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Local boy, Blake Speers was the 11th overall pick in the 2013 OHL Priority Draft to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The Greyhounds were a strong team, and even finished the year ranked 1st overall in the BMO CHL rankings. Sometimes playing on a stacked team can make it difficult for a 17-year-old to get ice time, but with Speers strong two-way game that wasn’t a huge problem for him this year. He finished with 24 goals and 67 points in 54 games this season, and added a further nine points in 14 playoff games, before the Greyhounds fell in the OHL’s Western Conference final to the Erie Otters. Previously he was the Northern Ontario Hockey Association player of the year, and played for Team Ontario at the January 2014 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge.
Center/Right Wing/Left Wing — shoots Right
Born Jan 2 1997 — Sault Ste. Marie, ONT
Height 5.11 — Weight 181 [180 cm/82 kg]
Blake Speers is another player who can really skate. He has great top end speed and acceleration, along with a very quick first step. This helps him to win both short races for loose pucks, and to get in quickly on the forecheck. He can also vary his speed and attack defenders to the outside, or slow up to create passing lanes or get room to get a shot off on the rush. Speers adds outstanding agility and edgework making him very slippery and elusive to defenders. He can use this skating skill both off the rush and in the cycle game. Speers needs to add lower body strength, and more muscle to his frame before he is ready to make the step up to pro hockey. While his speed and agility help him to avoid checks, when he does get hit, he seems to be knocked off the puck a little too often. He is willing to battle for loose pucks in the corners and in front of the net, but again more strength is needed to improve his effectiveness in this area
Blake Speers has very good stick handling ability and a wide variety of moves that can help him get around a defender. He protects the puck very well and can make a wide variety of moves with slick hands. Those hands help him to finish in close to the goal. Speers also has an accurate shot and a good release, though he could stand to use it more often. His passing skills are extremely good, as he has excellent vision and the ability to thread the puck through the tightest of openings. A little undersized, Speers will try to play a gritty game, but again this is where he needs more strength going forward. His versatility is a major asset as Speers can play all three forward positions, though he spends most of his time at left wing. Speers has very good hockey sense. He makes smart plays with the puck and darts into open areas, looking for the give and go immediately after dishing it off.
He showed good hockey sense in the defensive end, and the ability to cause turnovers. He backchecks hard, has good positioning, and reads the play in order to anticipate passes and create chances and begin the transition game. He almost never takes a shift off and supports his defense with effective back pressure.
Speers has the potential to play top six minutes and powerplay time in the NHL if he is able to reach his potential. He needs to add some muscle to his frame, and can stand to use his shot a little more, but he does have talent and should get even more minutes as Sault Ste Marie loses some of their veterans. His game is reminiscent of Jiri Hudler of the Calgary Flames, though this is a style comparison and not a talent one.
Below are some videos of Blake Speers in action.
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