Weight: 235 pounds
Date of birth: February 10, 1998. Stratford, Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 3, 50th overall, 2014 Priority Selection
Keaton Middleton is the younger brother of Ottawa 67’s and Los Angeles Kings draft pick Jacob Middleton. He is currently in his second Ontario Hockey League seasons.
Middleton played his Minor Midget hockey with the Huron Perth Lakers during the 2013-2014 season. There, he played in 31 games scoring twice and adding 20 assists. At the conclusion of his season he appeared in 3 regular season and 4 playoff games for the Stratford Cullitons of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (Junior B).
The following season, Middleton made the jump to the OHL appearing in 61 games for the Spirit and scoring twice and adding 7 assists with 58 penalty minutes. He also played in 5 games for Team White at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge netting one assist. While with the Spirit he averaged 16:24 of even strength ice time, a total that’s jumped up to 20:16 this season.
Middleton has that size that NHL scouts still drool over and as one of the stronger players in the OHL, the strength to go along with it. He finishes his hits, sometimes punishing, battles down low and is a beast in front of his own goal, making opponents not want to engage with him.
Middleton’s skating isn’t the greatest but his mobility is “good enough”. Combining that with his enormous reach and strong physical game, he has the ability to be a strong shut down defender. While he’s never, and will never be known as an offensive defenseman, he’s shown some flashes throughout his career to date. He possesses a hard and heavy shot from the point but his puck handling skills and decision making need some improvement.
Spirit coach Greg Gilbert had this to say about Middleton: “He has to be one of those big, steady, hard-nosed guys. He’s got to play that way every night. He’s got to let the opposition know it’s going to be a long night for them.”
Gilbert added: “We want our defensemen to get involved offensively, but his priority is to be a big, solid, physical, stay-at-home defenseman.”
Middleton made NHL Central Scouting’s players to watch list as a B prospect – typically second or third round prospects – and exactly where Middleton should settle in come June 2016.
Middleton is a work in progress and is still quite raw but he has the potential to be one of the better shut down defenders in the 2016 NHL Draft.