Monday, May 19, 2014

My Final Top 50 OHL Players for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft - Part 1: Honorable Mentions

The race to the draft is on. We're about a month away from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, so that means it's time for me to release my rankings.

The top 50 will be released in four parts: Part 1 - Honorable Mentions, 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 Hunter Smith. 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, ISS, and/or McKeen's Draft Guides.

This first part includes the Honorable Mentions of my list. These are the players who received consideration for my top 50, but who fell just short. There are 20 in total. I really wanted to pare down this HM list, but there were so many guys I felt needed to be listed because they have an outside shot of being NHL draft selections in June. The top 30 or so players from the OHL were incredibly easy for me to rank this year, but after that it really is difficult with any of the guys ranked from about 35-70 being pretty interchangeable depending on who you ask.

Here are my HM's (in alphabetical order)...

Damian Bourne - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
Bourne has terrific power forward potential but didn't take much of a step forward this year. He showed great scoring prowess as a midget player but has yet to translate that to the OHL. He's a very physical player and he does solid work along the boards. But he still seems a step behind the play and has battled injuries.

Jacob Busch - Forward - Oshawa Generals
A great spark plug for the Generals this year in a depth role. Skates hard, drops the mitts, and plays physical. Could have some scoring potential once he moves up the depth chart next year when the Gennies lose some players to graduation.

Santino Centorame - Defense - Owen Sound Attack
Undersized, but effective two-way defender who flourished after coming over from London. Played a ton of minutes for Owen Sound down the stretch and was very effective as a puck mover. Plays bigger than his size too. Definitely has offensive potential. Sample size with more ice time may not be enough to warrant him a look this year as an undersized guy.

Daniel DeSousa- Defense - Saginaw Spirit
DeSousa (the younger brother of former OHL'er Chris) had a solid year for Saginaw, finishing a +20 and was one of the team's most effective defenders 5 on 5 and on the PK. Problem is, he's definitely a defense first kind of guy and he's only 5'11. The market for undersized stay at home defenders isn't terrific.

Jack Flinn - Goaltender - Owen Sound Attack
A behemoth goaltender at 6'7. Flinn is a late '95 playing in his first OHL season. He got better and better as the season went on. Consistency was a major issue and he can look a bit awkward in the crease, but you can't teach the size he possesses in the crease. And when he's on, he's tough to beat, especially when he challenges shooters and makes them try to go high on him.

Brett Hargrave - Forward - Owen Sound Attack
See Damian Bourne. Hargrave is a big power forward who hasn't been able to translate the success he had as a midget to the OHL. Hargrave has a terrific shot and great goal scoring potential, but the effort level isn't consistent away from the puck and he's not getting himself in good scoring positions. A trade from Sarnia to Owen Sound didn't really turn around his fortunes.

Chad Heffernan - Forward - Belleville Bulls
Heffernan is a physical, high energy winger with good size (6'2). he worked his way up the Bulls' depth chart this year and was starting to hit the score sheet way more often by the end of the season. He's got pretty decent hands in close, and like Jacob Busch, could be a solid find as a role player with the potential to grind and score.

Frank Hora - Defense - Kitchener Rangers
It's tough to stand out as a young defender on a bad club. Hora had his share of poor showings (has a tendency to get caught flat flooted by quicker players in the defensive zone). But overall, he had a terrific rookie season, establishing himself as a future top 4 defender for the Rangers. He's effective at both ends of the ice, can lay the body and has decent size. Jack of all trades kind of player.
Frank Hora's NHL Draft Tracker segment on Yahoo's Buzzing the Net.

Tyler Hore - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Hore just can't seem to find a home. The late '95 is already on his third team in two years. There's a reason why he's coveted by teams though. He has size, he can skate, and has flashes strong ability with the puck. I think he may have finally found a home in SSM where he can anchor their 3rd pairing for another year until receiving more ice time.

Cordell James - Forward - Barrie Colts
Didn't get a ton of ice time this year on a pretty deep Colts team, but James was often noticeable still. He resembles former Colt Erik Bradford. He plays both ends of the ice well and is committed away from the puck. But when he was given a chance to play with more skilled players, he didn't look out of place. I think he has scoring potential and should develop into a quality two-way center in the OHL.

Niki Petti - Forward - Belleville Bulls
Lots of Bulls on the HM list but none in the top 50. The Bulls were just awful on a lot of nights this year, but when they started playing well down the stretch, Petti was right there contributing. The 10th overall pick in the 2012 OHL draft needs to attack the net with more conviction and expand his game from being more than just a dangerous player off the rush (on the big ice in Belleville).

Darren Raddysh - Defense - Erie Otters
A very effective defense first type of defender right now who saw a lot of time paired with Adam Pelech this year. He's not incredibly big (6'0), but he battles hard. Was a scratch for most of the OHL playoffs and he'll need to find chemistry with another Otters' defender when Pelech moves on next year.

Brandon Robinson - Forward - Kitchener Rangers
At one point, Robinson was considered a potential top 60 pick for this draft, but he had a very poor year, punctuated by a trade and injuries. He's got great size, can skate, and definitely has goal scoring potential. But his effort in the "power game" isn't consistent. He needs to play bigger and with more conviction. He's a late '95 and he failed to take that next step this year. He's running out of time.

Patrick Sanvido - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
Started the year off pretty poorly and had a tough time keeping up with the pace of the OHL game. But he got better as the season went on and seems to have regained the trust of Windsor's brain trust as a core piece of this team's future. Still needs to work on his skating and decision making in his own end, but you can't teach the size he has (6'5). Big stay at home guys who actually play up to their size aren't as common as you think.

Anthony Stefano - Forward - Peterborough Petes
Stefano had a successful first season in the OHL. He's a super skilled, but undersized center (5'10) who is quite quick. But he's a pretty one dimensional player at this point, who needs to get stronger to become a more consistent player. He really struggled in the OHL playoffs, which might have really hurt his slim draft chances.

Pius Suter - Forward - Guelph Storm
One of my favourite draft prospects this year. I just wish he was bigger (listed at 5'10). Suter is one of the unsung heroes on Guelph who does a lot with his limited ice time. He's already one of the league's top penalty killers. He has great speed and a great work ethic without the puck. I think he's got more skill with the puck than he was able to show this year too. I think he really explodes next year (assuming the Storm elect to keep him).

David Tomasek - Forward - Belleville Bulls
Of the Bulls' forwards listed here, Tomasek was perhaps the most consistent of the three. Has pretty good size as a center and a decent amount of puck skill. The Bulls were out of so many games early this year that it was pretty hard for any of their prospects to really shine on a consistent basis.

Francesco Vilardi - Forward - Plymouth Whalers
Vilardi isn't your typical Mike Vellucci forward. He's got lots of offensive skill and does a good job of controlling the pace of play down the middle. He has terrific potential as a playmaking center. But he needs to do better to play through traffic and develop more of an edge to his game. As an undersized center, I'm not sure his skill package and statistical output will be enough to warrant a look this year.

Josh Wesley - Defense - Plymouth Whalers
I know a lot of NHL scouts are higher on him than I am. The family name is certainly allowing him to get some attention (son of Glen). Wesley has good size, skates pretty well and is a fairly physical player. But his puck skills were not very impressive this year and he had a lot of turnovers in his own end in the games I saw him play. I think anyone who takes him is really banking on the bloodlines.

Devin Williams - Goaltender - Erie Otters
Admittedly, he's probably number 51 on my list this year. Williams had a solid year and even supplanted Oscar Dansk as the team's starter in the playoffs. The late '95 netminder tracks the play well and is capable of making athletic saves. But he's not a very big netminder (6'0 and very thin) and has a tendency to get beat high because he's caught deep in his net. I like him and I hope he gets drafted, but I'm not entirely sure he has high end pro potential.

Limited Viewing

Charley Graaskamp - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
A late season add by the Hounds, Graaskamp is a very intriguing player to me. I was only able to see him once (thus why I haven't ranked him), but he seemed like a good sized center with good hands and a good skating stride. Lots of potential. If he doesn't get drafted this year, he could be someone to really watch out for next year as a re-entry.

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