September 23, 2020

Rossi feels ready to be NHL regular

Marco Rossi feels ready to make the jump to the National Hockey League.

How ready?

“One hundred percent,” Rossi suggested.

The three words are telling for the Rossi, No. 5 in FCHockey’s Final ranking for the 2020 NHL Draft.

Rossi is one of the top prospects available in the 2020 draft, and his play with the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League in 2019-20 backs up his confidence that he is ready to make the jump to the NHL.

And he’s pushing his chips all in.

The Feldkirch, Austria product opted not to sign a pro contract in Europe and will spend his fall training for a potential debut when the NHL resumes.

“I had a lot of discussion with my agent and coach about what is the best path forward,” Rossi said. “I think the best way to improve myself was to have more practice and focus on my body and being on the ice and practicing with the team than just playing two games at the start of October.”

The work has already started to pay off, Rossi suggested.

“Normally you don’t have that much time to focus on your body,” he said. “I started working out in the middle of March. We had so much time and still have a lot of time.

“I made big improvements to my whole body, I got stronger and faster and improved everything.”

There was already a strong base to build off of.

“I think Rossi is one of the most NHL-ready prospects in this draft,” FCHockey’s head Eastern scout Dylan Galloway said. “His commitment, work ethic and consistency all make me a strong believer in his ability to take all of the things he was exceptional at in junior, and apply it to the NHL.

“With an additional nine months of that training in his back pocket, I feel very confident he’ll make the NHL out of training camp. He already possesses excellent leg strength, but if he can build that strength up a bit more, while improving his speed ever so slightly he’ll be a shoe in as a bottom 6 two-way contributor straightaway with the potential to move up the lineup if his offensive contributions force his coaches hand.”

It’ll take some time to see how exactly those efforts will pay off.

But should an improved Rossi emerge, it could make him a wildcard for the 2020 draft.

Especially after his year – a second season in the OHL – unfolded.

He was, after all, the Canadian Hockey League’s top scorer with 120 points (39 goals, 81 assists) in 56 games and was named the Red Tilson Trophy recipient as the Ontario Hockey League’s most outstanding player of the year and led all Eastern Conference skaters with six nominations in the annual OHL Coaches Poll.

“In the first year, everything was new to me,” said Rossi, whose 2.14 points-per-game led the Ontario Hockey League and was the league’s highest since Connor McDvaid (2.55) in 2014-15. “The ice surface was different like it was smaller and you had less time. In my second season I just knew how to play there and it just got much better.”

Rossi now has to patiently wait to see how much more improved he could be in 2020-21.

He’s already had to wait for his NHL Draft day, set now for October 6.

Patience has been a theme for the now 19-year-old.

“Everyone has had to wait and stay patient,” he said.

“It’s not easy to do that because you want to play and you want to get drafted.”

With files from Aly Munro

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