Boris Katchouk was an unknown coming into the season, but he certainly isn't now.
After spending last season in the least competitive of Ontario's three Jr. A leagues, he burst onto the OHL scene this season. He opened the year with a four-goals-in-three-games stretch, but it wouldn't be until around the 40-game mark that his hype started to build.
A classic case of a player building his draft stock throughout the season -- a "riser" -- he moved from the Soo Greyhounds third line to the first. He outplayed Zach Senyshyn, who scored 45 goals, and Blake Speers in the final third of the season regularly, and was far and away the best Greyhound in the post-season.
Birthplace: Vancouver, BC
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 190 lbs.
Katchouk was among the best even-strength point producers in this year's draft class from the OHL. His 41 points scored at five-on-five were just five short of Alex Nylander's 46, and comparable to Michael McLeod, Will Bitten, and Max Jones. Nineteen of Katchouk's 27 assists were primary.
He plays every shift with an intensity level rarely matched. His feet are constantly moving, allowing him to hound the puck carrier on the forecheck. Although not a punishing hitter, he excels at using his body to win possession. He's strong on the puck and wins an inordinate amount of battles. He's also one of the OHL's best backcheckers, thanks to his ability to get in lanes and disrupt the puck carrier.
Intensity will only get you so far. Thankfully, he has a lot of smarts and skill to complement his work rate.
Although he lacks separation speed, his sluggish stride eventually gets him to a high top speed. He loves to cut out wide, then pick up pace as he barrels toward the net and brings the defenders with him. He's a quality finisher with a laser beam for a wrister (that he should use more) and quick hands in tight.
Katchouk's scoring ability is complemented with equally good playmaking. He's not flashy, preferring quick, short passes through traffic, and his backhand and saucer passes need improvement, but his vision is pretty good. He does have a tendency to aimlessly drive the net instead of finding an open teammate.
Every now and then he flashes high-end skill, whether that be dangling through the entire team or blowing past a defender and one-handing the puck past the goaltender. The team that drafts him will definitely be gambling on these flashes becoming the norm.
The Draft Analyst
Greyhounds’ two-way star who along with Zach Senyshyn represent the bright spots on an otherwise disappoint season. Katchouk is a hard-charging wing who skates well and makes immediate plays off the forecheck. His real strength, however, is the ability to corral a loose puck regardless of where he’s located when he discovers it. In other words, he’s mastered the art of winning his 50/50 battles.
Katchouk is a high-energy, offensively gifted winger who will do anything to help his team win. From blocking shots, taking a hit to make a play, cruising down the wing and firing the puck on net, or setting up teammates with creative passes, he can and will do it all. He is tenacious in puck pursuit and aggressive on the forecheck, using his high-end speed and willingness to engage physically to create turnovers and generate offensive chances for his team. He displays sound decision-making, rarely forcing plays or turning pucks over.
Mark Edwards, Hockey Prospect Black Book
He didn’t play many games in the OHL last season and I didn’t see him much in AAA, but right from when I saw him in the Soo’s third game this season versus Guelph, he put himself on my radar. I ended up seeing him a lot and by the time December rolled around, I was sold on him as a high pick. Numerous late viewings did nothing but help his stock. He was outstanding in the Sarnia series. He can play on my team anytime.
Katchouk is not the prettiest skater but he gets around the ice and has good quickness. Like this kid's upside; skill and compete level are impressive. Wins majority of battles and not afraid to fight though checks. Elevated his game and was one of Greyhounds best playoff performers. Always seems to have a jump in his stride, gets in hard on the forecheck and causes turnovers. Offensively will drive the net with good hands in tight and shows good vision with good passes. Defensively showed good ability as penalty killer and commitment to blocking shots.
Hockey Prospect: 22nd
Future Considerations: 31st
Central Scouting, NA Skaters: 25th
DraftBuzz Hockey: 40th
Next season, Katchouk should feature even more prominently in the Greyhounds' lineup with the graduation of Gabe Guertler. Katchouk, along with Speers and Senyshyn, could make up one of the OHL's most deadly scoring trios.
As it stands, he is a skilled, intense player, but needs refinement in the decision-making department. He doesn't project to be a high scorer at the NHL level, but he could be a valuable player.
His well-rounded toolkit, featuring above-average shooting, playmaking, skill, and work rate, allows him to play a variety of roles throughout the lineup. Although he lacks a true standout skill, his ability to win battles and begin the transition are two quality abilities.
Katchouk could be a realistic option for the Canadiens if he slips out of the first round, offering tremendous value as a day-two pick.