He has a team-leading eight goals to along with two assists through nine outings heading into play this week. Nick Porco is on a developmental fast track as a second year left winger with the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League.
Amazingly, Porco has scored the eight goals on just 17 shots.
The 6-foot, 175-pound Porco, a Sault Ste. Marie product with a 2001 birth date, is currently projected as a late round pick on a preliminary list of players eligible for the 2019 National Hockey League draft.
But there are those who are of the notion that by the time the 2019 NHL draft is held next June 21-22 in Vancouver, B.C. that Porco’s stock will be a lot higher.
It is Porco’s “separation speed” that Saginaw general manager Dave Drinkill told Hockey News North is what makes the Spirit first rounder from the 2017 OHL draft “a dangerous threat every time he steps on to the ice.”
And as a veteran NHL scout added: “Once Porco gets a step on a defender, it’s over. Not only does he have breakaway speed but he has great hands that enable him to finish off plays.”
Porco struggled offensively as an OHL rookie with Saginaw in 2017-2018, netting 5 goals, 9 assists, 14 points in 57 regular season games before scoring once and adding a helper in four playoff outings.
The likeable, personable youngster said his improvement as a second year OHLer is partially a result of getting used to the pace of the major junior game.
“With the game slowing down for me, I’m feeling stronger and faster out there on the ice,” Porco told Saginaw website writer Zach Libby. “It has allowed me to get more confident and make plays.”
Porco trained hard during the summer under the watchful eye of his uncle, John Parco, who operates Superior Hockey Training in Sault Ste. Marie. And he also took part in a five day tryout camp that was hosted by Canada’s national men’s under-18 summer team.
“It was a great experience,” Porco said. “Any chance you can put that maple leaf on the front of your sweater is a great opportunity. You learn a lot when playing with the best of the best in Canada.”
As Porco is firmly focused on a rising Spirit in Saginaw that is a serious contender in the Western Conference of the OHL, the speedster with the soft hands and high hockey IQ admits that it would be “special” to hear his name called at next June’s NHL draft.
“It would be a very special thing for me and my family (that includes parents Jennifer and Frank) … there has been so much work put in on both sides,” Porco said. “It would definitely be a dream come true.”
Meantime, as Saginaw seeks OHL stardom this season led by the likes of forwards such as NHL draft picks Damien Giroux and Blade Jenkins, not to mention NHL drafted defenseman Bode Wilde and NHL drafted goalie Ivan Prosvetov, a younger Porco is also a key element.
The surging Spirit has won five straight games and takes a record of 6-2-1 into a road match against the Soo Greyhounds on Wednesday night.