2019-20 Team: Ottawa 67’s / OHL
Date of Birth: Feb. 26, 2002
Place of Birth: Peterborough, Ontario
Ht: 6-foot-4 Wt: 172 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
For a potential late-round selection at the 2020 NHL Draft, Will Cranley has many of those traits that general managers look for in a goaltending prospect. At 6-foot-4, he already has the size of a starter, and once his frame fills in, he will be a truly intimidating presence in net.
However, despite being that big, Cranley moves surprisingly well on the ice. He is able to use his athleticism to cut off scoring angles and he knows how to take full advantage of his body to make the net look small.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
While playing in a backup role on a loaded Ottawa 67’s team that was the class of the OHL throughout the 2019-20 season, Cranley made the most of his limited playing time. In 21 starts, he went 18-2-0-0, posting a 2.81 goals-against average, a .894 save percentage, and four shutouts.
Will Cranley – NHL Draft Projection
For a player with so many of the intangibles that the NHL loves, Cranley is not projected to be a particularly high draft pick. Many see him as a fringe selection in 2020, putting him in the sixth round at best, with others believing he may have to wait until 2021 to hear his name called.
Given how the NHL works, it seems unlikely that Cranley is not, at the very least, a seventh-round selection this year. There should be at least one general manager willing to take a chance on someone with his size and toolkit at that point in the draft.
Cranley possesses some of the characteristics that NHL scouts drool over. First and foremost is the 6’4” size. But for a big goaltender, not only does he move exceptionally well, he is also very acrobatic.Dominic Tiano – ohlwriters.com
His (Cranley’s) 18 wins were the most by a 67’s rookie since Lukas Mensator (26) in 2002-03. His four shutouts are the most by a 67’s rookie since Levente Szuper (4) in 1998-99.Examiner Staff (from ‘Central Scouting ranks Will Cranley fourth among North American goalies,’ The Peterborough Examiner, 04/09/2020)
- Big-bodied goaltender
- Highly mobile for his size
- Great toolkit to build upon
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Has to get better at bouncing back from bad goals against
- Played with an exceptional team in 2019-20, which covered some of his problems
- Still needs to work on net control to limit scoring chances
Related THW Draft Profiles
Everyone knows that there’s no more difficult position to project in the NHL than goaltending, especially when it comes down to a player in the later rounds of the draft. For his part, Cranley already possesses the intangibles of an NHL-caliber goaltender, meaning that in five years or so, he could develop his skills to match his size and become a full-blown starter.
At the very least, Cranley has the potential to be vying for a starting AHL role in a few years, which isn’t a bad outcome for a potential sixth or seventh-round selection.
1/5 Risk, 4/5 Reward
If Cranley is still available in the seventh round of the NHL draft, there really is nothing for a franchise to lose by taking a swing on him. At the worst, he becomes one of the many seventh-rounders who just couldn’t break into the league. At the best, he provides needed goaltending depth at the AHL or even NHL level.
Related: THW’s 2020 Mock NHL Draft Round 1
In many ways, Cranley smacks of one of those prospects that people look back on in a year and wonder how they fell through the cracks as they get selected in the third or fourth round. So, while he may be far from a refined player right now, there’s really no risk in taking a chance on him in one of the later rounds.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.