Growing up up in a small town in Ladue, Missouri Ryan Roth didn’t appear destined for the OHL. He played his youth hockey in the St. Louis Jr. Blues organization and was fortunate to be coached by several former NHL players. As his love for the game blossomed, so did his talent and he was invited to the USA Hockey National Development Camp at 15 years old. Despite his small stature his performance at the camp caught recruiter’s attention from across the country. He was getting interest from several Division 1 schools.
“Roth was the best player on a talented St. Louis Blues AAA Bantam squad,” explained Director of Scouting Brendan Collins. “After the Development Camp that summer, he returned to St. Louis and led the U16 team in scoring which is very rare for an under-ager in the Tier 1 Elite League.”
He committed to St. Lawrence University that December and was selected in the fifth round of the USHL Futures Draft that spring. Instead of going back to St. Louis for his second U16 season, he decided to make the move to one of the top teams in the country; Honeybaked.
“I went to Honeybaked for three reasons: the coaching staff, the talent on the team and the competition they play against,” admitted Roth. “Jason Deskins is the best coach I’ve had thus far and he truly cares about his players.”
Honeybaked, with the help of Roth upfront, made it all the way to the Tier 1 Nationals Semi Finals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They got knocked off by rival Compuware in a 3-0 game but they would go on to defeat Shattuck St. Mary’s 2-1 for the National Championship.
It was here that Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League began their recruiting process with Roth who was undrafted in their league. He was intending on playing the following season in Tri City in the USHL and spent his summer training. In July he attended the National Development Camp for the third time and received an “A-“ grade from Neutral Zone scouts and the following scouting report:
Roth is a small, creative playmaker returning to his third National Camp after a breakout year at Honeybaked U16. He’s quick, instinctual and plays the game with pace and energy. He’s a quick twitch skater with great burst and has the ability to read the play and access all of his tools at full speed. He plays a puck possession style here but his vision and the passes he made were his most noticeable trait. Roth is a purposeful shooter, he has his head up and tries to pick corners and with his explosive first step he’s able to separate from defenders and get his powerful, quick release wrister off. He led the Gold team in points and was constantly involved; he carried the puck end to end, he came out of the corners and attacked the net, he dazzled defenders on the rush and he worked the puck around on the power play. The undersized, highly skilled forward will suit up for Tri City (USHL) next season. He needs to get a bit stronger on his stick and play more structured defensively in order to get a top six role in the USHL, but the talent is clearly there. Grade: A- (5gp, 3-2-5)
After camp talks with Soo heated up again and he eventually signed with the team in late August despite not being drafted in the OHL. “I committed to St. Lawrence originally because I enjoyed the atmosphere, the coaching staff and felt it was one of the best places to play in college hockey.” However, after a big year at Honeybaked and growing interest from the Greyhounds, he decided the OHL was the best place for him.
“My signing in Soo was not a fast process. It required a lot of thought. I ended up choosing Soo because of their coaching staff and their style of play. They play a fast, skilled game which suits me. The OHL is misunderstood in the US, but they pay for your schooling and are the best developmental path to the NHL.”
He credits Kyle Raftis (Soo Greyhounds GM) and Ryan Ward (Soo Greyhounds Assistant Coach) as playing a major role in his recruitment and eventual signing.
Even though Roth was not drafted in the CHL and his recruitment is different than most; he faced the NCAA vs. CHL question many top-level prospects do in their late teens. We asked Ryan after his experience what ultimately made him chose the OHL?
“There are definitely perks to both sides (NCAA and OHL). For me, I simply asked myself which route would give me the best chance at a career in the NHL. After months of thought and researching both routes, I decided the OHL was best for me. I’m extremely happy and proud of my decision.”
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling / Hickling Images