clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

#24 - Jackson Houck

The Vancouver Giants winger holds steady at #24.

Marissa Baecker

Last spring Jackson Houck made his first appearance in our Top 25. He found himself inside the Top 25 for the first time after making the modest leap from the 26th overall position in our rankings that followed the 2013 draft, where he was selected by the Oilers with the 94th overall pick, to the 24th spot a few months later. In this edition of semi-annual rankings he lands once again in the number 24 spot. Here's a breakdown of how the voters ranked him.

Alan Ben Bruce Curtis DB Derek Jeff Jon Michael Ryan Scott Zsolt
25 24 27 24 21 21 21 21 29 24 32 21

Previous Rank: 24

In his post draft season Houck had scoring numbers of 34-27-61 in 69 games played, only a slight increase in points over the 23-34-57 he posted in his draft year when he also played in 69 games. Nearly flat growth in his production despite being a year older isn't an overly encouraging sign but there are a couple of potential bright spots hidden in the numbers. First he lead the Vancouver Giants in goals last season and scored 10 more goals at even strength. Is that the result of his shooting more, getting to better spots, or just getting lucky, we don't know, but at the very least it an arrow in the right direction. And he once again had a very respectable plus/minus relative to his teammates; something Jonathan Willis noted was also true during his draft year.

The knock on Houck is his skating. This is something that both Corey Pronman and Red Line Report had in there pre-draft analysis. This is how Pronman summed him up:

Houck entered this season known for his intangibles and physical play, and he added a scoring touch to his repertoire, leading the Giants in points. He has just average size, but he still displays notably above-average physical value, delivering big hits and winning a lot of battles through his effort. He has the heart and soul elements desirable in a good penalty killer. His offensive upside, however, draws some divide among scouts. One says he is very average, while another says his puck skills enable him to have potential in that area. He protects the puck well, drives the net, and has solid creativity. Skating will be his main issue. He plays with good energy, but he struggles to get to where he wants to go.

I'm going to just ignore the "known for his intangibles" part and say that, to me that sounds like a player who doesn't do anything one thing great but does a lot of things well. Basically, he's a potential third line forward. That's not a role that requires elite skating ability but the difference between third and fourth liners is pretty small, his skating could well make the difference. Assuming of course that everything else goes smoothly for him between the WHL and the pros and that he gets close enough to Edmonton for us to really concern ourselves with his skating.

This season though he'll be playing on the Giant's first line as that team tries to continue to trend up from the 44 points the team finished with in 2012/13. Last season the Giants were 31 points better and finished 7th in the WHL's Western Conference and earning them the right to play Portland in the first round, which resulted in a quick four game exit for the Giants. One of the questions surrounding the Giants as they head into this season is, who will centre the top line with Houck? It doesn't look like there's a clear cut candidate right now, so Houck could be stuck with a rotating cast of centres as the team searches for a combination that works, or he could take on the role. Hardly an ideal situation for a player in his second post draft season who's looking to turn some heads. We'll have to see how it plays out.

Check out previous stories in the Top 25 Under 25 series in our StoryStream.