2022 NHL Draft Profiles: The Canadian Hockey League
We end our look at draft-eligible skaters with a short profile on 12 players currently playing in the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL.
Let’s end our exploration of the various scouting regions by returning home to the Canadian Hockey League.
Since Pierre Dorion was named the team’s general manager in 2016, the Senators have selected three players out of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), nine out of the Western Hockey League (WHL), and five out of the Québec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
In this piece, we’ll offer some quick snippets of players ranked outside of the first- and second-rounds of the draft that interest me and potentially the Senators scouting staff.
|Name||Position||Team||League||Height||Weight||Date of Birth|
|Tyler Brennan||G||Prince George||WHL||6''4"||185 lbs||09/27/2003|
|Topias Leinonen||G||JYP Jr.||FIN-JR||6''5"||233 lbs||01/25/2004|
|Hugo Havelid||G||Linkoping Jr.||SWE-JR||5'10"||170 lbs||01/01/2004|
|Ivan Zhigalov||G||Sherbrooke||QMJHL||6'3"||161 lbs||04/30/2003|
- The OHL’s Rookie of the Month for March, centre Cedrick Guindon is a player out of nearby Rockland and has been a top point scorer at every level, whether it’s at the minor hockey level through Hockey Eastern Ontario, or finishing second in rookie points with 30 goals and 29 assists this season with Owen Sound. Among draft-eligible forwards listed on Pick224’s database, Guindon ranked fourth in even-strength primary points-per-game. More impressively to me, he only ranked behind Kocha Delic and Shane Wright in terms of winning the even-strength GF% battle relative to his teammates. Guindon plays with a lot of deception in his game, whether it’s with the release point on his shot, utilizing a change of pace with his feet, or a quick stickhandle on the rush. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman ranked Guindon as the 15th best skater in the draft — a good sign for an undersized player — and it’s certainly the tool he relies on to both create offence and be an annoyance defensively. If Guindon adds a more creative passing repertoire to his offensive game while continuing to improve his athleticism, he could be a sneaky middle-six contributor — a fantastic bet for a player likely taken in the middle-rounds.
- We talk a lot about “compete” in hockey, but boy does it become apparent what teams mean when you watch Kocha Delic on the ice against his opposition. A leader on the GTHL’s Toronto Titans’ tournament-winning teams, Delic possesses a high-end motor combined with good scanning habits that leads to a lot of Connor Brown-esque setups for his teammates. Playing alongside the OHL’s top rookie scorer and likely second-rounder, David Goyette, all season, count me among those who attribute some of Goyette’s scoring success to Delic’s aggressive support on the forecheck and in the defensive end. When the two were separated at the U18s, I’d argue it was Delic who stood out more because of his motor. While he’ll have to improve his stick detail and patience to avoid taking minor penalties, Delic profiles as a player who can provide value throughout a team’s lineup. When Delic was on the ice, Sudbury was winning the battle for goals at even-strength. He’s likely picked in the fifth round next week.
- When a 6-foot-3 defensive specimen also ranks third among draft-eligible OHL defenders in even-strength primary points-per-game, my eyes light up. Let’s start through with Tnias Mathurin’s strengths, his defence. Mathurin is a strong in-zone defender, keeping players to the outside with his stick and body positioning, and boxing out those attacking the net with physicality. He utilizes strong four-way mobility to roam in zone and occasionally activate offensively, displaying good passing instincts when he does on both his strong and weak side to rack up assists. Working on his quickness will help enable Mathurin to execute his decisions, whether it’s moving into space to make a controlled exit through pass or carry, and to step up earlier on in the neutral zone to kill rushes as they’re developing. A likely mid-to-late round pick that either results in a bottom-pairing NHL defender at the very least, with a chance for more.
- Chas Sharpe started the year on Mississauga’s third-pair and ended the year playing over 20 minutes — averaging out at around 17 minutes per game. Sharpe is unranked by most outlets because he lacks a standout skill, but I’m including him here because of how drastic his improvement was over the year, especially with his skating. Sharpe can now quickly close space in the defensive end, utilizing his reach and physicality with a 6-foot-2 frame to take the puck from players. Offensively, his lateral mobility has improved through repetitions on the Steelheads’ powerplay. With right-shot defenders valued at a premium, Sharpe stands out as one who ticks some green flags as a late-bloomer that the Sens have been unafraid to boldly select in previous years. /
Québec Major Junior Hockey League
|Name||Position||Team||League||Height||Weight||Date of Birth|
|Alexis Gendron||C||Blainville-Boisbriand||QMJHL||5'10"||174 lbs||12/30/2003|
|Samuel Savoie||C/LW||Gatineau||QMJHL||5'10"||190 lbs||03/25/2004|
|Marc-Andre Gaudet||LD||Acadie-Bathurst||QMJHL||6'3"||181 lbs||10/24/2003|
|Vsevolod Komarov||RD||Québec||QMJHL||6'1"||176 lbs||01/11/2004|
- Alexis Gendron has come a long way since being a seventh round selection in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft. Playing on a weak Armada team that saw no player crack 50 points, Gendron’s 30 goals outpaced his nearest teammate by 10 — a rarity for a draft-eligible player — as he did it all while playing an average of ~18 minutes per game. Gendron blends a quick, explosive skating stride with high-level anticipation, generating a ton of breakaways off of interceptions with good puck tracking in the defensive zone, using his first few steps to create space for a dangerous scoring chance in the offensive zone. He works hard on and off the puck, not shying away from net-front areas or the half-walls for offensive zone retrievals, despite his size, and taking contact as his team’s primary puck carrier from exit to entry. While Gendron’s expected goals and assist numbers are low in Mitch Brown’s dataset of draft-eligible players, I expect those numbers to increase as Gendron’s supporting cast gets to his level. Too often, Gendron was asked to be the puck carrier and be the one turning bad pucks into good pucks along the boards or starting low in the defensive zone. A late-round pick with upside. You can read Gendron’s profile on Smaht Scouting here.
- “His energy, his physical side, speed, and offensive abilities. It’s a mix of all that which makes him a good player,” said Olympiques Head Coach, Louis Robitaille. “He can play anywhere in a lineup, both on the power play and the penalty kill. The more emotional and important a game is, the better he is.” Sound familiar, Sens fans? While I’m not saying that Samuel Savoie is the second-coming of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the former 4th overall pick in the 2020 QMJHL Entry Draft bears some similarity to the fan favourite that gives me enough confidence to project him as a sleeper pick in the mid-to-late rounds. Put in the opposite situation as the aforementioned Gendron, Savoie played third-line minutes for Gatineau this season — finishing 10th in team scoring, but recorded 18 goals. Much of Savoie’s high-octane game sounds translatable to the NHL. He’s a strong skater in all facets, allowing him to hunt down pucks, play physical against the opposition, and to charge the net hard. He was ranked by EliteProspects’ QMJHL scout David St-Louis as one of the hardest hitters in the draft, which is saying something about Savoie’s strength given his 5-foot-10 frame. A tracking wizard in Mitch Brown’s dataset, what Savoie doesn’t have in one-on-one skill he makes up for with his transitional play on zone entries and his passing ability to find teammates in the slot, contributing to dangerous scoring chances when he’s on the ice. If he can add some versatility to his offensive toolkit, he could surpass a safe projection as a bottom-six winger — worth a shot in the later rounds. /
Honourable Mention: Thomas Bégin was a seventh-round draft pick in 2020, losing his rookie season due to COVID, and started this season in Québec’s high school system. When he finally made Chicoutimi, he put up 21 points in 37 games. He also had the highest relative impact on even-strength GF% among any draft-eligible skater in Pick224’s QMJHL dataset. While he’s extremely raw and only 143 pounds, his offence is enough to intrigue me as a forward to follow in the future.
- Ranking fifth about draft-eligible defenders in the QMJHL in even-strength primary points-per-game, ahead of the highly touted Maverick Lamoureux, Marc-Andre Gaudet is a late-blooming puck-mover who played a ton for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan this season. Gaudet is solid at all aspects of the game while possessing an above-average shot, which he uses as a half-slapper when activating in zone. He was the Titan’s top penalty killer, showcasing strong anticipation to cut down plays with his long reach and utilizing his size in the crease to help his goaltender see the puck. Offensively, he served as a quarterback on the powerplay, making simple decisions quickly to keep his team in the offensive zone. Like other defenders profiled in this piece, Gaudet doesn’t have a separating quality, but could be an interesting seventh-round pick if he continues to play a well-rounded game.
- A patient, steady defender with translatable puck skills, Vsevolod Komarov had a solid rookie season in North America after playing 46 games in Russia’s MHL last season. Coach Patrick Roy notes “[Komarov] moves [the puck] very well, rarely makes mistakes on his first pass, and defends...” — a strong endorsement of a defender who possesses strong hockey sense. Komarov needs to improve his skating, but led all draft-eligible QMJHL defenders in GF% impact at even-strength relative to his team because of how he anticipated the movement of oncoming forecheckers and efficiently moved the puck. Komarov regularly took advantage of open space in the offensive zone to move the puck to teammates, and displayed strong shot selection — keeping the puck low to generate rebounds instead of wildly firing the puck and hoping for the best. His scanning reminded me of Artem Zub, which helped him be calm under pressure and start breakouts to great success. Again, there’s a trend here: it’s hard to find right-shot defenders who fly under the radar, but Komarov’s unconventional path might help him be a diamond in the rough. /
Honourable Mention: Jake Furlong ranked third among draft-eligible defenders in Pick224’s QMJHL dataset in even-strength primary points-per-game, providing a ton of offence for the Halifax Mooseheads as the year went on. Like Marc-Andre Gaudet, Furlong doesn’t possess a standout tool, but looks balanced and might be worth investing development time into given the Mooseheads’ tendency to develop strong defenders over the past few seasons.
Western Hockey League
|Name||Position||Team||League||Height||Weight||Date of Birth|
|Ben Hemmerling||RW||Everett||WHL||5'10"||159 lbs||04/21/2004|
|Marcus Nguyen||RW||Portland||WHL||5'10"||172 lbs||08/02/2004|
|Grayden Siepmann||RD||Calgary||WHL||5'11"||185 lbs||05/26/2004|
|Hunter Mayo||RD||Red Deer||WHL||6'1"||201 lbs||05/07/2004|
- A mature, reliable forward whose foundation is built on skating and work-ethic, Ben Hemmerling impressed this season on a deep squad — putting up the sixth best primary points production rate at even-strength among draft-eligible WHL forwards. Hemmerling can read and react to plays at a high level and has learned to blend that skill with puck control and vision to set his teammates up for a dangerous scoring chance after winning a puck battle on the forecheck with his effort level. Everett has a history of developing players who are strong on the defensive side of the puck, and Hemmerling is a quintessential Silvertip in that regard — utilizing a quick first step and an active stick to smartly pressure opponents without drifting out of position. Scouts want him to become more assertive as a shooting threat and to utilize his feet with his puck handling ability to take the puck to the middle of the ice himself more, but I think those are aspects of his game that can develop with time and opportunity on the powerplay to practice those skills. Hemmerling is expected to be picked in the fourth- or fifth-round of next week’s draft. You can read a more detailed profile of his game at Smaht Scouting.
- Like Hemmerling, Marcus Nguyen found his ice-time limited on a deep Winterhawks squad, but the August-born winger possesses puck skills in spades and a complimentary toolkit that can see him bring the dynamism you expect from a player who will be picked a lot higher than where he’s likely selected. He’s extremely physical for his size, utilizing an explosive first step to battle for loose pucks and showcasing strong posture to protect the biscuit. In his own end, he chases down opponents and can be an adept takeaway machine. Nguyen tracked well in Mitch Brown’s dataset in terms of his passing variety, his ability as a puck carrier on zone entries, and as a forechecker on offensive zone retrievals. Developing an ability to deceive his opponents more regularly, whether it’s through a quick flick of the hands, scanning more regularly, or changing the pace of his approach through his skating could see him develop into a middle-six winger. /
Honourable Mentions: Brandon Lisowsky ranked fourth among all WHL draft-eligible skaters in even-strength primary points-per-game, but is likely to be picked in the third- or fourth-round. Why? Scouts are unsure of his ability to get his NHL-ready shot off at the pro level. A 5-foot-9 forward, Lisowsky scored 33 goals this season, including 24 at even-strength to lead all draft-eligible WHL forwards, fearlessly attacking defenders off the rush and scoring as a result. He’ll need to diversify his rush patterns, adding an element of passing to his game, in order to create those quiet areas that NHL goal scorers usually thrive from, and be able to be a reliable defensive option, in order to earn minutes. You can read a fulsome profile on Lisowsky’s game at SmahtScouting. Brayden Schuurman has been a top player on two awful Victoria Royals teams, meaning he plays a ton and can also be guilty trying to do too much due to a poor supporting cast. When Schuurman wasn’t on the ice this season at even-strength, Victoria’s GF% was 34%. He’s developed a diverse offensive toolkit under pressure, displaying a range of skills on the forecheck, as a primary puck carrier, or as a shooter in quiet areas. His strongest assets are his calm puck control and his shot — scoring 18 goals at even-strength and another 11 on the powerplay — to rank high compared to other draft-eligible WHL forwards. A fascinating later-round gamble if you believe in his ability.
- The 13th overall pick in the 2019 WHL Entry Draft, Grayden Siepmann was one of the rare young defenders who played most of last year’s shortened WHL season (21 games), setting him up nicely for a breakout campaign where he played second-pair minutes and got time on both special teams. Siepmann works his magic with the puck on his stick, using his feet, body, and stick positioning to manipulate space and move the puck from exit to entry. Siepmann’s a fluid skater, with strong edges and four-way mobility that allows him to maneuver around the ice with assertiveness. He can be both a puck carrier in transition or be a quiet second-wave of pressure through a nicely timed activation in the offensive zone. While he doesn’t necessarily cut into the middle to create dangerous opportunities for himself — more often choosing a simpler play by creating for his teammates — a proper development scheme might allow Siepmann to utilize his anticipation and patience to display more creativity. Siepmann uses his skating defensively as well, keeping a tight gap to his opposition and choosing great times to break off for a puck retrieval. He could improve his ability to use his skating and body together to close off players away from the puck and his overall strength to win puck battles. Siepmann surge this season got him onto Team Canada’s radar for the U18s, where he recorded two goals and an assist in three games for an underperforming Canadian squad. I expect him to be taken in the fifth or sixth round of next week’s draft.
- Described as a “throwback” right-shot defender, Red Deer’s Hunter Mayo has shown tremendous growth this season after being limited to just six WHL games in his rookie season due to injuries and the pandemic. Mayo used that time to get stronger, and was able to impose his physicality on his opponents this season — boxing out players coming to the net, closing the cycle, and being unafraid to add some extra damage after the whistles. Mayo’s been an effective penalty killer this season, as well. Offensively, he’s mainly using a quick-up to forwards to generate points, with all 17 coming at even-strength this season. A late-round pick, Mayo’s profile could be interesting if he is able to add some of his offence from the bantam level to his next major-junior season. /
Honourable Mention: The Portland Winterhawks used three 17-year-old defencemen for much of the season and still finished second in the WHL’s U.S. Division; of that bunch, Ryder Thompson showed promise as a June-born left-shot defender with strong hockey sense and fluid skating. From assistant coach (and WHL legend) Don Hay: “He makes really good outlet passes. I really like the way he competes at the net. He’s not an overly big guy, but he really stands in there and takes on all comers”. I don’t know if Thompson has enough to be an NHLer, but he stands out as a seventh-round pick who might be able to be a pro.