The first pick that Toronto made in the seventh round was someone who very much followed the trend that Toronto has now set over the past two years when picking defensemen: big, raw, and with more of a defensive style of play.

Lahey also follows other general trends for what Toronto has said they look for in their prospects taken in the later rounds at the draft. He is a long term project, but they picked him in part because of his intelligence on the ice, and his later development curve compared to other prospects.

So let's talk about what makes him unique.


Position: Left-shot defenseman
League: BCHL
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 203 lbs
Birth date: Jul 17, 2006

Lahey was actually drafted to the WHL back in 2021 by Prince George, who this past year were one of the league's best teams, in the third round. At the time, he came off a season in which he only played in two games. The year before (2019/20), he had the fourth most points by a defenseman in his age group, though he was in a clear tier down from the leaders. Then in 2021/22, he had the 14th most points by a defenseman in his age group.

Even at the time of the WHL draft, Lahey was listed at 6'5" and 182 lbs as a 14 year old. He has said in interviews that he's always been a bigger guy, so he's had more time to learn how to play hockey with his taller from. It shows in his skating, where I'd say he is definitely ahead of Nathan Mayes and where Noah Chadwick was in his draft year. He looks a lot more coordinated and smooth in his movements.

Rather than make good on his WHL draft selection, Lahey chose to go the BCHL to NCAA route. When asked at this year's development camp, he explained his reasoning is he wanted more time to develop. If he went to the CHL, he'd be done at age 20 and then go pro. With the NCAA, he has more time to develop and can either choose to go pro earlier if his game develops enough or wait out his four years and get an education from it. Not a dumb decision, really.

Lahey played his rookie BCHL season last year with the Nanaimo clippers, and had a grand total of one point in 34 games – he did add two more points in 11 playoff games. This year, he fared much better offensively, generating 19 points in 54 games. That was god for 5th in the league for U18 defensemen, 6 points back of the leader. This is despite him not being used on the powerplay a whole lot, as they had older/more offensive defensemen in the lineup they relied on for that. They did at times experiment with him as a second "defenseman", who would move to the front of the net to take up space and cause chaos with his size. He was heavily used otherwise, averaging over 20 minutes per game and 2+ minutes on the top penalty kill unit.

After this season, Lahey is committed to the NCAA but will have a single season layover in the USHL with the defending champions, Fargo Force. What NCAA school he will attend is a bit of a mystery now. Back in 2023, he committed to Clarkson University. In fact, he was originally set to join them for the 2024/25 season later this year. However, he since changed to play with Fargo, and The Athletic said in an off hand mini-profile that he would be attending North Dakota. I haven't seen any news or transfers of commitments to confirm that, so I don't know if it was a mistake by them or a scoop they picked up while talking with him, his camp and/or the Leafs.


The first thing I noticed watching Lahey is that he is a good skater. I'm used to watching bigger guys at 17 who are 6'3" or taller, and more often than not they can't help but look like Bambi at times with the coordination of their feet and legs. It happens more often in the chaos of a play when they have to suddenly change directions, pivot, or change direction on a dime. That's when they can start wobbling on their legs and tripping over their own feet – it was my biggest criticism of Chadwick's skating, for reference.

But Lahey doesn't have that. He looks quite smooth as he moves, and can pull off some nifty looking jukes and shimmies. I can't help but think that him being so tall for a few years already really helped give him the time he needed to learn better coordination, and that is something his coaches mention when giving credit for his big improvement since last year.

Being tall and a good skater helps a lot with Lahey's defensive potential, and he is also noted to be a very intelligent player – mainly defensively, but some at least are projecting some potential for at least basic offensive ability because of it as well.

From Elite Prospects' draft guide:

Lahey is not just a physical force, but a strategic player who intelligently leverages his size advantages. His defensive style isn’t really centred around cataclysmic hits, but about disrupting the game. He excels at sealing the boards, often pinning puck carriers, trapping feet, and forcing pucks to the outside, showcasing his cerebral approach to the game.
“What makes him even more interesting is how proactive he is as a play stopper. He scans robotically, building a mental map. On one play in the second, he read a cross-circle pass, jumped up in the lane, and picked the puck off. Later in the third, on a penalty kill, Lahey was battling at the front of the net, read the carrier moving behind the net, detached quickly, and disrupted possession, letting another teammate recover the puck. Such a deft play.”
He’s proactive, targeting and brutalizing opponents’ sticks on reception, and seriously hampers secondary and tertiary threats via man-on-man coverage.
While Lahey doesn’t face the most complex transitional attacks at the BCHL level, steady, non-committal footwork, combined with some modest lateral ability, allows the Clarkson-commit to stifle opponents off the rush. He keeps his stick recoiled, timing his pokechecks, shocking puck carriers with his reach. Unfortunately, he’s not the most aggressive player, opting to guard the dotted lines passively rather than finish threats on the sideboards.

From Joel Henderson at FC Hockey:

There is beauty in the simplicity of Lahey’s game. This performance was a masterclass in shoulder checks on retrievals, using size and reach to be first to pucks, and moving pucks to the wingers. If every play were that simple, he would excel immensely. He’s a smooth-skating, powerful, physical battle defender who wraps up players at the net front and pins them down low in the cycle. The rush attack was hesitant to challenge his side one-on-one due to his ability to stick swipe off the rush and follow up with physicality. It’s easy to imagine how his skating, size, and straightforward play could translate to the NHL.

Lahey wears #8 in orange/white or black/orange

Without overstating things, Lahey shows some promise to develop into a capable puck mover. If you've read a lot of my draft profiles on defensemen for this year's draft, you'll know how much more I value that now compared to being an offensive defenseman that can produce points because of their play once the team already has possession set up in the offensive zone.

Some of it comes from his skating. Lahey is not an elite skater, but I think he has potential to at least be above average thanks to his size, range and smooth coordination. He can pull off some minor fakes and feints, and has some lateral agility. His puck handling is not dynamic, but he has some basic evasive skills that are the most useful when retrieving loose pucks and dump ins while in his own end.

Most importantly, Lahey's passing is inconsistent but has good flashes. He would occasionally show these very good, hard and accurate passes to set up teammates or spring them on the rush. His accuracy can be inconsistent, however. What I'll be looking for in the future for his development is to get more consistent at being able to hit his man, from the simpler and shorter passes to the more difficult and dangerous.

In fact, his BCHL coach sees a lot of potential in Lahey's offensive potential. I'm sure some of this is a coach gassing his guy up, but if you want to drink that kool-aid then there's this quote from The Athletic:

“He’s got a lot of offence to his game that will come this year,” Birkas said. “He does have a bit of bite to him, he’s very aware. But what Toronto fans should be excited about is by the time he leaves college, he should be anchoring a power play.”


So having watched several of his games in the BCHL, and read as many scouting reports on him that I can find, there are some obvious areas of weakness that I can see.

The first is something everyone agrees on: while some might see some projection in his offense, it is definitely not something that will ever be at a high level. The hope is that he can become a capable, consistent puck mover at an acceptable level for an NHL defenseman. That would give him some potential as a two way guy, even if his best case outcome never gets above that of a third pairing defender.

Second, despite being listed as taller and heavier than Nathan Mayes, I'd say that Lahey is weaker physically. He gets knocked off his feet pretty easy from what I can see, whereas Mayes seems more like a solid rock. This can come with some mechanical adjustments in how he moves in his stance, and in adding more muscle to a still pretty lanky frame.

The third issue is one that seems to tie into the second one. While, as of now, his defense is his strongest ability, I don't necessarily see it as good as the above scouting reports describe it – at least not as of right now. In the Mayes' profile, I talked about how good he was in his own end at boxing guys out, keeping them or pushing them away from the front of the net. That made his goalie's life a whole lot easier.

Lahey, on the other hand, does make smarter decisions as a whole and in all areas of defense rather than just in front of the net, but he is limited by being weaker physically. He cannot shove guys away. He can't pin guys on the board as easily. He can try to throw hits (and does) but he will at times bounce of them and be the guy that winds up on the ice. So in a lot of ways, Lahey is indeed very raw and all about potential. Wes Clarke said as much about Lahey, remarking they view him as a long term project.


All in all, I view Lahey as a slightly better version of Mayes. Both are very raw and have a lot of development ahead of them to realize a faint hope of becoming NHLers, but I view Lahey as both having a higher projection and also being a safer bet of realizing his potential. His skating, decision making and offensive flashes are simply further along and hint at higher levels than Mayes. The way I view their differences would be like saying... where Mayes is more like an Edmundson type in terms of being a very physical defender, Lahey is more like a Brodie type that is more cerebral and intelligent.

That doesn't mean I'm pounding the table right now, marking Lahey as the next legit late rounder to become a steal. I haven't seen that from yet, not from my views of his games from last year. There are too many inconsistencies and shortcomings with him physically and skill wise. To his advantage, he is quite young. He may have had more time to adapt to using his taller frame, but he still needs to continually fill out and re-adjust to his added weight and strength.

The more he makes those gains, and the more explosiveness and power he can add to his skating, checking and shooting. At that point, I'd want all of his skill development to be focused on a) refining his defensive mechanics, reads and execution, and b) passing, passing, passing. With his size, and added power to go with it, he doesn't need to have a diverse skill set for handling the puck, walking the blueline, breaking down defenses and becoming a dynamic offensive defenseman to be valuable in the NHL.

I'm curious enough to watch him closer this coming season in the USHL, which I think will be a good step up in the level of competition from the BCHL that will help ease him into the NCAA – especially if he's going to a stronger school and conference like North Dakota. Even if he doesn't, he would get more playing time at Clarkson and if he improves in his first couple of years there, he could look to transfer to a stronger program for his final two seasons to get a better challenge.

And that's the timeline we'd be looking at, with Lahey. He will not be getting to the NCAA for another year, and he is much more likely to need all four years there in his development than turning pro after just a couple of seasons. If you're willing to be patient with him, and put a lot of work into his development from afar, Toronto could have a nice bit of payoff down the line.

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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