2020-21 Team: Acadia-Bathurst Titan – QMJHL
Date of Birth: May 14, 2003
Place of Birth: Fredericton, NB, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 201 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 48th (amongst NA skaters)
- Bob McKenzie/TSN: 48th
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 68th
- Andrew Forbes’ May Rankings: 54th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 51st
- Smaht Scouting: 97th
- Draft Prospects Hockey: 95th
- Dobber Prospects Mid- Season Rankings: Honorable Mention
Once you get past that top tier of prospect in any NHL Draft, it can be impossible to project how a player will develop. Often, if a player selected in the second or early third round is given the proper time and attention, they can grow into their toolkit and become a productive member of the franchise that drafted them, whether that is at the NHL or AHL level.
The reason why I mention this at the start of Cole Huckins’ draft profile is that he is a prospect that will be selected outside of the first round, but has the potential to be an impact player in a few years. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he has the frame of a true NHL power forward, and his scoring upside makes him more than just an agitator.
See, Huckins has a strong offensive toolkit, and when he played at Center for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, he was dishing the puck around the ice like he could be one of the best playmakers in the draft. However, when he was shifted to wing during the 2020-21 season, he added that power forward snarl to his game, using his size and strength to win puck battles while scoring 33 points in just 32 games played.
With this strong scoring output during such an exceptional season, Huckins has seen his draft stock rise. While he likely won’t fight his way into the first round, he will be a prospect to keep an eye on as he develops.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Cole Huckins – NHL Draft Projection
When it comes down to draft day, size often talks as much as scoring statistics, especially in times of uncertainty. As we saw in 2020, bigger players tend to rise up, which may mean that Huckins could hear his name called sooner than his original third-round projection.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
With this in mind, I would expect him to be drafted in the mid to late second round. However, Huckins has a great toolkit that will be appealing to general managers, so if a team falls in love with his intangibles, he could be a sleeper candidate to be selected around pick 35.
Huckins has power forward instincts and is often seen aggressively hunting after the puck on the forecheck. When going after loose pucks in the offensive zone, Huckins deploys a lengthy stride to gather speed and uses it to hustle after the puck. Given his size, if he loses the initial chase to the puck, he can put up a solid battle immediately after to trap the defender.Josh Tessler – Smahtscouting.com
At times last season, Huckins looked like a young Joe Thornton, setting up his teammates with unbelievable passes from the center position. His puck skills and vision are definitely some of his strongest attributes, but a move to the wing has also revealed a grittier more hard-nosed side to his game.Craig Eagles – theqmjhl.ca
- Big, power forward frame
- Great all-around game, with strong playmaking ability
- Plays with grit
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
While he is a gifted playmaker while at center, when Huckins was placed on the wing, he showed better power forward tendencies. Depending on how he is used by the franchise that drafts him, he could be shifted between either position, so he will need to learn to round out his game both physically and offensively on the wing.
If the 2020-21 season is a sign of the future for Huckins, then he is on the upswing of his development and has the potential to take on a mid-six role for the team that drafts him. Depending on what is needed, he could be that large playmaking center or a tough as nails winger that chips in both on the scoresheet and in front of the net.
If this season was a bit of a fluke, tough, his ceiling may be a little bit lower. He still has the potential to become a bottom-six NHL center with offensive upside, which would be a good outcome if he is selected in the mid to late third-round.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
When it comes to raw potential, there’s a lot of reason to believe in Huckins. If he is selected in the late second-round, then he is that perfect big-bodied forward prospect every franchise would love to have in their system. Even if a team reaches on him, though, he is a great all-around prospect that will make his mark on a franchise.
Cole Huckins Statistics
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.