Top 25 Under 25 2019, #10: Josh Norris
The centrepiece in the Erik Karlsson trade debuts at #10 in our Top 25 Under 25 ranking.
10. Josh Norris (Reader Rank: 12, Last Year: N/A)
As a prominent piece of the Erik Karlsson trade, all eyes are on Josh Norris as he officially begins his pro career the prospect tournament and training camp later this month. Last fall, when Norris came to the Senators organization, Ary wrote a fantastic piece on him (and Rudolfs Balcers) to give fans an idea of what to expect. It’s definitely something you should revisit. It’s ok, go ahead. I’ll pour myself an iced coffee and wait.
Alright, we good?
After a decent rookie season at the University of Michigan, which saw the left handed centre tally 23 points in 37 games, Norris took off to start his second year of college hockey. Heading into the World Junior tournament, Norris had compiled ten goals and nine assists in 17 games for the Wolverines. He brought that production into the tournament as well, contributing three goals and three assists in seven games while wearing the “A” for Team USA.
Josh Norris (OTT) makes it 2-0 for the Americans. Team USA in complete control of this one. pic.twitter.com/qhT3mYR3vJ— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) January 3, 2019
Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of data to look at for NCAA prospects yet in terms of how they fair in metrics like shot attempts, possession, etc. but we can gather some insight into Norris’ game from various scouting reports and articles from his draft year to present.
During Norris’ draft year, Steve Kournianous penned a report on Norris that highlights his strong skating, tenacity to win puck battles, playmaking abilities and his hard, accurate shot. Earlier this month, The Athletic’s Corey Pronman had very similar things to say about Norris two years later (paywall). Ranking him 5th in Ottawa’s prospect pipeline, Pronman describes Norris as a strong skater with a clean stride who battles for pucks and has the hockey IQ to make smart plays to elevate his linemates. He does note in a separate piece on Norris (paywall) that some scouts are at odds as to where Norris will end up. Some see the high end skill and two way ability making him a solid top six centre. Others aren’t sure he will shake it out to much more than a third liner. After his solid year at Michigan, I’m optimistic that it’ll be the former but only time will tell.
Much of what we see and hear about Norris tends to describe a good - maybe great - two way centre with a solid future in the NHL. In the immediate future, it would appear that a coach like DJ Smith might be intrigued by Norris’ ability to play at both ends of the ice and that may vault him near (or to) the top of the depth chart for prospects down the middle.
The question will be where will his offensive toolkit get him in the Sens lineup in the long run? If you ask Brandon, perhaps we’ll find out sooner rather than later.
As is tradition, we close out with the incredible work of @SensProspects below. Enjoy!