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 Ethan Edwards.
Defenceman Ethan Edwards was drafted by the Portland Winterhawks in the eighth round (165th overall) of the 2018 WHL Draft and by the Sioux Falls Stampede in the eighth round (125th overall) of the 2018 USHL Futures Draft. Despite that, the Grand Prarie, Alberta native choose to stay close to home, playing for the Spruce Grove Saints in the AJHL. Edwards put up nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points in 50 games this year. He also added two points in six playoff games. He was named to the AJHL (North) All-Rookie Team. Last season, Edwards played in 10 regular-season games, recording one assist. He also played five playoff games putting up one assist. Edwards represented Team Canada West at the 2019 World Junior A Hockey Challenge, recording one assist in four tournament games.
Prior to going to the AJHL, Edwards played prep-school hockey for Northern Alberta X-Treme Prep. In 2018-19 he put up two goals and 23 assists for 25 points in 33 regular-season games. He also added one goal and one assist for two points in five playoff games. Edwards helped his team to the CSSHL Championship. He is committed to playing for the Michigan Wolverines next year.
Ethan Edwards Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born June 6th, 2002 — Grand Prarie, Alberta
Height 5’10” — Weight 166 lbs [178 cm/75 kg]
Undersized at just 5-foot-10, Edwards makes up for it with excellent mobility. His speed is very good in both directions. He reaches that top speed quickly with excellent acceleration and a good first step. Edwards can cover a ton of ice thanks to his edgework and agility. His lateral movement is strong and helps him in both ends of the ice. Edwards can accelerate out of his turns and his ability to change directions on a dime allows him to move through 360 degrees. His pivots are smooth and quick and allow him to transition from offence to defence and vice-versa. Edwards can stand to get stronger though. This will improve his balance and make him stronger on the boards and in front of the net.
Edwards is a good stickhandler. He can retrieve pucks in his own end of the ice, avoid forecheckers and move the puck out of his end. He can also carry the puck through the neutral zone and lead the rush. Edwards also makes a good first pass to start the transition game. He is smart in picking his spots to join the rush or to pinch in at the blue line. Edwards is poised with the puck at the blue line. His strong skating and lateral movement help him to open up passing lanes and he has the vision to set up teammates with offensive chances.
Edwards also uses his lateral mobility to open up shooting lanes. However, he needs some work on his shot. His slap shot lacks power and accuracy. He needs to get stronger to shoot harder at the next level. He also needs to do a better job of keeping his shot low and on the net. Edwards is more effective when he sneaks down from the point and lets go of a wrist shot from the top of the circles. He can also score goals when he leads the rush and takes it to the net.
Edwards is solid positionally. He uses his good lateral movement and backwards skating to force his man to the outside and into bad shooting areas. Edwards is solid positionally and takes away passing and shooting lanes. His active stick can cause turnovers by stealing the puck from an opponent or intercepting a pass. Once a turnover is created or if he gets back to pick up a loose puck, he can transition up the ice quickly to limit zone time. His lack of size can be a liability though, as he can be beaten along the boards or in front of the net by bigger and stronger opponents.
Projection and Comparison
Edwards has the tools to play a solid two-way game. He will need to get stronger though. By going the NCAA route, Edwards has given himself plenty of opportunities to improve this area of his game. With the less intense schedule of the NCAA, he will have plenty of time to get in the weight room during the week, while preparing for the weekends’ games. He is a bit of a project though as the level of opponents he has faced in the AJHL is not that high and he will need to adjust to playing at higher levels of hockey. Edwards game is reminiscent of Neal Pionk but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and potential.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Ethan Edwards that are available on youtube and twitter.
— Spruce Grove Saints (@sgsaints) November 9, 2019
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Ethan Edwards Main Photo:
AJHL: Ethan Edwards, D, Spruce Grove (2020) #NHLDraft profile @the_vincanity – “a promising player from bumper crop in the AJHL this year .. likely is the third one off the board .. but doesn’t lag behind Savoie + Benning as much as point totals suggest” https://t.co/MMKgCPZElr pic.twitter.com/0FtzmzRdcv
— McKeen’s Hockey (@mckeenshockey) May 6, 2020