It doesn't take long to notice Elijah Roberts on the ice. Even on an off-game the diminutive defenseman can generally put on a show with his impressive skating ability. Based on that, it's no surprise that skating really is the foundation of what makes Roberts a definite player to watch during the 2014-15 minor midget season.
Roberts got a taste of the age group last year where he saw action in a handful of games with the 1998 Toronto Marlboros as an affiliate player, experience that should serve him well right from the get go this season. The 5-foot-9 defenseman looks like he should continue to grow, but even at his size he'll have no issues being seen as a high-end OHL prospect moving forward.
His skating is advanced at a point where it can be safely considered as 'elite' not only at his age group, but looking ahead as well. He displays strong puck skills and his elusiveness and quick-step acceleration always makes him a threat in the transition game as he can take advantage of any open ice given to him. Offensively he has a deceptively powerful shot and shows the intricacies to his game that you'd expect from a powerplay quarterback; attributes such as quality vision, crisp passes, and notable instincts.
Defensively he shows good positioning and his skating allows him to recover if he's beaten by a step against most forwards he'll encounter. Strength is an area to monitor as he will most certainly need to make head-waves in that department between now and the start of the 2015-16 season; but that's of little concern right now.
At this point Roberts is safely considered amongst the upper echelon of OHL Draft prospects heading into the season, but that's not to say it's safely set in stone just yet. The more you see Roberts, the more you see some critical areas for improvement. Despite an abundance of natural talent and skating ability, Roberts does have games where he can be too reserved and almost content to sit back and watch the game happen, rather then imposing his will on the game. His offensive game also has room to grow and that's a component of his game where he needs to really make an impact in order to convince scouts that he projects as more than just a transition type defenseman, because he certainly has the tools to be both.
|1. C Sam Reinhart||Kootenay Ice|
|2. D Aaron Ekblad||Barrie Colts|
|3. C Michael Dal Colle||Oshawa Generals|
|4. C Leon Draisaitl||Prince Albert Raiders|
|5. C William Nylander||Rogle|
|6. LW Nick Ritchie||Peterborough Petes|
|7. D Haydn Fleury||Red Deer Rebels|
|8. D Roland McKeown||Kingston Frontenacs|
|9. LW Sam Bennett||Kingston Frontenacs|
|10. C Jared McCann||Soo Greyhounds|