NHL Rumors: Latest Draft Buzz on Marco Rossi, More

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistJuly 1, 2020

OSHAWA, ON - MARCH 1: Marco Rossi #23 of the Ottawa 67's skates during an OHL game against the Oshawa Generals at the Tribute Communities Centre on March 1, 2020 in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)
Chris Tanouye/Getty Images

Marco Rossi is one of the most prolific scorers in the 2020 NHL draft class, but there are still questions about how he will translate to the league. 

According to Chris Peters of ESPN.com, the center "has become oddly polarizing" in NHL circles. 

Rossi, who has crafted his trade in the Ontario Hockey League with the Ottawa 67's for the last two seasons, lacks the size of other prospects. 

At 5'9", the 18-year-old is the shortest top-tier prospect out of a group that ranges from 5'10" to the 6'4" Quinton Byfield. 

Although his size could be viewed as a hindrance by some evaluators, it could turn into an important asset as he navigates around larger NHL defensemen. 

In Ottawa, Rossi had no problem traversing the attacking zone, as he picked up 185 points, including 120 in his final OHL season. He also put up 22 postseason points in 2019. 

He would be a nice fit anywhere from No. 6-No. 8 for the Anaheim Ducks, New Jersey Devils or Buffalo Sabres. 

If he joins New Jersey's young crop of attackers, Rossi may be shifted out to the wing to fit in with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. Corey Pronman of The Athletic noted that is a possibility if the teenager lands at No. 7.

"Rossi is listed as a center, but NHL scouts think it's possible he moves to the wing, which in an organization with Hughes and Hischier is a very reasonable path even though he can play center," he wrote. 

At the moment, Peters has him as his No. 6 overall prospect, while Pronman projected the Austrian to go seventh to the Devils. 

If his scoring totals make up for the lack of size, Rossi should turn into one of the better picks of draft.


No. 2 Overall Selection is 50-50 Between Byfield, Stutzle

The biggest debate of the draft should be who ends up at No. 2.

Alexis Lafreniere is widely expected to be the first overall selection, but his potential destination is unknown at the moment with a placeholder team atop the order for now. A second lottery will be held after eight franchises are eliminated from the play-in round.

That leaves four months for the Los Angeles Kings to decide between Byfield and Tim Stutzle.

According to Pronman, "it is 50-50" between the No. 2 and No. 3 prospects to go off the board second. 

Byfield is the most menacing physical presence in the class at 6'4" and 215 pounds, and he improved his offensive prowess by going from 61 points to 82 points in his second year with the OHL's Sudbury Wolves. 

Despite that production, he wasn't able to eclipse Lafreniere on most draft boards, but he could be viewed as the favorite for No. 2 because he has a NHL-ready frame. 

Stutzle is the latest prospect to come from the German pipeline that brought over Leon Draisaitl and 2019 first-round selection Moritz Seider. 

The 18-year-old carries a bit more versatility than Byfield since he played center and on the wing for German club Adler Mannheim, where he produced 34 points in 41 games. 

One thing that is already determined is Los Angeles' willingness to take another center in the first round, as general manager Rob Blake told Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman that the recent trend would not stop it from taking Byfield or Stutzle.

"No,” Blake answered. “You mention those three, we'll take four centers like that.”

Between now and the draft, the Kings have to determine if they like Byfield's size or Stutzle's scoring prowess most to fit with the young group that includes Alex Turcotte and Rasmus Kupari.


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

Statistics obtained from EliteProspects.com.