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 2022 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 bring you our Isaac Howard Scouting Report.
Isaac Howard is yet another high-end prospect who came up through the Shattuck St. Mary’s prep school. The left-winger from Hudson, Wisconsin had a big season with the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 squad. He put up 33 goals and 49 assists for 82 points in 60 games. Howard was also a key member of the U.S. squad at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He scored six goals and five assists for 11 points in just six tournament games. The performance helped the American team to a silver medal.
Howard played for the Under-17 team in 2020-21. He scored 27 goals and 27 assists for 54 points in 34 games. The result earned him a callup to the Under-18 team. He scored five goals and 19 points in 17 games. He also played at the Under-18 Worlds, scoring one goal and four points in five games. In 2020 he scored seven goals in four games, helping the US to silver at the Youth Olympics.
Howard is set to play NCAA hockey for the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs next season. Should he change his mind and opt to go the CHL route, his rights are owned by the Owen Sound Attack.
Isaac Howard Scouting Report
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born March 30th, 2004 — Hudson, Wisconsin
Height 5’10” — Weight 182 lbs [178 cm/83 kg]
Howard is a bit undersized but has the skating to make up for it overall. He has very good quickness and acceleration. This allows him to win races to retrieve loose pucks as well as to pull away from a defender once he gets a step. However, his stride is a bit short and choppy. This takes a little away from his top-end speed. It’s still above average, but he is not an absolute burner. Howard’s agility and edgework are also very good. This allows him to weave through traffic both with and without the puck. He is extremely elusive and can give defenders headaches. Howard must get stronger though. He is pushed off the puck a little too easily at times. Added lower body strength would also help him to win battles on the boards and in front of the net.
Howard has an excellent array of shots. He can score with his wrist shot, snap shot, slap shot, one-timer and even on his backhand. His release points are deceptive, as he will make a last-minute toe-drag or other movements with the puck prior to firing it. He also gets his shots off very quickly. Howard has a knack for finding open spots in the defensive zone coverage and setting himself up to take a pass and quickly fire the puck on the net. He has some issues working in traffic though, as he can be pushed around by bigger and stronger defenders. That said, he is not one to shy away on the perimeter but will look for open spaces in and around the high slot.
Howard is also a very good passer. When he gets time and space, he can feather a pass through a tight passing lane or saucer the puck onto a teammate’s tape. He has the vision and the hockey IQ to read the play and make smart decisions with the puck. Howard can be deadly working on the sideboards on the power play. However, he needs to get stronger. He is not the best at controlling the puck in the cycle game or making plays with the puck at five on five. He can get himself into trouble against bigger opponents, who use their superior size and strength to knock him off the puck and create turnovers. Howard will need to get stronger to play his game at the pro level.
Howard’s defensive game is a definite work in progress. There are times when he works hard on the backcheck and helps to support his teammates. The ability is certainly there. However, the effort level is a bit inconsistent. Howard can fly the zone, looking to create offence before being sure that his teammates have successfully gotten the puck out of danger. He also has a tendency to puck watch away from the play. He is a bit too focused on what is happening around the puck and this can allow him to leave his man open. This is something that can be corrected with good coaching, but Howard certainly has some work to do in this area of his game.
Projection and Comparison
Howard has the offensive skill to be a top-six winger if he reaches his ceiling. However, there are some areas that will need some improvement and he is a bit of a project. He will need to improve his strength and add muscle to his frame. The lighter, weekend-focused, NCAA hockey schedule should give him time to get into the weight room. He also needs to work on his defensive game, both in effort level and in his play away from the puck. He should get good coaching in that regard while playing for the strong Minnesota-Duluth program. Expect him to spend a year or two in the NCAA, before heading to the AHL and then finally getting his NHL opportunity. In terms of style, Howard’s game is reminiscent of Nikolai Ehlers. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Isaac Howard that are available on youtube and Twitter.
Isaac Howard (#3) with a gorgeous dish and holds the stationary assist celly like a champ pic.twitter.com/Z3VCk9lqay
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) November 12, 2021
What a play from Isaac Howard. Takes the puck from his own zone, does all this and zips it in. His fifth goal of the tournament. #U18Worlds
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) April 24, 2022
USA is back on top! Lane Hutson once again picks up an assists and Isaac Howard buries this on his second chance. 3-2 USA #U18Worlds pic.twitter.com/rIQBUxelAF
— Josh Bell (@JoshuaBell31) May 2, 2021
Isaac Howard (#3) scored this stealthy goal the other day against Madison. Sees two Madison Capitals puck watching. Skates right around them to net open ice. Will Smith passes to Howard as he approaches the slot. Howard manipulates the goaltender and then scores.#2022NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/ljotaiwEdb
— Josh Tessler 🇺🇦 (@JoshTessler_) January 26, 2022
Isaac Howard finds Rutger McGroarty in front and the captain makes it 5-4 with three minutes to go. #U18Worlds pic.twitter.com/lpvbybtvqT
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) May 1, 2022
Isaac Howard let the teddy bears fly! 🐻 Check out the game’s highlights pic.twitter.com/78bkIf7FDP
— USA Hockey’s NTDP (@USAHockeyNTDP) December 19, 2021
Enjoying watching Isaac Howard (#3) use his speed to create passing lanes that lead to scoring chances. Good skate extension activation off the hop that allows him to find a good passing lane.#2022NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/QTIBIlRcw4
— Josh Tessler 🇺🇦 (@JoshTessler_) January 30, 2022
Check back tomorrow for our latest 2022 NHL Draft Article.
Isaac Howard Scouting Report Main Photo:
PLYMOUTH, MICHIGAN – JANUARY 17: Isaac Howard #3 of Team White skates the ice in the third period of the USA Hockey All-American Game at USA Hockey Arena on January 17, 2022 in Plymouth, Michigan. (Photo by Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)