Destroying worlds at the BCHL level, Newhook is a speedy center who is dangerous on almost every shift he’s on the ice. Playing at a level lower than major junior has affected his draft stock. The skill set of a top-six center is there, but can he make the jump to the NCAA next year and then the NHL shortly thereafter?
Name: Alex Newhook
Date of Birth: January 28, 2001
Nationality (Place of Birth): Canadian (St. Johns, NL, Canada)
The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scoutch. As shown, Newhook rates highly among his peers near the top of the draft in all available categories. His INV% (Involvement %) is elite compared to his peers. Involvement % is a players points per game divided by the teams goals per game.
The best tool that Newhook possesses is easily his speed. The Victoria Grizzlies center skates at a level that isn’t matched by many players in the draft. His acceleration and first step quickness are elite. Newhook has all the tools you want in an NHL-level skater, fantastic edges, outstanding agility and blazing top-end speed. These tools are the foundation for the Newfoundland natives game. In the tweet/video below, Newhook displays great balance on his skates as he enters the zone with speed and then stops up before starting the give-and-go with Dylan Cozens.
Team Canada ties it up late in the first period on a nice play from Dylan Cozens. He goes give-and-go with Alex Newhook and beats Spencer Knight glove side. #U18Worlds #NTDP pic.twitter.com/OkEURSYhEo
— Stars n’ Stripes Hockey (@StarsStripesHKY) April 28, 2019
Tweet courtesy of @StarsStripesHKY
The offensive side of his game is fueled by his skating as he uses the top-flight speed to back defenders off and is able to stop on a dime. His agility and edge work allow him to make sudden changes of direction whether that be deeper into the zone with a stop-and-start or cutting to the middle of the ice to create a shooting lane from the slot. He also uses his diverse skating skill set to open up passing lanes to find teammates. His vision is quite good as he is able to be a playmaker from any position in the offensive zone whether it be behind the net or along the boards.
Unafraid to get into the dirty areas, Newhook has a solid frame and can handle contact better than most players his age. He is able to win battles along the boards using his body to box out opponents while pulling the puck out of the pile. He also fights for good position in front of the net to provide a screen for his line mates. He can shoot from different angles and does a decent job at changing the angle on his shot both on the rush and on the cycle. He has a very quick release and a great one-time shot, particularly below the dots.
Video courtesy of Steven Ellis‘ Youtube channel
As for Newhook’s play in his own end, he puts in a solid effort and recognizes plays as they happen. This allows for Newhook to close down on passing lanes, create turnovers and turn on the jets to transition the puck. He has shown anticipation as a penalty killer, often making a play on the puck and creating a scoring chance of his own. While he may never be a Selke Trophy candidate, he displays good position, stick work and a willingness to engage physically which bodes well for him being able to stick as a center at the next level.
Newhook decided to continue his BCHL career and turning down outside pressures to join the QMJHL in order to keep his NCAA commitment to Boston College. As a Newfoundland born player, the QMJHL is where his major junior rights are held with the Halifax Moosehead. He came into this season as the reigning rookie of the year in the BCHL and a first team all-star. Expectations were high for the BCHL star.
Prior to his season he was cut by team Canada’s Gretzky-Hlinka roster surprisingly. The preseason U18 tournament is often where players make their mark and set themselves up for a stellar draft season but Newhook was never given that chance. The young forward seemed to take the snub in stride and focused in on the Grizzlies season.
Slow Start by his Standards
Looking to improve on his rookie season in the BCHL, but started a little bit slow. In his first 23 games, Newhook tallied 35 points which seems like a good number at a glance but at only a 1.52 points-per-game which is below expectations for a prospect in a lower tier junior league. Newhook seemed to take the snub from the Canadian Gretzky-Hlinka Cup team well but his play to start the season seemed uninspired and almost instantly began to tank the young center’s stock. He began to fall out of the top-10 on most public rankings because he wasn’t producing at a rate high enough to justify playing in a lower level junior league such as the BCHL. A strong second half was needed in order to help push his draft stock back up to the top-10.
Tearing up the Second Half
A second-half resurgence by Newhook helped improve the way he was looked at. Newhook began to look like a man among children with 67 points in his final 30 games, good for a 2.23 points-per-game over that stretch. His full dominance of the BCHL was the key to his draft status improvement over the final half of the season. He finished the season with 38 goals and 64 assists to total 102 points in 53 total games for the Victoria Grizzlies.
In the playoffs, Newhook continued his strong play. In 15 games, Newhook had 15 goals and 24 points. Despite his team losing in the third round of the playoffs, Newhook’s performance was absolutely outstanding. The worries that plagued the agile center at the beginning of the season, completely faded into the abyss with his strong play to close out the BCHL season and playoffs.
Making up for the mistake made by leaving Newhook off the Canadian Hlinka-Gretzky roster, he was an integral piece to the Canadian U18 team at the World U18 Championships. Having previously earned the reputation as someone who doesn’t perform on the international stage, Newhook put that to rest. Scoring 10 points (5G, 5A) in 7 games with the best players from his age group. Newhooks second half of the season, his post season and the U18s all drove him back into the conversation as a top-10 prospect.
What the Detractors Say
If Newhook were putting up 75% of the stats he is in a major junior league (his rights are owned by Halifax of the QMJHL) he would be regarded as a clear cut top three prospect. However, some people believe that the fact that he’s dominating the BCHL is a knock on his game. Any player with the skill set and tools that Newhook has would be near the top of the draft. A good performance at the World U18s helped dispel some of the worry that people have had.
In terms of holes in his game, the biggest knock is that he has at times looked like his effort can be lacking. He has a slight tendency to go invisible for short stretches. He will put on a show in the first period of a game, skip the second period and then show back up for the third. This could be a result of playing lower competition, this is a tendency that will need to be further watched next season at Boston College.
Alex Newhook will be taken…
Somewhere after the top-two but in the top-15. Even though Newhook is arguably a top-5 talent, the fact that he didn’t play in a top tier junior program and he is committed to play at least one season at Boston College, he may have to wait until the 10-15 range to be picked. However, if a team in the top-10 falls in love with his skill set and feels that the development in the NCAA will do him good, he could get picked at any point after Hughes and Kakko.
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