Right shot defenseman Eamon Powell is one of my personal favourite Tampa Bay Lightning prospects and is entering his second season in the NCAA. As a rookie, he scored two goals and totaled 14 points in 24 games, where he ended up second among defense scoring behind Colorado Avalanche pick Drew Helleson. That kind of production didn’t blow anyone out of the water — especially on a Boston College team that only lost 8 times in a 34 game season — but as a mid-round prospect it was quite respectable for a first season.
As I said in last year’s Top 25 Under 25, Powell has some great tools (namely his shot and his pass) and he sees the ice very well, allowing him to be effective in both directions. I like him as a prospect and at his age he still has a long journey ahead of him before he plateaus as an athlete. Last year, the main area of growth I wanted to see out of Powell was his skating, which unfortunately didn’t change very much, but it also didn’t hurt him during his first season in the NCAA.
The reason why I gripe on speed a lot is because if you don’t have size as a defender in the NHL you need to be good on your feet and smart with your passing, otherwise you’ll commit turnovers or get smothered before you can get the puck out of the zone. And if you’re not big and have all those flaws, history is pretty clear that you won’t keep a job in the NHL.
For Powell, his passing is exceptional (see the clips below), but being able to pick up the puck and move it out of the zone, or bail from the offensive zone on defense after a turnover, is a key part of the game that I think will get exposed once he moves from junior to pro hockey (yes, NCAA is not much different from junior hockey).
#NTDP Alumni Update. Eamon Powell potted two helpers in his NCAA debut last night in BC's 4-3 win over UMass.— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) November 28, 2020
Here is his 2nd assist, a gorgeous stretch pass to Colby Ambrosio, that springs Matt Boldy for the eventual game-winning goal. #GoBolts #Wild20 #WeAreBC pic.twitter.com/HI2W3GKvIT
One thing I was hoping to see more of was international hockey. As he approaches the age of 20, Powell is one of the older players for the USA in the World Junior field. As an USNTDP graduate, he has been on their radar, but he hasn’t earned a roster spot beyond some World Junior Summer Showcase camps. I’m not surprised or concerned that he missed the national team at age 18, but I do hope he makes a name for himself this year and tries to get on the team for 2022, his last year of eligibility. Not only will we get to see him more, but he’ll be up against a plurality of peers that will be in the NHL someday.
I threw this clip into the article because you have three Lightning prospects; Powell, Alex Gagne, and Dylan Duke, but also the commentator completely butchers “Gagne” (gan-yay). Crunch fans know their french names and really try to get them right so I just had to show an instance of it going really wrong. Also in this clip, Powell is at the top of the point and made the initial shot-pass to Cameron Berg before the puck got buried home from the slot by Sasha Pastujov.
Again, this is one of those plays where you’d like to see some more movement out of Powell rather than just be a point-and-shoot defender. There was space to his right to try and change the angle, perhaps open up a backdoor play or get the puck to Pastujov directly. The puck went in anyway, which is great, but we just don’t ever see that movement from him with his feet at all. He relies very heavily on passing and shooting to get him where he needs to go. While it works for him now, again, I don’t know if it’ll work when you’re in the AHL and no one’s giving you as much room as before.
Eamon Powell (#5 in White) picks up the secondary assist on this play. He makes the pass over to Cameron Berg (NYI), who then finds Sasha Pastujov (ANA) in the slot for the goal. Alex Gagne and Dylan Duke were all on the ice for this play, so they each pick up the +1. pic.twitter.com/VmMYtXj1sY— Future Bolts (@LightningProsp1) August 1, 2021
Overall, I think Powell is a good prospect. I might have overstated the skating — it’s fine now for the league he’s in, and it probably won’t be a problem by the time he does graduate to the AHL — and I hope I didn’t understate how good of a passer he is. At this point, his ceiling still is a second pairing defender, but that’s only if everything goes right for him. More likely, he’ll end up as a third pair defenseman who gets PP2 time on the right team. Players like that often do well for themselves. What will really decide things is how much he can differentiate himself in the AHL.