Devils Draft Series: Offensive Juggernaut Marco Rossi

Marco Rossi is one of, if not the best all-around players in the 2020 draft class. (Photo by: Graig Abel/Getty Images)

Profile

Marco Rossi is an 18-year-old center from Austria who checks in at only 5-foot-9 inches but does weight almost 180 pounds. The Austrian played the beginning of his junior career in Switzerland, before making the switch to the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL the past two seasons. He has also represented his country, Austria, in international play. In the final 2020 North American Draft Prospect Rankings, he checked in at sixth after being fifth in the midterm rankings.

In Switzerland, Rossi was better than a point-per-game player in almost every league he played in. Examples of this are in the U20-Elit, where he had 58 points in 43 games, and the U17-Elit, where he had 52 points in 31 games. This streak came to an end when he appeared in 18 NLB games (second highest professional tier of hockey in Switzerland), where he tallied seven points in 18 games. Keep in mind, Rossi was a 16-year-old playing against men twice his age. Additionally, Rossi contributed 20 points in 15 career World Junior Championships games.

When he came over to the OHL in 2018, he took his development to the next level. In his first season with the 67’s, he scored 65 points (29 goals, 36 assists) in 53 games. This season, he followed it up with an amazing 120 points (39 goals, 81 assists) in only 56 games, and he was a plus-69. He led the entire OHL in both points and assists. And to put this point total in perspective, former OHL-er Connor McDavid scored 120 points in 47 games during the 2014-15 season. Also, it’s worth noting, Rossi helped lead the 67’s to a historic season, going 50-11-1.

The Scouting Report

Strengths

Rossi is a complete player. His offensive talents are what gets all the attention and for good reason. His playmaking abilities are on par with that of top prospect Alexis Lafrenière. This is mainly due to his unbelievable passing abilities. Rossi sees the ice extremely well, and his patience with the puck allows plays to develop, and he constantly fires perfect passes to teammates that often result with the puck in the back of the net.

Defensively is where Rossi deserves more credit. His skating abilities allow him not only to be in the correct defensive positioning but results in him being a strong back-checker. This paired with strong awareness makes him almost as good defensively as he is on the offensive end of the ice. For a center, he is certainly reliable in the defensive zone.

Weaknesses

Rossi has no glaring weaknesses. One aspect of his game he does get some criticism for is something he cannot control, his size. At 5-foot-9 inches, there is a cause for concern that he won’t be able to compete with the larger bodies of the NHL. However, individuals at that size — such as Brad Marchand who is also listed at 5-foot-9 — combat this issue through their strong skating abilities.

Interestingly enough, for his size, Rossi was not considered to have “elite speed.” He recognized this, and according to an article from The Athletic, improved it over last summer by training with the same trainer in Arizona that helped improve Auston Matthews’ game. This training definitely paid off, as he went on to have a historic season.

Projection

Rossi is going to develop into a star in the league. Some player comparisons he has received are to the likes of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and Pavel Datsyuk. Interestingly enough, as was mentioned above, he was only ranked sixth among North American skaters in the final Prospect Rankings List. I am sure teams will realize he deserves more respect than that.

So expect Rossi to be off the board between selections three and six. This means the Devils may not have a chance at him, unless he falls or the team moves up via the draft lottery, of course, if there still is one.

Marco Rossi represented his country Austria on a few different occasions throughout his career. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Fit With the Devils

The theme of my first two draft profiles has been the Devils need to draft a pure goal scorer. Rossi, as was mentioned above, is an extremely talented playmaker. However, if he’s on the board at six, or wherever the Devils end up having their first pick of the first round, they must pull the trigger.

Another concern with the Devils selecting Rossi is he is listed as a center. The Devils have, what they hope, their top two center positions locked down for years to come. However, given Rossi’s incredible talent, the Devils can worry about their center problem when the time comes. And that should not prevent them from drafting someone of the caliber of Marco Rossi.

Ranking of Evaluated Prospects

1. Marco Rossi (Today)

2. Alexander Holtz (04/29/2020)

3. Lucas Raymond (04/28/2020)

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