The 2020 NHL Draft has the potential, if everyone plays their cards right, to be one of those drafts: one where it ends up shaping the NHL for the next decade if a lot of the talent available ends up going to the league, and at every position, too!
But that doesn’t mean every position is being represented equally.
Right-handed Defenders are scattered throughout, but definitely bunched up towards the first round...or the second to fourth round. Part of this is that for as good as these RHD’s are, the LHDs are way easier to come by and usually fill out more spots for competition. Another is that, for as good as they could be, the RHDs that are projected for the first round cast a very long shadow: Jamie Drysdale is the completed modern day 2-way defender, Braden Schneider was a 42-point getting big man defender in the WHL, Helge Grans is 6’3, skates like a forward and passes like a video game, and Justin Barron had a freaking blood clot to start the year that affected his ability to contribute in the QMJHL and still might be a first round pick despite that.
So who do you get if you’re not in the running for any of these guys? A lot of project talent, to be sure...but plenty of promise in it. Such a player like say...Eamon Powell?
Eamon Powell is one of many players going from the US Developmental Squad to college, and he had himself a very interesting year; while he wasn’t a point-getter, he was one of the most dependable guys the USNDTP could count on in defense through one simple thing: skating.
Powell is very good at skating. His mobility, his top speed, his strides, his acceleration, his lateral movement, it’s all there, it’s all high end, it’s very close to being elite level, and it makes his defense infinitely better for having it. Powell’s skating allows him to be strong on the puck and cut away from forecheckers and backcheckers alike without any trouble, and can break up even the fastest breakaways by getting right up on the player and using his stick to completely dislodge the puck. And if he ever makes a mistake, he’s usually already aware of how the play is going to go, so he can use that skating speed to make up for it in short order. That IQ is what makes him a nightmare to play against, in that even the speediest players can’t quite shake him, and are either forced to make a bad shot, or to make a pass that he can break up, and he tends to make a point of breaking them up. And if a teammate’s having trouble getting the puck off the wall in a scrum? He’ll swing right on in there with a surgical stick use to get that puck moving again.
Naturally this also compliments his offense, though he wasn’t called on to score quite as much. He’s able to naturally cut through defenses like a forward and it allows him to find a good shooting position that he can score from. In the US-Junior scene, he was a hard man to stop for this very reason, and that ability came in handy to help get forwards the puck, backcheckers to come to him, and get some very interesting passes through.
Eamon Powell is going to get drafted later than he should be.— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) March 26, 2020
Powell (#2) is a defender who skates at a high-level and can give you a bit of everything.
Excellent decision-making and the vision he shows on this play to nearly set up Bordeleau is incredible.#2020NHLDraft #NTDP pic.twitter.com/qeouCIL8UX
The pairing of Eamon Powell and Tyler Kleven are becoming a very formidable duo for the U17's.— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) November 20, 2018
A thunder and lightning type combo, here they show exactly that. Kleven takes the body to cut off the rushing forward and Powell uses his speed to break up the centering feed. #NTDP pic.twitter.com/jor45Bjw3w
So if a player like this shows that much promise in one of the most critical aspects of the game, what’s allowing him to possibly be picked so late?
Well, for one thing, he’s a very slight young man, less than 170 lbs. He’s going to BC, so his schedule should probably involve packing on as much weight as humanly possible if he’s going to survive any regular season game against Providence or UMass Lowell or Northeastern. Further, Powell’s offense is...spotty, to put it nicely. His shot is strong, but it’s not quite as strong as it could be, since he usually tries to bring it to a more dangerous area of the ice and let it loose from there, and as a result his shot doesn’t quite have the power on it that he could use to become a truly dangerous threat from the blueline. Finally, because of his slim frame, he’s not much a physical presence at all on the backcheck, and was usually paired with the much bigger and far more physically inclined Tyler Kleven, who will likely be picked before him because of that.
Powell is set pretty solidly for the third round and has been all year. As for where, it’s up in the air. Scouts and commentators love the way he plays his game, and a player with his level of skating should not be wasted. But he’s small, slight, and has clear development goals that can be easily set back, and as a result he may fall further than even reasonable scouting departments would expect.
Personally, if he ends up being the last pick of the third round? I would be very interested in seeing how he develops. After all, he is going to BC, so keeping tabs on him will be infinitely easier than other talents in this draft.
43rd by McKeen’s Hockey
51st by NHL Central Scouting among North American Skaters
62nd by FutureConsiderations
87th by EliteProspects.com
|2018-19||US National U17 Team||USDP||56||7||14||21||12|
|2019-20||US National U18 Team||USDP||43||6||8||14||10|
Keep tabs on SCoC for “Phase 1” of the NHL Draft. Next week, we go through more defensemen, and more goalies!