The center played second fiddle but he is more than that.
There’s always one. There’s always a prospect ready to take on the NHL Draft and is slotted to go in the top-half of the first round, but there is just a couple little things that makes scouts around the league and in those online circles that makes them tilt their head and go “ou, ah, hmmmm.”
If that wasn’t clear enough, Winnipeg Ice center Conor Geekie has all the talent in the world. He can move the puck around, has solid playmaking ability to compliment an above-average shot and capability to read plays in the offensive zone, but there are just some slight detriments to his game that makes it a little less impressive that he is an offensively gifted 6-foot-4 center. We’ll get to all of that.
BSH 2022 Community Draft Board, No. 8: Conor Geekie
Team: Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
Statistics: 24 G, 46 A in 63 GP
No. 5 (NA skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 10 by McKenzie/TSN (midseason)
No. 29 by Dobber Prospects (April)
No. 13 by Wheeler/The Athletic (midseason)
What’s there to like?
Geekie is massive but at times, does not look like it on the ice — in a positive way. When a center is that large and lanky, you think of them just waltzing up the ice and somehow stumbling over themselves to get into somewhat of a decent position before just looking incredibly awkward.
For the Manitoba boy, he has the skill to overcome any deficiency that his size provides and get around single defensive coverage well enough to produce.
— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) October 14, 2021
There are enough highlights coming from Winnipeg that involve Geekie to fill out a very large binder, and clearly his production that reached beyond a point-per-game while not being the most sought-after draft-eligible forward on his team — that is Matthew Savoie — is not something to disregard.
Conor Geekie with 1+1 and First Star honours tonight as the Ice beat up on the Pats 6-1.
He has 8 goals and 16 points in the last 11 and is up to 70 points in 62 games on the season.
Best of all, his feet were moving a lot tonight. We like that. pic.twitter.com/6cUCkINXXg
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) April 16, 2022
There is an overflowing cup of talent there that the NHL team that drafts him, will have plenty of fun to work with.
What’s not to like?
It is much easier to focus on the negatives for Geekie because it is essentially all that people are talking about while arguing over where he should be drafted in the first round this year. His skating has made some significant strides — no pun intended — since the beginning of his season, but it is still an issue to get around the ice and put his talent in places quick enough to be effective.
Another thing is — as pointed out by Scott Wheeler in his write-up on Geekie — that this dude just absolutely loves to take defenders one-on-one with no hesitation and lives for being able to make them look ridiculous. Now, in the Western Hockey League, he might be able to do that against future real estate brokers or bank guys, but as soon as he reaches the professional leagues, it might be a little more difficult to pull off that one move that he has been leaning on.
There is certainly room to develop and get away from that typical trademark path to points, but it will take some work to get that head stuff right.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
The recent string of centers drafted by Philadelphia Flyers in the first round has been a let-down, so Geekie might be a little bit of a better option than someone like the injury-riddled duo that first comes to mind. They certainly have some strong talent on the wings coming through the pipeline — Tyson Foerster, Zayde Wisdom, Elliot Desnoyers, Samu Tuomaala — but something down the middle could solidify the forward prospects.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
Yes, but it all depends on if they really like him with that fifth-overall pick. There will be plenty of talent available for them, and I’m not one to necessarily judge who they will select, but for them to end up with Geekie as their first pick on July 7, I would have to imagine that they traded down from that pick lower in the first 10 selections and got another piece to go along with that.
We’ll make one addition to the poll:
Jonathan Lekkerimaki — RW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)— 7 G, 9 P in 26 GP
Lekkerimäki has flashed tantalizing goal-scoring acumen in Sweden’s top junior league this season, often on a line with Noah Östlund and Liam Öhgren, two other first-round candidates in the 2022 class. He has also had more success creating looks and offence in their respective SHL call-ups. Lekkerimäki’s late-July birthday and ability to put the puck in the net with consistency from midrange make him the more exciting of the trio to project forward. — Scott Wheeler, The Athletic