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Josh Ho-Sang was the fifth overall pick by the Windsor Spitfires in the 2012 OHL Priority Draft and seeing his skill, its easy to see why. He is one of the most purely skilled players in the league. That said, there are also some very big red flags around him, and thats what makes him one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2014 NHL Draft. For a player with his skill set, he should have been a shoe-in to be a part of Canada’s 2014 U18 World Championship team, but Ho-Sang wasn’t even invited to the team’s try-out camp. This despite a season where he scored 32 goals and 85 points in 67 games for the Spitfires and finished amongst the top 20 of all OHL scorers. When he’s on his game he can absolutely dominate as he did in a six-point night against North Bay.
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born Jan 22 1996 — Thornhill, ONT
Height 5.11 — Weight 160 [180 cm/73 kg]
Josh Ho-Sang is incredibly skilled. He is a lightning fast skater with incredible agility and edgework. Ho-Sang has a great first step and outstanding acceleration as well. This helps him to get to loose pucks and dart through openings in the offensive zone. He could stand to use this great speed more, taking defenders wide and cutting to the net more often would add another aspect to his game off the rush. Improved strength would help him to have better balance and be stronger on the puck.
Ho-Sang also has quick, soft hands, and incredible puck control. When he’s on his game, he is a joy to watch as he can do things with the puck that other players only dream of. He quite literally can stickhandle in a phone-booth. Ho-Sang can play the role of playmaker with good vision and excellent passing skills. He has the ability to make a saucer pass over sticks, or to thread the needle through very small areas. Ho-Sang can score goals with his excellent moves and soft hands. He also has a good release on his wrist shot but could use more power. His one-timer could also be stronger. That may come as he bulks up, which is something that Ho-Sang will definitely need to do before going pro. He can make dynamic offensive plays when he has time and space, but in fighting traffic he still gets knocked off the puck a little bit too often, and this is another area where bulking up would help.
Ho-Sang’s defensive game is a work in progress. He’s certainly worked to improve it this season, and its gotten better as the year has gone on. Still there are too many times he’s in the wrong position, or outmuscled by an opponent, or his effort level could be higher. He’s getting better though, and it was particularly noticeable how his effort level dipped a little after the trade of linemate Kerby Rychel (for a week or so) only to see Ho-Sang come back very strong and be a key piece in taking over as Windsor’s best player and carrying the team down the stretch. In this way there are some signs that he is starting to mature.
He can use work on his discipline, and that can be seen through the long suspension he received for a hit from behind in Windsor’s four-game loss to London in the playoffs. While the length of the suspension (15 games) has been widely debated, and I’m one who thinks the OHL got it wrong here and it was far too harsh on Ho-Sang, what can’t be debated is the fact that he has a tendency to take undisciplined penalties when things dont go his way on the ice, and that can hurt his team.
Josh Ho-Sang is one of this year’s biggest “boom or bust” prospects. The skill is clearly apparent, and it is clearly high-end, very high-end. This is a player who has the talent level to be a top 10 ranked guy. The issues, consistency of effort, attitude, discipline, and defense will cause him to fall. However if put with the right coaching and development his ceiling is incredibly high. In terms of style, Ho-Sang is reminiscent of Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Here are some highlights of Josh Ho-Sang at his best. First up in the compilation are the highlights of his six-point night.
Check back tomorrow for my number 25 ranked prospect.
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