With just under a week left until the 2022 NHL Draft, there are still a couple more names worth mentioning for the Detroit Red Wings and their 8th overall pick. One of those names is Conor Geekie, an 18-year-old center from Canada. His name may ring a bell since his older brother, Morgan Geekie, is a forward for the Seattle Kraken, but he definitely isn’t living in his brother’s shadow.
In a highly talented draft class, Geekie is coming in as one of the top prospects from the Western Hockey League (WHL), and there is a chance he could be the newest member of the Red Wings’ prospect system. So, is he the kind of player that they are looking for?
Related: 2022 THW Draft Guide
Geekie just wrapped up the 2021-22 season with the Winnipeg ICE of the WHL, where he tallied 24 goals, and 46 assists, and maintained a plus-46 rating through 63 games. With over a point-per-game pace, he was an integral part of his team as they battled through the regular season with a 53-10-3 record. Through the regular season, he was 7th on his team in goals, 3rd in assists, and 4th in plus/minus, which is truly a testament to his talent. The ICE brought home the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as they were the WHL Regular Season Champions for the second time in franchise history. He had a solid playoff run alongside his teammates in which they made it to the semifinal round of the WHL Championship, only to fall to the Edmonton Oil Kings who ultimately brought home the title.
Geekie’s Attributes/Scouting Report
One of the strongest aspects of Geekie’s game is his hockey IQ, which in turn enables him to set himself and his team up for success. He can seemingly sense plays coming before they occur and dish out smart passes to his teammates or take a shot on net when the odds are in his favor. That being said, his hockey sense makes him a reasonably strong two-way center even though offense is his strong suit.
Standing at 6-foot-4, Geekie is a rather large body on the ice who uses his size to his advantage while protecting the puck and getting in the way of his opponents. The things he is able to accomplish at this height make him stand out in his draft class since it is not every day that you see a center of his size that can dangle around the opposing defense with such ease. His build is definitely a factor in his wicked wrist shot that he can get to the net from dangles or even by sneaking in close to the goaltender.
Geekie’s hands are easily the best part of his offensive toolkit with technique, precision, speed, agility, and range as a handler. It’s just not often that you see a 6-foot-4 skater pull off some of the handling moves that graced his draft year highlight-reel.
(from ‘Elite Prospects 2022 Draft Guide – Conor Geekie’)
Although he is a strong playmaker, puck handler, and all-around pivot, there is one major setback that could keep him from seeing success at the NHL level. Geekie’s skating is usually described as average for the WHL at best, and scouts have noted that this is the one big thing holding him back. He is a bit unsteady at times when pressure is on him because his skating is not up to par with his opponent, and this can cause him to lose possession of the puck at times. However, it is important to remember that time with a skating coach could easily improve this area of his game.
Yes, Geekie does have a notable two-way style of play, but the offensive side trumps the defensive one by a decent margin. Since he struggles with his stride, he is often the last man back in the defensive zone and then seems to not put nearly as much effort into breaking up plays at his own end of the ice. Both sides of his game need improvement, but that is to be expected of an 18-year-old. Yet, he still has strong qualities in both areas that make him a viable top-20 target for this draft.
Fitting in with the Red Wings
The Red Wings have a total of 11 centers in the prospect system with a majority of them also playing on the wing. In terms of skaters strictly playing center, there are four including Joe Veleno, who saw a good amount of NHL ice time during the 2021-22 season. Liam Dower Nilsson, Turner Elson, and Pontus Andreasson are the top centers that also play on the wing and all of them are part of the top-ten Red Wings prospects list based on their 2021-22 season statistics. Kyle Criscuolo, Alexander Kadeykin, and Redmond Savage are the top center prospects with Criscuolo playing with the Grand Rapids Griffins, Kadeykin in the Kontinental Hockey League, and Savage in the NCAA.
Taking a look at the Red Wings depth chart, there are 18 total centers, 12 of which have signed contracts while the other six remain unsigned. Dylan Larkin, Robby Fabbri, Pius Suter, Michael Rasmussen, Oskar Sundqvist, and Sam Gagner are the centers that saw the most action for the Red Wings this past season with Larkin having the longest career in Detroit thus far. Looking at the unsigned centers, you’ll see Dower Nilsson, Kadeykin and Theodor Niederbach are all playing at a professional level while Savage, Robert Mastrosimone, and Ethan Phillips are all still playing college hockey. Although there is numerical depth at this position, adding more skill into the mix definitely wouldn’t hurt.
Geekie would not be a terrible pick for Detroit, since he is a strong offensive center – which is on the wish list – but his downsides shouldn’t go unnoticed either. The Red Wings are likely looking to draft someone who is NHL-ready or nearly there, yet he is a little behind both of those marks and needs a good chunk of time to strengthen the holes in his game. With the proper coaching targeting his skating, there is a possibility that he could end up being pro-ready sooner than it seems, but it is truly hard to call at the moment. However, he is still a highly intelligent player who is able to generate plays, garner points, and make an impact at both ends of the ice.
“The one thing that is holding Geekie back is his clunky skating stride. He has poor extension and an inefficient stride recovery, and though he is able to power around defenders in junior, he will need to improve his explosiveness and agility to take full advantage of his offensive skillset as he progresses. All in all, there is a lot to like about Geekie’s game and his size/skill combination will draw plenty of interest early in the 2022 NHL Draft.” – Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects
“Geekie is not the primary play driver on his line and is almost never the player to carry the puck into the offensive zone. To me, that doesn’t scream “NHL center.” I find it hard to believe that Geekie can be an NHL center if he isn’t carrying the puck into the zone and creating plays himself rather than waiting for the play to come to him. He can be passive and flips the switch once the puck comes to him.” – Matthew Somma, SMAHT Scouting
“We’re drawn to the ice centre’s two-way game; his ability to play high-leverage minutes, kill penalties, and make life miserable for the opposition’s best. He’s a strong off-puck defender, who tracks well through the neutral zone and makes proactive reads in the defensive third. In close quarters defensive sequences, Geekie takes good lines on the puck, leads with his stick, closes with force, and doesn’t give up on plays.” – 2022 Elite Prospects Draft Guide
“Geekie is a very skilled forward. He has the tools and the toolbox. He’s a dual-threat offensive player, with a fantastic shot and high-end playmaking abilities. Not to mention, he tends to be one of the smarter players on the ice for both teams when he is playing. But the high-octane hockey he plays leads to unnecessary mistakes and a loss of momentum for his team. Additionally, Geekie needs to work on his skating a lot if he wants to translate his skills to the NHL level. ” – Kyle Pereira, Last Word on Sports
Delaney Rimer writes about the Detroit Red Wings for THW who brings a new perspective to the hockey scene as a young female in the industry. Formerly, she wrote for Octopus Thrower- a Detroit Red Wings fan blog.