2019-20 Team: Spokane Chiefs
Date of Birth: Sept. 2, 2002
Place of Birth: Kelowna, British Columbia
Ht: 6-foot-5 Wt: 207 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 38th (Among NA skaters)
- The Hockey News: 109th
- The Hockey Writers (Bell): 93rd
- The Hockey Writers (Fisher): 68th
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 82nd
Jack Finley was born Sept. 2, 2002. If he was born two weeks later, he would have been eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft rather than this one. If history has taught us anything, it’s that the younger players in the draft tend to be the ones that go off the following year. Remember when the Toronto Maple Leafs selected Nick Robertson with the 55th pick in 2019? That’s making a lot of selections look silly now.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
But back to Finley, the 6-foot-5 centreman has been mainly used in a depth, defensive role for the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. But, he still had no problem chipping in offense to the tune of 57 points (19 goals, 38 assists) in 61 games this past season. This comes after just 19 points in 63 games in his rookie season. If there’s a candidate to take a big step forward next season, it could be Finley.
It’s been talked about that the big forward isn’t a great skater, although he’s good for his size, but I’m of the belief that skating is one of the easier aspects of a player’s game to improve. Granted, coming in as a great skater makes the process easier, but it’s not exactly a major hurdle to cross.
What he does bring though, is excellent puck skills and some great decision making for a young pivot. He also might be one of the best perimeter players in this draft, not in the first round, using his size to protect the puck and waiting for the opportune moment to make a play.
But with his size, his bread and butter is right in front of the net, where he can use his size to screen the goaltender, make tips, and fight off defenders with relative ease. Whether he’s standing in the goalie’s way or along the boards, he keeps his head up and has the ability to make plays. Seeing him take more of an offensive role next season could see him impress.
Finally, we’ll have to talk about his defensive game. Finley uses his strength to force opponents off the puck when needed, but he also has strong positioning that allows him to get in the passing lanes and force defenders to the outside. Being a good defensive forward at 17 in a difficult league like the WHL is no small feat, and I’m certain that an NHL team will see that.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Jack Finley – NHL Draft Projection
Based on The Hockey Writers’ rankings, Finley looks like he should be a third-rounder. I believe he’ll be a mid-to-late third rounder, with a chance that he slides up to the top of the third or back to the top of the fourth. Remembering that he’s one of the youngest players in this draft class, anything later then mid-third (or even that range to be honest) could be a steal for the team that lands him.
“Besides the fact that he’s huge, he’s one of the youngest players in the draft (he was a couple of weeks away from being eligible for next year’s draft), he’s decently talented and is one of the better cycle players in this draft… Finley does most of his work around the net, getting to the front to make little plays on tips and redirects, but he’s also a decent perimeter player because of that ability to protect the puck and make plays with his head up. His skating is still a bit of a concern for me, you’d like to see a player his size score a little more at the junior level and there just aren’t that many forwards his size having an impact in today’s NHL, but he has some intriguing tools that complement his length well.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic (from: “Wheeler: 10 intriguing 2020 NHL Draft prospects not in my top 100 ranking” – The Athletic – June 2, 2020).
“…The upside is significant for this 6-foot-5 right-handed centre who is one of the youngest prospects eligible for 2020 as a September birthdate. Finley skates well for his size, with a very long-yet-smooth stride that will become more powerful as he adds strength to his formidable frame. He’s been cast in a shutdown role for Spokane, though he’s been chipping in offensively… I can see a bit of Jets centre Adam Lowry in the young Finley, though he’ll have to do a lot of filling out to become that type of two-way force in the future.” – Larry Fisher, The Hockey Writers
“The giant center from British Columbia was used primarily in a defensive role for Spokane last season, largely due to his size and intelligence. He’s a force in puck battles, a solid penalty-killer, and has good positioning in his own end. Finley does have a good offensive skillset, too. He can create offense off the cycle, has good hands, and can tip pucks well. Finley also reads and anticipates plays well, which allows him to follow developing plays and put himself in positions for secondary scoring chances.” – Lauren Kelly, RawCharge
- Defensive Game
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Offensive Game
By the end of next season, I think Finley might be a player that jumps out as someone who was taken too low, so his NHL potential might look quite different in a year’s time. For now, He likely looks like a middle-six centre, and I’d lean towards the third but I think the ceiling is a No. 2 guy. If all goes well, he could become a solid two-way presence in the NHL.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 6.5/10, Defence – 7.5/10
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Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.