Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Lukas Cormier.
The fourth overall pick in the 2018 QMJHL Draft, Lukas Cormier had a monster rookie season with 15 goals and 36 points in 63 games. Cormier set a record for most goals scored by a QMJHL Rookie Defenceman. Any time a player breaks an offensive record in the QMJHL it is very impressive, especially given the history of high scoring numbers in that league in the 80s and 90s. He was also named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team. He added five points in six playoff games.
Cormier turned that rookie season success into spots playing in international tournaments. He played for Team Canada Red at the 2018 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He also played for Team Canada at the 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, winning a silver medal. Despite dealing with injuries, Cormier has had another solid season this year. He scored six goals and 30 assists for 36 points in 44 games for the Charlottetown Islanders. The goal total might have been down, but he finished with the same number of points in 19 fewer games.
Lukas Cormier Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born March 27th, 2002 — Sainte-Marie-de-Kent, New Brunswick
Height 5’10” — Weight 180 lbs [178 cm/82 kg]
Cormier is an excellent skater and this helps him to play a 200-foot game. With smooth pivots, he is able to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He has quick feet, with a great first step, and the agility and edgework to move well laterally and cover a lot of ice. Cormier has very good speed and acceleration in both directions. He can take offensive chances and still get back to cover in his own zone. His strong backwards skating makes him tough to beat on the rush. Cormier has a low centre of gravity. His balance is very good. He battles through checks and continues skating. It also helps to somewhat make up for his lack of size in battles on the boards.
Cormier combines his slick skating with strong puck-moving skills. Cormier retrieves pucks on dump-ins and quickly starts the transition game, whether it be by skating the puck out of danger or with a quick first pass. He is willing to lead the rush or join as a trailer. Cormier’s skating ability allows him to do this and still get back defensively He also sees the ice well, and his vision and passing ability allow him to play the role of power-play quarterback. Cormier’s quick hands can change angles on plays and open up passing lanes. He has the skills to make a tape-to-tape pass to a teammate even through a tight area.
Cormier also has an excellent slap shot. He keeps it low and on the net, giving his teammates the opportunity to get to the front of the net and tip in pucks or get rebounds. With his agility, he is able to move laterally and create shooting lanes. He also has a good wrist shot. He sneaks down to the faceoff circles before letting it go. It is powerful and also features a good release. Cormier is a smart player. He picks his spots well and knows when to pinch or join the rush and when to hang back.
Cormier lacks size but uses his skills to play a strong defensive game. His ability to move the puck up the ice quickly helps him to avoid facing long shifts in his own end of the ice. He retrieves pucks quickly, avoids forecheckers and moves it up the ice. His lateral agility and strong backwards skating helps him to maintain good gap control and he is tough to beat in one-on-one situations. He can quickly swat the puck away from an opposing forward. The lack of size can give him issues defending the cycle game or clearing the front of the net, but Cormier does not quit and will put his body on the line to make a play. He’s been playing against top lines in Charlottetown over the last two years and has the results to show his strong defensive ability.
Projection and Comparison
Cormier fits in with the new style of defender that is becoming more and more popular in the NHL now. Despite his lack of size, his skating ability, his smarts, and his offensive skills could help him to be a top-pairing defender if he continues his development. He will need to avoid injuries and continue to add muscle to his frame before he is ready to go to the pro game. Expect him to spend another couple of years in the QMJHL before he is ready for the next level. His game is reminiscent of Quinn Hughes, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Lukas Cormier that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Lukas Cormier Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images
HAMILTON, ON – JANUARY 16: Lukas Cormier #51 of Team Red skates during warm-up for the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game against Team White at FirstOntario Centre on January 16, 2020, in Hamilton, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)