Weight: 185 Pounds
Date of birth: January 26, 2000
Hometown: Pontresina, Switzerland
OHL Draft: Round 1, 40th overall, 2017 CHL Import Draft
NHL Central Scouting pre-season: B Prospect
NHL Central Scouting mid-term: 47th overall North American Skaters
NHL Central Scouting final rank: Not available at present
The 2018 National Hockey League Draft could be the year for defencemen with as many as 10 Ontario Hockey League blueliners going in the first two rounds of this year’s draft on June 22 – 23 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Where do I think Oshawa Generals’ rearguard Nico Gross gets selected? Well those rankings will come out before the draft.
Gross hails from Pontresina, Switzerland where the Swiss are developing more and more quality players. Look no further than last year’s first overall pick by the New Jersey Devils and Nico Hischier.
Prior to being the 40th overall selection at the 2017 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, Gross played for EVZ Academy in the Swiss NLB League – a level below their top National League. Gross carries with him a wealth of international experience having represented the Swiss at the Under-16, while competing twice at each of the World Hockey Championship Under-18, the World Hockey Championship Under-20, and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial.
Gross has okay size for a blueliner at 6’1” but could stand to add some muscle. Despite that, he will not shy away from the physical game as he is comfortable throwing the body and battling down low and in front of his goal area. Once he adds that bulk, he could become a more dominant physical presence.
Gross is also an excellent skater with very good lateral movement and a superb backwards skater. His good acceleration allows him to evade the forecheck and skate out of danger. Along with his skating abilities, his hockey smarts allow him to jump into the play and join the offence. He is however, a little weak on his skates and that can change when he adds some strength.
Gross is very good with the puck on his stick. He handles it well and protects the puck very well. With his vision, he finds open lanes and can make crisp, clean passes to his teammates. He has shown an ability to quarterback the powerplay. He’s grown as a player who was prone to making bad pinches to one who picks his spots better.
Defensively, Gross is difficult to beat one-on-one. His skating allows him to keep forwards to the outside. He keeps his gaps tight and uses his stick effectively. He holds the blue line like a seasoned veteran. It’s hard to judge his penalty killing abilities on a Generals’ team where the PK wasn’t that great. But he seems to understand his responsibilities when a man down.
Gross is the type of high-risk, high-reward type of player that could make an NHL team jump early on him or cause him to slide a bit in the draft. He certainly has plenty of experience playing against older players and already having some professional games under his belt.
Wherever he is drafted, I think an NHL team will come away happy with him.