Date of birth: April 27, 2000
Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 2, 36th overall, 2016 Priority Selection (Kitchener Rangers)
NHL Central Scouting pre-season: B Prospect
NHL Central Scouting mid-term: 63rd North American Skaters
NHL Central Scouting final rank: Not available at this time
Originally drafted by the Kitchener Rangers in the second round of the 2016 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, Merrick Rippon returned to his hometown via a New Years Day trade with the Mississauga Steelheads that sent Matt Foget and draft picks to the Steelheads, Joining Rippon from the trade were Jacob Cascagnette and Shaw Boomhower.
The Steelheads had previously acquired Rippon prior to the start of training camp from the Rangers for draft picks.
Rippon played his midget hockey with the Ottawa Jr Senators during the 2015-2016 season. For the Jr Senators he posted 12 goals and 17 assists in 43 games. He also appeared in 3 playoff games adding a goal and 2 assists. He was named the league’s top defenceman.
Prior to his draft, OHL Central Scouting had this to say about Rippon:
“Merrick is a solid, versatile defenseman that has a lot of upside moving forward. His skating is well above average. He generates a lot of power from his stride and reaches top speed very quickly. Solid stops and starts in his own end allow him to close gaps on players quickly. He has deceiving puck skills
because you are so focused on how hard he plays that some miss how well he handles the puck. He has a hard and accurate shot from the point.”
In 2015, Rippon was a first-round pick, tenth overall, of the Ottawa Jr Senators of the Central Canada Hockey League. He spent the 2015-2016 season playing Junior A with the CCHL Jr Senators and had himself an excellent season.
Rippon appeared in 59 games and scored 8 goals while adding 25 assists. He added 1 goal and 9 assists in 14 playoff games. He was named the CCHL Rookie of the Year and to the CCHL all-rookie team. He was also named to the league’s third all-star team.
Prior to the trade that brought him home this season, Rippon had appeared in 37 games for the Steelheads. He notched one goal and 11 assists in those appearances. He has since dressed in 25 games for the 67’s and has contributed 2 goals and 8 assists.
On our stat watch of draft eligible players, Rippon sat fifth among draft eligible players in scoring among defencemen and fourth in penalty minutes.
At 6’1” Rippon has decent size for a defender. He is a very good skater who gets to top speed very quickly. He possesses strong edges, very good lateral movement and switches smoothly to skating backwards.
Defensively Rippon plays very calm, seemingly never to get rattled or buckle under pressure. His skating allows him to close gaps very quickly. He’s not afraid to throw a hit to separate the player from the puck. He also uses a very active stick to take away lanes and positions his body in the right places.
Rippon can clear his zone with an excellent first pass. He is capable of slowing the pace down and waiting for options to open up and can then stretch the ice. His skating also allows him to skate out of danger or rush the puck up the ice.
Offensively, I think Rippon is capable of more than what we’ve seen especially now with the 67’s where he gets more opportunity. He sees the ice extremely well and possesses excellent hockey smarts. He has an excellent, heavy and accurate shot from the point. While he can beat a goalie, he sees plays develop and can shoot with a purpose making it difficult for goaltenders to swallow the puck and thus creating a rebound.
Rippon understands the game. He picks his spots and knows when to jump into the play and does so extremely well. He makes very good reads at the offensive blue line and knows when to pinch and when not to. If he gets into trouble, he can usually skate back to redeem himself. He certainly has all the tools to be a top 4 d-man at the next level.
The trade to Ottawa may have been a blessing in disguise for Rippon. There are ten draft eligible players on the 67’s roster, the most of any OHL team. Six of them are ranked on NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings and only the London Knights have as many ranked. So, there are a lot of eyes in Ottawa this season.
I’m confident Rippon has opened some of those eyes.