Weight: 180 Pounds
Date of birth: August 30, 2002
Hometown: Courtice, Ontario
Position: Center/Right Wing
OHL Draft: Round 2, 33rd overall, 2018 Priority Selection (Saginaw Spirit)
NHL Central Scouting Rankings
|C Prospect||N.R.||104 N.A.||
Its quite possible that, according to NHL Central Scouting’s lists, there is no bigger enigma then Barrie Colts forward Ethan Cardwell. Coming into the season NHLCS had him as a C – Prospect, to unranked in November to 104 (among North Americans) on their mid-term to 70 (among North Americans) on their final rankings. That is about as close as you can get to the definition of all over the map.
Cardwell played Minor Midget AAA hockey during the 2017-2018 season with the Clarington Toros and in 35 games scored 30 goals and assisted on 24. He went on to play the final 2 regular season and playoffs with the Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League where they captured the Buckland Cup. Cardwell also represent Team OMHA Black at the OHL Gold Cup, scoring twice in two games and capturing Bronze.
Cardwell’s grandfather Steve played junior hockey with the Oshawa Generals and spent 3 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL and 2 in the WHA. His father Justin played NCAA hockey with Western Michigan before going on to have a lengthy career in the ECHL, AHL and IHL. His Uncle Matt also played hockey, most notably for York University and had a brief 9 game stint of professional hockey in the ECHL.
The 2018-2019 season was a whirlwind season for Cardwell that almost required a program to keep track of.
Cardwell began the season with the Saginaw Spirit training camp and got into some exhibition games. But the Spirit sent him to the OJHL and the Trent Golden Hawks who had just acquired his rights in a trade. He got called up to the Spirit on December 8 and would score his first OHL goal in that contest. After a brief stint he was back in the OJHL, this time with the Pickering Panthers before coming back to Saginaw to finish out the year.
This season was a slow start for Cardwell, who posted 4 goals and 4 assists in his first 15 games. The numbers aren’t particularly bad, but considering 5 of those points came in just 2 games, one could suggest there was consistency issues in terms of providing offence. The next 22 games for Saginaw saw him score 8 goals and 5 assists.
But on January 10, 2019 in a blockbuster deal, the Barrie Colts acquire Cardwell, Connor Punnett and draft picks while sending Nick Suzuki to the Spirit. That’s when things took a turn offensively for Cardwell as he scored 11 goals along with 15 helpers in 26 games.
There were many questions about Cardwell that were unanswered until the trade to Barrie.
What is evident first and foremost is Cardwell’s extremely high hockey IQ. In the offensive zone, he alludes defenders and finds those soft spots almost unnoticed and when teammates find him, he releases an above average wrister with a superb release. He uses that same IQ defensively. As one of the youngest players available in the draft class, his defensive abilities and understanding is ahead of most of his peers. His positioning is superb, he gets into lanes with his body or stick and does extremely well at creating turnovers.
Cardwell is a good technical skater, good edges and control, strong on his blades and agile. However, he lacks speed in both his first strides and top end. If he can continue to work on his speed that would help him even more. What we do know is that Cardwell is an extremely hard worker so putting in the effort is something we expect from him.
Cardwell has shown he can play up and down the lineup and play an offensive role with talented players, or take on a checking role on a lower line. By all accounts, he is a coachable kid willing to do whatever is asked of him.
In Saginaw, Cardwell did very well on the faceoff dot at 58.5% but took a big dip in Barrie at 35.8%. But he spent most of his time in both cities on the wing. I would like to see him with more time in the middle to make a definitive decision on which position he is best suited for.
As of now, I believe Cardwell’s upside is of a defensively responsible third liner who could kill penalties and provide some offence at the next level with an ability to move up the lineup in a pinch. If he can add some speed, he could end up on a second line.