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2020 NHL Draft prospect profile: Sam Colangelo has NHL size and skill but questions remain

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The Northeastern commit has first-round potential.

Sam Colangelo may very well go in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft. His size and skill combination makes him a player that will capture the attention of scouts. However, most of his rankings have him going on the draft’s second day.

Birthplace: Stoneham, MA, USA
Date of birth: December 26, 2001
Shoots: Right
Position: Right Wing
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 207 lbs.
Team: Chicago Steel (USHL)

Colangelo is coming off of his first full season with the Chicago Steel of the USHL after playing high school and prep school hockey in his home state of Massachusetts. He had a strong season with the Steel, scoring 28 goals and adding 30 assists in 44 games. It was a team with some notable draft eligible prospects, including Brendan Brisson, who is expected to be a first-round pick.

Elite Prospects

Colangelo has committed to Northeastern University, which is where he will play should the NCAA go forward with their season. At the school, he would be teammates with current Canadiens prospects Jordan Harris and Jayden Struble.

Strengths

Let’s be clear about one thing. Sam Colangelo is an offensive threat. He didn’t always play with Brisson, who was on the team’s top line, which did limit some of the attention teams paid to him, but the offensive skill is there.

He’s also a versatile player, both positionally and style. He has stick skills, and he has size. He can play wing, and he can play centre. He can beat you with skill and with a power game. His stick skills are a significant benefit to someone with his size. He can make moves to beat defenders, and has the size to keep it away from them.

The strongest aspect of his offensive game may be his vision. It doesn’t take him long to figure out where teammates are, and the processing speed will allow him to make those kind of plays at the professional level.

His offensive vision also helps him find open spots in the zone and make himself an available option for teammates.

That ability to get open means he gets to unleash his wrist shot often. Scouts rave about the power of his shot, and it is a definite strength of his game.

His defensive game is also solid. He was often trusted as one of the top defensive players on the Steel last season, and that is always a solid base from which to build a top prospect profile. Most top prospects are scorers at lower levels, but the ability to play a full two-way game lowers the risk with prospects drastically.

Colangelo also reads the play well and reacts to when his defencemen pinch, backing them up at the blue line.

Weaknesses

By now, you’re probably reading the strengths section and wondering why he isn’t considered a prospect in the first half of the first round. Like many prospects, it comes down to a few predictable things.

His skating is a question mark. Scouts note the improvement in this area of his game, and his straight line speed is not necessarily an issue, but the issue is the effectiveness of his movements. It takes him too long to move into the positions his vision allows him to see, and technically there needs to be an improvement in this area of his game.

The skating may not be as big of an issue if it wasn’t for the second problem in his game: the consistency of his effort. As the strengths category notes, scouts know what he is capable of. The problem is that despite his production numbers, his effort is not there often enough.

Despite his size, the physical play isn’t consistent and with his physical tools, even scouts who like him thought he could be doing even more.

While his strong shot and vision are strengths, scouts question his release and note that he has a tendency to chase the puck at times.

Rankings

Elite Prospects: #79
Future Considerations: #52
Hockey Prospect: #43
McKeen’s Hockey: #47
McKenzie/TSN: #41
NHL Central Scouting: #31 (North American skaters)

Most scouts would agree that Colangelo’s offensive skillset is good enough for him to be a top-six player in the NHL. The positive aspects of his game is what makes him a prospect that will most likely be off the board by the end of Round Two.

The difference between him being a good prospect and a great one comes down to two things — his work ethic, and his skating. Both were question marks heading into the 2019-20 season and both have improved this past season. The rankings, and those making them, note that they don’t reflect his upside but his upside mixed with the risk of counting on those two things improving even more.

Even Colangelo playing at his best a portion of the time brings enough upside for him to be considered relatively early in the draft. No prospects are perfect and high picks are counted on because the good outweighs the bad.

Colangelo’s floor is high. His skill and size will likely play at the professional level even if his skating doesn’t get much better. The upside is considerably higher and could make one team look very smart — and others quite foolish — when looking back at his draft position.