A lot goes into the composition of a top prospect.
Explosive skills are the obvious, but intangibles become the glue that holds a package together.
Erie Otters winger Stephen Harper has the skills. He’s still searching for the glue.
The six-foot, 195-pound Harper was greeted at training camp this year with an “A” sewn on his sweater and a big bag of expectations placed on his back. Following a strong rookie campaign in the that saw him record 35 points in 63 games, the Otters expected Harper to leading force on and off the ice for the young club.
Unfortunately, Harper’s response has been underwhelming to say the least. He’s managed a feeble 13 goals and 27 points in 48 games so far this season.
His poor point totals however are not for a lack of skill.
Harper possesses a tremendous array of offensive tools that in theory should allow him to succeed. He has great speed and a solid frame allowing him to drive the net to create chances. Soft hands coupled with a wicked shot make him scoring threat at all times in offensive zone.
“When he is on his game he’s a good sized, hard skating, scoring winger who will take the puck into traffic or to the net for a scoring opportunity and once there has the hands and shot to capitalize.” Future Considerations director of scouting Dan Stewart said.
“But when he is not on, (he’s a) lethargic winger. The lack of consistency and willingness to grow his game is concerning at this point.”
A threat to contend for the first round in the draft in September, Harper has slipped.
Not all is lost, though.
The 17-year-old’s potential is quite promising but finding and sustaining a hard work ethic is crucial to his career.
Should Harper find this seemingly elusive component to his came and rediscover consistency in his offensive game, he could possibly make the climb back to his old spot in the ranking in time for the big day in June.