Clifford (Cliff) Pu
2015-16 Team: London Knights (#63)
Date of birth: June 3rd, 1998
Place of birth: North York, Ontario
Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 187 lbs.
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 1st year eligible
THW The Next Ones Ranking (February): Unranked
- THW War Room Rankings: Unranked
- ISS: Unranked
- Future Considerations: Unranked
- Bob McKenzie (TSN): Unranked
- Craig Button (TSN): 60
- HockeyProspect.com: Unranked
- Pike’s Picks: Unranked
- Consensus: Unranked
Originally an Oshawa General in 2015, Pu was moved the OHL’s London Knights in a deadline trade that saw the Knights move two veteran players (at the time) Dakota Mermis and Michael McCarron to the Gens. In return London received Pu along with Oshawa’s first-round selection (16th overall) in the 2015 OHL draft, Josh Sterk and three more draft picks.
Pu didn’t have a great start with the Knights scoring just six points (2g-4a) in 24 games to finish off 2014-15 and racking up just a minus-one in five playoff games for the London franchise. Now, having had the chance to start the season with the Knights, he’s notched 27 points (11g-16a) in 58 games so far in 2015-16.
One of the issues early on for Pu was his inability to use his clear offensive skills to become a threat for the Knights. He seems to find a way to be in the right positions when he’s in the offensive end and shows significant progress in developing his hockey I.Q.
At 6’1” and almost 190 pounds, Pu should be considered an average sized player. He’ll likely have to bulk up if he hopes to have a shot at making it to the big leagues. Pu describes himself as a pass-first player who will shoot if the opportunity presents itself. While the 17-year-old will likely never be the offensive stud that teams look for on their top two lines, he does possess the ability to shut down offences in his own end.
A first-round pick in the 2014 OHL draft, Pu’s played in the shadow of a deep Knights lineup which could be part of the reason we haven’t seen just what he has to offer yet. He’s part of the U-17 Canadian team and put up nearly 50 points in his final season with the Toronto Marlboros. He does possess the skill, he just hasn’t had the ice-time yet to show exactly what he can do.
NHL Draft Projection:
His size and offensive ability might play against him a bit in the NHL draft this season, but there could be a team out there willing to move on a pass-first defensive centre like Pu. As a player with a lot of skill to build on, he’ll likely be a late-third or early-fourth round pick.
There was a point where we were kind of wondering what’s going to happen to this guy, but he’s improved leaps and bounds this season. We’ve seen him over the last six or eight weeks really use his speed well. That’s been the biggest thing. Playing on a line with Max Jones and being able to feed a goal scorer like that has made huge difference for him.
Ryan Yessie, HockeyProspect.com
Cliff’s good. I’ve had the privilege of coaching Cliff for six years and he’s one of those players who was special since the first day I saw him. His game’s just evolved and got better. He’s turned into a real good player. He needs to get better as they all do. But he’s got all the attributes and the work ethic and the team concept to hopefully do good things.
Paul Coffey, Pu’s former coach w/ Toronto Marlboros
— Brendan Ross 🇨🇦 (@RossyYoungblood) February 20, 2016
- Net-front presence
- Hard on the forecheck
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Size and strength
- Face-off ability
- Neutral zone coverage
At this point, Pu’s size and strength are a disadvantage for the young forward. However, he plays with some grit in the offensive end around the boards and has a great shooting ability. If he’s able to bulk up, he could make for a good modern-day power forward. He’ll likely find a place as a high-end third liner or have the chance to earn a place on a team’s second line.
NHL Player(s) Comparison – Wayne Simmonds
Risk: 3.5/5 Reward: 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive = 6.5/10 Defensive = 4.5/10
- 2008-2009 International Silverstick Atom AAA All-Star
- 2013-2014 OHL Cup Champion
- 2013-2014 OHL Gold Cup Silver Medal
Shots From the Slot:
Pu may have been the most impressive this season when some of the Knights top line (Marner and Tkachuk) were away at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Finland. While it’s a relatively small sample size, he’s been praised for this class on the ice for his handshake celebration following a shorthanded goal.
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.