– Dylan Gratton –
North Jersey Avalanche (T1EHL) | Defence | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible
Pottstown, Pennsylvania | 6-feet, 160-pounds | Feb 25th, 2003
Although a commitment to Penn State University will deter a number of OHL franchises from selecting him, the fact remains that Dylan Gratton of the North Jersey Avalanche is one of the top defencemen available for the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.
Of solid size, Gratton is an exceptional skater who processes the game at an elite-level. A natural two-way defender who loves to join the rush and contribute to his team’s attack, Gratton’s poise and composure while in possession of the puck stand at a remarkable level and help to amplify his tenacious defensive game.
While a future in the OHL could be unlikely, it goes without saying that a franchise will step up and select Gratton with a mid-to-late round pick — were he not committed to the NCAA, Gratton surely would have heard his name called in the opening round of the event.
- Skating Speed and Acceleration
- Offensive Instincts
- Defensive Positioning and Gap Control
- Poise and Composure
As mentioned above, Gratton is a tremendous skater whose speed and agility stand as the foundation of his overall game. Capable of traversing the ice with ease, Gratton is purposeful and efficient in his movements — an ability which allows him to log major minutes in a variety of situations without tiring.
Related: 2019 OHL Draft Rankings
One particular situation in which Gratton excels comes in the offensive zone. Owing to his mobility on the blue line, Gratton can fire crisp and accurate passes to his teammates as well as fire the puck on-goal from his perch. Aware of when to pinch and carry the puck down low, Gratton has a stellar feel for the game and rarely makes mistakes which put his team at a risk defensively.
Related: 2019 OHL Draft Prospect Profiles
In fact, it is Gratton’s combined offensive and defensive play which make him a prospect of such immense value. In addition to his flair in the opposing zone, Gratton is routinely the first player back on defence — utilizing consistent gap control and strong positioning in order to limit and squash the plays devised by his opposition. Mix in an incredible level of poise while in possession of the puck, and Gratton stands as a lethal two-way defender of incredible potential.
Areas of Improvement:
- Defensive Focus
- Personal Strength
Since Gratton is such a strong and well-rounded defenceman, there aren’t a number of glaring deficiencies within his game at this point in time — we’ll have to nitpick.
One area in which Gratton can improve is his focus defensively. Owing to his innate offensive instincts and skills with the puck, Gratton loves to contribute to his team’s attack. However, Gratton can get overly focused trying to create offence at times and, for a split-second, neglect to place his focus primarily on the defensive zone. Now, this is not say that Gratton routinely neglects his own zone, but rather that he can at times place too great of an emphasis on creating offence.
Related: 2019 OHL Draft – T1EHL Profiles
The other facet of his game which Gratton would do well to improve is his personal strength. Although of good size considering his 6-foot tall stature, Gratton weighs in at just 160-pounds and far from the strongest player on the ice. Once able to add greater strength to his growing frame — like the vast majority of players his age — Gratton will undoubtedly stand as an overwhelming force on the blue line capable of altering the outcome of any given game in the blink of an eye.
At the end of the day, Gratton has all the makings of a top-pairing defenceman at the professional-level.
While his future remains somewhat uncertain, Gratton would surely be made a first-to-second round choice were he to commit himself to the OHL-level. However, with a slew of options ahead of himself such as the USHL, NTDP, and NCAA, attracting Gratton to a Canadian major-junior team could prove to be too great of a challenge.
In short, if Gratton chooses to forgo the OHL and follow a different developmental route, expect the native of Pottstown, Pennsylvania to be a star regardless of where he plays — the youngster is simply that good.