BSH Community Draft Board 2022, No. 15: Isaac Howard

Still talking goal scorers out here.

There’s a nice crop of players coming out of the US National Team Development Program this year, and we’ve already talked about a few of them in Logan Cooley, Frank Nazar, and Cutter Gauthier, and we’re just going to keep on rolling through those ranks. Next up, it’s Isaac Howard!

Howard’s coming off a very solid season with the NTDP, where he lead the team in overall scoring, beating out those players we already talked about, with a cool 82 points in 62 games. He also really popped at the U18s, putting up a cool six goals and five assists for the US in just six games. He’s got a strong foundation to work with as he heads into an exciting UMD program that has, at the very least, developed one player that we really like here (Noah Cates, hello), and that’s pretty fun, right?

BSH 2022 Community Draft Board, No. 15: Isaac Howard

2021-22 Season

Team: US National Team Development Program (NTDP, USDP/USHL)

Statistics: 33 G, 49 A in 60 GP (USDP) and 11 G, 26 A in 27 GP (USHL)

Pre-Draft Rankings

No. 9 (NA skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 15 by McKenzie/TSN (midseason)
No. 18 by Dobber Prospects (April)
No. 10 by Wheeler/The Athletic

What’s there to like?

It’s probably evident from the points totals we dropped above, but what really pops about Howard’s game is his scoring touch. He’s a very creative playmaker, with a strong ability to find seams and get pucks to his teammates, and an even greater ability to find those scoring chances for himself. He brings a quick and accurate shot, and his game, by and large, is a hardworking one. He’s hard on pucks, he won't give up on a play and gets a nice amount of rebound chances, and he’s not afraid to go to the tough areas of the ice for chances. Indeed, he does some of his best work in those areas, and impresses in the way that he just always seems to get himself to the right spot for prime scoring chances.

We mentioned how he popped at the U18s already, and here’s a look at a couple of those six goals he scored.

In truth, finding a second clip that was distinct from that first goal was a bit of a task. Howard has a real nose for the net, and he flexed that in this tournament specifically with a handful of goals scored right from the slot. As we said, he can make plays well and can be dangerous away from the puck on the forecheck, but the way that he’s able to create these scoring chances is a real treat to watch.

A further asset to his game is his skating. He isn’t the absolute fastest player in this top prospect group, but his foundation is solid, and he’s got a good first few strides and, more importantly, is able to accelerate well through his stride to get him good speed overall. There’s room to improve that, particularly for a player of his size, but he’s been able to keep up well playing against college students already, so he’s in a good spot to build on.

But Howard isn’t just an offense-only player. He kind of was when he arrived at the NTDP, but in his years there, he’s put in a lot of work to develop the defensive side of his game, and that’s come along well. He’s not without mistakes in his game, but his defensive awareness and tenacity have come a long way, and he’s earned more trust from his coaching staff as a result, and that’s certainly something.

What’s not to like?

One of the concerns you will hear talked about more often is Howard’s size, but in truth, that’s a concern that might well be a bit overblown. Howard is 5-foot-10, but he’s well developed physically and quite strong, that’s not something that has hindered him significantly. We saw already how he’s found success in getting to the tougher areas of the ice for scoring chances, and while he’s going to have to keep adding strength as he goes up against tougher opponents, the size hasn’t been a real issue for him to this point, and shouldn’t be, going forward.

A concern we have a bit more time for is that there is still a bit of risk in his game. He wants to make interesting plays, and while he mostly gets away with it, there are times when things go wrong or would probably go wrong against more skilled opponents, so that’s something that he’s going to have to polish out going forward. UMD will be a good spot to do that, so it perhaps shouldn’t be a major concern, but it’s something that he’s going to have to work at.

How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?

From a purely positional standpoint, the Flyers aren’t critically thin at the left wing position in either their pipeline or at the NHL level, but they are a bit on the thinner side, so Howard would give them a bit of a boost in a position of need, and pretty quickly slot in as one of their better options at that position, to boot.

But the stylistic fit is a good one, still. As we’ve talked about already in some of our earlier draft board posts, the Flyers have done an excellent job so far in stockpiling strong playmakers, and now they need a few more players who will actually shoot the puck. And while Howard does also fit that playmaker bill, he’s a goal scorer, first and foremost, and that would make for a great add for the Flyers.

Could the Flyers actually get him?

They absolutely could! But while Howard’s stock has been rising as we near the day of the draft, it hasn't been enough to justify taking him at fifth overall. That said, if the Flyers somehow make a deal to move back between 10th and 15th, Howard would be an excellent choice in that range.

We’ll make one new addition to the poll:

Rutger McGroarty — RW, US NTDP — 35 G, 69 P in 54 GP (USDP) and 15 G, 33 P in 25 GP (NTDP)

McGroarty is a highly-skilled winger who is a threat inside the offensive zone because of his very good puck skills, shot and vision. He can make a lot of plays with finesse, but also is highly competitive. He forces a lot of turnovers, wins a good number of battles and can create around the hard areas of the offensive zone. The knock on McGroarty historically has been his skating. He has an awkward stride that lacks ideal balance and mechanics, but he has enough quickness to be able to play in the NHL. He projects as a top-nine winger with the potential to play higher in a lineup. — Corey Pronman, The Athletic

Who should be no. 17 on the 2022 BSH Community Draft Board

Jimmy Snuggerud14
Owen Pickering7
Marco Kasper10
Rutger McGroarty4

2022 BSH Community Draft Board

1. Shane Wright — C, Kingston (OHL)

2. Juraj Slafkovský — LW, TPS (Liiga)

3. Logan Cooley — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)

4. Simon Nemec — D, HK Nitra (Slovakia)

5. Matthew Savoie — C, Winnipeg (OHL)

6. David Jiricek — D, HC Plzeň (Czechia)

7. Joakim Kemell — W, JYP (Liiga)

8. Conor Geekie — C, Winnipeg (OHL)

9. Frank Nazar — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)

T-10. Brad Lambert — C, JYP/Pelicans (Liiga)

T-10. Cutter Gauther — C, NTDP (USDP/USHL)

12. Ivan Miroshnichenko — LW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)

13. Jonathan Lekkerimaki — LW, Djurgårdens IF J20 (J20 Nationell) / Djurgårdens IF (SHL)

14. Danila Yurov — RW, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)

15. Isaac Howard — LW, NTDP (USDP/USHL)

16. ???