There is more to undersized forward Jagger Firkus than just a kickass name. During this, his breakout season with Saskatchewan’s Moose Jaw Warriors, he has demonstrated an elaborated ability to create offence, in more ways than one.
Birthplace: Irma, Alberta
Date of birth: April 29, 2004
Weight: 154 lbs.
Team: Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
As is always the case with smaller players, you need to compensate for your lack of size in other ways. For a Cole Caufield that means an innate understanding for how to avoid bigger opponents long enough to find the open space to unleash a world-class shot. For another exciting Montreal prospect, Harvard’s Sean Farrell, it is understanding how to deceive the opposition by being steps ahead in terms of seeing the ice from a playmaking standpoint. Slightly built winger Firkus falls somewhere in between these two Habs prospects in terms of his offensive toolkit.
He is smart and shifty, with a terrific shot that he somehow manages to hide and just release on pure will. This season he found the net 42 times, eclipsing his linemate, the 2023 draft-eligible Brayden Yager, by a handful to take home the crown as Moose Jaw’s top goal-scorer of the season.
Not the typical scorer, nor the prototypical playmaker, he offers a heavy dose of both elements. Firkus often seems to be looking for the most creative way to go straight to the net, whether that be through a shot or a pass into the slot. Everything in his game revolves around getting the puck into or near the net, one way or another. To Firkus, it doesn’t seem to matter if he ends up being the architect or the finisher in the end, as long as the job gets done.
With 50 helpers, Firkus ended up tying New York Rangers draftee Ryder Korzcak for the overall points lead on the team as well. Moose Jaw’s season ended in heartbreak just a few days ago, when Matthew Savoie and his Winnipeg ICE proved to be too big a bite in the WHL East semi-finals.
Coming into the season as a relative unknown, Firkus has seen his draft stock rise copiously over the last few months. He came into his draft season having played just 35 WHL games, contributing 16 points in the process. That wasn’t too shabby for a fourth-round selection in the WHL Bantam Draft, but there was nothing screaming (possible) future first-rounder in what he had shown up until then.
Fast forward a few months and he was not only making his mark on the Western Hockey League, but was also named Player of the Game for Team White at the conclusion of the 2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
Elite Prospects: #41
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #23
NHL Central Scouting: #12 (North American Skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #26
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #53
Most of these rankings are months old at this point and we are eagerly awaiting the updated ones. Expect Firkus to have risen up several draft boards to now challenge for a first-round position. As an example, during the midterm ranking NHL Central Scouting had him as number 33 among North American skaters. Together with Sudbury’s David Goyette, he was the biggest riser up their boards when the final rankings recently were released.
Jagger Firkus is by no means a perfect prospect at this point. His lean build and hesitance to play a physical game can to some extent be covered up by his awareness and stick control, but that’s at the CHL level. His skating is good enough to get by at a higher level, but not something which is categorized as one of his main strengths going into the draft. He is also still a one-year-wonder. Will he be able to replicate and even increase his standards for next season, when he will be one of the seasoned vets tasked with leading Moose Jaw from the get-go?
I imagine his offensive tools can be intriguing for a team looking for right-handed power-play solutions for the future, especially if there is a team out there that is going through a rebuild and happens to have several selections within the first 33 picks in the draft... If Firkus could blossom into WHL stardom over one summer, what could he become in two or three years’ time with proper guidance and nurturing?
If this season has taught us anything, it is that Circus Firkus is going on tour for a longer stint than just the 2021/22-season. It certainly would be fun to have a front-row seat during his developmental years and see what could come of it when he’s all polished up.