clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2022 NHL Draft prospect profile: Conor Geekie has a rare combination of size and skill

In the right hands, the Winnipeg Ice centre could become a force down the middle in the NHL.

2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

The 2022 NHL Draft is rapidly approaching, and many teams are looking to solidify their roster down the middle — the Montreal Canadiens being no exception. Centres with size and skill are a commodity come draft day, and rarely wait long to hear their names called. This is especially true for those with decent faceoff abilities as well as the capacity to both distribute and shoot the puck.

Enter Conor Geekie.

Birthplace: Strathclair, Manitoba
Date of birth: May 5, 2004
Shoots: Left
Position: Centre
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 205 lbs.
Team: Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

The centre’s frame is an immediate eye-catcher, as very few forwards in the top-end of this draft stand above 6’0” to start with. From Logan Cooley, to Matthew Savoie, to Frank Nazar, most of this year’s higher-ranked forwards, especially down the middle, are considered undersized.

However, don’t let his frame catch you off-guard; Geekie has skill, and lots of it. His playmaking is among the best in his class, as he can delay and find seams very effectively in the offensive zone. His quick hands allow him to manoeuvre through opponents in tight, and he possesses an above-average shot which can catch goaltenders flat-footed from medium range.

He earned 70 points, 24 goals and 46 assists, in 63 regular-season games for the Winnipeg Ice, finishing fourth on the team in scoring while earning 52 of his points at even strength. Among draft-eligible WHL forwards, only his teammate, Matthew Savoie, has more, with 56.

Between the two, though, Savoie is by far the superior skater. Geekie’s posture, his stride extensions, and the way his legs recover under his body between strides are his most glaring weaknesses. Although his positional habits help him stay in the play, his technique needs a lot of work if he wishes to establish himself as an NHL forward. The prospect has trouble contributing to zone transitions as a result of his skating deficiencies, as carrying the puck from blue line to blue line requires speed and agility, which his teammates often have a lot more of that than he does.

Conor Geekie and Matthew Savoie’s side-by-side advanced metrics (Courtesy of Mitch Brown’s data-tracking project)

Geekie usually gets involved in the offensive half of the ice on transitions, opting to make himself an option upon entering the zone and using his hands to execute through layers and generate offence. What that shows is that he is well aware of his limitations, and is working around them to continue being an attacking threat.

This especially shows in his delay game. He rarely tries to barrel around opponents and beat them wide to crash the net. Instead, he’s fine-tuned his ability to slow down the pace of play to his liking, either using misdirection to send opponents one way before pulling the puck the other, or cutting back to shield the puck and find a trailing teammate.

Although he doesn’t often get involved in retrieving pucks in the offensive zone due to his sub-par skating mechanics, he has the defensive tools to break down opposing plays in his own zone, and the awareness to find the next play quickly. He rarely hesitates on a turnover, and shows great vision by playing pucks into space for his teammates to start the breakout effectively. Even though he very seldom carries the puck out himself, a lot of the controlled exits his team generates with him on the ice are a direct result of his involvement off the puck and his vision.

His skating is at the root of many of his shortcomings as a player. Depending on the team that drafts him, that’s either very bad news, or very good news. Most teams that struggle with developing prospects have a very hard time identifying and improving skating mechanics, and the Habs were no exception to that in recent years.

However, they’ve added Adam Nicholas to their training staff recently, a skating whiz who specializes in polishing a prospect’s stride and maximizing their potential as a result. His work with the Chicago Steel turned the USHL program from a middling team into a regular powerhouse in the U.S. Junior circuit, capable of drastically improving its prospects’ NHL hopes.

WHL scoring leaderboard — draft-eligible prospects only (courtesy of EliteProspects)

The centre’s smarts and skill level alone make him a decent prospect already, and if his skating improves to the extent of being able to outrace defencemen to the puck on the forecheck, apply constant rotating pressure on the cycle, and attack the middle with not only his hands but also his feet, Geekie’s potential instantly skyrockets.

Another weakness that could potentially hold him back from an NHL future is, surprisingly enough, his physical play. Despite his massive frame, Geekie doesn’t really use his body in board battles, and doesn’t initiate contact frequently enough to consider that aspect of his game a strength. There is a lot of work to do in terms of his technique in contested puck battles, and that wrinkle might be the toughest one to iron out as the prospect doesn’t really show an aggressive mindset to start with.

Rankings

Elite Prospects: #15
FCHockey: #14
McKeen’s: #8
Craig Button (TSN): #26
Bob McKenzie (TSN): #10
NHL Central Scouting: #4 (North American skaters)
Corey Pronman (The Athletic) #7
Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): #13
Sportsnet: #10
DobberProspects: #21

As he stands right now, he has the potential to be a decent middle-six centre at the NHL level, but with enough work on his skating and physical game, there’s a chance he makes his way to a top line as a playmaking pivot. He has the creativity and the inventiveness on the puck, as well as the off-puck habits to have an elite two-way impact if the weaknesses in his game are polished.

If he somehow remains available in the mid- to late-20s, Geekie would be an excellent option for the Habs to trade up and select. His ceiling depends on how much work will be put into improving his game, and there are more sure bets available, but centres with his size and skill aren’t often available by trade or free agency, and the value he offers if he hits could be immense.