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Caden Price Scouting Report
Caden Price, born on August 24th, 2005, from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is a defenseman in the WHL. The left-handed blueliner stands at 6’1” and 181 pounds, and was a top defender on the Kelowna Rockets this season. With the large role, Price managed to produce five goals and 35 assists for 40 points in 65 games this year. The season prior, Price scored two goals and 19 assists for 21 points in 47 games with the Rockets.
With two WHL seasons under his belt, Price has earned several first-round nods. He has been ranked 27th by Dobber Prospects, 29th by Elite Prospects, 32nd by Recruit Scouting, 34th by Draft Prospects Hockey, 37th by Daily Faceoff, 38th by Bob McKenzie, 41st by FCHockey, 50th by Smaht Scouting, 57th by Craig Button, and 60th by McKeen’s Hockey.
Caden Price Deep Dive
Left Defence — shoots Left
Born August 24th, 2005 — Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Height 6’1″ — Weight 185 lbs [185 cm/84 kg]
Price has been ranked exclusively in the top-64, placing him firmly within the first two rounds of the upcoming draft. What makes Price a late first-round talent? What about his game might bring pause to teams, allowing him to fall into the second?
When it comes to his skating, Price isn’t necessarily lacking, but it isn’t his best trait. His straight-line speed is above average at best. He does not possess that extra gear to burn past forecheckers as he moves up ice. What he lacks in top-speed, he does make up for with his acceleration, however. Price’s first few steps are explosive, though it is inconsistent at times. However, if he can get off a strong initial step, it provides power and allows him to reach his top speed rapidly.
The problem with Price’s skating to this point is his mechanics. His stride is awkward, and it holds him back, especially in regards to his top speed. But again, he makes it work just fine. His edges are still very solid, able to make tight turns and stop on pucks. But, similar to his acceleration, he’s inconsistent in this area as well. There are moments where he cannot pull off tight turns, or loses speed when performing them. Working on stride mechanics and more overall consistency in his skating will go a long way.
Price has evidently been able to produce at the WHL level. But how? It starts with his playmaking abilities. Price is not super aggressive with the puck on his stick, largely sticking to smart passes and extending possession. But he has and can pull off difficult cross-ice passes to set up teammates. Again, he does not look for those passes constantly, but as soon as a lane opens, he will strike.
When it comes to his shot, it is severely under-utilized. Price has good power on his shot, though it is inconsistent, but he often looks to score rather than keeping shots low for tips. That does not allow him to fully take advantage of traffic in front and maximizing his production. Additionally, he looks off clear shooting lanes at times for difficult, low-percentage passes. While he is a good passer, and is willing to attack high-danger with those passes, he needs to work on understanding when he should take the shot.
Caden Price’s Transitional Abilities
This area of Price’s game is arguably his best trait. Transitionally, Price is relied on fairly heavily by his teammates. Similar to his offensive game, Price is willing to take risks when the opportunities present themselves. However, he isn’t going to force a ton of plays for the sake of moving the puck quickly. If there isn’t an option up ice, he has no problems curling back and resetting. However, also similar to his offensive game, his consistency issues pop up.
There are times where he will attack a skating lane with a bit of pressure, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Then there are other times where the lane is a bit more open, but he holds back, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. While overall, the results of his puck-moving is largely effective, and he has a high-rate of involvement, it seems he struggles with a specific style. He can either be aggressive and take a risk when there’s a lane, and other times where he elects not to attack a lane and make a simpler, maybe less effective, path. Establishing a more distinct and consistent style, or maybe striking a finer balance, could be the difference.
Price’s Defensive Zone Play
Again, the issues with consistency rears its head. When it comes to defending the rush, when Price is engaged, he can display pretty solid gap control, an active stick, and an ability to drive attacking forwards wide and away from the high-danger areas. However, there are times where his gaps can be way off, allowing too much space, and giving up the middle.
As for in-zone defending, there again is a consistency issue. When he is engaged, he possesses a really strong active stick, able to take away passing lanes, break up scoring chances, and strong positioning to keep the play to the outside. However, there are other times where he can get caught puck-watching or getting drawn up the ice, leaving opponents open in high-danger areas for excellent scoring chances. Similar to the rest of his game, striking more of a balance will go a very long way towards carving out an NHL career.
Caden Price’s Potential
When looking at Price’s overall game, the biggest downside is his consistency. If he can fine-tune his skating, which is already solid, and turn up the pace he plays with a bit, he could be really strong offensively. Additionally, the added pace and more aggression with the puck could lead to his transitional abilities to also take another step forward. Finally, if he can work on the consistency of his defensive game on top of everything else, he can turn into a well-rounded top-four defender.
The problem isn’t the potential, but rather what it will take to realize that said potential. It’s one thing to work on a hole in a player’s game, or to focus on improving a specific area or areas. It’s a completely different problem when the issue is consistency. Because coaching can preach effort and engagement, but it comes down to whether the player can actually translate that on the ice. Because Price has the potential.
If Price can work on those said inconsistencies around his game, he can become a well-rounded, two-hundred-foot defender. Stylistically, he is not super offensive or a game-changer on the defensive side of the puck. But he carries his weight in those zones, while providing solid transitional abilities.
An NHL defender who plays a very similarly balanced game is Adam Pelech. Again, this is a stylistic comparison, not one of projection or future value of Price. But, that all-around role, playing in all situations the way Pelech does, is the sort of role that Price could have if he hits his stride. That value is massive for a defender to possess. It ultimately comes down to which team is willing to take a chance on Price working on his consistency issues.
Raw stats via Elite Prospects
Main Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports