It seems that every single summer at least one player in the draft is overlooked because of his size and he ends up making a lot of teams look bad for passing on him.
Alex DeBrincat was this guy in 2016 and Tampa Bay has found a pair of them with Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli. The list goes on and on. The Oilers grabbed a player who fits this profile in the fifth round of the 2020 draft — Ty Tullio.
Tullio is an interesting player. He’s listed at 5’11”, so he isn’t big by any stretch, but he plays an abrasive, physical game, featuring a motor that never stops. He thrives in the offensive zone with excellent playmaking and vision and he’s also responsible in his own zone. He also provides tremendous versatility as he can play all three forward positions.
That toolbox has the makings of an effective, complementary, middle-six forward, which would be quite the snag for the Oilers to find late in the draft. The hope is that he makes other teams look bad for letting him slip as low as he did.
Position: Centre / Wing
Date of Birth: April 5, 2002
Drafted: 2020, No. 126 overall (EDM)
Weight: 181 lbs
Tullio broke into the OHL in 2018-19 with the Oshawa Generals and scored 15 goals and 42 points over the course of 60 games, good for sixth in the league among players under the age of 17. The following season, Tullio improved on his production, scoring 27 goals and 66 points over 62 games.
A good rookie season followed by a point-per-game season in the OHL is pretty much the trajectory of a good, B-level prospect, somebody who you’d figure to go in the second round of the draft, maybe the third round at the latest. That’s where Tullio was pegged heading into the 2020 draft, ranking between No. 38 and No. 80 overall on pre-draft lists.
The fact he slipped all the way down to the fifth round is quite shocking. The size is obviously the big thing that turns teams away from Tullio, but it’s still strange to see a player who does so many things well get passed over. With the combination of quality skating, high-level skill, and a great work ethic, you can see a player who has quite a high floor.
Before the draft, Tony Ferrari of Dobber Prospects suggested that Tullio was quietly one of the more complete forwards in the class…
“He plays a high-level offensive game and easily surpasses the point-per-game mark in his draft year. Tullio is quietly one of the most complete players in the draft class. He can play in all situations and anywhere in the top-nine. He has good awareness at both ends of the ice and brings a creativity to the offensive zone that makes him dangerous anytime the puck is on his stick. He is craft y with his stick and strips opponents through the neutral zone with consistency. Tullio engages physically despite being a bit undersized thanks to a non-stop motor. A versatile forward who can get under the opponent’s skin.”
The 2020-21 season would have been one for Tullio to really break out and produce at an elite level in the OHL, but, unfortunately, the league’s season was wiped. Tullio found a gig playing in Slovakia’s top league, where he would score four goals and 13 points over the course of 19 games. That’s fine production for a young North American playing in an unfamiliar pro Euro league.
This upcoming season will be Tullio’s last kick at the OHL and he’s coming back with a little bit of professional experience under his belt so it’s fair to expect a big showing. Tullio lighting up the OHL would certainly get some hype behind his name as a prospect. He’s also in the mix to play for Team Canada at this year’s World Juniors in Edmonton.
Before the draft, Tullio said that he models his game around Brad Marchand, the NHL’s infamous pest…
“I try and model a little bit after Brad Marchand, not the dirty side. He’s a small guy like me, he’s offensively gifted, can shoot, make plays, has great hockey vision and uses his body. He’s gritty. He has all the things I have in my game as well.”
Marchand, of course, is one of those players who went lower in the draft than he should have due to his size. Let’s hope that Tullio can follow that trend and make a lot of teams look bad for overlooking him.
For reference, players who I consider to be “prospects” for this countdown are skaters who have played fewer than 50 NHL games and goaltenders who have played fewer than 25 NHL games. I’m basing the rankings on a combination of upside and the likelihood of reaching that potential.