Weight: 169 Pounds
Date of birth: May 16, 2002
Hometown: Pickering, Ontario
OHL Draft: Round 1, 20th overall, 2018 Priority Selection
NHL Central Scouting Rankings
|B Prospect||B Prospect||32 N.A.||27 N.A.|
It’s no secret that Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters sits alone at the top of the blueliners class and not only will he be the top defender from the Ontario Hockey League selected at the 2020 National Hockey League Entry Draft, but likely the top defender selected overall.
But what about the next class? We start here with Soo Greyhounds defenceman Ryan O’Rourke.
Prior to the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, this is what OHL Central Scouting had to say about O’Rourke:
Ryan is a tough to play against two-way defenceman. He has good mobility and is a powerful skater which allows him to close gaps and take away time and space. He has a good skill set that allows him to move the puck out of his zone. He can rush the puck when the opportunity is there and he is good on the offensive blue line at getting pucks on net or distributing it. Ryan is hard to beat defensively. He takes the body well and he has a good understanding of his position and what he has to do.
O’Rourke was coming off a 2017-2018 season playing Minor Midget AAA hockey with the Vaughan Kings in which he tallied 12 goals and 32 helpers in 55 games. He would add a goal and an assist in 7 games for Vaughn at the OHL Cup. He would also appear in 4 games for Team Red at the OHL Gold Cup scoring once and adding a helper and capturing a silver medal.
Last season O’Rourke broke onto the Greyhounds roster and played in 62 games. He scored 8 goals and 14 assists and finished with a plus-8 while piling up 64 minutes in penalties. He would add 2 helpers in 11 playoff contests. He was named to the OHL’s Second All-Rookie squad at the end of the regular season.
During the 2018-2019 season, O’Rourke would also represent Canada at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 scoring 3 goals and adding 3 assists for Team Black. He was named to the tournaments All-Star team and led all defencemen in scoring.
During the offseason, O’Rourke would represent Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup scoring a goal in 5 games and helping Canada capture silver.
O’Rourke has been off to a very good start this season for a Soo team that has at times this season, a difficult time trying to maintain some consistency. Through the end of December, as you will see on our prospect watch, O’Rourke was tied with Jack Thompson of the Sudbury Wolves and Alec Belanger of the Ottawa 67’s among draft eligible defenceman with 20 points (while playing in fewer games), trailing only Drysdale (31).
O’Rourke will take part in the 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects game with Team White on January 16 in Hamilton, Ontario.
One of the more interesting qualities in O’Rourke is his leadership. He’s just 17 years of age and one of the younger defenders in this draft class, but the Greyhounds saw enough of his leadership qualities to name him Captain of the team. That’s something rarely seen in the OHL.
At 6’1”, O’Rourke has some good size but will really need to add some bulk to his 169-pound frame. But that doesn’t prevent him from the physical part of the game. He can be described as an “old school” defender who plays the man at every opportunity. He’s hard to beat because he’s always in the oppositions face. And he possesses incredible strength that is difficult to beat on the walls or the battle area in front of his goaltender.
O’Rourke’s skating has appeared to improve from a season ago. He has very good mobility with a decent amount of speed. He trusts himself to carry the puck more and that may also be in part due to experience. He has a booming shot from the point that he gets through to the target. Yet he still has the vision to make a good pass in the offensive zone to find teammates. His hockey IQ is extremely high, rarely making a wrong decision.
While O’Rourke has some interesting offensive upside, it’s hard to tell just how high that upside is. Coming into the season, the Greyhounds were going to need plenty of offence from their top blueline. But the early season acquisitions by the Greyhounds of Billy Constantinou from the Kingston Frontenacs has lessoned the burden on O’Rourke.
O’Rourke doesn’t possess some of the elite skills that Drysdale does. But the overall package is intriguing. The Top Prospects game could catapult him into the first round of the draft where some of the independent scouting services already have him ranked.