With the 57th overall pick of the NHL Entry Draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning have selected Jack Finley, center, from the Spokane Chiefs. Coming out of the WHL, Finley is a BIG BOY! He’s listed at 6’5.75” and 213 pounds which is already an above average NHL frame. To get him, the Lightning traded away a fourth round pick and a 2021 second round pick. This allowed them to also keep their next second round pick, 62nd overall. Besides being a big center, Finley is a right handed shooter. His father, Jeff, was also an NHL veteran of 708 NHL games as a defenseman.
In 61 games in 2019-20 for the Chiefs, Finley put up 19 goals and 57 points as their first line center. He had just 32 penalty minutes, a fairly low number and an indication that he plays a disciplined game despite his size. In 2018-19 for the Chiefs, he put up nine goals and 19 points in 63 games. He added another goal and eight points in 15 playoff games.
The rankings for Finley had him in the 55 to 100 range, so picking him here doesn’t feel like it’s too big of a reach. HockeyProspects.com had Finley ranked 63rd in their annual Black Book. The Black Book describes Finley as a two-way, pass-first center and his stats back that up. He is a playmaker and has good hands and vision that allows him to excel in setting up his teammates.
Finley is not an overly fast player. There are some question marks about his skating, but those are issues that can be worked on. The Lightning work closely with Barb Underhill with a number of their prospects (ed note - like Brayden Point..JG). If he can work out his issues there, he should be at least an average skater in the NHL.
Another concern is his consistency from a competitiveness perspective. He has shown a willingness to stand up for his teammates. He’ll also respond to physical play with physical play of his own, which is expected of a player with his kind of size that puts him as one of the largest players in the WHL. But he doesn’t always use his size to the best of his advantage, especially when battling along the boards.
Finley does have the look of being a raw prospect. That’s also understandable considering his size which has probably carried him far in lower levels where he was good just by being bigger than the other players. He’s also one of the youngest players in this draft, having turned 18 on September 2nd. Finley will certainly return to the WHL for each of the next two years to continue developing before he turns pro.
A realistic projection of Finley is as a bottom six center, that wins faceoffs, and provides a physical edge in the bottom part of the line up while providing some depth playmaking scoring. If parts of his game don’t catch up though, then he could just end up being a good AHL center. He’ll need to continue to work on his skating, his defensive game, and consistency.