Making his appearance at number six in our draft rankings is the undersized but incredibly skilled Marco Rossi.
Name: Marco Rossi
Date of Birth: September 23rd, 2001
Place of Birth: Feldkirch, Austria
Height: 5’9″ / 176 cm
Weight: 179 lbs / 81 kg
Rossi is one of the most compelling prospects in the 2020 Draft. He boasts an armoury of moves including a dynamic shot, tenacious puck possession skills and advantageous speed which often poses trouble for opposing goaltenders. He has the potential to be the best Austrian the NHL has seen since Canucks legend, Thomas Vanek.
The Ottawa 67s centre is projected to go somewhere between picks 6 and 8. In his first two seasons in the OHL, the future first rounder put up 65 points in 53 games in his rookie season. He was dominant on the draw winning 58.4% of faceoffs. Also, he added another 22 points in 17 playoff games. He followed that up with a strong sophomore season by leading the OHL in scoring including a remarkable 120 points (39 goals, 81 assists) in 56 games played. It’s no coincidence that Rossi and the 67s were having an incredible run, leading the OHL in points before COVID-19 cancelled the season. Here’s what some scouts have to say about Rossi’s game:
“Rossi has been lighting up the OHL as a speedster with terrific offensive instincts. He’s a smart player overall — a 200-foot contributor — but a real catalyst on the attack. He’s small but sturdy, so that lack of size shouldn’t hold him back.” Larry Fisher – The Hockey Writers
Judge him by his size, do you? Rossi may be small in stature but, much like Master Yoda, he is mighty and wise. What he lacks in size he accounts for it with his savvy hockey IQ, puck skills, and strong two-way play. He is also rather stocky, which helps create a low centre of gravity making him a difficult opponent to bump off the puck and gain a favourable position on.
“He’s a highly skilled offensive player who is equally dangerous creating plays and finishing scoring chances. Rossi is an excellent skater, solid on his skates and difficult to knock off the puck, and he can make plays off the rush or in tight areas. He demonstrates a strong cycle game, can extend plays in the offensive zone and can beat defenders with speed or with an impressive set of moves.” NHL Central Scouting – NHL.com
Rossi’s skill set makes him suited for today’s game. A comparable to current NHL players would be Mitch Marner or Claude Giroux. They all bring energy to every shift and posses the ability to score, create and drive play at will. Like Marner and Giroux, Rossi is excellent on the both the power play and penalty kill. He had 38 power play points for the 67s last season including 31 assists. Rossi knows his role and knows exactly what he needs to bring to each situation in order to make himself and his teammates successful.
“One of the elder statesmen of the class gives up size but makes up for it in skill. Has the ability to drop-jaws with his puck skills. A duel-threat off of the rush or set up. A monster on the man-advantage.” Cam Robinson – Dobber Prospects
Control, control, you must learn control! Rossi is feisty and plays with an edge. He earned himself a five game suspension for a dangerous hit that sent Cedric Ralph into the boards during the 67s’ season opener. His aggression and physicality are certainly not a knock against him, but he will certainly need to rein in the unconstitutional plays. It will be important for Rossi to find a balance of playing with a level of brute force that will allow him to gain an inside position on sizable players without crossing the line.
Some teams may doubt he will be able to be an effective centre at the NHL level due to his size. However, he has demonstrated his strength in the face-off circle, great hands, a robust shot and playmaking skills. His balance of intelligence and talent gives him the ability to succeed in traffic, rather than avoid it. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Drafting Rossi may lead an NHL team to the force and back to prominence.
Canucks fans most likely won’t have to fear facing Rossi more than twice a year. The New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres or Montreal Canadiens are the odds-on favourites to land the lauded prospect between picks 6-8. Nonetheless, the Canucks’ Pacific Division rivals, the LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks, have the potential to snatch Rossi early with picks 4-5 and torment the Canucks for years to come.