Weight: 196 pounds
Date of birth: December 17, 2000
Hometown: Kitchener, Ontario
Position: Right Wing
OHL Draft: Round 9, 164th overall, 2016 Priority Selection
NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: Not ranked. Mid-term: 150th North America
Kitchener Ontario native and Flint Firebirds right winger Eric Uba played his Minor Midget AAA hockey with the Kitchener junior Rangers during the 2015-2016 season. In 33 games, Uba scored 17 goals and added 28 helpers. He would add 6 goals and 6 assists in 13 playoff games. The Firebirds would use their 9th round pick to select him at the 2016 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
During the 2016-2017 season, Uba would ply his trade with the Ayr Centennials of the Provincial Junior Hockey League. There, he would appear in 40 games and notch 28 goals and 42 assists. He would add 7 goals and 5 assists in 16 playoff matches, helping the Centennials win the Schmalz Cup.
Uba began last season in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, lacing his skates up with the Wellington Dukes. He appeared in 39 games and scored 9 goals and 13 assists. In late December 2017, Uba committed to the Firebirds and signed an agreement. While the Dukes were on the Holiday break, Uba appeared in 4 games for the Firebirds recording an assist.
It was a certainty that Uba (pronounced you-bah) would make the Firebirds roster full time this season, so a trade deadline deal on January 10,2018 saw the Dukes trade him to the Oakville Blades on his return to the OJHL. He appeared in 12 games for the Blades, scoring 6 goals and 6 assists. He would add 2 and 2 in 13 playoff games.
Uba would appear in all but one game for the Firebirds this season and score 19 goals while assisting on 23 others. While he finished the season a minus-13 it must be noted that the team as a whole was a minus-138 on the year. And Uba had the best plus/minus of any player on the squad to appear in at least half the Firebirds games. It is a testament to the work he puts in on the defensive side of the puck.
When breaking down his stats further, Uba scored his 19 goals on 162 shots, or 11.7%. He was at 6.7% from high danger zone areas, 22.2% from mid danger zone areas and 10.9% from low danger zone areas with the large majority (129) of his shots coming from the low danger zone areas. It shows he has confidence in his shot and that he can beat netminders from anywhere. His primary assists to secondary assists were 14-9.
At 6’ tall, his size is okay. But at 196 pounds, Uba is filled in and like most players at this level, won’t be needing to add the bulk most of them require. He is a straight line north-south player who likes to use the middle of the ice and I am sometimes left wondering how his game would translate to the middle.
Uba is a player who can be trusted to play in any situation, be it the powerplay, the penalty kill, or going up against the best the opposition has to offer. He’s smart and understands defensive responsibilities. He plays high tempo, high energy at both ends of the ice. His anticipation skills are very good and he can create turnovers, close up passing lanes and transition to the attack. He led all draft eligible players in short handed goals.
Offensively, Uba sees the ice very well and can make a very good pass. As mentioned, he can shoot the puck from anywhere. His shot isn’t exactly over powering, but it is accurate and has a deceptive release. If there is one area offensively that I’d like to see him work on it is taking the puck to the net more often and getting himself into position in those high danger zone areas to put the puck on net. Of his 162 shots on the target, just 15 came from those high danger zone areas. Maybe it’s a confidence issue or an experience issue.
Uba wasn’t on NHL Central Scouting’s pre-season or November’s Players to Watch list. But he did make their mid-term rankings at 150th among North American skaters. Based on his season since they published the list in January, he should be a bit higher. But he did get their attention. Unfortunately, the Firebirds did not make the playoffs so his opportunity to see his stock rise further may have come to an end.