Scouting Report: Marcus Almquist

Photo Credit: HV71

Scouting Report written bAlex Appleyard

Under-sized Scandinavian wingers ending up as draft or free-agent steels is nothing new. Mats Zuccarello, Gustav Nyquist, Viktor Arvidsson, Victor Olofsson, Jesper Bratt, Andreas Johnsson and Nils Höglander all fit that bill. Last year the prime contender to continue that tradition was HV71’s Zion Nybeck, a 2nd round talent who fell to the 4th. This year? Look no further than one of Nybeck’s team-mates, Marcus Almquist.

The Copenhagen native has been wowing people with his skills since he was 14 playing at under 18 level across the Øresund bridge in Sweden. At 15 he was point-per-game playing against men in the Danish second tier, despite looking like he should still have been in elementary school. And this season? Almquist was second in the J20 amongst draft eligible scorers, behind Oskar Olausson, his team-mate and a prospect pegged to go top 15 in the draft.

But Almquist will not be going in the first round, likely not the second round either, and probably not in the top 100. However, if a team is looking for a steal? Despite his diminutive build Almquist has the upside that very few players available after pick #60 will have.

Player Profile

D.O.B – September 13, 2003
Nationality – Denmark
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height – 5’7
Weight –168 lbs
Position – Right Wing/Center
Handedness – Right

Almquist’s Style Of Play

The Danish winger is electric. Though maybe not in the stereotypical sense that those words bring to mind. If you are small in the modern NHL being a plus skater is essential in order to stick in the league. Almquist fits that bill, though it would be a stretch to say that his skating is “elite” as some of the other under-sized NHL wingers who have preceded him have been. Yes, he is fast. At the junior level he is often the fastest skater on ice. However, against men he cannot always burn people at will once in stride. Despite that he is hard to catch in transition. Much of this is due to great edge-work and a sixth sense for how neutral zone coverage works. At times his skating reminds me of someone like Claude Giroux, who once in stride with the puck on his stick is hard to stop, and who is very elusive in the corners, despite not maybe having the top speed of others on ice. He is one of those players who looks faster with the puck on his stick.

He compliments his skating with great hands that he has confidence in. After he has affected yet another zone entry or neutral zone rush he has no qualms trying to make a highlight reel play and sucker a defenseman into making it an odd-man situation in his favour. His ability to reposition the puck on his stick, get it out of his feet, and around opposition can seem like a magic trick at times.

This fantastic “feel” for the puck also helps when it comes to shooting. Almquist has a great shot, albeit not in the “traditional” sense. He will never beat a goalie with pure power, and no-one is worried about blocking a shot from the diminutive Dane. However, he can pick a corner through traffic, understands where goalies are most vulnerable, and has a wickedly quick release that he can get off from anywhere. This, allied with his nose for the net, fast hands and ability to lift a puck at will mean he has been a prolific goal-scorer at every level he has played at.

His transition work and ability to cycle the puck in the offensive zone allow him to get the puck on his stick and keep it. From here he can also use good vision and soft hands to thread some great passes to line-mates. He can also control the pace of play in the offensive zone with the puck on his stick. However, while he can find amazing passes he also turns the puck over slightly too much in these situations when better options are available.

The young Dane is tenacious for his size. He does not give up on plays, especially on the fore-check, and harasses defensemen with his active stick-work. Almquist is not scared of going to the boards for a battle either, though it must be said that he loses the majority of those battles due to a lack of size and strength. As an extension of this it is no surprise that Almquist is happy to go to the net-front as well, where he can be surprisingly effective. While he might lose if engaged in a physical battle, his great edge-work, elusiveness and ability to get his stick on the ice at the right moment can send defensemen into fits around the blue-paint. On the cycle it is surprising at times how effective he can be, he gets low, uses his lower body strength alongside his skating, and can protect a puck with aplomb against men who look twice his size.

Almquist is always looking to get on his horse and get the puck going the other way. This means that he plays with an intensity, where something always might happen if a puck gets to him, as in his mind he is seemingly always thinking about beating the opposition goalie. There is a downside to this however, as he can flee the zone early and put his team a man down with no-one to pick up trailers. He also puts himself in off-side positions too regularly, which must be frustrating for his team-mates and his coach.

Despite his intensity and willingness to engage physically, these attributes do not translate into his defensive zone work. This seems to be due to a combination of a few things. Firstly, he is physically overmatched. Secondly, his mindset is offense, and as a result can get out of position. Thirdly, he mis-reads plays even when in a good position. There are some positives to his defensive zone play though, as his intensity does mean he can force turnovers, and with his skill and skating his zone exit work is a joy to behold.

If Almquist can clean up some of the finer points of his play, as well as simply get bigger and stronger, he has the skill and attitude to make himself an NHL career as a middle six winger. He has more “raw” talent than many of the players who will go in the first round of this draft, and as such he could be a boom or bust pick. If a team wants to swing for the fences in the middle round then Almquist has to be on their radar.

Comparison

Jesper Bratt, LW, New Jersey Devils

The two undersized Scandinavians share many traits. Both are great skaters, albeit skaters who excel move in the way of agility rather than pure speed. They also both have good shots, though Bratt does have a heavier shot than Almquist. Their silky mitts combined with their elusiveness mean they are both marvelous transition players across all three lines. Additionally, they share a level of tenacity and willingness to get to the danger areas despite their size. Bratt is, however, a more instinctive player in the defensive 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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Scouting Report: William Strömgren

Photo Credit: Nathalie Andersson

Scouting Report written by Alex Appleyard

Örnsköldsvik has become synonymous with hockey over the last 30 years. The small town of just 30,000 people nestled in the Gulf of Bothnia has not just produced numerous NHLers… it has produced enough Hall of Fame calibre talents then you can only just count them on one hand. Peter Forsberg, Markus Näslund, Victor Hedman, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, all products of the Ångermanland town and MODO Hockey club.

Now, William Strömgren is not the level of player of any of the above. And next season he won’t even be playing for MODO, having moved to Rögle in the SHL for 2021-22. But can he be the next NHL product from Sweden’s hockey Mecca? He certainly has a good shot of adding his name to the already impressive list.

Player Profile

D.O.B – June 7, 2003
Nationality – Sweden
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height – 6’3
Weight –176 lbs
Position – Left Wing/Right Wing
Handedness – Left

Strömgren’s Style Of Play

Throughout his junior career the big forward has stood out due to his skating ability. It is rare to see a player with such a large frame for his age burn smaller defensemen, let alone out-manoeuvre them in close, but against players his own age Strömgren is capable of just this. Now, he has not fully grown into his frame yet, and as such he can occasionally look slightly “bambi-like”, especially with his up-right skating style. But the lower body strength, edge-work, and power when in stride are there already. Strangely, Strömgren actually looks a better skater with the puck on his stick that with-out, as he seems to get lower to the ice and in turn waste less energy. That being said, skating will never be an issue for Strömgren, and with some extra strength he will likely be able to drop a shoulder and get past most NHL defensemen in future.

Arguably his stand-out skill is his shot. His one-timer is up there as one of the best in the draft, and leaves even pro goalies stranded in Allsvenskan. The way he shoots is beautiful to behold. Most players “hammer” the puck to get velocity. He seemingly “caresses” it into a corner at high speed. Fluid and efficient with a hint of elegance is how you would describe his one-timer from the right side. His wrist-shot is of a similar calibre and equally beautiful to watch. The power he generates defies the ease with which he leans into his stick. That, allied with a great eye for a corner, means goalies often don’t get the chance to move. His release is so quick and effortless that if there is even a slight screen the goalie won’t even realise a shot is incoming, especially with the proficiency that Strömgren has shooting in stride. His strength and willingness to get to the net also means he can do the dirty work in close.

His passing is not on the same level as his shot. However, it is not a deficiency. From a technical perspective when he sees a pass he can effect it no matter what the difficulty level. The issue at times is that he does not see some passes that he should. Part of this is as he is primarily a goal-scorer, and wants to get to the danger areas instead of waiting for a precision pass. Part of this is also likely due to a small degree of “puck-hog” buried inside of him. Part of this is likely as while technically extremely proficient in every area his hockey IQ is not quite the same level.

For a big man the Swedish winger has soft, deceptive hands. Not only this, he has the confidence to use them. He can manoeuvre the puck in close to any way you can imagine, while in stride. As such, he is also able to use this ability to help unleash his high-end shot, manipulating defensemen to make them stand off, or re-positioning the puck from a bad pass at the last minute from heel to toe to pick a corner.

However, there can also be a downside to this. Hubris. At times that is what it appears Strömgren has with the puck on his stick. Especially when playing against men. There were some games where he was a turnover machine due to making one too many moves or trying to dangle past a player when it was not on. He did clean this area up as the year went on, which is a positive, but it will always be in his natural mind-set to take players on, and hopefully he can continue to be more selective in this area.

As a forechecker Strömgren uses his good skating and reach, alongside his willingness to engage physically, to harass opposition defensemen and make their life hell on the break-out. His extremely active stick at times comes from no-where to disrupt a pass or steal a puck off a stick. He does not seem to be as intuitive as the best fore-checkers in this area – he can occasionally chase too far or get crossed up with own line-mates — but you cannot fault his willingness and work-rate here. With more maturity here with his skating and frame he could be a juggernaut on the fore-check even in the NHL. Once on the cycle or protecting the puck down low even fully grown men with 10 years of pro experience struggle to relieve him of the puck.

What is confusing at times is his work inside the red-line. He is willing to get back. But in contrast to his fore-checking he does not move his feet enough at times and can get caught puck-watching. Additionally, he has been guilty of mis-reading plays too often and getting himself out of position as a result. Work ethic here is seemingly not the issue though, it just appears that he can be prone to that “rabbit in headlights” feeling in the defensive zone. This should be rectified with more experience and good coaching going forward, but don’t expect the young Swede to be ever anything more than “solid” defensively.

As you can probably infer from all of the above, Strömgren is raw. He has a wonderful set of tools, and he has really started to begin figuring out exactly how to arrange them within his toolbox. If he can continue to progress both mentally and physically over the next few seasons he will be an NHL player. Given his skill-set it is very possible that the hulking winger ends up a good second line winger who can potentially hit 20 or more goals a season with some regularity. He will be a good pick-up for a team in the second round of the 2021 draft.

Comparison

Benoît Pouliot, Left Wing, retired (Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres)

Like the ex-journeyman NHL winger Pouliot, Strömgren really does have an all-around game breaking skill-set with a big body, good skating, great hands and a beautiful shot. However, as with Pouliot there are questions around his defensive game as well as his hockey IQ at times. While Pouliot did play four seasons at second line level, if Strömgren can iron out more of his deficiencies than the Canadian winger managed to over his career, he could certainly have more longevity in a top six role.


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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Scouting Report: Tyler Boucher

Photo Credit: Rena Laverty

Scouting Report written by Paul Zuk

One of several talents in the 2021 NHL Draft coming from NHL bloodlines, Tyler Boucher is a sneakily talented, gritty left-wing currently suiting up for the United States National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Michigan. Boucher is the son of former NHL netminder and 1995 22nd overall pick Brian Boucher.

Boucher played his youth hockey within the AYHL for teams located in New Jersey, most notable being Team Comcast 13U AAA and Virtua 14U AAA. Following his 14U season in which he was almost a two point-per-game player, Boucher attended Avon Old Farms Prep School in Avon, Connecticut. He recorded nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points in 26 games for Avon, which caught the eye of the USNTDP. In 2019/20, Boucher enjoyed a successful rookie season with the USNTDP U17 team, where he tallied 13 goals and 24 assists for 37 points in 67 total games.

This past season was certainly an odd one for Boucher, as he only took to the ice for 19 total games for the U17’s and U18’s after suffering a knee injury in January. Still, he managed 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points, an impressive feat for someone in and out of the lineup battling a nagging knee injury.

For the 2021/22 season, the Haddonfield, New Jersey product will be taking his talents northeast to Boston University (BU), where he’ll link up again with USNTDP teammates Jeremy Wilmer and defenseman Ty Gallagher. Boucher will craft his skills with expert level guidance from Head Coach Albie O’Connell, who will look to lead a feisty Terriers squad back to the National Championship, where their last appearance was in the 2014-15 season. It will come as little surprise to see Tyler Boucher lighting it up at BU in the near future.

Player Profile

D.O.B – January 16, 2003
Nationality 
– USA
Draft Eligibility 
– 2021
Height 
–6’1
Weight 
–201 lbs
Position 
– Left Wing
Handedness 
– Right

Boucher’s Style Of Play

When you watch Tyler Boucher play hockey, it’s almost as if you stepped into a time machine and wound up in 2004. Boucher plays a very physical style of hockey that is fairly hard to come by in today’s modern NHL.

He thrives on making his presence known to the opposition, which is usually able to buy him some time and space on the ice. Not only is he successful at racking up points with that time and space, Boucher also loves to drive to the net with force, with or without the puck. He’s more than capable of batting home a loose puck in tight, but can also kill you with his powerful, above average wrist shot.

Defensively, Boucher is a bit of a work in progress. He’s been able to showcase the attributes needed to be a successful defensive forward, but sometimes struggles putting them all together to be efficient in his own zone. That being said, his work ethic in the defensive zone is definitely not in question, as he has zero issue supporting his defensemen down low battling for pucks.

Let’s get a little more in-depth with the aspects of Tyler Boucher’s game:

Skating

Boucher’s skating is one aspect of his game which NHL front offices will really enjoy. He has more of an upright skating stride, but it’s very powerful. Boucher’s first step and explosiveness are evident, as he can generate a fair bit of speed as he works his way through the neutral zone in transition.

Boucher is quite strong on his feet, which helps him win puck battles along the boards and in open ice. His strength on his skates is shown via his wide skating stance, as his feet look to be slightly farther than shoulder width apart when building up speed.

When executing a zone entry, he buries his head down and uses his leg strength to power his way around defenders, a trait many scouts will love as he transitions to the next level.
His agility and edges could use some work, though, as he sometimes struggles to change direction quickly when play switches direction, leaving him caught out of position. He’ll most likely look to work on these little imperfections in the upcoming seasons.

Offense

Arguably my favorite part of Boucher’s offensive game is his excellent forechecking ability. Simply put, he’s a thorn in many teams sides when they’re trying to set up a breakout. Boucher loves to dig down deep in the corners and physically punish defenders, especially early on in games to set the tone of the game.

Boucher loves to use his size and speed to take the play out wide and skate around the defender when breaking into the offensive zone. When in the offensive zone, he’s able to utilize his above average hands to help evade defenders, even in the tightest of spaces.

In transition, Boucher is able to seek out teammates in space and deliver a fairly accurate pass to begin the movement up ice. While he’s not the most offensively creative player on his line, Boucher’s able to add that hard-charging, big body presence that helps distract defenders, allowing his linemates the ability to create dangerous offensive chances.

In terms of special teams, Boucher saw his powerplay ice-time more than double this season (2:05 min/game in 20/21, opposed to 0:55min/game in 19/20), albeit in a smaller sample size. However, he put the added special teams ice to good use, as he was a hard player to defend infront of the net. Boucher is able to use his size and skill to screen the goalie and bang home any loose pucks in the crease.

Defense

Boucher’s overall defensive game could use some work, but he’s shown he has the tools to make it succeed thus far. For example, he has a very high motor when it comes to chasing down attackers with the puck in his own zone, but his killer instinct can sometimes be detrimental to his game, as he’ll put himself out of position trying to make a hit.

That being said, Boucher is more than capable assisting his defensemen down low when they’re under pressure. On the flip-side, he thrives at pressuring attackers to make forced decisions which can lead to a lot of turnovers in the offensive zone. Boucher then is quite reliable at making a crisp breakout pass to transition the game up ice for the USNTDP.

A trait that pretty much any NHL team will like is how aggressive of a penalty killer Boucher is. He has a knack for pressuring opponents trying to set up their powerplay, which entices them to make bad decisions with the puck. Boucher saw just over 1:30 min/game on the penalty kill in his first full season with the U17’s in 19/20, and proved to be fairly productive. Boucher is also capable of using his body and stick to disrupt offensive flow for the attackers and shut down passing lanes, with a slightly above average rate of success.

Improvements

While Boucher didn’t get much in-game time this past season to work out the little kinks in his game, he’ll have the next couple of seasons at BU to hone his skills. BU has quite an impressive coaching staff, so look for them to work with Boucher and help him develop into an exciting two-way player. Here are a couple of areas where he may look to improve on heading into next season.

First, Boucher has a tendency to sometimes cross the line physically which leads to unnecessary penalties. He will have to find a way to play a little bit cleaner as he progresses in his career, as I’m sure his future coaches won’t be overly thrilled having to kill off frequent minors.

Boucher could look to simplify his overall game in the defensive zone, focusing more on positioning instead of just looking to make the big hit. While his physical presence is an awesome attribute to have, most teams would prefer a prospect to be more positionally sound in the defensive zone.

Lastly, Boucher would benefit from cleaning up a few aspects of his game. It’s nothing that more consistent playing time and getting healthy won’t fix, but he may look to work on his shot accuracy, his discipline, and his overall two-way game.

Overall Outlook

Overall, Tyler Boucher is a solid prospect who should be able to develop his game into being an effective middle-six forward, who can contribute on special teams, as well as at 5v5. As mentioned above, Boucher does have a little bit of fine tuning to do when it comes to developing his overall game, but he’s set up quite well in terms of coaching and guidance so far at the collegiate level for next season.

It wouldn’t come as an overly large surprise to see a team take a bit of a reach on Boucher, perhaps as early as the middle of the second round. His skillset is relatively difficult to come by nowadays, and it can prove to be quite useful come playoff time. Whichever team ends up selecting Tyler Boucher will hopefully be thrilled to add his unique talents to their roster in the seasons ahead.


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.

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

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

Scouting Report: Jiri Tichacek

Photo Credit: Rytiri Kladno/Roman Mares

Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler

Jiri Tichacek is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who plays for Rytiri Kladno. Tichacek plays for the Czech club that Jaromír Jágr owns and plays for. In addition to Jágr, he also plays alongside former Montréal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs center Tomáš Plekanec.

Tichacek grew up in Kladno, Czech Republic and has played in the Rytiri system throughout his youth. This past season was the first season that Tichacek played with Rytiri Kladno’s top tier team. His efforts helped paved the way for Rytiri to win the championship and get a promotion to Chance Liga (second highest level in the Czech Republic). In 17 regular season games played, Tichacek recorded two assists.

In addition to his league play, Tichacek represented the Czech Republic at the national level a few times this past season, but truly caught the attention of scouts at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championships in Plano, Texas and Frisco, Texas. In the tournament, he played in four games and tallied six assists.

Tichacek is represented by Octagon Hockey’s Czech Republic affiliate, Eurohockey Services. Eurohockey Services also represents Jan Jeník (Arizona Coyotes prospect), Frantisek Formanek (2022 NHL Draft eligible), Tomas Hamara (2022 NHL Draft prospect) and Filip Hronek (Detroit Red Wings).

Tichacek’s CHL rights are owned by the OHL’s Erie Otters. The Otters selected Tichacek at #33 overall in the 2021 CHL Import Draft.

Player Profile

D.O.B – January 30, 2003
Nationality – Czech Republic
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –5’9
Weight –170 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left

Tichacek’s Style Of Play

Offense

Tichacek isn’t a huge offensive threat, but he will net assists from time to time. He’s found more offensive production in tournament play versus league play.

Tichacek can be a bit inconsistent with passing. Needs to speed up his decision-making when passing along the blue line. He can be a little slow with his decision-making and that allows attackers to get their hands on the puck instead of the puck going to the desired teammate. Yet, his speed can be of quality as well. He will complete one touch passing at the point. That means that he will capture possession of the puck and immediately complete a pass to his defensive partner along the point.

But, he will also struggle with misreading the passing route and the appropriate timing. Tichacek needs to develop the skills at identifying the trajectory and the lane that his intended target is looking to use. 

In addition, he will struggle with his wind-up when passing. At times, Tichacek will put a lot of force into his passing and that has caused puck to bobble when the intended target looks to capture possession. It has also led to rolling pucks.

Tichacek will pinch up for loose pucks along the half-wall. But, he will also pinch up to the perimeter and offer a passing lane when his teammate is skating towards the corner with tight pressure on him. When he nets possession of the puck, he will go to the half-wall if he isn’t already there and pass the puck down the boards to teammates behind the net or in the corners. Occasionally, he will pinch up to collect a short pass or a drop pass and then fire a wrist shot from the corner. 

He doesn’t often create scoring chances, but every now and then, he will jump up a bit to collect a cross-ice pass and will attempt medium danger shots in the face-off circles. 

Defense

While Tichacek isn’t the tallest defender, don’t let size fool you. A lot of hockey fans are always under the impression that if you have a 6’5” defenseman that they are toughest defenders to navigate around, but there are a few defenders under 6’0” at the NHL level that can keep forwards at bay. Tichacek gives you exactly what you want in a defensive defender, but at a shorter size.

Tichacek deploys tight pressure on puck carriers. The Czech defender has excellent gap control along the boards and does a good job of staying aligned with the puck carrier. He thrives at man-on-man defending at net-front and can be a pest for forwards when they are attempting to find open ice down low. If he’s facing the puck carrier and the puck carrier’s back is turned to him, you can expect Tichacek to put pressure on the puck carrier’s back to force turnovers.

He will utilize an active stick down low behind the red line and in the corners. Tichacek will deploy an active stick for puck manipulation purposes. The goal is to trap attackers cycling the puck and he will do just that. You can expect him to extend his stick out towards the puck carrier’s left side to manipulate his movement and the carrier chooses to skate with the puck along the half-wall instead of skating to the slot. It’s all about holding puck carriers in low danger and not letting them skate inwards.

Similarly to his play in the offensive zone, you will see Tichacek struggle with passing at times. When looking to complete a breakout pass along the boards, he will struggle to connect with the intended target.

From a positioning perspective, he can be slight inconsistent. Occasionally, you will see Tichacek go in for a puck battle on the other side of the ice and leaves the slot unattended. That forces his defensive partner to cover Tichacek’s lane. Tichacek has shown that he is puck hungry and at times that lures him off-course a tad. 

But, his positioning can be quite sound at times. He will cover the slot when the puck is on the other half-wall. Tichacek will look to take away passing lanes in the slot. If his defensive partner doesn’t drop back and the attacker is coming up the other lane (his defensive partner’s lane), he will shift over and cover.

When defending the rush, sometimes he sits a bit further to the right of the puck carrier before the perimeter, but will cut in towards the attacker in the face-off circle to assert more pressure.

Skating

Tichacek has excellent inside edges and that allows him to execute tight turns. He will utilize quality pivots and quick feet combined with excellent reaction timing to stay aligned with the puck carrier when the carrier is aiming to dodge Tichacek along the half-wall. 

The Czech defender does possess excellent speed when shifting from backwards skating to forward skating when chasing after a loose puck in the defensive zone. 

When looking to garner speed and driving up the ice, he will deploy two crossovers and three lengthy skate extensions to get moving. Once Tichacek gets into the neutral zone, he will start to shorten up his skate extensions. He doesn’t have any ankle flexion concerns and thus can generate a crisp quality stride. All-in-all, Tichacek does possess strong speed from a transition perspective.

While he can generate solid acceleration when skating up the ice, he does struggle with acceleration when skating backwards and using crossovers to pick up speed. 

Transitional Play

From a transitional perspective, he finds the most success at instilling the rush when completing stretch passes to a teammate in the slot. Tichacek finds wingers at the edge of the neutral zone and completes a swift pass. He managed to record a primary assist off a stretch pass against HC Stadion Litomerice.

When not passing along the boards and at open ice, Tichacek completes quality zone exit passes. He will complete effective zone exit passes when he isn’t facing a tight forecheck. When he is facing a tighter forecheck, he struggles to get around the attack and has a hard time finding a passing lane. 

When at the neutral zone half-wall and facing tight pressure, he will have similar struggles and fail to complete a pass along the boards to his winger.

Tichacek doesn’t complete a ton of controlled zone-to-zone transitions, but I’ve noticed that when he does that he sometimes will struggle with how far out he plays the puck. His reach is limited and he will bobble pucks if he plays the puck a bit too far out from his body.

From a defensive standpoint, I would like to see Tichacek work on widening and lowering himself to take up more room at the blue-line. Tichacek will struggle with taking away space from the rush and will often give slightly too much room for the puck carrier. 

Projection

Bottom Pairing Defender (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_.

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

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

Scouting Report: Ethan Del Mastro

Photo Credit: Aaron Bell / OHL Images

Scouting Report written by Paul Zuk

The 2021 NHL Draft is almost spoilt for choice it seems, when it comes to skilled offensive defensemen. Names such as Owen Power, Brandt Clarke, and Luke Hughes will likely be off the board by halfway through the first round. However, when it comes to more defensive defensemen, Ethan Del Mastro is definitely among the highest in demand.

The Freelton, Ontario product grew up playing his youth hockey for the Toronto Marlboros AAA program, up until the U16 ranks. In his U16 AAA season, Del Mastro put up some impressive numbers for a defensive defenseman, scoring eight times and adding 36 assists for 44 points in 73 games. He also racked up two goals and 19 assists for 21 points in 33 games during U16 GTHL competitions.

Del Mastro was selected 12th overall by the Steelheads in the 2019 OHL Draft, and began his major junior career in the 2019/20 season. He played in 57 games for Mississauga in his rookie season, averaging 17:14min/game of ice time. As many younger OHL players tend to not be thrust into the offensive zone early on, Del Mastro’s numbers weren’t overly great, tallying seven assists on the season. However, he looked to fit the bill defensively.

This past season, Del Mastro chose not to go south of the border or overseas to play, like a handful of OHL’ers did to increase their draft stock and to stay in game shape. He did, however, join Team Canada’s roster for the IIHF U18 World Championship Tournament in Frisco, where he played in seven games, registering two assists. With the 2021/22 OHL season due to commence in September, look for Del Mastro to shine this year, being the leader on the Steelhead blueline.

Player Profile

D.O.B – January 15, 2003
Nationality 
– Canada
Draft Eligibility 
– 2021
Height 
–6’4
Weight 
–205 lbs
Position 
– Defense
Handedness 
– Left

Del Mastro’s Style Of Play

With the 2020/21 OHL season being cancelled in it’s entirety due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been incredibly difficult for many players to showcase their development and improvements to NHL front offices and scouts. Ethan Del Mastro is no exception.

That being said, Del Mastro is excellent defender capable of shutting down the most potent attackers in the OHL. He played top-four minutes in his 16-year old rookie season for the Steelheads, and never looked out of place. Coming into the 2021/22 season, Del Mastro will be counted on to be the leader on the blueline, and he definitely has the tools to do so.

Defensively, Del Mastro is about as solid as they come for a player who really doesn’t have an abundance of experience at the major junior level. He’s able to use his size and strength to muscle attackers off of the puck, especially in the slot and along the boards in his own zone.

Offensively, there seems to be a fair bit of untapped potential with Del Mastro, as he has shown his ability to effectively breakout of his own zone and be a difference maker in the transition game. However, it seems that he may lack a little bit of confidence when it comes to his skills in the offensive zone.

In watching his film from 2019/20 with Mississauga and the U18’s with Team Canada, it was noticeable that Del Mastro would prefer to dish the puck off to a teammate or dump the puck in the corner after completing a zone entry, rather than keep possession of the puck. It could be chalked up to several different reasons, but it’s likely with a little more seasoning under his belt, he’ll feel more comfortable to drive the play into the high danger areas, or wait for reinforcements to exploit the open ice for a scoring chance via a pass.

Skating

In my opinion, Del Mastro’s skating could very well be the most impressive feature of his overall game. His skating ability is relatively surprising, considering most 6’4, 200lbs defensemen aren’t as agile or quick on their feet as he is.

His skating stride is very powerful, and he’s able to pick up a decent amount of speed as he skates between the defensive zone and the neutral zone. It’s definitely not a conventional looking stride, but it doesn’t seem to effect his skating abilities at all.

Del Mastro’s edges are also quite impressive, as he’s able to stop on a dime, pivot, and change direction with little to no difficulty. Not only is he strong on his skates, he’s extremely mobile, which allows him to be a threat in transition. If Del Mastro can find a way to garner a little more explosiveness when navigating through the neutral zone, it will only benefit his overall game, not to mention his transitional skills.

Offense

Del Mastro shows promise in transition, as he can ease his way through the neutral zone with the puck on his stick. However, he could use his size and speed to his advantage, and be a little more patient with the puck rather than rushing his decisions off the rush.

Del Mastro also has a powerful and fairly accurate wrist shot and slapshot from the point. It’s clear he’s spent some time during the missed OHL season fine tuning his shot, as it’s definitely improved over the past season.

While in the offensive zone, Del Mastro is able to hold the blueline and look for a clear path on net when shooting from the point, and he can also seek out teammates for passes down low with a fair bit of success.

Del Mastro’s hands are another surprising aspect of his game which often are overlooked. He’s able to navigate the offensive zone and evade defenders with little difficulty, and it usually results in a successful pass to a teammate or in a shot on goal.

Defense

Considered more of a defensive defenseman, Del Mastro is quite fun to watch with the play in his own zone. He likes to force the play to the edges of the zone as attackers are breaking in, which allows him to close off gaps, effectively rub his opponent off of the puck and obtain possession. Del Mastro is also efficient at using his size and strength to win puck battles pretty much anywhere in the defensive zone, and isn’t often forced off of the puck.

Del Mastro is also not afraid to step up and pressure attackers breaking in to make a forced decision with the puck, usually resulting in the puck being dumped in and retrieved by Del Mastro’s teammates. This trait will help him this coming season as he’ll be tasked with defending the likes of Shane Wright, Mason McTavish, and Brandt Clarke.

Del Mastro looked fairly impressive for Team Canada at the U18’s in Frisco, Texas. He was paired mainly with 2021 eligible Jack Matier, who also shined defensively in the tournament. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Del Mastro’s U18 tournament was his ability to keep talents like Fabian Lysell, Isak Rosen, and Matvei Michkov relatively in check over the course of the tournament.

Improvements

While watching film on the young and fairly inexperienced defender, it’s almost unfair to critique his game too much, as there’s such a limited sample size. It goes without saying, but he definitely needs at least a season or two in the OHL to further development.
That being said, there are a couple of minor tweaks to Del Mastro’s overall game to which he could look to improve on.

Defensively, he has a tendency to chase the play in the defensive zone, especially if on an extended shift. Del Mastro should look to simplify his game when hemmed down in his own zone and not chase the puck carrier, but rather focus on positioning and clogging up passing/shooting lanes.

Offensively, Del Mastro definitely has the hockey smarts and skills to become a reliable, two-way defender at the next level, especially if he can gain some confidence and experience in the OHL this season. He’s shown he can be effective in transition and zone entries in limited viewings, so he’ll no doubt be looking to expand on that aspect of his game later on this year.

Overall Outlook

As mentioned above, it’s incredibly hard for scouts to get a firm grip on this years crop of OHL players, as the majority of players weren’t able to showcase their skillset and overall potential. Keeping that in mind, it could make for an interesting draft, as players like Del Mastro could be ranked anywhere from the 2nd round to the 5th round depending on the draft board.

Del Mastro seems to have the imperative skills to be a successful defensive defenseman, as he can direct play away from the danger areas, and is capable of playing that shutdown defenseman role when needed. Only time will tell if he can take that next step in development to increase his offensive output, so look for Del Mastro to be a force offensively with the Steelheads in the fall.


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: Colton Dach

Photo Credit: Steve Hiscock / Saskatoon Blades

Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler

Colton Dach is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who plays for the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. He grew up in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta (an Edmonton, Alberta suburb). Dach’s brother is Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach and his sister is Sherwood Park Royals defenseman Callie Dach. Dach’s parents are Dale and Hilary Dach. Dale Dach had played collegiate hockey at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Oaks in the 1990s.

Scott Wheeler from The Athletic spoke to the Dach family last month and wrote an exceptional piece that talked about the competitive rivalry that the siblings have. It’s a great read. Subscription needed.

Colton played youth hockey for the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers and Okanagan Hockey Academy. He played alongside quite a few 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospects and drafted NHL prospects including Olen Zellweger (2021), Sean Tschigerl (2021), Drew Sim (2021), Kyle Masters (2021), Corson Ceulemans (2021), Owen Pederson (2021), Oscar Plandowski (2021), Cole Dubinsky (2021), Kaiden Guhle (Montréal) and Sebastian Cossa (2021).

Dach was drafted sixth overall in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft by Saskatoon and made his WHL debut in his 2019-2020 season. This past season (2020-2021), he played in 20 games for the Blades and was a point per game player. He finished the abridged season (due to COVID-19) with 11 goals and nine assists.

Player Profile

D.O.B – January 4, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –6’4
Weight –205 lbs
Position – Center/Left Wing/Right Wing
Handedness – Left

Dach’s Style Of Play

This past season, the Saskatoon Blades have deployed Dach at Center, Left Wing and Right Wing. He spent the majority of the time at Right Wing alongside Kyle Crnkovic and Tristen Robins (San Jose Sharks prospect). But towards the end of the season, he did play in two consecutive games at Center and was paired with Crnkovic and Caiden Daley.

Offense

Even though Dach can be versatile, don’t worry about positioning. Dach has showcased excellent positioning. When there is a puck battle close to the corner and possession shifts towards the point, Dach will go to the initial spot to offer a passing lane for the puck carrier who is still facing pressure along the boards. In general, he likes to sit net-front and exert strength to push out the defender covering and shield the net. The Blades will often line Dach up at Left Wing on face-off draws on the right side (and vice-versa on the left side) on the power play, so he can quickly go to the slot. While he does have an affinity to go to net-front, that doesn’t mean that he goes there in autopilot every shift. When being paired with Tristen Robins, there are situations where Robins is skating through the neutral zone, completes a zone entry and skates towards the right side of the ice in the offensive zone, when Dach sees that he goes left to offer a passing lane on the left for his teammate.

Dach’s stick-handling needs to grow a tad. Sometimes he will struggle with consistency. But, Dach does possess great stick-handling when getting around two attackers who are deploying tight pressure. He keeps the puck secure. Dach will lure the attacker in by pushing the puck towards him. Afterwards, he brings the puck back closer to him and Dach manages to swerve the puck around the attacker when the attacker looks to close in. In addition, Dach does an excellent job of throwing the puck behind him when moving the puck along the boards and looking to shake off the attacker down low. Yet, he does display inconsistencies with puck security and will bobble pucks at times in the offensive zone. 

When on the forecheck, Dach has quality reaction timing to stay aligned with the puck-carrier when on the forecheck. Skates in-line. If he goes in for a check, he will widen his stance at first to make you feel trapped and pushes forward with his gloves to place the attacker firmly against the boards, then Dach extends his stick towards the puck. While he does possess strong physicality at times, I would like to see more consistency. There are shifts where he tends to be more physical than others. Some of that can be attributed to foot speed issues and those foot speed issues become more apparent when forechecking at open ice. He will struggle at times to gain the necessary acceleration to put quality pressure at open ice.

When fending off the back-check, Dach needs to work on using his size to counteract the back-check when the back-check gets rather physical. He needs to use his upper-body strength to push the attacker back.

Dach has a quality shot. He deploys excellent weight transfer on his snap shots from range and that has led to primary assists on a deflection goal. Dach can be pretty deceptive with his shot too. At times, he will collect a pass in the offensive zone in the slot, bu he will collect the pass with his back turned to the net. Once he turns forward, he immediately shoots and can deliver top shelf goals. In low danger situations, don’t be shocked if he tries backhand shots. In addition, he has a very quick release. Dach looks to shoot the puck right off the face-off draw and will net quality snap shot goal top shelf glove side goals like this one against Prince Albert.

The only issues with his shot are issues that a lot of junior players face. He will struggle at times with shooting accuracy off the rush and sometimes he will take shots from low danger when he has a clear path to net-front.

Dach is an excellent tape-to-tape passer. He will feed one-timer passes to the slot with ease. Dach will sometimes drop to the corners to grab loose pucks and send a one-timer pass to a teammate in medium danger. He can deliver quality cross-ice passes and even execute backhand cross-ice passes. For instance, he completed this backhand dangerous pass to Kyle Crnkovic at net-front for a primary assist on March 13, 2021 against Swift Current. Dach was driving up the wing.

While he does find a lot of success in his passing, he doesn’t attempt a lot of passes to the slot. Per InStat Hockey, in 20 games played this past season, he had eight pass attempts to the slot. 

Defense

In the offensive zone, we see Dach deploy quality reaction timing and we see the same in the defensive zone. He has displayed good reaction timing to stay aligned with the puck-carrier when on the back check. Skates in-line with the attacker. When covering the point and looking to restrict shooting lanes, he will lower himself to his knees to take up more space and thus restricts shooting lanes for the defender at the point with the puck. Even when he looses his stick, he will still lower himself and his knees for shot blocks when covering the point. When Dach is deployed at wing, he will get involved in puck battles along the boards. He also won’t get out of position very often. If the attack has shifted to the other side, he’ll plant himself in the slot and won’t go too far in.

You will see Dach struggle at times when on the penalty kill and/or in situations where he has to cover multiple attackers in the defensive zone. He doesn’t have the foot speed to react to changes in puck movement. Dach does have the ability to implement good reaction timing when facing an attacker dead on a one-on-one back check, but not when looking to cover multiple attackers.

His acceleration also needs to be addressed, so that he can be slightly faster to loose pucks. Sometimes he will lose loose puck battles and that has to do with his foot speed.

From a physicality perspective, he will leans in with the shoulder when making contact along the boards. Dach won’t shy away from open ice hits in the defensive zone and in the neutral zone, but he is slightly less physical in the defensive zone.

Transitional Play

Due to his skating speed, he will sometimes be late to the rush and skate up behind the rush. Yet, he does provide excellent pressure even when coming behind the puck carrier in the neutral zone. Has excellent reach to strip the puck away from the attacker mid-rush. However, sometimes, on the flip side, he will struggle with his reach to grab a hold of passes coming towards him but aren’t clean tape-to-tape feeds.

When he knows that he can’t get in position to shut down the rush dead on, you can expect him to extend his stick out wide to force dump-ins. While he does extend his stick out, more often than not, the attack can outplay the stick extension.

But, in the situations in which he can garner the necessary speed to battle, once he catches up to the puck carrier in the neutral zone, he can stay toe-to-toe, uses his body and deploys trap defense. When deploying a check on a puck carrier, he will lean in with his shoulder.

From an offensive rush perspective, he won’t normally go zone-to-zone with the puck, instead he will usually capture possession of a loose puck or a pass and carry the puck in. Dach looks to find gaps in the neutral zone to offer a passing lane to the puck carrier near the offensive blue line.

Skating

As we talked about throughout the report, Dach has some acceleration issues. He doesn’t possess explosive acceleration and that has become evident on the forecheck, back-check and in neutral zone defensive play. A lot of the speed issues can be chalked up to his stride. Dach doesn’t have a true power stride and struggles with ankle flexion. Also, he’s got a bit of a heavy foot stride. I’ve also noticed that his crossovers don’t provide him with the acceleration that he needs. Dach will try to implement crossovers when on the rush, but they help him steer instead of provide speed. He will use crossovers to shift himself from left to right in the neutral zone but doesn’t have the ability to really push off them.

His edges and pivots need slightly more refinement. His edges aren’t smooth. But, they are effective depending on the attacker. In general, he has to exert a lot of lower body strength in order to turn his body. I’d like to see Dach work on quickly deploying inside edges especially when looking to assert pressure on the puck carrier in the neutral zone, especially in those situations in which he has to skate into the neutral zone and steer towards the attacker. 

Projection

Top 9 Forward (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_.

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

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

Scouting Report: Oliver Kapanen

Photo Credit: KalPa / Meri Hyvärinen

Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler

Oliver Kapanen is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who plays for KalPa in Kuopio, Finland.

Kapanen hails from Sundsvall, Sweden. Even though Kapanen was originally from Sundsvall, he is a Finnish citizen. His father Kimmo Kapanen was playing for Timrå IK at the time of Oliver’s birth. Timrå is a short 13 kilometer drive up the road from Sundsvall.

Kimmo isn’t the only family member who played hockey competitively. Oliver’s uncle is former Carolina Hurricanes and Philadelphia Flyers winger Sami Kapanen. Sami’s son, Kasperi Kapanen played several seasons in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and is now playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins, the club who initially drafted him. Oliver’s grandfather Hannu Kapanen played for JoKP in the 1980s and his great uncle Jari Kapanen played for HIFK in the SM-Liiga. Last but not least, Oliver’s cousin (brother of Kasperi), Konsta Kapanen is a 2022 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who has been playing with Oliver at the U18 and U20 levels for KalPa.

This past season, Kapanen spent the majority of last season playing at the U20 level and averaged roughly 1.11 points per game. In total, he had 25 goals and 16 assists in 37 games played. In addition, he played in five games for JoKP (Mestis), in which he was a point per game player.

Kapanen also represented Finland at the international level and suited up at the 2021 IIHF U18 World Championships in the Greater Dallas Fort-Worth Area. He played on a strong Finnish club that included Ville Koivunen (2021 eligible), Samu Tuomaala (2021), Samu Salminen (2021), Aleksi Heimosalmi (2021), Viljami Juusola (2021), Niko Huuhtanen (2021), Aku Koskenvuo (2021), Jimi Suomi (2021), Topias Vilén (2021) and Brad Lambert (2022).

Player Profile

D.O.B – July 29, 2003
Nationality – Finland
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –6’1
Weight –179 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Right

Kapanen’s Style Of Play

Offense 

Kapanen shows a tremendous amount of promise when in the slot. If he sees a teammate at the half-wall gain possession of the puck, he will look to out-skate the attack from the perimeter inwards to open up passing lanes and get the puck on net at the crease. He does an excellent job at at finding open ice down low. Kapanen keeps an attentive eye on his teammates and the puck. Based on his teammate’s positioning in the offensive zone, Kapanen will shift around to face the teammate and present his stick-blade as a notion for his teammates to attempt a centered pass to him.

When his teammates are driving the rush, he generally drives towards the net to set up shop. Kapanen is constantly in pursuit of finding an open passing lane. When he finds the ideal passing lane for his teammate, you can trust in Kapanen to make a quickly timed shot. This season with KalPa, he’s found quite a bit of success with his one-timers including a game winning goal against JYP on January 15, 2021.

He often tries to fire one-timers, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t grab the puck and take his time before he shoots. For instance, when KalPa was playing against Kärpät on February 26, 2021, he pounced on open ice in the slot to open up a passing lane. Once he collected the pass, he waited with the puck for a few seconds, before going top shelf with a wrist shot. Sometimes he struggles with his one-timers to get them on net, so he will lean a bit more on wrist shot at times.

At times, Kapanen will struggle to get by the last defender with his stick-handling. He will attempt to swing the puck around the boards when trying to skate past the last defender. Ultimately, he has difficulty fending off the back-check. When getting the puck around traffic, he will play the puck off the boards and get the puck to the point. His intention is to play the puck further out and assumes that the attack will back off of their pressure a bit. Unfortunately, given his struggle under pressure, you will see him give up possession once capturing a loose puck. He faces challenges when attempting to stick-handle or pivot out of pressure.

But, if the defender is giving Kapanen some more time and space, he will look to stick-handle one-handed and play the puck along the boards instead of at open ice. If he played the puck at open ice, it’s inviting the defender in.

When it comes to the forecheck, you will see Kapanen struggle at his forechecking consistency. He will be late on the forecheck at times. Kapanen doesn’t have the necessary acceleration with his skating to compete hard for pucks. If he does catch up to the puck carrier on the forecheck, he will deliver bodychecks at the boards. Yet, his speed doesn’t allow his checks to result in a possession change.

On the other hand, if he is slightly late on the forecheck, he will extend his stick out. But, when he generally is sticking his stick out, he is still at a distance from the attacker and that doesn’t result in a poke-check. 

Kapanen doesn’t drive play too often, instead he looks to generate scoring opportunities by finding the right spot/passing lane. So, you won’t often see Kapanen control the puck at open ice and attempt dangerous passes. When he does attempt them, he will sometimes struggle to identify opportune situations to pass in and that will lead to interceptions.

Defense

If there are puck battles in the corners, he’s hovering over the red line to give his teammates a passing lane for a breakout pass. Yet, there are situations where heeds to be cautious about overcommitting to being drawn in on an insurance role too close to puck battles in which at least three teammates are engaged. He has to keep his eye on his opponents and shut down potential passing lanes too. 

Will constantly look for loose pucks along the boards to grab possession of and then fire a breakout pass. Kapanen hunts for loose pucks in the corners, when the corner is unoccupied. It’s the same situation when there is an attacker down low and he doesn’t see a teammate in the corner looks to circumvent the attack. Kapanen looks to put pressure on the attackers with his body down low.

Similar to dealing with pressure in the offensive zone, Kapanen needs to work on stick-handling out of the forecheck when behind the red line. He also needs to work on spacial awareness when extending his stick out for poke-checks and manipulation. 

Transitional Play

When trying to kick off the rush, he tends to look for breakout passes instead of moving the puck up the ice himself. You will see Kapanen complete diagonal stretch pass feed for a zone exit pass to his teammate, who is approaching the offensive zone blue-line. 

If the enters into the neutral zone with possession of the puck, he’ll look to complete a zone entry pass to a forward closer to the offensive blue-line rather that driving the rush himself. That has led to quite a bit of successful transitions and scoring chances. For instance, he has completed a cross diagonal pass to his teammate near the offensive blue line that led to a primary assist.

On the power play, he’ll look to skate the puck into the neutral zone, but throw a pass behind his back to his defenseman and let the defenseman carry the puck up the ice into the offensive zone.

Occasionally, Kapanen will look to carry the puck into the offensive zone, but needs to be cautious on choosing the best path to the offensive zone as he will draw the attack and will face challenges trying to outwork the attack with his stick-handling.

When Kapanen is defending against the rush, he is often skating behind the rush. Kapanen won’t exert a lot of pressure in the neutral zone due to his speed, so like in the offensive and defensive zone, he will look to utilize an active stick. But, he does have issues with his reach and stopping the attack by extending out his stick.

Skating

As I brought over earlier, Kapanen doesn’t have explosive acceleration. But, that doesn’t mean that he can’t acquire the necessary acceleration through proper development. His skating mechanics can be improved. 

Kapanen needs to be consistent with his stride extension length. Every now and then throughout a game, you will notice Kapanen completing small stride extensions and it doesn’t help him acquire the necessary speed. I’d like to see Kapanen widening his stride extension, but also working on his ankle flexion. His knees aren’t always in line with the toes of his skates. Kapanen also has to work in his crossovers to help key up his power stride. He will use crossovers for changing lanes, but doesn’t seem to get the explosiveness that he needs off of crossovers. If he can further develop his stride extensions and crossovers, he will pick up the speed to be an effective NHLer.

With his edges, Kapanen will occasionally lose balance when deploying an inside edge after completing a pivot. He puts a lot of pressure on his knees and hips to swing his body prior to deploying the edge. With how much pressure he exerts, it hurts his mobility slightly.

While there are areas to work on with his skating, his ability to pivot on a dime to generate open ice by confusing the attacker is quite strong. I’d like to see him fend off the attack like that more and more, but at the same time, you want to be illusive and sometimes overplaying your hand can lead to your attackers picking up on your strategies.

Projection

Top 9 Forward, NHL.

While there are areas that need further development, if Kapanen can become a well-rounded skater and acquire explosive acceleration, he will be a dominant threat. With his ability to find open ice with ease, the last thing that defenders are going to want is Kapanen flying into the zone at lightning speed. If he gets that acceleration, he’ll beat defenders at a consistent rate and key up scoring chances.


stats from InStat and EliteProspects

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

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

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

Scouting Report: Cole Jordan

Photo Credit: Lucas Chudleigh/Apollo Multimedia

Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler

Cole Jordan is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible left-handed defenseman, who plays for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. He is from Winnipeg, Manitoba and played youth hockey for the Winnipeg Jr. Jets.

After playing for the Jr. Jets, he moved over to Brandon, Manitoba and joined the Brandon Wheat Kings organization. Jordan played with the Wheat Kings organization from 2014 to 2019. He played at the U14, U15 and U18 levels with the Wheat Kings before heading to the WHL.

Jordan went un-drafted in the WHL Bantam Draft, but his gameplay caught the eye of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors and they signed him to a contract before his 2018-2019 campaign. The Warriors have drafted/signed a lot of talent from the Brandon Wheat Kings youth academy over the years. They had drafted Cole Anderson and Daemon Hunt (Minnesota Wild prospect) in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, so they had heavily scouted the Wheat Kings U15/U18 teams and knew exactly what they were getting in Jordan.

Jordan made his WHL debut in 2019-2020 and played in 38 games for the Moose Jaw Warriors. In his first season, he recorded one goal and six assists. This past season (2020-2021), he played in 23 games and recored ten points (three goals and seven assists).

If all goes according to plan (with the WHL and COVID), Jordan will play a full WHL season in 2021-2022. The Moose Jaw Warriors will be a team to watch next season as they have a ton of talent with Jordan, Eric Alarie (2021 eligible), Jagger Firkus (2022 eligible), Brayden Yager (2023 eligible), Ryder Korczak (2021 eligible) and Denton Mateychuk (2022 eligible).

Player Profile

D.O.B – September 21, 2002
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –6’2
Weight –205 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left

Jordan’s Style Of Play

Offense

Jordan loves to get involved down low and in the trenches. He will pinch up when there are loose pucks past the perimeter and enter into puck battles to try to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Doesn’t matter if he has the puck or is looking to pick up possession of the puck. He will skate up and forechecks hard with the body to put pressure on the puck carrier. When he grabs ahold of the puck, he generally brings it back to the point and takes a shot from outside the perimeter. 

If his teammates are engaged in puck battles down low past the red line on the right side, Jordan will go to the left side of the net behind the red line and provide an open lane. He will stay aligned to his winger and collect a seam pass at net-front. Once he grabs a hold of the puck, he will immediately fire a top shelf shot for a goal. Jordan is able to manufacture the goal with ease as the goaltender is adjusting to the change in puck movement and thus there is a sizable gap for Jordan to exploit.

Not only will he skate up to net-front to make action happen, but he will look to set up opportunities in medium and low danger as well. You can expect Jordan to skate up to the face-off circle and give his teammate running the cycle along the half-wall a cross ice option. If his opponent gets ahold of the puck at the perimeter off of a turnover, he will quickly pounce on the carrier, wave his stick out, reach out and place the blade in front of the puck carrier’s stick blade to trap him.

But, sometimes he will have some difficulty when pinching. You will notice the Winnipeg native pinch up to work the cycle down low, but will on occasion get trapped and struggle to fire a pass to the slot when dealing with increased pressure in the corners. Ultimately, he struggles to get around the back check and he’ll wind up giving up possession.

There is a lot more to his offensive game aside from getting involved away from the point. One of the reoccurring themes with Jordan’s game is deception. When he gains control of the puck off of a pass at the point, he will skate laterally to the right, bring the attacker with him and confuse the rest of the attackers covering the point. That opens up ice for Jordan’s defensive partner, so he pivots and fires a lateral pass to his defensive partner. Jordan will create deceptive passes when on the rush. When there is a forward putting some pressure on Jordan at the point, he will lure them in closer by playing the puck to his left. Once the attack has increased pressure, he’ll shift the puck towards the boards and fire it down the boards to wingers down low. In addition, when he is skating up the boards, he will complete a behind the back/legs pass to his winger in an effort to catch the attackers off guard. He will also opt to use a shot fake at the point. Once he’s fooled the attack, he will complete a pass to his teammate down low at net-front. 

While he can be deceptive especially with his passing, I’ve noticed that he will struggle with executing deceptive passes. He will try to complete no look behind the back lateral passes to his defensive partner along the point. But, a number of those passes will not reach the intended target and in quite a few of this situations the attacker covering Jordan’s defensive partner had intercepted it. 

Defense

After going through quite a bit of Cole Jordan gameplay, one of the attributes to his game that I absolutely love is how he defends multiple attackers on the rush. He thrives at defending 2-on-1s. Instead of focusing on one attacker and leaving the other attacker exposed or proning, he keeps himself centered and bends his knees. Jordan gives him self a little bit of space between the attack and himself. He follows the attack like a hawk and one there is a sudden movement, he is quick on his feet and will shift towards the puck to neutralize the threat. 

But, generally speaking, Jordan is a bit more relaxed with his pressure in low danger outside of the perimeter. Some of that has to do with his teammates and the playing styles of his teammates. When the puck is moving inwards and closer to the net but in low danger, Jordan might not be initial Warrior who puts pressure on the puck carrier, it’s the winger and Jordan is focused on the attacker moving up the slot. 

Jordan starts to implement more defensive pressure in the face-off circles. He will extend his stick out to jar the puck away from the puck carrier. You can expect him to implement tightened man-on-man pressure when he sees a forward trying to burst through centered ice. 

Interestingly, sometimes Jordan struggles with implementing tight puck-carrying pressure at net-front. He will go to the crease in anticipation of an impending wrap-around attack, but yet he doesn’t look to stop the wrap-around with his stick. That opens up some vulnerable situations for his goaltender. 

However, when he is normally fending off traffic at net-front, he will look to use his upper body strength to push forwards who are looking to take away his goaltender’s sight-lines away from the crease.

When going for loose pucks, if he knows that he can’t beat the attacker to the puck with his speed, instead of opting to go for the puck, he will go for the body. Jordan knows that if he can implement quality pressure that he can control his attacker’s puck movement. But, when he can match up on speed, he will extend his stick out to place his stick blade at his opponent’s stick blade to make it a challenge for the attackers to grab possession.

When Jordan has possession of the puck, he is extremely effective at dodging the forecheck and getting things rolling with an outlet pass. The classic Cole Jordan move is turning his back to the forechecker which draws the attacker in even closer. Jordan then skates towards the left, then pivots on a dime to throw off the attacker and then feed a pass along the right side of the boards to his winger. 

He can also be even more deceptive and creative with his puck movement. He will utilize forwards in pick and roll strategies to kick off the rush by skating by the forward (when the forward is shielding an attacker) and then complete a smooth outlet pass. When an attacker is bearing down on him, he has solid reach to move the puck away from the attacker as he is closing in and throwing the puck along the boards.

One of the challenges that Jordan faces in the defensive zone is simply spotting a teammate in the neutral zone and completing a stretch pass to them. Instead of passing to where his teammate is going, he is passing to where his teammate was and that makes it easier for the attacker to go to that spot and pick up an interception. Not every single stretch pass will be one that requires the defender to read the trajectory of their teammate. Some stretch passes are tape-to-tape feeds to a teammate who is simply waiting for the puck. But, a decent amount of stretch passes are trajectory-based passes and require pinpoint accuracy to be effective passes. 

Transitional Play

When moving through the neutral zone, sometimes he will avoid giving away his cards before they are dealt. Instead of making an adjustment when first looking at where the attackers are, he will skate right to them and complete tight turns when gets to the attacker. This allows him to be deceptive, keep the attackers glued onto him, read the attacker’s stick movement and make a tight turn in the opposite direction of the attacker’s stick blade. 

If the attacker blindsides him or doesn’t believe he can outplay the attack, he won’t force a controlled zone entry. He will opt to dump the puck into the zone. 

Jordan loves completing controlled zone-to-zone transitions. At times, his transitional play will remind of you of Calgary Flames prospect Jérémie Poirier as he loves skating hard from the defensive zone blue-line to net-front. 

If he isn’t completing zone-to-zone controlled transitions, he loves to complete cross ice zone exit passes. They are generally a smooth feed and he doesn’t have a big windup.

In the neutral zone, when defending, he can get fooled by deceptive puck manipulating forwards and overcommit when the carrier tries to lure him in. 

But, in general, he prefers to play the body in the neutral zone when there is a loose puck battle at open ice and the opponent has the clear advantage on speed to the puck as is the case in the defensive zone. 

Skating

When moving the puck up the ice, he will start with two crossovers in the defensive zone, two stride extensions and crossovers all the way through the neutral zone to drive his acceleration. That’s what makes him such a challenge to defend in transition. His acceleration and outside edges is what fuels controlled zone-to-zone entries. 

His stride extensions seem very synchronized. One skate extension matches up with the other skate extension. It’s very fluid. His ankle flexion is solid. His knees sit above the toe of his skates and that allows him to pick up the necessary acceleration when implementing skate extensions. His skate extensions are also very robust in lateral movements. Jordan executes strong stride extensions when shifting from the point towards the face-off circle in the offensive zone as he looks to give his teammates in medium danger an option cross ice. They also come in handy when Jordan is walking the line and looking to make a pass to the half-wall.

From an edges perspective, he does extremely well implementing quality outside edges. But, sometimes he will struggle with his inside edges. There are instances in which his right foot leans left and his left foot is straight. Due to the skate placement, he slides instead of holding himself up-right. 

Projection

Bottom four defenseman with second pairing upside (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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Need a scouting report on a particular prospect, contact us today!

Scouting Report: Lukas Gustafsson

Photo Credit: Chicago Steel

Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler

Lukas Gustafsson is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who hails from Alpharetta, Georgia. Alpharetta is a northern suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Per the New England Hockey Journal, before settling down in the Atlanta metro area, Gustafsson was born and spent the first few years of childhood in New Orleans, Louisiana. Gustafsson’s father Marcus, a native of Knivsta, Sweden was playing in the ECHL at the time for the New Orleans Brass (the former affiliate of the San Jose Sharks). Marcus had played for the University of Maine and Division 1 hockey for Uppsala AIS before heading down to Louisiana. After moving to Atlanta, Marcus spent some time coaching in the Atlanta Fire system.

Lukas played youth hockey for the Atlanta Fire before moving up to Massachusetts to play prep school hockey for Cushing Academy. He played alongside a few 2021 and 2022 NHL Draft prospects at Cushing including Bryce Montgomery (2021), Jackson Dorrington (2022), Cameron Lund (2022) and Billy Norcross (2021). After his 2019-2020 season with Cushing, Gustafsson was selected by the Chicago Steel in the sixth round of 2020 USHL Entry Draft.

This season, Gustafsson split his time between Cushing and the Chicago Steel. He played in 14 regular season games for the Steel, in which he recorded one goal and three assists. Gustafsson also played in two playoff games in the Steel’s Clark Cup Finals run.

Next season, Gustafsson is set to return to the Chicago Steel, but for his 2022-2023 season, he will be heading back to Massachusetts to play for Boston College. He will be joining Matthew Argentina (2021), Norcross, Cutter Gauthier (2022) and Charlie Leddy (2022) in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

Player Profile

D.O.B – December 16, 2002
Nationality – USA/Sweden
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Height –5’10
Weight –181 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left

Gustafsson’s Style Of Play

If you are looking for a versatile a defender, who can serve as a defensive forward, but who possesses the ability to create scoring chances in the offensive zone then Lukas Gustafsson is your man. Similar to my perspective on Halifax Mooseheads forward Robert Orr and Paul Zuk’s perspective USNTDP forward Dylan Duke, Gustafsson is a Swiss army knife. Wherever you need him to be, he will be there and deliver. I could go on and on about his versatility, but he reminds me of former Boston Red Sox fan favorite and now Texas Rangers hitter Brock Holt. Like Holt, Gustafsson will step in and play wherever you desire. 

After conversing with Gustafsson, I learned that he played forward in his days with the Atlanta Fire, but when playing U14 hockey, he shifted over to defense. 

Last season with the Steel, Gustafsson was deployed at right wing, left defense and right defense. Ultimately, it came down to the shift strategy of head coach Brock Sheahan. 

Offense

In the offensive zone, Gustafsson will jumps to the perimeter when there are puck battles down low. But that isn’t the same on every shift. Sometimes, when puck battles are down low in the opposite corner, he won’t just go to the perimeter, he will go to the hashmarks in medium danger.

One of the attributes that I really enjoy when watching Gustafsson is his hunger for the puck. Given his experience as a forward, he’s got the forward like instincts even when he’s being deployed as a defenseman. He will darts into the zone, sees his opponents setting up in the slot, bursts in the slot to shoot off of quick feed from a teammate. Not every shift, but in a lot of his shifts, you will notice that he will go to medium and/or low danger to provide passing lanes for his teammates. When there are teammates battling along the half-wall, he will give his teammates options up the middle. He will collect a pass from the half-wall, cut through the slot and create lucrative scoring chances at net-front. 

When stick-handling with the puck, he has excellent reachability. He can play the puck wide and acquire time/space for him to control the puck without fear of tight pressure. Gustafsson also has the ability to lure the goaltender from afar, which leads to the goaltender exposing gaps. With luring the goaltender over, he has freed up gaps on the goaltender’s blocker side and Gustafsson will exploit those gaps with backhand shots to throw the goaltender off-guard.

From an offensive passing perspective, while Gustafsson does enjoy going down low, don’t expect numerous dangerous passing attempts. Gustafsson prefers to catch the attack off-guard instead of being the play-maker down low. When it comes to his passing, he generally prefers making clean tape-to-tape feeds from the point to teammates along the half-wall instead of keying up dangerous passes. But, with that being said, he will deliver a few quality feeds from the point to teammates in the slot. 

When you look at Gustafsson’s shot, you will notice that he isn’t always accurate and sometimes gets too much height on his shot. If he can further round out his shot, he will only improve his goal scoring abilities. 

If Gustafsson doesn’t have control of the puck, he will put a decent of amount of pressure on the attack. He forechecks just like a forward. Hungry for possession and will utilize an active stick to attempt to trap puck carriers. If he is in a forward deployment and it appears that his teammates have lost a puck battle down low, he will fall back past the perimeter and move close to his defenders. It’s similar to in European football when you have midfielders fall back towards their defenders when there is a change in possession. 

One of the biggest hurdles for Gustafsson is quick decision-making. It is a challenge for him in all three zones, so you can expect a little bit more color in the next two sections. There are times where he won’t a make quick decision when holding onto the puck at the point. After holding onto the puck for too long, that lures pressure to him and he’s forced to vacate the zone to secure possession of the puck.

Transitional Play

When in the neutral zone, he will utilize puck manipulation strategies which allows him to bring defenders to him in transition and then he’ll throw the puck to the other side to bypass the attacker and create clean entries. He’s shown that he can be rather excellent at driving through traffic in the neutral zone and creating controlled zone entries. It’s all about puck movement and Gustafsson knows just how to take advantage of attackers. But, sometimes Gustafsson has to work a little bit harder with his puck manipulation to generate zone entries. For instance, when facing tight pressure from an attacker who was staying stride for stride with Gustafsson, he ended up bringing the puck back towards his blue-line. Then, on a dime, he will complete a well-timed hockey stop, pivots and that completely throws off the attacker. Thus, allowing Gustafsson to create deception through his skating and puck movement and carry the puck up the ice without fear of a turnover. 

Gustafsson doesn’t always complete controlled zone to zone transitions, there are plenty of instances where he feathers diagonal cross-ice zone entry passes and seam passes to push the puck up the ice. In addition, when skating back for loose pucks and bringing an attacker with him, he will utilize saucer passes to get the puck over the attacker’s stick blade and onwards to the desired teammate.

When not controlling the puck but fighting for the puck, Gustafsson will use an active stick to steal the puck off the puck carrier’s rush attempt. He reached his stick out as far as he could while standing up-right and knocked the puck out once he got in range. Occasionally when Gustafsson is following the attack, he will skate forwards with the puck carrier along the boards, use crossovers to garner necessary acceleration and then flip to backwards skating near the defensive zone blue-line to trap the puck carrier and force a turnover. 

If Gustafsson’s defensive partner is covering the puck carrier along the boards and the carrier’s teammate is skating parallel to offer a passing opportunity, Gustafsson will skate in-line and hang with the non puck carrier. 

Gustafsson needs to work on open ice hitting in the neutral zone. He will try to go in for an open ice hit in the neutral zone and mistimed the pressure/the hit attempt. Sometimes, he will make contact and instantly fall as he struggles to control skate balance when going in for a check. Gustafsson will also get out of position at times, challenge an attacker along the boards and teammate doesn’t drop back to support his defensive partner. That has led to a few 2 on 1s.

Defense

In the defensive zone, Gustafsson will start putting pressure on the puck carrier way before the perimeter. Once in position, he deploys quality pressure along the boards at the half-wall and down low in the corners. He deploys an active stick and stays stride for stride with the puck carrier. He will push his arms and stick into the puck carrier to force him to hang at the boards behind the red line. Gustafsson uses his shoulder to lean forward and separate the attacker from the puck when the puck carrier is attempting to drive from the half-wall inwards to the net. 

There are also moments, where he is lightning quick right off the draw. When there is a face-off at an offside face-off dot in the neutral zone, he might let the puck carrier into the defensive zone, but quickly deploys and active stick to cause a turnover and pushes the puck out of the zone.

At medium danger or at the perimeter, he will bend his knees and put his stick blade in front of him to try to shut down puck carriers from skating into the slot. That forces ill-advised shots. 

While he does implement quality pressure and stays stride for stride in many situations, there are shifts where he is defending from slightly behind. In that case, he’ll wave his stick at the attacker’s chest to make the attacker believe that he has limited space. But, sometimes he’ll rely a little too much on an active stick for defensive pressure and lets the attack go around him. This past season, there were a few instances in which that happened. For example, Chaz Lucius managed to get around his active stick in a game against the USNTDP.

In general, his defensive positioning is quite sound. When the opposition has two attackers behind the net and has possession of the puck, Gustafsson and his defensive partner align and line up on both sides of the net at the red line to take a way a wrap around opportunity. He’ll cover his defensive partner, drop down for a loose puck along the half-wall if the partner is tied up higher up. When puck battles are along the boards on the other half-wall and defensive partner is engaged at the half-wall, he’ll position himself to the right of the goaltender and that allows him to grab loose pucks if the cycle tries to throw the puck down the boards. That also allows him to cover high danger areas if the attacker manages to hold onto possession of the puck and skates hard toward the net. 

His quickness to defensive recoveries and quick decision-making are areas that need further development. He will shorten up his stride extension length in the defensive zone and look back a bit much at the forechecker, which slows him down and put him into tough situations when collecting the loose puck. When Gustafsson slows down, he puts himself into vulnerable situations where he could get blindsided with a check and loose pucks down low in a physical battle. There are also shifts, in which he hangs onto the puck for too long while identifying a teammate to pass to and that allows the attacker to catch up to Gustafsson. 

Skating

Overall, there is a lot to like about Gustafsson’s skating. He deploys great lengthier crossovers in transition to garner the necessary speed to skate through the neutral zone with ease. His crossovers and edge work not only allow him to amplify his speed, but he also uses his edges to weave around traffic. 

Gustafsson also deploys good pivots when skating up the ice in the defensive zone. If his teammates gives up possession of the puck, he will spot the turnover, quickly react, pivot and dart after the puck.

The Atlanta native also can deploy quality hockey stops on a dime. There are instances where he skates in the offensive zone with control of the puck, sees a defender looking to trap him, deploys a quality stop in order to complete a crisp cross ice pass.

While he does have the ability to deploy quality crossovers, edges and hockey stops, there are situations in which his edges hurt his mobility and balance. Sometimes when transitioning from skating backwards to forwards, he will try to implement outside edges and lose balance. There are also shifts in which he is looking to defend two attackers in the defensive zone and accidentally deploys one inside edge and one outside edge. By doing so, it slows him down and diminishes his mobility. That allows the attack to skate by him with ease. 

But, he does have an excellent stride. His ankle flexion is aligned with the toe of his skate and can generate solid acceleration. When in transition, he will combine his stride with the lengthier crossovers that I mentioned earlier to help drive him forward.

Projection

Second Pairing Defenseman (NHL). But, he can step in and be deployed as a defensive 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_.

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

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

Scouting Report: Jake Martin

Photo Credit: Rena Laverty

Scouting Report written by Paul Zuk

Next in line for talented defensemen from Minnesota is USNTDP U18 rearguard Jake Martin. Martin was born in White Bear Lake, MN, and played the majority of his minor hockey within Gentry Academy, the private academy which 2021 NHL Draft prospect Chaz Lucius and his younger brother, Cruz’ parents founded. He recorded some impressive numbers in his 15U AAA season, scoring six goals and 12 assists for 18 points in only 13 games.

Martin was recruited for the US National Team Development Program for the 2019-20 season, where he suited up with the U17 squad. He had a solid rookie season, totaling three goals and 12 assists for 15 points in 49 games, while skating just under 15 minutes a game.

This past season, Martin inherited more of a defensive role, although his statistics didn’t show it. Martin increased his goals (4), assists (8), and points (12) totals from the 19/20 season, all while averaging over two minutes less ice time per game (14:54 min/60 in 19/20, 12:43 min/60 in 20/21).

For the 2021/22 season, Martin will be taking his stellar defensive skillset to the University of Wisconsin, where he’ll join a Badgers squad led by Head Coach Tony Granato. Wisconsin will certainly be looking for redemption after losing the Big Ten Championship to Minnesota, as well as bowing out of the National Championship in the Semi-Finals to Bemidji State this past season. Martin will join a squad which features fellow 2021 NHL Draft prospect Corson Ceulemans, as well Brock Caufield, the older brother of Montreal Canadiens standout, Cole Caufield.

Player Profile

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

Martin’s Style Of Play

Jake Martin is yet another product of a stellar program at the United States National Team Development Program. Martin is a defensive-defenseman who can provide a little bit of secondary offense. His game reminds me quite a bit of former USNTDP and current New York Ranger, Ryan Lindgren.

Offensively, Martin is an accurate passer at short, medium and long range passes. He can also find success distributing the puck under pressure. Martin also has an underrated amount of hockey IQ, as he can more often than not see a play developing and deliver an accurate pass before the opponent can pick up on it.

Defensively, Martin is an effective penalty killer, who can clear the zone with ease, as well as shutting down opponent’s PP. He likes to push attackers to the outside edges when they’re breaking into the offensive zone, so he can close the gap and retrieve the puck. Martin uses his size and strength to bring just the right amount of physicality to the game. can surprise opponents with reverse hits battling for the puck in the defensive zone.

Let’s get a little more in-depth with Jake Martin’s game:

Skating

Jake Martin’s skating seems to be the one aspect of his game where scouts arent overly fond of. He’s not a bad skater, but his footspeed and overall technique leaves a little bit to be desired. However, I find him to be a decently agile skater and is slightly above average in his ability to stop and turn on a dime.

Martin’s overall speed ranks about average in his class, but he’s quick enough to keep pace with hard charging opponents most of the time. He uses his crossovers to generate speed from his own zone through to the neutral zone in transition, which can catch opposing teams off guard.

As mentioned above, Martin will more likely than not look to work on his skating mechanics as he transitions to the next level, but to have imperfect skating ability at this level is definitely not uncommon. With the proper training and coaching, he’ll be able to correct these minor issues in no time.

Offense

When it comes to offense, it’s not the first thing you think of in terms of Martin’s most talented skillset. That being said, he does possess one powerful shot, but his accuracy can be a little bit off at times. What surprised me the most about his offensive abilities was his above average hands for a defensive minded blueliner. Martin’s able to stickhandle in tight spaces with moderate success in all three zones of the ice.

One huge factor to Martin’s offensive toolbelt is his effectiveness in transition. He’s able to hit a teammate with a pass or carry the puck himself with a impressive amount of success as he completes a controlled zone entry. When in the offensive zone, he’s quite content to get the puck in deep and chase after it, or stop his rush and wait for some help from his teammates.

With the right development at the next level, there’s a fair bit of untapped potential that Martin can bring to his offensive game.

Defense

Without a doubt the most impressive trait to Martin’s game is his skills and awareness in the defensive zone. More often than not, he can anticipate where the play is headed, which allows him to block passing lanes and break up the opponent’s chances.

Down low in his own zone, Martin likes to play the man, tying them up or knocking them off the puck, while a teammate can corral it and move it up ice. Martin also has a fairly active stick when defending 5v5 or on the penalty kill, although his reach isn’t necessarily the largest.

When defending the neutral zone and his own blueline, Martin thrives on being able to push the attackers out wide towards the boards, closing the gap and usually succeeding in muscling them off the puck. Another noteworthy aspect of Martin’s defensive game is his body positioning when fighting off attackers. He isn’t often caught out of position, which helps him pick the right angles to pressure opponents and hopefully break up a potential scoring chance.

Perhaps my only knock on Martin is that sometimes he might not make the most neat of plays to shut down attackers. However, he can shut them down just the same. It might not always have to look pretty, but if it works, it works.

Improvements

As with pretty much any prospect, there’s always room to develop their skills. That exact statement rings true with Martin. While his defensive game is quite sound, there are a few other areas of his game he’ll certainly look to develop as he attends Wisconsin next season.

First, Martin could be a little more patient with the puck at times, especially transitioning out of the defensive zone. Watching film on Martin from this past season, he’s definitely improved on this as he’s seemed to acclimate well to USNTDP/USHL play. That being said, Martin has had instances where he’s thrown the puck haphazardly up ice and it’s resulted in turnovers in the defensive zone. Look for him to polish this up in the near future.

Perhaps the biggest flaw scouts see in Martin is his skating. His footwork and overall speed could use some work, as he can sometimes be caught a bit flat footed when defending against more agile and quick forwards. However, some adjustments to his overall mechanics should be able to correct the majority of the issues here. With the right guidance and development, Martin can certainly become an above average skater.

Lastly, Martin’s shot accuracy could use some work, as he can sometimes be a little off the mark when getting pucks on net, which leads to the puck exiting the offensive zone. That being said, there are times where his shots get blocked, but he may look to improve on this by being a little more patient in shooting, or dishing the puck off to a teammate elsewhere in the offensive zone.

Overall Outlook

When taking a look at every aspect of Jake Martin’s game, it’s clear to see that the tools are there for him to develop into an excellent top-4 defensive defenseman, who can also provide some secondary offense. Arguably, his floor seems to be in a bottom-4 defender, most likely in a shutdown role.

Perhaps the most impressive facet of Martin’s overall game is his defensive skills and general awareness in his own zone, which are among the best in the Draft Class. There’s still some work to be done in terms of his offensive production, his shooting accuracy, and his skating mechanics and footwork.

Martin will without a doubt benefit from attending the University of Wisconsin, as they have excellent staff and are generally considered one of the better NCAA men’s hockey programs. If a team is looking for that shutdown type of player, with an added bit of offense mixed in, look no further than Jake Martin. He’s been scattered around in most Draft rankings, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see a team select him somewhere in the second or third round.


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.

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

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