The 2023 NHL Draft class is shaping up to be one of the most explosive and deep classes in recent memory. The projected first round is littered with offensive firepower and athletes who might legitimately have Hall of Fame potential. William Whitelaw is a prospect that could hear his named called on Day 1 of the 2023 NHL Draft.
Whitelaw is small but extremely offensively talented. His offensive upside and skating ability make him a consideration to be selected in the late first round. With Whitelaw headed to the NCAA next season he’ll look to burst into the NHL in a couple years.
Who is William Whitelaw?
|William Whitelaw||C||R||5’9″ / 175cm||172lbs / 78kg|
Whitelaw was born on February 5, 2005 in Rosemount, Minnesota. Will played his minor hockey in Minnesota, with an impressive high school career at Shattuck St.Mary’s. His senior season was highlighted by 110 points in 55 games. Currently playing in the USHL for the Youngstown Phantoms, Whitelaw won the USHL’s Clark Cup Championship and was selected to the USHL all rookie second team.
Whitelaw’s commited to Wisconsin and will be playing for the Badgers in the NCAA next season. His playstyle and stature is comparable to that of former Wisconsin star and newly re-signed Montreal Canadien, Cole Caufield. Whitelaw will look to play against bigger and faster competition next season and develop his 200-foot game.
Whitelaw’s on-ice production
Whitelaw has great offensive ability with great speed and hustle. He constantly moves his feet and has an NHL ready shot he can release in a split second. Whitelaw has incredible hands and can create highlight reel plays every time he touches the puck. Playing on both of the Youngstown Phantoms’ power play and penalty kill showcase Whitelaw’s high motor and work ethic.
|2018–19||D-4||14U AAA||Shattuck St. Mary’s 14U AAA||55||14||14||28|
|2019–20||D-3||MNBEL 14U||MN Bruins 15U AAA||10||3||4||7|
|D-3||MNBEL 14U||MN Rangers 14U AAA||4||2||0||2|
|D-3||14UAAA||Shattuck St. Mary’s 14U AAA||58||31||54||85|
|2020–21||D-2||USHS – Prep||Shattuck St. Mary’s 18U Prep||36||14||19||31|
|18U AAA||Shattuck St. Mary’s 18U AAA||1||3||0||3|
|2021–22||D-1||USHS – Prep||Shattuck St. Mary’s 18U Prep||55||46||64||110|
|D-1||International-Jr||USA U17 (all)||4||6||5||11|
Whitelaw’s shiftiness makes up for his lack of size, which could be a challenge at first in the NCAA. Although, the game is different than it used to be and “small” players are showing stronger and stronger development paths to the NHL. Whitelaw has great work ethic and ability which will surely show him success in his rookie season with Wisconsin and leave a lengthy highlight tape.
Evident by his stats, William likes to score. With being a smaller forward, Whitelaw likely projects on the wing in the NHL but could still compete as an NHL center eventually. His skating and hustle make up for it, but his 200-foot game needs improvement and more size wouldn’t hurt him either.
William Whitelaw’s strengths
Work ethic and compete
Whitelaw is a high energy player. He constantly looks like he’s hustling for loose pucks and has flashes on great back checking. His willingness to win and high compete level make him an attractive prospect in a program known to develop undersized players.
Coming from Minnesota and now going to Wisconsin, Whitelaw knows competitive hockey and has a true passion for the game. He extends that onto the ice and plays hard whistle to whistle, something that’s helped him prove doubters wrong in the past.
Whitelaw has smooth hands and can control the puck in tight or away from his body with precision. This gives him a great zone entry off the rush, moving the puck through or around his defenders.
Receiving passes also showcase his true puck handling capabilities. He can take rolling pucks off the tape, control them on his backhand and weave through a defender to the net. Whitelaw’s puck handling is highlight reel material and a major reason he can compete at such a high level despite his size.
With good top line speed, quickness, and exceptional edges, Whitelaw has great skating ability. His skating ability allows him to create great chances for himself and his teammates. Mixed with his high motor, Whitelaw has incredible hustle and burst.
Whitelaw’s skating ability has been one of the strongest aspects of his game throughout his career and if it can get taken to the next level could mean a lengthy NHL career.
Playmaking and creativity
Whitelaw can handle the puck very well while also analyzing the ice. He keeps his head up and feet always moving in the offensive zone. His hands allow him to deliver accurate passes and showcase his high level of creativity while making plays.
His game could be described as flashy, but he produces. He often utilized a dump-in style pass in the USHL that would rebound in front of the net to a teammate—just a snippet of what Whitelaw can offer with creative plays.
William Whitelaw’s areas of improvement
Whitelaw will look to improve his two-way game at Wisconsin next year. With a killer offensive mindset Whitelaw can sometimes have lapses on the defensive side. His hustle is on display but can find himself out of position.
Whitelaw, like many offensive threats nowadays, is undersized but highly skilled. He still plays physical and utilizes his skating and puck handling abilities to use the ice well. Headed to the NCAA next season, Whitelaw will be faced with a higher, and bigger, level of competition.
College will be a great environment to try and put on weight while continuing to grow. With Whitelaw’s compete level and skill, some added size is something that could boost his game to the next level.
William Whitelaw’s comparables
Kamloops Blazers Center and Dallas Stars prospect Logan Stankoven could be a strong comparable for Whitelaw.
Although Stankoven isn’t in the NHL, last year’s CHL player of the year has a similar creativity and puck handling ability to his offensive game. With similar size, skating and scoring ability, the two slightly undersized forwards matchup well.
Fit with the Flames
Whitelaw is projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick which makes it unlikely the Flames select the centreman. Whitelaw would only be realistic if GM Craig Conroy feels like working the phones prior to the draft.
Whitelaw has high upside and tremendous offensive ceiling. His high motor, skating, and play making ability make the forward a real consideration for the first round.
His compete level and work ethic make him an attractive investment for NHL teams, only really lacking majorly in size, the forward could be a gamble in the first round, but one that pays off well.
Whitelaw will still have two years of development in the NCAA before coming to the NHL. In attending Wisconsin, who knows, Whitelaw could burst onto the scene similar to Cole Caufield in the next few years.
Projection: Middle-six winger, special teams specialist
All TWC 2023 NHL Draft Profiles
Check out more of our individual player profiles of selected 2023 NHL Draft prospects:
Connor Bedard | Matvei Michkov | Adam Fantilli | Leo Carlsson | Zach Benson | Andrew Cristall | Oliver Moore | Will Smith | Ryan Leonard | Eduard Sale | Colby Barlow | Axel Sandin Pellikka | Dalibor Dvorsky | Brayden Yager | David Reinbacher | Nate Danielson | Riley Heidt | Matthew Wood | Quentin Musty | Mikhail Gulyayev | Calum Ritchie | Gabe Perrault | Jayden Perron | Ethan Gauthier | Dmitri Simashev | Samuel Honzek | Lukas Dragicevic | William Whitelaw | Otto Stenberg | Gavin Brindley | Daniil But