We continue our annual prospect review and forecast series with Eric Florchuk, center for the Vancouver Giants. (You can access all of our Capitals Prospect Reports and player analysis on our “Prospects” page right here.)
Florchuk, a 6’2″, 180- lb, left-handed center/winger, was drafted by the Capitals in the seventh round (#217 overall) of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. The 20-year-old Alberta native has spent the last four seasons playing for three different teams in the WHL. In early 2020 Florchuk was traded from the Saskatoon Blades to the Vancouver Giants. He remains unsigned by the Capitals.
Florchuk has played four seasons of junior hockey in the Western Hockey League (WHL). He began his junior hockey career with the Victoria Royals in 2016-17 and was traded to the Saskatoon Blades during the 2017-18 season where he remained through the 2018-19 season.
Florchuk began his 2019-2020 campaign with the Saskatoon Blades, where he recorded 11 goals and 13 assists in 33 games played, before being traded to the Vancouver Giants on January 9. He recorded 10 goals and 23 assists with the Giants before the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, Florchuk had a 13-game point streak, the longest point streak in the WHL at the time. For the season, Florchuk had 21 goals and 36 assists in 58 games played.
Florchuk’s scoring has improved markedly during his time in junior hockey, scoring just three goals in 2016-17, scoring 16 goals in 2017-18, and improving to 21 goals during 2018-19 season. For those seasons, he had 6 assists in 2016-17, 49 assists in 2017-18, and 50 assists in 2018-19. He also contributed 2 goals and 2 assists in 10 playoff games this post season. The 2019-2020 season was his best offensive production, setting a career high in points and tying a career high in goals in the shortened season.
2019-2020 MONTH-BY-MONTH RECAP AND TREND ANALYSIS
The following month-by-month breakdown is an aggregation of our monthly prospect reports prepared during the 2019-2020 season. You can find all of our weekly and monthly prospect reports on our “Prospects” page in the top menu.
Florchuk was released from Capitals training camp on September 19, in time to make Saskatoon’s season opener on October 20. In his first game, Florchuk centered the top-line, but was blindsided by a hit in the first period that left him unable to finish the game. He would miss the next five games before returning to action. Florchuk would score a natural hat trick on October 14 and finished the month with five goals and two assists in 11 games played. He registered 20 shots on goal for a 25.0% shooting percentage.
Florchuk began the month of November on a hot streak, scoring four goals in the first three games of the month, and eight goals in his last nine games dating back to the previous month. But the scoring dried up for Florchuk scoring no goals and just two assists in the middle six games of the month. He registered just eight shots in those same six games. On Friday, November 22, Florchuk was a scratch due to illness. For the season, Florchuk has 10 goals and five assists in 23 games. He’s only managed to shoot 37 times so far this season, giving him a shooting percentage of 27.1%. He was spotted at the 1C position for a majority of the month.
At first glance it would appear that Florchuk continues to proceed through this season rather quietly, as far as offensive production goes. He had one goal and five assists in five games played in the month of December. He was the third star of the game against the Raiders at the end of the month, registering a pair of assists. But Florchuk has seemingly found a solid home centering the Blades’ second-line. For the season, the very last player selected in the 2017 draft has 11 goals and 10 assists in 29 games played, but registered just 45 shots in those 29 games, good enough for a shooting percentage of 24.4%. This will be Florchuk’s last season in junior hockey, with the goal of moving to Hershey in September. However, he will need to step up his play-making and scoring if he wants to secure a regular spot in the Bears’ lineup. The Saskatoon Blades are a pedestrian 17-16-1-2 on the season.
The biggest news on Florchuk was that the Saskatoon Blades traded him, along with a draft pick, to the Vancouver Giants in exchange for Evan Patrician and two draft picks on January 9. With his new team, Florchuk has scored five goals and nine assists in nine games, including a hat trick against Victoria. Prior to the trade, he had three assists to that point in January. His total for the month numbered five goals and 11 assists in 13 games, while totals for the year read 16 goals and 22 assists for 38 points. This will be Florchuk’s last season in junior hockey, with the goal of moving to Hershey in September. However, he will need to step up his play-making and scoring if he wants to secure a regular spot in the Bears’ lineup. Vancouver is currently 22-20-3-2 and third place in the British Columbia Division of the WHL.
Florchuk seems to be somewhat reinvigorated as a result of being traded from Saskatoon to Vancouver in early January, as he has 10 goals and 21 assists in 22 games since joining the Giants. He extended a point streak to a league-best 13 games last Sunday. During that span he recorded five goals and 17 assists for 22 points, a streak that came to an end Friday night against Victoria. For the season, Florchuk has 21 goals and 34 assists in 55 games played. As far as development is concerned, he’s making it real tough for the Capitals to not have him report to Hershey in September. Remember, Florchuk was the very last player selected (“Mr. Irrelevant”) in the 2018 draft (Seventh-round, #217).
Overtime game-winnner (1/31)
Season highlights – Saskatoon
Florchuk’s chance to make the jump to the next level (Hershey) begins in earnest this coming fall, although he will be fighting for playing time from the start. He has demonstrated the skills for the shot. He has always been very strong from the dot, and his offensive production has show signs of being next-level. The mid season trade was very beneficial to Dlorchuk. Again, Florchuk remains unsigned by the Capitals, so Hershey is not assured at this point. He could become a free agent on June 1st, if not signed by the team.
The “needs ” remain the same for Florchuk. He needs to shoot more, as his shooting percentage is always pretty good, but his shot production is consistently much lower than other top-line centers. This season he shot the puck just 119 times in 58 games for a season shooting percentage of 17.6%. In the 2018-2019 season he recorded 163 shots for a season shooting percentage of 12.8%. For the 2017-2018 season, Florchuk recorded 127 shots for a season shooting percentage of 12.5%. The trajectory of shot accuracy improvement is there, he just needs to find ways to generate more shots.
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By Jon Sorensen