Conor Garland THW Close-Up
Date of birth: 11 March 1996
Place of birth: Scituate, MA
Wt: 168 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2014
• NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings, North American Skaters: not ranked
• NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings, North American skaters: 86
• Craig Button (April): 44
Conor Garland, Black-Magic Passer
[Feature image credit: Daniel St. Louis Photography]
This past season, Moncton Wildcats right winger Conor Garland absolutely shredded the QMJHL, leading the league with 35-94-129 points in 67 games, good enough to earn him the Trophée Jean Béliveau as the league’s top scorer, and the Trophée commémoratif Michel-Brière as league MVP. Three times he was named QMJHL 1st star of the week, and for February and March he was the league’s 1st star of the month.
Garland is the first player in Wildcats history to lead the Q in scoring, and he is only the second American-born player to do it (Pat LaFontaine was the first).
Over the final 21 games of the regular season, Garland was held pointless in just one game; otherwise he racked up 53 points in that final stretch, including 40 assists and 13 goals.
This is hardly new ground for Garland. Look at his stats:
- He played just one year at renowned Shattuck St. Mary’s, scoring 116 points in 52 games before an illness in his family required him to return to the east coast.
- He then played for the Boston Jr. Bruins, where he put up 42-52-94 points in 40 games while playing alongside 2015 consensus number 2 pick Jack Eichel.
In Moncton this past season, Garland was one-third of the most dangerous line in the Q, the so-called GAB line featuring Ivan Barbashev (2014 St. Louis Blues pick) and Cameron Askew (2015 draft eligible).
Garland is not so much a magician with the puck as he is a warlock with it, casting black magic spells to pull off unbelievable passes. He plays a lightning-fast game, is extremely elusive, and is entirely unpredictable with the puck on his stick. He’s capable of making passes that no one has ever thought about or seen before. His quickness is too much for his opponents, and his elite hockey IQ is simply off the chain. Far and away he was the most exciting player to watch in the Q this season, bringing fans out of their seats again and again. There seems no limit to what he can do with the puck on his stick.
So why haven’t you heard about him? Check his specs again. At 5’8″ or 5’9″, some hockey fans are convinced that a player his size can’t succeed away from the amateur stage.
Furthermore … do his extraordinary skills translate to the pro game? No. He couldn’t get away with a lot of that in the pro leagues.
But Garland is a determined athlete, hell bent on reaching the NHL. He’s adapted his game before. If he has to adapt again in order to keep playing hockey, he’s likely more than capable of doing that.
Scouts dissed him last year. There’s just no way that will happen again this time around.
“Conor is one of the most exciting players I have ever seen. His dedication to being a complete 200-foot player has been a huge part of his success. His commitment to conditioning has led to a great consistency. The sky is the limit for Conor’s future in hockey.”
– Moncton coach Darren Rumble
Risk 1/5, Reward 5/5
- Good mobility
- Incredible hands
- Astounding offensive hockey IQ
- Elite passer
- Elusive and shifty
- Strong on his skates
- Unafraid of the dirty areas
- Can be an agitator
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
- He can continue to work on playing all three zones
- He can add more strength and muscle
NHL Player(s) Comparison:
Theo Fleury … but bigger, and with smoother hands.
When He’ll Go In June:
He has the talent to be an early round pick but he could slip way down if teams don’t see him capable of developing a pro game. Still, as was pointed out on the boards at Hockey’s Future, teams like Montreal and Tampa Bay have shown a willingness to draft the smaller, highly skilled players, and they’ve shown an ability to develop them into NHL-ready players (Tyler Johnson, David Desharnais come to mind). Garland’s speed and his shiftiness alone reduce the size argument to so much useless chatter.
He doesn’t score on the dangle at :52 but it’s still a brilliant move.