OHL MVP Marco Rossi

Marco Rossi wins OHL Most Outstanding Player

Marco Rossi Wins OHL Most Outstanding Player Awarded the Red Tilson Trophy

Who is Marco Rossi?

Rossi is different, a true new-age hockey player, he sees the game like rarely anyone else his age does. At 5-9 and just 185 pounds he will not beat you with size and grit, but he will outsmart you. A 200 foot player, the two-way forward is a threat on both ends of the ice and makes his teammates better. Sceptics may wonder if he has the stature to transition to the NHL level, but here is why he has done more than enough to win the Red Tilson Trophy.

OHL Leading scorer Marco Rossi
Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s is the leading scorer and now MVP of the OHL. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

120 points in 56 games, is substantial for anyone at the OHL level, let alone someone in their second season in the league. But it is not those numbers that demonstrate why 62 percent of the media voted for him to win this award, but how he got them. The best passer in the OHL, many of Rossi’s 81 assists have come from his iconic cross-crease pass that find his teammates with precision with the pass usually finding its way into the back of opposing nets. Rossi tries passes that many would not attempt and see a high success rate in finding their target.

His stick work on the other side of the puck is also incredible. His two-way game sets him apart from most in his age group. With a 54% faceoff winning precentage and a strong stick-checking tendency, Rossi is able to get the puck from those much bigger than him with his quick and strong hands.

Athletically, he is also very impressive, with his edges and his ability to transition from defence to offence being one of the most underrated aspects of his game. If it’s not a cross-crease pass, it’s a quick breakout pass that gets his points and most of those are from his elite ability to create space.

 

Red Tilson Trophy winner
Not only was Rossi a phenomenal offensive talent he also won over 54% of the faceoffs he took. (OHL Images)

Does this change his draft position? 

On one hand, being the best player in the league for an entire season and beating out many of his 2020 draft peers is great for the resume. On the other, it doesn’t really change his relationship with the top few prospects in the draft or mitigate the criticisms that challenge his transition to the next level. Unless he grows before the draft, he looks to be the shortest player in the projected top-10 and one of the smallest. He is the second smallest centre projected to go in the first two rounds and the smallest North American skater of the top-35. As a result of this, it could be at least a couple of seasons before he is ready to transition to the professional level. While smaller players do make the grade, they are far and few between compared to those above that 6-foot mark.

The NHL is undoubtedly getting smaller, and skilled players which Rossi is among the peak for prospects are ever-increasing in value. On that note, if anyone is intelligent enough to combat his size it’s Rossi. Brad Marchand, for example, has been a physical player who has not needed size to get results, with Johnny Gaudreau, and Brayden Point being similar players. Rossi’s game in many ways emulates the style of Point, who has very similar physical attributes.

The most important thing now is to congratulate  Rossi on an incredible season and yet another accolade and wish him the best as his career transitions into the next stages. The best player in the OHL definitely did win this award and if Rossi stays in Major Junior next season, expect him to compete to go back to back.

The OHLNetwork had Rossi favored for the trophy back in February.