Prospect Report: Corson Ceulemans
Powered by InStat Hockey
If you’ve been following the 2021 NHL draft class closely, you’re probably quite familiar with the five highly regarded defensemen; Owen Power, Carson Lambos, Brandt Clarke, Luke Hughes, and Simon Edvinsson. They’re all fantastic, but what if I told you there’s a sixth defender who could possibly get drafted ahead of one or more of those guys? His name is Corson Ceulemans, and while the other guys are making their names playing either professional or major junior already, he’s been hiding out with the Brooks Bandits in the AJHL. Ceulemans is currently committed to the University of Wisconsin, so he can’t play in the CHL or overseas.
The 6’2, 196 pound rearguard scored 35 points in 44 games during his 2019-2020 rookie campaign with the Bandits, which was good for 2nd in scoring amongst all D-1 players. Ceulemans played two AJHL games this season, scoring twice and adding three assists for five points. He was off to a ravaging start, but unfortunately the season was put on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There’s currently no timetable for the AJHL’s return to play effort, so Ceulemans seems to have extremely limited options for his draft year. If I were a part of his camp, I’d be knocking on doors overseas in the U20 SM-sarja or the J20 Nationell, or maybe even look into the USHL for the remainder of the season. Even if he doesn’t get the opportunity to suit up for many games this year, Ceulemans has impressed enough with his past body of work that I’d say he’s a near lock to be a first round pick in this upcoming draft.
The first thing that stands out about Ceulemans is how well he skates for a player of his size. He’s got quick feet, and the rare ability to take the puck coast to coast as a defenseman:
He’s extremely strong on his edges, and gains speed easily with quick and fluid crossovers. He doesn’t have an overall elite skating toolbox, but he’s still one of the strongest skaters in this draft. He’s excellent going North/South, and just good East/West. Jakob Chychrun is a near perfect comparable when it comes to how Ceulemans moves on the ice. His skating gives him the ability to lead the rush, but it also allows him to be a heavy defensive presence all over the ice. It may just be the way he’s coached, but Ceulemans pinches at both his and the opposing blue lines like crazy. It’s like the ice behind him is sacred, and the other team mustn’t go near it:
While it’s pretty rare, he does throw a mean shoulder check when he wants to:
And when he makes a bad call, he can quickly and easily recover the puck with his elite stick checking ability:
In regards to that stick checking ability, he’s averaging 9 takeaways per game, which is pretty unfair. He’s fantastic in the corners using both his size and his stick, having won 62% of his puck battles before the pause this season. On top of that, when Ceulemans wins those battles, he doesn’t just toss the puck away aimlessly. He’s usually able to take at least a second or two to find a solid outlet:
Sometimes he’ll just come out of nowhere and pick off a pass:
Similarly to that last clip, Ceulemans patrols the neutral zone regularly, like an F3:
He’s definitely top five in this upcoming draft when it comes to having not only the ability, but the willingness to “take over the ice”. I’ve already gushed about how good his defensive game is, but his offensive game is what makes him special. Having Ceulemans on the ice is like having a one-man puck rushing and playmaking machine that also happens to be a defender. Through the AJHL games he’s played this year, Ceulemans has averaged 10 controlled breakouts, 7 controlled entries, completed 87% of his passes, and skated 24:23 per game. To say he’s the best defenseman in the league would be an understatement. He’s so poised with the puck on his stick, and is one of the best passers in this entire draft. He can thread the needle extremely well from mid to long range, and is very proficient at leading his forwards with stretch passes:
He’s also got a pair of slippery hands, and a laser beam of a shot to complete the offensive package. When he puts it all together, it’s just magnificent, so I’ll let his play do the talking:
Ceulemans may still be flying under the radar due to the pause of the AJHL season, but once he’s back on the ice, all eyes are going to be on him. He's a top four NHL defenseman in the making.
Thanks for Reading!