In the first edition of my Colorado Avalanche prospect profile series, I’ll take a look at up-and-coming center Joey Hishon.
Hometown: Stratford, Ontario
Age: 22 ~Position: Center
Height: 5-foot-10 ~Weight: 175
Draft: 1st round, 17th overall in 2010 NHL Entry Draft
+ Speed, Hands, Playmaking Ability, Hockey IQ
– Size, Strength, Durability
Hishon was highly touted coming from the Owen Sound Attack back in 2010. He had all the intangibles that the Colorado Avalanche were looking for in a small forward. He’s fast, possesses great balance, and has just the right amount of grit. His OHL statistics speak for themselves, as he racked up 108 goals and 248 points in 211 career games.
He made his NHL debut in game 4 of the 2014 Western Conference Quarterfinals, filling the roster spot of injured Tyson Barrie. Hishon played extremely well after he was called up, even assisting on a game 7 goal that gave the Avalanche a brief lead:
Hishon’s vision made this play possible. He knocked down a deflected pass out of mid air and carried it into the zone. Then he defended the puck beautifully from two Wild defenders, until he found a wide-open Jamie McGinn streaking to the net. Hishon laid a perfect pass to McGinn, who was able to slap home a five-hole one timer. It was a flash of the talent that oft-injured Hishon brings to the table.
In the 2010-2011 Memorial Cup against the Kootenay Ice, Hishon sustained a severe concussion, resulting from an elbow to the head. It was the beginning of a long journey for Hishon, as he patiently waited for the effects of the concussion to subside. He ended up missing the entire following season because of lingering symptoms.
Hishon was able to make his professional debut in 2012 with Colorado’s AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters. By the time he finally hit the ice, it’d been more than two years since he was originally injured. He played in nine games that season, scoring a goal and adding five assists.
His short time spent with the club in the playoffs was a sigh of relief to the organization. Although he doesn’t yet have a full professional season under his belt, there are still numerous reasons to remain optimistic on Hishon and his progress.
1) Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche)
2) Sam Gagner (Edmonton Oilers)
3) David Krejci (Boston Bruins)
What do all three have in common? The answer is simple: speed, hands, and flat out playmaking ability. The speed at which Hishon plays his game is one of the most enticing parts of his skill set. His showcases tremendous composure when the puck is on his stick and he boasts even better stickhandling. Hishon’s a natural playmaker. His vision to find his teammates for the open pass is second to none. He reminds me of a combination of the three, with Duchene’s speed, Gagner’s hands, and Krejci’s vision.
Hockeysfuture.com: Projected top-six forward
Prospects.com: #4 Avalanche prospect
The one stipulation about these rankings, are that they represent a totally healthy Hishon. If he can stay healthy, they very well may be accurate. When healthy, he has proven to be rather productive in the AHL. He also showed that he could come into a playoff series and make crafty, big time plays. He was effective for the most part, paired on the third scoring line with Maxime Talbot and Jamie McGinn.
The other issue that Hishon is going to face at the NHL level is his size. At just 5-foot-10, 175-pounds, he’ll need to add a few pounds before he can really use his speed and strength to his advantage. If he can get his weight up and stay injury free, he’ll be a solid top-six forward in no time.
The Colorado Avalanche must have liked what they saw from Hishon when they called him up, as he was given a qualifying offer of $900,000.00, in order to retain his rights. This is big news for the organization and was an absolute must, given his talent and potential. His ceiling is high enough for him to become a legitimate playmaker in the NHL in the coming years. Though, he’ll also have to focus on improving his defensive game and becoming more of a two-way center. The Avalanche also faces the possibility of losing one of their best centers, in Paul Stastny. If that comes to be the case, Hishon may be called upon more than ever next season. If he can stay away from the injury bug, he may well live up to the expectations of a 17th overall pick.