Prospect Profile: Graham Sward

Photo Source: Spokane Chiefs Twitter

Name: Graham Sward

Team: Fraser Valley Thunderbirds (BCMML)

Position: Defense

Date of Birth: September 12rd 2003

Hometown: Abbotsford, British Columbia

Height/Weight: 6’2 165lbs

Hand: Left

WHL Draft: 17th Overall in 2018 – Spokane Chiefs (Signed)


*Eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft*

Areas of Strength

  • Defensive Shutdown
  • Pressure
  • Assertiveness

Areas of Weakness

  • Offensive Confidence
  • Production
  • Consistency 

Player Report: Graham Sward was our 11th ranked prospect going into the WHL Draft, he was ultimately selected with the 17th overall pick by the Spokane Chiefs. A steal of a pick in our opinion as people felt he was a consensus top 15 selection. Regardless of that, Graham Sward is going to be an outstanding WHL defender. Sward spent both his bantam years playing with the Yale Lions bantam prep’s. Playing alongside some high calibre defenders like Aiden De La Gorgendiere, Nolan Bentham, Tyson Galloway, Dylan Anderson, and Brody Gagno. Sward produced 29 points in the two year span over a 63 combined games. Sward is a defensive orientated player however who makes most of his impact on the game in his own zone. Sward is expected to play in the BCMML this upcoming season. 

Graham Sward is a defensemen who has been well known through the bantam ranks for years now. A stay at home style of game, he’s an athletic defensive defender who provides a physical shutdown presence to teams blue line. A lanky skater with long legs and a controlled effortless stride that is efficient. Sward’s lateral abilities contribute well to his four-way mobility, he’s able to mirror the opposition coming down on him and force puck carriers to the outside. Sward’s edge work allows him to quickly cut up ice on defensive retrievals and transition the puck offensively, a tremendous outlet passer who can hit his target from long distance. His stick work going backward’s is exceptional, he keeps it active and pokes pucks off player stick with ease. An excellent skater going backwards who cuts off a lot of ice. Sward’s biggest asset to his game is his intuitive defensive zone abilities. Sward’s constantly engages on the puck carrier but well aware of his surroundings. He applies constant pressure on the puck carriers and can close in quickly and impose himself physically to create a turnover. A defensemen whose hard to play against due to his physical play and defensive capabilities. Aware of his defensive partner and able to provide support when he recognizes it. Offensively Sward game is still quite under developed. He is not a confident puck carrier but he can lead the rush at times, often with a cerebral mind set. Distributing the puck when pressure is impose on him or by showing off his puck controlling abilities that have proven to be strong in the Bantam levels. While he has the mobility he doesn’t utilize it far enough on the blue line, Sward has a heavy slap shot that can find its way through lanes and often utilizes that in a static position. Sward relies on his natural tools, he plays that sort of cautious style of game and he’s dependable because of that. Plays within his limitations. Once he fills into his frame, Sward will be an imposing defender to play against. His assertiveness in the defensive zone is impressive at this age and his translation to the WHL will be much easier because of it. 

Graham Sward is likely going to develop into a shutdown defender at the WHL level. With question marks about his offensive impact, Sward should stick to playing within his limitations. I think he could produce well as a 20 year old, once he starts to become more confident with the puck and improves his blue line presence. Much like Austin Strand. Sward will step in a 16 year old next year, he will be utilized in defensive areas of the game and excel. In terms of production I’d say he’s a 10 point defender in his rookie season. Likely reaches 40 points once or twice in the WHL as he continues to develop. Lots to like about Sward however, may become one the WHL’s most elite defensive defenders.


Past Seasons:

2016-2017 – Yale Lions Bantam Prep: 30GP-2G-7A-9PTS 20PIMS Playoffs: 4GP-1G-0A-1PTS 4PIMS

2017-2018 – Yale Lions Bantam Prep: 26GP-2G-16A-18PTS 48PIMS Playoffs: 3GP-0G-1A-1PTS  4PIMS

Yale Lions Midget Prep: 2GP-0G-1A-1PTS 2PIMS