A good way to feel old is to look at a young player, see his last name, and realize that you saw his dad play. Every year, it seems there are prospects who are the sons or nephews of NHL players and personnel. This year is no different, with Matt Tkachuk and Alex Nylander being the highest ranked among them. Today's prospect profile also fits into that category, but he's not nearly as highly touted. It's Cliff Ronning's son, Ty Ronning.
Who is Ty Ronning?
In addition to being Cliff's son, Ty Ronning is a right winger for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Both Elite Prospects and the WHL website list him at 5'9" and 165 pounds. Ronning was born on October 20, 1997, which would make him one of the older 18-year-old prospects in this year's draft. Here are his basic stats at Elite Prospects:
Ronning has finished up his third season in the WHL for a very bad Vancouver team. His 59 points finished him third on the team in scoring, or first among players who suited up for the Giants. Ronning's draft year production should ease concerns after a rough 2014-15 that saw him most of the season due to a shoulder injury in preseason and a mere two points in 24 games. Ronning came to play for the Giants in 2015-16.
While it is not noted here, Ronning did appear in the CHL Top Prospects Game. Ronning's teammate Tyler Benson was injured and Ronning was named as his replacement. According to this article by Cam Tucker in the Vancouver Metro, Ronning apparently belonged in the game and even scored a goal. The attention will help his cause to getting drafted this June as he is not at all ranked highly.
Ronning was rated 88th among North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Services in their final rankings. That is a drop of six spots from their midterm rankings. The only other ranking I've seen him is in Steve Kournianos' draft rankings. Among his April Top 250 list at The Draft Analyst, Ronning was listed at 108th. Essentially, Ronning should be considered to go in the middle of the whole draft, if not late in it. That appearance in the CHL Top Prospects Game, plus whoever was paying attention to a bad Vancouver Giants squad, may have given him the attention he needed to have scouts remember who he is beyond being Cliff's kid.
What Others Say About Ty Ronning?
Let's start at Elite Prospects. They have a short, complimentary summary of the player in his profile:
A small but industrious speedster that always seeks to be engaged in the play. Skates very well and has the shiftiness to avoid being rubbed out. Isn't afraid of physical play, but knows his role as an offensive catalyst and plays to his strengths. Excellent hands and hockey sense. Only knock is his size, but that doesn't impede his compete level. Possesses the fundamental skills and natural goal scoring instincts that make the players around him better.
Size is definitely a concern at 5'9" and a 165 pounds. However, I wouldn't agree that is his only knock given his junior career and what this profile does not highlight. All the same, at least his skating and offensive skills are seen as pluses.
This December article by Gare Joyce at Sportsnet focuses Ronning and his teammate, Tyler Benson. Ronning really doesn't get much attention until the end, but it does includes quotes from a scout and a scouting director for a NHL team. Here's what they had to say about Ronning:
The other intriguing player in the Giants’ lineup is their leading scorer, Ty Ronning, who is not just the son of former NHLer Cliff Ronning but also a virtual doppelganger for his father. "They’re exactly the same sort of player," the scout said
Said the scouting director: "You look at him and say, 'He shouldn’t be able to play at the next level.' But then again, that’s exactly what everybody said about Cliff. And the fact is that Cliff played at a time when it was a lot tougher to at that size. I tell our guys, 'Don’t tell me how his size limits [Ty] in the NHL. Don’t make assumptions. Tell me how he plays and what he makes happen and let’s work from there.'"
Both of these are rationalizations for Ronning's size. Ty's small, but so was Cliff, who did play in an era where size was definitely a bigger concern. Cliff was also a very tenacious, hardworking forward who found plenty of success in a long NHL career. So the angle is that if Ty is really like his dad, then that's an asset. I see it. I get it.
This January article by Jose Colorado in the Vancouver Sun includes some thoughts on Ronning by Marshal MacKinder, a scout with Red Line Report. It's brief, but it touches on something else about Ronning's game:
"I’m very surprised Ronning was excluded [from the CHL Top Prospects Game]. He has been the team MVP this season," said Marshall Mackinder, a scout for the Red Line Report whose subscribers include the majority of NHL teams. "With Benson missing the first 10 games of the season and only contributing at what he says is 75 per cent, Ronning sure picked up the slack."
The general consensus among scouts is that Ronning can get hot quick but he can also cool off fast. Two injury-plagued seasons — 56 games in 2013-14 and 24 games in his infamous 2014-15 campaign — also didn’t help his cause, Mackinder said.
Now, that's interesting. Consistency apparently is something that has been a question. Is that about his production or his performances? I'm wondering if it's really the latter. His game-by-game stats at the WHL site only show one month where he just averaged a point in every other game. All of the other months had him produce at a higher rate. Plus, Vancouver was a bad team so I don't think it would be fair to ding him for not doing more on the scoresheet. That makes me suspect that it's about performances and that could help explain why he has not been rated any higher by those who see him.
A Little Video
There's plenty of videos of Ty Ronning being interviewed. Such as this one by Tony Su, an editor with the Langara Voice, a news paper by Langara College students. He's apparently an instructor with BASEHockey, and so there are clips of him explaining certain shots like this one. He's even featured in this video about skating strides by How to Hockey. Surely, his skating and shooting are notable enough to be featured in instructional videos. The most important video to watch for Ronning is this game highlight video by bigwhite06. This is from November 13, 2015, when Ronning put up three points in an overtime win over Kamloops:
I like the takeaways on the forecheck and I really liked how Ronning pushed forward swiftly in transition. While the two goals he scored may not necessarily be indicative of his shot, some of the other shots that did make the video were strong shots. Namely on the power play that kicks off the video, where Ronning was robbed twice from the slot. It's definitely from a good game by Ronning, but it shows why a team may be interested in him.
An Opinion of Sorts
While plenty of attention will be paid to who the New Jersey Devils pick in the first and second round, their mid-round selections deserve notice as well. The Devils have four of them this year, with two third rounders and two fourth rounders. If the scouts can uncover a player or two with them, then that would really help out. It could help hasten their current re-building effort, or sustain the gains from said effort in the future. Therefore, it's imperative that the scouting department does their homework on the players they anticipate could be had in the middle portion of the draft.
There isn't much out there about Ty Ronning in that he is projected to go in the middle of the draft. Even if I were to write this profile on June 12 or June 19, days closer to the draft, I doubt there would be much more insight available. Ronning appears to have a solid shot, he can be a very quick skater - particularly in transition, and he definitely puts in effort on offense. These are all positives. While he's had a less-than-ideal junior career, being a top player for a bad team that had a top prospect (Benson) and not just making up the roster at the CHL Top Prospect Game means more people have been able to check him out. So I am confident he will be picked by somebody.
Should it be the Devils? I'm not so certain. As nice of a bounce-back year 2015-16 was, he wasn't doing much in the prior seasons - injury aside - to suggest he's got potential. Notice that none of what has been written about him notes how he plays off the puck. Is that a problem? There's comparisons to his dad, but I don't know whether that really means anything now. Cliff Ronning certainly proved his lack of size wasn't an issue when he did play, but this is a league where players are more complete. Would that still work? Would emulating how his dad played work out for any player in near future? Most of all, how would Ronning project to become as a player? He's fast and has a good shot at the WHL level, would that translate to professional levels? The Devils certainly have enough picks in the middle of the draft to risk taking a flyer on Ronning. However, their scouts would have to have some good answers to those questions. Otherwise, I would prefer they look elsewhere.
Now that you know more about Ty Ronning, I want to know your opinion of the prospect. What do you think, after having read the profiles and/or seen the video? Would you want the Devils to pick him in the middle of the draft if he's available? If you've seen him play in person, what did you think of him? Should he be the type of player the Devils should draft? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Ronning in the comments. Thank you for reading.