by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of The Hockey Writers.
The 2024 NHL Draft will be here before you know it, and Draft 412 will preview some of the prospects who will be probable first round picks. Draft 412 will review the strengths and weaknesses of each prospect, and where they should land in the NHL Draft.
Name- Sam Dickinson
Team- London Knights (OHL)
HT/WT- 6’3” 194 lbs.
Home – Toronto, ONT
Sam Dickinson was selected 4th overall in the 2022 OHL Draft by the Niagara Ice Dogs and then traded to the London Knights for three-second round, three-third round and one-fifth round pick. The Knights expected a lot from Dickinson and did not have to wait very long for their investment to cash in. In his first season, he helped lead the Knights to the Memorial Cup Finals and was named OHL First Team All-Rookie. He finished the season with 9 goals and 14 assists in 62 games and in the playoffs he raised his game, scoring 8 points in 21 games. After the season, he was selected to represent Team Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he helped lead Canada to another gold medal as one of their top defensemen.
So far in 2023-2024, Dickinson has been an offensive force. In just 38 games, he has 13 goals and 23 assists and is sporting a +23 on ice rating.
Sam Dickinson is a large 6’3” defenseman who logs a ton of minutes while being matched up against the other team’s best players. His combination of size and hockey IQ makes him a force out on the ice, allowing him to be used in every situation, including the power play and shorthanded situations. He is a smooth skater who can skate a puck out of danger with long strides and is never really out of a play. For a man his size, he maintains exceptional speed while skating backwards with great crossover ability.
Dickinson has been able to improve his defensive play at London while teamed up with Oliver Bonk, a first round pick of the Flyers in 2023. Bonk is an offensive defenseman who plays an aggressive style, leaving Dickinson vulnerable as the only d-man back. He has shined in this capacity, understanding when to play the body and when to play the pass. This season, he has shown scouts that he just possibly could be the most complete defenseman in this draft.
On offense, he isn’t flashy but knows how to transition with the puck quickly and effectively. On the powerplay, Dickinson has a hard low shot that plays heavy on goalies trying to cover it up. He has the ability to see the whole ice and he makes hard,crisp passes out of the zone. His physicality keeps him on the ice late in games, and he does an excellent job of hitting and moving players in front of his net. Board battles against him are not fun, and he does a good job of using his frame and he never quits on a puck.
Though Dickinson is close to being the perfect two-way defenseman, he still has some problem areas to work on. With the amount of ice time he gets, he has moments where he struggles with giving the puck away. He extends himself too long on some shifts and gets stuck in the defensive end. He shoots a hard, low shot on the powerplay but will not scare too many defenders wanting to block his shot. If he could improve the power on his wrist shot and slap shot, it will help his cause at the point. He will never be a flashy offensive player but will be reliable for a team on both sides of the redline.
After watching some game film on Sam Dickinson, Jake Sanderson may make a strong NHL comparison. Sanderson, the 5th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, is a defenseman who can play high minutes and be effective in all three zones. He has offensive ability, but it is his high hockey IQ that makes him the player that he is. This season with Ottawa, he has scored 20 points in 35 games.
Sam Dickinson is a big minutes-eating defenseman who plays a strong game in all 3 zones. He will not be the most explosive offensive player in this class but could be the most complete defenseman in 2024.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - Round 1- Top 10