Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Evan Vierling.
The second overall pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Evan Vierling had just six goals and 27 points in 60 games during his rookie season with the Flint Firebirds. This season, Vierling had two goals and 10 points in his first 15 games with Flint. He was traded to the Barrie Colts and went on a tear. Vierling broke out with 12 goals and 22 assists for 34 points in 28 games before the season was shutdown. Vierling was an alternate captain for Team Canada Red at the 2018 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He scored two goals and an assist for three points in six tournament games.
An Aurora, Ontario native, Vierling played his minor hockey for the York Simcoe Express. He led the team to the OMHA title with 63 points in 33 games as well as 10 points in six playoff games. Vierling put up five goals and 10 points in six games at the OHL Cup. He was named to the tournament all-star team. It was the same statline that he put up in the 2017 OHL Cup. Vierling put up one goal and five points in four games for Team OMHA at the OGC-16 tournament, winning bronze.
Evan Vierling Scouting Report
Centre — shoots Left
Born June 20th, 2002 — Aurora, Ontario
Height 6’0″ — Weight 167 lbs [183 cm/76 kg]
Vierling is a very good skater. He has an excellent first step and superb acceleration. His top-end speed is also very good. He can get behind the defence and take a breakaway pass. His ability to change speeds also makes him dangerous on the rush. Vierling also has very good edgework and agility. He can take a defender wide and cut to the net or he can make a quick cut to the inside and drive hard down the middle. Vierling could stand to get stronger though. He can be knocked off the puck and is not as strong as he should be when involved in board battles. As he is a bit lanky right now and with more maturity this may come.
Vierling is at his best working the puck down low in the cycle game. His puck protection skills allow his teammates to get open and he can hit them with a strong pass. As he adds lower body strength, he could be even better. Vierling moves the puck quickly and keeps his feet moving, finding open ice for a return pass. He keeps his head up and sees the whole ice. He can anticipate where his teammates and opponents are going and makes smart plays with the puck. Vierling is able to use his quick hands and good agility to make a move and open up a passing lane.
Vierling also has a very good wrist shot with a quick release. It features good power and accuracy. However, he does not use that shot often enough. He is very much a pass-first player. If Vierling can learn to shoot more, he can become less predictable and harder for defences to contain. He actually did a good job of this in Barrie and it was a part of his breakout. Showing that this is a long-term change will be important for Vierling going forward. He is not afraid to take the puck to the net and also has the quick hands to finish in close to the net.
Vierling plays a strong two-way game. He is a strong back checker and supports the defence with effective backpressure against the transition game. He also reads the play well, getting himself into positions to intercept passes and create turnovers. His active stick is also effective at stripping opponents of the puck. Vierling is willing to work hard down low but again needs to add muscle in order to be more effective at containing the cycle game. His ability to start a quick transition game is an asset in getting the puck out of the zone. He is also good in the faceoff circle.
Projection and Comparison
Vierling’s two-way ability makes him an intriguing prospect. He needs to continue to get stronger without losing his speed and skill. If he develops properly, he could become a second-line centre with penalty kill responsibilities and the ability to play against the other team’s top line. However, with his defensive awareness, he could still carve out a career even if his offensive game doesn’t translate. Vierling’s game is reminiscent of Robert Thomas but this is a stylistic comparison and not one based on skill and potential.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Evan Vierling that are available on youtube.
Evan Vierling (#2020NHLDraft) from Flint is a prospect I don't hear anyone talking about.
He is a skilled playmaker with a patience that you see from NHL Vets. He sees the game a step ahead. He may not be the most dynamic skater, but he has a quiet creativity to his game. #OHL pic.twitter.com/5d0JDC5sGv
— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) September 30, 2019
— GTHL Hockey (@GTHLHockey) March 17, 2018
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisNHL) November 6, 2018
SNIPER ALERT ?
Another wicked shot from a new acquisition. This time it’s Evan Vierling! pic.twitter.com/4x65fTnbAn
— Ryan McArthur (@ryanpmcarthur) January 18, 2020
Evan Vierling: Backhand sauce
Tyson Foerster: One-time rocket to the top corner
— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) April 7, 2020
— Flint Firebirds (@FlintFirebirds) October 19, 2019
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Evan Vierling Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images
OSHAWA, ON – JANUARY 26: Evan Vierling #41 of the Barrie Colts skates during an OHL game against the Oshawa Generals at the Tribute Communities Centre on January 26, 2020 in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)