Film Room: Rutger McGroarty's skill and sense combo could make him an exception to the NHL's speed-driven rule
In an NHL defined by speed and pace, opportunities for players to play the slow game have emerged.
In the 2022 NHL Draft, few players better exploit those opportunities than Rutger McGroarty.
The long-time top prospect finds success without having separation speed or quick edges. Instead of getting in footraces, he delays and finds the trailer. Where many of his peers try to beat defenders with handling skill, he uses a combination of body positioning and quick, short touches to play keep-away. Where most players force a pass through traffic, he manipulates the defender to create the passing lane.
Simply put, few parts of McGroarty’s game rely on speed or skating. Instead, he relies on skill, awareness, and intelligence.
Linking together every part of McGroarty’s game is his off-puck game. The off-puck game takes many forms; for McGroarty, his off-puck game is expressed by always being open. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a well-timed sprint ahead of the play to become an odd-number rush threat. Mostly, it’s getting open without relying on speed.
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