In previous profiles of other 2020 NHL draft prospects, I’ve picked guys who I find interesting and who have different reasons that I think have made them “sleepers”. For reference, or if you wanted to read the other profiles, they are as follows:
- Tristen Robins (profile here).
- William Villeneuve (profile here).
- Veeti Miettinen (profile here).
- Karri Aho (profile here).
- Samuel Knazko (profile here).
- Zayde Wisdom (profile here).
- Victor Mancini (profile here).
- Justin Sourdif (profile here).
Brandon Coe will be our next profile. He’s a big 6’3” (or 6’4” depending on the source) right winger who exemplifies the combination of size, skating and skill that should tantalize scouts. But he also played on the worst team in the entire OHL, and doesn’t have big point totals. That seems to affect his rankings, so how much do we hold his team against him? Let’s try and uncover the potential for Coe and see if he could be a steal in the middle rounds.
Brandon Coe’s Backstory
Brandon Coe is an extremely late birthday — December 1st, to be exact. That’s something that either helps or hurts the assessment of a draft-eligible prospect, depending on how you look at it.
On the one hand, that technically makes them on the older side for other prospects in their draft year since the cutoff is in September. On the other hand, he will have been behind on his development curve compared to guys born in January of his birth year for his whole hockey life up until his NHL draft year. That is something I talked about in more depth in regards to Veeti Miettinen, if you want to read more about that.
Come 2016/17, Brandon Coe was a finalist in the OHL Cup, finishing his CHL draft year with 33 points in 31 games with other 2001-born players. In the OHL draft, Coe was taken 3rd overall by the North Bay Batallion.
Coe had a decent if unspectacular rookie season, putting up 23 points in 63 games as a 16 year old. This was also the only year Coe would play internationally for Team Canada, putting up 4 points in 5 games. He had some modest growth in his sophomore season, putting up 37 points in 65 games. Now, in his draft year, Coe had 57 points in 60 games.
All of that sounds like a nice sounding prospect who might be worth a late round pick. But here’s the thing, it’s worth talking about the team he played for. Here is the winning percentage and GF ranking in the OHL for each of Coe’s three seasons in the OHL so far:
- 17/18 — 0.515 (17 of 20)
- 18/19 — 0.478 (14 of 20)
- 19/20 — 0.306 (20 of 20)
In short, North Bay is bad. In Coe’s rookie season, they had their best season and were nicely mediocre overall with one of the worst offenses. The next year, they got better offensively (mostly because the now-Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Justin Brazeau led the league in goals) by a bit, but the team got worse. Now, this past season they were solidly the worst team in the entire OHL in every way.
So I’ll ask the question: what if Brandon Coe played on an actually good team, or at least one with an actual good offense around him? Would he have been good enough to still be a top player, and/or get more points to raise his draft profile?
Well, let’s see.
Brandon Coe Scouting Report
As usual, I read every scouting report on Brandon Coe that I could find. I also watched tons of videos and highlights on Twitter and Youtube. In addition, I picked two games of Coe’s to watch in full — both near the end of the season after he (in theory) had the most time to develop.
In the first, he scored a hat trick against Niagara on March 1st and had five shots on goal. In the second, he was held pointless, shotless, was -1 and had four penalty minutes in his final game of the year against Ottawa on March 8th. I wanted to see him when he was at his best, and when he was at his worst.
Skating: Very Good
One of the most noticeable things about Brandon Coe is his skating. He is a legitimately good, maybe even very good, skater. Not just good for a 6’4” guy, just actually very good. There are better and faster skaters, but he has a solid set of skills both in terms of speed, and especially in terms of his edges.
When you watch him, he doesn’t necessarily look fast, because his size and stride makes his skating look almost effortless. What you do notice are his edges, if only because it is continually surprising to see someone his size make the sudden cuts that he does.
A good sign that his skating may being able to hold up against tougher competition, is when he played in the CHL top prospects game. He played on a line with top prospect Cole Perfetti, and did quite well for himself:
He was on a great line that featured to fellow OHLers Cole Perfetti and Jaromir Pytlik. He was the straw that stirred the drink for that trio. He used his speed to gain the offensive zone, to retrieve dump ins, and to pressure the d-man on the forecheck. He had a really nice net drive to beat the defenseman wide and went in hard at the goalie, only to be denied as he tried to tuck it far side.
Is his skating perfect? No, or else he’d likely be ranked a lot higher. But for a guy his size, it isn’t as important for him to be an elite skater as it is for a player who’s 5’9”. The fact that he’s already a good to very good skater, in terms of speed and agility, is a big plus. As he gets older, improves his footwork, and gets stronger his skating should hold up in professional levels.
Here’s what the scouts say...
From Future Considerations’ Draft Guide:
Coe shows long, powerful strides, generating above average speed when he has room to accelerate. Foot speed can be an issue at times and will have to improve at the next level, but also shows great balance and strength on his edges when fighting through contact.
Skating is one Coe’s best assets. Standing 6-3” and possessing the speed he does, he poses a big threat to the opposition. With a late 2001 birth date, he finds himself entering his draft year with three years of OHL experience already under his belt compared to two for most of his counterparts. This has given him a little more time for the development of his stride which is now very powerful, and it does not take him long to reach top speed. He utilizes his speed and size to his advantage as much as he can and routinely takes the puck to the net. Another aspect that stands out is his edge work which can be difficult at his height. His ability to beat defenseman wide with his speed and protect the puck is when he is at his best.
If we’re talking about his strengths, the greatest is his skating ability. Coe is an absolutely dynamic and explosive mover. Not just for a big kid, but for any size. When he’s dialed in, he can be such an effective player in transition because of how he can back down defenders and plow across the blueline. And when he’s driving wide, he is aggressive in cutting back in towards the net.
Here are two clips that shows a bit of both. In the first, Coe uses his edges to elude his checkers until he can cut between two of them and have an open lane to the net. Then he uses a quick fake and cut back to the outside to create space around the goalie for the backhand. It utilized his edges and his size in a very effective manner.
This next one is just raw speed. He gets up to speed quickly and the defenseman is caught flat footed. Even though the defenseman had a good angle to keep him outside to the faceoff dot, the speed that Coe has on him allowed him to blow past him and right to the net with ease.
Something worth noting on RW Brandon Coe, this kid moves really well for a player his size. He’s not one of the fastest players in this draft, but it’s hard to find 6’3” fwds that can really move. Had a great campaign for NB during a really tough season for the team #2020NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/7REM1JrwjZ— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) April 7, 2020
Shot & Scoring: Good to Very Good
The reason why I waffle on this is because while I would not say Coe has a very good shot in isolation, I would say he seems very good at generating shots and scoring chances. Specifically, he is very good at getting shots in close (heatmap courtesy of pick224.com).
He does this a number of ways. The first is with his skating, which I briefly described above. The other is with his size, since he can bully his way in front and most defensemen won’t be able to get him out of the way. But that doesn’t mean that he’s just a big body, he has very good hands in close for deflections, rebounds, and receiving passes.
The other thing he does well to create better scoring chances with his shot is changing the angle on the goalie. Because he’s so tall and has a wide reach, he can drastically change the angle on a shot by pivoting his body in either direction. Watch this goal highlight again. Look at how the goalie squares up to him as if Coe is going to shoot off his forehand, or maybe try and cut through the crease (a move he uses a lot). But then Coe goes to his backhand, and the goalie is out to lunch. The goalie may be square to Coe’s body, but switching to his backhand he had a wide open net because he can reach basically around the goalie.
To that end, it really helps that Coe seems to have an excellent backhand. He scored a few pretty nice looking goals using it. In addition to the one goal above, watch how many he scores off his backhand in this highlight pack:
I counted four of them in total. The rest of the goals showcases how he gets the bulk of his shots and goals — deflections, tap ins when he’s in front, using his size and angling himself just right, and so on. It all helps him be one of the best draft eligible prospect this year in terms of taking or creating dangerous shots.
Here’s what the scouts say...
From Future Considerations:
Flashes an impressive snapshot when he gets into scoring areas, showing more aggressiveness throwing the puck on net tonight than he usually does.
From McKeen’s Hockey:
Coe’s shot is quite good. He possesses the ability to get off a good hard shot when given the opportunity. The kinds of goals he scores vary, but he is not afraid of mixing it up and scoring some greasy goals. He always goes to the net with his stick on the ice which helps him to collect goals. He can also fly down the wing and release a wicked wrist shot. Another subtle detail in his shot is the ability he has to wait that split second to make sure he gets the shot through or waits for his spot to open before ripping it. Some players do not always have the best shot selection or patience, but this is something he does well. When he gets to the next level, it will only be tougher to beat goalies so continued practice will be essential.
He has the strength, skating and the long reach to be a puck possession beast. He can score the dirty, greasy goals by gaining position in front of the goal and planting himself, or he can beat defenders wide and drive to the net to score the pretty goals.
Decided to watch a random North Bay game from the middle of December to get a look at how Brandon Coe would fare against London, and he didn't disappoint with 3G and 1A in the game.— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) April 23, 2020
I think someone's really going to fall for this kid at the #2020NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/2Wjhpk89TS
Puck Handling & Play Making: Good
Brandon Coe is definitely more of a finisher than he is a set up man, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make plays. His best attribute in this regard is his ability to handle the puck with his size, even when he’s at full speed and even in tight spaces.
However, I have to give credit to his ability to help plays when he doesn’t have the puck. He is pretty smart at using his size and ability to get to dangerous areas, create more space for his linemates, and just cause chaos in the defensive end. Which, honestly, is what you want from a good forechecking forward (see: Hyman, Zachary).
I read some scouting reports that said he was actually a good passer, but I didn’t really see evidence of it in either of the games I watched. He does have more assists than goals, mind you, so I might have also just picked two of the worst games to showcase his passing and playmaking.
So it might be something he is good at, but doesn’t necessarily use all the time. Consistency is one of the big knocks against him.
Here’s what the scouts say...
From Future Considerations:
Good hands for a power forward type; shows both the ability to dig pucks out of scrums and carry the play across the offensive blue line. Loves to circle the offensive zone, using his length to protect the puck while surveying the zone for passing lanes.
From McKeen’s Hockey:
Coe is a skillful player who plays calm when he has the puck on his tape. He is a play driving winger who, as mentioned above, loves to take the puck to the net and beat the D-man wide with speed. His passing ability is a very strong part of his game. He can thread the needle when in tight quarters. However, there are occasions when he skates with his stick in the air, instead of along the ice, ready to receive the puck. This is a small detail that if he corrected, he will be able to poke pucks away more often. When he has the puck on his tape it is difficult to get it off him because he protects it quite well, which in turn creates a lot more space for himself and his line mates.
Where Should Brandon Coe Be Drafted?
Brandon Coe has the makings of a pretty solid power forward. Whether or not he can become a high-end one in the NHL is the question. He has all the assets to do it, he just needs to refine his skills and, reportedly, find better consistency on a regular basis. It’s something he and his coaches have mentioned, though I admit after seeing that lobbed at Nylander all the time I am skeptical whenever that accusation is made on a player.
For me, the question is how much did him playing for a bad team affect his rankings? He can take his game to a whole new level playing with high end players, to the point that he was said to drive the line with a potential top-5 draft pick as a linemate. That doesn’t seem like something he would be able to do in the NHL, but being a big, physical forechecker who can skate well and create tons of chances in close is not anything to sneeze at.
According to public scouts, his rankings vary from 70th to 114th. Bob McKenzie’s rankings, on the other hand, have him 65th. It maybe shouldn’t be surprising that a big power forward is ranked higher by NHL scouts, but in this case I might actually agree with them. That would put him at the start of the third round.
That, unfortunately, would likely put him in no-man’s land for the Leafs. It’s probably too early for the Leafs to take him with their second round pick. But then they don’t have another until the fourth round, where I highly doubt Coe will still be available. So if the Leafs get another second rounder, or maybe a third rounder? Hell to the yes. He could be a lot of fun. Like if Zach Hyman were taller, bigger, and had a sick back hand shot.
Where would you pick Brandon Coe?
This poll is closed
2nd round - 44th overall
3rd round - trade for a pick here
4th round - one of the Leafs’ two picks here