Owen Tippett entered the 2016-17 season as a surefire top 5 pick. But things changed as the season went on, and despite putting up 44 goals and 31 assists with Mississauga of the OHL, Tippett's stock has slipped slightly.
In part, his dip in draft rankings were due to things that were out of his control. Other players having unexpected breakouts or impressive Under 18 tournaments that vaulted them up the rankings, while Tippett just kept scoring goals. That slight fall in stock shouldn't take away from the player that Tippett is. He is a shoot first player who has quick and deceptive release that gives goalies fits. It's in the net before they even have time to react.
Tippett was particularly impressive in the playoffs, helping the Steelheads make the Ontario Hockey League finals before losing to the Erie Otters. He put up 10 goals and 9 assists in 20 postseason games.
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The right handed winger already has NHL size, measuring in a 6-feet and 200-pounds, which he uses to effectively protect the puck and create lanes. Using that size along the walls, Tippett is able to effectively win puck battles and take the puck to the net. Ideally, Tippett would round out his game and become more of a playmaker but his assist totals were not a cause for concern. They all trended at a first line rate.
The Peterborough native has the ability to play with pace, gets in on the forecheck and forces opposing defencemen to make decisions.
His goal totals clearly reinforce what Tippett is a goal scorer. Those 44 goals were third amongst first time draft eligible OHL forwards and 5th in the entire league. He finished the regular season with the 15th most points in the Ontario Hockey League, and 16th in points per game (1.25).
Tippett's production was very consistent, never going more than two games without registering a point. Quite often in junior, the elite players have huge outbursts that inflate their point totals, Tippett had one game with four points and then was consistently churning out one or two point nights throughout the entire season.
Looking at that first time draft eligible forward group again, Tippett finished second in points per game to Ottawa 67's centre Nick Suzuki.
Compared against that same peer group, his goals per game of 0.73 was also ranked second, but this time behind Jonah Gadjovich from Owen Sound. That goals per game rate was 5th in the entire OHL. It's worth noting that 83% of Tippett's were primary points, which is a goal or the first assist. That 1.03 Primary points per game rate that Tippett ended the year with, was 9th in the OHL.
The right winger was particularly lethal on the powerplay with 10 PP goals and 12 PP assists. He led the Steelheads in both of those categories.
His shooting rates were particularly impressive. Averaging 4.73 shots per game which had him ranked third in the entire OHL, and first amongst the first time draft eligible forwards. He only trailed Alex Debrincat from Erie and Kole Sherwood with the Flint Firebirds. Tippett did not have a game during the regular season where he didn't register a shot on goal. He also had one game with 10 shots and another with 11.
The right winger isn't a perfect player but he had a very impressive draft season that makes him an extremely attractive option at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Sometimes there is recency bias that plays into the final draft selections and Tippett might've fallen victim to that despite a productive and impressive OHL playoffs.
Tippett will need to learn to consistently use his teammates and work on his defensive play. He plays a game that will translate well to the NHL, and his shot is elite at the OHL level. All of his offensive categories were in the upper echelons of production in the OHL. Which is even more impressive given it was during his NHL draft season. The majority of players in the same range were in their draft plus one season, or even their draft plus two years' season.
He shoots a lot, plays a power forward game with speed - there is a lot to like. It's abundantly clear that It won't take long on the first round of the draft before Owen Tippett makes his way up to the podium to put on an NHL jersey.