Billy Constantinou, a right-handed defenceman, is a truly unique prospect in the 2019 class. He immediately grabs your attention on first look because everything about his game is bipolar. At times he is an excitingly skilled offensive generator, and at others he makes you question his future as a professional.
Birthplace: Scarborough, Ontario, Canada
Weight: 185 lbs.
Team: Kingston Frontenacs
Let’s start with his skating. Constantinou is mobile in a non-traditional way. He doesn’t have technically sound form; he barely bends his knees and skates in an upright manner. When he moves around in a straight line, he somewhat looks like he is skiing on the ice. This shouldn’t translate into much speed — but it does. The defenceman doesn’t use his forward stride much when he flies up the ice with the puck, and that’s what he loves doing above all else.
He routinely finds the holes in the opposing defence and exploits them with a constant use of crossovers. He can waltz through, fake wide, go inside the defensive formation, and attack the net to create scoring chances while drives his body into multiple changes of direction by crossing his feet. This way, he accelerates and draws half-circles around opponents.
His great crossover techniques transform what should really be a weakness for Constantinou into a strength. The prospect’s best plays this season often originated from his speed.
Watch the defenceman’s quick feet in action in the multiple clips below. You can see the separation he creates from opponents with his changes of speed.
Billy Constantinou wears #68 with the Niagara Icedogs, the Kingston Frontenacs and at the CHL Top Prospects Game.
Another dichotomy in the defenceman’s game is his play away from the puck versus with possession. Constantinou often has trouble finding his marks when defending. He lacks a bit of awareness and is either not assertive enough or too aggressive.
In a single sequence, he can jump out of position to try for a hit on an attacker that is already covered, forfeiting his defensive positioning, then a few seconds later be in the right spot but fail to neutralize his coverage.
As soon as he gets the puck on his stick, however, Constantinou awakens. He gains another gear. He looks to escape with possession at all costs, twisting and turning to protect the puck and look for an outlet to, once again, rush it up the ice or pass to a teammate to do the same.
He wants to generate offence. This is where he is the most effective, and the most comfortable.
This is also reflected in Constantinou’s game in the offensive zone. There, he uses his quick crossovers to attack deeper in the zone, combining his fast-paced skating with intense puck-shuffling. He is a talented handler, capable of going around or through sticks and skates to get a better look at the net and fire through the defensive coverage, or slide pucks in the slot as he passes wide of the defensive box.
The last contrasting element for Constantinou was his draft year. It has been a tale of two seasons for the defenceman. After starting the year with the strong formation of the Niagara IceDogs, scoring 15 points in 22 games and impressing many with his abilities, Constantinou was traded to the Kingston Frontenacs.
The Frontenacs had a terrible year. They finished last in not just their conference, but in the entire Ontario Hockey League. They were disorganized defensively and had trouble generating much on the other side of the ice as a result. They scored 144 goals and allowed a league-worst 307, for a minus-163 goal differential over the full season. It wasn’t an ideal environnement for Constantinou to shine, especially considering his own defensive flaws.
His play got slightly better as he adjusted to the team, but he still managed only 18 points in the 44 games he spent with the Frontenacs. His points-per-game pace dropped from 0.68 at the start of the season to 0.41 by its end. It’s a testament to the importance of team environment and strength on production and on-ice play.
The good news is that hope is on the horizon for his new team, and in turn for Constantinou. Kingston was awarded the first overall pick in the last draft and selected Shane Wright, who had been granted exceptional status. The Frontenacs’ rebuild is well underway, and Constantinou should be an important piece of it.
When it comes to the NHL draft, the defenceman is more of a project, which is why he will likely still be on the board as the third round begins. Yet his package of skill will make it surprising if he descends much lower. One team will believe in his ability to become a solid defender who can contribute to the attack, and especially the power play, at the professional level.
Rankings (not all rankings are final)
Elite Prospects: #61
Future Considerations: #48
NHL Central Scouting: #58 (NA skaters)
Experience alone will teach Constantinou a lot about how to approach the game, but he can already be electrifying. When the defenceman jumps on the ice, it’s guaranteed fun for everyone. Spectators lean in to better catch his attempts, and teammates profit from the high-event hockey the defenceman likes to play. If he can limit how much opponents also benefit from it, learning to harness his wild nature and unleash it at the right time, Constantinou could become a talented offensive defenceman at the next level.