The Nashville Predators have signed forward Patrick Harper to a two-year entry-level contract. Harper recently wrapped up a career with Boston University that was cut short due to the current global pandemic. The team announced the signing earlier Friday afternoon.
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 20, 2020
Predators Sign Patrick Harper
The Preds originally drafted Harper in the fifth round of the 2016 Draft. The 5′-8″, 155 pound skater has had a productive career with the Boston U Minutemen. Harper scored 41 goals and 115 points in 128 collegiate games. He also played smaller roles on various United States’ junior squads.
Harper had fine college career despite his size. He had a couple below-average seasons but rebounded as a senior to post 14 goals. That is the most he had scored since his prep days in 2015-16. The word on Harper is he is not a great skater but is good enough to make his skills work. He does possess good agility and strong offensive instincts. His size will make it difficult to succeed in some areas but he might be able to contribute with the skills he does have.
What to Expect from Harper
It could be several years before the 21-year-old reaches the NHL. Smaller players have some of the same issues as overly large players but in reverse; they need to overcome a lack of physical stature while large players need to adjust when their size is no longer overpowering. However, nothing says Harper can’t make it to the NHL. Nathan Gerbe of the Columbus Blue Jackets is an excellent example of an undersized player reaching the league. He is just 5-‘4″ but has played in over 400 games in his career. Harper could be the next player of that sort to contribute at the highest level.
Teams will continue to sign intriguing NCAA prospects while all North American hockey is on indefinite hiatus. The college ranks produce an interesting assortment of players every year, some of whom are undervalued. Recent signings like Harper’s appear to represent a temporary shift in team focus prior to the draft.