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Last Word on Hockey

Harley will need some time to iron out the defensive wrinkles and continue to get stronger. He has the potential to develop into a strong offensive defenceman, quarterbacking a power play and playing big minutes for his NHL team if he can hit his ceiling. While certainly not a sure thing, there is a chance he could become a top pairing defender in his prime. Harley’s game and style show similarities to Thomas Chabot but this is not a comparison based on skill or ability.

AJ’s Thoughts

Harley combines great size with good skating to create a dynamic presence along the blue line. He’s not an explosive skater who will teleport behind opponents but he can push the pace when he needs to. He’s very good in transition and when he’s pushing the play up the ice he’s at his offensive best.

I don’t love his decision making in the offensive zone but he’s come such a long way from the start of this season to the end of the year that there’s plenty of reason to believe he’s very much on the uptick. He’s on the Nic Hague development track right now and Hague has turned out pretty well so far so call me a believer in Harley.

That said, I’m not seeing the top-15 level of hype being attached to him. I think he’s more of a late-first kind of player but I do like the upside. His combination of size, skating, and skill definitely make it easy to believe he could be a special player in the NHL. His defense has a long way to go before it becomes a strength but the rapid improvements he’s made this year shade me towards optimism that it’ll work out his way.

Highlights

Avalanche Fit

Harley would be an interesting fit in that whoever they draft this year is likely to lead the next wave of Avs defensive prospects. Harley is a guy Colorado could let develop and take their time with because there’s absolutely no rush to get him to Denver with a pretty full blue line the next couple of years. Harley’s offensive flair and work-in-progress defense make him less than ideal fit for Colorado’s future blue line but you can never have too many talented puck movers in this NHL. At 16, they could certainly do worse than Harley but he really wouldn’t fill a major need.

Rankings

Ranked #22 by TSN/McKenzie

Ranked #11 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

Ranked #24 by Hockeyprospect.com

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Author

A.J. Haefele, was born in Aurora, Colorado, raised in Katy, Texas and is the Avalanche Editor and Editor-In-Chief of BSN Denver. Education: A.J. studied at Stephen F. Austin State University before moving back to Colorado in 2009. Career:  Before joining BSN Denver, A.J. had been writing for and briefly managed the popular Avalanche blog, Mile High Hockey. A.J. began contributing in 2010 with detailed practice reports, training camp coverage, and in-depth looks at Colorado’s divisional foes. He would expand his horizons with free agency analysis, draft coverage, and more day-to-day looks at the team before taking over the blog as Co-Managing Editor. It was a short-lived tenure atop before BSN Denver came calling. Most memorable sports moment: Ray Bourque lifting the Stanley Cup in 2001. John Elway winning his first Super Bowl is a very close second but Bourque winning the Cup and finishing “Mission 16W” is one of the greatest stories in all of sports. The finest sports book I’ve ever read: Big fan of “Moneyball”. The implications on the sport and the inside look at how an organization changed its attitude to exploit a market inefficiency was fascinating. One sports movie that I can’t live without: There aren’t really any I dislike. Major League and Cool Runnings were my favorites growing up but Miracle and Goon have been my favorites as an adult. Also can’t live without the Rocky and now Creed movies. Most memorable experience as a reporter: Covering the 2017 NHL Draft was a dream come true for me. I’d always wanted to attend a draft and I got to do it while covering the team selecting fourth overall. Interviewing Cale Makar after he was selected is something I’ll never forget. The sport that started it all: Baseball! My dad was an enormous baseball fan and when the Rockies came into existence, it was an instant bond for the two of us and created sports fanaticism that has defined most of my life.

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