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Ryder Rolston: Big mid-round prospect with untapped potential

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Ryder Rolston is a big, strong forward with familial ties to the organization, looking for a chance.

If the name Ryder Rolston seems to ring a bell in the minds of long-time Devils fans, it is likely because you are confusing him with his father, Brian Rolston. For those who don’t know, Brian Rolston was drafted by the Devils 11th overall in 1991, and started career off by playing 8 years with the organization. He then proceeded to play for three different teams, before returning to the Devils from 2008-2010. Known for his deadly slapshot, Brian Rolston had a long and successful career.

Ryder Rolston, on the other hand, isn’t as hyped up as his father was going into the draft. But who is Ryder Rolston, the player?

Who is Ryder Rolston?

Ryder Rolston checks in at 6’1, 174 lbs. He plays as a forward for the Waterloo Blackhawks of USHL, where he ranked 3rd on the team with 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) through 42 games. Next season, Rolston will be joining the Notre Dame Fighting Irish of the NCAA, where he will look to establish himself as a top player moving forward.

While a solid contributor at every level, Rolston has never been a star player at any level, never completely dominating play and posting ridiculous numbers. Indeed, Rolston is promising in that, as of now, he has played consistently no matter where he is, and knows his role as a scorer. Will this translate as his game progresses?

Where is Ryder Rolston Ranked?

Rolston’s ranking varies dramatically, with as high as a late 2nd round pick, to as late as a 6th round pick. Rolston’s game clearly is attractive to some, but is a major risk for others. So, what gives?

What Others Say About Ryder Rolston

NHL.com wrote a neat little article about Rolston, detailing his pedigree and what he expects out of his game.

Before fully turning his attention to the draft, Rolston wants to refine his game. His versatility is something he would most like to improve, particularly his play away from the puck, which will serve him as he moves forward in his hockey career; he will be a freshman at Notre Dame next season.

“In the next level you have to be able to play in all scenarios,” said Rolston, who said he’s modeled his game after Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Los Angeles Kings forward Ilya Kovalchuk. “I feel like just working on that side will kind of turn me into a more complete player. I’ll be able to play in all situations when the time comes.”

Rolston said his speed and skating is where he’d like it to be. He has worked on his shot the past year, making a concerted effort to get better from the outside instead of solely scoring from around the crease.

Starting off, it’s good to note that Rolston knows the weakness to his game, and is making a concentrated effort to improve that aspect. It’s worth noting he is comfortable with his skating, and is working on his shot, which funnily enough seems to be the opposite of his father.

Bill Placzek of the Rink had this to say

An elite skater who is too much of a perimeter player for a prospect with high caliber abilities. Wastes time and effort in his possession unnecessarily playing laterally when more straight line approach would serve the offensive attack. Is a goal scorer with a fast stick and uses his wide base to grab loose pucks. Needs to keep his head up and work to help push pace more fully. Committed to Notre Dame university.

Placzek describes a player who, while skilled, plays the game with many flaws. While more of his flaws seem to be system rather than ability, Rolston needs to correct these flaws in order to have any chance of performing successfully at higher levels. He is a player who needs to forge his path, and quick, in order to succeed.

Highlights

As a more unknown prospect, there do not exist any highlight videos dedicated to Rolston. There is one highlight I picked out, however, which shows Ryder’s straight line speed and excellent shot.

Final Thoughts

Personally, Ryder Rolston is a player I don’t care if the Devils draft or not in the later rounds. There are clearly some big flaws in his game, and I’m unsure of his ceiling, let along his floor. If the Devils take in the 5th or 6th round, I would find myself indifferent unless a safer prospect drops down significantly.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.