August 27 2013 07:56AM
Bradley Ross Rad Boss
Position: Left Wing
Hometown: Lethbridge, Alberta
Size: 6'1, 183lbs
2013 Team: Toronto Marlies, Idaho Steelheads
Acquired: Draft, 2nd Round, 2010
If you asked me a year ago where I’d rank Rad Boss I probably would have placed him a lot higher than 18th spot I personally ranked him at. Putting aside his WHL production, which 42 goals, 82 points in 68 games is damned impressive, I would have been thrilled about his willingness to play the game over the line and his ability to at least function as a supporting cast member in the top six. I’d ignore his 42 goals and instead focus on his 163 PIMs. I’d celebrate his suspension history that even Raffi Torres might find a bit excessive. I was a fan of Brad Ross agitator.
The past season saw that trait dry up significantly and for the first time in his career Brad Ross averaged less than 1 PIM per game, in fact this was the first time since his junior rookie season that he was averaging less than 2 PIM per game. This could be Ross becoming more disciplined and choosing his spots better, but the reality of it is he also wasn’t hitting or yapping at his opponents either. And on the other side of the coin (the one that shows point totals) he wasn’t getting it done either.
That’s not to say Brad Ross isn’t going to pan out as a prospect, it’s much more likely that he’s just going to have a longer adjustment period in learning how to play against 26 year olds instead of 18 year olds. He’ll likely need to significantly improve his skating, which was average in the WHL so he’s still a step behind in the AHL. He’ll also benefit from the Marlies shifting towards becoming a development team rather than questing for the Calder Cup, which largely seemed pointless to me. Steve Spott certainly embraces idea of physical players in his line up and will likely have different expectations for Ross in the lineup than Eakins, and with Spott the expectations are more in synch with what Ross has done well in the past.
In a July interview in the Lethbridge Herald, Ross addressed his rocky first year with the Marlies:
“There weren’t a lot of young guys, they threw me on the power play a couple of times toward the end of the season…I really bounced up and down, going to the first, second, third and fourth line. I was played in all kinds of situations, which was good for me because I didn’t really have a taste of the AHL before. So it was a good stepping stone. It was good. With the lockout it was pretty hard and I was in and out of the lineup, but after that everything kind of settled down and I got in the lineup regularly.”
So why rate Ross so low? His junior numbers are good, his ECHL days are likely behind him, and he should see third line minutes on the Marlies, what gives? While Ross had great numbers in Portland it is largely due his former linemates. Nino Neiderreiter, Ryan Johansen, Sven Baertschi, and Ty Rattie all had regular ice time with Ross. His goals were largely close proximity rebounds, and his assists were his teammates doing the same on his shots. He’s not a gifted playmaker and scores few highlight reel goals.
Although this one may be worthy of a highlight reel:
What does Ross need to do? First he needs to establish himself as an everyday player for the Marlies, a task that may be harder now that he’s facing additional competition from David Broll and Troy Bodie to do the same type of job. Ideally he proves he can be useful in front of the net on the second powerplay unit, and of course, he needs to increase his physical play because without that component his destined to spend the next 15 years winning ECHL scoring titles and little more. Spending the summer training with the Orion
If Ross doesn’t hold a job with the Marlies, it’s not time to write him off though. One of the biggest misses for the Leafs last season was going into a lockout without an ECHL affiliate. This meant both the AHL/ECHL were operating with capacity rosters for over half the season and there were few opportunities to find space for Ross since there wasn’t really a reason for an ECHL team to accommodate him. That led to a largely wasted season and if he gets regular playing time at any level this season it would be an improvement, although not really a significant one.
This year we can safely rule out seeing Ross in a Leafs uniform, and I’ll go out on a limb and say next season isn’t too likely either. It’s going to take Ross time to get comfortable playing against grown men, learning to pick his spots better, and improve his skating, but I’m still optimistic that patience will pay off. Ross has the benefit of being a Randy Carlyle/Steve Spott type player so it’s unlikely the organization will part ways with him prematurely. Brad Ross’ NHL potential seems limited to third or fourth line roles and with Biggs, Gauthier, Ashton, and D’Amigo ahead of him that’s going to be a tough gig to for land.