NHL Entry Draft 2021

Film Room: Corson Ceulemans has the flash of a top prospect, but the substance isn't there yet

There is no denying Corson Ceuleman’s skill nor his pedigree. He built himself a strong reputation with his play over the past three seasons, starting with a championship tour of duty in the AJHL as a 15-year-old, and finishing with a productive draft-year that ended with gold at the U18 World Hockey Championship.

His profile is that of the early bloomer. This 6-foot-2 defender established himself and performed in a junior setting faster than most of his peers, which likely boosted his stock to the first round coming into the season, a position he clung to through a pandemic-shortened year of hockey.

Still, doubts about Ceuleman’s game lingered among our staff. For Elite Prospects’ scouts, the flashes of game-breaking potential came with equal or greater parts concern elsewhere.

We came to view Ceulemans as a player more fitting of the middle of the second round than a bona fide first-round pick, as evidenced by his place on our final ranking, at No. 55 overall for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. This range better reflects the uncertainty of his projection. He could leverage his tools to some of the most productive ends in the class, but there was so much work to be done elsewhere, ranging from simple tweaks to restructurings.

Even so, I wanted to let Ceuleman’s draft year run its course before I wrote this article, and that meant waiting for the conclusion of the U18 World Hockey Championships.

Maybe his performance at that tournament would turn the tide of our evaluation in his favour? Maybe Team Canada could bring out the best in his game? Or, perhaps, another one of the Elite Prospects scouts would see enough to make the case for the Brooks Bandits defender, painting his game in a different light and making me see it.

None of those things happened. Instead, we left that sample with as many unanswered questions as we went into it with. That’s left me to parse the tape, and to try and discern where Ceuleman’s future lies.

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NHL Entry Draft 2021 Brooks Bandits Univ. of Wisconsin AJHL NCAA NHL Corson Ceulemans
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