2021-22 Team: Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)
Date of Birth: July 2, 2002
Place of Birth: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Height: 6-foot-4, Weight: 209 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: Third Year Eligible
After sitting through two consecutive NHL drafts without hearing his name called, Stephen Halliday has built a very good case that he should finally be selected in the 2022 Draft. After three seasons of showing very minor improvements, he had an excellent season in the USHL this year.
In his fourth and final season in the United States Hockey League (USHL), Halliday was dominant, scoring 95 points in 62 games, enough to rank second in the league. He nearly doubled his point total from the 2020-2021 season (48 points) in only 10 more games. Halliday also set a career-high plus-minus rating, finishing with a plus-29 as well as winning the USHL’s Curt Hammer Award given to the league’s Gentleman of the Year despite amassing 52 penalty minutes.
The first thing you notice about Halliday is his size. At 6-foot-4 and over 200 pounds, he towers over most of his opponents. He has some skills that are typical of someone with his size, a good track record in physical puck battles, and a heavy net-front presence, but he also has some traits that are uncommon for such a big player, such as his surprising speed. His shot was underwhelming through his first few years, but his sheer strength has helped improve the power of his shot.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Skating was the biggest issue that many talent evaluators had with Halliday’s game in the past, and he has clearly been working on that as his stride has smoothed out a bit (though I would still consider him a below-average skater), and his speed has improved enough that he is tough to stop or knock off the puck when he gets going in a straight line.
Part of his success this season was due to his physical maturity in comparison to most of his USHL opponents, but Halliday’s improved skating and shooting are the biggest reasons he took such a big step forward in his development. He has committed to play for Ohio State University in the NCAA next season, and he will cement himself as a legitimate NHL prospect if he can show that his offense and skating are good enough to keep up with the collegiate level.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Stephen Halliday – NHL Draft Projection
This is Halliday’s final chance to be drafted, as his July 2022 birthday makes him ineligible for the 2023 NHL Draft. The remarkable improvements that he showed this season, paired with this being the last chance for an NHL team to claim exclusive rights to signing him, should lead to Halliday being selected in the later rounds (fourth to seventh) by a team willing to give this double-overaged player a shot. I would guess that he is finally selected in the fifth round.
“He’s a big kid, which allows him to protect pucks very well, so he can extend plays because his puck protection is so good.” – Greg Brown, Dubuque Fighting Saints’ head coach
“Straight-line skater. Does not have great speed but has enough to make his size difficult to play against. Solid on his crossover but could use more drive and keep his feet moving.” – FCHockey Staff, FCHockey
- Large frame
- Straight line skating
- Good shot
Under Construction (Improvements to make)
- Defensive positioning/instincts
Halliday’s path to the NHL would be as a depth forward who can bring a physical presence to a team while chipping in with some good depth scoring and not being a liability on defense. He has all the tools to be that type of player but what remains to be seen is if his skating will be good enough to get him there. I expect that he will be a great AHL player who can be trusted in a depth role on an NHL team.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 6.5/10, Defense – 5/10
- 2019-22 USHL All-Academic Team
- 2021-22 USHL Gentleman of the Year (Curt Hammer Award)
- 2021-22 USHL First All-Star Team
Logan is a sports writer for the Detroit Red Wings as a member of The Hockey Writers team. He loves reading about statistics and advanced analytics, and discovering how they can enrich his hockey analysis and writing. Logan also writes about more general hockey topics on his blog https://www.crashthecrease.blog.