Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Jack Finley.
The sixth overall pick in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft, Spokane Chiefs centre Jack Finley literally towers over his competition in the WHL. With a September 2002 birthdate, he is one of the younger players in this draft class. Still just 17, he already comes in at 6-foot-6, and may still be growing. Finley struggled to find ice time as WHL rookie, and his numbers show that. He put up nine goals and 19 points in 63 games. Finley started to turn the corner in last year’s playoffs as he put up one goal and seven assists for eight points in 15 games. He also played for Team Canada Black at the 2018 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, picking up two assists in five games.
Finley really broke out this past season with a top-six role. He scored 19 goals and 38 assists and 57 points in 61 games before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19. Finley comes from excellent hockey bloodlines. His father, Jeff Finley was a third-round pick by the New York Islanders in 1985. He played 708 NHL games for five NHL teams. His younger brother, Mason Finley was drafted by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2019 WHL Draft.
Jack Finley Scouting Report
Center — shoots Right
Born September 2nd, 2002 — Kelowna, British Columbia
Height 6’6″ — Weight 213 lbs [198 cm / 97 kg]
Finley is a good skater for a big man. He could use a little work on his first few steps but his overall acceleration is decent. His speed is also slightly above average. Finley does not have any issues in keeping up with the play. His edgework and agility are very good given his size. He is able to make quick turns and changes in direction. He also moves well laterally.
Finley could stand to add muscle to what is a lanky frame right now. He maintains balance and wins his board battles through brute size and strength in the junior ranks. However, when he starts to face professional competition, he will need more core strength to fight through checks and to win loose pucks and to establish his position in front of the net. This isn’t unusual though for a teenager his height and that weight should come with time.
Finley is a strong playmaker. He creates offence and maintains puck possession by using his frame to win battles, get to the net, and punish opposing defenders on the forecheck. With the puck, he shows good vision and the hockey IQ to anticipate where his teammates are going and to make smart plays. He has good stickhandling and can protect the puck down low, extending plays on the cycle. This buys his teammates time to get open. When they do, he can make a smart pass through a tight passing lane to set up a scoring chance. Finley also works well to get open. Once he moves the puck to a teammate, he keeps his feet moving and is ready to take the pass back on the give-and-go.
Finley has a powerful wrist shot but could use some work on his release. It takes him time to load up which allows goaltenders to read the shot and to get themselves square to the puck. As a result, he doesn’t shoot much, preferring to try and set up teammates. Most of Finley’s goals come in tight to the net. His size allows him to provide an effective screen for goaltenders. Once he establishes his position in front of the net, he can score with a tip-in, or by scoring on a rebound or one-timing a pass into the net.
Finley is a strong two-way player. He is also willing to backcheck and support the defence in playing against the cycle. Finley often plays as the third man high in the offensive zone. He is responsible not to get caught up the ice and helps to protect against the rush. Finley uses his big frame and long stick to cut down passing lanes. He is effective on the penalty kill. When a turnover is created, he is able to transition it quickly to create an offensive chance. Finley could work on his faceoffs though.
Projection and Comparison
Finley’s size, skating ability, and willingness to play defensively make him an intriguing prospect. He is a bit raw and his ultimate offensive upside is a question mark, however he is a somewhat safe pick as even if that offence does not fully develop, he could play on a team’s third or fourth line. If he can develop the offence, he would become the type of big two-way centre that every team covets in their top six. Finley’s game is reminiscent of Ryan Getzlaf but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Jack Finley that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Jack Finley Main Photo:
KELOWNA, BC – JANUARY 31: Jack Finley #26 of the Spokane Chiefs skates against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on January 31, 2020 in Kelowna, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)