If you think back to all the kinds of things that Toronto's scouting team, headed by Wes Clark, have said about their top picks in the past few years, some general trends emerge. They like taking guys that are "late bloomers", who didn't necessarily have a lot of draft hype even until later in the draft season. They also like guys who are known to be hard workers on and off the ice, and guys who do have some skill but most of all are known to be very smart and versatile.

I previously wrote about Andrew Basha, and how he seemed like one of the best players in Toronto's range who seem to fit that mold the best. But the other guy I think could have the best argument would be Teddy Stiga. Aside from his profile of tools, skills and strengths – which I will get into below – the main reason is because Stiga very much fits the trend of "late riser" much more than Basha.


  • Position: Left-shot winger
  • League(s): USHL / US National Development Program (USNTDP)
  • Height: 5'10"
  • Weight: 178 lbs
  • Birthdate: March 30th, 2006

Here are his draft rankings, as of writing this:

  • Bob McKenzie: 68th
  • Will Scouch: 13th
  • Elite Prospects: 23rd
  • Scott Wheeler: 31st
  • FC Hockey: Unranked
  • Dobber Prospects: 24th
  • McKeen's Hockey: 33rd

Playing on the US National Development Team is usually a good way to get draft hype, even if you're playing in a bottom pair or bottom line role. Stiga made the USNTDP last season, but mostly played in the bottom six and only had 33 points in 76 games. Starting the year, he was listed as 5'9" and 155 lbs and missed a chunk towards the end of the season with an injury. Size has always been a concern with him.

But the coaches did praise Stiga for his work ethic and he was used as a penalty killer. That was the foundation for his growth this year, and he credits that missed time due to injury to help give him time to focus on adding some much needed muscle. Now, Stiga is listed as 5'10" and 176 lbs, while I've seen some outlets list him as tall as 5'11" – I'm assuming he's probably somewhere in between. He started this season again as more of a depth guy, but with the extra height and strength his game has seen a constant, steady improvement through the whole season.

Stiga started the season on the third line again, but by the end of this season has worked his way up to being the top line left winger being used in all situations. He finished third on the team in total points, with 53 goals and 116 points in 85 games between the USHL and NTDP games – behind only Cole Eiserman (2nd) who will be a top 10 pick this year, and James Hagens who is one of the favourites to go first overall in next year's draft.

Stiga's big breakout came in February during the U18 Five Nations tournament, which included Team USA, Sweden, Finland, Czechia and Switzerland. Stiga actually led the whole tournament in points with 9 in just 4 games. He's continued his breakout internationally at the World U18s, with 6 goals and 11 points in 7 games – good for sixth in the tournament – including a hat trick against Finland.

From Mitch Brown's USHL tracking data: https://www.patreon.com/user/posts?u=13951676


I touched on it above, but the kind of player Toronto seems to like are guys that don't necessarily have the most skill, the fastest skating, the hardest shot, and so on. What they have is some or even all of those at a high, but not necessarily elite level. More importantly, what they like are players that are smart and use their tools and skills to impact the game outside of just being on the scoresheet. And in all of those areas, Stiga has a strong profile.

Let's start with his ability to generate offense. While Stiga does seem like a "greater than the sum of his parts" kind of guy, he is still quite a skilled player. He reminds me of Easton Cowan a bit, in the sense that Cowan doesn't really look like he's a highly skilled and dominant point producer, but that doesn't mean he has no skill. Stiga is able to get the most out of the tools and physical abilities he has.

Stiga is, at his best, a very strong playmaker and drives dangerous scoring chances for his line. This comes from having good vision and awareness of where his teammates are, and then having enough ability and skill to get the puck to them in dangerous areas of the ice. It's the same kind of thing with his shot – he is not a sniper, but he scores a good deal at his level right now because his shot is both pretty hard but also quick and accurate. He can pick corners and beat goalies by getting his shot off before they have time to really react. And he has enough skill to get the puck in dangerous areas of the ice where he isn't trying to snipe the puck from the perimeter.

From Will Scouch:

He has ridiculous rates of offensive creation off his own stick and for others, he’s got a heck of a motor and intensity level that earns him more offensive zone turnovers generated than many in my database. His rate of shot assists in dangerous areas so far is higher than many players rates of shot assists from anywhere. He’s a guy who likely goes undervalued because of his size, but over time in college just turns into a menace of a hockey player that teams kick themselves for not taking a chance on. He drives such great excellent results without having to float around waiting for someone else to do the dirty work. He has the quickness and willingness to get involved defensively and actually pulls many of these plays off effectively.

More important than Stiga's "skills" is how he uses them. He has a very high ability and willingness to be playing at a very high and aggressive pace, both with and without the puck. He is relentless in his forechecking and in attacking the dangerous areas of the ice to put pressure on the defense. His relentless movement and pressure on the other team is trying to force them into making a mistake – lose his teammate in their defensive coverage, give him too much space so he can carry it closer to the net, and so on.

This style of play is also what makes Stiga an effective penalty killer, not just in terms of preventing the other team from comfortably setting up and getting chances, but also creating turnovers and rush chances to put pressure on the powerplay.

From David Saad at Dobber Prospects:

Stiga’s absurd intelligence and speed make sure he’s never too far from the action and his ability to create turnovers with good body positioning and simple puck plays make sure the puck is always going his direction. Even when things get tough, his ability to adapt, to both recognize and play with what the opponent gives him makes his NHL translatability very real. All the cards point to him being a very interesting prospect come the U18s; he’s going to see a lot of ice-time with a lot of eyes on him. He may not ever be a headliner but Stiga is that top 6 winger you want stapled on to your star player, the perfect enabler.

Teddy Stiga is #9 in dark blue

Stiga gets rave reviews for his "hockey sense" and intelligence on the ice. The meaning of that can vary depending on who you talk to, but after watching him and reading detailed scouting reports, I get the impression that in Stiga's case it refers to his ability to constantly be part of the play. He has a great sense for how the play will develop and will position himself or act in a way where he can influence the play in some way.

On the forecheck, Stiga is reading how the defenseman will try and retrieve the puck and acting to make it harder for him. Defensively, he is getting his stick into passing lanes and/or sneaking in to steal the puck or force a turnover. Without the puck, but when his team is on offense, he uses a combination of positioning and timing to get into dangerous areas of the ice unguarded so he can get a pass and shoot it without being tied up or blocked. Good skating helps a lot with all of this, as does growing a bit and adding 20 lbs over the past two seasons.

From Russ Cohen and David St-Louis at Elite Prospects:

Cohen: He's really improved. He's not going to be talked about in a high end way like a lot of these other players, but he gets hockey. He knows how to cycle the puck, he's strong on the puck, he's got a strong shot, he's a strong two-way guy. He can turn defense into offense, he's a really good penalty killer... And he doesn't make mistakes. He's just a guy that's got a very good hockey sense, he understands the game and he's mature. If you put 10 more pounds of muscle on him, that's when he can be really dangerous. That's what I'm looking at.
St-Louis: He's so smart, and he doesn't have the top end playmaking skill that Gabe Perreault has, but his board game is better and he manages the puck better. You're right, he just gets hockey. The tools are not amazing, so I don't know what he's going to be exactly at the NHL level, but he's one of those players who's probably going to figure it out, because he can do everything at a good level and he's very smart.


There are two issues that Stiga still has, both of which can arguably be worked on a bit but are not as likely to be "easily" fixed to a dramatic extent. The first is that, while has grown a good amount since the start of last season, he is still a bit undersized for his playstyle. As much as we all admired and respected how fearless Nick Robertson was on the ice as a junior, we've all seen how that can increase the chances for injury in the NHL.

Beyond health and injuries, size can also limit a player's effectiveness in the NHL as far as how well they can impact the play. Stiga may be big and strong enough now to deal with bigger defenders that are his age, but junior defensemen is a far cry from those in the NHL. His aggressive forechecking or puck pursuit isn't as easy when you're up against more elite skaters, power forwards, and bigger/stronger defensemen. Especially if Stiga's skating – while at a high level – is not necessarily elite. He just won't have the same space and freedom to work with, so he'll need to learn how to adapt. And that's not something every prospect can figure out.

The other reason why that's an issue is because Stiga's skill level is also not off the charts. It's just harder to imagine that a player who is a bit undersized, not the best skater, and not the most skilled being able to be an impact guy in the NHL. Hockey sense and aggressive playing style can only get you so far. At least, that is the worry about any prospect of his type.


While my opinion on smaller zippy wingers has changed a bit over time, and I now acknowledge the greater hurdles they have to face in the NHL than I did before, I still love players of Stiga's type. Last time I checked, Logan Stankoven is already working out pretty damn great in the NHL as a rookie. Stank may be more skilled, but Stiga also is also already taller and heavier. Stiga being able to add 20 lbs over the past two seasons and growing another inch or two are also good signs that he can still add more muscle to help his projection to higher levels.

But more important to me is that Stiga has advantages that other smaller, skilled forwards don't. Many of them do not show much projection for being able to help on the forecheck, on the penalty kill, or other areas of the game without the puck. But Stiga does, and he can further develop his skills a bit more. Adding more muscle and fine tuning his skating will help add greater speed and explosiveness. He has areas for potential improvement that seem more apparent than it may for others his age, and he has a higher floor for his overall game than most.

As of writing this, Bob McKenzie's most recent rankings have Stiga at 68th. I do think Stiga's late season push, including his showing at the World U18s, will likely give him at least something of a late boost to his rankings. But smaller forwards who have those same issues (not the fastest, strongest, most skilled) who are his size do usually wind up being taken later than their final rankings. Last year, Andrew Cristall was taken 8 spots later than his final draft ranking on Bob's list, and Gracyn Sawchyn was taken 14 spots later. Three years ago, Logan Stankoven was taken 20 spots later than his final ranking.

Suffice to say, I expect that Stiga at best will wind up with a borderline first round ranking but likely gets drafted a bit later than that. That would make him an ideal trade down target if the Leafs want to go that route. But if Toronto "reaches" and takes him outright with their first round pick, I'll know the reasons why.

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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