Names To Know: Names To Know: Sam Dickinson's Elite Skating, Mature Game Make Him A Prime Target For The Columbus Blue Jackets

By Dan Dukart on May 23, 2024 at 1:45 pm
London Knights defenseman Sam Dickinson battles for a puck

Welcome to the seventh installment of our "Names To Know," 2024 edition, a look-ahead at prospects who the Columbus Blue Jackets could select in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Today, we're digging into defenseman Sam Dickinson, a 6'3" 194 lb defenseman who skates for the OHL's London Knights.

The 17-year-old plays a game that is mature beyond his years. He's not the most dynamic or offensively-gifted defenseman in the draft, but he's got enough offensive juice to be dangerous at the NHL level. In 68 regular-season games, he tallied an impressive 18-52-70, then followed it up with 4-9-13 in 18 playoff games, as his Knights cruised to an OHL championship. 

Here's The Athletic's Corey Pronman on Dickinson, who he ranked third overall in his rankings.

Dickinson has been a major minutes player on a great London team. It's easy to envision him having a long NHL career. He's a 6-foot-3 defenseman who is one of the best skaters in the draft. He has an explosive, fluid stride that easily picks up power. He explodes up ice and can change gears very quickly. He breaks up plays and closes gaps easily due to his skating and creates so much possession time for his team. Dickinson is very skilled at handling the puck, and often creates chances due to the combo of his skating and skill. He also has a hard slap shot from the point and projects to score a good number of goals in the NHL. He has offense and can make some tough plays but I wouldn't call his vision what gets you excited about his game. Even with that in mind, in terms of what he could be in the league, I see PP2 potential who could have star level impact at even strength.

Pronman graded him as an NHL All-Star, and is his highest graded player thus far in our series. He also noted that his shot is 'high-end', even for NHL standards, but has concerns about his 'below-average' hockey sense. In his most recent mock draft (note: since it was released on 5/22, it is not included in the below, so as to keep all of our profiles uniform), he projected Dickinson to the Blue Jackets at 4th overall, noting they "have a pressing need to get a big, mobile puck-mover like Dickinson into their top four."

Much of Dickinson's projection relies on how he translates offensively to the NHL. He was the quarterback on the best power play on the best team in the OHL, but he's not a sure-fire powerplay quarterback at the NHL level. With the players on the roster and in the pipeline, does Dickinson bring enough to the table to justify the fourth overall pick? 

There's less imagination required on other aspects of his game. He's a great skater, fluid and powerful, and that elevates his floor. In other words, a plausible scenario is that Dickinson is a second-pair/PP2 player, with an upside for first-pair/PP1. ESPN had a similar conclusion:

 "In the OHL playoffs, his production dipped significantly, but his defense has taken a step forward where scouts see a more well-rounded game that resembles a quality second-pairing player at the NHL level."

Even as a 17-year-old, he was physically dominant against his OHL peers, and that is both a tremendous compliment and also a cautionary tale. He's got prototypical NHL size, but it's also not a given that he'll be able to dictate terms at the next level, where just about everyone is physically gifted.   

The Athletic's Scott Wheeler recently wrote a feature about Dickinson, which dove into his athleticism, commitment, and drive. Oliver Bonk, the 22nd overall pick to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2023, was complimentary of his London teammate:

“He knows that he’s going to go very high. … He’s just an offensive weapon. He can play defense too, which is kind of getting more rare. Now when you see an offensive D, usually they kind of sacrifice the defense. But with him, I feel like he’s always back, he’s always getting back to help his teammates,” Bonk said. “His offensive instincts, his passes, his shooting, his shot is unreal. Like, I wish I had that.”

Dickinson seems to be labeled for the top ten, and it's possible that the Blue Jackets may be his eventual landing spot. 

Mock Draft Results
ESPN 7th
My NHL Draft 10th
Tankathon 8th 6th, 8th
The Athletic 4th


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