The Toronto Maple Leafs have drafted 6’6, 235-pound defenceman Keaton Middleton of the Saginaw Spirit with the 101st overall selection in the 2016 NHL Draft.
The left-handed Middleton is classified as a shutdown defender having averaged just eight points a season over his first two OHL years. He’s the second defenceman with size the Leafs have opted for in the draft, having picked up 6’4 James Greenway of the USNDTP at 72nd overall.
Middleton is the fifth tallest member of the draft class so far and the heaviest in the 2016 Draft at 106kg.
Keaton Middleton Rankings
- Ranked #91 by ISS Hockey
- Ranked #71 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)
Keaton Middleton Scouting Report
Courtesy of the 2016 NHL Draft Black Book
Keaton was selected in the third round of the 2014 OHL Priority Selection Draft by the Saginaw Spirit out of the Huron-Perth Lakers Minor Midget program. Middleton had trial by fire in the OHL almost instantaneously playing a big minute role for the Spirit. He went through a lot of growing pains, but has come out of it with good development for a big defender.
Middleton has huge size and a massive frame, which can make him tough to get around. He has a pretty good stick and loves the physical stuff in his own zone. His balance and skating need improvement, but they have come miles since his Minor Midget season. Keaton’s puck play has also come along over the past couple years, he is often able to make the smart simple pass up ice. He still makes a fair amount of puck mistakes and can get stripped, but he has shown consistent improvement in this area. He is a relentless
competitor along the wall and wins a ton of battles through his size, strength and a relative comfort in these types of situations. Middleton played top minutes 5 on 5 and on the penalty kill, and secondary minutes on the power play. He’s relentless in the slot area, making life difficult for forwards and has the reach to take away passes shorthanded. He’s not an over the top fighter, but he has good toughness and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves when necessary.
Middleton still has plenty of room for improvement, but has been showing clear progression, which is very promising. He projects as a shutdown defender at the NHL level. He looks comfortable playing the big man’s game that he will need to in order to be successful. Middleton may go off the board a little earlier than we would’ve expected this time last year.
Keaton Middleton Statistics
SEASON TEAM LEAGUE GP G A TP PIM +/- POST GP G A TP PIM +/-
2012-13 Huron Perth Lakers Min Mdgt AAA AHMMPL 2 0 0 0 0 | 2013-14 Huron Perth Lakers Min Mdgt AAA AHMMPL 31 3 20 23 24 | Playoffs 15 1 7 8 8 Stratford Cullitons GOJHL 3 0 0 0 0 | Playoffs 4 0 0 0 0 2014-15 Saginaw Spirit OHL 61 2 7 9 58 -12 | Playoffs 4 0 1 1 0 -5
Canada White U17 WHC-17 5 0 1 1 2 | 2015-16 Saginaw Spirit OHL 66 1 6 7 66 -24 | Playoffs 4 0 1 1 0 -1