2020-21 Team: Regina Pats (WHL)
Date of Birth: Dec. 13, 2001
Place of Birth: Calgary, AB, Canada
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 181 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible, draft returnee
- NHL Central Scouting: 192nd (amongst NA skaters)
- EliteProspects: 67th
- FC Hockey: 109th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 138th
- THW – Baracchini: 110th
Ryker Evans is an overage left-handed defenseman with an average frame, who specializes in transitional offense using his high-end hockey sense and passing ability. He plays quick but patient hockey when exiting his own zone with the puck on his stick, drawing in forecheckers or skating towards them before making slip passes into space, or dropping it for a trailing teammate. He uses his surroundings very well, playing off the boards and utilizing his teammates when pressured.
Related: THW’s 2021 NHL Draft Guide
His results in the Western Hockey League (WHL) as a 19-year-old show good promise; he has earned 28 points in 24 games, more than doubling his previous year’s point-per-game mark. His three goals give the impression that his shot needs work, but it still generates quite some force — he just needs to trust his shot and utilize it more often.
On top of being a great offensive facilitator from the blue line, Evans’ defending is high-end due to proactive positioning and an ability to read the opponent’s intentions accurately. He’s aggressive at the right moments, and passive when it’s needed. He keeps a tight gap, and mirrors his opponents’ footwork when defending 1-on-1. He could be more reactive in his pivots and more communicative of his intentions, but overall his defensive game points in the right direction.
Related THW Draft Profiles
Ryker Evans – NHL Draft Projection
Evans has shown up on a few draft rankings, but many are discouraged from placing him higher than the third round by the fact that he’s an overage defenseman playing junior hockey. He was absent from Zator’s and Forbes’ final draft rankings, but earned a 110th pick on Baracchini’s final 160. It is quite likely that he earns a pick in the 100-130 range, but could be picked up as early as the mid-third round by a team having done their homework when the WHL reopened in February.
“Lots of transition and defensive impact, and an improving offensive game. Right away, Evans’ skill on retrievals and exits stands out. He could throw a bit more deception, but he seals off back pressure, uses his body to prepare space, then cuts away and darts up the middle. Highly intentional deception.” – Mitchell Brown, EliteProspects (from The 2021 EliteProspects Draft Guide, EliteProspects, 01-07-2021)
“The growth of his skill base allows Evans shows an ability to play with elite level poise and command ice. He’s got great athleticism to his game and technically is an efficient and more notably, a deceptive skater.” – Justin Froese, FC Hockey game report
- Hockey sense
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Physical presence
- Agility on pivots
- Pass receptions
Evans’ sound defense and his ability to move the puck make him a projectable defenseman, with tools that seem built for the modern game. He might need some marinating in the American Hockey League to reach his full potential, but he could very well top out as a fourth or fifth defenseman with second power-play responsibilities. If he adds more weight to his frame and brings more physical involvement in his shifts, Evans could end up being a very decent pick-up, even as an overager.
Risk – 3.5/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 7/10, Defense – 8/10
Evans had the most assists of any WHL defenseman in 2021. He also won a Telus Cup gold medal in 2018 with the Notre Dame Hounds, and a top defenseman awards for the Telus Cup’s Western Regionals tournament.
Ryker Evans Statistics
Lebanese-Canadian hockey writer/Scout. I follow the draft very closely, working with both The Hockey Writers and DobberProspects to provide draft coverage and continue furthering my knowledge of hockey.