Catton predraft (1)

The 2024 NHL Draft kicks off a week from today, with the Blue Jackets holding the No. 4 overall pick in what could be one of the more interesting drafts in recent years.

Canadian center Macklin Celebrini is all but guaranteed to go No. 1 overall to San Jose, but things are wide open after that. There isn’t much of a consensus in the scouting community on who will go next, with a plethora of two-way centers (Cayden Lindstrom, Konsta Helenius, Berkly Catton, Tij Iginla), productive wingers (Ivan Demidov, Cole Eiserman, Beckett Sennecke) and dominant defensemen (Artyom Levshunov, Zeev Buium, Zayne Parekh, Anton Silayev, Sam Dickinson) all in the mix to go just about anywhere in the top 10.

MORE: Draft consensus poll | CBJ draft hub

Our annual consensus poll (above) detailed what all the options are, but as the draft nears, we’re taking a closer look at some of the top players available. Throughout the leadup to the draft, we’ll count down from No. 9 in our consensus poll ranking to No. 2. 

The profiles conclude for the week with sixth-ranked Berkly Catton, a skilled, swift-skating forward who filled up the net this season with Spokane of the Western Hockey League

We’ll list Catton’s vitals, his accomplishments in his career to this point, share a couple quotes from the player himself at the NHL Scouting Combine and conclude with expert opinions on the standout. 

Berky Catton: The Vitals 

Position: Center

Age: 18 (Born Jan. 14, 2006) 

Height/Weight: 5-10¼, 175

Hometown: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The Accomplishments  

  • Finished the season with impressive statistics in the WHL, notching 54 goals and 62 assists for 116 points and a plus-15 rating in 68 games.
  • Placed third in goals in the WHL behind drafted players Jagger Firkus and Zac Funk as well as fourth in points. 
  • Had 14 multigoal games and 14 contests with three or more points this past season with Spokane, including six four-point games and a five-point game.
  • Posted 23 goals and 32 assists for 55 points in 63 games in his first full season with Spokane in 2022-23. 
  • Served as captain for Team Canada Red at both the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2022-23 (3-9-12 in seven games), as well as the 2023 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where his eight goals led the tournament.
  • Also played for Canada at the 2023 World Under-18 Championship (1-3-4 in seven games).
  • Is the No. 8-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting.

What’s Next

NHL projection: Catton could be a top-line player in the NHL and a dangerous player on the rush thanks to his elite offensive abilities and skating skills, but whether that will come at center or wing remains to be seen.

Why CBJ should draft him: Few players scored as many points as Catton in junior hockey this past season, and he’d bring another jolt of elite offense to a team that has stocked up on creative forwards in the past few drafts. 

Why they should not: Catton’s size might prevent him from being a full-time center in the NHL, and his defensive game remains a work in progress, though you can say that about many players his age. 

In Catton’s Words

“I grew my game a lot this year, maybe with that goal-scoring aspect to my game, which helped out that point total a lot. That’s just me growing my game.

“I see myself as a leader. Going back to the Hlinka, I was named the captain of that team. I’m probably more of a leader by example, I’d say, but when my coaches see me as someone like that, it means a lot.

“To be honest with you, I lived in my backyard shooting pucks (this past summer). I knew as a 16-year-old, I thought I had a decent season but I wasn’t scoring as much as I’d like. I think that was due to maybe my shot not being where it should be. I knew I had to work on that in the summer, and ultimately I did and it paid off. I’ve actually built a goalie back there out of wood and stuff. There’s a cage covering the net with a made-up goal, and I’d just practice all sorts of spots I had got to in games.”

The Experts Say

Looking around the Internet, prospect experts have given their take on Catton’s game. Here’s what a few of them have to say.

Chris Peters, FloHockey: There are a lot of players that share similar traits to Catton that have excelled in the modern NHL for their ability to create in transition and get behind defenses. He’s one of those players that has quickness with his hands and feet that make him such a difficult player to defend. He has good one-on-one skills, and while he can beat players to the outside, he’s not afraid to cut to the middle and get to a higher-leverage scoring area. Additionally, he has some tenacity to compete away from the puck and win pucks back. There are very few holes to poke in Catton’s game.

Tony Ferrari, The Hockey News: Catton is arguably the smartest player in the NHL draft class, constantly looking to create small advantages, chain them together and eventually create a big advantage. Catton makes life easy on his teammates, allowing them to play to their strengths while he fills in their gaps. He is a playmaker at heart, but he showed this season he can make goalies pay if they don’t respect his shot, especially when he gets into the home plate area.

Luke Sweeney, Dobber Prospects: there is nobody in this class with his ability to move laterally through the neutral zone. Combined with his slippery, highly-calculated puckhandling and Catton is nearly impossible to contain off the rush. The rest of Catton’s offensive tools are also well-developed. His release is quick, accurate and can beat goalies from a distance, while his vision and playmaking are also high-end. He reads the play well and puts the puck into prime scoring areas, even if his teammates are a little slow to catch up at times. Catton is also quite adept at evading and fighting through pressure, which allows him to make many of these plays into the middle of the ice.

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