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Berkly Catton 2024 NHL Draft Profile – The Win Column

It’s that time of the year for The Win Column’s NHL Draft Rankings and Draft Profiles! Earlier this week, we looked at Sam Dickinson and Cayden Lindstrom while Macklin Celebrini, Ivan Demidov and Artyom Levshunov were featured last week. The 2024 NHL Draft will take place on June 28 and 29 at The Sphere in Las Vegas.

Up next in our rankings is Berkly Catton. Catton is an intriguing forward prospect who has been ranked as high as second overall this season. Although Catton has slid in rankings as of late, his production in the WHL has been unmatched posting an incredible 1.71 points per game in his draft-eligible season with the Spokane Chiefs. He’s currently ranked ninth among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, but still sits as high as second overall by The Hockey News. The undersized Saskatoon-born player has incredible hockey sense, a smooth stride and a knack for the back of the net.

Who is Berkly Catton?

Player Position Handedness Height Weight
Berkly Catton C/W Left 5′ 11″ 163lbs

Catton’s on-ice production

Year Draft Relative League Team GP G A P
2018–19 D-5 SAAHL U15 Saskatoon Outlaws U15 AA 30 25 31 56
2019–20 D-4 SAAHL U15 Saskatoon Outlaws U15 AA 30 58 50 108
SMAAAHL Saskatoon Contacts U18 AAA 1 1 0 1
2020–21 D-3 SMAAAHL Saskatoon Contacts U18 AAA 5 1 1 2
2021–22 D-2 16U AAA Shattuck St. Mary’s 16U AAA 15 11 12 23
SMAAAHL Saskatoon Contacts U18 AAA 21 16 25 41
WHL Spokane Chiefs 9 1 3 4
2022–23 D-1 WHL Spokane Chiefs 63 23 32 55
WHC-17 Canada Red U17 “C” 7 3 9 12
WJC-18 Canada U18 7 1 3 4
2023–24 D+0 WHL Spokane Chiefs 68 54 62 116

The 18-year-old Catton played the majority of his minor hockey in his home province except for a short stint with the famed Shattuck St. Mary’s Academy in Minnesota during the 2020–21 shortened season, which also happened to be Catton’s WHL draft season.

Outstanding U15 showings

Playing as a 12/13-year-old in 2018–19, Catton posted almost two points per game with the Saskatoon Outlaws U15 AAA team. Playing as an under-ager, Catton turned some heads with his 25 goals and 56 points in 30 games in his first AAA season.

The following year, he saw some video game numbers in his stat line.

At 13/14 years old, Catton posted an unbelievable 58 goals and 108 points in only 30 games. That works out to an insane 1.93 goals per game and 3.6 points per game. Additionally, Catton played one game for the Contacts U18 team that season as a 14-year-old. Safe to say the goalies of the SAAHL U15 league were happy to see Catton move up to the U18 squad full-time the following season.

Ramping up for the WHL Draft

Catton began the 2020–21 season playing as a 14-year-old on the Saskatoon Contacts U18 AAA team. With a short season, Catton only played five games scoring a goal and an assist. The following season was a similar situation. At 15 years old, entering his WHL Bantam Draft season, Catton needed to play meaningful hockey.

This led to a split season played on both sides of the border. Catton took his talents to Shattuck St. Mary’s in Faribault Minnesota. At the time, he played with consensus number-one overall pick Macklin Celebrini. In 15 games with Shattuck, Catton scored 11 goals and posted 23 points for a 1.53 points per game pace. That same season, he also returned to play for the Saskatoon Contacts U18 AAA team. In 21 games, he posted 16 goals and 41 points, cementing himself as a top prospect in the WHL Bantam Draft.

Catton was selected first overall in the 2021 WHL Bantam Draft by the Spokane Chiefs and suited up for nine games to finish the 2020–21 campaign as a 16-year-old, scoring a goal and three assists.

WHL excellence and the international stage

Last season, Catton began the year as a 16-year-old rookie for the Chiefs with a great campaign. Playing in 63 games, Catton scored 23 goals and 55 points, bringing home the Spokane Chiefs Rookie of the Year accolades.

Catton earned himself a World Hockey Championship U17 roster spot, captaining the Canada Red team to a silver medal. With 12 points in seven games, Berkly also earned a tournament all-star nod. The same season, he also earned himself a World Junior Championship U18 roster spot bringing home a bronze medal and picking up four points in seven games.

This season, Catton continued to build his international competition resume by highlighting the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Catton captained the team, scoring eight goals and two assists in five games. The team won a gold medal and Catton earned yet another international accolade, being named player of the tournament.

To follow up the Hlinka Gretzky opener of his draft season, Catton put on a show in the WHL this season. Catton played in all 68 games of the year scoring an unreal 54 goals and 116 points. His 1.71 points per game sit third not just this season, but in the last 20 years of WHL draft-eligible seasons!

Catton follows Connor Bedard (2.51) and Sam Reinhart (1.75). Bedard, Reinhart and Catton are the only players in the top 10 who averaged over 1.70 points per game with Carolina Hurricanes forward Seth Jarvis posting 1.69 in 2020.

Evidently, Catton knows how to produce offensively and has shown that he can score and facilitate at the highest level.

Catton’s strengths

Skating

Catton has a great first step and very smooth skating strides and edges. He’s a mechanically efficient skater who conserves his momentum through his edges in transition. With the puck on his stick, Catton utilizes his acceleration and stride pattern to throw off defenders, utilizing a hesitation and then bursting through the neutral zone. Combine this burst with his puck control and Catton finds himself beating defenders outside to net frequently.

As it stands now, his skating will transition to the NHL very well but he still lacks that breakaway top speed that would separate him against stronger defenders. Keep in mind, he only stands at 5′ 11″ and 168 lbs. If or when Catton continues to grow and fill out his frame, that top-end speed is easily achievable with his current mechanics.

Playmaking vision and puck control

Although Catton has showcased his scoring abilities at every level, his playmaking ability is elite and arguably more fun to watch. The only downside to Catton’s playmaking is he can fall victim to forcing plays at times. He’s hungry to create for his teammates and at times he can get caught trying too hard.

Despite this, he has incredible vision in the offensive zone and on transition. He utilizes his body position and edgework well to protect the puck despite his small frame. Catton is great at drawing in defenders and then dishing the puck. Whether it’s on transition or in the offensive zone, he looks off defenders and can slide no-look passes cross-ice with ease at times.

He controls the puck extremely well despite not having the flashiest dekes. His puck handling is smooth, quick and skillful. He doesn’t try to do too much but also has the ability to leave a goalie reaching for their jock strap when he sees an opportunity.

Furthermore, he utilizes his body and edges when creating plays in a way that reminds me of Jonathan Huberdeau (the best version of him). He will often turn his back to defenders, extend his arms and sweep the puck to trailing forwards or into the slot as if he had eyes in the back of his head. The spin-o-rama pass is one of Catton’s signatures. True to form with other great playmakers, he slows the game down and seemingly always knows where his four teammates are.

He maintains a balance of tenacity and patience offensively that keeps defenders guessing and allows him to maintain space. Combine his vision and puck control with his passing ability and you have the total package.

When Catton creates space for his teammates, he has an incredible ability to put passes into open space. He leads his teammates into the play he sees developing by hesitating or turning his shoulders to draw multiple defenders and then serves up the puck into an open lane right in front of a teammate. If you’re playing on Berkly Catton’s line, be prepared to score a couple of goals and not know how the puck even ended up on your stick.

Shooting

Catton has shown at every level that he can score a goal or two. Like many other new-age shooters, Berkly loves the toe drag release. He utilizes the move well shooting from the dots and in the slot and frequently changes the angle of his wrist shots before letting them go. He’s patient when shooting and can pick his spot from anywhere on the ice.

The velocity isn’t in the top echelon but the puck pops off his stick with great accuracy. He utilizes his shot effectively both from distance and in tight. Catton scored numerous goals this season protecting the puck while driving the net to seemingly poke his shot under the arm of opposing goalies.

With a few more pounds on his frame, Catton could get some more oomph out of his wrister and take his shot to the next level but as it stands right now his shot is NHL-ready.

Dickinson’s areas of improvement

Size and strength

Although Catton’s 5′ 11″ height isn’t uncommon for today’s NHL, his weight is somewhat of a concern. If he wants to play center at the NHL level, Catton would ideally reach 180–185lbs I’d imagine. Last season the average height and weight of an NHL centre was 6’1″ and 196 points. For reference, Connor Bedard is listed at 5′ 10″ 185lbs and hasn’t sniffed a centre role yet this year.

It’s not to say Catton can’t perform in the NHL at 170 pounds, it would just be as a winger who would likely want to avoid the corners. Some more muscle mass would put his skating and shot over the top and make his current defensive struggles much more manageable. Size isn’t the only thing Catton needs to improve on in order to play center in the NHL, but it’ll grow all areas of his game.

Although he has good puck control, Catton can easily get thrown off the puck when he gets caught, typically in the corners. This can lead to some scrambled play that leads to turnovers and bad passes. Strength and physicality would also aid his defensive game. He plays very stick first with little desire to use his body to move defenders off the puck. When he is in puck battles, he can only rely on his hands and edges so much and will need to improve at the NHL level.

If Catton was even an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier, I don’t think he would be on the draft board past third overall. Keep in mind that he’s only 18 years old and could still keep growing. In two years, Catton could have the frame that everyone wanted to see this year.

Defence

Somewhat connected to his size, Catton can struggle in his own zone. At times he can be seen flat-footed off the puck, leaving his zone responsibility in his blind spot caught watching the puck. It comes from his desire to create offence but has been on display too much this season.

Although he is a very aggressive defender, he can be too aggressive on the puck. Catton is looking to create turnovers by breaking up passes and forcing offensive players on help defense but this often leaves him with horrible positioning. He’s a decent defender when on the puck, his size leaves him on the losing end of puck battles, especially in the defensive end. Catton will definitely have to improve in this area to translate as an elite centre in the NHL.

Forcing plays

Offence is fun and I don’t blame Catton for liking goal lights. But, he has a tendency to get nearsighted and try too hard on the offensive end. Although he has the ability to extend and create outstanding plays, he also turns the puck over too much. Some attempts to create with his feet are diminished by his lack of size, putting himself in vulnerable positions at the top of the offensive zone and against the wall.

His passing is very strong creatively but sometimes he can throw some head-scratchers up the middle of the ice in his own end. At times it seems he wants to play an offensive-style game in every situation, when it would serve him better to be more conservative. He wants to drive the play all the time, and even though he is capable of doing it, he still lacks the decision-making at times to make a consistent impact in a 200-foot game.

Catton comparables

Catton compares very well to last year’s 13th overall pick of the Buffalo Sabres, Zachary Benson. Benson is only 5’9″ and 165 points but he is already making an impact at the NHL level for Buffalo. They have similar playmaking abilities and stature which bodes well for Catton.

Jack Hughes is another undersized centre who was scrutinized for his size when he was drafted by the New Jersey Devils. Hughes has a similar combo of playmaking and scoring ability in addition to his smooth skating. Hughes is a ceiling comparison certainly, but a good one at that.

I think it’s realistic that Catton develops into a full-time top-six centre. Although it will be challenging for him to reach an elite centre role, I could see him having a lengthy career down the middle of the ice or on the wing as a very productive player. He will certainly score goals and I don’t think his development is as far off as many believe.

Fit with the Flames

If the Flames need anything, it’s centermen. Is Berkly Catton the best guarantee at developing into a first line centre this draft? The simple answer is no, nothing is guaranteed. But, does he have one of the highest ceilings in the draft class? In my opinion, yes.

If the Flames did draft Catton and he didn’t develop into a centreman, you’re possibly looking at a Mitch Marner-calibre winger. I’d take that any day and personally just want the Flames to take the best player available. At the position the Flames could be drafting, Catton could be hanging around still and is worth a shot.

Summary

Catton was largely considered one of the blue-chip prospects of this year’s draft class. After an incredible WHL season and playing on the international stage, he has unfortunately slid on many rankings. Concerns with his size have largely lowered Catton’s draft stock but he is still an elite prospect in this draft class and he is frankly being overlooked. In a class deep with centreman, Catton has fallen behind a strong European collective of prospects and NCAA talent.

Although Catton is still projected within the top 10, I’d argue he’s still worth a top five selection purely based on his multifaceted offensive game and incredible skating foundation.

Risk: 2/5

Reward: 5/5

NHL comparison: C – Jack Hughes, W – Zach Benson, Mitch Marner

Projection: First line centre


Check out all of The Win Column’s individual player profiles of selected 2024 NHL Draft prospects:

Macklin Celebrini | Ivan Demidov | Artyom Levshunov | Sam Dickinson

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