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2023 Draft Pick Profile: Gracyn Sawchyn

Photo by David Romuald / Romuald Images

After taking the first round of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville off – the cost of acquiring Ben Chiarot from Montreal on March 16, 2022 – Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito selected center Gracyn Sawchyn late in the second round (63rd overall) from the Western Hockey League’s Seattle Thunderbirds.

  • Gracyn Sawchyn (18)
  • Drafted: 63rd overall
  • Position: Center
  • Height/Weight: 5’11”, 165 lbs
  • Current Team: Seattle Thunderbirds
  • Shoots: Right
  • Rankings: EliteProspects (13th)  NHL Central Scouting (42nd)

Sawchyn is a hard-working, but somewhat polarizing prospect among scouting services and hockey publications, who had him ranked anywhere from 13th to 90th.

In his first season in the WHL, Sawchyn, a product of Shattuck St. Mary’s and the USNTDP, averaged a point per game by scoring 18 goals and assisting on 40 others. Sixteen of his 58 points came on the power play and he registered three game-winning goals. His 144 shots on goal were the sixth-highest on the team and he displayed a feisty side by racking up 68 PIM, which was the third-most on the Thunderbirds.

During the postseason, he appeared in 17 of 19 games and produced three goals and 11 points as Seattle won the Ed Chynoweth Cup and earned a spot in the 2023 Memorial Cup.

After going 2-1 in round-robin play, the Thunderbirds beat Peterborough 4-1 in the semifinal before getting blanked 5-0 in the championship game by the Quebec Remparts. Sawchyn played in all five of Seattle’s games at the tournament, but failed to register a point or a shot on goal and finished with a -3 rating.

EliteProspects had this to say: Sawchyn’s game is not a complex one. He sprints hard after the puck, and if he can’t outright win the race, he tries to win the ensuing battle, then, he looks for a teammate. If the pass isn’t available, he drives inside without much concern for his safety.

While Sawchyn is a meat-and-potatoes type, putting up 58 points in 58 games is an impressive feat for a slight 18-year-old. Among his strong points are his relentless forechecking, ability to force turnovers, above-average acceleration, defensive awareness and good hands. Like a lot of players his age, he will need to bulk up and add strength as he continues his journey to the professional ranks. He already seems to do a lot of the little things well, hopefully as he matures he’ll be able to become more dynamic offensively.