The Montreal Canadiens traded for yet another seventh-round pick this year to select Brett Stapley of the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers.
The BCHL is a Junior A league where prospects often play if they want to commit to NCAA hockey latter on. This is the case with Stapley, who will join the University of Denver next season.
Stapley scored 59 points in 52 games this season, finishing first on his team in points per game and second in total scoring.
He is a small player, but was still used effectively down the middle by the Vipers due to his two-way play. His defensive game, while not perfect, also led him to be used on the penalty kill for the Vipers this season.
But it is on the offensive side that Stapley shines. His shot could be more powerful, but he is a good puck-handler and distributor. For those reasons, he is at home on the half-wall on the power play, a role he could reprise with Denver next season.
He can use some misdirection against opposing defenders to feed passes across the ice, like faking a shot or looking off-target, and is able to saucer the puck above sticks. He also likes to use his teammates for give-and-go plays, creating space for himself to attack the net for tip-ns or bang in rebounds.
Despite Stapley’s potential as an offensive player, there are a few knocks against him. In his skating, he has a wide base and a short stride, which means that he can’t pack a ton of speed, and is often beaten to loose pucks. This aspect of his game will need some work if he wants to be dominant in the NCAA.
Stapley,’s small stature can lead to him getting pushed around along the boards, and he has some difficulty protecting the puck against bigger players.
Future Considerations: #159
NHL Central Scouting: #177 (North American skaters)
EOTP Consensus Ranking: NR
There was not much progression in Stapley’s contributions from last year (his first one as a draft eligible player) and this year. He can drive play for a team due to his smart puck-handling and passing ability. If he improves his skating, he could also become a lot more dynamic and explode in his offensive game.
Stapley is precisely the kind of pick a team takes a chance on in the final picks of the draft, and it may takes several years of development to see how that low-risk gamble pays off.