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OHL: Marco Rossi, C, Ottawa (2020)

Admittedly, before this season, I was not sold on Marco Rossi’s offensive upside being extremely high. His energy level, IQ, and tenacity stood out previously, but he profiled as more of a strong second line or third line center who could play in any situation but lacked the creativity to be a front-line offensive star.

The improvements that he has made to his game, in particular his strength and confidence with the puck, and his skating, have caused me to re-evaluate my opinion. Rossi is definitely someone who could play a top line role and have a lengthy NHL career.

The value in this selection would be that he has shown enough to suggest that his potential is quite high, yet his floor is still that of an elite third line center who can anchor a penalty kill. As a late 2001 born player, Rossi could conceivably play in the NHL next year, depending on which NHL team selects him in June.

Marco Rossi 2020 NHL Draft Eligible
Position: C Shoots: L H/W: 5-9", 179lbs
Stats to Date: (GP-G-A-PTS-PIMS) Ottawa 67's, OHL (25-20-39-59-22)
Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67's. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67's. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Skating: Rossi brings an infectious energy level to the ice every shift because he never stops moving his feet. He does not have long, powerful strides due to his lack of size, but his overall speed and explosiveness has improved greatly in the last year. Part of what makes him so dangerous, however, is his terrific edgework, balance, and agility. He is as slippery as an eel down low because he is able to make quick changes of direction while with the puck, and uses his strong lower half to maintain possession through traffic. For a smaller forward, he is very difficult to knock off stride. Grade: 55

Shot: Unquestionably a playmaker first and foremost, Rossi has a better shot and goal scoring instincts than some give him credit for. His release is extremely quick and he is great at using his quick feet to make cuts to the middle where he can use a defender as a screen. He will need to increase the velocity on his wrist shot and become a little more aggressive using his shot (especially on the powerplay), but his assertiveness with the puck has grown considerably this year and it has helped to make him a better playmaker because defenders are now respecting his desire and ability to shoot. Grade: 55

Skills: Below the hash marks, there may not be a more skilled player in the OHL. His ability to create coming off the wall, or from below the goal line, is nearly unmatched. As mentioned, he always keeps his feet moving and is so elusive and tough to pin down. He maintains possession of the puck through all of his deft stops, starts, and turns in order to avoid checks and pins. Teams often have to send a second defender down low to help out after he evades the first and with his elite vision, Rossi is able to find that open teammate the vast majority of the time. In transition, his game has grown because his explosiveness has improved, and again, he has such good hands that he can maintain possession through his drives and cuts to the middle to open up space and to back up defenders. Grade: 60

Smarts: Where Rossi really makes his mark is in all three zones. His stick work and positioning without the puck are massively underrated components to his game. He is a terrific defensive player and is the anchor of the 67’s penalty kill, in addition to being one of the forwards out there protecting a lead in the final minute of a tight game. His vision extends beyond the offensive zone. With the puck, Rossi is a playmaking wizard. It is very rare to see him commit a turnover in the offensive end. His strength on the puck allows him to be incredibly patient and poised, allowing those gaps to open up. Be it a feathered saucer pass cross ice on the powerplay, a drop pass to a trailer while driving the middle, or a bullet to the slot spinning off the wall, Rossi always seems to find an open teammate to generate a scoring chance. Unquestionably, he elevates the play of those that share the ice with him. Grade: 65

Physicality: Rossi is far from your typical skilled playmaker who lacks physical intensity. He is a bulldog on the ice who plays much larger than his 5-9” frame. He is consistently the first player into the offensive zone to recover a dump in and is a willing combatant down low who will lay into a defender to force a turnover. He also drives the net with ferocity and finds himself in the middle of many extra curricular post whistle skirmishes. This compete level is consistent in all three zones and it is what makes him a strong two-way player. As he continues to gain strength, this area of his game should continue to grow and be a part of his skill set at the NHL level. Grade: 55

Overall Future Projection (OFP): 58.75