Coming in at #36 on our consensus ranking is lanky winger Isaac Ratcliffe. Ratcliffe had a good season on a bad team this year, finishing second in points on the rebuilding Guelph Storm with 54 in 67 games. Ratcliffe is one of the larger forwards in this year’s draft, but he also possesses a strong toolkit to complement his frame.
- Age: 18 – February 15th, 1999
- Birthplace: London ON, CAN
- Frame: 6’5″/203 lbs
- Position: LW
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Guelph Storm (OHL)
A giant on the ice…a raw but skilled prospect with loads of potential…definitely uses his size to his advantage…has a mean streak and loves to throw his weight around setting the games physical tone…loves to finish every check and hits to hurt…for a big guy he is a very impressive skater…has a good shot that will only get better as he adds strength and continues to fills out his frame…this tower of a human uses his size to set screens on the power play where it is near impossible to move and to collect rebounds with his long reach…protects the puck using his body and reach…a real beast on the walls…shows very good hands for a big man, and his effectiveness in tight spaces is apparent in puck battles…his body size alone makes him an impressive prospect but when you couple that with his work ethic and his skill set he is a prospect that could have every NHL team drooling over him; as long as he lives up to his potential.
Ryan Kennedy, The Hockey News:
At 6-foot-6 and nearly 200 pounds already, there’s an obviousness to Ratcliffe’s potential. The fact he marries his great frame with good hockey sense and deft hands makes it all the more clear why the left winger will be one to watch in the first round of the draft this summer. Not that it’s easy to grow that frame.
Dominic Tiano, OHL Writers:
“The power forward who can skate and possesses very soft hands has been coming on lately. I think he’s underrated offensively in some circles. He’s a physical beast who can play a very mean game. Almost impossible to knock off the puck and uses his size and strength to maintain possession. Right now, he’s probably the best prospect in front of the goal, battling for space and loose pucks and banging in rebounds. We caught a glimpse of that in the Top Prospects game. The scary thought is he’s still going to grow and get stronger.”
Obviously, the first thing that’s going to stand out about Isaac Ratcliffe is his size. Listed by different sources as either 6’5″ or 6’6″, Ratcliffe possesses a significant advantage over most of his peers simply by stepping onto the ice. He’s also got plenty of time to fill out that frame, and could be an absolute force to be reckoned with once he puts on ten or fifteen pounds. Size isn’t all Ratcliffe has going for him, though. While it certainly has helped his draft stock, Ratcliffe would still be a legitimate prospect if he were three or four inches shorter.
Ratcliffe skates relatively well, though not quite well enough to shake the “for his size” qualifier. He’s also got an absolute laser of a shot that he was able to get off with relative consistency this season. He’s not the greatest playmaker in the draft by a long shot, but he can make smart plays with the puck and certainly isn’t a liability in that regard.
As you’d expect from a player his size, Ratcliffe is one of the OHL’s best players in and around the net, using his size to protect the puck, as well as to overpower opposing defenders. He’s also a monster along the wall who can win puck battles and lay massive hits. You’d like to see him put it all together more consistently, but when he does, he’s a force to be reckoned with. Defensively, Ratcliffe uses his frame to cut down shooting lanes and break up passes, and was relied upon by his coaches in high-leverage situations.
Ratcliffe’s toolkit makes him a tantalizing package, but he didn’t quite put up the numbers you’d hope for from a player with that type of size advantage. That, and game-to-game consistency will be the biggest concerns regarding his play going forward. It should be noted that while Ratcliffe’s numbers would best be described as “good-not-great”, he played on a Guelph Storm team that finished second-to-last in the OHL last season, so his numbers may have been deflated by playing with a lower quality of teammates than many of his peers.
When viewed through the lens of pGPS, Ratcliffe looks like a high-risk, high-reward prospect, with many of his closest statistical matches being role players, and given his expected success percentage of 22.4%, it’s more than likely Ratcliffe doesn’t even amount to that. His matches also include Ron Francis and Todd Bertuzzi, however, so carving out a career as a top-six winger is still in the cards. If Ratcliffe hits his ceiling, he could be the power forward that so many teams covet, but right now he looks like a significant risk, which is why we have him ranked just outside of the first round.