The topic of the draft re-entry is something I have discussed at great length this year. From articles examining the odds of being passed over and then selected (here). To articles talking about the increase in this occurrence (here).
The one question I get asked quite frequently is, who are the top re-entry players who could get drafted this year? Finally I'm fully answering it. I waited until the OHL playoffs had come to the final stretch because quite often a strong playoff performance can be that platform to a draft selection (see Eric Wellwood last year).
If you remember, I did a similar Top 10 last year before the 2009 NHL Draft (here). Of those ten, four ended up getting drafted (Kolomatis, Janus, Kennedy, Hackett), and one has since signed an NHL deal (Pither). Meanwhile, two (Archibald, Akeson) return for a second trip on the list this year.
Just to clarify yet again, for those with limited understanding of the NHL draft system; North American players have either two or three years to get drafted, depending on their birth date. For those born from January 1 to September 15, they will go through three NHL drafts. For those born from September 16 to December 31, they will go through two NHL drafts. The players on this list are a mix of those having been passed over once or twice already.
Also, do not confuse this list with players drafted in 2008 who will re-enter the draft should they fail to come to a contractual agreement with their NHL team by June 1 (and whose birth date still allows them to be eligible). Quite often those too are referred to as draft re-entries. But this list does not contain them because it is not yet known who those players will be.
So let's get on with the show. Here are my top 10 draft re-entries from the Ontario Hockey league for the 2010 NHL Draft.
10. Myles McCauley - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
McCauley has been a fixture on Central Scouting's Rankings for this draft the entire season; 160th on the final, and 162nd on the midterm rankings. While the CSS rankings are not the be all and end all, his consistent showing is a telltale sign of NHL interest. he didn't play much last year, in his draft season with Plymouth, but had a good, although very inconsistent season this year, his second in the league. There's definitely potential there as he has good speed and the potential for significant offensive output. He needs to work on his play away from the puck in order to increase the consistency of his offensive production. Personally, I'm not sure I'd draft him at this point, but there's definitely NHL interest. And with the honorable mentions on my list being just as unlikely, I decided to give the nod to McCauley...even if I may prefer some of the others on my honorable mentions list to a slight degree.
9. Jason Akeson - Kitchener Rangers
Akeson had an excellent year for Kitchener where he was able to be a much more consistent offensive threat. I think he made great strides in his game without the puck. He's developed into a quality forechecker and has added strength that made him often tough to handle down low and along the boards. He's got good vision and does well to create opportunities for his linemates. Size is a disadvantage, as he falls into the "can he be successful in the NHL with the type of game he plays at his size" mold. But he's a quality player, someone who I think has the chance to make a good professional hockey player, at least at the AHL level. If he doesn't get a chance, he could have a monster overage year for Kitchener next year.
8. Colin Martin - London Knights
A classic late bloomer, Martin is a big power forward who had an excellent second half and playoffs for the Knights. This was his first full OHL season after spending last year with St. Mary's Junior B and leading the team in scoring. He got better as the season went along and in his last 49 games (including playoffs), had 39 points. By the end of the playoffs, he was getting consistent powerplay time and making the best of it. His skating isn't the greatest, but there is time for that to be improved. More importantly, he's got good hands and is a pretty solid all around offensive player.
7. Dalton Prout - Barrie Colts
After being a relatively unheralded player in past seasons, Prout really took a step forward into the limelight this season with Barrie's explosive year. He's always been a solid defender in his own zone, but improving his mobility and being smarter with physical play really helped him get to that next level as a defender this year. He was honored by the OHL coaches as being the 2nd best defensive defenseman in the East, behind Brampton's Matt Clark and St. Mike's Brett Flemming, both NHL draft picks. The other main difference in Prout this season was his improvement offensively. He'll never be a big offensive contributor at the next level, but he really improved his first pass, and his ability to get his shot through to the net. I'd be surprised if someone doesn't take a chance on Prout with his size and ability.
6. Michael MacDonald - London Knights
Similar to Colin Martin, MacDonald was an OHL rookie this year as a 1991 born player. He's an interesting player for sure. A Thunder Bay native, MacDonald played for Canada West at the 2008 World Junior A Challenge, and participated in the CJHL Top Prospects game the same year (along with a potential NHL first rounder this year in Jaden Schwartz). Then last year he had an excellent offensive season in the SIJHL with Fort William. He's not the biggest forward, but he brings a lot of energy to the ice and proved to be a good goal scorer as the season went along. The combination of speed, work ethic, and offensive ability may really interest NHL clubs come June.
5. Taylor Carnevale - Barrie Colts
Carnevale had a very good year as the Colts' third line center between Darren Archibald and a rotation of wingers that is currently Stefan Della Rovere. He's only averaged sized, and he's not exactly a physical threat, but he is a very solid two way player. He's good on face offs and he's been a fixture on the Barrie penalty kill all season long. His offensive game is pretty well rounded and he's got good speed, which allows him to be successful in that jack of all trades role. Moving forward, I'm not sure yet what type of NHL player he could develop into. Next year will be a big year as he'll be thrust into a much larger offensive role.
4. Sam Lofquist - Guelph Storm
After leaving the University of Minnesota, this former U.S. National team member become a rock for the Guelph Storm. His arrival (as well as the improvement on the injury front) was a huge reason Guelph was able to turn their season around. He's got a lot of things that NHL teams look for from the back end. He's got very good size at 6'2, 200lbs. He's mobile, physical and he can perform offensively. He's actually got a cannon of a shot from the point and generates a lot of offense from it. Lofquist didn't have a tremendous end to the season and struggled in the playoffs, but I think he was clearly fatigued...something that often happens to departing NCAA players in their first CHL season. I think the way he played most of the season and how important he became to Guelph's resurgence definitely would have gotten him noticed.
3. Alex Friesen - Niagara IceDogs
Friesen had an excellent year for the Dogs after a disappointing second season in the league last year. He doesn't have a ton of size (5'10), but he makes up for that by being one of the most tenacious forecheckers and workers in the league. He was recognized as so in the coaches poll where he was named the hardest worker in the East. He's an elite skater, an improving defensive player, and showed an improved ability to produce offensively this season, averaging a point per game. He's also tremendous on the face off circle, where again he received the top nomination in the coaches poll. That type of progression from one year to the next shows dedication to improvement and really impresses NHL scouts.
2. Luke Judson - Belleville Bulls
The Bulls had an absolutely atrocious season. But lost in all that was the massive improvement from Judson, who was named their captain at the young age of 18. I was often impressed by Judson last year when he was used sparingly for a dominant Bulls team. This year he led the Bulls in goals with 29 and developed into a real quality all around player. He's a feared body checker and he's also solid on the penalty kill. Next year, when this young Bulls team should be much better, Judson will likely increase his offensive production again. Fortunately, this solid season didn't go completely unnoticed as he received nominations in the coaches poll for both most underrated player and most improved player in the East.
1. Darren Archibald - Barrie Colts
I was incredibly surprised that Archibald didn't get drafted last year, when he was pretty highly ranked by many scouting services. Then he performed very well with Columbus at their NHL training camp (was one of the last cuts among junior aged players), and I figured he'd get an NHL deal with them. But again he went back to Barrie empty handed. This year, he improved on his rookie season and became a real important part of Barrie's offense. As a power forward, he plays in all situations, plays both ends of the ice, hits hard, fights and has a wicked shot that makes him quite the effective goal scorer. While he hasn't had a tremendous OHL playoffs, he's still got to be considered a quality NHL prospect. If he goes through the draft again, there's got to be something we're missing.
A lot of guys were given consideration for this list. I'll try to highlight a few of them. In goal, Barrie's tandem of Mavric Parks and Peter Di Salvo are bound to generate interest. Parks has been especially effective this year, although his lack of size may become a deterrent (even for the goaltending position, just ask Mike Murphy). Also, Erie's Ramis Sadikov has generated NHL interest this year and with his ability to fill out the net, he may get a selection.
On defense, Ottawa's Marc Zanetti made great strides this year. He's got good size, is mobile and is one mean customer. His ability to improve offensively and cut down on bad penalties may have raised his stock this year. Windsor's Marc Cantin is similar to Dalton Prout in that he's a quality stay at home guy who can push people around. He could draw interest. Lastly Oshawa's Tony DeHart had a great year and even finished it off with Springfield of the AHL. He's turned himself into a quality two way defender and NHL teams may take notice.
At forward, there are some good candidates. Kitchener's Matt Tipoff was supposed to be drafted last year but ended up going undrafted. He started the year on fire with Belleville, but after the trade to Kitchener his production slipped due to decreased playing time. Niagara's Andrew Agozzino is an excellent goal scoring forward and is a tireless worker, but he's the same player NHL teams passed on last year due to his lack of size. Ottawa's Thomas Nesbitt is a quality two way winger who showcased goal scoring ability this season and may have put himself on the NHL draft radar. Lastly, the Soo's Brett Thompson was one of the better goal scorers in the league this year, but he has similar size concerns to Agozzino.
Anyone you think I've greatly underrated...or overrated? Love to hear your thoughts.