Player: Dillon Heatherington
Drafted By: Columbus Blue Jackets (50th overall)
Final Central Scout Ranking: No. 31 North American skater
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 196 lbs
DOB: May 9, 1995 (18 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: WHL, Swift Current Broncos
Last season, Swift Current gave up fewer goals than any other team in the Western Hockey League due in large part to the play of Heatherington and his defensive partner Reece Scarlett, who was drafted in the sixth round, No. 159 overall by the New Jersey Devils in 2011.
Heatherington had four goals and 23 assists in 71 games for Swift Current last season, but more importantly, he had a plus/minus of plus-25. He also played five playoff games and produced three assists during that time.
Full Scouting Report
For Heatherington, the difference between being a first-round pick and a second-round pick is whether or not teams feel that he will learn when to be physical and when to play it safe as well as how soon he will improve his edgework and agility.
Otherwise, teams feel that he is responsible in his own zone, something he focused on when he got big minutes in 2011-12 as a result of injury to teammates, and has more offensive upside than his numbers suggest.
“Heatherington's offensive stats do not jump out,” writes Hockey Prospectus’ Cory Pronman, “but he is a solid prospect due to his very good defensive value and what one scout described as a conservative and steady game.”
On top of that, scouts have observed that Heatherington’s biggest asset as an offensive player is not his ability to lead the rush or slap home a one-timer; rather, it is his ability to make a strong first pass out of the defensive zone—something that does not usually turn up in the box score.
“He makes a strong first pass and is able to use his skating ability to join the rush if he wants,” writes WHL From Above’s Cody Nickolet. “From my viewings, he does appear to be a guy that will have offensive value more as a player that starts the rush with a pass, rather than a guy who leads the rush or unleashes huge shots from the point.”
NHL Player Comparison
Robyn Regehr of the Los Angeles Kings. Both players use their body and size and have strong vision and puck control.
It is probably going to take two or three years for Heatherington to get to where he needs to be in order to become an NHL defenseman, so expect to see him in the 2015-16 season at the earliest.
While he does not project to be a top-pairing caliber player at the game’s highest level, Heatherington certainly is capable of being a second-pairing player for a contending team.
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