Welcome to a new series here at Frozen Futures where over the next month we take an in-depth look at the prospects ranked inside the top 30 who are expected to go in the first round of the upcoming 2014 NHL draft. Now there is a lot of debate over who will go in the first round, especially late, some of the top 30 prospects we cover might not be consensus top 3o picks. Don’t get too upset with us if a guy you like for your team in the first round isn’t covered in our top 30 prospect profile!
Anyways, back on topic. Today we’re going to be taking a look at 18 year-old Connor Bleackley, who some have going as the last pick in the first round.
For a young 17 year old player to be named the captain of his WHL team, the Red Deer Rebels, you know he has to have game. The now 18 year old Conner Bleackley just completed his third season with the Rebels and saw a drastic improvement in his points. In 71 games in the WHL he recorded 68 points this season, an impressive feat compared to his 18 points last season.
Despite the fact Conner Bleackley is all over the draft board from top 15 to the second round, he’s already being touted as a can’t miss NHL player. At 18, he already plays a full 200 foot game and his 6 foot 1 frame doesn’t hurt. He’s got the size, the maturity and even the leadership to jump into the NHL once he fully matures.
What Will A Team Get If They Draft Him?
Any team that takes a chance at Conner Bleackley is going to get a solid two-way centre with leadership, character, scoring ability, good size and an amazing will to win.
“Conner is a determined, competitive player who doesn’t take any shortcuts. He’s smart, gets to the right areas and is a catalyst for positive plays all over the ice. He doesn’t allow himself to be denied!” ~ Craig Button of TSN
When you draft Conner Bleackley you will be getting the complete package, a guy you could arguably build a team around.
His Underrated skill
What has scouts raving about Bleackley is his tremendous character and 200 foot game. However, what often gets over looked is his quick hands and solid shot. He has a very quick release which easily fools defenceman and goalies and knows exactly where he’s going to put his wrist shot. His quick hands also help him in the corners and when close to opposing defenceman.
What Needs To Be Worked On?
For Bleackley, aside from some more maturity which comes from time, he needs to bulk up and play a little more physical. He’s 6 foot 1 and 185 pounds, which is right on the borderline for NHL size. If he can add a little more weight and start utilizing his large frame, he’ll have no problem in the NHL.
If you want a mature leader with solid character both on and off the ice, then Connor Bleackley is the man for your team to draft. Up until the draft there is no telling where he will go. We had him slotted in as the 30th pick, however it wouldn’t be surprising to see him move up.