Check-In: Corson Ceulemans
It’s been a strange year for Corson Ceulemans and other 2021 NHL Draft-eligibles, but the young defenseman has made the most of it.
The Regina, Saskatchewan native played in 44 games with the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL back in 2019-20, picking up five goals and 30 assists. This year though was cut short for Ceulemans and the Bandits due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ceulemans played eight games with Bandits, managing to pick up four goals and 11 assists, leading defenders on his team in points scored.
“It’s been pretty good,” Ceulemans started. “The AJHL and Alberta government have done a great job of getting us the schedule to play, so I’m very thankful for that. Playing with COVID there are obviously the restrictions and all the health protocols you have to go through, but the AJHL made it super easy for us, so I’m definitely thankful.”
“Our team had a lot of good chemistry,” he continued, touching on his fellow Bandits. “We didn’t get too long to get it going, but we have a lot of smart and speedy guys and we worked hard too. Just those few things I think, playing in that league, put us above the rest of the teams.
Currently in Frisco, Texas with Team Canada for the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship, Ceulemans hopes to make an impact and show NHL scouts what he has.
“It’s unbelievable anytime you get a chance to represent your country,” he said. “I’m playing with and against some of the best players in the world for our age group, so it’s exciting to have this opportunity and I’m just looking forward to bringing home the gold medal.”
Ceulemans showing off skill in shortened season
Ceulemans is a dynamic offensive defenseman who is an evasive puck carrier. He possesses strong hands and passing abilities all over the ice. With his set of skills, he makes for a solid power-play quarterback who can move the puck and take smooth shots from the blueline. Ceulemans has exceptional skating abilities with strong strides and lateral movements.
“Ceulemans’ name doesn’t come up often when people discuss the defensemen at the top of this draft class,” FCHockey scout Derek Neumeier wrote in a scouting report. “But for my money, he’s not that far off the very top group. It’s very, very rare to find right-shot defensemen who are this athletic, talented and versatile.”
Defensively, Ceulemans does well to push the opposition to the outside and break up some plays. But he will need to get stronger so he can do a better job of using more physicality in the defensive zone.
“I think one of my strongest assets is my vision on the ice, being able to make plays, especially finding guys and making passes out of the defensive zone,” the defender explained in his self-scouting report. “Something I would like to work on is battles in front of our own net and just being able to box guys out and use my strength more.”
“Every game I just try to stay loose and try not to get anything stuck in my head,” he continued. “Also just always having a positive mindset and not worrying too much… I model my game after Alex Pietrangelo. He’s kind of a good two-way defenseman in the NHL and that is something that I really like about him.”
Ceulemans hopes to impress NHL teams, despite odd year
Next season, Ceulemans will take his talents to the thriving University of Wisconsin Badgers, where he will get a chance to develop his game and go to school.
“They have a great program there,” Ceulemans explained. “Tony, Osiecki, and Strobel are great coaches and they’ve helped a lot of guys get to the NHL and achieve their dreams. Going there, I think we are going to have a really good team, and I’m looking forward to it.”
But before then, Ceulemans has his eyes set on the upcoming NHL Draft, where he is a top defender in the class, currently ranked No. 11 in FCHockey’s Spring ranking.
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“I do look at the rankings sometimes, it’s hard not to,” the Bandits defender explained. “But I try to not think about it too much, they are always changing, it’s a weird year with COVID too, so I try not to read too much into it.”
Despite the odd year, the defender has done all he can to show off his talent to NHL scouts. He’ll continue to prove himself at the World U18s, but he’s put himself in a good position for the draft.
“I want NHL teams to know that I am a competitor. I’m always trying to get in the battle, always trying to win, I don’t like to lose,” Ceulemans said with a smile. “The support around me, me and my parents and my advisers just say to take in the moment, it only happens once, so try not to overthink it and whatever happens, happens.”