Weight: 175 pounds
Date of birth: March 12, 2001
Hometown: Sault Ste Marie, Ontario
Position: Left Wing
OHL Draft: round 1, 4th overall, 2017 Priority Selection
NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: C Prospect. Mid-term: 101, NA Skaters
Saginaw Spirits’ winger Nicholas Porco played his Minor Midget AAA with the Vaughan Kings during the 2016-2017 season. The Kings Alternate Captain appeared in 33 games scoring 22 goals and assisting on 19 others. He would also appear in a combined 11 games at the OHL Cup and OHL Gold Cup scoring 5 goals and adding 5 assists.
The Spirit would use the 4th overall pick at the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority selection to select Porco. This is what OHL Central Scouting had to say:
Nicholas is a one of the best wingers in this age group. He is explosive off the mark and has top-end speed that many have trouble keeping up with. He uses his edges very well and is hard to contain in the corners. Nicholas has a very good skill set that allows him to create numerous chances each game. He is not an overly physical player, but he won’t shy away from a battle in the corner or in front of the net. Nicholas has all the tools to be an impact player in the OHL.
Porco broke onto the OHL scene a season ago and in his rookie campaign scored 5 goals and 9 assists in 57 games. He would also represent Canada at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17, scoring once in 6 contests.
Porco had a breakout season this year. He scored 20 goals and 16 assists while playing in all but one of the Spirits regular season games. He would add 3 goals and 4 assists in 16 playoff games as the Spirit suffered a disappointing loss in the Conference Finals in what could have been an excellent run to an OHL Championship battle.
Porco is truly a gifted skater with excellent first strides and top end speed and has a separation gear. And he has some offensive talent. Just how much is the question since he was buried on a Spirit team that had an abundance of top end talent up front.
There are some flaws in his game, but nothing that can’t be rectified. First off, he plays one-dimensional in that he consistently tries to beat defenders using his speed. He’s a straight-line player who, if he would use the ice better i.e. east-west, he could become a dangerous player on offense.
Secondly, he really needs to add some strength. Actually, I’m not sure if it’s for lack of effort or not having the necessary strength, but getting knocked off the puck relatively easily at times is a concern. It would benefit his puck possession game and because he can make plays with the puck on his stick, that too can make him more dangerous in the O-zone. I actually think his playmaking abilities are underrated.
Porco’s speed allows him to get on the forecheck with ease. But he’s not overly physical. As Central Scouting’s report suggests, he doesn’t go out looking for physicality. Does he shy away from it? All too often I see him attacking from the periphery. I would like to see him attack the net more, with and without the puck.
There are definitely some intriguing offensive skills in Porco. He will need to fine tune his game to be effective at the next level. An NHL team with some depth and the ability to wait it out as he develops could have quite the find with Porco.