Meet Corson Ceulemans, a former standout for the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, a current Wisconsin Badger and a future Columbus Blue Jacket.
The Blue Jackets selected the six-foot-two, 201-pound defenseman as the 25th overall pick of the 2021 National Hockey League Entry Draft this past Friday. He became the University of Wisconsin’s seventh first-round pick in the last six years and the program’s 17th first-rounder overall.
This year became the 24th consecutive year a Badger has been drafted.
Ceulemans is a strong offensive defenseman, known for his accurate shot and ability to handle the puck around the blue line. Over 56 games and three seasons with the Brooks Bandits he put up nine goals and 46 points. In 10 games with the Canadian National Team, Ceulemans had one goal and 12 points.
Ceulemans career with the Brooks Bandits started earlier than most thought it would. In 2019, he was playing school hockey, and once his season ended he earned a call-up to the main team. At the time, Ceulemans was just 15, while he played against primarily 19 and 20-year-olds.
That first Bandits team ended up winning the national title. Ceulemans, four or five years younger than his teammates and opponents, played on the second defensive pair for a national title-winning club.
Ceulemans led defenseman in scoring at the U18 national tournament this year — a fantastic example of his strong offensive ability. In an interview with The Athletic, team Canada’s head coach Dave Barr spoke about his uncertainty about Ceulemans’ skating ability going into the tournament. But as the games progressed Ceulemans kept making things “look easy,” which earned him an increase minutes later into the tournament.
Ceulemans has impressed everywhere he has played. He has never been a big name prospect — he didn’t play for a big name junior team and had to earn his minutes with the Canadian National Team.
While his reputation has him as an offense-first defenseman, Ceulemans has blossomed defensively and he will presumably be among the Badgers’ most played defenseman next season.
It would be great to see the right-handed Ceulemans playing alongside Daniel Laatsch, another incoming freshman, who Pittsburgh drafted in the seventh round this past weekend.
Together, they could form an intimidating, young and strong defensive pair that would be exciting for the future of the UW program.