At this point, the profiles I'm writing will be of guys I still find interesting but I am far less sure will wind up as first rounders – or good enough to be considered in that range. So you can consider from this point on that the guys I'm talking about are more meant as either trade down candidates, or guys to take in the fourth round if they fall that far. Mustard was right on that line for me, because I don't think he would fall that far. But today's profile on Swift Current's Clarke Caswell in the WHL definitely does.

I will still follow the same process: I am looking at prospects who have interesting skills and fit a profile that I either find interesting in their own right, and/or are of a type that Toronto seems to like. So what is it that makes Caswell an interesting prospect?


  • Position: Left-shot centre/winger
  • League(s): WHL
  • Height: 5'11"
  • Weight: 176 lbs
  • Birthdate: February 2nd, 2006

Here are his draft rankings, as of writing this:

  • Bob McKenzie: Unranked
  • Will Scouch: 46th
  • Elite Prospects: 72nd
  • Scott Wheeler: 77th
  • Dobber Prospects: 51st
  • FC Hockey: 98th

Caswell was a 6th overall pick in the WHL draft back in 2021. At the time, he was a 5'10" and 152 lb winger that was barely playing because of the pandemic-shortened season. He had 24 points in 5 games in a 15U AAA league, after playing the same league as a point per game guy much younger than the rest of the players around him. So he's always been a top point producing, skilled forward.

Last year was Caswell's first full season in the WHL, where as a rookie he had 29 points in 63 games. Swift Current was not a great team, and missed the playoffs with the 8th worst record. 29 points was 9th on the team, with him mostly playing in the bottom six, and was 7th in the WHL for U17 players. He was in a clear tier down from the top guys though, who were all in the 50's and 40's for points.

Caswell does have a bit of international experience. Last season he was on one of Canada's two teams at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge, hosted by Hockey Canada, which also featured teams from Czechia, Finland, Sweden, and America. Caswell had 5 points in 7 games, which was tied for 27th in the tournament. It was another case where Caswell was not among the top prospects, either in points or in usage. But he did pretty well for the role he was asked to play.

This season, Caswell had a bit of a breakout. Swift Current were a much better team, and he was a big reason why before the trade deadline. He was the team's leading point producer, and finished with 26 goals and 77 points in 68 games. That was good for 5th in the league among U18 players, behind four very high profile prospects who will all be first rounders this year. Swift Current was not a high scoring team, but what offense they did have went through Caswell when he was on the ice.

Of his 77 points, Caswell had 21 that came on the powerplay (18 of them were assists, he played the Marner role) and 3 of them were short handed, so he got a fair amount of time on the penalty kill. He only averaged a bit over 2 shots per game, which is not a lot for an offensive prospect in the WHL.

The only reason why Caswell didn't finish as the team's leader in points is because they traded for Conor Geekie (11th overall pick in 2022 NHL draft) at the deadline. Caswell finished the playoffs tied for second on the team with 9 points in 9 games, with 8 of them coming in their four game sweep of Lethbridge in the first round. He and Swift Current as a whole just got trounced by Moose Jaw in the second round. One more noteworthy thing about the playoffs is that Caswell's shot rate increased by a lot – he had 33 in those 9 games, about a shot and a half more per game than he had in the regular season.

From Mitch Brown's tracking project:


As you may have guessed from the breakdown of his scoring and his shot rate, Caswell definitely is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. As far as pure playmakers and passers go, I've seen a few scouts rate him among the very best for the NHL draft this year. He has very good vision, and anticipates play well to pass the puck to where his teammates will be.

Caswell is also very shifty, and is able to stickhandle with the puck at a pretty high level in order to buy himself more time (if needed) before making his pass. He has a very high rate of passes into dangerous areas of the ice as well, which is a big reason why he was able to earn so many assists on a not-so-great offensive team.

From Scott Wheeler at The Athletic:

One of the best passers in the draft and a good Broncos team’s leading scorer this season, Caswell is an elusive and slippery playmaker who facilitates into open space beautifully. He has a knack for drawing coverage and then using the gaps that have been vacated to play pucks back into for his linemates. He’s got quick hands and impressive processing/problem-solving.

The rest of Caswell's offensive game is good, but not spectacular. He doesn't shoot a lot, but when he does it's usually from a dangerous part of the ice. I actually think his shot is pretty good, he just doesn't shoot very often. His wrist shot has some deceptive power behind it, and he's able to pick corners and spots on the net where it's hard for goalies to stop it. It could be more of a weapon for him if he chose to shoot more, but honestly his playmaking is so good and is able to get goalies moving so I can understand why he has typically leaned pass-first.

Caswell also drives a good amount of offensive transitions thanks to that slippery skating, strong puck handling, and very strong passing. This is something that he is very good at in junior, but there's reason to question his projection to higher levels – his skating. He's not a terrible skater, I'd say just an average one. But he tends to skate quite slow with the puck, he's one of those guys that likes to slow the game down with the puck on his stick. I get the idea that it's partially deliberate, as it invites defenders to come at him, but then he uses that shifty skating and nifty puck handling to elude them initially and slip a pass past them to the vacant ice.

From Will Scouch:

Smarts are the name of the game with Caswell. Another analytical darling in my data work, Caswell brings value almost everywhere, especially on the offensive side of the puck. He carries great shot selection, able to navigate through a defensive layer both on the rush and on a cycle, and he has some of the highest rates of slot pass attempts this year. Sometimes there can be less than ideal planning behind these attempts, but overall Caswell is a significant part of Swift Current’s offensive output when he’s on the ice.

What drives Caswell's strengths as a player is his intelligence, hockey sense, or whatever you want to call it. He has a big bag of tricks to use on defenders, all of that stick handling and shiftiness is used to bait defenders. Combine that with strong anticipation for how a play can develop, and it explains a large part of his playmaking ability.

Watching Caswell can be quite fun because of this. It's nice watching a player who just seems to know what's going on and doing what he needs to do accordingly. It certainly makes his skills look even better than it would seem otherwise – he seems like that guy who just knows how to get the most out of his skills, and use them in creative ways to solve problems and handle the pace of play.

From Ben Misfeldt at McKeen's Hockey:

The smarts category is far and away where Caswell scores the highest as an NHL draft prospect and was the category I was most eager to write about after watching the tape. His bread and butter is using his brain as a tool to create offence and his intelligence is best demonstrated by his playmaking ability. His playmaking and vision is right behind Berkly Catton as the top for any player of this 2024 WHL crop but he lacks the physical tools to fully utilize it. The playmaking ability often looks so natural for him and he frequently is making difficult passes look incredibly easy... While his intelligence benefits his game in a variety of areas, it is the playmaking where it shows its greatest impact.


There are two big issues in Caswell's game that explain why his rankings have not been very good, despite some very strong production. His skating level is just okay while he plays at a very slow pace, and he isn't that big. He's listed as 5'11" and 176 lbs – which is neither that short or that light. But when you combine them together, you get a guy who is definitely on the smaller side even if it isn't to a great extent, plus a guy who doesn't move around very fast. Shiftiness is great, but you gotta be able to move around quickly as well when the situation calls for it. Being small and slow is a bad combination for NHL success.

You can see watching him play, and reading his scouting reports. This is a known problem that everyone can see – his playmaking is great, but it relies on him having time and space in open ice. He has some tricks and tools to create more time for himself and deal with the pace of defenders coming at him in junior, but it's a big question mark for the pro level.

The other reason why you see Caswell making his good plays in the open ice is also because of this issue. He doesn't have to skate as far or as fast when he's already in the middle, and he relies on teammates to do the dirty work along the boards and get him the puck. If he finds himself along the boards, he doesn't have the strength or the speed to get the puck free and take it into the middle himself. He's too easy to pin down and can't get himself free that easy.

So if you want to see pro success in Caswell's future, you have to see a path for him to improve in these two areas. He needs to bulk up and add a lot of strength to be able to at least hang in on those board battles and help get the puck free to make a quick pass, so he can relieve the pressure to get back to the middle. He also needs to add some strength to his skating and at least be able to be more explosive in his first two or three strides, so he can create some quick separation.

For Caswell, he's in that situation where he's starting far enough back of where he needs to be in these areas that it is less likely he can improve enough to be a viable NHL guy. And that's why he likely won't even be a second rounder.


Now, all of that above explains why I wouldn't take Caswell that high, that doesn't mean I wouldn't draft him. A guy who has as much skill and intelligence to adapt on the fly is a worthy pick in later rounds. I don't know if he'd fall quite as far as the fourth round, but I would certainly consider him around then – or with one of their three 5th round picks.

In his last full rankings, Bob McKenzie didn't even have Caswell ranked in the top 80 ranked or included in the 15 added honourable mentions. That would definitely put him in potential fourth round territory at best, but could fall even lower than that come draft day. We'll see if his general season success leads to him getting a mention anywhere on Bob's final rankings.

For me, I swing on skill and upside so late in the draft. Those players are extremely unlikely to turn into an NHL player in the first place, so you absolutely swing on a guy who has that talent to figure things out. To either be a unicorn that can make his weird profile work, to be one of the rare cases who can improve to a dramatic extent in his problematic areas, or some mix of the two.

Caswell is #25 in white/green in all of the highlights above

Thanks for reading!

I put a lot of work into my prospect articles here, both for the draft and Toronto's prospects. I do it as a fun hobby for me, and I'd probably do it in some capacity even if PPP completely ceased to exist. But if you like reading my work, some support would go a long way! I pay for a few streaming services (CHL, NCAA, USHL, the occasional TSN options for international tournaments that are broadcast) to be able to reliably watch these prospects in good quality streams. I also pay for some prospect-specific resources, such as tracking data and scouting reports from outlets like Elite Prospects, Future Considerations, McKeen's Hockey, The Athletic, and more.

Being able to get paid for this helps me dedicate more time and resources to it, rather than to second/third jobs. And whatever money I make here, a lot of I reinvest back into my prospect work through in those streaming and scouting services. Like I said, I'd be doing whatever I can afford for this anyway, so any financial help I get through this is greatly appreciated!

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