It's time for my first official ranking for the 2024 NHL Entry Draft. I say official because I release a preseason ranking in the summer (which can be found here).
The list includes detailed reports on the Top 30 and small snippets on the other 20 that make up the Top 50.
The list includes detailed reports on the Top 30 and small snippets on the other 20 that make up the Top 50.
A reminder that this list does not include potential re-entry candidates (players already passed over in the draft). A guy like Anthony Romani is off to a tremendous start, but I do a separate list for these types later in the season.
This was one of the most difficult preliminary lists for me to compile. I think that Dickinson is without question the top OHL player available this year, but after that it gets messy. I've flip flopped on many players over the last month or so. I think that next group of Greentree, Parekh, and Sennecke is very tight. Then I think there is another group after that of about five or six players that could be ranked in any order. Once you get down into the 20's and 30's, it's all about preference...and my preference has moved around constantly. I wanted to push this list a little bit longer, but wasn't even sure that would give me more clarity. I think that this is just going to be a year in the OHL where rankings are going to be all over the place on guys. Part of the reason for this is the lack of depth this year too.
Here's my list:
1. Sam Dickinson - Defense - London Knights
As mentioned, I think that he is unquestionably the top player available from the OHL this year. I don't see that changing over the course of the year. IMO, he and Michigan State's Levshunov will be in direct competition to be the first defender selected. Dickinson plays such a calm and mature game in the defensive end already. He knows how to leverage using his size. He's confident playing the body. His terrific four way mobility allows him to suffocate would be attackers and he can be so quick to close out because of his length and quickness. Offensively, I think things have been a little more inconsistent, but that's probably to be expected of a player who is still finding his bearing in this league after inconsistent ice time last year. Dickinson makes terrific decisions with the puck in the defensive end and is a true breakout machine. He's so poised under the pressure of the forecheck. However, I've found his decision making to be erratic as he attempts to advance play up ice with his feet. Turnovers in the neutral zone have been a bit of an issue. When he does get runway, he can be tough to stop because of how well he protects the puck in stride. Inside the offensive zone, he has solid instincts and does have the shot and touch to be a powerplay QB at the next level IMO. I think we're all just trying to figure out what the high end offensive upside is and ultimately that will determine how high Dickinson goes in June. Is he a future #1? Or is he more of a solid #3 who can be a longtime fixture of a defensive unit, but lacks the dynamic qualities to be a true perennial Norris candidate?
2. Liam Greentree - Wing - Windsor Spitfires
Finding a big winger with the kind of skill and poise that Greentree possesses is difficult and for that reason, I think he'll end up shooting up draft lists over the course of the season. There are a lot of layers to his game offensively. He protects the puck well along the wall and can extend plays with his feet and strength. He dominates touches near the crease and has great anticipation/hands in tight. He can beat defenders one on one, be it attacking with pace or when trying to create in tighter spaces down low. He has a great shot, but also great vision with the puck. As I said, this is an offensive player with few weaknesses. I've seen a lot of people attack his skating. I don't see the big issue. I think his agility and strength on his edges are fine and it allows him to attack East/West and get looks in the middle of the ice. I think his top speed is sufficient for a bigger winger. The explosiveness will need to improve, but as he gains strength, I see that improving. I think I'm probably more concerned with the play away from the puck being fairly inconsistent. I certainly wouldn't call Greentree a power forward. He's a skilled offensively oriented winger who just happens to have great size. He's not an overtly physical player. If he could improve that area of his game in the second half or in the future, we're talking about a potential star. Getting him to use his size more effectively in all three zones is going to be a focal point. Here's my video breakdown of Greentree's game for McKeen's Hockey.
3. Zayne Parekh - Defense - Saginaw Spirit
I've seen Parekh pretty high (like top 10, top 8 high) on some lists lately...and I honestly get it. He's so damn fun to watch. He's worth the price of admission for fans. There are so many things to love about his game on the puck. He's one of the most skilled players in the OHL regardless of position. We could talk at length about his ability to create. His ability to blend movement and control allows him to keep defenders guessing; it's that concept of keeping the puck on a string. His edgework and lateral quickness are really impressive too. It's what makes him so dangerous inside the offensive zone. On top of all the skill, the vision and overall offensive zone awareness are also elite. He's the complete package as an offensive defender. I've watched a lot of Parekh this year and there just haven't been many poor plays with the puck. For all the fun...there are bound to be naysayers at the NHL level. He's given a ton of freedom to create in Saginaw and he's not likely to get that at the NHL level...at least from many organizations currently. The question marks in his own zone are legitimate. He can struggle defending down low and in coverage, and a mindset switch will be needed. It can't be all offense all the time. That said...I do think his defensive game can be improved and it's why I do see him as a potential top 25 selection. Firstly, he's absolutely fantastic when defending aggressively in the offensive zone or neutral zone to try to earn touches. He's got a great stick and is so good at stopping or disrupting breakout attempts. Secondly, there is jam to his game at times. He can play physical and he doesn't like to get hemmed in his own end. Will improved strength improve his defensive consistency? Can he become just as hungry for the puck in the defensive zone as he is in the other two? There will be inherit risk attached to Parekh on draft day. Maybe he is only a Gostisbehere type powerplay QB at the NHL level. But, on the flip side, he is a young defender with a lot of time to figure things out; one with a great head for the game. I usually bet on hockey sense.
4. Beckett Sennecke - Wing - Oshawa Generals
For whatever reason, Sennecke has been the forgotten man among the top tier of the OHL, despite having the potential to be the second OHL player drafted this year IMO. I see a young man who oozes potential as he fills into his frame; a frame that has grown considerably in the last year or so. Sennecke has rocketed up to 6'3, yet I actually think he's managed to improve his skating a bit this year. Really only consistency has been the issue this year, but Oshawa has been pretty underwhelming as a team too. When he's filled out and finished his development, I actually think Sennecke could be a really complete player. He competes physically. He is active on the forecheck and the backcheck. He can beat defenders one on one to create for himself or teammates, but he is also a heady player who understands how to find space and soft spots in the offensive zone. For a competitive winger, his playmaking and vision are terrific and I think that ultimately makes him a really good complementary guy in the middle six at the next level. The skating, especially the agility is actually quite good for a big guy who is still growing, but the power and speed will definitely need to improve further. I think it can. Sennecke is the kind of guy who will continue to fly under the radar until he ends up making the Canadian U18 team at the end of the year and has a great tournament...then suddenly people will start saying "how is this 6'3 winger with skill and a competitive streak not considered a lock for the first round?"
5. Lukas Fischer - Defense - Sarnia Sting
This is where my list starts to get "spicy"...as the cool kids might say. I don't dislike Henry Mews, I just really like Lukas Fischer. I don't understand why he hasn't received the kind of attention he deserves. We're already talking about big, athletic defenders like Charlie Elick, EJ Emery, and Will Skahan...but not Fischer? Why? This is a guy who is one of the youngest players available this year, with terrific bloodlines, who happens to be playing big minutes in all situations with under 70 games of OHL experience under his belt. The runway for improvement is significant and we've already seen a massive step forward this year. Defensively, he has the potential to be an absolute rock. It wouldn't shock me at all if he finishes growing at close to his Dad's height/weight, yet he's also a terrific skater. He plays aggressively in the defensive zone and is so disruptive because of his reach and mobility. When the physical component becomes more consistent...look out. Offensively, I love how he starts the breakout. He already trusts his feet and protects the puck well to help him shed forecheckers. The puck skill and creativity are TBD, but he's shown flashes of being someone who can be a difference maker at both ends. Again, his game is raw in some areas and it's easy to forget that he only played half of last year in the OHL. For me, Fischer is a top 40 guy right now, right there with the likes of Emery as an athletic, toolsy type. Here's my video breakdown of Fischer's game for McKeen's Hockey.
6. Henry Mews - Defense - Ottawa 67's
The reads on Mews are just so all over the place right now. I've seen and heard some classify him as a high upside offensive type. I've seen him called more of a steady "jack of all trades" type. Where's the truth? It's funny, because when Mews was OHL draft eligible the mixed feelings on him among scouts were just as real. Is he just a guy that is tough to get a read on? It does seem like every time I watch Mews (be it in U16 action, U17 action, Hlinka/Gretzky Cup, the OHL), I get a bit of a different version. In a way, this kind of scares me a bit. There have been guys with that profile over the years who just haven't developed well to become long time NHL defenders. For me, that's why he's more of an early second round type. I certainly see the upside. The skating is terrific. He can create by leading the charge offensively, pushing deep inside the offensive zone to break down coverage. The defensive game and decision making have improved since his erratic Hlinka/Gretzky Cup performance. This is especially true for his physical intensity level; he seems to get "meaner" with every viewing. Maybe he will continue to grow on me. But in a year with so many good defenseman available (across the entire 2024 draft), I see others with a more defined role at the next level.
7. Luke Misa - Wing/Center - Mississauga Steelheads
Watching Misa skate is just downright impressive. He is lightning quick; easily one of the OHL's quickest players. He's relentless in utilizing that speed too. He is a zone entry machine, who is always looking to circle back to lead the charge into the opposing end. He is a very active forechecker and backchecker and an overall effective three zone player because of his speed. The move to the wing this year seems to have really simplified things for him and he's playing the best hockey of his OHL career. He's also clearly worked really hard to improve his shot, which has added another dimension to his already well rounded skill set. I do have some concerns. A lot of his drives do still end up with him being kept to the perimeter and he can still easily be pushed off the puck; there's still a need to "beef up." Additionally, I don't see Misa as an overtly skilled or creative player. He's at his best in a straight line. The hands are right there with the feet, that's not an issue the way it was for guys like Liam Foudy at the same age. However, I'm just not completely sold on Misa having significant offensive upside at the NHL level. I kind of view him similarly to another former Steelhead in Owen Beck. I think there's a great chance that Misa ends up being a long time NHL player, I'm just not sure it's as more than a solid middle six type. Either way, you have to love the progression he has shown this year, finally taking that next step as a high end OHL player.
8. Cole Beaudoin - Center/Wing - Barrie Colts
I just really like that Beaudoin already has such a clear identity on the ice. He already has such a great understanding of how he needs to play and his game will translate well to the pro level so long as he can continue to upgrade his skating. There's a lot of versatility here; something that Beaudoin proved at the Hlinka/Gretzky this summer. He can play multiple forward positions. He can kill penalties or play down low on the powerplay. He competes hard physically and in all three zones. He loves to attack the middle of the ice and is great at protecting the puck in stride to offset any speed and quickness deficits. He's quicker without the puck than he is with it, but his stride still has a heaviness to it. It's not the most efficient from an energy perspective. Early on this year, I haven't really loved his vision with the puck and I think that area of his game will need to grow in order for him to stick down the middle. But overall, there's a lot to like here and I think he's a fairly safe NHL prospect. There's untapped offensive upside here, but also a safe floor of a Casey Cizikas type.
9. Carter George - Goaltender - Owen Sound Attack
I've found it pretty bizarre that Leenders has been getting a ton of attention as a potential early selection but George hasn't. Stats and physical profile are pretty similar. How soon people forget that George was pretty solid for Canada at the Hlinka/Gretzky Cup. Now...I say this but I view the two pretty damn interchangeable. Both are terrific play trackers. Both are athletic (Leenders probably a little quicker). But I view George as a little more technically sound, quiet in his movements and better with his rebound control. Owen Sound hasn't been great this year, but I can assure you that things would be worse if it weren't for George.
10. Ryerson Leenders - Goaltender - Mississauga Steelheads
Leenders' athleticism is mighty impressive. He has been all over the plays of the week this year so far, stretching out to cover his posts to rob would be shooters. He never quits on a play and his composure in the crease this year for a younger Mississauga team has been impressive. The consistency hasn't always been there, but you really can't knock him for that in his first year as a starter. Once he cleans up a few technical things, that will improve. This is especially true about his rebound control. He can have trouble cleaning controlling shots up high and through screens and as such, he's having to make too many second/third chance saves. I'm always skeptical of putting goaltenders this high early in the year. And given that George and Leenders aren't the biggest, I wasn't sure I wanted to place them this high. But, from what I understand, both of these guys are highly regarded by NHL scouts right now and are right in the conversation as the top goalies available. Both of their track records have been too good so far.
11. Jakub Fibigr - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads
Really impressive two-way Czech defender who has emerged as a minute eater for the Steelheads in his rookie year. Fibigr's skating ability is the key to his success. He is an effortless mover and it allows him to have a positive impact in a lot of areas. He can lead the breakout and quarterback the powerplay, however he's also been a penalty killing anchor for Mississauga because of how effective he's been in the defensive end. I love how he brings the fight to opposing puck carriers, stepping up early to disrupt clean entries. However, he also competes hard down low and near the crease and has some jam to his game. This is just a really solid two-way defender. Honestly, I wanted to put him higher, but decision making errors have been an issue all year without a ton of growth and that has me a little concerned about the processing ability. Poorly timed pinches. Poorly chosen times to be aggressive to defend high. Neutral zone turnovers. This really needs to get cleaned up. He's managed to cover a lot of these errors at the junior level because of his terrific mobility, but at the next level, he'd get eaten alive. I love Fibigr in that late second/early third round range right now. Here's my video breakdown of Fibigr's game for McKeen's Hockey.
12. Anthony Cristoforo - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
I kind of feel for Cristoforo. The Spitfires have been a real disappointment so far this season and he's been caught up in that a little bit. I don't think he's played poorly by any means. I also don't think that he's been able to take his game to that next level that I expected him to. I think that because the Spitfires have been reeling a bit, he seems to be playing things pretty safe and we're not seeing him take the kind of offensive chances that we did as an OHL rookie. His play on the powerplay has left a lot to be desired; there's been some indecisiveness there. Given his skill, poise, and vision, I want him to command the puck. Overall, Cristoforo is still a solid prospect thanks to his IQ. This is a very smart player. However, I do believe that there is some concern that he's one of those heady, jack of all trades types who can have difficulty transitioning. I just want to see him taking the bull by the horns to help lead this Windsor team out of their funk. Until I see more "dynamic" play from him, I feel more confident with him ranked in this range, rather than pushing for the first round as I had him preseason.
13. Jett Luchanko - Center - Guelph Storm
Easily one of the most improved 2006's in the OHL this year. Luchanko impressed at times last year because of his tenacity and forechecking, but he wasn't able to make much of an impact offensively. This year, he's emerged as a go-to offensive player for the Storm, taking over the first line center role thought to be occupied by Matt Poitras until he made the Bruins. Luchanko is a terrific skater who builds to top speed very quickly. He has a profound impact on the transition game and is largely responsible for helping the Storm gain the zone at even strength and the powerplay. Even though Luchanko clearly has a need to bulk up a bit to improve his ability to protect and maintain possession through contact, I've been really impressed with his ability to play through traffic and earn touches between the hash marks. Even though he has that speed element, his game is actually predicated on quick touches and quick movement, as he darts in and out of coverage. The aforementioned high energy approach he had as a rookie is still there too, even though he's taken on a larger offensive role. It's cliche, but Luchanko only knows one way to play. I'm not entirely sure we're looking at a high impact guy at the NHL level, but similar to Luke Misa, Luchanko has a chance to be a long time pro because of a tenacious and speed based game.
14. Ben Danford - Defense - Oshawa Generals
I did not anticipate having Danford this high after his rather weak showing at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. But, quite frankly, he's been terrific for the Generals this year in all facets of the game. He's a rock defensively who rarely makes an error in coverage. While he's not a Derian Hatcher-esque physical stalwart, his intensity level is terrific. Danford is one of those guys who'll do anything to secure a victory for his team; shot blocking is an art and Danford is already a master at it. His decision making with the puck has been sound too. We're seeing him round into form as a solid two-way player. He has shown an ability to extend rushes this year, but he's picking his spots well and limiting turnovers. In fact, he's shown more skill and creativity than I thought he had. To summarize, he's really developed well. But what's the pro upside? You certainly wish he was a little bigger and a little more agile. Danford is far from a poor skater, but I wouldn't classify him as better than average in any one category either. That's bound to cap his NHL draft position, even if he's performed well. At this point, I seem him as a top 75 candidate, but towards the back end of that. Here's my video breakdown of Danford's game for McKeen's Hockey.
15. Luca Testa - Wing - Brantford Bulldogs
Is the hot start sustainable? After a late start to the year due to injury recovery, Testa has been terrific for the Bulldogs through the first month or so of his return. A high skill player, Testa was one of the more disappointing OHL rookies last year. He was just invisible on most nights and he really struggled away from the puck. This year? He looks like a completely different player. In fact, he looks like a completely different player than he did as a U16 star too. We're seeing a Testa that is intense and competitive away from the puck, earning touches through forechecking and physicality in the neutral zone. If he played with this kind of fire and intensity at a consistent rate with Niagara North, he would have been a top five pick IMO. So now what do we have? We've got a highly skilled and creative offensive player who skates well and who has developed more consistency as a "complete" player. If his play continues at this high level, he'll be higher on my next list. Testa has more upside than the likes of Misa and Beaudoin IMO.
16. Nathan Villeneuve - Center/Wing - Sudbury Wolves
Tough sledding for Villeneuve lately. The arrival of Dalibor Dvorsky has had a real negative impact on his ice time and responsibility, and as a result, his offensive production has plummeted. However, I think he's still playing well in more of a high energy, checking line role. He's one of the most physical players in this Ontario class and even though he's been playing a lot of wing lately, I think he does project as a center moving forward. Much like Liam Greentree, Villeneuve is very center of the ice focused. He drives the net. He battles for position and can play net front on the powerplay. He is active and engaged in puck pursuit. I think his skating looks improved this year, although further improvements made to his first step quickness could help him. If he were on another team playing 18 minutes a game with top powerplay responsibility, I think we'd be talking about him as a top two round selection. As is, he's probably going to end up as more of a 75-100 guy. Given his projected lack of ice time this year, it could be difficult to truly ascertain his high end offensive upside as a pro.
17. Christopher Thibodeau - Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
Even on a team with some NHL draft selections, Thibodeau has been the straw the stirs the drink for the Fronts this year, emerging as a top flight offensive talent in the OHL. I love the pace that he plays with. Even as an undersized player (he's listed at 144lbs!), he is always trying to take the puck to the net and he's doing a lot of his damage between the hash marks by driving the middle. His speed and ability to make quick cuts at top speed are impressive. He's a very elusive and slippery player. I've been impressed with nearly every component of his offensive game too. The release is top notch. The vision with the puck has been impressive, especially when operating with pace. As a late birthday, he has the kind of poise you'd expect from a third year OHL player too, understanding when he needs to alter pace to slow the game down, incorporating delays and varying speed to make him a more difficult cover. Even as a smaller forward, I'd have no qualms taking Thibodeau inside the first three rounds right now. This is a high upside forward who may have even more to give after he bulks up.
18. Sam O'Reilly - Wing/Center - London Knights
O'Reilly has been great in his first full OHL season, emerging quickly as a dependable source of secondary scoring for London. This is a power winger (although he has played some center) who plays a heavy, pro style game. It's very obvious as to why Dale Hunter has been quick to give him more ice time. He competes physically and loves to lay the body in puck pursuit. He drives the net and competes along the wall. He plays all three zones and has been a dependable defensive presence. His work in the neutral zone has been particularly impressive. He has a great stick and instincts. Offensively, he seems to be best when he keeps things simple as a North/South attacker. He's not the most skilled or creative player, but I've been impressed with his puck poise as an OHL rookie. He's not afraid of putting the puck into space to earn his touches and has done well to vary pace...even without high end skating ability. Really, that's the only thing missing from his game. His top speed isn't bad, but he's definitely got some heavier boots. The first step quickness will need to improve. But Dale Hunter has done a great job of developing players like O'Reilly and IMO, he's someone that will continue to rise up rankings as the year goes on.
19. Marek Vanacker - Wing - Brantford Bulldogs
This power winger who plays a North/South attacking game has shown some nice flashes of progression this year. His skating has really taken a nice step forward and would be classified as a strength for him. Once he builds that head of steam in transition, OHL defenders are having a tough time with him. I really like his upside as a goal scorer too. He's got a really heavy shot. The release needs to get quicker and he needs to find those soft spots in coverage more consistently (his play away from the puck has been inconsistent), but I think he's going to be a top end goal scorer in this league and perhaps beyond. The rest of his game is definitely a work in progress. Brantford has struggled to find consistency as a team and Vanacker can be included in that. But this is the type of player NHL scouts are going to be drawn to in the middle rounds.
20. Kevin He - Wing - Niagara IceDogs
The IceDogs have been a bit of a mess...surprise, surprise. After a really strong rookie year, He's development has kind of plateaued this year. Like many of the players ranked in this range, consistency has been an issue. Decision making with the puck, in particular, has left some to be desired. A high volume shooter, He has not taken the necessary next steps forward as a playmaker or three zone player. But, there's still significant upside here. He is quick. He is skilled. He projects as a high end goal scorer. One has to wonder how He would be performing under different circumstances or in a different environment. Is he feeling pressure to create given Niagara's struggles and that's what is leading to some of those offensive zone turnovers and forced plays? He is going to need a big second half to stay ranked in this range as a potential top 100 selection.
21. Riley Patterson - Center - Barrie Colts
Coming into the season, I definitely didn't expect Patterson to be ranked this far down. But his transition from OJHL star to OHL standout has been a difficult one. So much so, that NHL Central Scouting didn't even bother to list him as a player to watch. I obviously wouldn't go that far (given where I have him ranked), but I've been pretty underwhelmed by him offensively. If not for his strong defensive habits and potential, I probably would have had him lower. A strong skater, Patterson has looked good as a two-way threat. He has a great stick in the neutral zone and the effort has been consistent to try to earn touches. What he does with those touches has been the frustrating part. He's largely shown tunnel vision as an attacker and the majority of his carries have resulted in turnovers as he tries to take on defenders one on one. There's a definite need for him to add mass to his frame in order to withstand contact and make more of an impact between the hash marks. Additionally, he needs to simplify his approach. He's not going to be able to beat OHL defenders off the rush the same way he did in the OJHL. I've spoken to a few OHL management types about Patterson this year and the disappointment has been pretty mutual. If his game doesn't pick up in the second half and demonstrate growth, he'll continue to fall. Obviously...since I still have him ranked in this range I'm of the belief that he can show growth.
22. Parker Von Richter - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads
This is a tough one for me. I absolutely love Von Richter. He's one of my favourite players in this Ontario draft class. Yet...I also understand that his NHL draft ranking should be in this mid round range for a variety of reasons. Let's start with the good. Von Richter is such an intelligent defensive player. He's always in the right position. His gap control is solid, even if he's not the most agile player. He engages physically and rarely loses a battle for the puck. But, best of all, I think Von Richter is also an intelligent offensive player. He makes a solid breakout pass and manages the puck well, even under pressure. He keeps things simple. In that simplicity is effectiveness and it's why he has been used to quarterback the powerplay at times. He can get pucks to the net and makes quick decisions at the point. Now, the not as good. Von Richter doesn't have the kind of size/mobility package that you like to see from potential stay at home types at the next level. And the reality is that Von Richter probably does project best as that type of pro, rather than a true two-way defender. A guy like Adam Pelech had a similar profile as an OHL player, but he definitely had a size advantage over PVR. The defensive types who have average size at the NHL level happen to be high end skaters, so that's where my concerns lie...even if I love Von Richter.
23. Luca Marrelli - Defense - Oshawa Generals
I think it's pretty appropriate to have PVR and Marrelli ranked consecutively. A true "jack of all trades" type, Marrelli is just solid in all aspects of the game. He doesn't necessarily have a dominant trait or attribute, with everything grading out at average or above average. The feet are good, but not great. The size is good, but not outstanding. The physical intensity is good enough. Scouts will love the right shot. Marrelli has good instincts at both ends and can move the puck, even if he's not flashy or dynamic. A late born 2005, he has certainly shown the kind of progression that you'd expect and he continues to play a key role for the Generals. What's the pro upside? I think similar to PVR, that's the question mark. I was a bit surprised to see him earn a B grade from NHL Central Scouting, as to me he has a lot of qualities of that classic tweener. The rest of the year will be used to truly ascertain what kind of pro he can be.
24. Ethan Procyszyn - Center - North Bay Battalion
There is a reason why NHL Central Scouting gave Procyszyn a B grade. NHL scouts love types like him. The size and athleticism package is very intriguing. A great skater for a 6'3 center, Procyszyn is already a great player away from the puck. He has great attention to detail and is dialed in physically, making him a dual threat for the Battalion and someone who can be utilized in all situations. There's a very clear path to the pro level for someone like him, even if it's in more of a checking line role. The one name that comes to mind here is Zach Ostapchuk. I think they're similar kinds of players and prospects. If you follow my work at McKeen's, you'd know that I was a HUGE Ostapchuk supporter in his draft year. At this point, I'm not at that spot with Procyszyn. I see the allure. However, I'm not sure I see the same kind of creativity, skill, and offensive upside. That said, I wouldn't be shocked if I grew to really appreciate him more as the season progresses.
25. Gabriel Frasca - Center - Kingston Frontenacs
The forgotten man in this Ontario crop, Frasca has yet to play this season after injuring his shoulder in the offseason. But, he's rumoured to be returning soon and it will be very interesting to see how he performs and ultimately slots into this draft landscape. Like any of the Frasca brothers, Gabriel is a heady player. He excelled as an OHL rookie because of his intelligence level and vision. He's also probably the best skater of the brothers and as such, is likely to be the best NHL prospect. I know he has his fans in the NHL scouting community (the B grade from NHL Central Scouting is evidence of that). But, I want to see the progression this year before I slot him above a lot of guys who have been playing and who showed similarly as OHL rookies last year.
26. Charlie Paquette - Wing - Guelph Storm
Paquette, a late born 2005 winger, has been great this year for Guelph. IMO, he's been one of the most improved 2005's in the league and this positive progression has him firmly on the scouting radar. A big winger, he plays a traditional power game. He's got a powerful release and has done a really good job of converting on his looks this season. Even though he probably projects as a complementary piece at the next level, I've been impressed with his ability to drive possession and create his own chances this year. He's very difficult to separate from the puck and has been a real work horse for the Storm. I wanted to put him higher, but at this point I want to see if this level of play is sustainable.
27. Jacob Battaglia - Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
Another big bodied winger ranked in this range, Battaglia has a similar profile to the likes of Paquette, O'Reilly, and Procyszyn. I've really liked how he controls play down low and along the wall. He protects the puck really well and is difficult to strip or separate from. He's got quick feet for a big guy too, although the top end speed/linear quickness will need to improve. Battaglia has enough skill to spin off the wall and convert chances in tight and he's found a lot of success cleaning up garbage near the crease. I don't think his play away from the puck is as refined as some of the others ranked ahead of him who play a similar game, but inside the offensive end he has been impressive.
28. Jack Van Volsen - Center - Mississauga Steelheads
Van Volsen is a player, to me, who is still trying to find his identity as an OHL player and potential NHL draft prospect. It's obvious that he has the skill to be a top flight contributor at this level. That was obvious at the U16 level and it's why he was drafted so high. Yet, he's struggled with a lot of things since progressing to a higher level. The physical intensity level needs to increase. The confidence with the puck seems low at this point as Van Volsen has struggled to make plays deep in the offensive zone. There's a hesitancy there to make quick plays/reads. Does this point to a lack of processing? He's basically strictly a complementary player at this point in his OHL career, able to finish off plays because of his skill, but if you're not actively looking for him, he's not likely to catch your eye. The offensive upside is still way too high to give up on him and it's not like he's playing completely terrible. It's more that he's too much of a passenger right now and scouts are going to want to see him take the bull by the horns.
29. Frankie Marrelli - Defense - Ottawa 67's
Marrelli is another player that I really like, but I have to ask myself...is he truly a terrific NHL prospect? Like PVR, he projects best as a stay at home type, yet he's only 5'11, lacking high end reach. Now, he makes up for that by being a physical demon, but he's also not the kind of high end skater you'd like to see either. That's not saying Marrelli is a poor skater. Far from it. But he's not an elite mover either. All that said, as I mentioned, I love the player. I love how he competes in the defensive end. I love his gap control and positioning in the defensive end. I love how he defends pace aggressively by stepping up early, squashing a lot of plays in the neutral zone or at the blueline. I love how he starts the breakout and I think he has sneaky offensive upside inside the offensive blueline because of his high end processing ability. Without those high end physical/athletic tools, I just wonder how NHL scouts are going to view his game and I wonder how well that game projects to the next level.
30. Charlie Hilton - Wing - Ottawa 67's
Might be a bit shocking to see him ranked this high, especially since I haven't really seen him on anyone else's radar. However, every time I'm watching the 67's and trying to focus on other players, he manages to stand out. The production hasn't really been there yet, but he's doing a lot of things well that just aren't showing up on the stat sheet. He's creating chances and I think it's only a matter of time before he starts to produce more consistently. This a is big 6'5 winger who happens to be the youngest player eligible for the draft this year. Yet, he's already quite a physical player who has a clear understanding of the way he needs to play to be successful. His skating is far from poor too. He can drive the net. Once his fills out physically, I see Hilton as having the potential to develop into quite the player. He just passes the eye test too often for me not to have him ranked pretty aggressively.
31. Lucas Ellinas - Center - Kitchener Rangers
This year's Ethan Hay. Ellinas has great attention to detail as a defensive center already and has the length and skating to play that role at the next level too. He's already used in key defensive situations by the Rangers. What's the offensive upside?
32. Kieron Walton - Wing - Sudbury Wolves
Massive winger with good offensive upside who has been a solid secondary scorer for the Wolves this year. He has skill and he's shown improvement away from the puck this year, but the physical intensity level is still too inconsistent for a player of his size.
33. Kaden Pitre - Center - Flint Firebirds
Hasn't played since mid/late October after taking a shoulder on shoulder hit against the Battalion. But Kaden is kind of a similar player to Coulson. A guy who plays bigger than he is to make up for a lack of truly dynamic athletic tools. I'm not sure he's got the kind of vision or upside as Coulson, but it did take me some time to come around on him last year too.
34. Bode Stewart - Wing - Barrie Colts
Stewart has been a great role player for Barrie this year. He's been great on the penalty kill. He plays a heavy game. I'd love to see him playing consistently with a more dynamic playmaker at center. Skating needs to improve.
35. AJ Spellacy - Center/Wing - Windsor Spitfires
Like many of the Windsor Spitfires, Spellacy has disappointed this year. However, he's been much better the last few weeks, getting back to playing the kind of power game that he finds success with. Easy to forget that he had a significant knee injury last year. A big second half could move him back up my list and the list of others.
36. Matthew Virgillio - Defense - Soo Greyhounds
The biggest disappointment of this Ontario group so far for me. Had such high expectations for him, but he's been pretty quiet. He showed such great flashes of offensive ability last year, but he's been way too conservative this year. I'm not sure I've seen him skate past his own blueline with the puck this year. I know Karki has come in and taken his projected role and ice time, but he's capable of way more.
37. Jakub Chromiak - Defense - Kingston Frontenacs
Coming into the year I was lower on Chromiak than a lot of my contemporaries. I just didn't see a dynamic defender. That has held through this season thus far. A move to Kingston to earn more ice time has not helped. He will likely continue to fall unless he's able to find a way to make a larger impact.
38. Callum Cheynowski - Defense - Brantford Bulldogs
Good sized defender with solid athletic tools. Ice time has been inconsistent thus far, but he shows flashes of being a high impact defender in this league at both ends. If Brantford ends up selling off at the deadline and he gets more ice time down the stretch, he could be one to watch.
39. Braydon McCallum - Wing - Peterborough Petes
High energy winger who has been a solid secondary scoring option for the surprising Petes this year. He's not big, but he keeps his feet moving in the offensive end and relishes the opportunity to play that pest like role. Offensive upside is limited, but he's been good.
40. Daniel Chen - Defense - Brantford Bulldogs
Tall and lanky defender who played heavy minutes early on, but has seen his ice time and responsibility decrease as the weeks have gone on. Not the most fluid mover, but he's shown some upside as two-way toolsy type. Very, very raw.
41. David Egorov - Goaltender - Brantford Bulldogs
I had very high expectations for Egorov coming into the year, viewing him as only a notch below George and Leenders in this crop. But he's really struggled with his reads and consistency. I still think that he's got a lot of upside as a starter in this league, but his NHL draft prospects are looking weak.
42. Carson Woodall - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
Woodall has been a pleasant surprise for the Spits this year, one of few. He takes care of the puck, makes a clean exit, and has good instincts at both ends. I'm just not sure I see an NHL draft prospect. Not a dynamic player. Solid presence, but I don't think he has the skill set to dominate at either end. Not big either. Looks to be a potentially great find as an OHL player, but not more.
43. Cole Davis - Wing - Windsor Spitfires
Another awesome surprise for the Spitfires...again one of the few bright spots. Smaller winger, but he plays a high energy game. Strong skater who always seems to be around the puck. Want to see how his offensive game continues to evolve this year. He could end up moving up lists if he can prove to be more of a play driver at his size.
44. Mason Zebeski - Wing - Mississauga Steelheads
Big winger who plays a heavy support game. Creates space for his linemates and is at his best when he can push the pace North/South. Not sure I see a ton of upside, especially as a late born 2005, but in a weaker year for depth in the OHL, he definitely deserves a place on this list.
45. Christopher Brown - Center - Soo Greyhounds
Intelligent playmaking center who has taken a nice step forward this year for the Greyhounds. Strong skater. There's a definite need to get stronger, but he shows flashes of being a high energy guy away from the puck. Have had a hard time determining the upside so far this year. Truthfully, a player that I need to see more of over the next little bit.
46. Alex Kostov - Wing - Soo Greyhounds
Good sized winger with intriguing athletic tools. Hasn't really shown that he can be a consistent offensive contributor or that he has the hands/skill to be a top six OHL player.
47. William Nicholl - Center/Wing - London Knights
The classic London Knights slow play kind of guy. Nicholl is being used in a variety of different situations because he's playing hard, but a lack of consistent ice time is perhaps masking the kind of upside he might possess. OHL rookie, so we don't have a ton to base it on either. Curious to see how he looks down the stretch.
48. Nathan Aspinall - Wing - Flint Firebirds
Aspinall is similar to Kieron Walton in that he's a massive winger who isn't really a power forward. More skill based. He's not as good of a skater as Walton is and he hasn't shown the same level of skill with the puck. He's capitalized on some chances and remains intriguing because of the size, but let's see how his game improves over the year.
49. Carson Campbell - Defense - Kitchener Rangers
Campbell has been a pleasant surprise for the Rangers after being acquired from Sarnia. His emergence as a steady hand allowed Kitchener to deal Tomas Hamara (in combination with Roman Schmidt's return, of course). Campbell is a strong skater who has shown flashes of being a capable puck mover and he's making good decisions at both ends. Tough to truly determine his upside given his lack of ice time, but there might be something there.
50. Josh Brady - Defense - Ottawa 67's
Basically the same player as Campbell. Brady has been a pleasant surprise for Ottawa and has shown flashes of offensive upside. For now, he's making the most of limited ice time by keeping things simple and making strong plays inside his own blueline.