The Mississauga Steelheads are brimming with exceptional young talent.
Led by Alex Nylander and Michael McLeod, two recent first round picks at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Steelheads also feature the likes of 2016 second round pick Nathan Bastian, third round selection Sean Day and seventh round pick Austin Osmanski.
In addition, the ‘Trout’ also retain a number of highly talented NHL Draft eligible players who will be looking to make an impact during the 2016-17 OHL season.
Ryan McLeod, the younger brother of Michael, and Nicolas Hague are two Mississauga players in particular which retain tremendous talent, and will surely be early selections the 2018 and 2017 NHL Draft’s, respectively.
However, the most highly skilled Draft eligible Steelheads player is arguably Owen Tippett, who is already drawing comparisons to Pittsburgh Penguins star Phil Kessel following his rookie OHL season.
The Scouting Report
The most highly rated aspect of Tippett’s game is his shot and its wicked release, hence the Kessel comparisons. He has the ability to receive the puck and shoot it within a split second, while his shot itself is of elite velocity and has the ability to simply overpower opposing goaltenders.
In his rookie season with the Steelheads, Tippett played in only 48 games, but managed to record an impressive 15 goals in that period of time thanks to his incredible shot. His 0.31 G/GP mark had him on pace to net 22 goals in his first season, yet the budding young star missed 20 games due to various injuries.
Take a look at his wonderful release in this game against the Windsor Spitfires:
But there is more to Tippett’s game than just his shot, and that is what makes him an elite talent and top NHL prospect.
Most notable of which is his explosive speed and fantastic skating abilities. He has the ability to reach top speed in just a few strides, while using his wheels to turn defenders inside out on the rush. The mobility and agility present in his game allow him to manoeuvre at high speeds while keeping his head on a swivel in search of fellow teammates.
In addition to Tippett’s speed is his size and strength. Listed at 6′, 185 pounds, Tippett has the ideal height for a centre, while his weight will surely only increase as he continues to gain strength and muscle in the weight-room.
A Proven Track Record
As we have seen, Tippett possesses all the tools of a budding star: incredible skating, a quick release, great shot velocity and size.
What’s more is that Tippett has found success virtually everywhere he has played, and the winning tradition seems to follow him no matter where he goes. Prior to his fourth overall selection in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection, Tippett spent two seasons with the Toronto Red Wings Minor Midget AAA team, where he was consistently dominant.
In his first season with the team in 2013-14, Tippett notched 15 goals and 21 points in 31 games played, statistics eerily similar to his rookie season in the OHL. In his second season in the GTMMHL, Tippett exploded, using his shot, one considered to be of NHL calibre at the age of 16, to bulge the twine an insane 52 times in just 50 games played. His 87 points with the Red Wings in 2014-15 marked a 66 point increase in his offensive production from his rookie season, progression which Tippett will surely hope to replicate in his second season with the Steelheads.
His impressive rookie year now has Tippett slated to attend Canada’s National Summer Under-18 Team selection camp, held in Calgary. A successful camp for Tippett could see him named to Canada’s U-18 Team which competes annually at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
What to Expect in Tippett’s Draft Season
Given his incredible skill set and sheer ability to put the puck in the net, it is incredibly safe to say that Tippett will have a tremendous sophomore season in 2016-17 leading up to the 2017 Draft.
Although he played largely third and fourth line minutes as a rookie, this will certainly change with a number of veteran Steelheads players moving on to other avenues in the hockey world. As such, Tippett should receive second, if not first line minutes in arguably the most important season of his hockey career to date.
Projected to be a top-15 selection at the 2017 Draft, Tippett will need to have a great season in order to live up to his lofty expectations. Yet, as we have seen, given his tremendously broad skill set, it will only be a matter of time before Tippett, like McLeod and Nylander before him, will hear his named called from the NHL stage.