Weight: 168 pounds
Date of birth: March 25, 1988. Ortonville, MI
OHL Draft: 2nd round, 26th overall, 2014 Priority Selection (London Knights)
Gleason played his daft year for Honeybaked U18 squad. The cousin of NHL’er Tim Gleason played in 22 games scoring once and adding 5 assists. The London Knights would make him their second round selection at the 2014 Priority Selection.
Last season with the Knights, Gleason appeared in 41 games registering 5 assists. With a veteran lineup and depth in London, Gleason would sometimes play on the wing. That depth in London was also evident this season, and after two games the Knights traded him to Hamilton for a second round pick and a conditional 15th rounder.
The move paid dividends for Gleason. He leads the Bulldogs’ defenders in goals (7), assists (21) and points (28).
Gleason is a strong skater with excellent agility enabling him to beat on coming checkers. He can make a very good first pass as well as skate the puck out of danger. He’s a two way defender who is currently anchoring the Bulldogs’ blue line. At 6’1” he has good size but needs to add some serious bulk to his frame to be able to battle with forwards in the defensive zone.
Gleason appeared on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary list of players to watch as a C prospect on both their September and updated November list. A C ranking is considered a 4th, 5th or 6th round pick. On the Mid-Term list released in January, Gleason was ranked 53rd among North American skaters.
I had the chance to talk to Reed Duthie, the play by play voice of the Bulldogs on Cable 14 about Gleason.
OHLW: Ben played some wing for the Knights last season because of the veteran depth they had. He came to Hamilton with the potential to lead the Bulldog’s blue line. Would you say he’s approached that expectation?
Reed: Without a doubt, Ben immediately filled a need for an offensive minded defenceman and as a 17 year old has played in all situations for the Bulldogs. Ben is known for being an offensive player but he has developed his all around game to the point where he is now a trusted member of the Bulldogs PK group, which has continuously improved from the beginning of the season. Ben is someone that fans of the organization, as well as in the organization, are very excited to see develop.
OHLW: Ben is the much younger cousin of NHL’er Tim Gleason. Do you see any similarities at all between them?
Reed: Ben & Tim may be related but are very different players, Tim was a stalwart defenceman who was never the greatest skater but was always tremendous in his positioning. Ben’s calling card is his offensive talents, one of the slickest skaters you will find anywhere in junior hockey, owns a terrific shot and tremendous vision for passing lanes. Ben has improved his defensive game but is still working to approach his cousin on that side of the puck, however Ben, much like his cousin, has a penchant for laying punishing open ice hits when the opportunity arises.
OHLW: One of Ben’s biggest needs is to add some bulk to his frame. How is he handling the battle with bigger forwards in the league?
Reed: Ben is stronger then I believe he gets credit for, he doesn’t always win the board battles with consistency, however he does not shy away from battles along the back boards nor does he shy away from the biggest of the opposition. We have seen Ben battle the likes of Lawson Crouse and be able to use his combination of skills, hockey IQ and physicality to come away with victories in those 1 on 1’s. As Ben continues to bulk up and his game continues to develop, you will see him win those battles with the consistency scouts are looking for.
OHLW: Ben is a strong skater with excellent agility and ability to beat the forecheck. He can also skate the puck out of his end or make a good first pass. Do you feel he needs to improve any aspect of his skating?
Reed: No, Ben’s skating should be one of the last concerns of his development. Ben is an elite skater & we actually just saw him go 1 on 5 against Oshawa and nearly score a spectacular goal using his speed & agility to elude checkers in the neutral zone and break into open ice nearly scoring a highlight reel goal.
OHLW: How would you say Ben’s vision is?
Reed: Much like his skating, Ben’s vision is elite. Where Ben will get himself in trouble is seeing a long out passing lane and trying to fit it into too small a space or trying to make too fine a play. Ben’s out passes are crisp & authoritative and his offensive zone vision is nothing short of fun to watch. While working the top of the formation on the PP Ben will find passing lanes to the front of the net or a crowded area and fit the puck right in to his teammates’ tape.
OHLW: Ben began on Central Scouting’s list of players to watch as a C prospect. On their preliminary list he’s climbed up to 53 on the North American skaters list. And he’s really coming along on the ice now. Can you see him jumping into the second round?
Reed: I do believe Ben will climb into the 2nd round of the NHL draft and even in the 2nd round has potential to be an incredible steal (reminiscent Shea Weber, not comparing the players just steal value). At 17 you are seeing the makings of a potentially elite offensive defenceman who’s defensive game continues to grow. In a position that is the hardest to make the jump to each successive level, Ben continues to grow his game. As a side note; being taken in the 2nd round would be great career symmetry for Ben Gleason, was taken in the 2nd round of the OHL Priority Selection Draft & he was traded to Hamilton for a 2nd round selection, so a 2nd round selection in the NHL only seems to make sense.
OHLW: We are seeing more and more puck moving defensemen that can skate. The NHL is moving that way and so is the OHL. Do you see shut down defencemen such as, say Keaton Middleton in Saginaw dropping in drafts because of the attention to puck moving defencemen? On the other hand, guys like Mikhail Sergachev in Windsor are excellent at both ends, but we don’t find those guys every day. What’s your take and apply it to Ben?
Reed: If Ben’s defensive game was more defined then you might hear his name in the same conversations in which Sergachev’s is being discussed. Teams are looking for the home run pick and defenceman that can play both ends of the rink are so valuable because offensively it gives you an extra weapon while not giving anything up in your own end. Those type of players, who do it with the ability of a top pairing player in the NHL are extremely rare and that would be the reason you see Sergachev & of course Chychrun getting so much attention on draft boards. The reason I would say don’t sleep on Ben Gleason is because physically he hasn’t developed as fast as those two, and his game hasn’t matured as fast (obviously a major relation there in junior hockey) but when you consider all of the tools Ben Gleason has, he could find his way into discussions with those upper echelon names by the end of the 2016-17 season & an NHL could be very, very happy with their selection of him.
OHLW: Can you give us some insight to Ben Gleason the person as opposed to the player?
Reed: Ben is the kind of person that an organization can really build around, everyone from coaches, to scouts, to teammates, like Ben as a person and consistently comment on his dedication to working on his craft and his drive to consistently improve as a player on the ice to help his team. For an organization in its’ first season in the OHL, Ben Gleason was exactly the type of person the Hamilton Bulldogs needed to bring in, both on the ice where he is very exciting to watch as well as off the ice where he has been tremendous in his first season in the community.