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Connor Corcoran: 2018 NHL Draft Prospect Profile; A Mobile Shutdown Defenseman

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Today’s profile focuses on Connor Corcoran, a shutdown defenseman who is still coming into his own offensively.

Flint Firebirds v Windsor Spitfires
Defenceman Connor Corcoran #8 of the Windsor Spitfires moves the puck against forward Connor Roberts #10 of the Flint Firebirds on December 3, 2017 at the WFCU Centre in Windsor, Ontario, Canada.
Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

The later rounds of the draft is all about finding talented players that have room to develop. Connor Corcoran, a defenseman for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL, is one such player. He’s gone back and forth in his young career between being a forward and defenseman, but has a lot of raw tools to work with. Let’s get to know this prospect better in today’s draft profile.

Who is Connor Corcoran?

Connor Corcoran was born on August 7, 2000 thus making him 17 years old at the time of draft. According to his OHL page, he is a 6’2, 185 lbs. right-handed defenseman from Beeton, Ontario. As his EliteProspects page notes, he played his youth, bantam, and midget hockey in Barrie. He spent the 2014-15 season with the Barrie Colts Bantam AAA team and the 2015-16 season with the Barrie Colts Minor Midget AAA team. The Windsor Spitfires were impressed with his play and used their 2nd round selection, #21 overall, in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection Draft to acquire the defenseman. Corcoran appeared in 59 regular season games for Windsor during his rookie season in 2016-17, putting up 5 goals, 5 assists, 19 PIM, and a +7 rating. He was held off the scoresheet in 2 playoff games. This past season he had 3 goals, 21 assists, 40 PIM, and a -11 rating in 63 regular season games. In 6 playoff games he had a goal, 2 assists, 6 PIM, and -1 rating. In terms of international hockey, Corcoran represented Canada Black at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He had no points and 4 PIM in 6 games as they took home the Silver Medal.

Where is Connor Corcoran Ranked?

Most public rankings don’t go far past the top 2 rounds and with Corcoran projected to go late if he’s drafted, we don’t have much to go on.

What Others Say About Connor Corcoran

First, let’s see what Brock Otten of OHL Prospects thinks of Corcoran’s game. In Part 2 of his Top 50 OHL Players for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, posted last Tuesday, Otten had this to say on Corcoran whom he ranked 38th:

The sophomore defender was relied upon to play in all situations for the Spitfires and ate up a ton of minutes; forced to take on a leadership role for a very, very young blueline. There were nights where he definitely struggled. But that’s to be expected given what he was being asked to do. There were other nights where I felt like he was the best defender on the ice. He’s extremely effective in the defensive end. He blocks shots. He clears the crease. He wins battles in the corners through excellent body positioning. He uses his excellent mobility to be in great position in coverage. By the time he graduates, I would expect that he develops into one of the better stay at home defenders in the OHL. The question is, how much offensive potential does he have? This is a kid who has gone back and forth from forward to defense throughout his young hockey career and only since he joined the OHL has he played on the blueline full time. There’s going to be a learning curve. As he gains confidence, could we see him use his mobility to be more of a consistent factor as a puck mover? Or does he project more as a jack of all trades type who’s lack of standout qualities prevents him from being a future pro?

It seems Corcoran was really thrown into the deep end, which I think can be a positive thing for his development. He was forced out of his comfort zone and into a “make or break” situation. Overall, judging by Otten’s positive review of his defensive game, it seems that Corcoran was able to pass this test. He understands what he has to do and more often than not gets it done. That is much easier said than done for a young defenseman in a high scoring league like the OHL. The lack of offensive production from Corcoran is a concern but he still has plenty of time to develop that aspect of his game.

For another perspective, let’s check out some of what Dominic Tiano of OHL Writers had to say about Corcoran:

Corcoran is a two-way defender who is a very good skater with excellent straight-line speed and very good mobility. Defensively, he closes his gaps extremely well...He has good size and doesn’t shy away from the physical game and plays the body well to separate the opposition from the puck...He can beat the forecheck with his skating or make a good first pass out of the zone. He makes quick, decisive decisions and shows to have a high hockey IQ.

I find this report encouraging as defensive defensemen in today’s game need to be mobile and able to make a pass to exit the zone to succeed. Gap-control is extremely important and it seems that Corcoran has this key aspect down.’

Finally, Windsor Spitfires General Manager Warren Rychel was surprised to see Rychel fall in the NHL Central Scouting Rankings. Here is what he told the Windsor Star:

Corcoran slipped from No. 96 on the mid-term rankings to No. 123 on the final list, which surprised Rychel.“He did a great job on (Sarnia captain Jordan) Kyrou in the playoffs,” Rychel said. “He was our lead horse, with Thomas Stevenson, and real good. I thought it would have boosted his ranking.”

A Little Video

There isn’t much video out there on Corcoran, but you can see him make a good play to jump into open ice and score his first OHL goal in the start of this video:

An Opinion of Sorts

Overall, I have a positive opinion of Corcoran and wouldn’t have a problem if the Devils targeted him in the later rounds of the draft. For a player that’s had to develop at two different positions, he seems to have quickly established himself as a reliable shutdown defender. Unlike those types of the past, I like that he’s mobile, both in terms of playing the opposition as they enter the zone and in joining the rush up the ice. He understands where the play is going and will often make a good first pass to help his team exit the zone with possession. Corcoran also does well to break up plays with an active stick. Offensively, he has room to grow but it seems that he will never be a huge point producer. His heavy shot is a plus but he doesn’t seem to use it as often as perhaps he should. He can play on the PP at the OHL level but I doubt he’d ever be on a NHL PP if he was to make it. I see his path to the NHL as a stay at home D who is very capable on the PK.

Your Take

What are your thoughts on Connor Corcoran as a prospect? Would you be in favor of seeing the Devils select him with one of their late round picks? Are there any parts of his game that stand out to you in a positive or negative way? Leave your comments below and thank you for reading!