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2023 Draft Profile: BCHL defenceman Hoyt Stanley talks physicality, defending Connor Bedard, and learning a lesson at his first NHL game

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Photo credit:@victoriagrizzlies on IG
Faber
By Faber
9 months ago
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The lower mainland is going to be represented extremely well next week when the 2023 NHL Entry Draft takes place in Nashville with names like Connor Bedard, Matthew Wood, Zach Benson, and Andrew Cristall all more than likely being selected in the first round.
With so many top-tier prospects in the draft, it challenged all those who grew up playing minor hockey in the age group of these talented forwards.
It likely also was pretty damn tough for 2005-born defencemen.
One of those defencemen is Hoyt Stanley.
At 6’3″ and 200+ pounds, Stanley is a right-shot defenceman who grew up playing with and against Cristall, Benson, Wood, and Bedard.
Stanley played with the North Shore Winter Club as well as this soon-to-be-a-lot more famous Vancouver Vipers team that had Bedard, Wood, Benson and Cristall on it.  Stanley was much smaller back then. We caught up with him and he mentioned that he was only about 5’7″ and was about 130 pounds. This was partially why he decided to go the route of the BCHL. Stanley knew that he wasn’t going to get a lot of immediate ice time in the WHL and he and his family also valued a solid education — which is a big reason why he is committed to play at Cornell next year.
Having a big growth spurt has certainly helped Stanley’s game. He now relies on physicality but had to learn to play without size in his youth days.
“I learned to play small and develop that kind of skill set, which I think helped me a lot,” said Stanley. “After the Bantam draft, I grew four inches that summer, and then continued to grow. I think I’m eight inches taller now and 70 pounds heavier. So it definitely helps. It even helps with skating, and on the back end, my physical play is an area that I improved at with the size but still know that I need to get better at but I’m still sort of just kind of getting used to a bigger frame and realizing that I can push guys around a bit more. In the offseasons over the past couple of years, I’m working on playing more physically, especially playing with older guys going into college next year. I’ve always really focused on building strength and quickness and just getting bigger and faster.”
As we mentioned earlier, Stanley played forward through his childhood and seemed to keep some of that offence in his game as he transitioned to a defenceman. His shot mechanics look tremendous and he finds the net often from the point while also being solid with handling the puck while walking the line.
Stanley grew up a Canucks fan and said this about if the team he rooted for growing up were to draft him at next week’s draft.
“I think it’d be pretty cool,” said Stanley when we asked him for his thoughts on if the Canucks were to pick him. “Obviously, it would be a dream come true. I grew up a Canucks fan and was going to games with my mom and dad. So it’d be pretty special.”
Stanley may have only been six years old at the time but he did go to some playoff games during the Canucks’ cup run in 2011.
We asked if he had any fond memories of going to Canucks games as a kid and it was more about learning a lesson at his first NHL game.
“The thing that sticks out to me the most is actually my first NHL game,” said Stanley as he began to chuckle. “I ate too much ice cream, candy and other stuff and I just like went home and puked all over my parents that night. So that’s what I remember the most.”
As for a favourite Canuck player growing up, Stanley said that Daniel Sedin was his go-to guy because “he’s a ginger like I am,” said Stanley with a laugh.

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In terms of his play this season, Stanley played this past year with the Victoria Grizzlies and scored four goals while adding 34 assists in 53 BCHL games. He also showed extremely well in prospect tournaments that he participated in during the season.
One of his best traits is his backwards skating. He likely had to practice this a lot while facing Cristall, Bedard, Benson, and the other hotshot forward he battled with in practice. Being a naturally good backward skater was a big reason why he made the transition to defence and the fact that he shot up to 6’3″ certainly helped raise his draft stock as well.
“I didn’t really think too much about being a right-shot defender,” said Stanley when we talked about it being the position of need for almost every NHL franchise. “I just got lucky, I guess. It’s a nice position to be playing right now.”
He was often in battles with Bedard during spring and summer skates and gives a lot of credit to the coaching staff during those skates making them push everyone on the ice to be the best.
“I think it’s helped my game a ton skating with those guys,” said Stanley when asked about going against Bedard & the other top prospects. “I still skate with those guys in the summer. I think it’s great to just be competing against the best in the world. You get an opportunity to measure yourself against that. And if you’re shutting those guys down, you can shut down most guys in the world so it’s been it’s been cool just playing with them and going up against pros with them and stuff. It’s just something that has been really big for my development as a defenceman”
As for stopping Connor Bedard, Stanley claims he has but doesn’t have a secret formula to shut down the projected first-overall pick in the 2023 draft.
“I don’t really know, I don’t think I’ve figured it out yet,” joked Stanley. “I don’t think he really has as a weakness, but I’ve got the best of him a few times. He might lie to you and say otherwise but I like to think I can get him here and there.”
Stanley is projected to be a mid-round pick in the 2023 draft. Some scouting sites have him as high as 64 on their list but for the most part, he is in the 75-125 range, which happens to be where the Canucks have five picks in that area of the draft.
As a right-shot defenceman with size, skating skill, and confidence with the puck on his stick, Stanley is surely going to draw attention from scouts.
He’s a great pick-up for a team in the mid-round and if he can continue to develop through his NCAA career, you may see him eating up minutes in the NHL one day.
Let’s see if the Canucks want to make this local kid’s dream come true.
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