2015-16 Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (#52)
Date of birth: March 5th, 1998
Place of birth: Lapeer, Michigan
Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 190 lbs
Position: Left Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 1st year eligible
THW The Next Ones Ranking (February): Unranked
- Craig Button (TSN): Unranked
- HockeyProspect.com: Unranked
Jack Kopacka was a late round pick of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 2014, being selected 157th overall due to fears over whether he would report to an OHL team over his university commitments. The big-bodied forward was considered to be a draft steal at the time, and after spending most of the 2014-2015 season away playing for the Detroit Compuware program, he joined the Greyhounds for 4 games. With several key players graduating from the team, Kopacka was expected to be one of their main scoring contributors for the 2015-2016 season.
Standing 6’2″ and weighing in at 190 pounds after starting the season at 179, Kopacka has packed on some weight to his frame throughout the season and the progression shows in his play. While he isn’t a physical power forward in the mould of someone like London’s Max Jones, Kopacka has a long reach and uses it to his advantage when in possession of the puck. His defensive play is a work in progress, and he can be pushed off the puck by bigger players at times. However, he is still dangerous below the circles in the offensive zone and isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice to make plays.
Kopacka has turned into somewhat of a north-south winger with the Greyhounds, a valuable contributor on the forecheck if he can show a consistent physical game. His offensive game is advanced for a pre-draft player, as his skating ability and shot both stand out among his peers. He has been utilized on the power play for the Greyhounds this year, giving him a chance to show off his impressive offensive instincts and shot. He doesn’t possess the vision usually associated with an offensive stud, but has the skating and puck skills needed to eventually contribute to an NHL offense.
Kopacka isn’t a flashy player or one with a very high ceiling, but his puck skills and advanced skating are promising signs he can eventually become a strong winger for an NHL team’s middle six. If he can improve his defensive game and throw his weight around more often, his current draft projection (outside the top 60 picks) could turn Kopacka into a draft steal.
NHL Draft Projection:
Kopacka was a solid contributor for a Greyhounds team that has advanced to the second round of the OHL playoffs, but lacked the elite production usually expected of a high draft pick. He could go anywhere from the middle of the second round to the end of the third round.
Kopacka possesses good size at 6-2 and 190 pounds, however needs to assert himself more physically and drive scoring lanes. He does compete but needs to sacrifice his body more in order to get the most out of his game. His skating and puck skills are both refined, yet he has been playing conservatively in recent games – trying not to make a mistake. He also needs to get stronger along the boards as he tends to lose a majority of his battles. His stock has softened a little, yet he still has excellent value as a prospect.
David Burstyn, McKeen’s Hockey
Kopacka is a very competitive, all-around player who works his tail off in every opportunity. He plays a fast, high paced game and can skillfully drive the net or battle hard to create a turnover. He utilizes a powerful skating stride to get up the ice and makes smart decisions with the puck on his stick. Kopacka can shoot with accuracy and loves to get chances on the net at every opportunity. He’s got a slick set of hands and is an underrated set-up man.
Matt Grainda, OHL Prospects
Kopacka is a hard working forward with decent size. He contributes offensively and battles hard down low. He went through improvements all season long and established himself as a good top 6 forward in the OHL and a bonafide NHL draft prospect. Next year should be a coming out party for him in the Soo. He will need continue to improve his physicality, which is something that will be a cornerstone of his game.
Tyler Parchem, Elite Prospects
- Skating speed
- Above-average shot
- Long reach
- Not afraid to engage physically
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Consistent play
- Pushed off puck too easily
- Defensive effort
- Passing ability
Kopacka was a highly touted American recruit, and definitely caught some attention from NHL teams with a 20-goal performance in his first OHL season. With his big frame and soft hands, Kopacka could be an effective middle six winger.
NHL Player(s) Comparison – Andrew Ladd
Risk = 2/5 Reward = 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive = 7/10 Defensive = 6/10
- 2015-2016 CHL Top Prospects Game
Kopacka (#52 in white) scores his first OHL goal
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph
Joseph Aleong is an At-Large writer for THW from Toronto, Ontario. He is a graduate of Brock University in St. Catharines, ON. Follow him on Twitter @josephaleong11