to utilize. He’s prepared for the rush and when the rush starts to develop in the Thunderbirds’ offensive zone, Sawchyn takes on more of a conservative role and parks himself at the edge of the neutral zone to take away space and be ready to take on the rush head on. When the rush tries to enter the neutral zone, his positioning forces the attacker to pass the puck immediately after entering the zone to a teammate along the boards. 

Just like he does in the offensive and defensive zones, he uses his reach nicely when the opposition has control of the puck. Sawchyn uses his reach to extend his stick out to try to knock the puck off of the attacker’s stick. If he is skating behind the rush, he will look to stick lift and cause puck disruption when in range. 

Not only does he look to extend his stick to poke check and stick lift, but he also does a good job of using his stick to take away passing lanes. When he’s slightly further away from the attacker by skating in a centered lane, he will extend his stick out to match where oppositional skaters (who don’t have the puck) are to take away potential passing options for the attacking puck carrier.

Sometimes he isn’t able to truly disrupt the rush though, but, I do like the effort. Not every poke checking attempt will lead to a capture of the puck, especially when the north-south speed of the attacker is far greater than Sawchyn’s speed. But, if the attacker is looking to move the puck east-west to dodge Sawchyn’s pressure, Sawchyn has the crossovers and the edge work to stay aligned. He will cut off the attacker and force the attacker to dump the puck. 

When the Thunderbirds are in control of the puck and driving the rush, more often than note Sawchyn is a secondary puck mover and not the primary. But, there are shifts in which, Sawchyn looks to skates end-to-end with the puck and facilitate the rush. It’s usually in situations where the pressure is a bit more relaxed and he can rely on his crossovers to shift east-west around the attacker. He’s got the reach to extend the puck further out when implementing said crossovers to keep the rush alive by pushing the puck away from the attacker. Should he navigate the puck into tight pressure along the boards, he will try to push the puck underneath the stick of the attacker and look to reclaim possession of the puck. Unfortunately, sometimes he’ll push the puck too far and he doesn’t have the reach to regain possession. But as I mentioned above, he isn’t the primary puck mover in transition and you can usually find him creating outlet lanes for the primary puck mover to utilize should the primary find himself in pressure that he can’t navigate out of. With all of that said, if Sawchyn can develop a power stride, he could be the primary puck mover, but without the power stride, he will struggle to create the north-south speed he needs to truly be the primary puck mover on the rush.


I’ve touched on Sawchyn’s skating throughout the report, so this section is going to brief and high-level instead of very in-depth. 

Sawchyn’s has excellent crossovers that powers his acceleration, but he doesn’t have the power stride to combine with it and that limits how much speed that he can manufacture when skating north-south. It also means that reacting to changes in puck movement when he is slightly further out and closing off that attacker from pushing the puck forward can be a bit daunting. With all of that said, there are moments especially defensively, where he ends up coasting instead of deploying skate extensions because he knows that he can’t get himself into position to shut down the oppositional puck movement. If Sawchyn can develop a power stride, he is going to be stronger at closing in on attackers and will see a role change in the neutral zone. He will end up being the primary puck mover for his line in transition. 


Sawchyn has excellent vision and does well at taking advantage of situations with limited space. He will get the pass off. As I mentioned in the offensive section, he is constantly looking to re-position himself as his teammates shift their own positioning so that way he can constantly provide his teammates with quality passing lanes should they need to pass. That has lead to goals at 5v5 for Sawchyn. 

I believe that Sawchyn can be a well-rounded offensive asset at the NHL in a middle six role. But with where Sawchyn is right now in his development, I would put deploy him as a winger instead of a center. He doesn’t have a power stride yet. If he does develop a strong power stride, I would definitely without a doubt deploy him at center because the combination of his handling, mobility and strong north-south strides would pave the way for Sawchyn to create more chances on his own with the puck in medium and high danger. In addition, I want Sawchyn to have the ability to create opportunities for himself off puck and he’d have far less of those opportunities mid-cycle in a center role. Also, you have to consider that he is usually isn’t the primary transporter in the neutral zone. But, if he can develop that power stride then I’d want to him to move into a center role as his role with possession of the puck would lead to far more scoring chances at center given the many tools that he has in the toolbox.

Latest Update

March 8, 2023

stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.

Looking for other scouting reports? Check out the Prospects tab for our other scouting reports.

Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: