Cody Glass started 2016-17 as a player to keep an eye on, but finished it as a must-watch slated to go early in the first round of this year’s draft.
The quick-thinking, versatile playmaker has been rising about as quickly as he can skate up the ice (read: really fast), more than tripling his rookie point totals and making a name for himself as a top-six centreman who can insert energy into the play and change the pace of a game. And even with all the success this past season, the consensus with Glass is that the best is yet to come.
Here’s what you need to know.
Team: Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Weight: 178 lbs
NHL Central Scouting ranking (North American skater): No. 6
Jeff Marek’s Take: “Fantastic playmaker who thinks the game at an elite level.”
His point production skyrocketed in 2016-17
Glass enjoyed a successful rookie year with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks in 2015-16 (10-17-27 in 65 games) and then almost quadrupled that point total this past season.
His 32 goals and 62 assists for 94 points in 69 games ranked him seventh across the WHL in scoring—especially impressive considering he’s one of the youngest among the league’s scoring leaders. He was named to the WHL’s Western Conference first all-star team, suited up for the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, and played for Team Canada at the under-18 world championships—all while garnering top-five interest from NHL teams.
The leap in points can be credited to a number of factors, including improved skating and vision and the ability to make space and open up play under the guidance of head coach Mike Johnston after the bench boss returned from his stint in Pittsburgh coaching talents like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Glass’ success was also a response to some adversity he experienced over the off-season.
“I got cut from Team Canada and shortly after my grandma passed away, so going into the season, there was a lot of stuff going on,” Glass told Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press in May. “I think my one escape was hockey, so I took that stuff as motivation going into the year. It gave me some fuel going into it. We got our coach Mike Johnston back, and he’s been a big help. He’s pretty much given me free will. I can’t thank him enough.”
He also went through a growth spurt, and he’s probably not done.
“I went from being a top guy in midget to being a slow, little kid at 140 pounds playing in the WHL,” said Glass, who’s still got plenty of room to fill out. “Just from that point, I knew how much faster it would be, how much stronger you have to be. Going into the off-season I trained a bit harder. As a 16-year-old I was a bit timid with the bigger guys (but) this year I was a little bit more comfortable.”
He’s earning some pretty strong NHL comparisons
Glass takes pride in his ability to play a strong two-way game, and has been modeling his game after Boston Bruins centreman—and annual Selke finalist—Patrice Bergeron.
The Winnipeg native has also been compared to Jets forward Mark Scheifele, as he shows a similar skillset, frame and potential to be selected even higher than he’s ranked leading up to the draft.
Portland head coach Mike Johnston made a strong comparison to former Winterhawk and current Nashville Predators centre Ryan Johansen.
“I don’t think [Glass is] close to what he’ll be as an NHL player because… he’s going get a lot stronger and a lot bigger,” Johnston told the Winnipeg Free Press in January. “He’s going to fill out. I saw the same thing with Johansen. When Johansen was with us, you could see he was going to be a really good player, but he was nowhere close to what he was going to be as a pro.”
He could be a Canuck
Based on his current ranking at No. 6, some current forecasts have Glass as the Vegas Golden Knights’ first-ever draft pick, but rumours of him heading west to Vancouver one pick earlier are also aplenty, as the rebuilding Canucks are hungry for young talent up front.
The Winnipeg kid has said he would love to play at home, but the chances of him being whisked off the board by a top-six team are high. (The Jets don’t pick until No. 13, and you could argue that their biggest team need isn’t at the centre position.)