Shane Wright and Matthew Savoie have been leading the charge when it comes to the CHL. But they are not the only players making waves in that league. In fact, Savoie isn’t the only one making waves on his own team. Savoie’s teammate, Conor Geekie, has been ranked pretty consistently inside the top-15 in this draft class. So, what does Geekie bring to the table for him to gain recognition despite playing on the same team as a star in Savoie?
Conor Geekie a Part of Stacked WHL Draft-Eligibles
The 17-year-old Geekie was born on May 5th, 2004, in Strathclair, Manitoba, is a center for the Winnipeg Ice. Standing at 6’4” and 205 pounds, he is the bigger of the two Ice stars. Geekie also has NHL bloodlines, with his brother, Morgan Geekie, playing on the Seattle Kraken. Last season, in his first full WHL season, Conor Geekie recorded nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points in 24 games, an impressive mark for the 16-year-old. He has followed that up with 11 goals and 27 assists for 38 points across 34 games this season.
With his performance over the last two WHL seasons, Conor Geekie has been ranked fifth by Bob McKenzie; seventh by McKeen’s Hockey and Draft Prospects Hockey; eighth by Puck Authority; ninth by Smaht Scouting, Recruit Scouting, and FC Hockey; 10th by Sportsnet; 11th by Craig Button; 14th by Elite Prospects; and 21st by Dobber Prospects. Currently, Geekie ranks 14th on this writer’s board.
Conor Geekie Scouting Report
Geekie has size. He has the production. The team he plays for in the WHL is finding a ton of success. He’s managed to make a name for himself despite the fact that a lot of attention when his team plays is focused on Savoie. What exactly has led him to this recognition?
Conor Geekie’s Skating Could Use Improvement
Geekie has the size, as mentioned above. But that size is a blessing and a curse. His size gets NHL GM’s salivating, despite the game evolving to a smaller and faster game. However, Geekie’s size has limited his skating ability. That’s where the first concern appears, and it is one of the first things people will notice when focusing on his game. His stride is awkward, and it starts with his knee and ankle flexion. Geekie is tall and lanky, and he doesn’t get low enough in his stride, which limits some power. An NHL coach can adjust that aspect of his stride, and it could help quite a bit, so it’s not a total concern.
However, despite being bigger and stronger, his stride doesn’t reflect that. He lacks power in his stride, and it goes beyond just his knee and ankle flexion. His edgework needs a lot of improvement, as he doesn’t generate much power off of crossovers. Additionally, he takes long and wide turns as opposed to quicker and sharper turns. In doing so, he loses speed through his turns. Adding to the fact that he already is a pretty inconsistent skater from a speed perspective, and it’s clear his skating needs to be adjusted as quickly as possible. It’s a very real issue that could impact his NHL upside in a big way.
Offensively, Geekie does not allow his skating to hold him back too much. Smaht Scouting’s Matthew Somma said it perfectly in his evaluation of the Ice forward; “Of course, Geekie’s size is going to be an advantage at this level. It can mask his average skating and allow for him to bulldoze through the opposition. Geekie uses his size to his advantage but doesn’t force a play just because he’s bigger and stronger than the opposing defense. Instead, he’ll utilize his size and strength to protect the puck and utilize his teammates rather than relying on individual skill all of the time.” A lot of bigger skaters in years past would run through opposing defenders as opposed to making plays, but Geekie, as Somma said, does not rely on his size to make plays in that sense.
As Somma mentioned, Conor Geekie utilizes his teammates rather than relying on his skill and size to make plays. That’s evident in the data tracked across his last three games. In those contests, Geekie attempted 35 offensive zone passes, completing 24 of them (69.57%). Of those 35 passes, 40% of them were aimed at high-danger. Let’s compare those stats to his teammate, Savoie. Savoie completed 74.58% of his 59 total passes, with 23.73% aimed at high-danger. Prior to this report, Savoie had the highest rate of passes aimed at high-danger. Geekie blew that mark out of the water. But his playmaking abilities wouldn’t be as effective if Geekie didn’t also have a solid shooting ability.
Conor Geekie’s Shooting Ability
Geekie has one of the best shots in the class. His shot features a quick release, a boatload of power, and he consistently gets his shots off in high-danger areas. To put that in perspective, Geekie fired 26 shots in the three tracked games, with a whopping 50% coming from high-danger. The catch? Geekie hit the net on only 50% of his 26 shots. That mark ranks 10th among 13 tracked forwards, and among the forwards who have been tracked for three or more games, it ranks dead last. There are a few reasons for this.
Geekie’s shot selection is not always the best. A lot of his shots get blocked aside. A lot of his shots are also situations where he is pressured and, instead of making a simple play to get the puck to a teammate in space, he panics and fires a puck towards the net, missing the mark. While he does possess an incredible IQ and reads the opposition really well, he does tend to overanalyze and make simple mistakes, leading to the accuracy of his shots being low.
What Do These Numbers Tell Us?
The numbers ultimately tell us he is a very fast-paced, high-octane offensive talent. When he gets the puck, he is a threat to attack the slot using his size or by finding a teammate with his high-end vision and playmaking skills. But the numbers also tell us that he doesn’t find success very consistently when he does attack the high-danger areas, with a low pass completion percentage (ranking 11th out of 13 tracked forwards) and percentage of shot attempts hitting the net. While the pace he plays with makes him very fun to watch, he needs to dial it back and simplify his game.
Not only would simplifying his game on a basic level, but it would also go a long way into fixing one big issue in his offensive game; stickhandling himself into tight spots. Playing at his high pace and constantly looking for high-danger chances leads to situations where he will try a little bit too much on his own. There are times where he will attempt to stickhandle through the entire defence for chances, ultimately losing the puck. It doesn’t help that his edge work and awkward stride makes it a little easier than expected to knock him off his feet. Working on his skating, while dialling back the pace he plays with, would go a long way for Geekie.
Conor Geekie’s Transitional Abilities
Geekie’s below-average skating ability holds him back transitionally quite a bit. For one, if he isn’t leading the rush, he is often the last forward into the offensive zone. On the breakout, he’s often found catching up to the play. As for when he does possess the puck, just like in the offensive zone, he tries to do too much on his own. He’ll turn the puck over trying to gain entry when there isn’t much space to work with as opposed to finding a teammate in space. That’s reflected in his transitional data. Geekie was involved directly in 16 zone exit attempts in the three tracked games, successfully clearing the defensive zone with possession on 62.5% of them (the average is 63.51%).
When it comes to entering the offensive zone, Geekie was involved directly in 41 zone entry attempts, successfully gaining entry with possession on 53.66% of them (the average is 69%). It cannot be stressed enough; Geekie is an extremely skilled forward with incredible hockey awareness. But his skating has held him back to the point where he is below average moving the puck through the neutral zone when, generally, players with his skill set are well above average.
Defensive Zone Play
The one area where Geekie’s skating does not hold him back noticeably, at the junior level, is when he is playing defence. His ability to read the play a step ahead of everyone leads to him being in the right place, at the right time. Countless times, he was found cutting off passing lanes and forcing turnovers. However, he’s not the most reliable forward in the defensive zone.
Geekie is often found either puck-chasing or gliding around in the defensive zone. When a teammate collects the puck, Geekie is the first to turn up ice to look for offence. While cheating up ice for offence is a common trait, it’s more noticeable for Geekie. That’s due to him taking those long and wide turns and not getting back very quickly. It hurts enough that, again due to his skating, Geekie is the last player back when the puck is taken up ice by the opposition. He has the reach, the strength, and the awareness to be a very good defensive forward. But his fast-paced style stays with him in his own end, and it hurts him in his own end.
Conor Geekie’s Potential
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.
The good news is that skating is one of the easier things to adjust. Whereas the skill Geekie already possesses is a lot harder to work on. That being said, Conor Geekie has all the tools to be an elite hockey player at the NHL level. But with that potential comes a lot of adjustments. His aggressiveness with the puck needs to be dialled back. But the raw talent is very clearly there. That, paired with his big frame, will have a lot of teams willing to take the chance on the young forward come draft day.