2019-20 Team: Ottawa 67s (#23)
Date of Birth: September 23, 2001
Place of Birth: Feldkirch, AUT
Ht: 5’9” Wt: 179 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 5th (among NA Skaters)
- Future Considerations: 8th
- THW Josh Bell’s Rankings: 5th
- THW Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 7th
- THW Larry Fisher’s March Rankings: 8th
- ISS: 7th
- Hockey Prospect: 8th
- Sportsnet: 5th
The CHL Import Draft is a bit of a crap shoot sometimes. Teams try their best to identify a European prospect who is not only talented but willing to join their team in North America. If a team nails the pick, it dramatically changes the fortunes of that team for years to come. The Ottawa 67s used the 18th overall pick in the 2018 Import Draft on an Austrian by the name of Marco Rossi. That’s called hitting a grand slam.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
Rossi has been everything for the 67s since coming to North America. He helped them get to the OHL Finals last season before losing a tough series to the Guelph Storm. He’s followed that up by winning the CHL scoring title with 120 points in just 56 games. The 67s were well on their way to clinching home ice through the duration of the OHL playoffs before the season was canceled. Rossi was at the center of it all and could eventually hear his name called as the league’s Most Outstanding Player.
The first thing that stands out about Rossi is his confidence. He’s not only confident in every situation on the ice, he’s confident about himself and what he can be. He knows he’s good and he’s not afraid to be honest about that. I asked him straight up earlier in the season how good he thinks he is. He had a simple one-word answer for that. “Good.” The way he said that spoke volumes.
On the ice, Rossi does everything. He played most of the season as the top-line center. He created offense almost every time he stepped on the ice. He has a knack for knowing when to turn up the dial or when to hold back to wait for a better opportunity. His awareness and vision are off the charts. But then in a flash, he’s gone because his skating is very much above average in both acceleration and straight-line speed. He can beat opponents on the rush and can also track you down from behind if necessary.
What makes Rossi scary good is how effective he is defensively. As his teammate Kevin Bahl said to me, Rossi can protect the puck and is deceptively strong with the puck. Bahl said he can’t knock Rossi off the puck in drills. So if you had any question about size and strength here, let that sink in.
There really is no downside to the game Rossi brings. The one thing I do wonder going back to the size argument is can he be a center in the NHL? There are some in the industry that are asking the same question. But just knowing how confident he is and how hard working he is, Rossi will continue to get stronger and will aim to silence those doubters. He won’t be returning to the OHL so it is NHL or Europe for him next season. Regardless it’s the right move as he needs to play against men. Whoever drafts Rossi is getting one of the most valuable players in this entire draft.
Related THW Draft Profiles
Marco Rossi – NHL Draft Projection
The industry agrees that Rossi will go somewhere in the top-10. The question to consider is will he go in the top-five? Or will there be some old school thinking by teams about the fact that’s he just 5-foot-9? On my list, Rossi comes in seventh overall. That’s more of a reflection of the top heaviness of this draft than anything else. Most years, Rossi would be a candidate to go first overall. Still expect his name to go very early.
“Rossi is a magician with the puck and displays a tremendous amount of patience and elite vision. More times than not, Rossi will delay until the smallest of windows remains open. This applies to both lateral feeds into traffic and from wide shooting angles. Opponents have struggled slowing him down, and he’s already at the point in the season where coaches seem to have stopped line matching against him. Like most super scorers, Rossi dictates the tempo. When he hits the ice, there isn’t a shred of doubt or apprehension that may prevent him from executing set plays or breakouts to the letter. He commands everyone’s attention and the puck always seems to be on his blade.” –Steve Kournianos
“What a draft-eligible season the Ottawa 67s star is having. He currently leads the entire OHL and is tied for the CHL point lead with 99 in just 46 contests. The 5’9 centre has been explosive all year – commanding attention from scouts not only for his offensive play but defensively as well. He has firmly entrenched himself amongst the top-10 prospects in this 2020 class, but likely the top five. –Cam Robinson/Dobber Prospects
“The size doesn’t bother me at all because I think he works and he battles for pucks and he can win some of those battles with a strong lower half. And that’s just the subtitle to his incredible offensive skill and feel for creating goals.” –Chris Peters/ESPN
“Of course, the Ottawa broadcaster will have the Ottawa 67 ranked 1st, but I don’t think this is just a ‘homer’ rank. Rossi leads the OHL in scoring, his plus minus, while a flawed stat, could be record setting this year but beyond the numbers, he is just a phenomenal hockey player. You name it and Marco Rossi has it; straight line speed is above average, he is extremely shifty in the corners, his strength is severely underrated, it is very difficult to knock him off the puck and he has a chippy side to his game. Defense is just as good as good as his offense; you won’t see him cheating in the defensive zone to try and create offense. 67’s GM James Boyd compared his game to Patrice Bergeron, I see a lot of Pavel Datsyuk in his game as well. Aside from his size there is zero downside to Rossi.” –Kenny Walls/67s Broadcaster
“Elite offense generator who leads the OHL in scoring due to his creativity, quickness and persistent work ethic. He controls the play when possessing the puck and when he doesn’t have it, he works his butt off to get it back. Stalky build allows him to hold off checkers while looking for the right play. Shows the drive and grit to go to high traffic areas. A competitor who works just as hard in his own zone as he does in the offensive zone. Some NHL teams will have him very high on their draft board come June.” –Dan Stewart
- Creating offense in any situation
- Elite vision
- Puck protection
- Defensive play
- Size/strength for NHL
The sky is the limit for Rossi. The fact that he can play in all situations of the game make him one of the most valuable players available in this draft. As he continues to get bigger and stronger, he’ll quickly adjust to the surroundings of the next level where the size argument now is a moot point. Rossi’s upside is that of a dynamic top-line player who can take over the game at will. But if needed, he will help his team preserve a win on the defensive end.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 10/10, Defense – 8/10
Before coming to the OHL, Rossi won a pair of silver medals at the U-18 (D1B). In 2016-17, he was named the top player on his team. He was named to the second OHL All-Rookie Team in 2018-19. He was the CHL Scoring Champion this season and very well could win the prestigious Red Tilson Award as Most Outstanding Player.
- OHL Sunday Seven: Rossi’s Top-10 Case
- Rossi Could Be Best Austrian Ever: The Hockey Writers
- 2020 Draft Diary: NHL.com
- 5 Questions With Marco Rossi: Ontario Hockey League