NHL.com’s Mike G. Morreale profiles a possible Red Wings first-round pick this morning, discussing Austrian forward Marco Rossi. Rossi is ranked 6th among North American-based skaters (per NHL Central Scouting’s rankings), and NHL.com’s draft profile of the 5’9″ Rossi, who turns 19 on September 23rd, reads as follows:
• Led the OHL and all players in the Canadian Hockey League (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) in assists and points with 39-81—120 in 56 GP in 2019-20
• OHL’s Most Outstanding Player of the Year in 2019-20 – just the second European import player to win the award
• Named an OHL First Team All-Star at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season
• Ranked 2nd among OHL rookies in 2018-19 with 29-36—65 in 53 GP
• His father, Michael Rossi, was a defenseman who played 20 seasons of professional hockey in Austria from 1992-93 to 2010-11
• Can become third Austrian national to be selected in the first round of the NHL Draft: Thomas Vanek (No. 5 in 2003) and Michael Grabner (No. 14 in 2006)
Scouting Report: Highly skilled offensive player. An excellent skater that plays at a high pace. High-end goal scoring and playmaking ability. Works hard in all three zones and plays a very determined, aggressive game. A huge asset on both special teams. Game-breaking ability.
Current Player Comparable: Brad Marchand
As mentioned, Rossi is a little older than most prospects (he was born 8 days after the birth date cutoff for the 2019 draft), so some pundits argue that Rossi dominated play among a younger set of competitors in the OHL, but his status as a superb all-round athlete (who nearly chose a pro tennis career instead of hockey) draws praise.
Morreale profiles Rossi as someone whose intangibles may echo those of New Jersey Devils forward Nico Hischier:
“I think what makes me different than other players is my play below the hash marks,” Rossi said. “People always talk about my size but I have a lot of confidence in saying I feel I’m one of the best down low, in the corners and in winning battles. With my size (5-foot-9, 183 pounds), I might have to work harder than others, but I’m good at winning the battles and I feel I compete very hard.”
Rossi began playing hockey when he was 3 years old. His father, Michael, was a professional hockey player in Austria for 20 years. Marco played minor hockey for seven years before joining a league in Switzerland, 15 minutes from home, at age 10. When he turned 13, he moved to Zurich with his father for a more rigorous training program with the GCK Lions.
Rossi went on to win the Red Tilson Trophy as the most outstanding player in the OHL. He became the first European to lead the CHL in scoring since Alexander Radulov scored 152 points (61 goals, 91 assists) for Quebec of the QMJHL in 2005-06.
Ottawa coach Andre Tourigny said he sees similarities between Rossi and New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier, a player he coached in Halifax in 2016-17 before joining the 67’s the following season.
“Marco’s more offensively creative than Nico [at the same age] but they have the same desire to perform defensively,” Tourigny said. “They’re both extremely good in the defense zone and take a lot of pride playing away from the puck. Nico is taller, a little bit faster, but Marco is more creative, more shifty.”
Morreale continues, noting that Rossi will probably take the title of the highest-drafted Austrian-born player from Thomas Vanek (picked 5th overall in 2003)…
And I know that people often compare Rossi and Saginaw Spirit center Cole Perfetti, another 5’10” mini-mite who posted similar point totals despite being 4 months younger than Rossi.
You and I keep hearing that Perfetti will be drafted by the Red Wings due to his local ties as a Saginaw forward (Chris Osgood and Jimmy Devellano happen to be part-owners of the team).
I’m not so sure that the Wings will pick a center, and I’m in the Jamie Drysdale camp in terms of who I’d like to see the Wings pick (i.e. a defenseman), but that’s just me. I’ll be happy with whoever the Wings pick, because they’re going to take the player they feel has the highest talent ceiling.
[edit: yes, I’m planning on posting a draft prospect round-up. It’s been a rough week. /end edit]