Photo credit: Steve Dunsmoor
A day after selecting Ryan Leonard with the 8th overall pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, the Capitals selected forward Andrew Cristall in the second round, 40th overall.
Cristall is another player where there is not a real consensus on his ceiling. He is an overshadowed name because he is in the same league as Connor Bedard, the No. 1 pick. Cristall ranked from sixth all the way down to 35th by the major prospect evaluators.
Asked Cristall for self assessment of himself as a player, and he says: “I’d say I’m a highly skilled offensive player. I can produce at a high rate. I like to bring people out of their seats, and most importantly win hockey games, so that’s the kind of player I am.” #ALLCAPS
— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) June 29, 2023
The left-winger had a very strong draft season with 95 points (39 goals, 56 assists) in 54 games, which led the Kelowna Rockets and was sixth in the WHL. The Vancouver native was also fourth in the league with 1.76 points per game, but only trailed Bedard in that category among 2023 draftees. He also missed 14 games due to an injury.
Before playing junior hockey, Cristall played at St. George’s Prep School. He was named team captain of the U15 squad in his sophomore year and led the team with 80 points (43 goals, 37 assists) in just 27 games.
“He just always had the puck and if he didn’t have the puck he found a way to find and go get the puck. And when the game was on the line, I just knew that he was going to try to find a way to win the hockey game for us. He just had that tenacity and ferocity to go get the puck. He was a fierce competitor,” Cristall’s coach Todd Harkins said.
The 5-foot-10 winger is one of the best passers in the draft. His incredibly high hockey IQ is how he’s able to find passing lanes and thread the needle. Another thing that sticks out about Cristall is his edge work. He is one of the most deceptive skaters in the draft and has exceptional hands.
Cristall’s shot is decent in terms of power, but is also very accurate. He’s excellent at shooting through traffic and fooling goaltenders.
While the 18-year-old is very agile on his edges, his straightaway skating is the biggest area needing improvement. He does not have that explosive stride to him, which causes him to struggle on backchecking and on breakaways. However, that will improve as he continues to get stronger.
Cristall is one of the top playmakers in this class, as he’s very creative and evasive possessing high-end offensive IQ. He’s very deceptive and shifty with his movements as he maintains great control of the puck, handling it confidently in high traffic areas and even beating defenders one-on-one. Whether it’s feathering a puck through a defender’s stick or his feet, he’s always making slick plays and dekes. His soft hands allow him to make moves in tight on the net to fool goaltenders and leave them in the dust.
A dynamic player through and through, Cristall adds the extra flash to every play. He beats defenders with head fakes, handling skills, and slick edges before cutting inside or finding a teammate burst into the slot. He starts the plays, builds them, and then puts the finishing touches on them. He’s an inventive playmaker, capable of turning the mundane into the brilliant, breaking down opponents with feints and deception before sending perfectly weighted passes to his teammates to do the rest.
Cristall is very talented offensively. He has puck-on-a-string type of hands and routinely beats defenders with his stickhandling. He has a highly-imaginative offensive mind and very good vision with the puck. Cristall is so dangerous on the power play because of his skill but also his great shot, as he’s scored a ton of goals from range this season. The concerns come down to his frame and especially his skating. He lacks footspeed for the higher levels and has awkward skating mechanics that are concerning for his NHL projection where he too often defaults into the 10-2 skating style, overly relying on his edgework.
“Cristall is a magician with the puck on his stick in the offensive zone, deking and dangling opponents with quick and precise hands. He can rip a snap shot from the home plate area in the offensive zone or make a pass so pretty, you’d marvel at how it got to its destination.”
“Despite his diminutive size, he’s also a smarter player off of the puck than he gets credit for and I’ve been struck by how often he’s in the right position above the puck to hold play inside the offensive zone.”
“As creative as any player in the draft, Cristall simply knows how to score. His ability to anticipate and read the defense to find the right spot to put himself is next level. The legitimate concern beyond his below-average size is that he is also a below-average skater.”
”From a skill perspective, Cristall has everything going for him. His skating can be a bit of a disaster at points, though. In a vacuum, there’s a lot to like.”
“Results offensively are undeniable. Great stick. Dynamic when he has time and space. Concerns started to develop down the stretch of the season. Pace off the puck, zone exits and overall detail have room for significant improvement.”
Ranked #20 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
Ranked #19 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
Ranked #19 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #24 by FLOHOCKEY/CHRIS PETERS
Ranked #21 by DAILY FACEOFF
Ranked #12 by THE HOCKEY NEWS
Ranked #27 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #25 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #35 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #15 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #25 by SPORTSNET
Ranked #26 by HPR/SHANE MALLOY
Ranked #15 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
Ranked #14 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
Ranked #28 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
Ranked #12 by SMAHT SCOUTING
In addition to the 8th and 40th pick, the Capitals hold the 104th pick (fourth round), 136th pick (fifth round) and 200th overall pick (seventh round) in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
By Jacob Cheris and Jon Sorensen
2023 NHL Entry Draft
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Capitals Select Andrew Cristall In The Second Round Of The 2023 NHL Entry Draft
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