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2017 NHL Draft Profile: Isaac Ratcliffe is more than a big body, he’s a really huge body

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A lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal Guelph season projects with a high risk high ceiling

Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

The Guelph Storm had a disaster of a season, but nobody told left wing Isaac Ratcliffe. After being drafted 15th overall in the 2015 OHL entry draft and playing only 46 games due to injury in his debut season, Ratcliffe exploded in his sophomore year, quadrupling his point total in 21 more games. Putting up 28 goals and 54 points in 67 games may not sound exceptional, but the Storm finished dead last in the OHL’s Western conference, and Ratcliffe accounted for more than ten percent of Guelph’s 202 total goals. Additionally, Ratcliffe pulled a -2 out of a season where the Storm stumbled to a conference worst -92 goal differential, winning 21 of 68 games.

Ratcliffe was a force at this year’s CHL/NHL Top Prospects game, scoring a goal for Team Cherry, and turning scouts’ heads for more than just his monstrous frame. His two goals for team Canada at the U18 tournament is gravy.

The most notable strength Ratcliffe brings is his size. Ratcliffe, at 6’6” and 203 pounds, is one of the tallest players in the OHL Still, he’ll need to add some mass to his frame to compete with pros at the NHL level, but if you can find an 18-year-old who doesn’t need to add muscle mass in his draft year not named Ekblad, I’d love to meet him. He protects the puck well, which should be expected of someone this massive, but he also has deceptively soft hands, making him both difficult to move out of the crease, and dangerous every second he stays there. Ratcliffe is a decent skater, and if he can improve his skating along with his strength, he has a legitimate shot to be a top 6 winger in the NHL.

Yeah, he pretty much always makes that face
Tony Saxon/GuelphToday

Ratcliffe’s maneuverability and hockey sense make it easy to overlook the fact that his north south skating needs work. He’ll have to add some explosive lower body strength and work on his stride to keep up with NHL level breakouts, but hopefully that will come with the size he needs to add anyway. Ratcliffe could clock in at 220 pounds in a few years, and if that comes with a commensurate improvement in his skating ability, he could be a terror out there.

Ratcliffe’s draft order projections are all over the place, but there seems to be a consensus that he’s 2-3 years away from being NHL ready. It’s entirely possible that Ratcliffe is drafted and falls off the map, unable to bulk sufficiently or properly adjust his skating fundamentals to accommodate the pace of the NHL, but his ceiling is higher than a lot of players that are likely to be available at San Jose’s 19, and a calculated risk here could lead to big things in a little while.

The Basics

Name: Isaac Ratcliffe

Position: LW

Nationality: Canada

Shoots: Left

DOB: February 15, 1999

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 203 lbs

Hometown: London, Ontario

2015-17: Guelph Storm (OHL)

2014-15: London Jr. Knights (AHMMPL)

Rankings

THW Consensus: 38th

ISS Hockey: 20th

Future Considerations: 23rd

NHL CSS: 15th (NA)

Strengths

  • Soft hands
  • Good offensive hockey sense
  • Net front presence

Areas of Improvement

  • Straight-line skating and speed
  • Add muscle mass

Highlight Reel