Dale Money | June 5th, 2019
Thomas Harley has seen solid growth over the last couple of seasons, as he continues to take on a bigger role and more minutes the production has indeed followed. With the Mississauga Steelheads this past season, he finished eighth among OHL defensemen with 11 goals and 58 points leading all OHL draft-eligible defenders. He also added four assists as the Steelheads were swept in the first round of the OHL playoffs by the Sudbury Wolves.
It was only a year previously, that he produced just a single goal along with 14 assists in just six fewer games. This can also be attributed to the losses of both Nicholas Hague and Vili Saarijarvi, which allowed him the opportunity to take over the number-one role.
Harley is skillful when it comes to controlling the puck, especially while moving at top speed. This helps him to rush the puck out of his end, leading the play in the neutral zone. A talented skater with good speed and ever moving feet, he can gain separation on most players, affording plenty of healthy offensive opportunities.
His unique vision allows him to make those tough passes, many players aren’t able to make. The 17-year-old left-shot defenseman is quite lanky, standing at 6”3 and weighing about 188 pounds. So he could certainly add a bit more muscle that would, in turn, do a lot to help increase his already solid shooting strength.
Harley is a defender that can look out of his depth sometimes when defending can be known to cough up the puck on soft passes. Will sometimes get lazy at times and fall asleep, can also be known to not cover the right guy as his team’s defensive coverage breaks down. This makes him vulnerable to attack, improving his defensive positioning is a must if he wants to survive on the next level.
Has to work on limiting the number of turnovers in his game and improve his defensive positioning. When the pressure is at its highest, his lack of physical game can cause him problems and he will break under pressure a bit too often.
Harley should be a mid-first round pick, as I have him going around the 15th spot in this year’s draft. But having said that, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him falling back to as deep as 22nd. The Montreal Canadiens or Dallas Stars could be potential landing spots.
Harley is still rather green, so he would need more time in the minors to sort out some of the kinks in his defensive game. If that part of his game can be improved, he could become relied upon to quarterback a team’s power play with that dangerous shot from the point. With his ever-improving offensive skills along with his already sound defensive prowess, he could be a nice long term pick up.
A winner of the Bobby Smith award just this past season, the award best combines high standards of play and academic excellence. With Harley, you are getting a player with the high IQ and can be counted on to continuously look to improve his game. He could end up being one of the better long term prospects.
Check out our other NHL Draft Profiles: Alex Turcotte| Victor Soderstrom|Dylan Cozens|Bowen Byram
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