By Colin Johnson

Berkly Catton is a hockey star on the rise. 

A highly touted Centerman from the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. He is a former #1 overall pick in the 2021 WHL Bantam draft and dominated his competition in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Putting up 108 points in 30 games before the 2020/21 season was cut short due to the COIVD-19 pandemic.

The January 2006 born prospect features a wide range of skill and talent and is currently projected as a consensus top 10 pick in the upcoming 2024 NHL Entry Draft in June. In his first full season with the Spokane Chiefs, Catton accumulated 23 goals and 32 assists, for 55 points in 63 games playing as a 16-year-old. This season, his draft year he is well over 1.5 points per game as an offensive leader for the Chiefs.

The question is why is Catton is seen as a top prospect for the 2024 NHL Draft in June? Colin Johnson with Draft Prospects Hockey breaks down Catton’s game as he tries to answers that question.

Puck Handling and Driving the Play

Catton is a player that controls the pace of play and forces the opposition to play the type of game that he wants. With control of the puck, he is extremely efficient at zone entries and exits, as he slithers in and out of openings and works around what the defence gives him to find open ice.

The clip below shows his ability to effortlessly exit his own zone and enter the offensive zone with possession. He calmy makes a move at center ice to open up space, uses his teammate on a give and go, pulling the defenders focus away from him, finding the dead zone between 3 Seattle defenders, gets the puck back and then makes a nifty backhand pass that tees up a grade A scoring opportunity.

He has quick reaction time and fast twitch movements, making him an excellent puck handler who is able to create space from defenders thus, opening up opportunities for himself and his teammates. These quick movements get combined with excellent footwork making him a dangerous offensive player in tight quarters. While his agility and puck possession at top speed makes him a nightmare in space for defenders and even more dangerous in 1-on-1 situations.

This next clip showcases this elusiveness as he starts by opening up space on the defender, followed up by a quick change of direction where he drives to the net for a scoring opportunity that gets blocked.

His ability to drive and control the pace of play is best shown when he is on the powerplay or in sustained offensive zone situations. With the puck he is calm and composed and can choose whether to methodically break down the defence or choosing to ratchet up the pace and pressure the defence to create disorganization and chaos, opening up passing and shooting lanes for himself and his teammates. Either way, in both situations he is effective and the longer he possesses the puck the more dangerous he seems to become.

In this next clip, Spokane is on the Powerplay and Catton starts by slowing down the play and finding his teammate across the ice with an excellent saucer pass. The play then transitions back towards Catton who receives a pass that would normally result in a one-timer; however, Catton patiently receives the pass, drawing the defender out of position and feeds a perfectly located shot pass to his teammate, who taps in the backdoor feed.

Sometimes Catton is able to control the play without even possessing the puck, in this clip his effort and tenacious play forces multiple turnovers and creates chaos for the opposition. Multiple times he has a takeaway and creates an opportunity, only to have it be unsuccessful. However instead of giving up and allowing a breakout or going for a change, Catton jumps right back into the dirty work and makes it hard for Seattle to breakout. This type of willingness and effort is what makes him a sure-fire NHL player in the future.

Shooting/Scoring Ability

Catton can score in a multitude of ways but is the most dangerous when he is coming off the rush with speed. His wrist shot has a lightning quick release and he is able to contort and adjust his release point, making his shot more and more deceptive for goaltenders. He’s able to pull the puck in or push it out at all ranges and is still strong enough to get a powerful shot off. Techniques such as this is what makes players like Connor Bedard and Auston Matthews so prolific goal scorers at the next level.

This clip shows how fast he can pull the puck in to change the angle of his shot. It is also impressive how he is able to do this at such a high speed with a defender in his face.

The next clip is Catton recognizing the bad change and using that space to turn on the jets, backing up the tired Swiss defenceman. Just before it looks like he’s going to drive by the defender, Catton pulls up makes a quick move from his backhand to his forehand, and lets a perfectly placed wrist shot go into the top left-hand corner.

Down low around the net Catton is very creative, using his hands and hockey IQ to make intelligent reads and score high percentage opportunities or somehow create something out of nothing. With possession he searches for open space and drives towards the net, taking advantage of positional errors by both the opposing defence and goalie and uses his quick hands to make split second changes to his release point and fool the goaltender. He also shows a willingness to grind it out, follow up his shot and finish the play, which is crucial for young players adjusting to the much tighter checking of the NHL.

Here Catton gets a rebound that takes him below the goal line. He recognizes the goalie is out of position, cheating towards the other side and not protecting his near post. Catton smartly looks to throw the puck off the goaltenders back, resulting in a very high IQ goal.

The next clip shows 4 separate instances where Catton drives to the net and finishes off a play with a goal. Each goal is different and requires a different skillset. Whether it’s hunting for a loose puck, finishing at high speed, bulldozing your way to the net, or making a flashy finish to elude a defender, he can do it all.

Passing Vision, IQ and Playmaking

Catton is a highly creative player with elite offensive IQ who looks to create high percentage looks for his teammates. On the Powerplay he is the Quarterback, controlling the puck and manipulating the opposing Penalty Kill to his liking before slipping quick tape-to-tape passes to wide open teammates that are swinging through or in high percentage scoring areas.

This Powerplay clip is in Overtime. Catton draws his defender towards him by opening up as if he’s going to drive the slot or shoot. As soon as the forward turns his skates towards Catton, he feeds a slick pass to his teammate who wires the one-timer home and wins the game.

Catton has phenomenal touch and is able to pass effectively on both his forehand and backhand. He can zip passes across the ice with velocity or put just the right amount of speed/height on a pass to feather the puck through tight windows to his teammates. He has an uncanny ability to get the puck through tightly covered passing lanes without turning the puck over. The puck seems to find it’s way to it’s intended destination consistently, just out of the reach of defenders.

The first clip is just a phenomenal cross ice backhand pass through the slot that lands perfectly for a one-timer and subsequential goal.

The next clip shows how he can put some speed on a pass, accurately to a streaking teammate without having it get intercepted by the defenceman.


Berkly Catton is not a burner. His top end speed is not next level or anything more than above average (something that you would expect from a top 10 pick), but he is extremely agile and uses elite level edgework to be elusive and dynamic on the rush and in the offensive zone. He has a second gear of acceleration that he uses to change speeds and gain a step on defenders. His first step is crucial to his game and he is very good at changing speeds when attacking, keeping the opposing team off balance.

This first clip shows how his ability to change speeds is dynamic and throws off everyone on the ice, leading to pretty easy goal.

With the puck he uses his edgework and balance to shield defenders from the puck and if he manages to get a step on the defender it’s either a blow by or a penalty incoming because he will use his body and skating to step in front and effectively rub the defender out of the play. He effectively uses his edges to gain speed without striding and make quick changes of direction. This clip displays all of those skills leading to a highlight reel finish.

Game Breaking Ability

This is what separates the good from the great. Great players can be struggling or be playing with players deeper in the lineup and still find a way to produce. It doesn’t matter if you’ve held him down all game, all it takes is a moment of lapse defensively and Catton will capitalize. Open space and puck possession is a recipe for the something to happen. Catton plays with high hockey IQ and can be an easy player to play with, meaning he can play with depth players and elevate their production or play alongside other top players and fit in and play as a unit.

The clip here is against Kelowna in a close game where Catton had been objectively shut down for most of the game. All of a sudden with a poor change and a regroup, Catton gets the puck with space and attacks the slot scoring a highlight reel goal and getting Spokane back into the thick of this game, late in the third period.

Areas in Need of Improvement

There isn’t much to complain about in Catton’s game, but one area he does need to improve in is maturing physically and growing more into his body, establishing more muscle mass and getting stronger. Catton can be shut down by physical play that smothers his ability to move with the puck and establish separation. He struggles to win battles along the wall and often can’t handle larger defenders when they tie him up in the corners. Despite his balance and edgework, physical play can knock him off the puck and he doesn’t attack well against physical defenders. The positive to this is he is only 17 and there is plenty of time before he is at his athletic potential. He also doesn’t shy away from contact and isn’t someone that plays scared. He is willing to work hard and attack the dirty areas, so his deficiency in this area can certainly be improved upon.

One sneaky concern with his game is his overall tendency to avoid his backhand when finishing. He has next to no shots taken off the backhand, which can be an effective tool to fool the goalie in tight and especially on breakaways. All of his shootout attempts in the WHL are close to carbon copies of one another and all result in the move finishing on his forehand. While shooting on your forehand does improve the percentages for success, having predictability could hinder him a bit at the next level.

The positive here is that Catton did show some flashes of a strong backhand last season (2022/23) and even just the ability to use it as a reliable breakaway/shootout move would be enough to implant that scoring idea in the back of opposing players/goalie’s minds.

Overall Summary

Overall Berkly Catton is an elite level prospect heading into the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. He possesses elite offensive talent with consistent production, no matter his situation, linemates, and coaching. He presents a future top 6 forward at the NHL level and the ceiling of a top 15 scorer. An excellent shot combined with playmaking ability will help him translate his offensive game to the next level because he can attack defences and do damage in a multitude of ways. He is currently slight of frame and not mature enough physically to be an NHL ready player, but the skill level is near the top of the Draft class. Every night he provides a high effort performance and is willing to forecheck and play an all-around game. Most importantly he is a play driver, no matter the linemates, he controls the puck consistently and breaks the puck in and out of the zones with possession. His mind for the game and creativity allows him to control the flow and pace of play, forcing opposing teams to conform to his style until they regain possession. Qualities like this in a forward are minimally available in the Draft and he should be a slam dunk top 10 selection, and in my professional opinion, Catton deserves to be in the top 5 come June 2024.


If you are looking for a mid-season rundown on the 2024 draft class as a whole be sure to pick up your copy of the Draft Prospects Hockey 2024 Preview Magazine available for instant download or print through Amazon.