Tij Iginla has had a spotlight on him for years, by virtue of being the son of an NHL legend. Before this season, it looked like he was having a difficult time living in the shadow of his father. But after last season struggling to get much playing time on the WHL champions (Seattle), Tij was traded to a younger, rebuilding team on the upswing willing to give him a big role.

The extra time has done wonders, but Iginla has also taken a big leap forward in his play this season. As a result, he's become a first round lock and – depending on who you ask – borderline top 10 worthy. On Bob McKenzie's mid-season rankings, he had him right in the middle of the first round.

It's still not really fair to assume anything of Tij when it comes to his NHL future, specifically relative to his father Jarome. But his future does look very bright, and if he winds up falling a bit on draft day I'd love for Toronto to snap him up in the later first round.

Let's talk about who Tij Iginla is, and why he's such an interesting prospect in his own right.


  • Position: Center/Left Shot Winger
  • League(s): WHL
  • Height: 6'0"
  • Weight: 191 lbs
  • Birthdate: August 1st, 2006

Here are his draft rankings, as of writing this:

  • Bob McKenzie: 16th
  • Will Scouch: 11th
  • Elite Prospects: 6th
  • Scott Wheeler: 12th
  • Future Considerations: 23rd
  • Dobber Prospects: 8th
  • McKeen's Hockey: 5th

Here's how Iginla ranks in the WHL in various stats:

  • Points: 20th overall, 4th for U18 players
  • Goals: 6th overall, 2nd for U18 players
  • Shots: 20th overall, 1st for U18 players
  • Shots per game: 20th overall, 1st for U18 players

His production is even more impressive when you consider a few bits of other context. First, among the top scorers in the WHL regardless of age, Iginla has the highest rate of production at even strength. While he is no slouch on the powerplay, 76% of his points come at 5v5. He also has three points, all goals, short handed as Kelowna uses him in all situations.

Second, what's helped Iginla get more of an opportunity and ice time this year is Kelowna not being a great team. They had/have some good players, but they were and still are not a league powerhouse like Seattle was. As of writing, Kelowna has the 13th best record – solidly middle of the pack. They do have Andrew Cristall, who has topped 100 points in the WHL for the second straight season. Then there is Iginla and a 20 year old Szturc who are both more than 20 points behind, and then a drop of almost 30 points to the 4th most points on the team – a defenseman.

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

So Kelowna is a very top heavy team, and rely on their three top scorers to carry their offense. But they don't all play together, and if you're wondering why Iginla has a good chunk more goals than assists, it's because his usual linemates have only 21 and 8 goals between them – a reminder that Iginla alone has 47. So he isn't getting a lot of help finishing off the plays he creates.

But when the big games started – first the WHL playoffs and then the World U18 tournament for Team Canada – Iginla was a monster. He had 9 goals and 15 points in 11 WHL playoff games, which was close to the league lead through the first two rounds when his team was eliminated. He then joined Team Canada, and had 6 goals and 12 points in 7 games helping them win the gold medal, including a three point game to help the comeback win over USA in the final.

What makes it more impressive to me is his age. With an August birthday, Iginla is one of the younger players in this year's draft and – in theory – more room to improve even further beyond his current level. At least, more room than a guy born in late 2005 or early 2006.


You name an offensive skill, and Iginla is above average if not elite at it. Shooting, passing, handling the puck, the lot.

Let's start with Iginla's shot, which I think is the most projectable to the NHL as a very good to elite weapon. He not only shoots a lot, but also tends to shoot from good locations. He's not at a Matthews or Nylander level of shooting a ton from in close, but neither is he purely a volume shooter from the perimeter. He will either try to be open for a pass in a dangerous area, or deke his way to it, before settling for a shot. Even then, his wrist/snap shot is good enough to beat goalies at distance. And when he can get closer and let it loose? Junior goalies don't have much of a chance:

Here's a quote from Cam Robinson from Elite Prospects in a full video guide breaking down Iginla's game:

But it’s more than just a volume approach. The 17-year-old does many of the little things ahead of his attempts that go into A) making sure a shot gets through to the net, and B) that it’s not easy to track for the netminder. That includes setting his shots up in motion with a change of release point, opening up his stance and preparing the distribution of power before receiving the puck for a one-timer. And maybe most importantly, getting into the middle of the ice...
On top of the gross-motor functions that go into a high-end release, several subtle movements allow Iginla to fire the puck with power, quickness, and precision. As he sets to release the puck, the top arm ‘punches’ away from his body, but his top hand remains in a neutral position in order to have the maximum space to rotate the wrist at the conclusion of the shot. This rotation is what generates the quick-twitch snapping action.

Since we already touched on how important Iginla's puck handling is to making his shot more effective, let's talk about that some more. He has undeniable skill and the ability to beat defenders one on one in many situations. He uses fakes, baits defenders to reach in, and has lightning quick hands to pull it away and change the direction and speed of his skating to create more space for himself. And the important point is that he often uses this ability to get space for himself towards the middle of the nice and closer to the net. If there's a weakness, it's that he has a tendency to try and force things too much and can turn the puck over in some frustrating ways. This isn't uncommon for prospects at his age and that level of skill, and the question will be if – as he matures – he learns to pick his spots to cut down on the errors, and instead curls back or makes a pass to use his teammates.

From Scott Wheeler at The Athletic:

He's an excellent skater who can beat you in a straight-out race, cut past you laterally with quick weight shifts, or build speed through tight crossover patterns around the offensive zone. On the puck, he's a dangerous individual creator who can create in knifing bursts and works quickly to put defenders on their heels, attacking on angles and jumps... He's got great handling and adjustability, which blend with real creativity to create a threatening one-on-one player.

Last, but not least, Iginla's is also good if not very good at passing and playmaking. While he's a volume shooter and loves to handle the puck to beat defenders, he is also a capable playmaker. The number of assists relative to his goal totals may be deceiving in that, but I do think a lot of this comes down to the relatively poor quality of his usual line mates. His puck handling gives him opportunities to create quality passing opportunities, and when he does choose to take them instead of continuing to deke or shoot it himself, he has good accuracy and creativity. That creativity comes through with less obvious or direct 'passes', like on his backhand, shot-passes, or shots placed to serve as rebounds for his teammates in front.

Aside from the above three areas of skill, Iginla has some of those 'intangibles' that help link his play and individual abilities together. First, he is a hard worker most of the time. He's a good skater that plays with a good amount of pace, and he is a hard and aggressive forechecker. On top of that, he just has the brain of a good hockey player – I daresay he has the brain that the son of a longtime NHLer would have, where you can tell he was raised and coached in a way to think about hockey and how to play at a higher level than most other prospects.


I'm going to rely on other scouts here because we're getting into a realm of detail that I still cannot easily see watching live games. I'm also not seeing all of his games, so there's always a chance that what the real scouts are seeing are from games I never watched. It happens. But there are perhaps three areas of relative (I stress that word here) weakness in Iginla's game.

First, he is not a great defensive forward. Not to say he's terrible at it and he could always get better, but he'll probably not ever be up for any Selke trophies. He's just not at that level. This is common for most forwards, in fact, so in and of itself it's not something that will hold him back from the NHL.

Second, it sounds like he has a relative weakness in his game in the consistency of his play without the puck, in a general sense. This is true when either his team or the opposition has possession. And again, it's not that he's awful without the puck. In this case, I would stress the issue is his consistency. He can show he has very smart off-puck routes and timing to get himself open, so he can have open shots in dangerous areas. On defense, he isn't used on the penalty kill and scored three short handed goals as a fluke. He can be disruptive and create turnovers or take the puck away. But then there are times when he's not moving around much to get open, and he's not showing a consistent defensive effort.

With the puck, it's a different story. But another issue is that, at times, he seems to force plays rather than trying to make the smart ones. This may be a consequence of his linemates, where he feels like he has to do everything in order to have success. This is something he will hopefully learn to avoid in the future as he matures and gets more experience.


On his offensive talents alone, Iginla is a top prospect in this draft. He will very likely be off the board a good amount before Toronto's pick comes up. Some anonymous scouts from NHL teams have said he's in their top 10. But that's the thing with rankings, even Bob McKenzie's – they give you an idea for what each person or team or group may think, but for every team who may have him so high there will be others who have him in the late first or maybe even early second round.

It's a matter of how much they weigh his strengths and weaknesses, and how well they think they can help him develop to improve every element of his game. Personally, I would not have him in a top 10. I think he should be taken in the middle of the round range-wise, but depending on what the teams in that range are thinking I don't think it's impossible for him to fall pretty close to Toronto.

If the teams in the middle of the first round have others ahead of Iginla, and/or they're the teams who aren't as high on him, that's how he could fall. But I do think the raw offensive force he offers, plus the legacy name of one of the NHL's all-time greats, will be enough to prevent a fall that far. Especially when you see Calgary sitting just outside the top 10... a perfect range for the son of one of their legends.

God I hope he falls though.

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, and The Athletic.

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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