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 Antonio Stranges.
Antonio Stranges went in the second round, 21st overall at the 2018 OHL Priority Selection Draft. Most analysts predicted he would play for the US NTDP before heading to the University of Michigan. Instead, the London Knights took a risk on Stranges, and it paid off as he joined the team. He put up 13 goals and 21 assists for 34 points in 66 games in limited ice time as a rookie last season. He also added two assists in 11 playoff games. This year, Stranges’ offensive numbers have improved slightly with 19 goals and 21 assists for 40 points in 61 games before the season was suspended. Stranges started out the season very well but seemed to tail off as it went along. His ice time was cut as games became more important. This is not unusual though, as the Knights often bring their young prospects along slowly.
Stranges, a Plymouth, Michigan native played in the Little Caesar’s system. When he was still just 15-years-old he put up 22 points in 12 games for the Under-16 club. He also played in 11 games for the Under-18 team. Stranges also played in the famous Quebec PeeWee Tournament in 2013-14.
Antonio Stranges Scouting Report
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born February 5th, 2002 — Plymouth, Michigan
Height 5’10” — Weight 170 lbs [178 cm/77 kg]
Stranges has a unique, awkward-looking stride. Despite this, he is still an outstanding skater. Stranges has very good speed and excellent acceleration. He uses his ability to change speeds to evade defenders both with and without the puck. Stranges also has outstanding edgework and agility. He uses his quick cuts and changes in direction to make defenders look silly. Stranges’ wide skating stride helps him to be strong on the puck. He can fight through checks and take the puck to the front of the net. Stranges is not afraid to play in the dirty areas of the ice or to battle for pucks along the boards.
Stranges pairs his excellent skating with very good puckhandling skills. He can stickhandle in a phone booth, making moves and dangles despite heavy pressure. He is extremely hard to contain in one-on-one situations. Stranges quick movements can open up passing and shooting lanes. Stranges can play the role of facilitator and makes plays for his teammates, utilizing excellent vision and passing skills. He protects the puck well down low and extends plays in the cycle game. Once a teammate is open, Stranges can get them the puck through tight passing lanes.
Stranges can also score goals with his excellent shot and a quick release. His speed forces defenders back and he can use them as a screen before firing the puck on the net. His shot is powerful and accurate. It could be even stronger as he matures and adds muscle to his frame. He also has a good backhand. Stranges uses his speed to get breakaways and can use his soft hands to beat the goalie in tight. One area he can improve is in his decision making though. There are times when Stranges tries to do everything on a play when a simpler play might be ideal. He can sometimes skate himself into situations that he can’t get out of and turns the puck over.
Stranges needs to work on his commitment to playing in his own end though. A lack of effort in his own end has become an issue with the Knights coaches at times. This led to reduced ice time in some games. When he keeps his feet moving and shows a commitment to playing a 200-foot game, he is decent as his quick feet and quick hands can help in that end. However, there are too many times when Stranges is watching the puck, allowing his man to get open. There are other times when flies the zone, looking to create an offensive chance before the zone is cleared.
Projection and Comparison
Stranges has the offensive talent to be a high draft pick, and to develop into a top-line NHL forward. However, he is a real boom or bust type of prospect as his issues in his own end of the rink will drive coaches crazy. Stranges could benefit from a couple of more years in the OHL, especially if he stays in London. The Hunter brothers have a reputation for producing excellent two-way prospects, and they may be able to mould Stranges into a top prospect. His game is reminiscent of Alex Kovalev 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 Antonio Stranges that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Antonio Stranges Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images
WINDSOR, ONTARIO – FEBRUARY 20: Forward Antonio Stranges #40 of the London Knights skates against the Windsor Spitfires at WFCU Centre on February 20, 2020, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)