Isaiah George- 2022 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Isaiah George

2021-22 Team: London Knights (OHL)
Date of Birth: Feb. 15, 2004
Place of Birth: Oakville, ON, CAN
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 194 lbs
Shoots: L
Position: D
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible

Rankings

The London Knights selected Isaiah George with the 68th pick in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Priority Selection Draft in 2020. The young defenseman missed out on the opportunity to play last season because of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the cancelation of the OHL season, but he has adjusted nicely during his rookie season in 2021-22. He finished the regular season with six goals and 17 assists in 67 regular-season games for London.

Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide

George is known for his excellent skating ability, which will be his most attractive tool as an NHL prospect. His “effortless” ability as a skater is only one element of the tremendous athleticism that helps him as a mobile defenseman who can cover a lot of territory on the ice. Rob Simpson, London’s associate general manager, spoke about George’s ability to close gaps in the neutral zone as a key trait that the Knights valued when they drafted him. He is a strong two-way defenseman with good puck retrieval skills and success in the transition game.

George became one of 40 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) players to earn a spot on the roster for the 2022 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Kitchener, Ontario on March 23. The prospect showcase catches the eye of the top NHL scouts and front-office executives as a buffet of future NHL talent from some of the top junior hockey programs in the world.

While earning a roster spot undoubtedly brought his name to the attention of scouts, his effort during the athletic testing drills the day before the game improved the perception of his NHL potential even more. He showcased his speed with the best finish among all skaters in the 30M backward skate with a time of 4.476 seconds. During the 30M forward skate with the puck, he posted the third-best time at 3.903 seconds. His overall score was fourth-best at the entire showcase. David Goyette, a potential first-round pick, and Matthew Savoie, a potential top-five pick, were two of the players ahead of him. He edged projected first-overall pick and fifth-place finisher Shane Wright.

George has shown tremendous versatility this season for the Knights. He has been willing to leave his natural side as a lefty to fill the need on the right side if circumstances have called for it. He’s accepted a role on the top defensive pair when his team has been shorthanded. His body of work indicates the type of attitude that coaches at all levels value.

London has a long track record of producing excellent NHL talent. Rick Nash, Patrick Kane, and John Tavares all became first-overall draft picks within eight drafts from 2002-2009 after playing their junior hockey for the Knights. George’s head coach and part-owner of the team Dale Hunter also played 19 NHL seasons, while fellow part-owner Basil McRae played 16. Playing in an environment surrounded by successful professional figures can help normalize the transition to the NHL for young players with pressure to perform at the next level.

Isaiah George- NHL Draft Projection

The emergence of defensemen with great speed and the ability to move the puck in transition will benefit George’s draft stock. His willingness to demonstrate an attitude as a team player goes a long way with NHL organizations when they evaluate prospects. However, a player without a particularly high ceiling as a top-pair defenseman might slip down the draft board. George has a chance to be selected in the second round, but the third round is his most likely landing spot.

Quotables

“You like him, as a coach, because he plays the right way and doesn’t take too many high-risk plays. He’s finding out how to do it at both ends. There’s a good balance there. It’s not about who’s the most offensive or defensive, but who can combine both to become a really solid player. We had too many lefty (shots) last week and asked him to play the right side. He said sure and played well. It’s a hard adjustment when you haven’t done it that much. We’ve had most of our rookies sit out games this year, but he’s found ways to keep himself in the lineup. We knew he had the raw ability to play this way. He’s been coachable and found a good niche on our team.” -London Knights Assistant Coach Dylan Hunter, via the London Free Press

“George is a two-way defenseman with a nice combination of skating, puck skills, and vision. There were a number of things that he did well but what really stood out was his ability to transition the puck out of his own end and into the offensive zone. George made lateral moves with the puck and could pull it across his body to evade opponents.” -Shaun Richardson (from NHL Entry Draft, “Isaiah George- 23636- Team White vs. Team Red,” 3/27/22).

Strengths

  • Skating ability- speed and effortless stride
  • Versatility to play different roles on a team
  • Athleticism to cover significant territory on the ice
  • Closing gaps in the neutral zone
  • Moving the puck in transition

Under Construction- Improvements to Make

  • Offensive point production
  • Calmer decision making with the puck on his stick
  • Possibly a safer pick without a high ceiling

NHL Potential

George has the potential to become a useful defenseman at the NHL level because of his skating ability and his skills moving the puck in transition. Matt Carle played 730 games for four NHL teams over 12 seasons through 2016-17. He was a puck-moving defenseman who graded out well by advanced metrics without ever having to reach the caliber of a top-pair defenseman. He averaged over 20 minutes of time on ice (TOI) for seven consecutive seasons through the prime years of his career, and George can replicate that kind of value for a team through versatility and two-way skills.

Risk- Reward Analysis

Risk 2/5, Reward 3/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offense 5/10, Defense 7/10

Awards/Achievements

George was selected for the 2022 Kubota CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Kitchener, Ontario.

Isaiah George Statistics

Videos

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