Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day our LWOS Prospects Writers will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow Ben Kerr, Kyle Pereira and Frederik Frandson 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”! Today we bring you our Riley Heidt Scouting Report.
The second overall pick in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft, Riley Heidt made a big impression playing for the Prince George Cougars as well as excelling on the international stage with Team Canada. Heidt started the year at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. He scored three goals and three assists for six points in five tournament games and helped his country win the gold medal. Heidt carried over this strong start into the WHL season. He was excellent for Prince George scoring 25 goals and 72 assists for 97 points in 68 games. Heidt added two goals and six assists for eight points in nine playoff games. Heidt was named to the league’s second all-star team after leading the league in assists. He finished the season donning the Red and White for Team Canada. At the Under-18s, Heidt had two assists in five games and came home with a bronze medal.
Heidt’s production has been strong through all three years in the WHL. In 2020-21 he scored 21 goals and 58 points in 65 games. Heidt also added a goal and two assists for three points in three playoff games. In 2020, as a 15-year-old rookie, he played in 22 games, scoring eight points.
Riley Heidt Scouting Report
Center — shoots Left
Born March 25th, 2005 — Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Height 5’10” — Weight 178 lbs [178 cm/81 kg]
Heidt lacks size but is another player who makes up for this with strong skating ability. He has a very quick first few steps and excellent acceleration. His top-end speed is also extremely good. Heidt gets in quickly on the forecheck and can transition effectively through the neutral zone. He keeps his feet moving throughout his shifts and this allows him to be all over the ice. His agility and edgework are also excellent. Heidt has excellent lateral movement and this allows him to get by defenders, both with and without the puck. He is also strong on his skates for his age. It is hard to knock him off the puck as well as to move him from the front of the net. He also wins his share of battles on the boards. Heidt should only get better as he continues to get stronger.
Heidt is an excellent playmaker. His balance and quick hands allow him to control the puck in the offensive zone, extending possession on the cycle game. Heidt has very good passing skills and excellent vision. When a teammate gets open he can create a passing lane with a quick move and set up a scoring chance with a tape-to-tape pass. He has excellent hands and even tried “The Michigan” lacrosse-style move in the CHL Top Prospects game. Heidt gets in quickly on the forecheck, pressuring defenders and creating turnovers. He forces them to make a play before they are ready and this allows him to generate offence.
Heidt is not afraid to be involved in battles on the boards and in front of the net. He plays a much grittier game than his size would suggest. Heidt is always in the middle of the action and can often be found in the middle of scrums at the end of a play. He could stand to work on his discipline though as he has been suspended in both of the last two playoff series. Heidt could stand to use his shot more. He shows good power as well as a quick release which fools goalies. However, he does not shoot the puck enough. He can be more effective if he shoots more often, and adding some goal-scoring to his game will make him more dynamic and harder to defend.
Heidt brings his strong work ethic in all three zones. He gets back quickly on the back check, supporting the defence down low as well as providing back pressure against the rush. His lack of size and strength may be an issue, but Heidt is well-positioned and can use his stick to poke-check opponents and create turnovers. Once those are made, he is good at moving the puck up the ice, clearing the zone and creating offence in transition. Heidt is a smart player, he reads the play well and puts himself in good positions without the puck.
Projection and Comparison
Heidt showed off his skill at the CHL Top Prospects Game where he was named MVP. If he continues to develop his game, he could become a top-two centre in the NHL. Heidt needs to continue to get stronger and improve his goal-scoring and discipline. He will likely spend another couple of years in the WHL and compete for a spot on Team Canada in the next two World Juniors. After that, he might need a year in the AHL before he is ready to make the jump to the pros. Heidt’s game is reminiscent of Brayden Point. However, 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 Riley Heidt that are available on youtube and Twitter.
🔥 RILEY HEIDT 🔥
— The WHL (@TheWHL) March 30, 2021
Riley Heidt (2023) has been on an absolute bender of late.
With 1+1 so far tonight, he's extended his 7-game point streak to 5 goals and 18 points. He has 26 points in his last 13.
Another kid who won't wait long on draft day. pic.twitter.com/n4jPUS7Yd5
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) November 20, 2022
With 2 first-period tallies so far, Riley Heidt (2023) has extended his point streak to 5 games and 12 points.
His 9 goals and 28 points in 19 games sit tied for 5th in WHL scoring pic.twitter.com/hO4I0vqg60
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) November 13, 2022
For the second year in a row, Riley Heidt (2023) has been suspended for one playoff game.
This time for a check to the head.
He'll miss Game 3 against the T-Birds. pic.twitter.com/6iHadLYKXu
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) April 17, 2023
Check back later for our latest draft article.
Main Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports