Welcome back to Top Shelf 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 2020 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. Today we look at Ryan O’Rourke.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defenceman Ryan O’Rourke was the 20th overall pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Draft. He was named the team’s captain and broke out in his second season in the league. O’Rourke scored seven goals and 30 assists for 37 points in 54 games this year. He also played in the CHL Top Prospects Game, picking up an assist. This was an improvement on a solid rookie season, where he scored eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 62 games. O’Rourke added two assists in 11 playoff games. He was named to the league’s All-Rookie Second Team.
O’Rourke has also had the opportunity to play on the international stage. Last summer, he was part of Team Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, helping the team to a silver medal. O’Rourke scored one goal in the five-game tournament. He was also part of Team OHL for one game in last fall’s Canada-Russia Super Series. Last season, O’Rourke played for Team Canada Black at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He scored three goals and three assists in five games, leading all defencemen in scoring at the tournament. He was also named to the Tournament All-Star Team.
Ryan O’Rourke Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born May 16th, 2002 — Pickering, Ontario
Height 6’2″ — Weight 181 lbs [187 cm / 82 kg]
O’Rourke’s strong skating ability allows him to play an effective two-way game. His agility, edgework and smooth pivots allow him to quickly change directions as needed. He also can transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. O’Rourke has a strong lower body. This gives him a good balance and a powerful stride. He is tough to knock off the puck and can win battles along the boards and in front of his net. O’Rourke has good speed in both directions. His first step and his acceleration are also good, both in his forward and backwards skating. O’Rourke’s mobility is a real asset in defending in one-on-one situations.
O’Rourke has an outstanding slap shot. He does a good job of getting the puck through traffic and on the net. It is also very powerful. O’Rourke does an excellent job of getting it off with a one-timer. He also has a strong wrist shot and snapshot, both of which have quick releases. O’Rourke likes to sneak down from the point and take those shots from the top of the face-off circle. He can also join the rush as a trailer, looking for a pass. He uses his lateral mobility to walk the line in the offensive zone, opening up passing and shooting lanes.
O’Rourke has good passing skills and vision. He can start the rush with a good first pass or keep it moving in the offensive zone. However, he is much more of the triggerman at the point than a quarterback. O’Rourke can stand to improve his stickhandling and poise with the puck. He is not the type of player to carry the puck up the ice often or to look to make creative plays in the offensive zone.
A strong defensive defenceman, O’Rourke is already six-foot-two and 181 pounds. He might need to add some muscle to his frame but at just 18-years-old, there is plenty of time for that. He plays a physical game on the boards and does a good job clearing the front of the net. Solid lateral agility makes O’Rourke tough to beat in one-on-one situations. With a quick stick, he is able to create turnovers. Once a turnover is created, O’Rourke is able to quickly transition the puck and start an offensive opportunity. He is also smart defensively, playing a solid positional game, keeping the play to the outside and cutting down passing and shooting lanes in the middle of the ice.
Projection and Comparison
O’Rourke’s size, strength and skating give him the potential to be a solid NHL defender. The lack of overall puck skills is a bit of a concern, but will not hold him back from making the league. It is more of the case that it’s unlikely he can grow into a #1 defenceman. Instead, O’Rourke’s ceiling, if he continues to develop, would be to be a complimentary piece on the top pair or a solid minute eater on the second pair. He will need some time and he has already made solid strides in the OHL. O’Rourke’s game is comparable to Trevor Daley, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Ryan O’Rourke that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Ryan O’Rourke Main Photo:
OTTAWA, ON – FEBRUARY 02: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Defenceman Ryan O’Rourke (21) skates the puck around the net during Ontario Hockey League action between the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Ottawa 67’s on February 2, 2020, at TD Place Arena in Ottawa, ON, Canada. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)