It has never been hard to spot Isaac Ratcliffe in a crowd. At the NHL Draft Scouting Combine he came in at six feet 6.2 inches tall.
It took longer for a team to find him than many projections figured at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft as Ratcliffe had to wait until the early stages of round two for the Philadelphia Flyers to select him with the 35th pick overall.
The wait will no doubt be worth it, as he is thought to fit nicely into the Flyers’ style of play.
Ratcliffe says he’s always had size, but his weight never went hand in hand.
“I was almost always the tallest, but certainly never the widest.”
But that has been one of the most tempting aspects of Ratcliffe’s game. He entered the Ontario Hockey League in 2015 after the Guelph Storm took him one pick after his Jr. Knights’ teammate, Nick Suzuki and he was 183 lbs.
Scouts began to envision what his total package would eventually be.
Mark Edwards from Hockeyprospect.com has spent more than a few games, envisioning what was to come.
“He is 6’6 and can skate and shoot and has some creativity. He can move pucks… I really like the high ceiling for him… When I imagine him at ages 23 and 24 after he has filled out that frame with the way he skates and has offensive capabilities, I like what I see.”
Edwards and his staff had Ratcliffe as the highest-rated London connection (either by birth or the London Knights), ranking him 13th. NHL Central Scouting had him at #15 among North American skaters.
Ratcliffe did his best not to pay too much attention to what everyone else was saying as draft day drew closer.
“Throughout the year I tried not to take a look at where I was at that stage and time. I knew with more games coming up, I didn’t want to think too much about that outcome and more about what was happening in the moment… they are really out of my control. It’s all pretty unpredictable.”
What Ratcliffe is hoping to be able to predict is better results on the ice from the Guelph Storm. Following the team’s OHL Championship in 2014, times have become very lean. The Storm have taken advantage of their draft position and appear poised to get back to the playoffs this year and perhaps even make a little noise.
“Coming off the last two years, finishing last and second last, we are going into the season with a whole new mindset,” claims Ratcliffe. “That can’t happen again. Bringing in a coach like George Burnett who will rely on the older guys and drive the boat from the back-end will really help.”
For the moment, Ratcliffe can continue to stand tall and proud as a member of the Flyers’ organization, knowing that the hard work he has put in and the first two seasons of his junior career that he has had to persevere through are behind him and what is ahead looks incredibly bright.