2021-22 Team: Guelph Storm (OHL)
Date of Birth: March 7, 2004
Place of Birth: Guelph, Ont, Canada
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 170 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
Jake Karabela is a talented winger who just finished up his first year in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) playing for his hometown Guelph Storm. He finished the season with 12 goals and 45 points in 68 games, while finishing second on the team with a plus/minus of plus-14. It was a good rookie season where he had consistent play throughout the year.
Karabela’s strengths are in the offensive zone. He has the ability to pick out teammates with strong passes while getting into scoring opportunities himself. His play along the boards is also something to watch, as he is difficult to knock off the puck and can make an outlet pass even when checked. Once he gets the outlet pass away, he can use his speed to catch up to the play and become a target for a scoring chance in the offensive zone.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
At the Top Prospects game back in March, Karabela was one of the players who stood out in a positive way. Not only did he score the game-winning goal, but he also collected an assist on Team White’s first goal of the game. On his goal, he showed good speed picking up the puck at his own blueline and creating a breakaway. He then buried the puck, going forehand to backhand and beating Ivan Zhigalov for the goal.
The big question surrounding Karabela is should he play wing or center? He does profile as a center, but also played left wing this season. During the playoffs, he was the Storm’s third-line center in Game Four of their first-round series, but in Game Five, he was the team’s first-line left-winger. He is a versatile player which is always a positive thing to have for prospects entering the draft.
The one area he does have to work on is defensive coverage. Whether it is on the wing or at center, he needs to get back in the play defensively just as fast as he jumps into it offensively. As the season went on, he did get better defensively but this is one area of improvement he needs to work on this summer.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Jake Karabela- NHL Draft Projection
Karabela will most likely fall into the mid-to-late third round — somewhere in the 75-90 spot based on projections. He has strong offensive upside and showed growth defensively throughout the season. Whichever team selects him could be getting a steal as if he played in the OHL last season, he may have been a first or second-rounder this year.
“The hands and patience that he showed in tight shows that strong offensive skillset every time he steps on the ice.
Whether he moves up in the rankings remains to be seen as he could stay as a third or fourth-round pick. But, the potential and skill is there for him to be on a team’s radar.” – Peter Baracchini, The Hockey Writers
“He is strong on his skates and is hard to move out of the play when he is in position as he has shown that he can take a hit to make a play at the OHL level. He is quick in transition and defends well in the neutral zone with his ability to move into passing lanes and intercept breakout passes. His hockey IQ/awareness and ability to consistently get to open ice is ahead of his peers and he helps the Storm generate quality scoring chances whenever he is on the ice.” – Sebastian Death, FC Hockey
“Karabela is a smart and well-rounded forward who has shown the ability to slide into different roles with Guelph and succeed, despite his scoring pace slowing down since the beginning of the season. He has a wide base in his stride and a decent top speed, but shows an impressive ability to keep his feet moving and make plays under pressure.” Joseph Aleong, FC Hockey
- Puck transition game
- Playmaking ability
- Work along the boards
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Defensive positioning
Karabela has all the tools to make the NHL one day. He holds the key offensive intangibles players need to make the jump to the pros. The question is, will it be as a winger or center? Based on his play this season, there is a strong case for him as a winger at the next level but if he has a strong season in 2022-23 at center, that entire conversation changes.
Risk- 2.5/5, Reward 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence- 8/10, Defense 5/10
- Selected for the 2022 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game