2019-20 Team: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Date of Birth: Jan. 18, 2002
Place of Birth: Innisfil, ON, Canada
Ht: 5’11” Wt: 161 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 213th (among NA Skaters)
- Future Considerations: Unranked
- HockeyProspect.com: Unranked
- THW Josh Bell’s Rankings: 94th
- THW Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 152nd
- THW Larry Fisher’s March Rankings: 174th
- ISS: Unranked
- Dobber Prospects Mid-Season Rankings: Unranked
Unranked by many, or so far from having his name called, James Hardie made some real noise this year with the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL. After just 22 points in 62 games during his rookie season with the Steelheads in 2018-19, the 18-year-old tore up the OHL this season with 34 goals and 63 points in 59 games.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
He was second on the team in scoring and first on the team in goals and it came on a team that had a subpar season as they finished 27-29-4-1 in 61 games before the season was cancelled. While the cancellation might’ve slightly hurt Hardie’s movement in the rankings, chances are it wouldn’t have overhauled the decisions made by many to leave him outside the top 100.
While his offence took a big leap this season and could push teams to take a longer look at him at the upcoming NHL Draft, he does have to find a way of rounding out his all-around game. That includes his play away from the puck in all three zones and his defensive zone coverage.
The bonus is that Hardie recognizes his need for growth in certain aspects of his game and with the recognition should come some sort of development that could help him in the long-run. Still, his ceiling remains high and his potential to become a late-round steal is very much a possibility – especially with his offensive play mixed in with his skating and overall skill with the puck.
Don’t count this kid out. He has the potential to be a solid NHL player given the opportunity to develop in a good system.
Related THW Draft Profiles
James Hardie – NHL Draft Projection
He’s ranked all over the place. The three THW writers who’ve released rankings have him ranging from 94th to 174th, while other rankings don’t even have Hardie listed. While he has the potential to be a top-100 pick, he’ll likely fall outside of the first 100 selections and find himself as a late-fourth or early to mid-fifth round pick. That said, we could be writing about Hardie down the road as a late-round steal from the 2020 NHL Draft.
“Hardie has the skating ability, skill and enough size to catch attention while playing on Mississauga’s top line. Scouts would like to see more compete and more diligence away from the puck out of the winger, but they are intrigued. And the kid himself recognizes he’s not close to being a finished product yet.” – Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News
“There are areas on his game that need work, but he’s put up 30 goals already and seems to find a way to get on the scoresheet. I’m expecting to see a team take him in the mid-rounds of the 2020 NHL Draft.” – Tony Ferrari, Dobber Prospects
- Skills with the puck
- Plays bigger than he is
- Size – could develop a bit
- Defensive zone coverage
- Play away from the puck
He’s definitely looking at a hard fought battle to get from a mid-round pick to an NHL winger, but it is far from being out of the question. At this point, his offence is good enough to push him into a top six role somewhere down the road, but without the defensive responsibility, he may not rise higher than a third line role. That said, with the help of a good development team, he could become a complete NHL player.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 8/10, Defense – 6/10
While there’s not a lot to write about in this category – just yet – Hardie was part of the bronze medal winning team at the OGC-16. Other than that, there’s a lot of room for more accomplishments and awards moving forward for this young man.
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.