The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Eamon Powell in the fourth round of the 2020 Draft last month and we liked the pick enough to include him in our 2020 Top 25 Under 25 prospect ranking. Powell is a rookie at Boston College this year in the NCAA, a league that is beginning their season today, with Powell’s BC team starting on November 20th. Fingers crossed for a healthy season without issues, though the odds of that happening are bleak.
Powell as a prospect has quite a few exciting qualities with respect to his game. He’s been described as doing lots of things well as a defenseman on both sides of the puck without any glaring holes to speak of. He skates well, has good vision, anticipates the game well, is positionally sound in his own zone, and has a big shot. Lots of things to like.
I think the big detraction of his game by people is not his skill set, but rather his player profile. He’s currently listed at 170 lbs. (165 at the end of last season) and 5’11” tall. He’s not short by any means, but considering how skinny he is at 18, it takes a few inches off in people's minds. Understanding that this prospect is a teenager and will obviously grow into his frame while in college takes away any worry I have in this area. Plus, smaller players are not bad. The Lightning have a few that quickly put that debate to bed.
Another reason why I think Powell has been overlooked coming out of his draft is the fact that he was not the star on a high-profile USNTDP and US National U18 team. He played on a team with lots of names for this draft and next, especially at defense. It seems like that took a lot of the deserved spotlight away from Powell, spotlight that I hope he can get in a system pretty low on talent right now.
I had Powell 15th on my ranking — ahead of some players who are currently much higher in the organizational depth chart — simply because I think he has more to offer down the line than the players I put behind him are providing now. That’s the thing with prospects, they’re farther away, which is hard to see from a Cup contending team’s viewpoint, but they have the opportunity to be more.
You can find lots of video of Powell in the draft profile I wrote last month in the link below.
One thing I really liked while watching Powell’s game is his ability to engage opposing rushes, get his stick and body in the way, and break them up. You would think a defender would have to be 6’4” and mobile to do this, but Powell can do it too thanks to superior anticipation, quick feet, and good decision making to put it all together.
He reminds me of Travis Dermott when he first came into the NHL, though his play has seemed to have stagnated since arriving due to poor positioning that have caused mistakes which are keeping him from the Toronto Maple Leafs top four. Powell seems very comfortable against set defenses and is positionally quite strong.
One worry I often have with defensemen (and also forwards) playing in junior is that there’s not as much of an urgency defensively to stop opposing attacks. Offensive players tend to leave that for others to deal with, which they can do sheltered in a junior league. Powell is one of those guys who has offensive talent, but he takes nothing for granted and does everything he needs to do in a motivated and mature manner.
I wouldn’t have a problem putting him in the AHL or ECHL even at his age because I know the coach won’t have to shout at him to move his feet, engage opponents along the boards, and do all the things you’d need to do to actively defend in the d-zone. I don’t see that out of too many players, often the fight is getting them motivated and working on a two way game. With Powell, I think all he needs is just to steadily improve those areas as he moves up to higher categories.
Offensively, Powell likes to shoot from the right faceoff circle, and his numbers seem to show he has an above average shot at that level. In terms of production, he’s comparable to fifth overall pick Jake Sanderson in terms of primary points at even strength and on the power play in the same number of games.
He was top five among defensemen in his league at his age, I’m impressed by that. I’ll also go as far as to say that he should have been picked in Tyler Kleven’s spot at 44th overall. They were a pair in the U17s and Powell did a lot to make Kleven look good.
In terms of his shooting, I couldn’t find many examples of a big shot from the point or conventional stuff like that. What I noticed from Powell was a dangerous ability to jump into the rush, find open space, and the ability to beat goalies from medium to high danger areas. I think those chances for offense will decrease when he gets to the pros, which won’t hurt him too much considering his strong vision as a playmaker, but it’s good to see that he’s able to get off a quick shot that can do some damage.
This was the main thing people said about Powell, and it’s a fair criticism. When he goes up on rushes, he doesn’t have the same kind of power and explosiveness you tend to see out of top-end puck movers. Considering his size, it’s definitely an area where he can make significant improvements, but for right now, he’s not going to blow past anyone. I think the main skill he has when coming up the ice is a shiftiness (that is waiting for better physical attributes in order to come out) and ability to distribute the puck quickly and get it into the offensive zone or out of the defensive zone one way or another.
I’ve seen plenty of players (coached by Barb Underhill) see their skating improve leaps and bounds as they bulk up their glutes and delts (or whatever). It happened with Dermott. The NCAA is also a great program that gives kids lots of time to build up their bodies physically so that once they leave they’re fully filled out.
Where is Eamon Powell in five years?
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