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 Owen Pickering Scouting Report.
Drafted in the ninth round, 177th overall, in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, defenceman Owen Pickering has seen his game grow by leaps and bounds. He put up nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points in 62 games for a weak Swift Current Broncos team this season. Pickering was forced to play big minutes and was used in all situations for the Broncos, who finished 10th in the Eastern Conference. Pickering joined Team Canada for the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He continued to play big minutes even for the national under-18 team. Pickering scored two assists in four tournament games. The Canadian coaching staff named him a top-three player on the team. Pickering also played for Team White at the 2022 CHL Top Prospects Game.
In 2020-21, Pickering’s rookie season was cut short by the COVID-19 Pandemic. He appeared in 23 games for the Broncos, scoring two goals and seven assists for nine points. It was a nice debut for Pickering and showed hints of what was to come in his draft season. He also played three games for Rink Hockey Academy Winnipeg in the CSSHL, putting up two assists.
Owen Pickering Scouting Report
Left Defence — shoots Left
Born January 27th, 2004 — St. Adolphe, Manitoba
Height 6’5″ — Weight 179 lbs [195 cm/81 kg]
Pickering is a very good skater. Going forward, his straight-line speed is excellent, as is his acceleration. He needs a little bit of work on his backwards skating though, as his crossovers can be a little awkward and rob him of speed and power. His edgework and agility are also strong points. These allow him to get good lateral movement, walking the line in the offensive zone, or staying in front of his man defensively. Pickering is very thin right now. This means that he can have some trouble in battling for position in front of the net and in battling for pucks on the boards. Pickering is not afraid to play a physical game. However, some added muscle would make him much more effective.
Pickering has an outstanding shot. He generates a ton of power on his slapshot and one-timer. Pickering can adjust well if the pass is a little bit off, taking a slight half step to his right or left and still getting his one-timer off. He also does a really good job of keeping his shot low and on the net. This allows his teammates to create screens, get deflections, and go for rebounds off the goalie’s pads. Pickering also does a good job of moving laterally and walking the line to open up shooting lanes. He also has a good wrist shot and will use that off the rush. He is also willing to skate down to the top of the circle in order to get his shot off. It is powerful and accurate. Pickering also has a quick release which can confuse goaltenders.
Pickering shows signs of being an effective playmaker but needs to work on his consistency. He can make good breakout passes. Pickering is even able to make a long breakaway pass if a teammate gets behind the opposing defence. However, he can also make some maddening turnovers when under pressure. Pickering will need to take these out of his game moving forward. In the offensive zone, Pickering can control the puck and run the power-play from the blueline. He is more of a shooter than a playmaker though and will excel if he has another solid option to create plays working the opposite point or half-boards. Pickering will also need to continue to work on his puck control. He tends to slow down a little too much when carrying the puck and looking to make a play.
Pickering’s defensive game could use a little refinement. He is decent in most situations against the rush, however, his backwards skating can be an issue when facing some of the faster forwards in the WHL. They can get by him wide and cut to the net. He also needs to be a bit more aggressive at closing down his man and not giving up so much space against the rush. His long stick is an asset, as he cuts down passing lanes and is effective in stick checking his opponents. He is also willing to play a physical game on the boards and in front of the net but needs to add muscle to his frame to be more effective. When a turnover is created, Pickering looks to move the puck up the ice and create offence through the transition game.
Projection and Comparison
Pickering’s combination of size and skating ability will make him an intriguing prospect for NHL teams. Once he matures and adds muscle to his frame, he has the opportunity to be a unique combination of power and speed on the backend. He is a bit of a project. Solid coaching can help Pickering refine his defensive instincts as well as make smarter plays under pressure. This would take his game to the next level. Expect him to spend a couple more years in the WHL and then a year or two in the AHL before he is ready to make the jump. If he can reach his potential, he can be a top-four defenceman, used in all situations and playing big minutes. His game is reminiscent of Jamie Oleksiak, but this is a style comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Owen Pickering that are available on youtube and Twitter.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) March 27, 2022
— The WHL (@TheWHL) March 12, 2022
1ST WHL GOAL // Congratulations to RHA Alum Owen Pickering on scoring his first WHL Goal 🏒👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/xrREl5Ua34
— RINK Hockey Academy Winnipeg (@rha_winnipeg) April 2, 2021
One of the 2004-born WHL players with the most room to grow still is D Owen Pickering. This 9th round WHL pick has mobility and huge reach. Grew from 5'7 130lbs to 6'3, 175lbs. Matured leaps and bounds last season. Keep your eye on him. #2022NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/hzD8mTJYD9
— Puck Preps Western Canada (@PuckPrepsWestCa) September 13, 2021
Owen Pickering with 9 pts in his last 14 games (since we released our October rankings at @ScoutingService )
— Jérôme Bérubé (@Jerome_Berube) December 3, 2021
Check back tomorrow for our latest 2022 NHL Draft Article.
Owen Pickering Scouting Report Main Photo:
— MayorsManor.com Staff (@MayorsManor) May 24, 2022