Corson Ceulemans is looking to make his mark in the NCAA after spending this shortened season with the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL. Ranked as high as 14th by Future Considerations, Ceulemans slots in at 18 in TWC’s consolidated draft rankings. He has a lot of really interesting skills that could make him a strong defenceman in the NHL. Here is everything you need to know about the smooth-skating blueliner, and why the Flames should take a long look at him should he come available.
Who is Corson Ceulemans?
A product of Regina, Saskatchewan, Ceulemans spent his younger years playing across Western Canada, including with the Leduc Oil Kings U15 Team. Although he had the opportunity to go back to Saskatchewan after being drafted by the Moose Jaw Warriors, Ceulemans declined, opting instead to play in the AJHL in order to facilitate a move into the NCAA.
He played his final season in Canada’s second highest junior league and has committed to go south of the border next season and join the Wisconsin Badgers, where former Flames Coach Robert “Badger Bob” Johnson was once the coach.
While he is one of the younger players in the draft, he stands a tall 6’1″ and weighs in just over 200 pounds. Ceulemans has the frame to become a big defenceman in the NHL in a couple of seasons.
Corson Ceulemans’ on-ice production
Take a look at his stats below from the last three seasons, keeping in mind that he was playing in the AJHL, a less competitive league than some of the other prospects in our series.
|2018-19||D-2||CSSHL U18||OHA Edmonton U18 Prep||30||13||16||29||N/A|
The nice thing about Ceulemans’ game is that he has taken a step forward in each of his years. In his first full season in the AJHL, Ceulemans put up very good numbers, and finished second on his team among defencemen. This past season in just eight games, Ceulemans put up more points per game than last season, and finished eighth among regular AJHL defencemen in that category. Not bad for a shortened year.
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Ceulemans represented Team Canada at the World U18 Tournament this year, and put up a goal and seven assists in six games. This was tied for the most among defencemen at the tournament of the best players in his age category, which is an incredibly impressive achievement. He led all defencemen in assists, and finished with a very impressive +11, good for sixth in the entire tournament.
Corson Ceulemans’ strengths
Of all the defencemen in this year’s draft, Ceulemans is one of the best skaters. Not only is he very fast, his acceleration is very good, allowing him to reach top speed quite quickly. His backwards skating is also very smooth and quick, allowing him to defend the rush effectively. On top of that, he is good in the corners, and rarely loses his balance when battling down low.
Ceuelmans is an incredible offensive quarterback, with impressive vision and crisp passes. Using his strong skating, he is able to avoid players and walk the line very effectively. His shot is strong, and he has the ability to keep it low to create tips and deflections in front. While it can always get stronger, this is something that will come from him growing and developing through his college years.
Ceuelemans’ defensive game is also good, if not excellent. His skating and vision of the game allow him to usually be in the right place at the right time. His gap control is also good, but will get better with time. However, when he gets the puck back in the defensive zone, he is very good at turning the play up ice and creating chances going the other way with his strong passing.
Corson Ceulemans’ areas of improvement
There are two major knocks on Ceulemans which are why he is projected to go lower than someone with his skillset, and only one was he responsible for. Let’s start with that one, which is his defensive positioning. Scouts note that sometimes he can bite too hard on dekes, putting himself out of position and allowing for scoring chances against. This is something that he can likely work out of his game with practice.
The second was out of his control. Scouts simply have not seen enough from him—or rather, enough of him against quality opposition—to be able to accurately read him. The AJHL is a good league, but it is a far cry from the CHL, NCAA, or SHL, etc. Ceulemans has absolutely impressed where he played, but it will be interesting to see how he does against much stronger opposition next season with the Badgers.
Fit with the Flames
To say the Flames desperately need righthanded defencemen would be an understatement. There are three in the NHL, Rasmus Andersson, Chris Tanev, and Michael Stone, who is an unrestricted free agent. In the system, there is also Johannes Kinnvall, who will be the AHL next season, Alex Petrovic, who is a UFA, and Jake Boltmann, who is still light years away from the NHL.
Ceulemans needs at least two years in the AHL before turning pro, but even having someone who could potentially slot in as a top-four defenceman down the road on the right side would fill an organizational need.
A Cale Makar-esque defenceman who could develop into a top-four defenceman is an enticing option for the Flames. Not only does he play the right side, but has the tools to really develop into a long-term fit for the Flames in a few years.
Projection: Top-four offensive defenceman
Featured image created with Venngage.