The St. Louis Blues love taking goaltenders and defensemen late in the draft, and this season was no exception. They used their fifth-round selection to add depth in a position that already has a ton of quantity in their pipeline.
Tyson Galloway, LHD (Pick No. 145) (6-foot-4, 214 pounds)
CS Ranking (NA): 165 / THW Ranking: Unranked
With just their third pick in this year’s draft, the Blues took a big left-handed defenseman from the Calgary Hitmen in the Western Hockey League (WHL). That deep in the draft, teams are choosing players that piqued their interest, possibly on the advice of one eager scout. But it wouldn’t be the first time a big lefty from the WHL panned out for the Blues. They took Joel Edmundson from the Moose Jaw Warriors with the 46th pick in the 2012 draft. In fact, some analysts compare Galloway to Edmundson as an NHL comparable.
Overview: What He Does Well
Obviously, the first thing that will jump off the page with Galloway is his size. In a draft full of players who still need to fill out their frame, the Kamloops, BC native has size to spare, already well over 200 pounds. But don’t mistake him for a player with no skill. A glance at his WHL highlight reel will show a unique ability to score from odd places, including a floater over the goalie’s shoulder from his blueline, and a freak ricochet goal from behind his own defensive circle. But the best highlight came in a hard-charging, soft-handed front-hand-to-backhand OT winner against the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He finished with four goals and five assists in 17 games.
Even with some offensive success, this player still clearly prioritizes the defensive aspects of his game. “Everyone wants to contribute on offence but it’s not my number one priority,” Galloway told Hitmen Hockey. “I take pride in the defensive end but tried to jump in and make myself a threat or add a different option on the rush.” But Blues’ Director of Amateur Scouting, Tony Feltrin, focused on the two-way aspects of his game, saying “obviously a good-sized lad… skates well for his size… but we just think he can bring a two-way game.”
Overview: What He Needs to Work On
Galloway is a fine skater for his size, but his stride and technique could use refinement. But positioning and physicality are actually bigger holes in his game, making him a bit of a confusing prospect. Moreover, Galloway can get hemmed into his own zone with mistakes, either errant passes or poor puck-handling. Those kinds of mistakes might go unpunished in the WHL, but they certainly won’t in the NHL. If his vision and playmaking from the backend improve, he could be a real two-way threat on a second or third pairing in the future. But he has some work to do.
Scout and Draft Analyst Thoughts
Steve Kournianos, TheDraftAnalyst.com: “A massive two-way defenseman who improved his skating and positioning to become one of the Hitmen’s better defenders, Galloway wasted little time carving out a strong draft-season resume during the shortened WHL season… [he] still fits into the ‘raw’ category as you’d like to see him take on more responsibility on a top pairing, but he can be a tough customer who consistently neutralizes opposing rushes with either his stick or his physicality.”
Elite Prospects: “The skating translates to rush defence, where Galloway usually drives the puck-carrier to the perimeter before pivoting and erasing them along the boards. Lots of off-puck activation with some in-motion passes and give-and-go-type plays.”
Any time a fifth-round pick makes the NHL, it is a great credit to the team and scouts that drafted him. But Galloway certainly has a shot. The size is already there, and after the recent success of big defensive units in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (including the Montreal Canadiens, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Blues themselves in 2019), that will be a coveted resource in coming years.
Galloway has to work on his game awareness to truly push toward an NHL future. That means better reads of the play and better, more intelligent passing and zone exits. But there are many positive aspects, including decent skating for a player of his size. In reality, a player with his profile could have been taken much higher in the draft, and the Blues are lucky that he fell to him in the fifth round. There’s plenty to be excited about here.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.