– Thomas Harley –
Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) | Defence | 2019 NHL Draft Eligible
Syracuse, New York | August 19th, 2001 | 6-foot-3, 185-pounds
The Mississauga Steelheads are a competitive team within the Ontario Hockey League once again this season, and are driven by a balanced offensive attack as well as sound defending.
With NHL hopefuls Ryan McLeod and Owen Tippett leading the Steelheads’ offensive attack, the time has come for Thomas Harley to defend Mississauga’s defensive zone. With the likes of Nic Hague and Vili Saarijarvi now ascended to the professional ranks, Harley has been saddled with a great deal of responsibility within a relatively inexperienced Steelheads blue line.
Fortunately for Mississauga, Harley has accepted and handled his new role without hesitation or failure. Leading the Steelheads from the blue line while also defending their goal, Harley’s two way play has progressed significantly and now stands amongst the 2019 NHL Draft class’ best.
For Harley, the foundation of his game is his skating.
Incredibly smooth on his skates and defined by his polished stride, Harley can navigate the ice with apparent ease and looks effortless in doing so. Featuring excellent edge-work and agility, Harley can deceive opposing defenders with his footwork and will not hesitate to lead a rush up the ice in a confident manner.
Related: 2019 NHL Draft Rankings
When in possession of the puck is when Harley is most effective, however. Of exceptional vision, Harley rarely makes an inaccurate pass and is incredibly calculated in his decision-making. Capable of saucering the puck across the ice or making a deft touch pass to a surging teammate, Harley reads the pace of play extremely well and is knowledgeable with regards to operating within it.
Perhaps the most striking facet of Harley’s game is his poise and composure at both ends of the ice. Despite his young age of 17-years, Harley has the confidence of a seasoned veteran and seemingly fails to break a sweat throughout the course of a game. Rarely pushed off of the puck and aware of the aggression of his opponents, Harley can feel the pressure placed upon him and shed his attackers with remarkable consistency.
- Defensive Positioning
Although Harley’s game is incredibly strong, there are areas in which the youngster must improve in the coming years.
First and foremost is his positioning, and especially so within his defensive zone. Due to his offensive nature, Harley loves to rush the puck up ice and strengthen his team’s attack.
However, in doing so, Harley is often caught out of position which can result in odd-man rushes headed towards his own goal. Although his forwards frequently cover his position, Harley must discern when it is appropriate to carry the puck deep into his attacking zone and when he would be better served to transfer possession to one of his forwards.
Related: 2019 NHL Draft Prospect Profiles
Further, there is Harley’s tendency to turnover the puck. While he is an excellent puck-handler of ample confidence, Harley can — at times — be overly composed and fail to respect the forecheck of his opponents, who will strip Harley of possession and generate quality scoring chances. So, while his ability to control and distribute the puck stands as a staple of his game, Harley must improve his awareness so to not become a defensive liability at the professional-level.
In the long term, Harley projects to develop into a top-four defenceman at the NHL-level.
As a smooth-skating defender with tremendous speed and remarkable poise with the puck, Harley could become an offensive-minded NHL player capable of logging major minutes in a variety of situations. Although his defensive game requires improvement — like most of a young age — Harley’s offensive play, vision, and creativity will be far too valuable to pass upon come the 2019 NHL Draft.