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Prospect Profile #14 - Harrison Ruopp

Coming up on our Top 25 Under 25 we have the first player on our list not drafted as a Penguin, 2011 3rd round pick Harrison Ruopp.

Phillip MacCallum

Who is this guy?

Harrison Ruopp is a 6'3" 205lbs Defenseman from Zehner, Saskatchewan who was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 3rd round of the 2011 NHL Draft. The Penguins acquired him in 2012 as part of the Draft Day trade of Zbynek Michalek.

What are they saying about him?

Ruopp brings such a straightforward play style that there does not seem to be an awful lot written about him. One thing that is often pointed out is his size, since he is solidly built and jsut what one comes to expect from a defensive defenseman. He has also been noted for his ability to deliver extremely powerful checks, using his strength and size to great advantage. He also isn't shy about dropping the gloves if the need arises. However, he isn't merely a one dimensional physical defenseman, he has also shown good vision and hockey IQ, being able to read and react to opposing players.

He will never be an offensive powerhouse, but playing a simple game in his own zone he has the ability to function as a hard hitting shutdown D. However, he is still young, and it has been said that his coverage and gap control could use a bit of polishing before he is ready to be relied upon as a shutdown defender at the professional level. However, if he can continue to develop and refine his game, transitioning to the professional level and eventually the NHL, Ruopp is the closest thing the Penguins currently have to a future replacement for Brooks Orpik.

Where has he been?

Ruopp has spent the past 4 seasons playing for the WHL Prince Albert Raiders. His stat block has not been impressive, but it has improved over the years. As a rookie he went scoreless and had the lowest Plus/Minus on his team. He came back the next season with no goals and as one of the lowest scoring D on the team, but did manage to lead the D in Plus/Minus. His 3rd season he managed to score a couple of goals and matched his point total from the previous season, but had the lowest Plus/Minus on the team. And lastly in his final season he was named an Alternate Captain, nearly doubled his Point total, had a solidly positive Plus/Minus, and led his team in Penalty Minutes. After his team was eliminated from the playoffs he finished out the year as a member of the Black Aces squad in WBS.

When can we expect to see him?

Ruopp is just 20 years old and getting ready to enter his rookie season this Fall. It is uncertain whether he will start the year in WBS or Wheeling, but it seems likely that he still has a number of years left developing in the minors and refining his play before he is ready to push for an opportunity in the NHL. He is signed up through the 2015-16 season, so it is certainly possible he could serve his entire Entry Level deal in the minors before joining the NHL when he is no longer waiver exempt.

Why is he #14?

Ruopp received 1 vote for 10th, 2 votes for 11th, 1 vote for 13th, 1 vote for 15th, 1 vote for 19th, 1 vote for 21st, 1 vote for 23rd, and 1 vote for 25th.

How can he climb the list?

As Ruopp plays a simple stay at home defensive game, the main thing he needs to do is prove that he can take on a shutdown D role at the professional level. He has already shown an ability to stop opposing forwards in the WHL, now we must see how effective he can be against grown men. As mentioned, some of the scouts suggest his game could use a bit more refinement in gap control and zone coverage, so he will need to work on continuing to get better playing in his own end. He would also need to prove he can contribute to the offense at the professional level if he expects to be a Top 4 shutdown D rather than just a 3rd pair physical nuisance. He doesn't need to be overly successful in the offensive zone, just able to chip in and get the play going for the players that can score. But unfortunately, with all the bluechip D it may ultimately prove hard to climb the list as long as he remains with the Penguins.