Liam Hawel is a big, skilled center in the OHL. He’s projected as a late round draft pick and profiles best as possible 4th line center who could climb the ranks if he develops his potential and learns how to use his body.
Who is Liam Hawel?
Hawel is a monster — listed at 6’5’’ 179 lbs — who played for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds before being traded this past year to the Guelph Storm. Liam was selected with the last pick of the 1st round of the OHL Priority Selection Draft as a big center with talent to produce in all aspects of the game. He struggled to catch up to typical first round return on investment with the Greyhounds and was traded on January 6th to the Guelph Storm. As you can see, the did work out slightly better for him.
As you can see from the stats from EliteProspects above, Hawel found a more natural fit with the Storm, improving to a half a point per game. He was actually improving over the course of the entire year, although it does seem as though he spiked after the trade a bit. The graph below is a 5-game moving total generated using stats from the OHL website.
As you can see there are a couple times at the end of the year that he was in the point per game range although he never managed to stick around long. He never quite figured out getting a nose for the net though as even after his trade he struggled to find the back of the net. According to prospect-stats, 61% of his shots were low danger shots which puts him in the top 3rd of forwards — so it seems like he doesn’t find holes in the defense particularly well.
Where is Liam Hawel ranked?
Liam Hawel is ranked 141st among North American skaters by central scouting which puts him as the 43rd highest OHL prospect and ond of the biggest risers. He was off the radar completely at the midterms and shot up due to his strong finish to the OHL season.
The Draft Analyst has him all the way down at 373 which is essentially totally off the draft radar. They aren’t alone either as DraftSite’s mock draft had him going undrafted in 217 picks.
What Others Say About Liam Howel
“Liam is a big, big skilled centreman, […] this kid can skate […] once he fills out the sky is the limit, […] he’s got great touch around the net […] he makes his teammates better […] has great one-on-one skills as well.”
“Liam is not only big, he’s got a lot of tools – he can skate, he can handle the puck, he can beat you one-on-one […] guys like that are hard to find and are going to be major cogs in a team’s offense.” — These guys.
“Hawel is still growing into his body and as such, he needs to get stronger. But I think he shows great instincts at both ends of the ice and seems to be a really smart player. Upping the physical intensity (which should come with increased strength) could help to make him a very desirable prospect for this draft.” — Brock Otten of OHL Prospects during preseason.
“Liam is a player with all kinds of upside and potential. He has good size and a very good skill set. Liam can beat defenders one-on-one. Whenever he has the puck on his stick he is very dangerous and has the ability to dictate the pace. His posture allows him to be very good at all aspects of skating, speed, mobility, acceleration, and agility. He has great balance and is not easily moved off of the puck.” — OHL 2015 draft analysis
An Opinion of Sorts
Is this guy going to be Sidney Crosby? No. But, could he be Anze Kopitar? Well, also probably no. What is the virtue of taking him then? Well he could play a role for us as a fourth line guy that could provide some physicality and occasionally generate some offense. The likelihood that he reaches that level of production is very feasible — and he’ll possibly be available with the Devils last pick. If you can get NHL games out of a pick that late — that’s a win.
What do you guys think? Would you take a shot on a guy like this in the late rounds? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts below and thank you for reading!