2015-16 Team: Avon Old Farms
League: NE Prep (Founders League)
Hometown: New Canaan, Conn.
College Commitment: Boston University
It's a rarity these days for a player to go straight from prep hockey to Hockey East, but Patrick Harper is going to do just that in October. The undersized center is a speedy, skilled play maker that dominated the competition the past two years at Avon Old Farms.
A left shot, Harper is a possession type forward who can zoom up the left wall and blow by opposing defenders. On the power play he set up shop on the half wall and the puck went through him. He has a sneaky, quick release on his wrist shot. He has great hands and puts touch on his passes. He had great chemistry with linemate Jamie Armstrong, another prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft.
Obviously, with a player his size, the question is, is he dynamic enough to offset his lack of physical stature? The jury is still out on that, but he's proven that he can still be a force even against better competition than in prep hockey.
In five games played in the USHL with the Omaha Lancers this season, he has a goal and two assists. He also had a nice showing in last summer's USA Hockey Select 17 Player Development Camp, which earned him a spot on the U.S. team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
NHL Draft Profiles
His skill set compares favorably to Merrimack rising junior Brett Seney, a New Jersey Devils prospect. He's not quite as fast as Seney, but he does have similar explosiveness and the ability to make a good pass without breaking stride.
Another Hockey East player Harper has some similarities to is Anaheim prospect and Northeastern senior Kevin Roy. Like Roy, when he was healthy, Harper has the ability to generate time and space from the half wall because of his acceleration and vision in the offensive zone.
While he has a little work to do in terms of being ready to be responsible in his own zone, his quickness and grittiness makes him a threat in puck pursuit. He's tenacious and is quick to get on pucks, impacting the penalty kill positively.
Draft Projection: There will be plenty of naysayers at draft table conversations because of his slight stature, but his speed and gifted offensive skill set will likely intrigue at least a few organizations. Look for a team to snag him towards the end of the fifth round or in the sixth round.