We continue our series of check-ins on Ottawa Senators prospects playing around the NCAA and the CHL, with a look at Guelph Storm defenseman Ben Harpur.
Harpur was selected in the fourth round (108th overall) from the Storm following a 15 point, 59 PIM season, his second in the OHL. The thing that stands out about him upon first glance in his size. Standing 6’6″ and weighing over 210 lbs, Hapur is an intimidating presence on the ice.
So, now that he is a member of the Senators’ system, how has his game been progressing and what might the future hold for Ben Harpur.
Harpur has 3 goals and 16 points and 61 PIMs in 53 games so far this season. Despite playing in the OHL, we don’t get too much of an opportunity here in Ottawa to see the Storm play very often, and stats don’t tell the whole story. So I turned to someone who covers the Storm on a regular basis to give us an indication of where his game is.
Tony Saxon covers the Storm for the Guelph Mercury and he answered a few questions for me.
Q: Obviously you can’t teach size, and Harpur has that in spades. How is his mobility and skating abilities?
A: Ben is a solid straight-line skater who will continue need to work on his agility. He reads angles well and is by no means a bad skater, but as with most teenagers his size, there is room for improvement.
Q: What are the best attributes to his game?
A: Intelligence, simplicity and being calm under pressure are Ben’s biggest attributes.
Q: What does he need to work on to advance to the next level?
A: Ben needs to work on his upper body strength, his skating agility and his puckhandling skills and shot: all things that have come a long way in the past two years.
Q: His offensive numbers are pretty comparable this season to last. Has there been any development in his offensive game or is he strictly a defensive player?
A: Ben will never put up much in the way of offence. He is a typical stay-at-home defenceman who thinks defence first. He makes solid and simple first passes out of his zone and headman’s the puck promptly. He is not a puck carrier.
Q: What situations does he play in for the Storm, and how much ice time is he getting as a third year player?
A: Ben has turned into one of the most reliable defensive defencemen in the Ontario Hocley League and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him garner some Most Improved Player votes in the annual coaches poll at the end of the year. He does not play on the power play but is a top-four defenceman and a fixture on the penalty kill.
Q: Do you see him making the pro level, and if so, how long will that progression take and what is his ceiling?
A: Ben definitely has pro potential. Considering he has only been playing defence for 2 ½ years, I think Ottawa should be thrilled at his progress and thrilled at what his ceiling might be. If he continues to improve, and fill out physically, Ben should be a solid 5-6 defenceman a the NHL level eventually.
Q: Anything else you would like our readers like know about the player or person?
A: Ben is a very calm, quiet personality who engages physically as a player, but doesn’t fight much. He uses his size effectively and one of his biggest attributes is his long reach. He doesn’t have much of a shot and prefers to use wrist shots from the point in order to enhance accuracy.
The Ottawa Senators have a tradition of making something out of their later round picks, and if Ben Harpur’s progression continues along these lines he could be another success story as a complement for the more offensively gifted blueliners currently in the system. He might be more of a project, but people said the same thing about guys like Mark Borowiecki at one time as well.
Thanks again to Tony Saxon of the Guelph Mercury for taking the time to relay some information about Ben Harpur for us.