Scouting Report: Dovar Tinling

Photo Credit: UVM Athletics

There hasn’t been a player as young as Dovar Tinling in college hockey since Jonathan Toews all the way back in the 2005-06 season. Toews didn’t turn 18 until the end of April of his freshman year at North Dakota, and Tinling turned 18 in early March with just one game left in his freshman season at Vermont.

It wasn’t until last June that rumors began to swirl that Tinling would accelerate and start with the Catamounts early, rather than joining Des Moines in the USHL which drafted him in the second round in 2019. In July, Vermont announced its incoming class, which included both Tinling and his older brother, Azzaro, and made Dovar the youngest player in college hockey.

The 2020-21 season turned out to be a tough year for the Catamounts, who won only one game. They paused team activities due to positive COVID-19 tests twice and only ended up playing 13 games as a result, finishing with a 1-10-2 record. It was a tough year for Tinling, too, as he put up just two points — a goal and a secondary assist — in 12 games while playing limited minutes in a bottom-six role.  

Player Profile

D.O.B – March 3, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height – 5’11
Weight – 185 lbs.
Position – Left Wing/Center
Handedness – Left

Tinling’s Style of Play

Let’s start with a disclaimer: Vermont was bad, and Tinling averaged about 11 minutes of ice time per game. He was also the youngest player in college hockey and the youngest player on his team by over a year. The Catamounts had a first-year head coach in Todd Woodcroft and scored just 20 goals in 13 games — the fewest in all of college hockey.

All of that to say, it’s more of a challenge to get a read on Tinling’s true talent level given the situation around him — and given the small sample size of just 12 games. Regardless, some elements of Tinling’s game, like his skating and his playmaking potential, pop when you watch him and paint the picture of an intriguing prospect.

Tinling describes himself as a pass-first player and says his hockey IQ is his best asset, both of which ring true after watching the games he played at Vermont.

Offense

Tinling can play both center and the wing, but he played wing in every game for the Catamounts this year. He probably projects as a winger moving forward, but it would be interesting to see him get a look at center in college to see if that’s a possibility down the line.

Tinling’s hockey sense stands out when he has the puck on his stick. The quality of his linemates didn’t always allow his playmaking ability to be executed as well as you’d like, but it’s hard to fault Tinling for that. Once again, the context around Tinling’s season has to stay top of mind when evaluating his play.

It took Tinling some time to settle into the NCAA level, which is to be expected for such a young player. In his first few games, he looked tentative and uncertain, but as the season went along, you could see him grow in confidence. While not the most physical of players, as he got more settled in college hockey, Tinling regularly demonstrated a willingness to play the body and get involved in puck battles, despite not being the largest of players.

In February, he scored his first — and only — goal. The sequence highlighted all the good qualities of his game as he used his skating ability to cut through a lane in the neutral zone, get behind the defense and finish from distance. Though he’s more of a playmaker than a shooter, the shot is good as is and could improve further with added strength.

At times, Tinling could look lost in the offensive zone and was a little all over the place positionally. It’s hard to say if that’s indicative of long-term concerns or more a reflection of a young player in a league that’s a big step up from the CCHL, but the latter seems much more likely.

For such a young player making a massive step in league caliber, Tinling looked less out of place than I expected throughout the season and clearly gained confidence as the season went along. Hopefully in future seasons, the Catamounts will have stronger offensive talent across their lineup and Tinling will be able to really put his playmaking potential on display.

Defense

Much like in the offensive zone, Tinling’s positioning in the defensive zone can be a little all over the place. He looked lost at times this year and, for lack of a better phrase, sometimes gave off the vibe of being unsure of what he was supposed to do. Tinling also displayed a tendency to cheat for offense, but on such a weak offensive team, any opportunities taken to try to produce a goal are hard to view too negatively.

In Vermont’s system, Tinling was often responsible for pressuring the point — a job that he clearly committed himself to, sometimes to the point of overcommitting and taking himself out of the play. It happens often enough, though, that you start to wonder if it’s just the system and what he’s being asked to do and not a repeated flaw in Tinling’s game.

His skating and instincts should allow him to be a capable defender as he settles into his role and gains strength. He probably won’t develop into a Selke candidate, but all the pieces are there for him to be a competent defender that’s functional in his own end.

Skating

Tinling is a fluid, efficient skater with a good burst of speed. He recovers well through his stride and his edgework allows him to be elusive. He regularly looked at least a step quicker, if not more, than others on the ice, even when Vermont played higher-end competition like Boston University. His skating enhances his playmaking with his ability to get into the soft areas of the ice and find lanes through the defense.

At times, Tinling’s upper body can be a little busy, but it isn’t a major flaw for an overall strong skater. In every game he played this year, Tinling’s skating stood out as a real asset.

Other Notes

Allow me to use this space to say that the more I watched Tinling, the more I liked him. There’s a talented player there, and I hope the dust settles at Vermont in a way that allows him to break out. Coming into a rebuilding program, with a first-year coach, as the youngest player in the league, in the middle of a pandemic, is such a dramatic confluence of challenging factors that if I had to bet on it, I’d say this year’s performance from Tinling is a significant outlier from his true talent level.

Projection

Middle-six NHL winger, if everything breaks the right way.

Comparison

Zach Hyman, Left Wing, Toronto Maple Leafs


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Bailey Johnson. If you would like to follow Bailey on Twitter, her handle is @BaileyAJohnson_.

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Scouting Report: Dylan Duke

Photo Credit: Rena Laverty

The son of former Western Michigan University standout Steve Duke, USNTDP center Dylan Duke is a talented prospect for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Duke is a solid, goal-scoring center/winger who despite his size, can certainly bring a physical, net-front presence night in and night out.

A USA/Canada dual citizen, Duke hails from Strongsville, Ohio, and grew up playing his minor hockey for highly regarded Detroit-area programs, in Belle Tire (13U) and Compuware (14U, 16U). While at Compuware, Duke made somewhat of a name for himself, scoring 24 goals and 23 assists for 47 points in only 20 games during his 14U season.
While serving as team captain for Compuware in his 16U season, Duke continued his noteworthy all-around play, potting 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points in 19 games. The following season, Duke began play with the USNTDP, seeing time with both the U17 and U18 squads, where he was just shy of averaging a point per game.

Thus far in 2020/21, Duke’s game has made great strides improvement wise, as he’s racked up 25 goals and 19 assists for 44 points in 43 games. Not only has his point production been a joy to follow, he’s also added a decent amount of size to his frame, aiding his gritty style of play in all zones on the ice.

For the 2022/23 season, Duke committed to the University of Michigan, where he’ll suit up for a very talented Wolverines squad. In Ann Arbor, he’ll hone his game under Head Coach Mel Pearson, who will have an abundance of talent at his disposal over the next couple of seasons. Duke could potentially join the likes of Matthew Beniers, Owen Power, Kent Johnson, Luke Hughes, Mackie Samoskevich, Thomas Bordeleau (San Jose Sharks prospect), Brendan Brisson (Vegas Golden Knights prospect), Ethan Edwards (New Jersey Devils prospect) and Johnny Beecher (Boston Bruins prospect), which will certainly benefit him in his development.

Player Profile

D.O.B – March 4, 2003
Nationality – USA
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height – 5’10”
Weight – 181 lbs.
Position – Center
Handedness – Left

Duke’s Style Of Play

Dylan Duke plays a versatile, hard-nosed game which will more than likely translate quite well at the next level. He’s just as reliable standing in the opposing team’s crease looking for a loose puck as he is pinching down in the defensive zone, to lend his defensemen a helping hand. Duke’s 200ft game is hard not to appreciate, considering he is an absolute workhorse all over the ice.

While Duke doesn’t necessarily excel at any specific aspect of the game, he is slightly above-average at almost everything. His never-quit attitude and his relentlessness whilst hounding opponents in all three zones arguably stand out the most when looking at his game.

Duke can be counted upon to do his job every shift, whether it be in a penalty killing role, on the power-play, or simply just generating offense at even strength. His offensive output is very strong for a forward who sees a hearty amount of his points come from the low slot/crease area.

Duke is also quite good in transition, as he possesses the required agility and speed to effectively change direction and engage into the forecheck/backcheck depending on the situation.

Let’s take a more in-depth look:

Skating

Duke’s skating is perhaps the most notable aspect of his game that could use a little polishing. He tends to have more of an upright skating stance, but it isn’t a huge area of concern, as he possesses the agility and edgework needed to escape opponents when required. Duke also doesn’t boast an abundance of explosiveness, but once again, he has enough to get by. Duke’s stride has definitely progressed as this season’s gone on, as he has shown a much more wider stride, allowing him to generate more speed and balance.

His best attribute skating wise is his durability/balance on his skates. Duke can take a beating infront of the net and still manage to keep his balance relatively easy, which bodes well for how he projects at the next level.

Offense

Pretty much everywhere Dylan Duke has laced up the skates, the offensive production has followed. He’s produced at, or very near to, a point-per-game average dating back to his days with Belle Tire 13U, right up to this season with the U18’s.

As mentioned above, Duke scores the vast majority of his points in front of the net. In fact, only five of his 44 points this season are secondary assists, meaning he’s usually the one banging home the spare change, or passing it to someone who buries it.

Duke’s shot is probably the thing to love the most about his offensive talent. He seems to have little issue in putting his wrist shot wherever he desires, with an above average amount of accuracy.

Duke’s also not afraid to put a puck on net from pretty much anywhere in the offensive zone. He can also distance himself from the defender when needed, and often can force opponents into a penalty trying to keep him from getting on goal.

Defense

Duke’s defensive game is arguably one of the most NHL-ready as far as forwards are concerned, in the entire 2021 class. He demonstrates an excellent ability to back-check, and has zero issue digging deep in the corners to create defensive zone turnovers. Duke’s active stick in the corners allows him to poke-check attackers and regain control of the puck quite often. Duke’s also not afraid to take a hit in order for his teammate to pick up the puck and engage a breakout, which I’m sure many NHL scouts would appreciate.

An underrated aspect of Dylan Duke’s game is his ability to effectively kill penalties. He’s quite capable of winning faceoffs, obtaining possession of the puck and ragging it to kill time. Not only can he do those tasks quite well, he often forces turnovers in the neutral zone while defending opposing team zone entries, and those usually lead to quality shorthanded chances.

Improvements

As previously mentioned, Duke isn’t necessarily a master of any specific trait, however, he is above average at almost every aspect. That being said, there are a few areas of his game which could use some work. For starters, Duke’s shot release is a tad slow, which could prove to be a drawback at the next level. As players get more talented and larger in size, Duke will need that quicker release to get the most out of his accurate wrist shot. He could look to develop this trait in the coming seasons, and should see his goal output increase alongside.

Another aspect of Duke’s game that he may look to improve on is his patience when it comes to shooting the puck from anywhere in the offensive zone. While it’s an awesome trait to have, some of his game film had him missing the net completely from angles that were either impossible to hit, or had a large amount of bodies along the trajectory of the shot. Duke could look to put himself in more open space to release a shot, or could look to seek out a teammate for a better opportunity to get a puck on net.

Lastly, Duke could use some improvement when it comes to his explosiveness with the puck on his stick. As it stands now, his skating is at an average level. However, if Duke is looking to translate his game as best as possible at the next level, it will require that explosiveness to help beat defenders out wide. Not only will it help him in terms of offensive production, it will make Duke more difficult to shut down and defend against when forechecking.

There is a lot to like about Dylan Duke’s game, and if he can continue to work on the little things as he progresses in his development, there’s a real strong opportunity for him to become a solid NHL player who can be relied upon anywhere on the ice.

Overall Outlook

Dylan Duke projects as a top 9 forward, best suited on the wing, who can provide a dominant net-front presence, and can probably net 45-50 points per season at the NHL level. That being said, there’s a little bit of his game that can use some fine tuning, which will definitely come as he transitions to the NCAA with the Michigan Wolverines. Teams should absolutely fawn at how developed his defensive zone game is at just 18 years old, and his offensive production has been constant at every level he’s played at.

The 2021 NHL Draft has a few “diamond in the rough”-caliber prospects in the late First, early Second round range, and Duke is certainly at the top of that list. Teams that are selecting in the 20-35 range, and are looking for that scrappy, “jack of all trades”-style forward, look no further than Dylan Duke.

Comparison

Brendan Gallagher – RW, Montreal Canadiens

Watching film on Dylan Duke, it’s almost as if you’re watching footage on Brendan Gallagher from his Vancouver Giants days. Both Duke and Gallagher are a pain to play against, and have zero issues standing in front of the opposing goalie, trying to knock loose pucks home.

Both Duke and Gallagher have a similar story, as both were relatively undersized forwards who play the game of a much larger player. Duke and Gallagher are also very capable defenders, and obtain the majority of their offense in the low slot. When it comes to forechecking, Duke and Gallagher are relentless and have no problem sacrificing themselves to make a play.

If the team who chooses to select Duke at this summer’s Entry Draft can develop his game into the same style of player Brendan Gallagher is, there’s no doubt that team will be grinning from ear to ear with their selection.


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.

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Scouting Report: Aleksi Heimosalmi

Photo Credit: Tomi Vastamäki

Aleksi Heimosalmi is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible right handed defenseman, who plays in the Ässät farm system.

Heimosalmi hails from Pori, Finland. For those unfamiliar with Pori, it’s a coastal city and sits on the Gulf of Bothnia. The city is roughly 110 kilometers from Tampere. Pori is also home for a few NHLers including Jesperi Kotkaniemi (Montréal Canadiens), Joel Armia (Montréal Canadiens), Erik Haula (Nashville Predators) and Joonas Korpisalo (Columbus Blue Jackets).

This past season (2020-2021), Heimosalmi played at the U20 level for Ässät and lead in points when you compare his total to other 2021 NHL Draft eligibles playing in the U20 SM-sarja. Heimosalmi totaled four goals and 17 assists in 35 games.

Player Profile

D.O.B – May 8, 2003
Nationality – Finland
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –5’11
Weight –154 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Right

Heimosalmi’s Style Of Play

Defense

At the blue-line, Heimosalmi is very strong at moving attackers that are rushing the zone towards the boards. He will trap puck carrying attackers and eliminate lanes to the net. Instead, he will push them to low danger. He will lock his arms and push. After pushing the attacker to the boards, he will follow the attacker closely and find the precise moment to deploy a back-check. But, that doesn’t mean that he won’t also utilize his stick and find a moment where he can catch the attacker off-guard and deliver a poke-check. You can also expect Heimosalmi to limit the gap in medium danger and execute poke-checks to shut down the cycle.

When mid-cycle and not defending the rush, he tends to exert more pressure starting at the perimeter. Instead of going in for a poke-check when defending mid-cycle, you will see Heimosalmi use his stick deceptively as he will swerve his stick at the puck to manipulate the attacker’s puck movement. More than often, the intention is push the attacker to low danger.

In high danger situations, Heimosalmi deploys strong defensive positioning. He will press and play man-on-man defense in tight to eliminate open targets. While Heimosalmi is far from the biggest player on the ice, his ability to push attackers away from his net is noteworthy.

Heimosalmi is quite athletic. Even though he does not possess a wide stride, if he is defending an attacker and deploying quality gap control, he will quickly adjust and chase after a loose puck to net a defensive recovery if the attacker looks to flip the puck around him. I will touch on his stride a bit later on, but it is something that needs further development. If he is facing a fast skater, I question whether or not he would be able to recover the puck.

Offense

Heimosalmi’s offensive play has its highs and lows. From a shot selection perspective, he tends to take quite a few ill-advised shots from the point. There are situations where I would prefer him to work the cycle a bit more, pinch up and try to find a teammate in medium or high danger. But, instead, he will take ill-advised shots when facing tough pressure with an attacker glued on him.

Even though his shot selection does need some maturity, you can expect Heimosalmi to play the puck along the boards in low danger and work in the trenches to find an open teammate (who is closer to the net) to pass to. So, while I said that I would like to see some growth in pinching up and playing the cycle, I didn’t mean that he has not been doing so to date.

Ässät U20 often utilizes Heimosalmi on the power play at the point as a quarterback. From the point, you can expect crisp tape-to-tape feeds to help key up goals. Even though I mentioned earlier that his shot selection needs to be rounded out, he uses his shot to generate rebound opportunities and deflection goals on the power play.

Earlier in the report, we touched upon Heimosalmi’s deceptive stick work in the defensive zone, but he can also be quite illusive in the offensive zone. For instance, Heimosalmi will hold out his stick as if he’s ready to fire a slap shot, but then on a dime, he will divert, pivot out and confuse the attacker. This allows Heimosalmi to grab open space.

Transitional Play

Heimosalmi is an excellent puck moving defenseman. Before I dive into more details around his transitional play, I wanted to start off this section with a bang.

From his own red line, he uses his deception to fool attackers and generate open space for him to exploit before he crosses into the neutral zone. He will use his illusive stick-handling to play the puck to his left. This draws the attacker to the left, but on a dime, he will pivot out to his right, shift the puck to his right. Ultimately, it confuses the attacker and he is stunned. Below is clip of Heimosalmi doing just that, but “breaking the attacker’s ankles” at the same time.

Once he acquires open ice, it’s a smooth ride to the neutral zone. When he gets to the neutral, he will either weave around traffic in the neutral zone or execute a tape-to-tape feed to a forward to instill a rush. When Heimosalmi carries the puck from zone to zone, he does not necessarily focus on playing the puck up the middle versus along the boards. He is versatile with his puck movement.

If Heimosalmi draws opposition and can’t avoid it, he will not force it. Instead, he will button hook and pass to his defensive partner.

Stick-Handling

From a stick-handling perspective, Heimosalmi has quality puck manipulation. He does an excellent job of drawing attackers to him, slowing down the pace, turning to the right, deploying a quick pivot and then moving to the left (and vice-versa). Heimosalmi’s puck movement is normally rather tight. He does not hold the puck too far out in front of his body. Heimosalmi will play the puck out towards attackers to entice them and lure them in close. When he does, he takes them away from where they were initially and thus open up lanes when in transition.

If and when he is facing tough pressure from his opposition on the forecheck, he will implement one-handed stick handling to control the puck while using his other arm to push off the attacker.

Passing

Heimosalmi has a plethora of passes that he can utilize to instill puck movement and scoring. Throughout my viewings of the Finnish defenseman, I’ve seen him complete backhand outlet passes, several one touch passes (including one touch backhand passes), stretch passes, diagonal saucer passes and more.

While he has quite a few assets in his passing tool-belt, he has an affinity for one touch passes. He loves to make a quick pass as soon as he gains control of the puck. Even though, he loves one touch passing, he does not overuse it or implement it in situations where it does not make sense to complete one touch passes.

Yet, there are some areas in which Heimosalmi needs some further development. When in transition, there are sequences where he has already crossed the blue-line in a controlled zone exit and instead of passing to a forward in the neutral zone who is open, he will pass behind him to a target in the defensive zone. It’s those passing attempts that remind me a little bit of Colorado Avalanche prospect Jean-Luc Foudy, who has a tendency to pass behind him or further out instead of going to battle one-on-one with the goaltender when he has acquired open ice in the offensive zone.

Additionally, there are sequences in which Heimosalmi uses a bit too much force on his passing. Sometimes his teammate can still capture possession of the puck off of the pass, but sometimes Heimosalmi will miss the mark completely. I’ve seen a few instances in which that happens on stretch passes.

Skating

Skating is the area that arguably needs the most development. Heimosalmi struggles at generating speed and a lot of that can be attributed to a lack of a power stride. When extending his skates, he does not possess a wide extension. Instead his extensions tend to be very tight. Thus, we see plenty of sequences where he is a tad slow to loose pucks, but when he uses his upper body strength to push off attackers, he can still recover the puck. However, I question whether he will be able to utilize his strength in the same manner at the NHL level. Playing U20 hockey in Finland is very different than facing elite power forwards in the NHL. With that being said, I would love to see Heimosalmi widen his extensions for his first few steps to garner speed. If he can work on his acceleration, his transitional game will only become stronger.

Aside from his stride/extensions, there are times where he struggles with his balance when deploying outside edges. He will struggle with keeping balance and fall over. But, we hardly see those issues amount when in transition. It tends to happen more so when battling in the trenches against the attack.

From a crossover perspective, he deploys tight crossovers especially when skating backwards and that only makes his defensive game stronger as he can generate solid acceleration and shift gears to the left or right depending on the attacker’s puck movement.

Comparison

Henri Jokiharju, RHD, Buffalo Sabres

When it comes to a comparable, I liken his game to Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju. Both, defensemen are roughly the same size and possess strong puck movement. Jokiharju’s major difference is his skating in which he has adopted a strong power stride, but the mobility that Jokiharju possesses is quite similar to Heimosalmi.

Projection

Second Pairing Defenseman (NHL).


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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Scouting Report: Isak Rosén

Photo Credit: Leksands IF

Electric. That is the word that comes to mind when you see Isak Rosén play. There are not too many 18 year olds who incite a palpable sense of anticipation when the puck finds their stick. While his name may be unfamiliar to many across the pond, the Stockholm youngster has been on the radars and lips of many in Sweden for several years.

At 14 years old he was already one of the best players on the Swedish u-16 circuit, on a Leksands team that had very little in terms of scoring support for him, as evidenced by year-on-year of “goal-heavy” stat lines despite being a good play-maker himself. By the time he was 15 he dazzled in the TV-Pucken tournament – where all the best u-16 year olds in Sweden compete for their region – top-scoring with 21 points in just 11 games. He has also represented his nation with aplomb at both u-16 and u-17 level, albeit mainly in a depth role.

Player Profile

D.O.B – March 15, 2003
Nationality 
– Sweden
Draft Eligibility 
– 2021
Height 
–5’11
Weight 
–161 lbs
Position 
– Left Wing/Right Wing
Handedness 
– Left

Rosén’s Style Of Play

So what is it about Rosén’s game that makes him a first round pick in 2021? As would be expected from a man whose father and uncle were high-end players in the Swedish leagues, young Isak’s years spent around rinks and the pro game have gave him an intuitive understanding of the sport, as well as a mature playing style. His hockey IQ shines, especially against players his own age. He is rarely out of position in any of the three zones, and is excellent at getting space in the offensive zone to unleash a shot.

His shot itself is quick and accurate, and a measure of his technical proficiency is the ability he has to shoot while in full stride. Many NHLers struggle to unleash high-end wristers while moving at speed, but it comes to Rosén naturally. His shiftiness and puck-handling ability mean he can be extremely deceptive with his shot as well, leaving goalies guessing where and when he will let it go until it nestles in the net behind them.


But none of these things are what the Leksands forward does best. Simply put, when he is in a game his team-mates want the puck on his stick no matter what zone he is in. Rosén may well be the best transitional player in the draft. The ease in which he scythes up ice is mesmeric to watch. He often picks the puck up in the neutral zone, evades the first forechecker, and is then off to the races. Once in stride the only way to stop him usually involves the potential of giving away a penalty.

With ice to skate into Rosén seems to see the game in slow motion. His decision making process through the neutral zone is exemplary, to the point it is rare to see him not get into the offensive zone with possession. There are also very few players in the draft with better skating ability. Not only agile, Rosén can burn past opponents on the wing.



Once in the offensive zone, especially when against the pros in the SHL, Rosén does not quite have the same confidence or impact. He can be overly prone to making the “safe” plays, and as a result simply drift out of the game. In turn simply being “solid” but rarely getting opportunities to shoot or looks for team-mates. However, this was never a problem for him when in juniors, and it seems likely that, quite frankly, the physically under-developed winger is not quite ready for the SHL yet. However, he is effectively “forced” to play there due to COVID, as the junior leagues were closed down.

In the offensive zone at the junior level, Rosén is a dual threat. He can use his high-end shot to score, but also dissect defenses with his plus-passing. For a smaller player he also drives to the net hard, and does not mind mixing it up in the tougher areas of ice, despite not being very physical.

As would be expected from a defensively sound winger with lightning in his skates, Rosén is dangerous on the penalty-kill, and in 4v4 or 3v3 phases of play simply owns the ice. His forechecking is also relentless, and he crowds lanes using his skating, IQ and active stick.

Going forward he needs to fill out and get stronger, as while a diligent two-way player who always takes care of his duties in the defensive zone, he can often get muscled of the puck, beaten easily in a board battle, or lose position to becoming engaged in a battle of bulk and not brains. This would also enable him to be less tentative offensively at the pro level, as right now he seems scared of making mistakes in his limited ice-time, as opposed to using his game-breaking talent to actually break games.


Next year it seems likely that with another summer of growth, as well as more acclimatization to the pro game, Rosén can really start to bring what makes him special vs his peers to both the SHL and international arena. It would be no great shock to see him break-out and become a good middle six SHL forward as soon as next season.

As for the draft? The young Swede has the talent to be taken inside the top 15. However, his relative lack of production this season and inability to stand out against men at this venture may well mean he falls into the late first round. If he is available in such a spot teams will be hard-pressed to find a player with more upside after he is gone. Down the line he has the skill-set to be a high-end top six winger who can put up close to 70 points a season over his prime. His “floor” is also higher than many potential first rounders due to the combination of skating, tenacity, and two-way play he possesses.

Comparison

Nikolaj Ehlers, Left Wing, Winnipeg Jets

It may be a lofty comparable. However, while it is unlikely that the young Swede will reach the level of his Danish counter-part, their games are not dissimilar. Relentless two-way play combined with IQ are the foundations, but game-breaking speed and skill are what stand out. Both transition the puck at an elite level, and have the vision and shooting ability to be a real threat in the offensive zone.


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Alexander Appleyard. If you would like to follow Alex on Twitter, his handle is @alexappleyard.

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

Scouting Report: Nikita Chibrikov

Photo Credit: SKA St. Petersburg

Nikita Chibrikov is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect. Chibrikov hails from Moscow, Russia and plays in the SKA St. Petersburg system. Previously, Chibrikov played youth hockey for both CSKA Moscow and Dynamo Moscow. Prior to the 2020-2021 season, Chibrikov was dealt alongside Daniil Lazutin (2021 NHL Draft eligible) and Pavel Mintyukov (2022 NHL Draft eligible) in exchange for Dmitry Kagarlitsky.

The SKA St. Petersburg farm system is one of the best in Russia. Their system consists of many NHL prospects including Marat Khusnutdinov (Minnesota Wild), Vasily Podkolzin (Vancouver Canucks), Maxim Groshev (Tampa Bay Lightning), Kirill Marchenko (Columbus Blue Jackets), Yaroslav Askarov (Nashville Predators), Alexander Gordin (Montréal Canadiens), Ivan Morozov (Vegas Golden Knights) and Yegor Spiridonov (San Jose Sharks). In addition, they have quite a few 2021 NHL Draft prospects such as Lazutin, Kirill Kirsanov, Kirill Gerasimyuk, Vladimir Sychyov and Dmitri Buchelnikov. Plus, 2023 NHL Draft eligible prospect Matvei Michkov is part of their system and will rival Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli and Brayden Yager for the first overall pick in 2023. With all of that being said, it is safe to say that Chibrikov is in great hands from a development standpoint.

Chibrikov has spent most of this season in the VHL and KHL, but most recently played at the MHL level with SKA-1946 St. Petersburg and appeared in five playoff games for them.

He was also named to the Russian U18 preliminary roster for the 2021 IIHF World U18 Championship in Frisco, Texas. As I mentioned in the below tweet, the Russian forward group is very explosive. Lot of talent. If Chibrikov makes the final cut, he will likely play top six minutes for Russia at the tournament.

Player Profile

D.O.B – February 16, 2003
Nationality – Russia
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –5’10
Weight –161 lbs
Position – Right Wing
Handedness – Left

Chibrikov’s Style Of Play

Right off the bat, if you loved Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Rodion Amirov in his draft year (2020), there is a strong chance that you will fall head over heels for Chibrikov. In EliteProspects initial draft rankings for the 2021 NHL Draft, their Editor In Chief, J.D. Burke said “I spoke to one scout who likened Chibrikov’s game to that of Rodion Amirov. It’s a pretty apt comparison, too. Chibrikov is a highly-skilled playmaking winger with a drive for the centre-lane and sound defensive details.”

If you want to take a look at just how dominant Chibrikov from a numbers perspective, we have some data for you to check out. Dylan Griffing of DobberProspects, who does extensive Russian hockey scouting, tracks players across the KHL, VHL and MHL. In the two charts below, you will see how Chibrikov stacks up against other 2021 NHL Draft eligibles from Russia. The first chart shows DSATA/60 (Dangerous Shot Attempts Against Player’s Team per 60) and DSAT/60 (Dangerous Shot Attempts For Player’s Team per 60). The second chart looks at Corsi and compares Corsi Against/60 versus Corsi For/60.

Give Dylan a follow on Twitter and you won’t regret it. Lot of good work and he can be quite humorous too.

Screenshots from Dylan Griffing’s Tableau

Offense

Chibrikov loves to drive to net-front. He will consistently look to drive to net-front with or without the puck. It doesn’t matter if it’s mid-cycle or off the rush, Chibrikov skates hard to the net. When it comes to getting to the net, Chibrikov has shown at all three Russian hockey levels (KHL, VHL and MHL) that he is more than capable of pushing off attackers, standing his ground and driving to the net without possession of the puck. When doing so, he keeps his stick blade facing parallel to the puck carrier incase the puck carrier passes to him as he charging the net.

While Chibrikov thrives at the pushing attackers when he doesn’t have possession of the puck there are instances especially when facing defenders on the rush, in which he struggles to exert his strength and maneuver the puck around the defender. But, he also struggles to get around attackers when he is playing the puck along the boards. He has difficulty stick-handling and pivoting out of danger.

Chibrikov’s forechecking ability is where he really shines in the offensive zone. When he is in the defensive zone and looks to put pressure on the puck carrier in the other defensive zone, he will quickly get in gear. He will complete two lengthy extensions in the defensive zone. Then in the neutral zone, he will shorten up his skate extensions as he generated quite a bit of acceleration off the first two extensions in the defensive zone. Once he gets to the blue-line, he will once again go into power stride mode to catch up to the defender who has the puck. When Chibrikov is in the offensive zone on the forecheck, he uses his lengthy skate extensions to muster up the appropriate speed to chase after the puck carrier and implements strong pressure once he has arrived at the carrier.

From a passing perspective, Chibrikov has sequences where he doesn’t take the time to identify a passing lane and randomly makes ill-advised passes. He will complete a no look random pass from one half-wall to the other half-wall without identifying a target. Chibrikov will complete no look passes behind his back and the puck will end up on the opposition’s stick blade. While he does struggle with his decision making, there are sequences where he utilizes good puck manipulation skills to draw attackers to him, thus creating open space for his teammates and will then feather a pass to the teammate. Even if the teammate draws in one attacker, it will still take a couple of seconds for the defender to shift off of Chibrikov. If that teammate can generate quick speed right off the bat, Chibrikov’s pass could lead to scoring chances down low. But, not only will he draw attackers in when looking to complete a pass, he will also find targets down low at the doorstep from the blue-line and deliver soft swift passes to get the puck into high danger.

When getting in position to take a shot, Chibrikov more often than not will look to stay close to his teammate who is in possession of the puck especially in high danger situations. Chibrikov gives his teammate the ability to deliver a quick short pass and strike on a dime as soon as he receives the pass. His placement down low in high danger when waiting for a pass has led to quite a few one-timer goals. Chibrikov has a smooth delivery on his shot. He will keep the stick blade open and generate height to get the puck top shelf.

Defense

When most junior hockey analysts, draft analysts and scouts talk about a 2021 NHL Draft eligible Russian prospect that is well-versed defensively, they often are drooling over Fyodor Svechkov and rightfully so. Svechkov is dynamic in his own zone. But, don’t forget that Chibrikov is strong in the defensive zone as well.

Chibrikov loves playing tight man-on-man defense and will start to exert dominance in the neutral zone. He will track his attacker’s movements before the blue-line and will implement a power stride as soon as he spots the attacker starting to move the puck over the line. Chibrikov will follow him, stay close and look to push into the attacker to try to drive the puck carrier off course. This allows Chibrikov to have a quick jump on the puck if and when the puck carrier chooses to pass the puck in an attempt to get the puck away from Chibrikov.

He will also dart up from the defensive zone to the neutral zone in instances where his opponent is looking to complete a controlled zone entry. Chibrikov gets quality acceleration off of his first two skate extensions to acquire the appropriate speed to shut down an opportunity for the attacker to rush into the zone. Instead, the attacker has no choice but to dump the puck when Chibrikov gets in his face.

As you can see, Chibrikov is quite quick on his feet when it comes to defensive decision making. He will quickly jump in front of an attacker when he sees that the attacker is about to accept a one-timer pass. By jumping in front of the attacker, he is able to change direction of the one-timer shot by deflecting the shot.

Generally, Chibrikov possesses strong defensive positioning and will often line up at the perimeter. Sometimes, he will look to implement some physicality and grit especially along the boards, but he doesn’t have the necessary strength and timing to follow through on his checks. So, he prefers to lift his stick and poke check at open ice.

We will touch on Chibrikov’s physicality and grit later on.

Transitional Play

From a transitional perspective, Chibrikov tends to skate up the middle of the ice surface, but sometimes will deviate to the boards when completing a controlled zone entry. After crossing into the offensive zone, he might widen his stance especially when facing a 2 on 1 as it makes his attackers perceive that he is slowing down. But, at the drop of a hat, he will flip a pass to a teammate, drawing one defender to the winger and one on him. That allows Chibrikov to create more open ice for himself and his teammate.

While there are plenty of sequences where Chibrikov will carry the puck from zone to zone or collect the puck in the neutral zone and drive it into the offensive zone himself, there are instances in which he will look to pass instead. You can expect him to utilize the boards and pass the puck off of the boards to a teammate when Chibrikov has a man on him.

In addition, given Chibrikov’s passing range, he will often look to deploy a stretch pass zone exit in transition.

Physicality/Grit

When it comes to Chibrikov’s physicality, it’s there. Trust me it’s there. I see the grit. He can get under your skin. Given his compete level, he’s puck hungry and will push players for the puck. Often times especially at the KHL level, his opponents get annoyed by Chibrikov’s aggressiveness. He needs to continue to use that. When he gets to the NHL level, that will be extremely useful. If you don’t believe me, watch Brady Tkachuk, Matthew Tkachuk and/or Brad Marchand.

But, when it comes to following through on a check, that is where Chibrikov runs into the some issues. Like his struggles when maneuvering pucks around defenders on the rush, it’s evident that his upper body strength needs a spurt. When going in for a check, there are instances where he isn’t forceful enough, he falls or he mistimes the check completely. If Chibrikov wants to be Brad Marchand at the NHL level, his physical game will need to take shape.

Skating

I raved earlier about Chibrikov’s ability to accelerate, but I’m not quite done yet. His two leg extensions when gaining momentum and acceleration are well-timed. They are quick and well placed. As mentioned above, if he looks to generate top speed, he will thin up his extensions in the neutral zone and then go back into a power stride once he crosses the blue-line into the offensive zone. It’s all about strategical speed for Chibrikov and he’s mastered it.

When it comes to his edges and crossovers, he is general quite strong. He has good use of inside edges and complete a hard stop on a dime. His crossovers are tight and can also be used to generate acceleration as a stepping stone off of a turn. But, sometimes, he will struggle with outside edge deployment. There are times where his skates are too far apart when utilizing his outside edges. At those moments, he sometimes will play the puck too far out in front of him, which he generally doesn’t do often. But, in those moments, he will lose control of his balance and sometimes instead of recovering, he will fall to the ice. Even though his outside edges aren’t as well-developed as his inside edges are, I’m confident in his ability to get there.

Comparison

Brad Marchand, Left Wing, Boston Bruins

While Brad Marchand’s production might a little high when it comes to comparing him to Chibrikov, the transitional play and the grittiness of Chibrikov truly remind me of Marchand. Marchand loves to push forwards in the center of the zone to give his teammates options in high and medium danger.

Projection

Top Six NHL Winger


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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Scouting Report: Cole Huckins

Photo Credit: Tyson Gray Photography

Cole Huckins is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible forward prospect, who plays for the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Huckins grew up in Fredericton, New Brunswick and holds dual citizenship from the United States and Canada.

Prior to the QMJHL, Huckins played bantam hockey for the Fredericton Blues and prep school hockey for Stanstead College in Stanstead, Quebec. Huckins’ father, Phil Huckins had played for Stanstead when he was a youngster and was captain of the team.

Huckins was drafted 16th overall in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft by Acadie-Bathurst. Since joining the Titan, he has recorded 21 goals and 41 assists in a combined 87 games (Over the course of two seasons of play. Data as of March 29, 2021).

Hockey is in his DNA. We mentioned his father, Phil earlier, but Huckins has more family members who have played competitive hockey. Both of his uncles, Greg Malone and Jim Malone were drafted. Greg played several seasons in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Hartford Whalers and Quebec Nordiques. In addition, his cousins have also played professionally and/or in the junior ranks. Brad Malone is in the Edmonton Oilers system, Brett Malone played for Moncton and Saint John in the QMJHL, Mark Malone played in the ECHL and collegiate hockey, Ryan Malone played eleven seasons in the NHL (Pittsburgh, Tampa and the New York Rangers) and Justin Moir played a few seasons in the AJHL and most recently played in the NCHL-AB.

Player Profile

D.O.B – May 14, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –6’3
Weight –201 lbs
Position – Center/Right Wing/Left Wing
Handedness – Left

Huckins’ Style Of Play

Throughout the season, Huckins has been playing on the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Often, he has been paired with fellow 2021 NHL Draft eligible forward David Doucet. The third forward on the line seems to change rather consistently due to injuries. With that being said, there have been a few games where Titan head coach Mario Durocher has bumped Huckins up to his second line alongside another 2021 NHL Draft eligible forward Riley Kidney.

Aside from line placement, we have seen Huckins switch from center to wing and he’s been quite versatile with his wing placement. There are games where he lines up on the left side and games where he is on the right side. If you’ve watched quite a bit of QMJHL hockey this year, you’ll notice that his versatility is very similar to that of Robert Orr of the Halifax Mooseheads.

Offense

Huckins has power forward instincts and is often seen aggressively hunting after the puck on the forecheck. When going after loose pucks in the offensive zone, Huckins deploys a lengthy stride to gather speed and uses it to hustle after the puck. Given his size, if he loses the initial chase to the puck, he can put up a solid battle immediately after to trap the defender.

While I wouldn’t say that Huckins’ puck manipulation is one of the best in the 2021 class, it is important to note that he is good at drawing attackers in. He will tempt them into coming closer to him and will use that to his advantage. In a game against the Saint John Sea Dogs, I noticed Huckins playing the puck out towards Sea Dogs defenseman Charlie DesRoches. He drew DesRoches in and thus opened up ice for Huckins’ winger. Huckins fed a backhand pass to the winger. DesRoches moved over to the wing and that allowed Huckins to free up and move towards the net without pressure. At this point, the winger feeds a pass back to Huckins and now Huckins is net front with absolutely no pressure. DesRoches is tied up with the winger and it’s just Huckins and the opposing goaltender. Not only does Huckins use puck manipulation to key up a give-and-go, but he will also sell the opposition on him moving the puck through the slot, but instead he buys himself room and skates up the boards to the net. By using puck manipulation, he buys himself time and space from the defender.

From an offensive production perspective, Huckins isn’t a playmaker. Given his power forward tendencies, he fights hard for the puck, but isn’t someone who will thread the needle with intricate passes in tight lanes. However, his passing ability is strong and if need be can fire a saucer diagonal pass from perimeter/point to the other side of the zone. On the power play, he tends to push play closer to the net and will often be seen passing the puck up the boards. In his eight primary assists this season, only two of them have been tape-to-tape feeds. Below is an example of one of Huckins’ primary assists, which led to a rebound goal for Ben Allison.

On the rush in the offensive zone, Huckins will occasionally struggle with over-powering the last defender. But, he does have good use of the body to outmuscle attackers to gain puck possession. Ultimately, he needs to work on his upper body strength and hone in on how he needs to exert his strength to push past defenders.

When it comes to his shot, he is most successful at net-front. You will see Huckins try shooting from distance, but a decent percentage of his shots from medium danger and low danger tend to miss the mark. Given his power forward playing style, it makes a lot of sense that Huckins likes to attack the net. The majority of his goals have been deflection/tip-in and rebound goals.

Below is a screenshot from InStat Hockey of Cole Huckins’ goal map. As we mentioned above, his success his come at net-front and he has only scored one goal outside of high danger this season.

Screenshot from InStat Hockey

Defense

Defensively, Huckins’ strongest attribute is his grit. He plays a strong physical game along the boards and in the corners. He doesn’t shy away from open ice hits to generate turnovers/defensive recoveries. While he is quite physical, it should be noted that his poke-checking ability is strong too. Huckins has good reach with his stick and can catch you off guard by coming behind the puck carrier and stealing the puck from him. He will also use his poke-checking and good reach to his advantage in the neutral zone by stealing pucks off the rush.

Even though Huckins, is quite sound from a turnover perspective, when you watch Titans games, you will notice that due to the versatility of Huckins that he sometimes tries to be all over the defensive zone. Also, he has a tendency to the be the last forward back into the defensive zone. Given some of his defensive struggles and his physical style of play, I would highly recommend using him at wing in the future. If you plug him in at wing, he has far less to concern himself with in the defensive zone. He has to patrol the boards and keep pucks in low danger using his physicality. If you overcomplicate where you want him to be, that will cause his defensive development to slow down a tad.

Transitional Play

From a transitional perspective, Huckins prefers to pass the puck to complete zone entries/exits. He is not someone who completes a lot of controlled zone-to-zone entries. Instead, as mentioned above, he loves passing the puck in transition and will lean on his backhand passing especially when facing pressure from an attacker. Huckins will shift the puck from forehand to backhand and find an open teammate. He will also use stretch passing to drive the transition, but sometimes he’s a little inconsistent when completing a stretch pass. When Huckins has control of the puck right at the blue-line, don’t be surprised if he dumps the puck in. He has an affinity for dumping the puck in and then chasing after the puck against the opposing defender.

Stick-Handling

Huckins’ stick-handling is an area that needs further development. There are moments where he struggles to hold onto the puck and will play the puck too far in front of him. Huckins just needs to be mindful of how far out he plays the puck as it could lead to vulnerable situations if it pops up in the defensive or neutral zone.

His puck control will improve when he shortens the distance of the puck from his body and when he rounds out development on his reach when carrying the puck. I like his reachability when he doesn’t have control of the puck, but with it, he will struggle at times.

Skating

Huckins’ skating can be strong at times. When chasing after the puck in the offensive zone, you will see him use a lengthier stride initially to accelerate. But, his skating stride length isn’t always consistent. There are times where Huckins won’t complete a full stride. It’s somewhere between Huckins coasting and a stride. If you want to compare it another prospect, his skating reminds me of New Jersey Devils prospect Dawson Mercer. Both, Mercer and Huckins have shown inconsistency in stride length. There are moments where they start off with two lengthy strides to generate speed and shorten up on the stride once they have the necessary acceleration. But, there are moments, where they don’t complete a full stride and extend their skate a little bit outwards when on the hunt.

The other skating issue for Huckins is that he has a bit of a heavy foot. This means that he is less agile on his feet and edges/crossovers can be challenging at times. For instance, sometimes, you will see Huckins use his edges and/or crossovers to complete a turn, but once he has completed the turn and wants to come to a full stop, he will sometimes use the boards to push off of to keep him upright.

While there are some areas to work on with his skating, with proper development, I’m not concerned about his ability to improve his stride. We have seen instances where he can light up his skates and skate fast to the puck. It’s just consistency that is an issue.

Comparison

Jason Chimera, Left Wing, Retired (Played for the Washington Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks)

Like Jason Chimera, Huckins is a strong power forward with good physicality and someone who can can generate speed easily when hunting for the puck. Also, a lot of Chimera’s offensive production came at net-front. From 2015 to 2018, all but one of Chimera’s goals came in high danger situations.

Projection

Bottom Six NHL Forward


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

Scouting Report: Brent Johnson

Photo Credit: Jasen Robbennolt/Sioux Falls Stampede

Sioux Falls Stampede defenseman Brent Johnson is a prospect eligible for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Hailing from Dallas, Texas, the 18-year old defenseman is making quite the name for himself in his draft year. Johnson has amassed 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points in 43 games this season. Although the 2021 Draft seems to have a few talented defensemen at the top of the board, there’s no doubt that Johnson should be in the conversation near the top of the list. NHL Central Scouting did not list Johnson on their annual “Players to Watch” preseason list, he’s arguably had one of the biggest rises in 2020/21, especially as of late.

Johnson won USHL Defenseman of the Week in the beginning of January, which really seemed to spark his excellent play. Since winning the award, Johnson has tallied 15 of his 31 points on the season. Perhaps the most impressive part of his game is the fact he is useful and trustworthy in every zone on the ice. He’s as good clearing passing lanes in his own zone with an active stick as he is quarterbacking the powerplay.

This month, Johnson announced that he’s committed to the University of North Dakota for the 2022-23 season, becoming the first player from Texas to suit up for the Fighting Hawks. He’ll join fellow USHL alumni and future UND teammates Jason Blake and Tyler Dunbar in Grand Forks. Johnson will continue his development under the watchful eye of Head Coach Brad Berry, who has had success since taking over Head Coaching duties in 2015. Berry will no doubt be excited to coach such a young, talented defensive core in the seasons to come, that should include names such as Johnson, Scott Morrow, Jake Sanderson, Tyler Kleven and Cooper Moore.

Player Profile

D.O.B – March 20th, 2003
Nationality – USA
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height – 5’11”
Weight – 165 lbs.
Position – Defense
Handedness – Right

Johnson’s Style Of Play

Johnson really is a do-it-all defenseman. He can play with skill and confidence in every single zone. In Johnson, you’re getting a player who is excellent in transition, who can quarterback a power-play, and who isn’t afraid to jump into the rush at any given opportunity.

In transition, Johnson prefers to hit teammates with a breakout pass as opposed to carrying the puck into the offensive zone by himself, or dumping the puck in. He can hit teammates in stride with short and medium-range passes, but could definitely brush up on his passing at long distances, as he tends to struggle a little bit with accuracy.

Check out this beautiful feed from Johnson to set up Luke Toporowski for a sweet goal:

As mentioned above, Johnson definitely isn’t afraid to jump into the rush, but perhaps more impressive, he can also backcheck with effectiveness and ease. It’s an uncommon occurrence to see him caught way out of position after charging up ice, as he’s usually made up the gap between the attacker and himself with his explosive backchecking speed.

One of my favourite traits of Johnson’s is his ability to quarterback Sioux Falls’ powerplay. Johnson has the perfect amount of discipline, patience and skill to create an effective breakout and zone entry, whether it comes off of his stick, or a teammate’s. Sioux Falls definitely trusts him with the man-advantage, as he sees a shade over three minutes of powerplay time a game, on average.

Johnson’s effectiveness on the powerplay is quite noticeable, from executing a breakout, right down to his ability to scope out a teammate down low with a pass, or send a wrist shot on net.

Skating

Arguably one of Johnson’s best traits is his skating, as he can accelerate in a phone booth, and he has one of the nicer strides among 2021 draft eligible defensemen. He does have more of an upright stride than most, but that doesn’t seem to hinder him much at all. Johnson also seems to have somewhat of a more narrow stance, both while accelerating as well as coasting.

When it comes to edgework, Johnson has some of the best when it comes to defenseman in the USHL. He’s able to escape pressure when pressing on in the offensive zone and elude defenders with great success. To add, Johnson can use his combination of excellent edges and his cat-like agility to navigate through all zones of the ice, which very few rookie defenders in the USHL can do.

Johnson’s most notable skating attribute just may be his ability to go “coast to coast” and still not look out of position. He can use his speed and stride to catch up to opponents on the counter attack after an offensive rush, and usually manage to get back and make a play on them in time. For his age, Johnson is an exceptional skater, and should only see this skill increase as he moves on to the next level in the seasons to come.

Offense

Johnson’s offensive ability is remarkable to say the least, as far as rookie defenseman in the USHL go. As previously mentioned, he loves to hop into the rush at any given chance, and can create some dangerous offensive chances for the Stampeders.

The way that Johnson can find open ice in the offensive zone and attempt a shot on goal is simply amazing. He can utilize his above average stickhandling skills to elude defenders and create new shooting lanes, or he can dish the puck off to a teammate across the zone. Johnson does have a tiny issue with a lot of his shots not reaching the goal, but that definitely can be cured with experience.

Johnson’s wrist shot is a thing of beauty, as he’s able to pick corners with a moderate amount of success. He also as a pretty quick shot release for a defenseman, which catches goalies off guard. His slapshot, however, could use a little work. That’s not to say it isn’t adequate, but it would be nice to see him utilize it more.

Johnson’s passing is another aspect of his offensive game that NHL teams will be sure to catch. He’s a very talented passer of the puck, especially when it comes to those crucial short/mid-range passes. As mentioned above, his long range passing could use some TLC, as he sometimes struggles with accuracy the longer the pass gets. We’ll cover more on that later on in the report.

Defense

Johnson, of course, is a pretty talented defender in every sense of the word. He can disrupt passing lanes and block shots with ease, and seems to have a knack for knocking the puck loose from attackers with his hyperactive stick. Johnson has no issue sacrificing the body to block a puck, or to force a turnover in the defensive zone.

One aspect of Johnson’s game that’s extremely underrated is his level of physicality. For his size (5’11, 165), he’s quite dominant, and can easily flatten attackers both in open ice and along the boards. He’s also not afraid to give net front attackers a difficult time, if they choose to stand in the slot.

Johnson is also very talented at defending the rush. He can force attackers out wide towards the boards, and can close them off with success. More often than not, he’s also able to force a turnover off that ability.

Improvements

While there are copious amounts of things to love in Johnson’s game, he is still young and developing, meaning there is a few items he could benefit greatly from working on. Defensively, Johnson sometimes struggles with his board game when under pressure from attackers, which can lead to sloppy passes and turnovers. Other times, it seems as if he second guesses himself and gets caught flat-footed when trying to decide on chasing down an attacker, or standing guard in front of the net. Luckily, experience and some patience can play a huge role in correcting this, which should come with more ice time, both in the USHL and the NCAA.

Also, while Johnson is exceptionally good at finding open ice in the offensive zone, he does seem to have quite a few of his point shots deflected or blocked. He should look to find those weak zones in coverage when in open ice and exploiting them, which again comes with experience and ice time. On top of his shooting, Johnson could also use some work when it comes to his long distance passing. He has little to no issues at short and medium range, but he can have some difficulty with accuracy at longer ranges, i.e stretch breakout passes. Not to sound repetitive, but this issue should get better with experience and ice time.

Lastly, Johnson will most likely be looking to add some size to his 5’11, 165 lbs frame in the seasons to come, as he’ll more than likely need it, especially when he takes the ice for UND in 2022. As he’s only 18 and still growing, odds are he will add 15-20 lbs and maybe a couple inches to his frame by the time he’s ready for college hockey.

Overall Outlook

Overall, Brent Johnson definitely has “diamond in the rough” potential when it comes to 2021 Draft Eligible defenseman. He possesses a lot of the more desirable traits teams look for in an all-around defenseman. Johnson can be counted on in the defensive zone to make smart decisions, he is amazing in transition, and he’s above average at creating space and generating scoring chances in the offensive zone.

Only time will tell as to how successful Brent Johnson is at the next level, but as he progresses through the USHL ranks to the NCAA and beyond, it’s hard to see a path that doesn’t lead him to being an NHL-cailber defenseman someday. If he can continue to develop the skills that show so much promise, as well as work on a couple minor flaws in his game, he can truly become an effective, all situations-type defenseman in the NHL.
Based off of his attributes, look for Johnson to be selected somewhere in the early to middle second round of the draft. However, he has a strong chance to end up being selected at the tail end of the first round, if he can continue his lights-out play as of late.

Comparison

Samuel Girard, D, Colorado Avalanche (NHL)

When I look at Brent Johnson as a defenseman, he strikes me in a similar mold as the 2016 2nd round pick of the Nashville Predators, Samuel Girard. Both Johnson and Girard play the position in a similar fashion, as each player is talented in all three zones of the ice. Johnson and Girard also both possess exceptional skating ability, quick releases on their shot, and a good eye for open lanes in the offensive zone.

Perhaps the most striking abilities that both defenders have is their offensive zone prowess and their effectiveness in transition. Johnson and Girard both jump into the rush when possible and can produce offensively, especially Girard, who is having a career year with the Avalanche.

If the team that selects Johnson in the 2021 NHL Draft can manage to have him develop into the type of player that Samuel Girard has developed into, it’s hard to imagine they would be anything but over the moon with their selection.


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.

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

Scouting Report: Oscar Plandowski

Photo Credit – Darrell Theriault/Charlottetown Islanders

Oscar Plandowski is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible defenseman and he plays for the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders. Plandowski was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and spent a decent amount of his youth in Halifax. After 2017, he spent two seasons playing outside of Nova Scotia. For his 2017-2018 season, he played prep school hockey for Okanagan Hockey Academy U15 in Edmonton, Alberta alongside quite a few 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospects including Sean Tschigerl, Colton Dach (Kirby Dach’s brother), Olen Zellweger, Corson Ceulemans and Kyle Masters. The following season, Plandowski played prep school hockey at the South Kent School in South Kent, Connecticut (north of Danbury, CT and east of Poughkeepsie, NY) and played with Cameron MacDonald (2021 NHL Draft prospect) and Ryan Greene (2022 NHL Draft prospect).

Following the conclusion of his 2018-2019 season with the South Kent Selects Academy, he joined the Charlottetown Islanders. Initially, the Chicoutimi Saguenéens had Plandowski’s QMJHL rights. Chicoutimi selected him at 18th overall in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft. But, in August of 2019, the Islanders made a trade with Chicoutimi for Plandowski.

In Plandowski’s two seasons with Charlottetown, he has tallied a combined 24 points in 90 games played. He didn’t record his first QMJHL goal till this season, but he nows has three goals under his belt. Two came against the Halifax Mooseheads and one against the Cape Breton Eagles. Aside from total points, it is worth noting that his EV GF% (Even Strength Goals For Percentage) is the fifth highest in the QMJHL amongst 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospects. Per Pick224, he owns a 71.43 percentage and is around 9% short of the leader, William Trudeau (his teammate).

Let’s shift to Plandowski’s family. Hockey is in his bloodlines. Plandowski’s mother, Jill Plandowski is a power skating coach in the Halifax area. She has worked with many NHLers and NHL prospects including Egor Sokolov (Ottawa), Drake Batherson (Ottawa), Ethan Phillips (Detroit), Jared McIssac (Detroit) and Luke Henman (Carolina).

His father, Darryl Plandowski is the Director of Amateur Scouting for the Arizona Coyotes and was hired shortly before the 2020 NHL Draft. Previously, he worked as an amateur scout for the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL), Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Before his scouting career, he played in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League with the Lloydminster Lancers (now known as the Bobcats) and played NCAA hockey at Northern Michigan University.

Oscar’s brothers, Marshall and Jack also play competitively. His older brother, Marshall plays in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League for the East Hants Penguins. Oscar’s younger brother, Jack plays 15U AAA hockey with Bishop Kearney Selects. Jack is eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft.

In addition, Oscar’s cousin, Freddie Halyk is a goaltender for the Alberta Elite Hockey League U18 AAA’s Calgary Flames.

Player Profile

D.O.B – May 18, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –6’0
Weight –190 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Right

Plandowski’s Style Of Play

Offense

Right off the bat, I want to mention that Plandowski didn’t always play defense. He shifted from forward to defense in his bantam days. When Plandowski was previously committed to Quinnipiac University, an independent Quinnipiac hockey blog site spoke to him about his transition to defense. In the interview, Plandowski mentioned “I feel my biggest strength is my skating. I believe my skating is why I could make the transition from forward to defense like I did.” While we are not addressing his skating in this portion of the report, I wanted to share with my readers that Plandowski does come from more of an offensive role and that certainly shows in his play.

When you queue up some footage of Plandowski, you will notice that he pinches quite a bit. Loves to jump to the hashmarks when pucks are in deep. If there is a loose puck along the boards, he likes to pinch up, play the puck and dump it to the corners. With that being said, there are instances where he pinches way too far up and his teammates fail to communicate with him. If you pinch up, you need a forward to fall back. Otherwise, you are leaving your defensive partner in a vulnerable spot. While there are instances where Plandowski jumps up too far, he is generally strong at identifying the best moments to jump up. But, given his offensive background, he is puck hungry and it shows when he is observing a puck battle down low and he pinches too far in.

Plandowski gets a lot of ice-time especially on the power play. While he is right handed, he will on occasion line up on the left side on the power play. The reasoning behind Plandowski lining up on the left side versus the right side is because some right handed defensemen are stronger with their one-timers on the other side. Plandowski has recorded two one-timer goals on the left side of the ice since September. One came in a pre-season matchup against Halifax and the other happened on March 17th against Cape Breton.

While he has had success with his one-timer shots from medium danger and outwards, Plandowski does struggle at times with getting puck on net from beyond the perimeter. His shots tend to go wide from long-range.

Moving aside from his shot, Plandowski can be very deceptive with his puck movement. If a pass comes to him on when he has pinched up to the hashmarks, he knows that he can fool his opposition into thinking that he is going to fire a one-timer to the net. But, he will sometimes fake out the attackers and fire a quick pass to the slot instead to catch them off guard. In addition to deceptive passing, Plandowski has shown that he can manipulate and draw in attackers with ease. His puck movement will bring attackers too far in and that opens up plenty of space for the Halifax native.

Defense

Plandowski is very strong defensively in his own zone and in the neutral zone. In the neutral zone, he bends his knees and uses a wider stance to trap puck carrying wingers. By using a neutral zone trap, he makes it much more challenging for the opposition to execute a zone entry and crack through. Plandowski’s gap control can be a handful. With that being said, if the attacker tries to dump the puck into the Charlottetown zone, Plandowski uses his upper body to push the attacker in an effort to trap the attacker from swerving out and regaining the loose puck. He will also apply enough pressure to cut down the speed of the attacker and he uses that to his advantage to chase after the puck and complete a defensive recovery.

While Plandowski does have solid upper body strength, there are times where it doesn’t hold water. With Plandowski’s determination to trap attackers in the neutral zone, sometimes that means trapping them along the boards and occasionally a winger will push back to throw Plandowski off. When that happens, Plandowski needs to push back on the attacker, otherwise if he looses his balance it could lead to some 2-on-1/3-on-1 situations for his defensive partner. Also, when Plandowski plays the puck hard against the boards in the neutral zone, there are times where he gets stuck in the neutral zone and one of the Charlottetown forwards has to drop back. It’s certainly not the worst thing, but strong communication with the forward group has to continue at the NHL level. Otherwise, it will lead to plenty of scoring chances for the opposition.

In the defensive zone, Plandowski does an excellent job of keeping attackers in low danger and stuck along the boards. When Plandowski is keeping attackers along the boards, he will find the most opportune moment to execute a backcheck to attempt to regain possession of the puck. While Plandowski is strong along the boards and regains the possession of the puck with ease, he also can provide the same level of defensive strength at open ice. He will utilize his stick to strip the puck off of an attacker’s stick blade. His reachability allows Plandowski to extend his stick out and cause havoc for attackers who are looking at moving the puck from low danger to medium/high danger.

On the flip side, when Plandowski is facing a forecheck, he manages to draw the attacker in, pivot out and play the puck off of the boards.

Transition

From a transitional perspective, Plandowski is extremely effective. He delivers soft and crisp tape to tape zone entry feeds. Plandowski enjoys passing through teammates on zone exits/entries. He will use one teammate in a pick move to throw off the attackers. One teammate will sit at the front of the lane and the desired recipient will sit further along in the lane.

The only challenge that Plandowski has from a transitional perspective is sometimes he doesn’t accurately read his attackers movements. Either he plays the puck right to the attacker and the opposition strips the puck away from Plandowski or he attempts to complete a pass but doesn’t the attacker closing in on the desired lane until the last second. Peripheral vision is always paramount with puck movement and sometimes he struggles with it.

But, when he does control the puck in the neutral zone, more often then not he will complete a zone entry pass. There are certain occasions where he prefers to dump the puck in, but you can bank on Plandowski looking to deliver a zone entry pass more often than not.

Skating

When you look at Plandowski’s skating, you come away excited. There is no flaw in his skating. His stride extension length is perfect. He needs two lengthy strides to generate acceleration. Plandowski will also get solid acceleration and power off of his crossovers. His crossovers allow him to gain top speed on the blue-line in the offensive zone and pave the way for strong defensive play especially in the neutral zone when he is skating backwards. His crossovers and stride extension are great, but you can’t forget his edges. He will utilize strong edge work to complete tight turns in all three zones.

Comparison

Kevin Shattenkirk, Right Handed Defenseman, Anaheim Ducks

Not only is Shattenkirk roughly the same size as Plandowski, but he is a strong two-way defender and has a blistering shot from medium danger and outwards that he utilizes quite often on the power play.

Projection

Second Pairing Defenseman (NHL)


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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Scouting Report: Robert Orr

Photo Credit: Halifax Mooseheads

Robert Orr is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who hails from Beaconsfield, Québec. Beaconsfield is located on the West Island (Montréal area) and is south of Dollard-Des-Ormeaux and Pointe Claire.

While Orr has the same name as the hall of famer and Boston Bruins legend Bobby Orr, they are not related. When the Halifax Mooseheads acquired Orr in a trade with the Saint John Sea Dogs, they mentioned in a press release that Orr was not named after the former Bruins defenseman. Instead, he was named after his grandfather.

Orr played youth hockey in the Lac St-Louis Lions organization. During his time with the Lions, he played alongside Markus Vidicek (2022 NHL Draft prospect), James Swan (2022 NHL Draft prospect), Christopher Duclair (2021 NHL Draft prospect and Anthony Duclair’s brother), Charles-Alexis Legault (2021 NHL Draft prospect), Brady James (2021 NHL Draft prospect), James Malatesta (2021 NHL Draft prospect), Dovar Tinling (2021 NHL Draft prospect) and Devon Levi (Florida Panthers prospect). The Halifax Mooseheads are a big fan of the Lac St-Louis Lions organization and brought Vidicek, Swan, James and Orr to Nova Scotia.

Initially, Orr was drafted by the Saint John Sea Dogs in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft in the fifth round. Before the 2020 QMJHL Entry Draft, the Mooseheads dealt a second round and a fourth round pick to Saint John for Orr. Orr had not played in a single game for Saint John as he spent the 2019-2020 season in the QMAAA (Ligue de hockey Midget AAA du Québec) for the Lions.

This season is Orr’s first season in the QMJHL and he has been one of the key contributors on the Halifax squad. In 31 games played, he has recorded 11 goals and 12 assists (data as of March 15, 2021).

Player Profile

D.O.B – September 1, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –5’11
Weight –176 lbs
Position – Center/Right Wing/Left Wing
Handedness – Left

Orr’s Style Of Play

Former NHL defenseman and Halifax Mooseheads head coach J.J. Daigneault has featured Orr on his top forward line throughout the season. There are a few games in which Orr has dropped to the second forward line, but the majority of the time, Orr plays on the top line with Elliot Desnoyers (Philadelphia Flyers prospect) and Zachary L’Heureux (2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect). When Orr is on the second line, Daigneault will move Jordan Dumais (2022 NHL Draft prospect) or Vidicek up to the top line.

While Orr generally plays on the wing in Halifax, he has shown throughout his midget and bantam days that he can be a dominant centerman. Orr is incredibly versatile and can be a good fit at center, left wing or right wing. Orr is a Swiss Army Knife.

Offense

In the offensive zone, he typically likes to take the center role even when he is playing on the wing. When he does not have possession of the puck, he loves to drive up to the low/medium slot and give his teammates an option at net-front. Due to his affinity for playing net-front, Orr scores quite a few deflection and rebound goals. But, his knack for deflection goals needs to be called out. Orr’s ability to predict shot paths and then use his stick to redirect the puck is quite strong. Not only does Orr thrive when redirecting pucks into the back of the net, but he is also solid at finding open ice down low. In the clip below, you can see Orr positioning himself close to the net in medium danger. He sees that the Cape Breton Eagles are drawn to the puck and ignoring him. That allows Orr to keep his feet moving and identify the ideal lane for his teammates to pass the puck through. With Orr finding that lane and collecting a cross-slot pass, he scores a quality goal and catches the Cape Breton goaltender and defenders off guard.

While Orr loves to be net-front, that doesn’t always mean that he is net-front. There are plenty of sequences where Orr positions himself along the half-wall. When he is playing along the half-wall, he constantly looks to get the puck into high danger. If he has two defenders on him and he sees a teammate busting through the seams and headed to high danger, he will buttonhook and complete a behind the back pass to get the puck to that particular teammate. Orr will constantly use no look passing to be as deceptive as possible.

In addition to no look passing, when in the slot, Orr will sometimes look to get into the high slot towards the perimeter and deliver tape to tape feeds to the doorstep. Occasionally, he will also utilize a backhand pass to get the puck net-front. His passing ability in the slot has led to quite a few Moosehead goals.

In terms of forechecking, it’s the one element where Orr is a bit weak. He constantly looks at his opponent’s skates on the forecheck and mimics each movement, but that also means that if he can not garner speed then he is always a step behind. When he is in position to deliver a bodycheck along the boards, he doesn’t have the upper body strength to follow through on the check.

Defense

In the defensive zone, Orr has good positioning. He typically sits along low danger and tries to keep the cycle along the boards in low danger. But, when the puck shifts from the right side to the left side, he will adjust like most wingers do and cover the slot in an insurance capacity.

In terms of gap control, Orr can be a little inconsistent. There are moments where Orr provides strong gap control on the opposition’s defenders and keeps them at bay on the point. But, then there are moments where Orr will drift a little too far out to the blue-line, which gives his attackers too much open ice if they are sitting along the half-wall.

In terms of pursuing the puck, Orr will be very aggressive to the puck if there is no Moosehead in position. I’ve seen instances where Orr spots a forward on the rush and immediately lengthens his stride to help boost his acceleration. He will turn on the jets and go from the offensive zone blue-line to the defensive zone to play the puck.

Transition

Orr is extremely strong in transition. Once he collects the first pass from the defender, he is ready at the hip.

In the neutral zone, he has a mixed bag of tools to generate zone entries. Sometimes, he will dump the puck into the offensive zone and he has shown that he can beat the defenders to the puck when he dumps it in. He will also deliver tape to tape diagonal feeds as soon as he crosses his own blue-line. Orr will identify a teammate close to the offensive zone blue-line and feed a diagonal pass to them for a zone entry. In addition, Orr will utilize the boards and dump the puck off the boards for one of his teammates to collect in the offensive zone. That’s a good way to sell that the Mooseheads might be dumping the puck for a line change. Orr loves to be deceptive, so it makes sense that he would look to dump the puck off of the boards to initiate a rush. Plus, he will also utilize behind the back passing when two attackers are putting on pressure and he spots an open teammate with a clear path to the net.

Stick-Handling/Puck Movement

The biggest challenge for Orr is stick-handling and puck movement. Over the course of my viewings, stick-handling and puck security issues kept popping up. His stick-handling under pressure is not strong. Orr’s upper body strength is not where it needs to be from a reach perspective, so he is more susceptible to turning over the puck when he tries to play the puck further out. In addition, while Orr loves to be deceptive, he does struggle with puck manipulation. Orr has a harder time at drawing attackers towards him.

Orr needs to develop better puck security and ensuring that the puck is always on his stick blade. But, with that being said, there certainly are times where he struggles at capturing the puck with his stick blade. Sometimes, Orr will end up collecting a pass with his skate and not his stick blade. As you can imagine, collecting the puck with your skate versus your stick blade will ultimately slow you down as you strive to go net-front.

Skating

From a skating perspective, Orr has quality leg extensions to generate acceleration and is a straight line skater. But, he is not the fastest skater on the ice. He does utilize crossovers before lengthening his stride, but he doesn’t use crossovers every single time. Yet, with that being said, there are times where his speed is rather inconsistent especially on the backcheck. There are times where he is far more aggressive and faster to the puck and others where he appears to be coasting.

Aside from acceleration and stride length, it is worth noting that Orr’s skate placement is never too far apart. His mobility is sound. But, he does have some mobility issues with his edges. Occasionally, his edge placement will not be parallel and you will see one skate perpendicular to the other. Also, I have noticed that there are instances where Orr is far more confident in his crossovers to help turn versus using his edges. But, I’m not concerned about Orr’s edgework. Edgework can be improved on.

Comparison

Pierre Engvall, Left Wing/Right Wing, Toronto Maple Leafs

While Pierre Engvall is slightly bigger than Robert Orr, Engvall strong transitional playing style and affinity to go to net-front reminds me quite a bit of Orr. At this point, it is hard to predict whether or not Orr’s offensive production will be stronger than Engvall’s. The biggest factor for Orr’s production will have more to do with who is on the line with him. If he is on a team with weaker depth, his production might take a hit.

Projection

Top Nine NHL Forward


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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Scouting Report: Matthew Coronato

Photo Credit: Chicago Steel

It’s hard to imagine any team in the NHL who couldn’t use a player who can rack up points like it’s nothing, rarely takes a shift off, and has a compete level to rival any prospect eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft. That’s exactly what you’ll be getting out of Chicago Steel forward Matthew Coronato. Coronato was born in New York, New York, but grew up in Long Island. Currently, he’s crafting his talents for the Chicago Steel in the USHL.

Coronato played his youth hockey all around the eastern seaboard, but perhaps most prominently in the AYHL for New Jersey & Long Island, as well as USHS Prep League for Salisbury Prep School. Seemingly anywhere Coronato has laced up the skates, the points have certainly followed. He’s only had one season since 2016/17 below a point-per-game rate, that being 2019-20, his first season for the Steel.

So far this season, Coronato has exploded in production for the Steel, registering a mind blowing 37 goals and 29 assists for 66 points in 39 games. He’s swapped positions with line-mate and 2021 NHL Draft prospect Mackie Samoskevich, as both players are capable of suiting up either at center, or out on the wing. Those two, alongside usual line-mates Erik Middendorf or Sean Farrell, have formed lines capable of scoring at will, against some very talented USHL defenders. Coronato is taking advantage of a great situation and is climbing up many scouting services Draft Boards with his incredible play thus far in 2020/21.

For the 2021-22 season, Coronato is committed to the University of Harvard, where he’ll play under Head Coach Ted Donato. Coronato will be surrounded with talent, as he’ll join his Steel teammates Sean Farrell (Montreal Canadiens prospect) and Ian Moore (Anaheim Ducks prospect) in Cambridge, alongside Crimson players John Farinacci (Arizona Coyotes prospect), Henry Thrun (Anaheim Ducks prospect) and Nick Abruzzese (Toronto Maple Leafs prospect). Once Coronato settles in, look for him to make an impressive mark in ECAC play.

Player Profile


D.O.B – November 14, 2002
Nationality – USA
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height – 5’10”
Weight – 183 lbs.
Position – Center/Left Wing
Handedness – Right

Coronato’s Style Of Play

Matthew Coronato attacks the game in such a way that will impress just about every scout that watches him. He’s capable of playing in all areas of the ice, and can be trusted at 5v5, 5v4 and on the penalty kill. Coronato is definitely unafraid to go into the dirty areas of the ice, and more often than not, comes out of the scrum with possession of the puck. He is awesome in transition, and can move the puck freely and quickly through the neutral zone with ease. Also, he can pinpoint the perfect time for a breakout pass, and deliver it on the tape with little to no difficulty. When lined up as a center, Coronato is effective in the faceoff circle, as he’s won 53% of his faceoffs through March 15th, 2021.

Consistency is one aspect of Coronato’s game that is most notable, as he carried a 19 game point streak to open the 2020/21 season. Dating back to last year, his point streak totaled 28 games, which broke a previous USHL record. Coronato has also been held pointless in only five games this season, so he can be counted upon to bring the offense every night. It’s hard to imagine his consistency and offensive output wouldn’t light up the eyes of nearly every NHL scout.

Skating

Coronato’s skating may be the only attribute that isn’t exactly on par with the rest of his game. That’s not to say he isn’t a talented skater, but it is an area that he could benefit greatly from improving on, just a touch. Coronato is good at generating speed when trying to beat a defender out wide on the rush, and has little difficulty hustling back into the play on defense.

To add, Coronato also has adequate edgework, and is capable of changing direction to create space in all three zones. To some scouts, that may be important, as his skating has significantly improved since last season. However, he sort of lacks a general sense of speed to his overall game. Coronato could really benefit from working on his explosiveness out of the gate, as it will help him generate more space and scoring chances at the next level.

Lastly, Coronato could also touch on the overall quickness in his game, as it sometimes takes him a little time to hit full speed in transition. Working on these minor flaws in his game will certainly help him become an elite skater at the next level, and will certainly impress teams looking to select him at the Draft this summer.

Offense

When you watch the game tape of Matthew Coronato, it’s easy to notice how he reaches the point totals he’s amassed in the past few seasons. He has zero issue going into the slot and batting home a loose puck, but he’s just as dangerous with the puck on his stick at the top of the circle. He can beat a goaltender from pretty much anywhere in the offensive zone, and make it look easy more often than not. As good of a natural scorer Coronato is, he’s equally as good of a set-up man. He is a talented passer of the puck, and can seek out a teammate rushing into the offensive zone with a beautiful pass. Coronato is also an above average powerplay weapon, as he can usually be found patrolling both sections of the slot. He’s scored eight of his ten powerplay goals from this area, which goes to show how effective he is with the man advantage.

It’s sort of crazy to think about, but Coronato could easily have an extra 10-15 points this season alone, if it weren’t for a few missed shots and some more “puck luck”. In watching game film from this season, it was remarkable to notice how many times he’s had shots that just missed the net. Also, how many times he’s set up teammates with a pass, and they’ve shot wide/had the puck knocked off their stick.

Coronato doesn’t necessarily possess a truly lethal shot, he still gets the job done when it counts, which scouts may see as a benefit rather than a setback. That being said, Coronato does still have a decent wrister, and can beat even the better goalies in the USHL on a regular basis.

While Coronato doesn’t particularly stand out in any singular aspect of his game, he is incredibly solid at producing offense, which is arguably just as, if not more important. There’s always room to develop certain aspects of his game at the next level, but it’s hard to teach that natural instinct of producing points. Coronato will no doubt impress a ton of scouts when it comes to his “won’t-quit” attitude, and his instinctive talent to score.

Defense

Perhaps an under-utilized defensive zone player, Coronato is more than capable of being a 200ft player. When lined up as a center, he is quite talented at defensive zone faceoffs, boasting a 59.4% win rate as of March 15th, 2021. Not only can he win important defensive zone faceoffs, Coronato is also quite good at helping out defenders with forechecks, and making a pass to help his team breakout of the defensive zone.

Coronato is also an average penalty killer. He averages approximately 1:40 min of penalty kill time per game, and excels at pressuring the opposing defensemen with his active stick. He can also maintain possession of the puck in the offensive zone while on the penalty kill, a trait that is sure to impress a lot of scouts. On the penalty kill, Coronato can usually be found in the high slot, covering off one of the points in the box formation. This placement allows him to be aggressive in covering off the slot forward as well one of the defenseman, and gives Coronato a chance to create a shorthanded rush after forcing a mistake.

Improvements

Coronato is a very talented prospect who is a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none, for lack of a better term. His compete level is right up there with the top prospects for 2021, and he is no doubt one of the best natural scorers in the entire draft. However, with pretty much every prospect, there are a couple of spots in his game that could use some fine tuning. On offense, Coronato could look to improve his shot accuracy, as well as his shot decision making. In watching his game film, there were a few times where he could have scored if he places the puck in a more accurate location. He seems to be on the right track, as his film shows improvement from previous seasons. As mentioned above, Coronato may look to improve his explosiveness, and the overall quickness in his game. His skating has definitely shown improvement over last year’s footage, as many scouts have seen.

Overall Outlook

Overall, Matthew Coronato is arguably the most offensively productive forward in the 2021 Draft Class. His natural ability to score, or find a teammate who scores is simply remarkable. While he won’t stand out in any specific way, he oozes consistency in every aspect of his offensive game. His ability to produce should only become better at the next level, as he’ll be lined up with some impressive talent at Harvard in the ECAC this coming fall.

If Coronato can make the necessary tweaks to his game as previously mentioned, look for him to be a solid top 9 forward who can add quite a bit of offensive production for whichever team selects him in the Draft. Based off of his production, you can expect he’ll be taken anywhere from 25th, a late first rounder, to 40th, an early/mid second rounder.

Comparison

Jake Guentzel – C/LW – Pittsburgh Penguins

In watching film of Matthew Coronato, he reminded me of another versatile forward who has quite the knack for offensive production. That forward is Jake Guentzel of the Pittsburgh Penguins. In watching film of Coronato, it struck me how many similarities lie between both players. Both players took the Prep School-USHS Prep School-USHL-NCAA route of competition, and both players are versatile when it comes to where they line up position wise.

Not only are both players relatively the same size, but Coronato (5’10” and 183 lbs) and Guentzel (5’11” and 181 lbs) are similar in terms of offensive production. In Guentzel’s only season in the USHL for Sioux City, he totaled 29 goals and 44 assists for 73 points in 60 games. Coronato seems to be on a similar path as far as point totals go, however he tends to score more than he does assist his teammates.

In conclusion, if the team that selects Matthew Coronato can help develop him, and get him close to the production that Guentzel provides for the Penguins, I’m sure they would be thrilled with spending a potential first or second round selection on Matthew Coronato.


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.

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