Colby Saganiuk goes the Otter Direction

Brian Murphy; Head of US Scouting’s Take: When Colby Saganiuk was taken at #37 in the 2019 OHL Draft by the Erie Otters, it turned some heads as he was on track to play for the U17 NTDP. Seemed high for a player that seemed to say all the right things as far as his desire to make that team and play in Michigan. I even sat next to his Grandfather Rocky (completely by accident) and he introduced himself and told me Colby wanted the National Team route. Rocky played for Toronto and Pittsburgh in the NHL. However, Colby just signed with Erie and now he is officially an Otter. It was a smart play by Erie in hindsight and may be a great fit for Colby as well.

Colby’s talents are evident. He is fast, tough, small but strong and competes every shift. He put on a show at the WSI and Select 15s. At the end of the day, he may not be the scorer he was at the youth level but he can play anywhere on the roster and make anyone miss, anywhere on the ice. He had some trouble getting on the sheet this past season and this change may be good. I have seen his very best and it’s impressive. His edges, speed, intensity and desire to win pucks is all elite. He is tough as nails and poised. Below are some reports to give you an idea of what Colby will bring to the OHL.

It did not take long to notice Colby as he is electric with the puck. He played very fast and was a threat to score every time he had possession. He can break down defenseman by passing, moving and getting it back, by pushing pace and attacking off the edge, by pushing pace and using the D as a screen and by stickhandling through. Beyond his skill, Saganiuk is tough. He made some big hits and was very willing to go to tough areas. He scored on a backhand on very tough angle, he scored on rebounds, he scored on the rush and he scored off the cycle. He made people miss at top speed. He also showed that he would stop on pucks, work on the forecheck and backcheck and that his fitness was good as he never seemed to tire. There was not much he didn’t do here and was one of the five best forwards in the whole tourney. Grade: A

U14 Nationals. April 2018.

Saganiuk is as dynamic as any player in this tournament which is saying a lot. He consistently dangled opponents all over the ice with ease and has elite 1v1 skills. He’s short but stocky, strong on his stick, quick handed and explosive out of the corners. A one-man highlight reel he has a great combination of skill, pace, bite and a rocket release. His edges are strong, he’s fearless pursuing the puck and has a high energy level and high compete level that makes him very difficult to play against. He had jam, played with an edge and showed he has a versatile scoring ability where he got to the net and hammered home rebounds, deked goalies and scored from beyond the slot area. He didn’t take any shifts off, his feet were always moving and he attacked the scoring areas any time he got. Saganiuk finished the tournament with a 3-4-7 line and will have his pick of NCAA/CHL options in the future despite his size. Grade: A   

World Selects. June 2018

Colby is simply a throwback type of hockey player as he is very skilled but possesses a ferocious work ethic.  When he doesn’t have the puck, he is attacking it and looking to get it back.  He will win the puck battles and come out making plays.  A powerful and explosive stride with the type of stick that does damage.  He enjoyed driving players wide and taking the puck to the net.  The kid can flat out score from in tight and is nearly impossible to contain.  USNTDP Candidate. Grade: A

USHL Fall Classic. October 2018

Considered the best uncommitted ’03 in the US coming into camp Saganiuk was dynamic but not at his best. An explosive playmaker who does everything at full speed. He’s small but has a powerful stride and low center which makes him tough to knock off pucks and he’s certainly not afraid to hit back when he’s in the corners. He’s super quick and crafty, he can think the game with tremendous pace and stops on a dime to shake off defenders. His burst and first few strides allow him to pull away from opponents and he uses the time and space he creates for himself to get pucks to his teammates or fire a hard shot on net. He likes to shoot but he’s selfless with the puck and makes the players around him better by drawing defenders, getting them the puck in scoring areas and outcompeting defenders in the corners. Saganuik is mostly known for his dynamic skill set but he’s also a quality penalty killer which he got a nice assist on a shorthanded goal and he’s also a disruptive, pest forechecker. He has a firm, accurate pass and created a lot of offense by driving wide on defenders and snapping passes off to his linemates on the rush and he also has the power to beat goalies clean in stride from the outside. He won some board battles and was so shifty and quick coming out of scrums that he could break down defenders 1v1 and go around them like they were standing still. Would have liked to see more offensive production here as he didn’t follow up plays for rebounds, he didn’t get inside on defenders and relied too much on his passing ability and didn’t always pick his spots well and sometimes needs to take his foot off the gas and make plays. One of the most dynamic forwards in the country and despite his size is a lot of fun to watch. He will have a lot of NCAA/OHL attention in the coming weeks. Grade: B+

NTDP Evaluation Camp. May 2019.

 Saganiuk came to this tournament after making the US NTDP roster as one of the few 2003’s on this national championship squad. He wasn’t the offensive catalyst as he’s been most of the year for this squad but he showed flashes of a high speed, high skill, electric forward who can make plays all over the ice. He’s small but stocky and balanced in his stride and tough to knock off pucks. He has a low center and excellent acceleration which allowed him to absorb contact and pull away from opponents. He only had 3 points on the week but one came on a brilliant end to end rush where he wheeled behind the net in the offensive zone and hit a collapsing weakside defenseman with a pass in the slot for the one-timer goal. He’s explosive, creative and can operate offensively at full speed using all of his tools from his quick hands to powerful release to vision to precision passing ability. Exciting player to watch but wasn’t his best here finishing with a 1-2-3 line in 6 games.  He will be playing NTDP next season but was drafted in the second round of the OHL by Erie during the tournament. Grade: B+

U16 Nationals. May 2019

Time will tell if this is the right move but he should make an impact in the OHL pretty quickly. He had a talented group around him in Plymouth and this may give him more of a stage to shine. He is a terrific player and one that can and will adapt to different roles and can play in all situations. Erie gains an exciting player who fans will instantly love as his skills and pace keep you on the edge of your seat.

Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images