– Declan Ride –
Toronto Nationals (GTHL) | Defence | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible
Toronto, Ontario | 6-foot-4, 195-pounds | March 1st, 2003
The Toronto Nationals will be a force to be reckoned with come the 2019 OHL Cup, and for good reason.
Led by a devastating offence and stabilized by outstanding goaltending, the Nationals pose a significant threat to any opponent owing to their incredible team play and consistency. However, the strongest facet of the Nationals’ roster could very well stand on the blue line, as the club holds an arsenal of extremely talented and capable blueliners.
In addition to standout defenders in Deven Nagra, Landon Cato, and Owen Forester, the Nationals also feature one of the 2019 OHL Draft’s most intriguing prospects in Declan Ride. A tower of power on the back-end, Ride is a sizeable defender who is quickly becoming more confident in his abilities on the blue line. In fact, over the course of the 2018-19 season, Ride has progressed into one of the GTHL’s most potent players at both ends of the ice.
- Size and Strength
- Defensive Positioning and Gap Control
- Hockey Sense and Vision
- Playmaking Abilities
- Shot Power
- Technical Abilities
As mentioned above, size and strength stand as the foundation of Ride’s game. Tipping the scale at 195-pounds and standing a towering 6-foot-4 in height, Ride is an intimidating presence on the blue line who knows how to utilize his size to his advantage. However, unlike others players of his stature, Ride won’t run around the ice looking to inflict damage — rather, he combines his size with his stick in order to pin, dominate, and dispossess his opponents.
These abilities defensively have come to stand as the foundation of Ride’s game. Well positioned when defending the rush and consistent in his ability to maintain the gap between he and attacking players, Ride forces opponents to the boards in order to stifle their progress and transition the puck to his wildly lethal forwards.
Related: 2019 OHL Draft Rankings
Ride’s ability to transition the puck to his teammates and, in particular, his forwards is also one of the youngster’s glaring strengths. Calm and composed when in possession of the puck and rarely forced into committing turnovers, Ride distributes the puck with poise and has the ability to make crisp, accurate passes with relative ease.
These playmaking abilities have come to fuel Ride’s growing offensive game — a facet of his skill-set which has improved dramatically over the course of the 2018-19 campaign. Focused upon his defensive play to begin the season, Ride’s offensive approach has improved dramatically during his time with the Nationals — once strictly a passer, Ride no longer hesitates to fire his hard and heavy shot on goal.
Related: 2019 OHL Draft – Prospect Profiles
What’s more is that, despite his size and the common misconceptions associated with larger players, Ride is a smooth and highly technical skater who can traverse the blue line with ease. This ability to control the puck while maneuvering the blue line allows Ride to assess potential outlets while affording himself time and space for his opponents.
Areas of Improvement:
- Foot Speed
Although Ride is an incredibly promising young player, areas for improvement do exist within his game. In particular there is Ride’s skating abilities. Although he is a smooth and purposeful skater, Ride would do well to improve his lateral agility and foot speed in the years ahead, as maneuverability is the key for defenders at the next-level.
Now, this is not to say that Ride is a poor skater by any means — in fact, his smooth skating is one of the strongest facets of his game. Rather, this is to say that with improved agility and mobility in the near future, Ride can maximize his existing abilities and become a premier defender at either the OHL or NCAA-level.
Ultimately, Ride has the potential to develop into a top-four defender at the next-level, wherever that may be.
At the moment, Ride is committed to Miami University at Ohio and stands as one of the program’s most valuable commitments. However, if Ride decides to opt for the OHL route instead, it goes without saying that the youngster would be selected within the opening-three rounds of the 2019 Priority Selection. With his size alongside improvements to his skating, Ride holds the potential to open the 2019-20 season with an OHL franchise — he is simply that good.