2021-22 Team: Moose Jaw Warriors
Date of Birth: April 29, 2004
Place of Birth: Irma, Alberta, Canada
Ht: 5-foot-10 Wt: 154 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 First-Year Eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 12th
- Future Considerations: 52nd
- Recruit Scouting: 30th
- Peter Baracchini’s May Rankings: 28th
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 48th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 26th
- Smaht Scouting: 21st
- Dobber Prospects: 24th
One of the biggest risers in this draft, Jagger Firkus has gone from a projected late second to early third-round pick to a projected late first-round pick recently. A strong Western Hockey League (WHL) season and an incredible performance at the CHL top prospects game have turned scouts’ heads. One of the deadliest scorers in this draft, there is a lot of upside to Firkus as a potential top-six forward in the NHL. He finished third in points among under-18 players during the regular season with 80 points in 66 games and finished second in goals among the same group, with his 36 goals, placing him behind only phenom Connor Bedard. He’s continued this dominance into the postseason, scoring 12 points in just 10 games.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
He is an undersized forward at just 5-foot-10 and needs to add a lot of weight to his 154-pound frame, but there is an incredible skill set to work with. He is an all-around offensive weapon who sets himself apart from other prospects with his goalscoring ability. He plays the game at a high pace and is always looking to get the puck into dangerous areas. As a late first-round pick, he can provide a lot of value for a team.
Firkus’ skating is an area that could use some work, considering his size. It isn’t bad, but he lacks the top-end speed needed to beat NHL defenders wide and create separation on the rush. Despite just average top speed, his edge work and acceleration are particularly good. He’s able to make explosive cuts off the boards and out of the corner, creating enough separation to get his shot off in tight spaces. Adding lower-body strength could help his top speed and further improve his acceleration and edge work, though. Right now, his skating isn’t a weakness, and there are parts of his skating I like, but I wouldn’t consider it a strength of his either.
His playmaking is inconsistent. He’s shown the ability to make high-end plays and split the defense with his passing, but he tries to force the puck through seams too often. This can lead to his passes getting intercepted and turned the other way in transition. There is playmaking ability on display, but he needs to improve his decision-making in this area and force plays less often.
I do prefer a prospect who tries too much rather than a player who is too conservative with their playmaking. It’s easier to dial back the attempted seam passes and highlight-reel assists than it is to teach players to make these plays. It’s unlikely Firkus develops into a high-end playmaker at the next level, but he has the ability to make the occasional great play. Like his skating, it isn’t a weakness but isn’t a strength either.
His stickhandling is a strength, however. His hands don’t pop in the way a Jack Hughes or Patrick Kane’s hands pop, but he has the puck on a string. He’s a highly creative stickhandler and can manipulate the puck in ways that fool defensemen. He loves making plays on his backhand, opening up a ton of moves for him. His lacrosse goal in the WHL playoffs is a great example of his creativity with the puck.
It also helps him in his goalscoring. He displays excellent hands in tight spaces that allow him to create small pockets of separation to get his shot off. When one-on-one with defensemen, he’s shown the ability to stickhandle through them with quick moves and his solid edge work.
Firkus’ shot is his standout feature; it’s what separates him from other prospects in this draft. He has a well-rounded shot and can beat goalies in a variety of ways. It’s hard and accurate, but his best attribute is his quick release. He can get the puck off his stick in a millisecond, making it difficult for goalies to set themselves. He can beat goalies with range with his wrist shot, can grab goals in tight, and has a good one-timer from the left circle. There is no weakness in his shot, and he has an NHL-ready shot right now. He’s the kind of player who people refer to as “puck magnets” because the puck always finds him in goalscoring areas. He’s got that unteachable goalscoring instinct, and that makes him an enticing prospect.
His defensive game is good enough, but it’s not an asset. Added strength would help him win battles along the boards and in the corners, an area where he can struggle. He takes up good positions defensively and displays an active stick. The big area of concern for Firkus is his backchecking. His drive for offense leads to plenty of points but often sees him become the last forward back. Once in the defensive zone, he displays a good two-way game, but he has to improve on his backchecking.
Firkus has played both at center and wing in the WHL, but he projects as a wing in the NHL. His tendency to be the last skater back on the backcheck would be detrimental in the NHL, and it’s difficult to be a center at his size. It isn’t impossible, as players like Brayden Point and Mikael Granlund have proven, but it is uncommon. The reduced defensive responsibility at wing will be good for him, and he will have more opportunities to attack defensemen one-on-one. His excellent shot will also make him a serious threat on the power play.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Jagger Firkus — NHL Draft Projection
Firkus has moved into the late first-round range, likely going anywhere between 20-32. His goal-scoring potential and overall offensive toolset will be enticing to teams in this range. He also has top power-play unit potential, which should increase his draft stock.
“Firkus can be an effective top six forward in the NHL and will be a valued asset on special teams. With his shot release and range, he can score goals will ease and snag top shelf snipes. He does a great job of creating dangerous chances in the slot. With that said, you are getting quality production from him. His play in the defensive zone is not as robust as it is in the offensive zone, but if you pair him with the right defensive-minded forwards, he can be rather effective at the next level.” Josh Tessler, Smaht Scouting
“Firkus’ skill and creativity stand out consistently. He shows great ability to beat defenders one-on-one with his stickhandling. He can make tough passes at a high rate through seams and under pressure. He is a shot-and-pass threat which makes him a major asset on a power play and often scores from range with a release that will beat NHL goalies. Firkus is quick, but not fast, showing good enough skating and compete to win battles but he’s not going to beat NHL defenders wide. The scoring ability is significant enough that I think he can be a middle-six winger.” Corey Pronman, The Athletic (From: ‘The 2022 NHL Draft ranking: Pronman’s top 29 prospects at the draft lottery’, 5/10/22).
“Undersized but highly skilled and intelligent offensive winger. Can impact the game with his shooting ability as well as his offensive vision.” Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects
Under Construction — Needs Improvement
- Back checking
- Top Speed
Firkus has legitimate top-six, 30-goal potential. He possesses one of the best shots in this draft and has a well-rounded offensive arsenal at his disposal. His ability to score on the power play also gives him a bit more NHL certainty, as in the worst-case scenario, he’s a top-nine power-play specialist. There’s serious play driving and goal-scoring potential in Firkus, which should excite the fans of whatever team drafts him.
Risk — 2.5/5, Reward — 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense — 8/10, Defense — 3/10
Named CHL top prospects game MVP
Jagger Firkus Statistics
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My name is Austin Stanovich, as a lifelong player and fan I’m hoping to bring my own unique perspective on the hockey world, specifically covering the Los Angeles Kings. As a SoCal native I grew up a Kings fan, and after graduating from Long Beach State in 2020 I’ve joined The Hockey Writers crew as a columnist for the Kings.