Team Orr’s Clark Bishop sets up in the lane as Team Cherry’s Haydn Fleury looks for an opening during the 2014 CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Calgary this January. Ranked 104th overall among North American skaters for this weekend’s NHL Entry Draft by the league’s Central Scouting service, Bishop likely won’t hear his name called in tonight’s first round, but scouting reports suggest he is a safe bet for Saturday’s rounds.
©— Photo by The Canadian Hockey League
His on-ice vision is touted as a big asset, but perhaps the best thing about Clark Bishop as a hockey player is his visibility.
If you’re watching the play, Bishop will almost certainly be in your field of sight. He will not be on or outside the margins. He does not lag behind. He does not cheat forward. He will be involved.
“A 200-foot player,” is how the 18-year-old from St. John’s is widely described leading into the National Hockey League’s Entry Draft in Philadelphia this weekend.
In fact, that’s exactly how he began his answer for the common question posed to him by the 17 NHL teams which interviewed him at the pre-draft scouting combine in late May.
“There were no really weird questions. It was all pretty straightforward. In almost every case, the main thing they wanted to know is how I would describe myself when it came to hockey,” said Bishop, who will be attending the draft with a contingent of family members.
“So I’d tell them I was a full 200-foot player, an all-around player whose best asset is my skating, and someone with good hockey sense and good vision.
“I really pride myself on my defensive game, but I can contribute offensively, too.”
Mind you, Bishop didn’t put up eye-popping numbers with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Screaming Eagles this past season, as he registered 14 goals and chipped in 19 assists for 33 points in 56 games. But he missed most of November due to a finger injury, and when he returned to action with a young Cape Breton team, saw fairly regular duty on the power play in addition to penalty-killing responsibilities. What’s more, he played most of his second major junior season while still only 17 (he turned 18 in late March), but nevertheless was an assistant captain for the Screaming Eagles.
“(NHL) teams know I’m still developing as a player and that the stats will come,” said Bishop, who was the third overall pick by Cape Breton in the 2012 QMJHL draft and has at least two more years of junior eligibility.
“At the same time, I think I’ve show them I can be a pretty complete player and a leader for my team, and I think that those are some of the main things they look for in a player.”
While it’s highly unlikely Bishop’s name will be called tonight as 30 players are selected in the draft’s first round, it’s those same qualities that make him a safe bet to be picked on Saturday, when the other six rounds are conducted.
In fact, many pre-draft assessments of Bishop tag him as a “sleeper” or “dark horse,” who will go higher than his ranking by the NHL’s Central Scouting Service, which has him 104th among North American skaters. Factoring in goaltenders and Europeans, that CSS seeding would tag Bishop as a fifth-round selection, but the centre for the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles is widely seen as an all-round player whose talents will translate well into the pro game.
In fact, while he’s not listed among Bob McKenzie’s top 60 (two rounds worth off players) for TSN, McKenzie does have Bishop among his six honourable mentions. And Patrick King, on Sportsnet’s online site, puts Bishop on top of his sleepers list.
Scouts will certainly have a pretty good read on Bishop from his play over the last year.
In addition to his games with in the Q, he played for the Canadian gold-medal-winning under-18 entry at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka tourney in the Czech Republic and at the 2014 world U18 championship in Finland, where Canada took the bronze. He also suited up for Team Orr at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game.
In each case, he didn’t wow with flashy plays or big numbers — he had one assist in seven games at the world under-18 championship and one goal in five games at the Hlinka tourney — but demonstrated his work ethic, quickness, dependability and fitness.
The latter, by the way, was confirmed at the combine, where he ranked first among 118 prospects in the VO2 max test, which measures a player’s cardiovascular and aerobic endurance as he pedals on a bicycle.
Bishop lasted more than 15 minutes on the bike.
“Conditioning has always been something I’ve concentrated on, and it paid off there” said Bishop, who works out with well-known St. John’s trainer Bob Thompson in the off-season. “My results on the other tests were mostly about average, but overall, I think it was good.”
A product of the St. John’s Privateers midget program whose favourite NHL team is the Toronto Maple Leafs and favourite player is Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, Bishop will have a substantial support group this weekend in Philadelphia. Accompanying him at the draft are his mother Millie and father Steve, a well-known Newfoundland hockey coach, and his younger siblings — brother Joel, an up-and-coming player in his own right, and sister Julia.
Two aunts — Glynnis Hann and Madonna Dyke — and cousin Sabrina Hann will also be there.
Bishop is well aware of Don Cherry’s admonition that players who aren’t guaranteed to go in the top two rounds of the draft should not attend in person in order to avoid potential disappointment, but he says the decision to go was only made after plenty of discussion that involved his agent, Bob Perno, someone who has been through this thing before. Perno, who works with Don Meehan’s Newport Management, was Mario Lemieux’s first agent.
“In the end, we all just decided that this was a great opportunity. This could be one of the most important days of my life and I didn’t want to miss the chance to experience it first-hand, to take it all in and maybe get to put on a jersey,” said Bishop.
“I know anything can happen, that things can turn out either way and I’m prepared for that, but I didn’t want to be home watching on TV if my name is called. I’d be very happy, of course, but it wouldn’t be the same as being there.”
Note: Two other Newfoundlanders who played in the QMJHL last season are ranked by NHL Central Scouting for this weekend’s draft. Cody Donaghey of St. John’s, a defenceman with the Quebec Remparts, is ranked 150th among North American skaters, while Conception Bay South’s Kris Hodge, a centre with the Shawinigan Cataractes, is 210th, CSS’s last-listed player among North American forwards and defencemen,
Clark Bishop profile
Born: March 29, 1996
Hometown: St. John’s
Height/weight: 6-1, 185 pounds
Notes: Bishop won a goal medal with the Canadian entry at the 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka (under-18) international tournament in the Czech Republic and a bronze medal with Team Canada at the 2014 world under-18 championship in Finland ... Played for Team Orr in the 2014 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game ...
Where Bishop is ranked
NHL Central Scouting: 104th (North American skaters)
Red Line Report: 154th
The Hockey News (Bob McKenzie): Not ranked in the top 60, but listed as an honourable mention
International Scouting Services: 88th
McKeen's Hockey: No. 66
THW War Room (thehockeywriters.com): 123rd
What they’re saying about Bishop
• Patrick King, Sportsnet.ca:
King Has Bishop listed at the top of his list as players he sees as sleeper picks for this year’s draft
“His stats are everything but attention grabbing, which contributed to his slip in the rankings, but his style of play is the type coaches love. Bishop, the third-overall pick in the 2012 QMJHL draft, is the prototypical hard-working, defensively-conscious centre. His reliability and dependability in defensive situations is among the most finely-tuned in the draft. He’ll likely never become a point producer, but it’s easy to picture him in the NHL based on his defensive ability and leadership qualities.”
• Aaron Vickers, futureconsiderations.ca
“Bishop is all heart and work ethic. Not blessed with the natural talents of others in his draft class, Bishop uses his physicality, grit, work rate, smarts and tremendous skating ability to make things happen on both sides of the puck. Positionally strong centre with high-end acceleration and a strong two way game. Works hard all over the sheet despite not having the superior hands or the ability to finish plays with goals or great set-ups.”
• Mike Repertorio, propuckprospects.com
“Bishop is not one of the most skilled players in this draft, but that is not to say that he does not possess intangibles crucial to success. A recognized leader on his team, Bishop, with his great work ethic and heart on his sleeve attitude, is currently an alternate captain for Cape Breton. He’s not overly big, but plays a smart game with an element of physical play and grit. His stock has also increased thanks to his incredible skating ability and speed. ISS’s Chris Mooring sees Bishop as a third/fourth round grinding type guy at the next level.”
• Scott Pothier, thescoutingreport.org
“ Bishop has emerged as a leader with Cape Breton, where he is already sporting an 'A' on his sweater. While Bishop is not a pure offensive player, he projects as a safe pick as a reliable defensive player. Bishop is a good skater who has shown more offensive polish in year two which should be enough to see him find a home anywhere between rounds two and four.”
• Rick Springhetti, mckeenshockey.com
On the website montrealhockeytalk.com, Springhetti shared his top 20 draft prospects from the QMJHL and has Bishop listed as No. 6.
"Hard-working, defensively sound center who may not produce big numbers at the NHL level but could very well be the player that is trusted by coaches to protect a lead."
Note: Springhetti also rates St. John' native and Quebec Remparts defenceman Cody Donaghey as the No. 15 draft prospect from the QMJHL
"Solid passing ability with a fluid skating stride, Donaghey has a lot of tools to work with but will need to find a standout quality for the next level.
NHL Drafted Newfoundlanders
Players from Newfoundland and Labrador who have been selected in the National Hockey League Entry Draft, with overall selection and year (hometown, brackets); * — indicates played in the the NHL:
• Terry French, F (Grand Falls-Windsor): 25th overall by Montreal, 1971
• Terry Ryan Sr., F (Grand Falls-Windsor): 44th overall by Minnesota, 1972
• Gerard Gibbons, D (St. John's): 80th overall by Montreal, 1973
• Tony White*, F (Grand Falls): 161st overall by Washington, 1974
• Bob Gladney*, D (Clarenville): 24th overall by Toronto, 1977
• Keith Brown*, D (Corner Brook): 7th overall by Chicago, 1979 #
• Paul Kenny, G (St. John's): 212th overall by Los Angeles, 1984
• Steve Hollett, F (St. John’s), 187th overall by Washington, 1985 #
• Darren Colbourne, F (Corner Brook): 227th overall by Detroit, 1988
• Steve Locke, D (Mount Pearl): 223rd overall by New York Rangers, 1989
• John Slaney*, D (St. John's): 9th overall by Washington, 1990
• Dwayne Norris*, F (St. John's): 127th overall by Quebec, 1990
• Chad Penney*, F (St. John's): 25th overall by Ottawa, 1992
• Brad Brown*, D (Baie Verte): 18th overall by Montreal, 1994
• Gord Walsh, F (C.B.S.): 220th overall by New York Islanders, 1994
• Chris Pittman, F (Stephenville): 243rd overall by Quebec, 1994
• Terry Ryan Jr.*, F (Mount Pearl): 8th overall by Montreal, 1995
• Jason Morgan*, F (C.B.S.): 118th overall by Los Angeles, 1995
• Michael Pittman, F (Fox Harbour): 227th overall by Chicago, 1995
• Kurt Walsh, F (C.B.S.): 87th overall by Buffalo, 1996
• Daniel Cleary*, F (Harbour Grace): 13th overall by Chicago, 1997
• Harold Druken*, F (Shea Heights): 36th overall by Vancouver, 1997
• Jeff Sullivan, D (Brigus South): 146th overall by Ottawa, 1997
• Keith Delaney, F (North River): 155th overall by Florida, 1997
• Michael Ryder*, F (Bonavista): 216th overall by Montreal, 1998
• Ryane Clowe*, F (Fermeuse): 175th overall by San Jose, 2001
• Jason King*, F (Corner Brook): 212th overall by Vancouver, 2001
• Dale Sullivan, F (Calvert): 265th overall by Dallas, 2001
• Doug O'Brien*, D (St. John's): 192nd overall by Tampa Bay, 2003
• Mark Tobin, F (St. John's): 65th overall by Tampa Bay, 2004
• Dan LaCosta*, G (Labrador City): 93rd overall by Columbus, 2004
• Adam Pardy*, D (Bonavista): 173rd overall by Calgary, 2004
• Daniel Ryder, F (Bonavista): 74th overall by Calgary, 2005
• Colin Greening*, F (St. John's): 204th overall by Ottawa, 2005
• Luke Adam*, F (Kilbride): 44th overall by Buffalo, 2008
• James Melindy, D (Goulds): 88th overall by Phoenix, 2012
# — Keith Brown and Steve Hollett were born in Newfoundland, but raised elsewhere in Canada