NHL Draft Profile: Conner Bleackley
Conner Bleackley is an offensive threat with solid two-way ability.
The Red Deer Rebels captain uses his physical game to create space while using his excellent vision and passing to make plays for both himself and teammates. Bleackley has a strong shot that complements his passing skills and he's the type of player that often finds himself in the right place at the right time.
The 18-year-old has skills with his stick and speed with his skates, although his consistency on the skates does need a little work. He finds a way to score and to compete in the defensive zone no matter what it takes, and he has that three-zone awareness that coaches look for.
After an 18-point season in his rookie WHL season, Bleackley was named captain of the Rebels and broke out during his sophomore season with 68 points (29 goals, 39 assists) in 71 games - which led an scoring-deprived Red Deer squad that missed the playoffs in a tiebreaker game against Prince Albert.
Bleackley says he models his game after Boston Bruins center David Krejci because of how well-rounded and strong he plays at both ends of the ice —a style of play that would seem to fit right in with the Blue Jackets.
Here’s what Elite Hockey Prospects had to say about the Red Deer captain:
“Bleackley is a nice blend of size, skill and speed. He's strong and balanced on his skates, uses his size to his advantage and has a very good shot with his quick release. He finds lanes and soft zones well and has quick hands in tight spaces.”
TSN’s Craig Button says this about Conner:
“Conner is a determined, competitive player who doesn’t take any shortcuts. He’s smart, gets to the right areas and is a catalyst for positive plays all over the ice. He doesn’t allow himself to be denied!”
FC Hockey’s Head Western Scout Zenon Heramsymiuk really likes Bleackley’s upside:
“Strong two-way forward that does whatever it takes to win. High character with improving offensive skills.”