Welcome back to Top Shelf Hockey Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2017 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here.
A top centre, and an alternate captain, on the United States National Team Development Program U-18 team this year, Josh Norris had a very successful campaign. He put up 60 points in 61 games during the USHL and College Exhibition portion of the campaign. He was excellent at the Five Nations, leading the US to a tournament win. Norris also added seven points in seven games during the IIHF Under 18 World Championships, bringing home a gold medal from the tournament. He also played in the All-American Top Prospects game last fall.
He also played for the US NTDP during the 2015-16 season, at the U-17 level. Norris put up 27 points in 44 games during regular play and added five points in five games at the Under 17 Hockey Challenge.
Norris is committed to attend the University of Michigan next season. Should he change his mind, his OHL rights are owned by the Niagara Ice Dogs. They made him a sixth round pick in the 2015 OHL Draft. He comes from good bloodlines as the son of Dwayne Norris, who played a handful of NHL games in the 1990s; before going on to a long pro career in Germany. His uncle Warren Norris reached the AHL, before also having a European pro career.
Josh Norris Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #27
Centre — shoots Left
Born May 5th, 1999 — Oxford, Michigan, USA
Height 6’1″ — Weight 192 lbs [183 cm / 87 kg]
Norris is a very good skater. He is exceptionally quick, with a tremendous first step and outstanding acceleration. He can win short races to pucks, and uses his changes in speeds to overwhelm defenders when taking them on, one-on-one. Norris’ overall top end speed is very good, but he is still more “quick” than “fast” when it comes right down to it. His edge work, and agility are also good, allowing Norris to make quick cuts, and giving him good lateral movement. He has a strong and sturdy frame, allowing Norris to show good balance and battle for loose pucks in the corners and in front of the net.
Josh Norris is a very good play maker. His speed, changes of direction, and lateral agility allow him to open up passing lanes and get the puck through to his linemates. He has very good vision and hockey IQ, seeing plays develop and making smart plays. Norris has the strength and balance to work the cycle game. He uses his body to protect the puck, extending plays for his teammates to get open. Norris is physical in the corners, able to win battles for loose pucks, as well as pressuring defencemen on the fore check.
Norris could stand to work on his upper body strength, which would give him a more powerful wrist shot and slap shot. He could also stand to use his shot more often, as he seems to defer to passing the puck. His shot is accurate, and his release is quick, which allows him to score at this level. Norris is also able to score goals in tight to the net, making use of his hand-eye co-ordination to get rebounds and tip-ins.
Norris is also very good in his own end of the ice. With good positioning and an active stick he is trusted to play on the penalty kill. He is also good in the face-off circle. Norris is not afraid to put his body on the line to block shots. He continues to show his gritty side and the ability to fight along the boards in all three zones.
Projection and Comparison
It is a bit of a down year for the US NTDP, as there are no truly elite prospects in this group, unlike recent years that have featured the likes of Jack Eichel, Clayton Keller, Auston Matthews, Matthew Tkachuk and others up front. However, Josh Norris is still a solid prospect. He could develop into an effective two-way centre at the NHL level, capable of playing in all situations. In terms of a style comparison, he plays the game similarly to Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres. This is not a talent comparison though.
The following is a compilation of highlights, assembled from Youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect available on our draft board.