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Ottawa Senators 2021 Draft Profiles: Stanislav Svozil & Corson Ceulemans

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We profile two players who will surely be available for the Sens. Are either worth it at 10th overall?

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
The last Czech player to make an impact with the Senators, does Stanislav Svozil follow in Milan Michalek’s footsteps?
Photo by Matt Zambonin/NHLI via Getty Images

Do you value tools or habits when projecting NHL players? EliteProspects’ writer David St-Louis posed that question in his profile on Stanislav Svozil and it’s occupied my mind ever since.

You’re going to see that contrast presented in this article because the player I’ve paired Svozil with, the AJHL’s Corson Ceulemans, plays a very different style of game. Both are projected first-round talents, and we’ll get a glimpse into how different NHL teams feel about this question when we look back at the relative position that the two are taken on Friday.

Let’s dig in.


Stanislav Svozil

Pos Team League Height Weight Date of Birth EliteProspects Consolidated Ranking
Pos Team League Height Weight Date of Birth EliteProspects Consolidated Ranking
LD HC Kometa Brno Czech Extraliga 6'0" 172 lbs 01/17/2003 #18

Background

The highest-ranked player from the Czech Republic in this year’s draft class, Stanislav Svozil is a smart, refined defender with an intriguing offensive toolkit, painstakingly cultivated by playing against people much older than him his entire life.

Svozil is the youngest player to ever play full-time in the Czech Extraliga, suiting up for HC Kometa Brno as a 16-year-old in 2019-20 after outscoring his way out of the U16 and U19 levels a year prior. Since 2004-05, only 22 players played 10 games or more in their Draft-1 season — with none of the 10 defencemen to do so scoring more than Svozil’s 0.12 points-per-game until 2022 star talent David Jiricek did this past season. He was recognized among Czech greats by being named the Rookie of the Year, beating out notable young players like Lukáš Dostál, Jan Jeník, and Michal Teply. His highlights drew the attention of the Regina Pats at the CHL Import Draft, but he opted to stay in his home country for another season — a blessing given the impact of the pandemic on the WHL season.

Svozil started 2020-21 well, not only making the Czech U20 squad for the World Juniors to play as one of the tournament’s few draft-eligible players, but standing out with a few strong performances. Scouts were expecting more out of his production in the Extraliga, which stagnated (three points in 30 games), and at the U18s (one point in five games). With Svozil signed to play another season in the Extraliga or the ability to report to Connor Bedard’s Regina Pats squad, scouts will be looking for him to produce more offensive results because as you’ll see shortly, the habits are there.

Scouting Report

Svozil is a pro-ready defender with a balanced profile: the type of player who might not ‘wow’ you, but seems likely to put up good results through the combination of his sense, reliability, and transition game.

Svozil is always looking to exit and enter zones with control, transporting the puck with his skating or with a strong first pass. When he’s dictating play, he’s a machine on zone entries, always ready to jump into the play and — due to his strong hockey sense — he isn’t burned often. It’s rare to see a 17-year-old defenceman with Svozil’s ability to read the game. He’s creative inside the offensive zone, getting himself into good positions to activate in the high slot. Like Simon Edvinsson, he isn’t scared to utilize his hands to cut to the middle for a shot or to protect the puck as he transports it around. All of that shines when put together, which most often happens on the rush. Defensively, his sense helps him cut off lanes early by angling players to the boards or being physical when he needs to be. I can see why Svozil was trusted to play against older players and to me, it’s an indicator of his future success.

While his forward speed and acceleration are solid, some scouts wonder if his agility will keep up when the pace of play is increases. He isn’t consistent with when he chooses to dictate play, something that isn’t out of the ordinary for a young defender playing against men, but scouts would’ve liked him to take control at the U18s as a first-round talent. While he’s an effective transporter of the puck in straight lines, he could add another weapon to his offensive repertoire by learning to move the puck into dangerous areas of the ice more often with his vision.

Data

The team over at EliteProspects have compiled some nice data on Svozil. In their draft guide, they pegged Svozil as playing ~12 minutes a night in the Extraliga, and boasting a 51% CF% — a feat for an underaged defenceman in a men’s league. Petr Malina tracks the Extraliga, and while he corroborated that Svozil didn’t really impact xG for Brno, he surprisingly ranked as one of the team’s most creative passers from the backend.

Those shot share metrics improved at the World Juniors, where, despite playing for a mediocre Czech squad, Svozil had a 60% CF% against Russia, Sweden, America, and Canada. That culminated in a player of the game performance in their quarterfinal loss to Canada, where he was positive in transition, poised with the puck, and drew a penalty in nearly 18 minutes of ice-time.

In Mitch Brown and Lassi Alanen’s tracked data for the U18s, Svozil didn’t generate the offence that scouts wanted to see, but was a force in transition. He graded as the tournament’s best defender — over names like Edvinsson and Clarke — in exiting and entering zones with control and doing so without turning the puck over. While his partner, David Jiricek, utilized his skating to retrieve pucks in the defensive zone, Svozil was given liberty to stand up on rushes. All of this grades well for Svozil as a modern defenceman, showing his ability to play with pace, beat the incoming forecheck with passing or his feet, and safely moving the puck to effective options, not just the first one he sees.

Fit with Ottawa

Yes, I know, another left-shot defender. Hear me out, though. At the World Juniors, Svozil played exclusively on his off-side, and he’s had to do that regularly for HC Kometa Brno. Those are tough environments to play in, especially in transition, showcasing potential versatility for the team that drafts him.

Someone with Svozil’s style might be a nice compliment to the players currently in Ottawa’s system. After Jake Sanderson, Svozil’s raw defensive skillset ranks higher than Jacob Bernard-Docker’s and Lassi Thomson’s to me, and if the offence comes, he could grade out as a fabulous second-pair option who can excel on the penalty kill. Whether he’s on your team or packaged in a trade, Svozil sounds like a player who will bring value in today’s NHL game.

Further watching, reading, and listening


Corson Ceulemans

Pos Team League Height Weight Date of Birth EliteProspects Consolidated Ranking
Pos Team League Height Weight Date of Birth EliteProspects Consolidated Ranking
RD Brooks Bandits AJHL 6'2" 201 lbs 05/05/2003 #25

Background

Playing 14 games in your draft season is never ideal, but was the unfortunate reality for Regina’s Corson Ceulemans this season. A star in the AJHL as he opted for the NCAA route, Ceulemans was one of only twelve 16-year-olds to play more than 10 games in the league in 2019-20 and his 0.80 points-per-game ranked fifth among all defencemen. Only Cale Makar and Michael Benning scored at a higher rate among Draft-1 players.

This past year, he recorded 11 points in eight AJHL games and eight in six games for Canada at the U18s, leading the tournament in scoring by a defender. He’s scheduled to suit up for the University of Wisconsin next year.

Scouting Report

I hear the term if he just puts it all together thrown around a lot with Ceulemans, and that’s because there’s a lot of individual pieces to like about his game. He’s a right-shot blueliner who isn’t afraid to use his 6-foot-2 frame to play aggressive rush defence and crunch the opposition along the wall, or to pick off a pick and jump into a hole in the offensive zone to let off a hard shot. Ceulemans is an early bloomer, and isn’t afraid to utilize his strength when playing man-to-man. He’s an agile skater, and while his stride is inconsistent, most reports noted that he’d likely display above-average speed and acceleration at the NHL level with some mechanical adjustments. He features both a snapshot and a hard, low slap shot — both of which are weapons when they hit the net. He’s also an adept puck rusher on entries, capable of both skating into the zone on good routes or using his hands to generate an entry.

Many of the concerns swirling around Ceulemans are around his tactical decisions, both offensively and defensively. Reports indicated that Ceulemans doesn’t move his feet enough — either opting to let a puck fly right after receiving it in the offensive zone instead of dragging the line or getting caught puck-watching, which results in being flatfooted on gaps. Like Simon Edvinsson, Ceulemans could aim to scan the ice more and choose the best option, rather than executing the first thought that comes to his mind. It’ll help him read off the opposition and enhance his ability to get his dangerous shot through on goal more often, set-up a teammate for a better scoring opportunity, and to exit the zone with more regularity.

Data

We have six tracked games thanks to the aforementioned U18 dataset from Mitch Brown and Lassi Alanen of EliteProspects. Surprisingly, Ceulemans did very little to impact expected goals or generate shot assists, despite what his tournament-leading point totals might suggest. He was a net negative in transition and on rush defence, a worrying sign that his puck-carrying ability might not translate at a higher pace and that he needs to get tighter on his gaps, but played strong in-zone defence all tournament. He utilized his physicality to shut down the cycle, his reach to separate player from puck, and his skating to retrieve the puck on dump-ins.

Fit with Ottawa

As one of the younger players in the class, Ceulemans’ profile paints an interesting picture. Unlike Svozil, he can score through his tools, but doesn’t feature great habits. When we have more data, it’s his defensive game that projects better than his offence, and he has the ability to both have powerplay upside while excelling on the penalty kill. Interestingly, Ceulemans’ projects as a D.J. Smith defender even though the Senators head coach might be not be here by the time Ceulemans is ready to turn pro. He’s quick on his feet, coordinated physically, and able to disrupt puck carriers through a multitude of techniques... he just struggles to move the puck afterwards.

Ceulemans projects as a player who will likely spend the next two or three seasons with Wisconsin before turning pro. Assessing if his physical game withstands stronger competition will be a telling sign of whether his defensive play might translate to the NHL, and then a team can decide whether to keep him in Wisconsin’s anemic offensive system (sorry, K’Andre Miller) or slowly develop his offensive habits at the AHL level.

Further watching, reading, and listening


With this, we’re done with our individual profiles of skaters who might be available for the Senators in the first-round of the 2021 NHL Draft. Do Svozil or Ceulemans fit what you look for in a defenceman? Let us know in the comments!