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One day too young for the 2014 NHL Draft, Ryan Gropp was overshadowed a bit by his talented linemate Matthew Barzal as a highly touted prospect in the 2015 NHL Draft. He put in a solid season for the Thunderbirds, with 30 goals and 58 points in 67 games. Don’t consider his numbers a product of Barzal though, Gropp actually had a better points per Gropp also added eight points in six playoff games to lead the team, despite their first round loss. Gropp won a silver medal as part of Team Pacific at the 2013 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge, and a bronze medal as part of Team Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Under 18 Championships. He had considered going the NCAA route and was committed to North Dakota, but ultimately choose to play for Seattle after they made him the sixth overall pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft.
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born Sep 16 1996 — Kamloops, BC
Height 6.03 — Weight 187 [188 cm/85 kg]
Ryan Gropp has good size at 6’3″ and is willing to use it to protect the puck and to battle in and around the net. Gropp is pure a sniper with the soft hands to finish plays in close, and an excellent wrist shot and release to score from further out. Many may see the size and think of Gropp as a potential power forward in the making and he does love to drive the net. There are times he can dominate the game physically getting in quickly on the forcecheck and punishing defencemen, but there are other times where he appears disintrested in going to the tough areas. He needs to get out of the habit of staying on the perimeter and relying solely on his powerful shot and release to do the work, as this will not happen at higher levels. He has the vision to make plays off the wing, and some solid passing skills, but he does prefer to shoot if given the choice. Gropp could do better in battles for loose pucks along the boards, and in establishing position in front of the net if he can add more lower body strength. This would also improve his cycle game.
Ryan Gropp has very good speed and great acceleration that allow him to keep up with Barzal as the two form an excellent combination on the rush. He has the agility and the solid stickhandling to make plays with the puck at high speed and get around defenders. Again an area where improved lower body strength would really help is in giving Gropp more balance and allowing him to be stronger on the puck.
Ryan Gropp’s defensive game is hit and miss. He shows good positiioning and he reads the play well. He cuts down passing lanes with an active stick, and is willing to get his body into good shot blocking positions. However he would be well advised to play a more physical and agressive game in his own end of the ice. If he were to get his big frameinvolved in more battles for loose pucks and plays along the boards, he could vastly improve his game. Again Gropp is a big body player, who just seems to leave one wanting more from his game.
Gropp has the potential to be a top 6 winger, but there are some big questions about his intensity level and consistency. If he can get those under control, he has the skill to be a real steal at the NHL draft. At his best, Gropp’s game can resemble Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens, but this is a stylistic comparison and not one based on talent level.
Below are some videos of Gropp in action.
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