PROSPECT REPORT: REID VALADE
Reid Valade is one of my favorite under the radar prospects in this year’s draft. The 5’10, 161 pound Ontario native is so much fun to watch, and has a boatload of untapped scoring potential. Valade’s 18 goals and 39 points in 52 OHL games put him 9th in scoring on Kitchener, which isn’t anything too special, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story with Valade. Valade’s skating ability is flawless. His stride is clean, his technique is near perfect, and his motor is always going. Watch how well he accelerates using some quick crossovers, and maintains his speed with linear crossovers on this breakaway goal:
Valade is a true speedster, with the type of toolkit that allows him to play up and down the lineup. He can score, he can defend, and he can kill penalties. His feet are so quick, and his edgework is top notch. Valade’s defensive game is so mature for a player his age. He’s never drifting in his own zone, and he’s one of the best forecheckers in the entire OHL. For a small guy, he loves to throw the body, and his hits can sometimes be a bit questionable. His speed coupled with his tendency to throw his body around make him a huge pest for defenders to deal with, and a coach’s dream. It’s really easy to envision him being an NHL bottom-6 spark plug, with the potential to be a scorer as well.
Valade’s toolkit doesn’t stop with defense, he’s an awesome playmaker and a sneaky good shooter too. Because he’s so light and so good on his edges, Valade can pull off some sick moves with little space. He’s very patient with the puck, and has a pair of slick, deceptive hands. He can make plays at top speed, and also finish them. Valade’s patented move is a forehand-backhand that’s so quick, goalies usually can’t do anything about it:
(replay is better quality)
He holds on to the puck just long enough to get both defenders on him, then initiates the give and go. He’s able to corral the return pass and turn it into a slick finish.
On this shorthanded finish, Valade is able to pick up a bad pass by angling the puck off of his skate. The puck almost goes out of his reach, but Valade is somehow able to get a few good dekes in before a lightning fast backhand finish. These are the kind of plays that make me think there’s serious scoring potential with him.
He’s so patient when he gets the puck, making the goalie set his feet. After that, it’s just an easy little chess move for Valade. The way he darted through the neutral zone and finished his route to the goal shouldn’t be overlooked. Valade’s feet don’t stop there, and he can’t capitalize on that defensive mistake if they do.
When Valade’s speed isn’t creating goals for himself, it’s creating goals for others. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve seen him jet down the wing, blow past a defenseman or two, and lay a pass perfectly on the tape for an east finish. He plays the wing position so well, and can be depended on to set up or finish plays at top speed night in and night out:
He’s able to make solid decisions and crisp passes when he’s not speeding around the ice, and can be used to run the half-wall on the power play. As a playmaker, he’s very good, but not anything particularly special. He can slow the game down, or speed it up, depending on the situation. Here’s a good example of Valade slowing the game down:
Here’s a great example of Valade speeding the game up:
Valade’s shooting is very good. His wrist shot/release combination is dynamic, and he can score from multiple areas. He doesn’t have a very accurate or powerful one timer, but his wrist shot more than makes up for it. His aforementioned backhand is also above average. He can pick corners with his wrist shot consistently, and definitely has 30-40 goal potential in the OHL:
Valade isn’t ranked very high by many people, but I think that’ll change as scouts go back and review his season. Any team targeting a player like Seth Jarvis on day one of the draft will certainly be looking to Valade on day two, as their skillsets are pretty similar. Valade is likely going to provide some great value wherever he’s picked, and has all the tools to be an effective professional hockey player.