– Connor Punnett –
North Central Predators (ETA) | Left Defence | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible
Powassan, Ontario | 6-foot-1, 174-pounds | June 16th, 2003
Connor Punnett has quietly put his name on the map as one of the top puck-moving defencemen available for this year’s OHL Draft. His skills at both ends of the ice, as well as upper-level strength and physicality, were two leading reasons for his inclusion on Team Ontario’s roster for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
Related: Check out Prospect Pipeline’s 2019 OHL Draft Rankings.
A large part of Punnett’s upside comes from his offensive potential. He ranked second among all ETA defencemen in points per game this year, totalling six goals and 26 points over 30 games of action. His play was further rewarded by call-ups to play with the Powassan VooDoos of the NOJHL, where he was able to display his ability to go up against older and stronger opponents.
- Transition Skills
- Gap Control
- Sense & Instincts
Punnett is a defenceman who thrives on the transition game, plain and simple. He is tremendously reliable in his own end, controlling gaps with authority and combining smart body and stick positioning to be an intimidating player to face on the rush. With good size, he isn’t afraid to force opponents into the wall and is very effective below the dots.
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With that said, Punnett is excellent at retrieving the puck and moving it up ice in an instant, with slick tape-to-tape breakout passes, effective chips off the wall, and eye-catching breakaway dishes. From the offensive blue line, Punnett excels at getting shots through traffic to produce scoring chances. Further, his sense and ability to read the game is off the charts, playing a game mature beyond his years.
Area of Improvement:
- Shot Power
In order to be a truly elite offensive defender at the next level, Punnett will need to ads some extra gas to his shot from the point. He’s displayed an ability to sift through traffic and score on the rush, but being able to score from the point at the next level will be crucial in reaching his ceiling of potential.
Especially on the man advantage, Punnett would greatly increase his draft stock with some extra muscle in his slap shot. Although he possesses a smart wrister from the point with which he can get past screens, adding an extra element to his talents from the line would make himself much more potent as a two-way defenceman.
Overall, Connor Punnett has the ability to be a game changer at both ends of the ice. With intriguing offensive upside, he has displayed the potential to be an elite puck-moving defenceman who can join the rush or skate the puck through the neutral zone himself. He has continued to grow in his defensive reliability as well, playing an intelligent and physical game in his own zone.
Projecting to the OHL level, Punnett has showcased all of the necessary abilities to adapt and thrive at the major junior level. As he continues to grow and strengthen, he will only become a more intimidating defender to face at either end of the ice. In all, Punnett projects as a potential second round pick for the 2019 OHL Draft.