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Why Charlie Elick would be a great fit for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2024 NHL Draft

Charlie Elick (Jeremy Champagne/WHL)
Photo credit:Charlie Elick (Jeremy Champagne/WHL)
Steven Ellis
17 days ago
Sometimes, you just need a defenseman who’s good at just being a defenseman.
Seriously, it can be hard to come by these days. Some of the top defenders for the 2024 NHL Draft are more focused on generating offense, and finding quality options at forward can be much more difficult.
So, it’s time to meet Charlie Elick, a defenseman projected to go late in the first round, and potentially in the range of the Toronto Maple Leafs at No. 23.
At 6-foot-4 and 203 pounds, Elick is definitely someone Leafs fans would be interested in adding. And the best part? He’s right-handed, so drafting him would give the Leafs some real depth at that side of the ice.
Known as a defensive defenseman who can beat opponents with his physicality and his skating, Elick has all the makings of a reliable, third-pairing option, but a good one at that. Elick isn’t very offensively included, having scored just four goals and 27 points in 65 games with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings this year. But many WHLers considered him to be one of the most difficult players to go up against this year, and that means something to teams looking to add some toughness to their depth chart.
What Elick does best is being proactive in his defensive reads. He’s so calm and smart and thinks the game in such an intelligent way, making him one of the better shutdown defenders in this draft. He’s also so difficult to beat through the neutral zone because he’ll lull you into a false sense of security before lining you up and launching himself at you. Elick hits HARD, maybe as hard as any other defenseman in this draft. He has a knack for violence and isn’t afraid of showing it at any turn.
And it helps that he’s such a good skater, too. He’s fast, has good four-way mobility and can join in on the rush without getting himself out of position. The fact Elick moves as well as he does makes me think he won’t have an issue adjusting to the pro game down the line, and his pure velocity allows him to just hit players at full force. For a modern-day shutdown defender, Elick has everything you’re looking for, in my opinion.
But his lack of offense knocks him down a peg compared to some other defensemen in this range. He’s got a solid shot release and definitely wants to create plays more consistently, but his puckhandling is weak, and his desire to look for a high-impact play can make things more complicated. I wish he’d keep things simpler with the puck because there’s potential there, but I wouldn’t trust him over someone like Aron Kiviharju.
Having someone with a bit more offensive flair is nice. But as GM Brad Treliving continues to prioritize size and mobility, someone like Elick or EJ Emery makes a lot more sense for a Toronto pipeline that needs a bit of everything.
While Topi Niemela has the two-way play, Elick would be great at pushing players away from the crease and giving the team some much-needed toughness. He’s still a few years away from being a legitimate threat and would need some AHL seasoning, but there’s enough there for him to fit the mold Treliving seems to be taking this team.
Elick feels like a safe pick, someone who has a realistic shot at playing about 17-18 minutes a night in the NHL, and maybe even more if he adds a bit more skill to his game. Right now, I think we’re looking at someone who can focus more on the physical and space-taking game while partnering with a more skilled, heads-up defender instead. And that’s totally fine.
If Emery goes before No. 23, and the Leafs want someone of similar quality, Elick feels like a great choice. Maybe they even like him more than Emery, too. But this feels like a great fit for the organization, and that’s what the team needs.

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