Prospect Profile #4 - Scott Harrington

Claus Andersen

Our Top 25 Under 25 now come down to the home stretch as we take a look at our blue chip defensive prospects. First up is 2011 2nd round pick Scott Harrington.

Who is this guy?

Scott Harrington is a 6'2" 210lbs Defenseman from Kingston, Ontario who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2nd round of the 2011 NHL Draft.

What are they saying about him?

Harrington is renowned for his solid defensive play, his awareness and hockey IQ, and his maturity and leadership qualities that make many say he is pretty much NHL ready as is. Despite the overwhelming positive reviews, he is not without fault. His offensive abilities are a bit lacking, and he has been critiqued for not being overly physical for a shutdown D of his size. But he is nearly unanimously projected to be a #2/3 NHL D that has been favorably compared to Rob Scuderi and Paul Martin, able to log big minutes in any zone, being a staple on the PK, and playing point on the PP. Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting Randy Sexton said "We like the way he plays. He’s a very good skate with good mobility. He sees the ice well and moves the puck. He has a big strong frame. He can play with an edge, but needs to do it more consistently. A more defensive focus than offense, but he’s not incompetent offensively."

Prior to being drafted, his scouting report said:

"Scott Harrington is not the flashy players in the draft but he gets the job done extremely well. Harrington is a defenseman who will not make a lot of mistakes and has great vision on the ice. He's a 'steady eddy' type defenseman who skates extremely well. Harrington can quarterback a powerplay and also be one of the best penalty killers. Harrington has developed into a very smooth puck moving defenseman."

The praise continued on throughout his OHL career, with Matias Strozyk proclaiming he is "a two-way defenseman who skates well. Has good leadership skills. Positions himself very well" and Hockey's Future's Ian Altenbaugh saying:

"Harrington is a reliable two-way defenseman with phenomenal hockey IQ and on ice-awareness. The foundation of his game is centered on his strong, mobile skating ability and good awareness in his own zone. He is particularly adept winning 50/50 battles in the corner and quickly getting the puck out of the defensive zone. Harrington also has the vision and puck-skills to make good first passes and start the play up ice."

Lastly we have The Hockey News, who says of Harrington:

"Can log a lot of ice time, since he's dependable in all three zones and usually quite mistake-free. Excels in puck movement and defensive situations. Owns decent size, too. Isn't a natural point-producing defenseman, so points won't be easy to come by at the highest level. Isn't very physical, something that would increase his overall value as a shutdown defender."

Where has he been?

Harrington spent the past 4 seasons playing for the OHL London Knights, where he spent his first two seasons partnered with fellow Pens prospect Reid McNeill. While never a naturally point producing D, his rookie season he was the 4th highest scoring D on the team and finished with a massive Plus/Minus that put him 4th on the team, and he was named to the OHL All-Rookie 1st Team and also played for Team Canada Ontario in the World Hockey Championships U17.

The following season with London's coach Dale Hunter working in the NHL with the Washington Capitals he was given new responsibilities trying to establish an offensive side to his game. He finished the year tied for 1st in Goals and 2nd in Points on his team, but his defensive play suffered and he finished with the lowest Plus/Minus on the team, in both the regular season and playoffs. He also played for Team Canada in the World Juniors U18 where his solid defensive play allowed him to finish as the 2nd highest Plus/Minus D on the team. He also played with Team Canada in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament that year, helping them win Gold tied for 1st amongst D in Goals, Points, and Plus/Minus.

With the return of Hunter, a promotion to Alternate Captain, and a new teammate in Pens prospect Olli Maatta, Harrington's 3rd season was back to the excellence we expected from him. He finished the season as the 2nd highest scoring D, behind Maatta, and the 5th highest skater in Plus/Minus. He was named to a 1st Team All-Star and London won the OHL Championship, finishing with the 3rd highest Plus/Minus on the team, and a berth in the Memorial Cup, where he was the highest scoring D on the team that lost in the Final. He also played for Team Canada in the World Junior Championship U20, finishing 3rd in Points and tied for 1st in Plus/Minus amongst the D on his team.

For his final season he was named Captain, once again being named a 1st Team All-Star and leading London to an OHL Championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup. He focused more on playing responsible defensively, so his offensive production took a hit again, but he managed to once again finish as 5th in Plus/Minus. During the Memorial Cup he tied for team highs amongst D in both Goals and Points. He then came to WBS for the final 2 playoff games and scored a Goal on his first shot in his first professional hockey game. He was also named Alternate Captain of Team Canada for the World Junior U20 where he finished with 2nd highest Plus/Minus on the team, 1st amongst D, and was named on of the Top 3 Players on the team in the tournament. He also appeared in the Subway Super Series against Russia for the 3rd straight year, serving as Captain of Team Canada.

When can we expect to see him?

Harrington will be starting his professional career this season, and while it is possible he could make a push to play in the NHL this year the Cap situation and depth on the blue line make it incredibly unlikely. He is expected to play in WBS this Fall, and while they may choose to ease him into the lineup as he is a rookie, by the end of the year he is expected to be a Top 4 D and possibly even the #2 D. During NHL Camp he had been practicing with Brian Dumoulin, so the speculation is that we could see that combination in WBS this year, although Philip Samuelsson is still considered the #2 D for now.

Depending on how the roster shapes up, he could certainly make a push for the NHL next season, but since it is not necessary to rush our prospects with the depth we have in the lineup he could very well spend a 2nd season in WBS serving as the #1 D to mentor the other young prospects that will be turning pro. However, it is all but certain that we will see him in the NHL within the next 2 years.

Why is he #4?

Harrington received 3 votes for 3rd, 4 votes for 4th, 1 vote for 5th, and 1 vote for 7th.

How can he climb the list?

Harrington, despite being defensively sound, could stand to improve his play in his offensive zone if he wants to be more similar to a Martin than a simple stay at home Scuderi. He could also stand to improve his physicality, as he has the size the throw his weight around and become a significant shutdown defenseman at the NHL level. However, climbing the list will require either making a name for himself at the NHL level and thus getting the experience vote, or else outlasting his competition and surviving them through attrition.

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