Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Ryder Rolston.
The son of former NHLer Brian Rolston, Ryder Rolston is a late birthdate who was part of the incredible 2019 US NTDP squad. This past season he stayed in the USHL but moved on to the Waterloo Black Hawks who drafted him second overall in the USHL Draft. Rolston scored 16 goals and 17 assists for 33 points in 42 games. He also played for Team USA at the World Junior A Hockey Championships, picking up two assists in six games and winning a silver medal.
Last season Rolston put up 20 goals and 13 assists for 33 points in 54 games for the US NTDP Under-18 squad. He put up two goals and an assist for three points in two games in the USHL playoffs. In 2017-18, Rolston also put up 26 goals and 11 assists for 37 points in 52 games. He also added two assists in eight playoff games that season.
Rolston is committed to playing NCAA hockey for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish next season. In addition to his father, his uncle Ron Rolston played in the NCAA and ECHL and has been a long time college and US NTDP coach.
Ryder Rolston Scouting Report
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born October 31st, 2001 — Birmingham, Michigan
Height 6’1″ — Weight 175 lbs [185 cm/79 kg]
Rolston is an excellent skater. His first step is explosive and his acceleration is excellent. His ability to change speeds is a weapon and he can use it to fool defenders. Rolston also has outstanding top-end speed. He can get behind the defence and create breakaways or odd-man rushes. With his speed, he can take a defender wide and cut to the net. Rolston also has decent edgework and agility, though these are areas he can improve. He is strong on his skates with the power to fight through checks. Rolston can win battles for the puck in the corners and in front of the net.
Rolston is much more of a goalscorer than a playmaker. He has an accurate and strong wrist shot with a good release. He also has a good snapshot. Rolston loves to shoot and is very much a high-volume shooter. Sometimes he can even shoot too much as he gets tunnel vision and shoots from bad angles instead of making the smart pass to a teammate. Rolston also has the soft hands to finish in close to the net. He is not afraid to drive the net both with and without the puck. Once he is there, he can establish his position in front of the net and score with deflections, banging in rebounds or by quickly one-timing a pass from a teammate.
Rolston isn’t the most creative player. He makes short, safe passes rather than being creative with the puck. Most of his assists come from his work down low in the cycle game and keeping the puck moving. He is strong on the puck and able to control it down low. Rolston keeps his feet moving after giving up the puck, getting open for the give-and-go. He uses his speed to get in quickly on the forecheck and chase down loose pucks. While Rolston isn’t the most physical player, he does a good job of pressuring defenders and forcing them into mistakes and turnovers. Rolston does not look to carry the puck that often. He looks to pass the puck off quickly and keep it moving rather than making moves to get by defenders.
Rolston works hard in the defensive end of the ice. He is a smart player who puts effective backpressure against the rush, forcing attackers into bad positions. He also brings his relentless puck pursuit and battles for loose pucks and works to contain the cycle game along the boards. Rolston gets into good positions and uses his stick to steal pucks from opponents or to intercept passes. Once a turnover is created, he is quick to transition to offence. He is also not afraid to block shots. Rolston can be used on the penalty kill.
Projection and Comparison
Rolston’s ultimate upside is limited by his lack of stickhandling and passing ability. If he can improve those, he might be able to be a top-six NHL forward. However, right now he looks like a forward who can provide two-way play and some offence out of the third line as well as contributing on the penalty kill. He is a bit of a project who will need some time in the NCAA with Notre Dame. Rolston’s game is reminiscent of Jesper Fast. This is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and potential.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Ryder Rolston that are available on youtube and twitter.
#U18: The silky-smooth skill of C Trevor Zegras (Ranked No. 5) on full display in this set up to RW Ryder Rolston (2020 Draft). Team USA with an early 1-0 lead on Sweden. LW Matt Boldy (Ranked No. 7) picks up the other assist. pic.twitter.com/AdDLMEp4X7
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) February 6, 2019
This is a great pass from Trevor Zegras to set up Ryder Rolston for an easy goal. pic.twitter.com/HUQdQm2fqk
— Sam (@DraftLook) January 2, 2019
Ryder Rolston is one of the guys to watch going into the 19-20 season. He played last year with the NTDP, but was pushed down the lineup. This season he’ll be with Waterloo and I expect him to be one of the USHLs top player.
— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) June 10, 2019
— USA Hockey’s NTDP (@USAHockeyNTDP) October 28, 2018
— USA Hockey’s NTDP (@USAHockeyNTDP) October 13, 2018
Ryder Rolston, the son of former NHLer Brian Rolston and the nephew of former NHL coach Ron Rolston, scored his fifth goal of the season and second in USHL competition to make it 8-3. That's the game as the #USNTDP dominates this one offensively. #NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/dsGtCMjOEZ
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisNHL) October 28, 2018
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Ryder Rolston Main Photo:
That’s goal #⃣1⃣2⃣ on the season for #⃣1⃣2⃣ Ryder Rolston and the Hawks lead the Bucs 6-2!
— Waterloo Black Hawks (@BlckHawksHockey) December 29, 2019