From development path to style of game, Corson Ceulemans continues to draw comparisons to Colorado Avalanche wunderkind Cale Makar. Both Alberta-born defensemen played for the Brooks Bandits in the AJHL. Ceulemans, a dynamic offensive defenseman like Makar, is an elusive yet assertive puck mover. And although he was drafted by Moose Jaw in the WHL bantam draft, Ceulemans chose to go the NCAA route (like Makar) and is committed to the University of Wisconsin for the 2022-23 season. The one difference is their size — although Makar is now 6’2”, he was only 5’11” in his draft year. At just 16 years old, Ceulemans is already 6’2”, which makes him a hot commodity when you consider the blend of size and agility he has.
Ceulemans was a point-per-game player at the most recent World U-17 Hockey Challenge for Canada Black and was the youngest defenseman on a deep Brooks Bandits team this year. He was second on the team in scoring among defensemen and had the AJHL playoffs not been cancelled due to the current pandemic, Ceulemans and Brooks would likely have been poised for a deep playoff run.
A confident and poised puck carrier, Ceulemans knows when to join the rush or take the puck ice himself. He has smooth hands for a defenseman and can deke out players on the rush through the neutral zone. His vision is elite — Ceulemans is an excellent passer and an effective powerplay quarterback. His wrist shot has a deceptively quick release that can fool goalies or defending players. Ceulemans dictates the pace of play when he has the puck on his stick and is unafraid to engage in battles for loose pucks.
Although known for his play with the puck, Ceulemans has improved tremendously when he doesn’t have it. He reads developing plays well and can interrupt odd-man rushes by cutting off passing lanes and sending the puck the other way. Ceulemans’ agility and powerful skating stride makes him a dangerous offensive threat from just about anywhere on the ice — but especially off the rush. His lateral mobility allows him to change attacking direction quickly and find his teammates with difficult passes. Ceulemans’ nifty footwork allows him to pivot and walk the blueline confidently while handling the puck.
Ceulemans has taken steps forward in improving his play in the defensive zone, but it’s still somewhere he has to continue to improve. As a larger and stronger body than a lot of his opponents at this age, he has the ability to box players out of the crease. With college on the horizon, though, Ceulemans will have to get stronger in order to be an effective defenseman against older and larger opponents.
His gap control has improved with Brooks this season, too — Ceulemans pressures rushing attackers and pushes them towards the boards. Though his forward skating is elite, Ceulemans needs to improve on his backwards skating to continue his growth in the defensive end and keep up with much faster opponents.
Strengths: Puck Control, Offensive Instincts, Explosive Skating
To Improve: Physical Play, Attention To Details
“Ceulemans is an elite offensive defender whose maturity and focuses mentality has led him to improve his all around two-way game.” [Draft Geek]
“Corson is a player with outstanding skill and vision. His ability to handle the puck in traffic with poise and calmness is one of the finest I have ever coached. His skating stride is strong, long and efficient. He really matured as a defender and his play without the puck has become a far bigger strength. His a personality is one of humor and ease. He is a mature, focused and driven young man.” [Sean Beissel — OHA Edmonton Bantam Prep Head Coach]
“Ceulemans isn’t the relative-late bloomer that Makar was; he’s been on the radar for quite some time as one of the best in his age group. But he has the potential to be the same type of impact player from the blue line that can control the game with his skating and puck movement.” [SBN College Hockey]
Statistics from Elite Prospects & the AJHL.