Weight: 187 Pounds
Date of birth: September 23, 2001
Hometown: Feldkirch, Austria
OHL Draft: Round 1, 18th overall, 2018 CHL Import Draft
NHL Central Scouting Rankings
|A Prospect||A Prospect||5 N.A.||
What do Thomas Vanek, Michael Grabner and Michael Raffl all have in common? They are all Austrian born players to have played 470-plus games in the National Hockey League. Ottawa 67’s center Marco Rossi certainly has the potential to not only join that group, but also to be the best Austrian player to skate in the NHL.
As a 16-year-old during the 2017-2018 season, Rossi played in the Swiss Under-20 Elit League with the GCK Lions where he finished ninth in league scoring on 22 goals and 29 assists in 34 games. He would add 5 goals and 5 assists in 9 playoff games and his 10 points were tops in the league.
Selected with the 18th overall pick at the 2018 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, Rossi would make his way to North America and join the 67’s for the 2018-2019 season and he made quite the impact. Rossi appeared in 53 games, scoring 29 goals and 36 assists for 65 points. Among the Big-Three draft eligible forwards, Rossi, Cole Perfetti and Quinton Byfield, Rossi finished second in rookie scoring and named to the OHL’s Second All-Rookie Team. (Byfield won both OHL and CHL Rookie of the year). Rossi would add 6 goals and 17 helpers in 16 playoff games.
Rossi would take things to another level this season. Shortened because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Rossi appeared in 56 games scoring 39 goals and adding 81 assists. Rossi led or was near the top on almost every statistical category among draft eligible players.
The 67’s had just six games remaining when the season was cancelled, so this is not a small sample size. Rossi led the entire league in assists, points and plus/minus, all by a comfortable margin.
Rossi is without question a top-5 talent for the upcoming draft and one could make the argument that top-3 might be the case. The issue that comes up when anyone talks about Rossi is the 5’9 size. NHL Central Scouting, and teams for that matter, gravitate towards players with size that can skate. The question I am asked most frequently is: If Rossi was 4 inches taller, could he challenge for top pick in the draft?
To me, the answer to that question is yes. I recently had a conversation with Brock Otten, who has his own must follow site, to talk about Quinton Byfield (among other things) and posed that very same question to Brock. You can have a listen below.
Half way through the season, I was told on many occasions Rossi could not sustain his 22% shooting percentage through the entire season and that a serious regression towards the league average was due. Well, he finished the season at 20.2%. Players that were ahead of him like Damien Giroux and Joseph Garreffa saw their shooting percentage drop by three times as much as Rossi. That said, if you watched enough of Rossi last season and this season, you’ll see that one of the most improved assets he has is his shot. He has worked hard in improving his quickness on his release and gained confidence in his shooting ability.
Rossi was always the greatest of skaters, but like his shot, he put in the necessary work to improve. And the difference is night and day. He has superb agility and his edgework is outstanding. He has an excellent ability to change gears. His strength on his feet has also improved and is increasingly difficult to knock off balance, despite his size. He can weave through and dissect defences just with his skating. He is also a possession beast with the puck on his stick.
Rossi is not a full speed ahead north-south player. In fact, he is more of an east-west type player who looks to break defences apart, draw players towards him and then use his patience, vision, possession skills and superb passing abilities to set up teammates for high percentage scoring plays. And without the puck he is elusive, finds open areas of the ice and makes himself an available option. He even goes to the front without the puck.
All the things I’ve mentioned make Rossi a dangerous offensive force, so just imagine how dangerous he is with space on the powerplay. He can run the powerplay from the half wall or he can run it from anywhere else in the offensive zone. With just 7 powerplay markers on the season it’s easy to see he is more of the set-up guy then the shooter – he finished second only to Ryan Merkley on powerplay helpers and powerplay assists per game.
With a September 23 birthdate, Rossi is also further along in his development then his peers – he missed last years draft class by just 8 days so, there should be no doubt that Rossi is one of the better 200-foot players in the draft class.
Rossi is the go-to-guy when the 67’s are down a man. His PK skills are bordering on elite. When leading with a minute to go in the game, he’s the guy coaches look to send over the boards first to protect that lead. His attention to detail when defending is at the same level as it is offensively. His positioning is excellent, he takes lanes away with his stick, and few come back on the backcheck as hard as he does.
Finally, I would like to address the size. Rossi doesn’t play like he’s 5’9”, in fact he plays much bigger. He is usually the first guy on the forecheck with a motor that never quits. He won’t shy away from contact and is always willing to battle against much bigger opponents, and yes, he comes away with the puck more then his fair share of the time. And as mentioned earlier, Rossi is not shy about going to the net.
Many people think he may be better suited to play wing at the NHL level because of his size. And that may be the case. But I think the opportunity has to be given to him to show he can handle the riggers of playing down the m idle in the NHL. The playmaking skills, the commitment to the defensive game are their, as well as being an elite faceoff man.
Rossi’s upside is that of a first line center. At worst, he can be a third line pivot who could turn into an elite penalty killer, take on defensive responsibilities and provide some offence.
Have a listen to my chat with Brock:
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