The time is here folks. The 2012 NHL Entry Draft is a little under a month away, which means it is time for me to unveil my rankings for the draft.
The top 50 will be released in four parts: Part 1
- Honorable Mentions (for the first time this year), Part 2 - Prospects
50-31, Part 3 - Prospects 30-11, and Part 4 - Prospects 10-1.
Just for clarification, for my top 50 ranking, I haven't included any
players eligible for draft re-entry, such as Tanner Pearson. This has been consistent all the way through my lists. Instead,
I did a list of the top 10 draft re-entries, which can be found here.
Also for clarification, this list is MY list of the top 50 OHL prospects, as if I were drafting for my own team. In other words, this isn't a list of where I THINK
or believe players will go, but a ranking of my own opinion on the
top players eligible for this draft based on my viewings this season.
If you want a draft projection and information about players outside
the OHL, be sure to order the Future Considerations and/or McKeen's Draft Guides.
decided to do an Honorable Mentions list this year for the first time
because I quite often get asked why I've left certain guys off my list.
So to start off my rankings, here are 10 guys who JUST failed to make
the cut, plus another who was injured this year.
Special Injury Honorable Mention:
Evan McEneny - D - Kitchener Rangers
remain steadfast in my opinion that had he played this year, McEneny
would be in consideration for the top two rounds of the draft. He was
impressive defensively as a 16 year old rookie, and it was clear through
the preseason games and the first two games of the OHL season, that
McEneny had added an offensive punch to his game. He's got size,
mobility, physicality, and offensive potential from the back end. But he
also suffered a season ending knee injury limiting his exposure to two
games this year. If I was an NHL team, I'd take a flyer on him with a
7th round pick and hope he recovers well.
In alphabetical order:
Justin Auger - F - Guelph Storm
is a very interesting player. At one point this year, I was very high
on him after seeing him a couple of times in January when he was riding a
hot streak. Unfortunately for him, outside of that hot streak (9 points
in 9 games from the end of December to mid January), he was very quiet
on the score sheet. And when I saw him later in the year, he was
invisible. But as I said, he's an interesting project. For one, he's 6'7
and hard to move from in front of the net. When he's been noticeable,
he's working the cycle really well and using that big stick to keep
possession of the puck along the boards. His skating stride is kind of
awkward, but not many guys at his size are fluid skaters. The big thing
for him is finding consistency away from the puck. If he can add a bit
of a mean streak, he'd be a very valuable player. Definitely a long term
Brandon Devlin - D - Windsor Spitfires
is another guy who I was originally very high on, and at one point this
season I had him inside my top 30. But he had a very poor second half
of the season, that actually saw him take a seat in the press box a few
times. At the beginning of the season, I saw a defender with strong two
way potential. A guy who could skate the puck well out of his own end
and run a powerplay, but who also could play with some aggressiveness in
his own end. When he joined the Spits, he was seeing a ton of ice time.
But as the season went on, he tapered off big time. It was almost as if
he was having an identity crisis. Looked tentative in trying to create
things offensively, as if he was afraid of making a mistake. And
defensively, he was getting caught running around a lot. I think there
is still a lot of potential there based on what I saw in the first half,
but like many of Windsor's younger players, he had a rough second half.
He'll have the opportunity to really seize a larger role next year.
Troy Donnay - D - Erie Otters
second 6'7 guy to appear on my Honorable Mentions list, but a guy I
fully expect will go higher in the NHL draft than I have him ranked. 6'7
defenseman don't grow on trees. Donnay is definitely a project. But
that size, in combination with the fact that he can actually move around
pretty well for a big guy, is bound to attract interest. He'll
definitely need to add some beef to his frame and get a little meaner
though. As of right now, his defensive hockey sense is still very raw
and he gets himself out of position at times, which sort of prevents him
from being a stick defender alone. He needs to become a presence in
front of the net. Offensively, I felt like he got better as the season
went on, and begin taking some chances with his breakout passes, but is
still primarily a chip the puck out of the defensive zone kind of guy.
Just a comparison of a defender of a similar height, but a guy like Cody
Sol (Winnipeg prospect), was miles ahead of Donnay physically and
defensively when he was drafted.
Billy Jenkins - F - Kingston Frontenacs
think he's got a lot going for him. Jenkins may be undersized (pushing
5'10), but he's also one of the youngest players available for the
draft, which suggests he might still have some filling out to do. He's a
hard worker and one of those solid complimentary energy guys. He really
wasn't much different of a player with Kingston, it's just that he
began getting more ice time (playing on one of the league's hottest
lines to close out the season with Trevor Morbeck and Ryan Kujawinski).
He certainly doesn't play small and he has the skill and hockey sense to
make things happen offensively. That said, we're looking at a pretty
small sample size here. With his size concerns, I can't really say one
way or another whether I'm confident his style of game will translate
well to the next level.
Eric Locke - F - Saginaw Spirit
is kind of a hard player to get a read on. I think the main thing that
concerned me was the lack of progression this year. He actually
regressed in terms of offensive production (although part of that can be
blamed on injuries). The trade to Saginaw did seem to re-invigorate him
a little bit, but I just wasn't impressed with his growth this year,
especially as a late '93. He's small and very quick, but he still
primarily relies on his speed to create offense. He's also still too
much of a one dimensional player, although he can be aggressive on the
forecheck at times. In the playoffs with Saginaw, I felt like he was
invisible the majority of the time, which should raise some red flags.
Locke could easily be the type of guy who breaks out huge offensively
next year, or the year after, but as of right now, he screams prolific
junior scorer and not much else. Check out some videos of Eric in action over at HPTV.
Liam Maaskant - D - Erie Otters
think the main problem for Maaskant this year was the fact that he's a
physical stay at home type playing on the worst team in the league.
Pretty hard to stand out in that situation. He had good size and a
strong build and isn't afraid to toss forwards around in the defensive
end. In particular, I was impressed with his ability to separate
forwards from the puck along the boards. But it was tough to get a read
on just how strong of a defensive player he is. Erie was largely a
defensive disaster this year, and the structure of their play in their
own end was practically non existent. Offensively, there's a lot of room
for improvement, especially on his first pass out of the zone. Based on
his size and aggression package, he might be worth rolling the dice on
in hopes that he can reform his defensive game.
Luke Mercer - D - Niagara IceDogs
really smart defenseman. When the Dogs acquired Oleksiak, they shifted
their pairings around and Luke Mercer actually became Dougie Hamilton's
partner on the top line for the rest of the season. And he quietly did a
great job in that role. He played a safe game and well within himself.
But in some ways, I think that was the problem. I can't say I really got
a good read on what Mercer's potential is because I don't think he ever
really pushed himself or took chances this year. It was Hamilton's show
while he stayed back and played it safe. And don't get me wrong, he did
a great job with what he was asked to do and looked very mature as a
defenseman, but what's his high end potential? He's also a little
undersized at 5"11, and needs to add more bulk to his frame. If a team
is convinced he has offensive potential he didn't show us this year, he
could get taken. Next year will be big for him to truly show his stuff.
Cody Payne - F - Plymouth Whalers
is an intriguing power forward prospect. He was supposed to be one of
the Generals youth backbones for the future, but wasn't happy there and
ultimately wound up in Plymouth. He didn't have a great year though and
certainly didn't progress the way many anticipated he would. But he's
still a 6'2, 200lb winger who is willing to throw his weight around or
drop the gloves. He has some puck skill and can take the puck to the
net, but as of now, he's having trouble putting the puck in the net. I
think some of that can be attributed to a possible lack of offensive
hockey sense. He'll drive to the net or hang out around the crease, but
just isn't finding scoring opportunities. At times this year he saw
action with higher end skilled players and looked a step behind the play
in all facets. If you draft him, you have to hope that his hands find
Matt Rupert - F - London Knights
got twin Ryan ranked inside my top 50, but Matt on the outside looking
in. At the beginning of the year, I was actually having a tough time
separating them as players, but as the year went on, I felt like Ryan
proved himself to be the better player and NHL draft prospect. Matt
isn't as polished of a player away from the puck, and while he's
aggressive on the forecheck and along the boards, it seems like he
wastes a lot of energy on his shifts doing things that aren't benefiting
his line. He does have good hands in close to the net and makes good
decisions with the puck in the offensive zone. The big sticking point is
his size at around 5'8. While he's tenacious, I feel like his brother's
defensive ability, face off ability, and playmaking ability down the
middle, make him a better and safer bet to become an NHL player.
Clint Windsor - G - Saginaw Spirit
is a big goaltender who takes up a lot of the net. At 6'4, 200lbs, his
size will be intriguing to NHL teams. But he's very much a work in
progress. I felt like he was much better in Saginaw than he was with
Barrie, but his rebound control and ability to read the play still needs
improvement. As a '93, he has less of a window to make those
improvements. Add in the fact that he's stuck behind a more talented,
younger goaltender in Jake Paterson, and it makes his situation
complicated. By starting Paterson in the playoffs, it's obvious the team
has more confidence in him moving forward.