2024 NHL Entry Draft: CHL Defensemen, Part 1

The first part of our preview of CHL defensemen the Sens might take at #7

2024 NHL Entry Draft: CHL Defensemen, Part 1
Photo by Samantha Gades / Unsplash

In today's installment of our 2024 NHL Entry draft coverage, we take our first stab at CHL defensemen who might be available for the Ottawa Senators to select with their 7th overall selection. The plan here was to feature three defensemen all together, but the scope was so sprawling that I’ve decided to break it up into a multi-part affair. Look for part two later this week.

As a reminder, you can check out all of our 2024 Draft coverage right here.

Sam Dickinson

6'3, 194 lbs, Shoots Left


In some ways, Sam Dickinson has the backstory of your prototypical high-end CHL prospect. Dickinson played his minor hockey with the prestigious Toronto Marlboros of the GTHL, where he was a stand-out, and was eventually selected fourth overall in the 2022 CHL Entry Draft by the Niagara Ice Dogs. Dickinson didn't suit up for a single practice or game with Niagara though, forcing his way to the London Knights via one of those hilarious trades that you only see in the CHL. In exchange for Dickinson, the Knights sent the Ice Dogs 7 (!) draft picks spanning four drafts. Here's what Nigara's GM had to say at the time of the trade:

“We had no intentions of trading Sam Dickinson when we drafted him, he was the best player available,” said IceDogs General Manager, Darren DeDobbelaer. “We were unable to secure a meeting with his representation and family to convince him to report to Camp. After an aggressive offer by London, we thought this was the best move for our organization moving forward and in the years to come”.

For those who perhaps don't follow the CHL very closely, the Knights have effectively positioned their franchise as the destination for elite prospects with NHL dreams. That Dickinson landed in London is not too much of a surprise.

Since arriving in London, the rearguard has lived up to the hype: Dickison was chosen as an OHL First Team All-Rookie after his inaugural season, and then was a key contributor to the Knights squad that ran roughshod over junior hockey before falling to the Saginaw Spirit in dramatic fashion in the Memorial Cup Final just a few weeks ago. Dickinson was also selected to play for Team Canada at the Hlinka/Gretzky Cup following the 2022-23 season. He was an alternate captain for the squad that ended up taking home the gold medal.

Scouting Report:

Dickinson has maybe the most consistent scouting report of any prospect I've ever researched. The overwhelming consensus is that he's an excellent athlete with all of the physical tools you could ever hope for in an NHL defenseman. He's a great skater, not just for his size, but a a great skater period. He possesses an absolute cannon of a shot (something that several scouts note has improved in the last twelve months) and he's capable with the puck, if not the most creative. If Dickinson isn't at least a moderately impactful player in the pros, it would be a pretty big surprise.

Dickinson's biggest strength is as a defender, where he combines his superior skating with his long reach to snuff out opposing rushes. Here's what the good folks over at Dobber Prospects had to say about his defensive prowess:

Dickinson routinely kills plays, especially in transition. Players have a difficult time gaining the zone against him as he’s got the feet to stay with almost anyone, combined with the ideal length, reach, and stick work to knock pucks away. He’s tough and physical in his own end and ties up players in front of his net. His defensive game is truly spectacular. 

Though he doesn't have a reputation as a bone-crushing hitter, Dickinson is noted for using his size effectively to separate attackers from the puck. He battles well in front of the net (a sore spot for Sens fans after this past season) and just generally tends to overwhelm his opponents physically. He's also a player that takes his fitness very seriously, as evidenced by his showing up in the top 10 for several events at the Draft Combine.

In addition to his great shot, Dickinson has also developed a reputation for being adept at jumping into the rush to create offense. If he does get caught up ice as a result, his superior skating allows him to get back in time to wipe away any chances against.

If there's a weakness in his game, it's his overall offensive upside – and weakness here is used in the relative sense of the word. Dickinson won't be Cale Makar or Roman Josi when it comes to offensive creation, but he's not so weak as to be described as deficient. He plays a simple game offensively, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't want to get too far out over my skis here, but it's hard not to think back to Jake Sanderson's draft profile when reading, and watching, Dickinson.


As mentioned up top, Dickinson had a breakout offensive season in 2023-24, tallying 18 goals and 52 assists for 70 points in 68 games. Playing on a team with the type of offensive arsenal that London possessed this year will always help with the counting stats, but it should be noted here that only Zayne Parekh finished ahead of him among draft-eligible defensemen.

As far as where he might land in the draft, it seems like a decent best Dickinson will be available at #7 – but hardly a guarantee. Elite Prospects' consolidated rankings have Dickinson at #5, while Bob McKenzie has Dickinson at #7 on the button.

Further Reading:

An in-depth video breakdown from McKeen's Hockey

Dobber Prospects Write-Up

Profile of his journey to the Draft in the Athletic

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