Since taking over for Paul Holmgren in 2014, Ron Hextall has not been shy about collecting a multitude of draft picks. Since he became the general manager, Hextall has drafted 42 players. Among the myriad of prospects that the Flyers host in their system, some are forgotten. One of them is Isaac Ratcliffe, the hulking winger for the Guelph Storm.
In the new era of the NHL, size isn’t everything and there have been countless players to showcase this. However, it is something that many general managers seem to drool over when a big player knows how to use his body to dominate the game.
You look at a 19-year-old kid who’s as tall as he is and as coordinated as he is, it’s not the norm.
Ratcliffe is fortunate enough to not only have a 6’6″, 200-pound frame, but he also knows how to take advantage of it. Hextall must have a lot of faith in him since he decided to trade a second, third and fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft to move up and snag him at 35 overall.
Despite drafting mass amounts of players, this trade led to believe that Hextall also values quality over quantity. The same thing happened in 2015 when he traded a first and second rounder to draft the explosive Travis Konecny.
Ratcliffe’s numbers aren’t exactly eye-popping, but on the ice, he is a man amongst boys at times, he can dominate in front of the net with pure physical strength or beat the defender with a nice move like we can see here.
Flyers prospect Isaac Ratcliffe's shorthanded goal from a few days ago pic.twitter.com/FdPEYvjtgg
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) November 22, 2017
When a player the size of Ratcliffe is drafted into the NHL, the main concern is skating. How quick can someone with that size be? Well for Ratcliffe, skating isn’t the big issue, he’s a very nimble skater and combines it with his physique and soft hands to create scoring opportunities.
A big reason Ratcliffe was tied for sixth in OHL goal-scoring is not only due to the size, hands and skating, he is also has a cannon of a shot and is not afraid to use it. He had 41 goals to go along with a whopping 282 shots on goal (T-3rd in OHL) and led Guelph with 68 points in 67 games.
When watching Ratcliffe play, he reminds me of two players, who both excel in different areas of the ice. His net-front presence is eerily similar to Wayne Simmonds, in the sense that he can cement himself in front of the goalie for redirections or loose pucks. But on the rush, he can finesse through the defense and make plays like Rick Nash, who oddly enough, is Ratcliffe’s favorite player. If he could even come close to either of those players, the Flyers could have a gem.
There is still a lot of work to do, but Ratcliffe impressed at the most recent Flyers rookie camp and was also named to Team Canada’s World Junior Showcase roster along with Morgan Frost. At the end of the season, Ratcliffe also joined the Flyers AHL affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, once Guelph was eliminated from the playoffs. He played two games for them and had a goal in his debut.