Ethan Cardwell Scouting Report: 2020 NHL Draft #107

Ethan Cardwell

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 2020 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 look at Ethan Cardwell.

Drafted in the second round, 33rd overall, by the Saginaw Spirit in the 2018 OHL Draft, centre Ethan Cardwell broke out this past season. His play really improved after he was traded from Saginaw to the Barrie Colts at the OHL Trade Deadline. Cardwell started the season with 12 goals and nine assists for 21 points in 37 games for Saginaw. He then put up 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points in 26 games with Barrie.

In his rookie season, Cardwell was limited to just 15 regular-season games for Saginaw. He scored five goals. He also added one goal in five playoff games. Cardwell also spent time in the OJHL. In 27 games with the Trenton Golden Hawks, he scored five goals and 17 points. He also played 14 games for the Pickering Panthers, scoring four goals and 11 points. In 2017-18, Cardwell played two regular-season games and three playoff games with the Wellington Dukes, who won the OJHL Championship. Cardwell comes from a strong hockey family. His grandfather, Steve Cardwell, played 53 NHL games and 152 WHA games in the 1970s. His father, Justin Cardwell, played for Western Michigan in the NCAA, before bouncing around the AHL, ECHL, and IHL.

Ethan Cardwell Scouting Report

Centre — shoots Right
Born August 30th, 2002 — Courtice, Ontario
Height 5’11” — Weight 180 lbs [180 cm/82 kg]


The biggest difference between Cardwell’s rookie struggles and his breakout second year was the improvement in his skating. He added lower body strength. This improved the power in his stride and his strength on his feet. While there is more room to get even better, Cardwell’s improved work in the corners and fighting through checks really helped him. He has a decent first step and very good acceleration. His top-end speed is also very good. A bit on the small side, Cardwell uses his lateral agility to avoid defenders. His edgework is also good and he is able to gain speed out of his turns with good crossovers.

Offensive Game

Cardwell does a lot of things right in the offensive zone. He has a very good wrist shot and an effective snapshot. They are both powerful. He has good instincts when shooting and has the quick hands to change the angle on his stick just before letting it go. This can confuse and surprise goaltenders. Cardwell is a decent stickhandler but needs to be a bit more patient with the puck. He has good vision and is creative in his passing at times. However, there are others when he just moves the puck too quickly. If he had a little more confidence and waited an extra half-second a better play is about to open up.

Cardwell can use his skating and stickhandling to carry the puck through the neutral zone and make effective zone entries. He did that more, later in the season after he came to the Colts. In Saginaw, he was a bit to quick to look for a dump-and-chase opportunity, which overall is less effective. He can get in on the forecheck and pressure defenders into making mistakes. While he isn’t the most physical forward, Cardwell is also effective in using a low centre of gravity and being solid on his skates to win battles along the boards. He is good in the cycle game, protecting the puck effectively and keeping it moving down low.

Defensive Game

Cardwell is also effective in his own end of the ice. He reads the play extremely well and has a very quick stick. This allows him to get into passing lanes, intercepting passes and quickly turning them up the ice. He is also aggressive down low, helping the defence against the cycle. While his size can be a bit of a liability against bigger and stronger opponents, his stick is also good at stripping them of the puck. He also takes good angles in providing backpressure against the rush. Cardwell is a responsible forward, and is often the third man high in the offensive zone, helping him to get back to defend. He could stand to improve on his faceoffs.

Projection and Comparison

Cardwell has the potential to be a middle-six forward who can also help his team on the penalty kill if he develops. He will need to keep getting stronger in order to play his style of game at the NHL level. There are lots of things he does really well, but nothing that is outstanding. In that way, he needs to continue to keep improving his all-around game and polishing his skills. Cardwell’s game is reminiscent of T.J. Oshie, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and potential.


The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Ethan Cardwell that are available on youtube and twitter.

Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.


Ethan Cardwell Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

OSHAWA, ON – JANUARY 26: Ethan Cardwell #11 of the Barrie Colts looks on during an OHL game against the Oshawa Generals at the Tribute Communities Centre on January 26, 2020 in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)