Thursday, July 31, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins are next.

Matt Murray - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Murray had by far his best season in the OHL, putting together a consistent effort from start to finish for the first time. His strong play (as one of the league's top netminders) was one of the main reasons the Hounds were division winners this year. He's always had stretches of being a terrific netminder, but was never able to string together a full season of top notch performances. The most obvious reason was increased confidence in the crease, challenging shooters and relying on his massive frame to make saves. But, he's been working on getting quicker and he was much more fluid in his movements this year, staying square to shooters and getting himself out of position way less. He also improved his ability to control his rebounds and was much better at fighting through traffic. He's definitely on the right track. Next year, it remains to be seen what his role will be at the pro level. The Penguins have two capable NHL backups in Thomas Greiss and Jeff Zatkoff, and neither are exempt from waivers. Will one of them end up in the AHL, or will one be traded? If one ends up in the AHL, Murray will battle Eric Hartzell for the AHL back-up role. If not, he'll split playing time with Hartzel in Wilkes Barre and have the chance to emerge as the starter. I think he'll have a solid first professional year wherever he plays and regardless of how much he plays.

Matia Marcantuoni - Kitchener Rangers
I almost wonder if the Pens regret giving Marcantuoni his NHL ELC at the beginning of this past season, because he certainly did not progress very much. At this point, he seems like a pretty big long shot to develop into a quality professional player. In Kitchener, he never really developed an identity as a hockey player. His speed is certainly an asset, but I'd argue it might be his only above average quality. His offensive hockey sense never really developed and he's not an extremely effective player in front of the net or in the corners. And for all his speed, he doesn't create a ton of offense from it. His overall game is decent, but his physical game never really materialized after all those injuries. As a pro player, he's going to have to prove that he can use his speed to develop into an energy guy. Someone who can crash and bang. Someone who can force turnovers on the forecheck. Someone who can be an asset on the PK. These are all things that were never consistent in the OHL but will need to be in the pros in order for him to have a career. I don't expect a lot from him in his first pro season in the AHL, but you never know.

Jaden Lindo - Owen Sound Attack
No question the Pens got a steal in Lindo. If he were healthy this year, he likely would have ended up a top 100 pick. But he battled a knee injury and was finally shut down for surgery in February. He started off the year very strongly though. He's a real strong kid who can control the boards already and create space for his linemates. He's not afraid to play in front of the net and has a lot of potential to develop into a solid goal scorer from below the hash marks. Lindo is a strong physical presence, a good forechecker, and a competent defensive player. He's worked incredibly hard to recover from the surgery and should be poised for a good year in Owen Sound in 2014/2015. He'll likely play a top 6 role, will see time on the powerplay and should be a good bet for a 45-50 point year.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Philadelphia Flyers

Up next...the Philadelphia Flyers

Scott Laughton - Oshawa Generals
Laughton was fantastic this year, helping to lead the Generals to a surprising first place finish. His leadership this year has to considered an integral part of that. Laughton has developed into an elite all around player whose game has so many different components to it. He can beat you off the rush, with improved speed and improved confidence in his ability to drive the net. He can beat you in the corners and off the wall by working the cycle. He can beat you by forcing turnovers on the forecheck and by being an intimidating physical presence. He's going to tie you up one on one in the defensive end and is great at getting his stick in passing lanes, especially on the penalty kill. Laughton can just beat you in so many ways. I think one of the biggest differences I noticed this year was the increased confidence in using his shot from anywhere on the ice. He's really improved his wrister and it was a very dangerous weapon for him this year. With his intensity level, combined with Philadelphia's current cap issues, I'd fully expect Laughton to be a Flyer come opening day. I don't think we'll see him in the AHL. He's probably not going to get a ton of ice time, but if he could put together a 10/10 year in his rookie season with somewhat limited minutes, that'd be a big success I think.

Anthony Stolarz - London Knights
It was an interesting year for Stolarz, his second and final season in the OHL. He started off the season exceptionally well, but towards midseason things got a little dicey. After returning from the WJC's, he suffered a brutal injury, a deep laceration to his leg from a skate. He missed about a month and a half's worth of action, then returned just before the start of the OHL playoffs. Unfortunately, shortly after returning, he was suspended (for what ended up being the remainder of the playoffs) for swinging his stick at Windsor's Josh Ho-Sang. With another huge lay-off, he returned in the Memorial Cup but did not look sharp (considering he'd played only a handful of games in a 4 month span). The most impressive thing about Stolarz is how athletic he is considering his size. At 6'6, he moves very well in his crease and makes a lot of very acrobatic saves. He still has a tendency to over commit though, which causes him to give up some weaker goals. And his rebound control remains inconsistent. But he did appear improved this year before things started unraveling for him. He'll play in the AHL next year with Philly's new affiliate Lehigh Valley. It appears he'll split time with former OHL'er (returning from Europe) Rob Zepp.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Ottawa Senators

Time to visit the nation's capital (Canada that is)! Ottawa is next on the list.

Ben Harpur - Guelph Storm
It was a decent year for Harpur. He started off very well, playing with a ton of confidence at both ends of the ice. He had 12 points in his first 17 games and was taking some chances offensively (be it creative passes, partial rushes, jumping up in the play), on top of playing well in his own end. But after those first few months, his offensive play trailed off a bit. Whether it was something the coaching staff asked of him, or a personal decision, Harpur became way less involved offensively as the season went on. And after the acquisition of Nick Ebert, Harpur (and his partner Phil Baltisberger) had their ice time (5 on 5) reduced and they essentially became Guelph's 3rd pairing. Harpur still saw a lot of time shorthanded, where he's a great asset. But all things considered, I don't know if he made significant strides this year (that's not to say that he took a step back, but more so he wasn't put in a position to massively improve). As a defensive player, he's a very intelligent positional defender who uses his long reach exceptionally well to take away passing lanes (thus his value on the PK). He also does a good job blocking shots. But, I'd still like to see him use that 6'6 frame to be a bit meaner near the crease. Next year will be a big one for Harpur. The Storm are set to lose three of their top four defenders (perhaps even all four if Zac Leslie turns pro). That's going to open up the opportunity for Harpur to see significantly more ice time. He's also likely to get powerplay time, which will do wonders for his confidence offensively. I think he's going to have a good year and I actually expect him to be around the 30-35 point mark.

Nick Paul - North Bay Battalion
One of the pieces acquired in the Jason Spezza deal, Paul is a very interesting prospect. Later in the season, he saw a full shift to center, where he centered Barclay Goodrow and Ben Thomson on North Bay's top line. This was great for his development and the trio really dominated the OHL playoffs, allowing North Bay to be the surprising victors of the Eastern Conference. Paul excels in the possession game, using his size very effectively to move the puck along the boards. He's also got good vision and is a smart player who can make plays coming off the wall. Late in the year, his game really elevated to another level because he began to drive the net more, having as much success in the center of the ice as he was below the hashmarks. Paul is also a committed two-way player and is relied upon heavily by Stan Butler to help shut down the opposition's best. Next year, it will be Paul's show to run in North Bay and I really look forward to seeing how he builds off the momentum of last year's late season surge. An offseason dedicated to continued improvements in his first few steps would really make him a more dangerous player. I think he's in for a big year. A 60 point year would definitely be a success (considering the Battalion haven't had a 70+ point player since Cody Hodgson).

*Of note, Senators 2013 pick, Tobias Lindberg is set to suit up for the Oshawa Generals next year. The Gennies will be counting on him to provide secondary scoring, likely as a top 6 winger.

Monday, July 28, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - New York Rangers

Off to the Big Apple, where they have few prospects playing in the OHL.

Troy Donnay - Erie Otters
Donnay is coming off a very solid 4th season in the OHL. For the vast majority of the season he partnered with the young Travis Dermott, a pairing which many Otters' fans probably would have considered Erie's top and most consistant pairing. Donnay also saw a ton of work shorthanded. I felt like he gained a lot of confidence in his puck skill this year, making crisper breakout passes and doing a better job fighting off forecheckers to make good plays. He's no offensive defenseman, but being able to make quicker decisions in his own end was an area that needed improvement previously. Defensively, I thought he played significantly meaner this year, finally using his 6'7 frame to push people around in the corners and in front of the net. I think by nature, he's still more of a positional guy who prefers to keep forwards honest with his long reach, but it was good to see him be more assertive too. Next year Donnay will have the opportunity to turn pro, which is what I expect will happen. Whether that means playing in Hartford or the ECHL remains the be seen. He remains a project, as he'll take him to adjust the pro game but he does have potential to be a reliable third pairing guy in the NHL.

Brandon Halverson - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
It was no surprise to see Halverson come off the draft board early in 2014, despite having played very little this past year. Off course, the Hounds rode veteran Matt Murray, a Penguins draft pick. Next year, Murray will be turning pro and it will be Halverson's show to run. And I know the Sault Ste. Marie organization has a ton of confidence in him. He's a super big kid who is still learning to properly use his size (challenging shooters, working angles, etc), but he got a lot better from the start of the OHL season to the end. The most noticeable component to his game is his ability to handle the puck. He really helps out his defense and has a ton of confidence making passes. Next year, Sault Ste. Marie should be good yet again and I expect Halverson will be central to that.

*Of note, 4th rounder Ryan Mantha has signed with the Niagara IceDogs and will be suiting up for them next year. They have a young, but deep defense so it will be tough for Mantha to crack into the top 4. But he should see some power play time if he's able to show competence in those situations.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have one of the strongest crops of OHL prospects in the NHL and have certainly found success scouting the league the last few years. They are up next.

Adam Pelech - Erie Otters
I'm a huge fan of Pelech. I have been since he stepped into the league as a 16 year old (see here). Each year in the OHL he got better. This year was no different, exhibiting confidence in his offensive game and establishing himself as a terrific two-way defender who could lead the rush, make a great breakout pass, and run the point on the power play, ALMOST as well as he defends in his own end. Defensively, he's a rock who rarely makes mistakes and who has the size and tenacity to take away space from opposing forwards. I will admit that he wasn't terrific in the playoffs for Erie, but to me he looked tired after playing nearly every OHL game (except the ones he missed around the holidays) and suiting up for Canada at the WJC's. I don't think that reflects his potential as a pro player. The question is, where will he play this year? The Islanders have SO many good defensive prospects and even more turning pro this year with Pelech (Reinhart, Pokka, Pulock). There are legitimately 10 solid players fighting for spots on Bridgeport's defence. Of course Pelech could go back to juniors for his overage year, but I don't see the point in that. I think he'd be better off splitting time between the ECHL and the AHL, where he can learn to adapt to the speed of the pro game, which will be his biggest challenge.

Jesse Graham - Saginaw Spirit
Graham had by far his best season yet this past year, finishing it out with Saginaw after a midseason trade from Niagara. Graham's skating remains his biggest asset, but he's worked hard to improve his shot and confidence in jumping up into the rush to use it or to make plays. Defensively, he grew a lot as a player, finally able to win battles in the corners and in front of the net and doing a much better job as a one on one defender. Saginaw's defence would have been an absolute mess without him this year. He even finished off the year strong in Bridgeport, proving that he has the ability to carry over his skill set to the pros. As we look ahead to this year, Graham is facing the same problem as Pelech. Where does he play? On one hand, Graham probably has a leg up on Pelech because he's already seen time in the AHL and has made himself visible to the coaching staff. On the other hand, he's probably not as physically ready as Pelech is and wouldn't be hindered from playing an overage year in the OHL with Saginaw. My guess is that he stays in the pros though, even if it means (like Pelech), shuttling between the ECHL and the AHL.

Victor Crus-Rydberg - Plymouth Whalers
Honestly, I expected more from Crus-Rydberg this year. Plymouth had a lot of struggles putting up a consistent effort offensively this year and part of that has to fall on guys like Rydberg who were not able to provide secondary scoring. Rydberg seems to have some talent, particularly as a playmaker. He's capable making a nice pass and occasionally shows flashes of being able to lead entry into the zone. But, there were too many times where he was completely invisible when I saw Plymouth this year, making little impact at either end of the ice. His intensity level needs to increase. He'll be back in Plymouth next year where he'll be expected to be either the 1st or 2nd line center (depends on Sonny Milano). The Whalers could be a great team next year if they can get a more consistent effort out of guys like Crus-Rydberg, Mistele, etc.

Michael Dal Colle - Oshawa Generals
Obviously Dal Colle had a great year with Oshawa. He got off to a torrid pace and led the Generals to a hot start without Scott Laughton to start the year. The Generals ended up being the surprise of the OHL, all thanks to Dal Colle's progression and breakout as a star. By now, it's obvious as to what he does best. His shot, and release, are pro caliber. His skating continues to get better. He makes plays happen with the puck and sees the ice very well. There is room for improvement in other areas though. For a big guy, I'd love to see him play with more intensity without the puck. And his defensive abilities and awareness need attention. He'll likely return to Oshawa next year (I'd be surprised if he sticks in NYI) and I'm excited for that. I actually thought Dal Colle played his best hockey when Laughton was gone and the team was his, which will be the case next year. I look for him to really light it up in 2014/2015, with a 100 point season and a 50 goal year well within his grasp.

Joshua Ho-Sang - Windsor Spitfires
I was so happy to see Ho-Sang drafted in the first round after all the negative attention he was getting leading up to the draft. He earned it and he made a fan out of me this year after failing to impress me in his rookie year. His game really did improve a lot this past year. While he still has a ways to go in being able to display patience and poise with the puck, and utilizing his teammates, those areas grew exponentially this year. In his rookie year, it seemed like every possession ended with a turnover after one move too many, or a cut into traffic that saw him get physically manhandled. This past year, he cut down on the turnovers and was so much better in finding open space and using his gifted puck carrying skill to create time and space for him and his line mates. You absolutely can not teach the things he's capable of doing. The key for him is maintaining composure. Towards the end of this year (regular season and playoffs), he fell back into some bad habits and really struggled. He also picked up that suspension (which has thankfully been reduced to only 6 games to start the year). As he goes into next year with Windsor, he needs to relax and let the game come to him. He needs to learn to slow the game down and change pace. Improving his play without the puck and developing as an overall player is also key. The Spits will go as far as Ho-Sang takes them next year. Without a strong supporting cast, he'll be keyed in on by opposing defences. While it would be nice to see him crack the 100 point barrier, I'm not sure I see it happening next year. If he can replicate the offensive success of this past year, while rounding out his game, it will be a successful year.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils are up next.

Ryan Kujawinski - Kingston Frontenacs
It was a tough year for Kujawinski as he missed nearly two dozen games with a hand and knee injury. As such, he was never really able to find a groove. When he returned late in the year, he was great (closing out the regular season with 12 points in 10 games) and his presence was felt noticeably in the Kingston line-up. He remains a project and a player who is still trying to play up to this potential. He's got great skill, size, and flashes intensity away from the puck, but the consistency still isn't there (mostly due to injuries). So...what's next? I think there a variety of things that need to be addressed (keep in mind I'm a fan of his dating back to his draft year). Firstly, he needs to stay healthy. Secondly, he needs to keep working on improving his skating. Thirdly, he needs to find a permanent position, having gone back and forth between center and the wing. Fourthly, he needs to utilize his size consistently, both with and without the puck. If all of those things can come to fruition this year (and they definitely can), he'll be in for a big year (think 35/35). The Fronts definitely need him to finally step up to take the load off of Sam Bennett. A lack of consistent secondary scoring was one of the main reasons that they were unable to escape the first round this past year.

Ben Johnson - Windsor Spitfires
Johnson had a pretty good year with Windsor, all things considered. He was consistently one of their better players and set career highs in every offensive category. His biggest weapon remains his speed and his ability to disrupt on the forecheck and on drives to the net. As he turns pro this season and suits up for Albany, it will be all about developing an identity as a pro player. He has decent hands, and obviously speed, but I don't think he's skilled enough to play a top 6 role. In order to become a competent 3rd/4th line player in the NHL, he's going to have to work hard to improve his two-way game, and become more of a consistent factor physically. With his speed he should focus on becoming a high energy guy who can help to create offence off of turnovers. And that's likely to be the precise role asked of him in Albany.

Ben Thomson - North Bay Battalion
Tale of two seasons for Thomson. In Kitchener he struggled, just like the rest of the team. After being acquired by North Bay, he took off, growing leaps and bounds as a player. Unlike Johnson, Thomson has a clear identity as a pro player. He is a checking line prospect who uses his size to win battles in the corners and in front of the net. Along with line mates Barclay Goodrow and Nick Paul, Thomson wrecked havoc on opposing defences in the second half of the year and in the playoffs. The three of them tired out the opposition by working the cycle game endlessly. They also did this, quite often, while matching up against the opposition's best, in order to keep play out of their end. Thomson will also be turning pro and heading to Albany this year. He needs to continue to work on his skating and will likely need time to get used to the speed of the pro game (decision making wise). That said, with his size, if utilized properly, he could be an effective role player next year with the potential to become more in the future.

Connor Chatham - Plymouth Whalers
I definitely like Chatham as a player and I look forward to his progression in Plymouth. He's a very interesting prospect because of the physical intangibles he brings, along with the growing confidence in his offensive abilities. This year with Plymouth, he had a pretty successful rookie season in the OHL, that saw his offensive game really improve from the start of the season to the end. By season's end, he was comfortable using his size to take the puck to the net and flashed decent skill with the puck and some finishing skills. Problem is, I found that he wasn't able to balance/blend his physical game with his offensive game. When he was on offensively, he wasn't a factor physically. When he was off offensively, it was because he was laying the body and really wrecking havoc. Finding the confidence to do both of these things consistently is something that takes time to develop in power forward/winger prospects. Hopefully Chatham can do this next year in Plymouth, where he'll have a great chance to play a top 6 role. I think he's definitely capable of a 25/25 year.

Friday, July 25, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Nashville Predators

Only one OHL prospect for the Nashville Predators

Mikko Vainonen - Kingston Frontenacs
Vainonen had a decent year with Kingston. On paper, it looks like a pretty stagnant year, but there's more to it than that. While his offensive game did not take any steps forward, I did feel that his defensive game did. For one, he looked a little quicker and more mobile. It's clear he's been working on his skating. He still needs to continue to improve it, but it's getting better. Vainonen was also way more confident in asserting himself physically. He was much more aggressive in the corners and was more effective in crease battles. He's a got a solid head for the game as a defensive player and could have a future as a shutdown defender at the NHL level if he continues to improve his skating and his puck skills. He'll start his pro career in Milwaukee this year. I think a realistic goal is for him to just get in games consistently in Milwaukee and stay out of the press box.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Montreal Canadiens

La prochaine est Les Canadiens de Montreal

Michael McCarron - London Knights
After being very impressed with him at the U18's, I was quite excited to see him play for London this year. But, he was a pretty big letdown. His ice time was fairly limited this year because he just wasn't very effective. In particular, he seemed to struggle with the cerebral aspects of the game (turnovers, missed assignments, poor shot selection, etc). The skill set appears to be there because he flashed great things, but the head might not be. THAT SAID, we'd all be fools to count him out after one poor season. There have been numerous cases of players coming from the USHL or the development program with lots of hype, only for them to struggle in their first year. But most bounced back in their second, as they gained confidence (see current Canadien Jarred Tinordi). I've heard lots of great things from Montreal's development camp, suggesting that McCarron could be ready for a breakout. There will be an opportunity for him to get more ice time next year, especially on the powerplay. BUT, London is a deep team where the competition will be fierce to replace the likes of Chris Tierney, Josh Anderson, Gemel Smith, and perhaps others. So...what to expect? I think a realistic expectation is a 25/25 year, but he's certainly capable of even more than that.

Connor Crisp - Sudbury Wolves
It was a pretty good year for Crisp, who was essentially the leader of Sudbury's 2nd offensive unit. Was there a massive amount of improvement? Probably not. I think he looked noticeably more confident with the puck this year, which resulted in him being a bit of a more well rounded offensive guy who could create in a variety of ways (rather than just as a net crasher). I'd be very surprised if he's not in the AHL next year with Hamilton, where he'll take on a checking line role and try to provide a bit of scoring. Realistically, he's probably not that far from being a contributor on an NHL fourth line, but I think it'd be smart to leave him in the AHL for a bit to let him develop confidence in his offensive game at that level. He has the potential to be more than just a 4th line grinder/enforcer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild are the next team featured.

Kurtis Gabriel - Owen Sound Attack
I think Gabriel is one of those guys who could make a better pro player than an OHL player. It's rare, but it happens. Even as an overage player, his offensive numbers didn't jump through the roof (although his assist totals did I suppose). His career OHL high was 16 goals, which was this year. But he plays a very pro ready game and is the type of player that coaches love and will move up the ladder quickly. He's got great size, he skates pretty well, he hits, he defends, he works the boards, and he drives the net. Anything that needs to be done to help the team win, Gabriel can do it. Is he exceptionally skilled with the puck? No. He plays a simple game and excels in the dump and chase. Does he have huge goal scoring potential? No. His shot, hands, and anticipation are all average for the OHL level. But, as stated, even if he doesn't have a lot of potential, he seems like a good candidate to move quickly to the NHL as a 4th line checker and penalty killer. I'd be willing to bet he even gets in a few NHL games already this year.

Zack Mitchell - Guelph Storm
Great signing by the Wild. Always liked him as an OHL player. Have to admit though, I'd kind of felt that he was more of a good junior scorer and not much else. But, in the second half of the OHL season and especially the playoffs, he changed my opinion. I actually think he could develop into a solid pro player. Mitchell's greatest asset is his hockey sense. He's an exceptionally smart player who sees the ice well and was terrific with Robby Fabbri and Kerby Rychel late in the year. He'll have to get quicker and stronger, but his two-way game and play without the puck greatly improved in his overage season. I'm quite eager to see how he plays in his first pro season in the Minnesota system. Hopefully it's at the AHL level where he can get a chance playing with some higher skilled players. He might have to adapt his game a bit to become more of a grinder at first though (I think back to former Oiler Liam Reddox).

*Of note, 7th rounder Pavel Jenys will likely be suiting up for the Sudbury Wolves next year after being selected in the Import draft. He'll have a chance to be the team's number 2 center behind Mathew Campagna.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Los Angeles Kings

The LA Kings and half of the OHL are up next...

Nick Ebert - Guelph Storm
Ebert has come a long way since he was the last pick in the 2012 NHL draft. He's always had the talent (as evidenced by his high rankings that year), but poor decision making has always plagued him. This past OHL year was easily his best in the league. For the most part, he looked calm and poised in his own end and has learned to limit his turnovers by making smarter passes. He's also learned to pick his spots better to jump up in the rush and is no longer the reckless defender who constantly gets caught up ice. As a powerplay QB, he has always exhibited patience when distributing the puck and he has potential to succeed there at the next level. Defensively, major strides were made this year. He was a league 2nd best +53 between Windsor and Guelph. He's become a smart and fully engaged defender who makes his presence felt in the corners, in front of the net and off the rush. Moving forward, he'll start his pro career in Manchester this year. He's still prone to the odd brain fart at both ends, so it'll be interesting to see how steep the learning curve is for him in a faster AHL game. The Kings may have to be patient with him, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. He's certainly turned the corner and is starting to become the type of player people envisioned when he first joined the OHL in 2011.

Justin Auger - Guelph Storm
Mono can wreck havoc on a junior player's season. Auger missed significant time at the beginning of the year with the ailment and just didn't look right for a while (not uncommon for players who get the disease). Towards the end of the year and into the playoffs, he began to look a bit quicker and a little stronger on the puck, but it still wasn't a great year for his development. He towers over the opposition yet still hasn't really found his stride as a player. He's a solid boards player because of his long reach, but the rest of his game remains a work in progress. He needs to continue to work on his skating to be a more explosive player off the rush and coming off the boards. He also needs to work on his shot and ability to get in scoring position. As a big guy, he needs to find himself near the crease more often. I think it will be an incredibly easy decision for the Kings to send Auger back to the OHL for his overage junior season. He's not ready for the AHL. In Guelph this year, he'll get way more playing time (potentially) and should see top 6 ice time and powerplay time. I'd really like to see him pot 25 goals this year and inch close to the point per game mark. He may have to do that in order to get a contract from LA.

Zac Leslie - Guelph Storm
Leslie is another Storm player with options this year. After a very strong season in the OHL, he could turn pro this year (as a '94). Or he could be sent back to the OHL for his overage year. I honestly think Leslie is pro ready. His game has continued to evolve. He's become a strong two-way defender who has confidence in his abilities. This is especially true offensively where he's now confident leading the rush and running the point on the powerplay. He makes a terrific first pass out of the zone. Defensively, he's always been a solid player but he really upped his intensity level in the corners and in front of the net. He may not be huge, but he's a tough guy to match up against. My gut tells me that he'll be back in the OHL because of the depth Manchester has. I'm sure he'll attend their training camp and be given a chance to make the team, but without an NHL contract the Kings will exploit the flexibility they have with him. As a returning overager, he'll be a candidate for OHL defenseman of the year and overager of the year. He'll become Guelph's number one defender (likely pairing with Ben Harpur) and a 60 point season is easily attainable.

Dominik Kubalik - Kitchener Rangers
Not a good year for Kubalik. The midseason trade to Kitchener certainly didn't help either. Quite frankly, when I saw him later in the year with Kitchener, he looked rather disinterested and was invisible. He has skill and goal scoring potential but lacks the intensity to be a consistent player. It was no surprise when it was announced he was heading back home to the Czech league for next year. Hopefully he's able to find the ice time necessary to improve his confidence and get his progression back on track.

Kurtis MacDermid - Erie Otters
Yet another player (Leslie, Auger) who could end up in the AHL or the OHL next year. A free agent signing by the Kings, MacDermid finished out the year with Erie where he was counted on to be a physical, defensive stalwart. It was actually not terrific for his development because he was getting some offensive responsibility in Owen Sound (including powerplay time). He didn't get that in Erie. As a stay at home defender, he has NHL potential. His mobility is decent and he's become one of the most physical defenseman in the league. He's one big, mean man (boys aren't 6'4, 220lbs). Like Leslie, I'd imagine MacDermid returns to the OHL for an overage year. And I think that's the right choice. Erie will be looking for defenders to step up to replace the losses of Adam Pelech and Spencer Abraham (at the least). He could get some powerplay time and will see a ton of ice in important situations. That would be better for his development than riding the bench in the AHL or playing in the ECHL at this point. I think he's perfectly capable of a 30 point season in Erie.

Roland McKeown - Kingston Frontenacs
While it surprised some people to see McKeown fall in the draft, I wasn't one of them. He's got a lot of things going for him (obviously since he was still an NHL 2nd round pick). His skating ability is top notch. As is his decision making in his own end. He makes a great first pass and sees the ice very well. Defensively, he's a smart positional defender who is great at getting his stick in passing lanes. But he needs to increase his intensity in the defensive end and look to engage one on one more. And offensively, he needs to be more assertive and confident in his abilities. With his skating ability and puck poise, he should be more of a consistent factor, but he doesn't extend rushes or jump up in the play all that often. For that reason, I find him a difficult player to project at the next level. Kingston will need him big time next year, as they'll look for him to take that next step and establish himself as one of the top defenders in the league. I think it'll be important for him to find a true identity next year. And I think that identity is one of a puck rusher. Plenty of time for him to develop more and a 50 point season is almost assured IMO.

Alex Lintuniemi - Ottawa 67's
A savvy selection by the Kings (perhaps a tad early, but still). Lintuniemi got a lot better as the season went on. Early, he looked pretty overwhelmed. But as he gained confidence, especially offensively, he established himself as one of Ottawa's top defenders. He's certainly capable of more than he displayed this season. A summer of work on his skating would help him be a larger factor in the transition game. Defensively, he's quite solid. It's hard to stand out on one of the league's worst teams, but I found him to make a few solid plays every time I saw Ottawa. I was always impressed by his ability to keep forwards to the outside off the rush, and his ability to take away passes in the slot. So what's next for him? Ottawa should be better next year and he'll be one of the team's top defenders. He'll get ice time in all situations. I think he'll have a good year and I actually think he could even surpass 35 points. I think learning to use his size more physically is another thing that is important for his development.

Mike Amadio - North Bay Battalion
Amadio is a very talented offensive player who is learning to play a 200 foot game under Stan Butler. He's got a very interesting skill set (especially when mixed with decent size). This year he was quite inconsistent and in a lot of ways, his high skill level wasn't able to shine through. An offseason dedicated to getting stronger and quicker will go a long way. Next year will be a key one for his development. The Battalion are returning their top three centers from the year before (Paul, Amadio, and Brett McKenzie). Amadio likely comes into camp as the number two, but McKenzie is a very talented prospect for 2015 and he'll be pushing hard for ice time. If Amadio doesn't improve, he could lose ice time (especially on special teams) to McKenzie. Of course this would cut into his potential offensive contribution. 

Jake Marchment - Belleville Bulls
Marchment was a player I had a feeling would get drafted. He's a big center who can play a power game and is coming off his first season in the OHL. In that season, he got better and better as each month passed, suggesting the best is yet to come. Improving his skating, in particular his first few steps will really help him to become a more consistent offensive player, especially on the big ice in Belleville. But he's more than just a bruiser (potentially). The Bulls SHOULD be a better team next year when all their young players get a year older. The Bulls line up is currently wide open with no one really having the inside track to center Remi Elie on the top line (especially if Harper stays on defense). I think Marchment could be a big time breakout candidate and the type of guy who could surprise and put up a 50-60 point season.

Matthew Mistele - Plymouth Whalers
Mistele just did not have a good year. He saw his stock drop from possible first round talent at the beginning of the year, to mid rounder by season's end. During his 30 goal season two years ago, he was a complimentary offensive guy asked to play a simple game. Last year, the Whalers didn't have nearly the same kind of talent up front and Mistele wasn't up to the task of being a go to guy who could consistently create his own offensive chances. That being said, he's a great pick because of what he's capable of doing. He's a power winger who can mix things up and score goals, but he needs to become a more well rounded offensive player and more than just a guy who can capitalize on the fortune of others. This coming season is a big one for his development. It'll be his 4th year in the league and the Whalers will need him once again to become a 30 goal man. 

Spencer Watson - Kingston Frontenacs
Watson is an uber talented offensive player. By the time his OHL career is done, he's a likely candidate to finish top 5 in scoring. Heck, he led the Ivan Hlinka tournament in scoring this year. However, he's got some strikes against him and that's why he fell to the 7th. He's undersized and he currently plays too much of a perimeter game. His game really didn't evolve much from his rookie season. As a rookie in 2012, he was impressive and you assumed that he'd get stronger, become more involved without the puck, and begin to drive the net more for scoring chances. None of those things happened. The key to Watson's development moving forward is his desire to play with more gusto/tenacity. If you're going to be undersized, you need to play hard to beat defenders to the play (see Robby Fabbri). The Fronts will be a contender in the East next year (if they get Sam Bennett back). I expect Watson to come back next year with a chip on his shoulder and I see him being an 80 point player. That said, even if he scores 40, it won't matter much if he doesn't improve his overall game. 

Jacob Middleton - Ottawa 67's
The last time the Kings chose an OHL defender with the final pick in the draft, it worked out pretty well (Nick Ebert). Middleton is another great pick. I know a lot of people who saw him as at least a 3rd rounder. It was a tough year for him to stand out. Playing on a last place team can be difficult for the team's number one defenseman. Middleton played a ton, perhaps more than he was ready for and I think that caused some of the holes in his game currently to be over evaluated. But, he's got the talent to be a tough two way defender. He's got decent mobility in his own end, but adding an extra step would really elevate his offensive abilities and I hope he's done that this offseason. I think he's going to have a big year in Ottawa in 2014 and I see him hitting the 30-35 point mark.

Monday, July 21, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Florida Panthers

The sunny state of Florida gets the feature, as the Panthers are reviewed.

Aaron Ekblad - Barrie Colts
The reigning OHL defenseman of the year and first overall pick, Ekblad had his best year to date in 2013. IMO, his game is 100% NHL ready. His offensive game improved significantly this year. He was more confident with the puck and began to start leading rushes up ice, using his size to protect the puck. His shot has always been huge, but he worked very hard to make it more accurate and to get his shot through on the powerplay. Defensively, he continued to be a stalwart. His skating improved a lot over his three year OHL career and he's now quite agile. Combined with his size and smarts, this has made him perhaps the toughest defender to beat one on one in the league. His intensity in the corners and in front of the net could stand to increase even more, especially to take full advantage of his size, but that's nitpicking. As I said, I think he's NHL ready and I'd be absolutely shocked to see him back in the OHL next year. I don't expect huge point totals in his first year. I'd say probably something like 8 goals, 20 points is a realistic expectation. As long as he can kind success in his own end first, that's most important. 

Josh Brown - Oshawa Generals
Brown is what he is. A behemoth defender who plays with an edge and defends the crease quite well. His offensive game has never developed (he scored his first 2 OHL goals this year), and he's quick to chip the puck out of his own end. That's not what his game is. He's a stay at home prospect. For me, his skating still needs to improve significantly for him to be an NHL player. He can still be exposed off the rush and is a bit rough side to side and backwards. He is a terrific body checker though, and the type of guy who doesn't chase the big hit. He lets the game come to him. The Panthers have a choice to make with him next year. He was an overage draft pick in 2013 so he doesn't have to be signed yet despite being a '94. Florida can send him back to Oshawa for his overage OHL season. Or they can try to get San Antonio to take him in the AHL to acclimatize him to the pro game without giving him an ELC. My guess is that he'll be in San Antonio's camp and will be given a chance to make that team. If that doesn't work out, it'll be back to Oshawa where he'll be expected to work on his puck distribution skills and mobility in his own end.

*of note, Panthers 3rd rounder Juho Lammikko will be suiting up for the Kingston Frontenacs next year after being selected in the Import Draft. He'll have a chance to play a top 9, perhaps even top 6 role for them as they need some size up front.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Edmonton Oilers

Shout-out to the guys in Edmonton who show me a ton of love (Lowdown with Lowetide, The Pipeline Show). Here's the Oilers review.

Darnell Nurse - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Honestly, at times this year he looked like a man among boys. There were quite a few shifts of his this year where he could do pretty much whatever he wanted on the ice and no one could stop him. He established himself as a dominant two-way defender. He was aggressive in leading the rush and jumping up into the play when he needed to, but showed restraint and the ability to make a good breakout pass when needed to as well. Defensively, he consistently went up against the opposition's best and did an admirable job. I think his zone coverage will continue to need to evolve as he becomes a pro player, but he's a physical force out there and will learn quick. He has the ability to squash the transition game because of how well he moves, gets into passing lanes and asserts himself by keeping forwards to the outside. What I really liked from Nurse was his increased intensity level in the corners and in front of the net this year. It was very difficult for the opposition to win battles against him. Quite frankly, I think he's ready for the NHL. He needs to learn to adjust to the speed of the pro game and to gain confidence at that level. I don't think there's much more that the OHL can teach him. If he returns, I think it will be a mistake and the Oilers will risk him developing some bad habits out of boredom (the way Alex Pietrangelo did in his 19 year old season).

Kyle Platzer - Owen Sound Attack
A trade to Owen Sound didn't do a whole lot for Platzer this year, as he struggled to be a consistent offensive contributor with both London and the Attack. At this point, he's a tweener. And an undersized one at that. He hasn't shown a lot to suggest that he's got the skill level to be a top 6 player at the next level. And he doesn't have the body type or the aggressive nature to be a quality checker. Going into next year he'll be fighting for a contract with Edmonton. He's either going to have to gain a ton of condidence in his offensive abilities, get stronger and really take his game to the next level offensively...or he'll need to round out his game by becoming more of a factor physically, on the forecheck, and defensively. He'll get his chance in Owen Sound as they'll be expecting him to play a top 6 role next year.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Detroit Red Wings

Yup, that was my introduction.

Andreas Athanasiou - Barrie Colts
Athanasiou had another terrific year, continuing to build upon his breakout last year. His speed and skill with the puck make him an incredibly difficult player to contain off the rush. He's very aggressive in trying to get to the net and has become far from a perimeter player. This year, his game without the puck continued to grow and he's now someone who can create offense by winning battles along the boards and by forechecking hard to create turnovers. He's become a very well rounded offensive player. Athanasiou's defensive game grew this year too and he's on his way to becoming a solid two-way player, which was something that definitely wasn't the case in his draft year. There might not be a player from the 2012 draft who has progressed as much as Athanasiou. Next year he'll be in Grand Rapids and I expect him to do well. A 45-50 point first season is certainly possible.

Jake Paterson - Saginaw Spirit
Paterson had only an OK year. The Spirit weren't a great team, so he had that to deal with, but they could have been better if he was at his best (see Plymouth with Alex Nedeljkovic). It was great to see him with the Canadian WJC team, but it was unfortunate how the tournament turned out for him personally. At this point, I'm not sure he's really progressed a lot since he was drafted, yet he remains a solid goaltending prospect. He'll have to continue to work on his angles, especially as an average sized netminder. This year, he'll likely be in the ECHL as a starter based on the depth the Wings have at the goaltending position. That's OK as it will allow him to come on slowly and work his way up.

Zach Nastasiuk - Owen Sound Attack
The captain of the Attack (a feat in itself) had a decent year in Owen Sound, and continued to play his strong two-way game. As much as I like him, I'd be lying if I wasn't a bit disappointed in the consistency of his offensive production though. I did feel like he made strides to improve his skating and he looked a bit more explosive. He needs to become more confident handling the puck and looking to drive the net more though, as he's still primarily a cycle/boards guy who picks up his scoring chances coming off the wall or by outworking defenders. There's nothing wrong with that, but I think he's capable of more. If I'm nitpicking, I'd also like to see him be a bit more physical, using his size to create havoc and get under the skin of the opposition. Next year I expect big things from him and I think he'll finally hit the 30 goal mark and should be a good bet to score over a point per game. The next Kris Draper/Kirk Maltby?

Tyler Bertuzzi - Guelph Storm
Bottom line, he just needs to stay healthy. When he plays, the talent level is terrific. When he wasn't injured (head and neck injury this year), he was fantastic this year. It was especially great to see him come back late in the year and not even miss a beat. In the playoffs and in the Memorial Cup, he was consistently one of Guelph's top players. He has deceptive speed off the rush and has a lot of success taking defenders wide, giving him a chance to use his terrific shot. He plays the game hard too, sometimes too hard, and really gets under the skin of the opposition. Next year is a HUGE one for him. Guelph will need Bertuzzi to step up with the loss of several key players from last year's roster (Rychel, Mitchell, McGinn, Kosmachuk). If he stays healthy, I think he's going to have a really big year playing with either Robby Fabbri or Jason Dickinson. In all honesty, he could hit the 35 goal, 70 point mark rather easily. And that would really establish him as a great prospect. Detroit never ceases to amaze me with their drafting ability.

Friday, July 18, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Dallas Stars

Next stop Dallas!

Radek Faksa - Sudbury Wolves
More of the same this year for Faksa. His first year in the league continues to be his best and it`s been downhill from there. The Wolves gave up an awful lot for him this year and had high expectations for him in the 2nd half, but he was a mega disappointment. The last two years in the OHL, he really hasn`t shown us anything to suggest that he has offensive potential at the NHL level. He has some good vision and playmaking potential, but lacks intensity as an offensive player. He never became the type of guy who could take over a shift by controlling the boards, or by dancing around the open ice. He remains a solid defensive presence and that will be his calling card at the next level. That said, he`s not a physical player, so will that impact his effectiveness as a two-way player at the next level? He'll start his pro career in the AHL next year and I don't expect him to produce much offensively. I wish I could be more hopeful but he was a very disappointing player in the OHL the last two years.

Jason Dickinson - Guelph Storm
One of the most improved players in the OHL this year for me. He had an absolutely fantastic year. In his draft year, he showed flashes of being a very difficult player to match up against; the type of guy who could come at you physically and outwork you. Well this year, that was consistent from start to finish. He's become a very difficult player to play against at both ends of the ice. He forechecks as hard as anyone in the league and has become the type of guy who can win battles and control possession in the cycle. Defensively, he's one of the first guys back in the defensive end and he rarely misses an assignment. Offensively, he exhibits patience and poise with the puck and has learned to limit his turnovers. His vision and ability to create for his linemates really took a step forward. Next year, I look for the confidence in his ability to shoot the puck and create his own scoring chances to increase. What a great year for him. My guess is he cracks the 80 point mark next year and is a strong candidate for the Canadian WJC team.

Remi Elie - Belleville Bulls
Along with Dickinson, was another of the league's most improved players this year. He WAS Belleville's offense this year. Every single aspect of his game improved. Most noticeably was his confidence with the puck. He was able to create a lot of scoring chances for himself and for his linemates by making moves and controlling the puck in ways I didn't think he was capable of. His puck skill greatly improved, or at least was very hidden before. He's a powerful force with and without the puck who looks to charge the net. His physical game remains solid as he's a terrific forechecker and presence in the open ice. I feel like not a lot of people had a chance to see Belleville this year (because they weren't good), but Elie was one of the league's breakout stars. If he continues to improve and the rest of Belleville's roster improves with him, I could see an 80 point season next year. He's certainly made me re-think his high end potential. There's more in him than just a 3rd/4th line grinder.

Gemel Smith - London Knights
Statistically, he had a pretty decent year (his best in the OHL), but I was still surprised that Dallas signed him. Even if his numbers improved, I'm not really sure he did. Throughout his OHL career, he was pretty consistent offensively, but he never really took that step as a dominating offensive force. This was evident in the OHL playoffs this year where his struggles with the high intensity of the game caused London to move him down to the 4th line. While he is skilled, I don't know if he's skilled enough to play a top 6 role. And while he can provide energy, his size and skill set doesn't really make him an ideal candidate for a bottom 6 role. He strikes me as a tweener. He'll likely start his pro career next year and he'll probably be given little ice time to start, allowing him to get used to the size and speed of the pro game. I think it could be good for him too, forcing him to play with more of an edge which would help his potential moving forward.

Alex Peters - Plymouth Whalers
Peters was a great pick by Dallas in the 3rd round. I really like his game and I think there's more to it than just a physical, stay at home guy. He's very solid with the puck, and has good mobility. At times, he'll skate the puck out of the zone, but stops short of pushing into the opposing end. As a midget player (in his OHL draft year), he was one of the most improved players in the draft class, so he's a hard worker and an astute learner. I see that carrying over to his OHL career. As he gains confidence in his abilities, I think his offensive game will really come around to match his excellent defensive potential. We're not talking a Drew Doughty, Shea Weber here. But, he has enough skill with the puck to elevate him over other defensive first guys who can be a liability in their own end when counted upon to make a quick play. A 30 point year is well within his reach IMO.

Brent Moran - Niagara IceDogs
Moran got better and better as the year went on for Niagara, taking over the starter's role around mid-season. He was great in the playoffs and almost allowed the Dogs to upset the eventual East champion North Bay Battalion. He's a big kid who's athletic and has the composition of the ideal NHL goaltender. He'll need to continue to work on his angles, taking advantage of his size by challenging shooters and trying to stay up longer to take away the top part of the net. Niagara should be one of the top teams in the East next year and if Moran continues his solid play from the second half of last year, they'll be in great hands.

Aaron Haydon - Niagara IceDogs
Haydon is a similar player to Peters in that he's a big guy with good mobility. But he's much less polished. He can struggle with his decision making at times and will need to improve his zone coverage reads to really establish himself as a dominant stay at home force. In his OHL rookie year, I saw a guy who flashed a ton of offensive potential and appeared to be on the cusp of developing as a strong two-way presence (and potential puck rusher). But this past year he wasn't terrific and really seemed to lack confidence offensively. I'm interested to follow his development moving forward though, as I could certainly see him as a guy who could improve. Rome wasn't built in a day. Next year, he'll get a chance to increase his offensive numbers as Niagara will be looking for one of their young defenders to step up as their primary powerplay QB.

Patrick Sanvido - Windsor Spitfires
Not all that surprising to see him get drafted late, as one of the biggest players available in the draft. I had high expectations for him coming into the year, but he didn't have a strong sophomore season. He did look a bit better towards the end of the year, but he remains a work in progress. His skating will have to improve a lot if he wants to be a primary shutdown defender. Keeping forwards to the outside shouldn't be hard with his reach if he can manage to stay with them. Windsor's defensive alignment is kind of up in the air right now for next year. There is ice time available for the taking. Will Sanvido put in the work this offseason to grab a top 4 role? I guess we'll see.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus is the next team on our trip.

Kerby Rychel - Guelph Storm
As tough as it might have been for Warren to deal his son to Guelph, it ultimately proved to be great for his development and his game. Rychel was terrific for Guelph down the stretch and in the playoffs. Playing for Guelph really allowed him to show his strong vision and playmaking ability, as this is a part of his game which I felt has always been there, but never shown off. Playing with Robby Fabbri and Zack Mitchell was great because they're both very smart and well rounded offensive players and that allowed him to play a more simple game. His goal scoring numbers dropped a bit this year, but he still has good goal scoring potential at the next level. Even if the skating and power game with the puck never really develops at the next level, he's so good close to the net and in the slot, he should be at least a candidate to be a consistent 20 goal guy. The one thing that I did notice this year was the decrease in his physical game. He was still solid on the forecheck, but he didn't actively look to make big hits as much as he has in prior years. As he turns pro this year, I think he'll find instant success in the AHL. He's big enough and strong enough to hold his own in battles near the net and I think he's the type of guy who won't need much time in the minors before he's ready to make an impact on a checking line.

Nick Moutrey - Saginaw Spirit
The Spirit had a tough year and Moutrey didn't have a great one individually. His development appeared to hit a snag and next year will be a big one for him. All the things that I mentioned needing improvement last year, are areas that continue to hold him back. The main thing is consistency and confidence with the puck. He has skill and he has the ability to drive the net, but he doesn't do it often enough and is too often "just there" in the offensive end. Physically, his intensity level was a little greater away from the puck and I felt like he played with more "jam" in the traffic areas. But quite often this did not translate to a greater amount of offensive opportunities. He also remains more of a pass first guy and continues to need to improve his shot to make him more of a weapon coming down the wing. Next year is a big one for him, as I mentioned. His confidence should be high, but Saginaw will be undergoing a bit of a rebuild so he's going to have to really take the bull by the horns.

Josh Anderson - London Knights
Anderson had a good year in London, but not a great year. Truthfully, I didn't see much improvement from him, which is not necessarily a bad thing. He improved so much last year and this year he simply maintained that level of play. I think we know what we've got in Anderson now. He's a high energy, physically imposing winger who can chip in offensively depending on who he's playing with. I don't think there's top 6 potential, but he could certainly be a very valuable checker. With his speed and size, I don't think it's going to take him long in the minors. Unless of course the Jackets feel like his offensive potential is greater than I'm suggesting, then they may let him play down in the AHL for a while to gain confidence in his offensive abilities. Otherwise I expect him to advance and push for a roster spot pretty quickly. If anything, he might be MORE ready for the pro game and a checking line spot than Kerby Rychel is.

Oscar Dansk - Erie Otters
The wins and the GAA look good, but the save percentage (.909) tells more of the story. Dansk was good this year, but not great. He struggled with consistency at times this year and as such was not the starter for Erie in the playoffs. He's a big guy and he seems to have all the tools to be a good goaltender (quickness, agility, rebound control, etc), but he just hasn't put it all together yet. He still shows too many holes and can really fight the puck at times. He also has a tendency to overplay angles and will need continued coaching at the professional level. He'll turn pro next year and I think Columbus will be happy to have them in their hands after last year's difficulties. It appears that he'll have to fight it out with some other players at the AHL level, so hopefully he can perform there and continue to try and get better.

Blake Siebenaler - Niagara IceDogs
Loved this pick by the Jackets. He's such a raw player, but one who improved a ton over the course of the season. He hasn't played defense very long, but by the end of the year, he might have been Niagara's top defenseman. His skating is his greatest asset and he's only just learning how to use it to his advantage. As he gains confidence, I hope he begins to push the pace more as a puck rusher and takes more chances offensively because his skating ability will allow him to recover quickly and close gaps. I think the biggest thing I want to see him work on next year is his ability to run the point on the powerplay. The Dogs will need him to be their main guy there and he has some work to do in improving his shot (confidence using it, finding holes, etc) and the quickness with which he makes decisions when moving the puck. As I said, I really like him and I believe in his potential. I expect a 40 point season.

*Of note, 2013 pick Markus Soberg is set to play for Windsor next year. And there are rumours on the 'twittersphere' that suggest 1st rounder Sonny Milano is leaning towards playing for Plymouth.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days: Colorado Avalanche

Who wants some thin air? Off to the Mile High state of Colorado.

Chris Bigras - Owen Sound Attack
I've heard a lot of people mention that they felt Bigras had regressed this year. In all honesty, I don't think that's the case. Did he progress? I don't think so. But regress implies that he got worse and that's not the case. It was simply a status quo year. His offensive numbers decreased this year, but that was due to the fact he played a more conservative defensive game and took less chances offensively. He remains a steady, calming presence on the back end, who rarely makes a mistake in coverage or by turning the puck over in his own end. He's not a physical player, but he did do a better job of winning battles in the corners this year and is learning to play aggressive when he needs to. Offensively, he has the skills to produce more than he does. But he's content making a first pass out of the zone and is not yet the type of player who will extend rushes into the offensive zone. Will he ever become that type of player? I think next year will tell us a lot. He'll likely return to Owen Sound where hopefully he gains some confidence in his ability to produce offensively without sacrificing his defensive game. Of course, he could always surprise and make the Avs too.

Spencer Martin - Mississauga Steelheads
I saw a lot of Martin this year and quite frankly, it wasn't a good year for him. Let me preface this by saying that the Steelheads were not a strong team this year, especially defensively. Martin saw not only a lot of rubber, but a lot of premium scoring chances (breakaways, 2 on 1's, powerplays, etc). That said, when he was needed to elevate his game, he wasn't able to do that. He still seems to lose focus at times and gives up some soft goals. At times, I wonder if he has difficulty tracking the play as he gets caught out of position or playing the wrong angle on some of these weaker goals. He remains a goaltender with a lot of potential though because of his size and athleticism. The Steelheads could be a smidgen better next year, especially as some of their talented defenders get another year of experience under their belt. But they're going to need Martin at the top of his game and that means taking a big step forward in his development.

Kyle Wood - North Bay Battalion
Loved the Wood pick-up by Colorado. He's very raw as he's only played 76 OHL games the past two years (including playoffs). He got a late start to this year too because of an injury. But he got better and better as the season went on, capping it off with a sensational performance in the OHL playoffs. At 6'5, 230lbs, you can't teach his size. And with his skill set (good mobility, physically aggressive, good puck skill, work ethic), he has the potential to impact the game at both ends of the ice (which is what he did in the playoffs this year). In North Bay next season, he'll get an increased role and should see even more powerplay time than he did this year. I think he's going to have a breakout year and should break the 35 point mark.

Nick Magyar - Kitchener Rangers
It was a trying year for the Rangers as they battled to stay out of the basement in the Western Conference. But Magyar was the team's most consistent player IMO. I was surprised that he fall as far as the 4th round, so needless to say I feel like the Avs got a steal. Magyar is a hard working forward who has potential to excel as a strong presence along the boards because he protects the puck well and has good vision to make plays coming off the wall. He'll need to work on his ability to drive the net and I'd love to see him add more of a physical element to his game. As he gains confidence, I expect his goal scoring numbers, in particular, to increase. The Rangers will be a bit better next year (potentially) and Magyar should be right in the thick of that. I think he's got a chance to be a point per game player next year.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days: Chicago Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks and their one OHL prospect are up next.

Ryan Hartman - Plymouth Whalers
Despite performing very well in the AHL at the end of the season (which Hawks fans probably honestly care more about), Hartman did not have a very good OHL season. The Whalers were not a strong offensive team this year and they needed Hartman to be a consistent leader on the ice, and I don't think he was able to accomplish that. He actually became the whipping boy of Whalers' fans this year, justified or not. I think the biggest disappointment I had this year with Hartman was the lack of urgency in his game away from the puck. This was something that made him such a force in his draft year and made me really like him as a prospect. But he didn't play with as much tenacity and intensity this year (at least in the games I saw). The physical component, in correlation with forechecking and defensive awareness just wasn't a consistent part of his game. It looked like he was trying too hard to be an offensive player while neglecting some of the things that made him a top draft pick. I think he simply put too much pressure on himself to be the number one creator of scoring chances on the team and subsequently lost his way a bit. All that being said, he's still a solid prospect (which is obvious by the way he performed at the AHL level this year). Best of luck to him as he starts his pro career this year.

Monday, July 14, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days: Carolina Hurricanes

With former Whalers' head Mike Vellucci in the front office fold, the Hurricanes are the next stop on 30 Teams in 30 Days.

Brock McGinn - Guelph Storm
Absolutely fantastic season for McGinn. If he wasn't one already, he emerged as a legitimate NHL prospect this year. He literally improved in all facets of his play. He continued to play a staunch physical game but cut down on his cheap/silly penalties. He spent more time trying to create offensive scoring chances this year, rather than trying to piss off the opposition. He's still a tough player to play against, but he's a smarter one now. His goal scoring ability really took a step forward too, as he gained more confidence in his shot and became more than just a 'banging home rebounds' kind of guy. McGinn is ready for the pro game. In all honesty, depending on how builds up strength in the offseason, he might be ready to contribute on a checking line as early as this year. 

Daniel Altshuller - Oshawa Generals
Altshuller definitely had his best year in the OHL, finally putting together a consistent year from start to finish. The Generals were among the cream of the crop in the East and his steady presence in the crease was a big reason for that. He shored up his positioning and his rebound control and gave up way less "soft" goals. The Canes haven't had the best luck developing goalies in recent years. Looks like he'll split time with veteran Drew MacIntyre at the AHL level next year and we'll see how he does. I'd expect him to be good, but not great. 

Trevor Carrick - Sudbury Wolves
There's no question that Carrick had a great OHL season. Hard to argue against the offensive contribution with 22 goals. His shot is a lethal weapon. It's hard. It's accurate. And he's great at jumping up in the rush to find shooting lanes. As a defensive player, he continued to evolve. He's physical when he needs to be and chases the play less in the defensive zone. His mobility has improved and he's become a tough player to beat one on one. He's worked very hard over his OHL career to cut down on his turnovers with the puck, especially in the defensive end. It's tolerable at the OHL level, but once the game picks up speed again, how long will the adjustment period be for him again? I think that's the biggest question moving forward as he turns pro this year. 

Tyler Ganly - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Ganly is more valuable as an OHL player than his stat line would indicate. He plays lots for the Hounds and in critical defensive situations. His offensive game hasn't yet flourished (I'm not sure it will at this point), but he's a very solid defensive player who can win battles in the corners, clear the front of the net and get his stick in passing lanes. His skating improved and he's able to make quicker decisions to evade the forecheck, but it will need to continue to improve this coming year in order to earn a contract from Carolina. His role next year will likely remain unchanged.

Brent Pedersen - Kitchener Rangers
It wasn't really a good year for anyone on Kitchener, to be honest. They had a tough go of it. Pedersen's development was pretty stagnant. He remains a bit of an enigma, sometimes flashing a skilled game. Sometimes a physical, forechecking game. He's the type of guy who needs to develop an identity as a player in order to grow as a prospect. Next year Kitchener will be a year older and hopefully better. The Rangers will need Pedersen to really step up and provide offense. He's capable of a 30 goal season and I think he'll need that to earn a contract.

Sergey Tolchinsky - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Tolchinsky had a very good year. In his draft year, when the Canes signed him (after going undrafted), there were a lot of times that he left a bland taste in my mouth. Tons of skill, but not much came of it that year. This past year he was much more aggressive, taking the bull by the horns, sort of speak. He was the offensive leader for the Soo and was incredibly consistent. He's still not very big, but he looked stronger on the puck, getting outmuscled less, especially when trying to cut into the slot for a shot or a drive to the net. His puck skill remains tremendous and he bides time for his linemates to find open lanes. I think it remains to be seen how his skill set will translate to the NHL level, but he'll return to the OHL next year and be a candidate to lead the league in scoring.

Carter Sandlak - Plymouth Whalers
Sandlak was signed as a free agent after a solid overage season with Plymouth. You know what you're getting with him. He knows his role is to play physical, win battles in the corners, and drive the net. He's not going to win any scoring titles and I don't think his NHL potential tops out any higher than a 4th line checker, but he could be a valuable role player. Hopefully he can crack the AHL next year, where he'll probably put up pretty low scoring numbers as he gets used to the speed of the pro game.

Alex Nedeljkovic - Plymouth Whalers
I was very happy to see Nedeljkovic go high in the NHL draft. I was worried that because he doesn't possess elite size, that he'd fall a bit. But he's as good of a goaltender as there is in the OHL and that's why he was the OHL goaltender of the year this year. His mental make up is tremendous. He shows up for big games and he makes the big saves when they're needed. Since he came into the OHL, he's done nothing but perform at a exemplary level and I'd expect nothing less next year. The real interesting prospect for me, actually has nothing to do with the OHL. I'm curious to see whether Nedeljkovic or Thatcher Demko ends up as the starter on the U.S. WJC team. One's got an U-18 gold medal and one doesn't. Just saying!

Josh Wesley - Plymouth Whalers
A little higher than I would have taken him, but it's not surprising to see the Hurricanes take a shot on a Plymouth player. For me, I think I'm confused as to the type of player Wesley is going to become at the next level. He's solid in a lot of aspects; had good size, mobility, smarts, but doesn't seem to have the personality or high skill level with the puck to be an offensive defender like his father was. And there were times this year that he stood out in a negative way for me defensively (especially in the first round loss to Guelph). Next year will be a big one in his development as he start to see what type of player he ends up becoming. 

Kyle Jenkins - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Jenkins is a coy pick up in the 7th by the Canes. I like it as a roll of the dice pick up. He only played in his first OHL season this year and flashed a lot of good things. He started the year very well, but I found that he tired as the year went on and saw his role reduced. I like how he runs the powerplay and I think he's got a lot of offensive potential from the back end. This offseason, he's hopefully worked hard to get stronger to make him a more effective puck rusher, and a more sturdy defensive presence. He could have a breakout year next year as he gains more powerplay time, especially if Darnell Nurse makes the Oilers.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days: Calgary Flames

The first Canadian stop on the 30 day tour, here are the Calgary Flames (who only have OHL prospects from the most recent draft).

Sam Bennett - Kingston Frontenacs
I've made it pretty clear how much I like Bennett in my previous posts, but the Flames were lucky he fell to their lap at number 4. Other than size, he's your prototypical franchise center who brings everything to the table. The comparisons to former Flame Doug Gilmour aren't that far fetched. I've gotten one question a lot, "is Bennett ready for the NHL?" The answer is no. He needs another year of junior where he can try to help Kingston climb to the top of the Eastern Conference. He can then get stronger and more confident and be ready to step into Calgary's line-up in 2015. I expect pretty huge things from him this year. He's definitely one of the front runners to lead the OHL in scoring and should be a contributing member of Team Canada at the WJC's. With Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett, Calgary is set down the middle with two very cerebral and complete players who can make the players around them better.

Hunter Smith - Oshawa Generals
Another great pick up by Calgary. Smith has grown so much as a player in the last year. From a fringe OHL player fighting for a roster spot, to a top 6 winger and 2nd round draft pick. He's a very intriguing player because of his size and skill package. He'll never be mistaken for Wayne Gretzky with the puck, but he has enough skill to work close to the net and in the slot. He's already become a very confident player in front of the net, looking for tips and screens. The Gennies use him like the Bruins use Zdeno Chara on the powerplay. As the year went on, he gained a lot of confidence in his ability to skate with the puck and even started to take chances on drives to the net, creating his own scoring chances by the end of the year. I look for him to continue his steep development curve this coming season. He'll likely end up on a line with Michael Dal Colle, opening up space on the ice for Dal Colle to create. I'd expect a 25 goal, perhaps even 60 point season for him.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Buffalo Sabres

OK, it's time for a novel. The Buffalo Sabres are up and I think (along with the LA Kings) they've got the rights to about half of the OHL.

Nikita Zadorov - London Knights
Upon returning to the OHL, Zadorov was an absolute beast. It was great to see such increased confidence in his offensive game. He made an effort to try and lead the rush in most instances, often times taking the puck deep inside the opposing blueline. He also was way more aggressive in jumping up in the play as the 3rd or 4th man, trying to get in position to use his big shot from the point. He continued to assert himself physically and was one of the toughest defenders in the league to beat one on one. He strikes fear into the opposition because they know he's waiting on the other side of the blueline to lower the boom. Defensively, he made strides. His zone coverage did improve and he generally did do a better job of letting the game come to him. Moving forward, this is still the area that needs the most improvement. Next year, I'd have to imagine he'll have a chance to crack the Sabres again and will be in competition with the likes of Jake Mccabe, Ristolainen, and Pysyk for a roster spot. If he does return to London, he becomes the front runner for OHL defenseman of the year IMO.

Nick Baptiste - Sudbury Wolves
What a terrific year for Baptiste, who grew leaps and bounds. He established himself as one of the top wingers in the league and was a consistent contributor for Sudbury. The biggest difference IMO was improved confidence and improved strength. For Baptiste, it had always been a consistency issue and that was corrected this year. Every time he stepped on the ice, he was a threat to score because of his speed and desire to take the puck to the net. His 200 foot game grew too, as he improved his play without the puck, his defensive presence, and the consistency of his physical game. He's growing into a terrific prospect for Buffalo. Next year, he'll return to Sudbury should end up cracking the top 10 of league scoring. However, I could see Sudbury trading him at some point, as I don't see them being a contender next year.

Justin Bailey - Kitchener Rangers
It wasn't a good year for Bailey or the Rangers. And I think those two things are related. Bailey was being counted on to be an offensive leader for the team, a role I don't think he was ready for. Just the same, Bailey is a complimentary offensive player at this point in his development and he didn't really have anyone to get him the puck. He's got such a terrific shot, but he didn't have a great playmaker to play with. He still looks like he needs to add strength to help him create room for himself out on the ice. He's still not a consistent factor without the puck either, and he'll need to really improve his desire to get his nose dirty. Next year, hopefully he can take the bull by the horns and take that next step forward. The Rangers will be a young team, but they should be a better team. Averaging close to a point per game and cracking the 30 goal marker seem like realistic expectations.

Eric Locke - Saginaw Spirit
It must have been a tough year for Locke. He got sent back a little later to Saginaw after failing to make Rochester (AHL). He then missed a good chunk of time between November and December with an upper body injury. And unfortunately, as team captain, had to help his team get through the tough times following the death of teammate Terry Trafford. There's no question that this trying year had to have made him a better person and a better leader. All things considered, he had a pretty good year. I don't think he was as good as 2012/2013, which caused Buffalo to draft him. But he wasn't bad either. When he's on, Locke is a very dangerous and complete offensive player. He creates or finishes scoring chances in a variety of ways. He can create from the boards/forecheck. He creates off the rush with great speed. He has a heck of a shot and is able to set up shot in the slot to finish plays. I just found that he wasn't as consistent with his energy level as he was in 2012/2013. I'm excited to see how he does professionally next year. Hopefully he can crack Rochester and establish himself as a solid prospect for the Sabres.

Justin Kea - Saginaw Spirit
This year sort of a status quo year for Kea. I think at this point, what you see is what you get with him. He'll never be a top scorer at any level and he's not a creative playmaker or finisher. But what he is, is a prototypical 3rd/4th line center. He has size, skating ability, two way awareness and is fantastic on face-offs. He closes gaps on opposing players with the puck very well, and is great at forcing turnovers with an active stick or a good hit. He'll turn pro next year with Rochester, and I wouldn't expect a lot from him offensively. If Buffalo is patient with him, he could be a great PK guy for them in the future.

Brady Austin - London Knights
Buffalo made the right choice sending Austin back for his overage year. He spent most of the year with London where he had a pretty decent year. His defensive awareness has improved to the point where he's become a solid zone defender. He's never developed a mean streak to match his great size, so we'll see whether that hinders his effectiveness at the pro level. But at the junior level, he's able to be successful as primarily a stick checker. Offensively, his game hasn't really grown all that much. He is a good skater for a big guy, but prefers to pass out of the zone, rather than skate it out. He's got a decent point shot at the junior level, but I wouldn't expect that to translate to the pro level as he's not aggressive enough in using it. At this point, his future lies as a stay at home guy and we'll see how his more passive defensive approach works at the next level.

Brendan Lemieux - Barrie Colts
Lemieux was a great pick by the Sabres. I'm a fan. His offensive game really improved this year and it seemed like he was gaining more confidence each month. By the end of the year, he was beginning to create his own scoring chances, instead of being just a complimentary offensive guy. But he's got great hands in close and is probably the best in the OHL at redirecting pucks in front of the net. The key for him moving forward is to improve his skating. He's not a bad skater, but improving his first few steps and his top gear would make him much more dangerous as a forechecker and on net drives. I look for for him to have a good year in 2014/2015. I'd expect 35 goals.

Eric Cornel - Peterborough Petes
The Cornel pick is a similar one to Justin Bailey in 2013. Cornel is a forward with a lot of potential, but who struggles with consistency. He needs to add strength this offseason. Towards the end of the OHL season, he really started to play with some aggression away from the puck. I hope this is an element to his game that will continue to develop, as it would greatly help him gain more consistency. The Petes should be one of the strongest teams in the East next year and I was expect Cornel to be right in the thick of that. A 70+ point season would be a successful one for him IMO.

Friday, July 11, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Boston Bruins

Next stop is Boston...and it's a short one.

The Bruins don't really have any OHL prospects at the moment.

Mitchell Dempsey - OHL Free Agent (now QMJHL signed)
I was incredibly surprised when the Bruins drafted him in 2013 (even if it was a 7th), and I still think that they're crazy. Unfortunately, Bruins management might be saying "what the hell were we thinking?" too. Dempsey was released/waived by the Greyhounds this year and no other club picked him up (that includes the entire CHL who had a crack at him). He caught on with the Kitchener Rangers later in the year when they were battling some injuries, but didn't stick. At this point, he's just not an OHL caliber player. Skill level isn't high, and he doesn't play aggressive enough given his size. This year, he'll be playing with Saint John of the QMJHL, who recently signed him as a free agent. This is surely to be his last chance to make his mark as a prospect.

*Of note, the Bruins first round pick David Pastrnak was selected by Belleville in the Import draft. If he comes over, I'd expect pretty big things from him. The Bulls were pretty much a one man offensive team last year (Remi Elie), so adding another scorer is paramount. We'll see if he reports.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes are up next...because they're now the Arizona Coyotes. Feels good to have another "A" team in the league after the Thrashers left town.

Max Domi - London Knights
Statistically, it was another strong season for Domi. He had 93 points, which lead London. But I don't think it was a terrific year for his development. There just wasn't much progression in his game from his NHL draft year. His defensive game remains a big work in progress, and if anything, he had a penchant for floating more this year. I also saw a regression in his physical game and aggressiveness away from the puck. To me, it looked like he was trying too hard to hit the score sheet on some nights, playing perhaps a tad selfishly and not allowing the game to come naturally to him. In particular, he did not have a good playoff series against Guelph and looked genuinely frustrated. He's an incredibly skilled player and one with a bright future, but I wasn't surprised when he was not invited to the Canadian WJC camp. However, this is something that does happen with players like Domi following their draft year. It can be hard for them to live up to the high expectations others put on them, and that they put on themselves. Next year is another year, and it's a chance for him to re-focus himself. Some of the team's leaders like Chris Tierney, Ryan Rupert, and Josh Anderson will (likely) be moving on to the pro's. It'll give Domi a chance to really assume a leadership role and put this team on his back. I expect a really solid year from him. Of course, he could always make the Coyotes too...

Tyler Gaudet - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Gaudet is a really cool story, as an overager who was only playing in his first full OHL season. He didn't even have a guaranteed roster spot going into camp, but fought his way on to the team and then some. From the start of the season to the end, Gaudet was one of the Soo's most effective and important forwards. But that's not why he was a very smart signing by the Coyotes. He's a smart signing because he's a prototypical 3rd/4th line center who possesses all the qualities that you'd want in that type of player. He's got size. He can skate. He is terrific on face-offs. He is competes at both ends of the ice and excels as a penalty killer. He's a terrific boards player and is a strong forechecker. He's not the most skilled player, but he's smart and his offensive contributions are tied to his aggressiveness. I think he's going to make a good pro and I'm excited to see how he does in the AHL next year.

Brendan Perlini - Niagara IceDogs
The 12th overall pick this year, Perlini got off to one heck of a start and was among the league's leading scorers for the first half. But he cooled down and ran into some consistency issues. Not unexpected of a young player who's being expected to carry the load offensively for an average team. Next year, Niagara is likely to be one of the top teams in the East and Perlini will be right in the thick of that. His entire line, with Carter Verhaeghe and Anthony DiFruscia, is returning and they should be one of the top units in the league. Next year, I look for Perlini to be more aggressive, settling less for scoring chances from the perimeter. While it's great to use his big cannon from the wing, it's also important for him to learn how to use his size to drive the net. He needs to start adding the garbage goals to his repertoire. A 40 goal season is a certainty IMO (barring injury). 

Ryan MacInnis - Kitchener Rangers
Despite his low offensive output, I was a fan of MacInnis this year. I see a lot of potential in him. There were games of Kitchener that I saw this year, where he was the best player on the ice. Problem is, there were other games where he was completely invisible. That has to change next year. This offseason, he's likely attempting to get much stronger and quicker. By adding more speed and strength to his game, he should be able to control the tempo more effectively from center ice. Being stronger on the puck would give him more time to use his good vision to create scoring chances. And the speed aspect would allow him to be more effective driving to the net, which he's not afraid of doing. The Rangers are a young team and it remains to be seen how they'll progress next year. Hopefully he can inch closer to the point per game mark.

Christian Dvorak - London Knights
It wasn't very surprising to see someone take Dvorak early in 2014. I knew he had major fans in the NHL scouting community. This year he got caught in a numbers game in the London line-up, seeing mostly 3rd/4th line ice time. Then he suffered that knee injury. Next year, London remains deep at forward. But he'll have a chance to move up. Josh Anderson will be going pro and that could open up a spot for Dvorak in the top 6 and on the powerplay. He's a skilled player with speed coming down the wing. Makes me think that if he can show a bit more grit to his game, the Knights may try him with Max Domi next year. Staying healthy is first and foremost though.

Michael Bunting - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
I'm a big fan of Bunting. The Yotes got a steal with him in the 4th round. Playing in his first OHL year, he was sensational for the Greyhounds. He's such a fearless player who knows his role on a line. He drives to the net and goes to the dirty areas to make plays. Best of all, he's got speed and skill to match his high energy level. He'll assume an even larger role with the Soo next year, and should see more powerplay time. He needs to get stronger going into next year, but he's got such great work ethic so I don't anticipate any regression. I expect him to average over a point per game, likely in the realm of a 35-35 season.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

30 Teams in 30 Days - Anaheim Ducks

It's back! Let us begin 30 teams in 30 days!

The Anaheim Ducks are up first and they've only got one OHL prospect, the recently drafted Nick Ritchie.

Nick Ritchie - Peterborough Petes
The Ducks drafted Ritchie 10th overall this year, which was a terrific pick IMO. Ritchie has as much potential as any forward taken. His "warts" are easily correctable. Whether it's the needed improvements in conditioning, consistency, injury proneness, these are things that are correctable. The size and skill package that Ritchie possesses is too good to pass up. 2013/2014 was a good year for him as he was able to stay mostly healthy and really emerged as a top flight talent in the OHL in the second half of the season. Once the Petes brought Hunter Garlent on board, it gave Ritchie the playmaker he hadn't really had before and it really allowed him to blossom. The good news for Ducks fans is that Garlent and Ritchie will be playing all of next year with each other and I expect great things (a 50 goal season is not out of reach). That is, of course, if Ritchie returns to Peterborough. As a late '95, Ritchie has played three years of OHL hockey, but I don't think he's ready for the NHL yet. The Ducks have one of the top young farm systems in the league, which means they've got a lot of kids who've already dug their teeth into the pro game and who are probably more ready than Ritchie. He needs to go back to junior for one more year to really try to dominate. The Petes could be a contender in the East and I think a long, successful season would go a long way to making him a confident offensive monster ready for a roster spot in 2015/2016.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2014 CHL Import Draft Review

On Wednesday, July 2, the Canadian Hockey League held its annual Import Draft. It is here, CHL teams get the opportunity to add import talent to their roster. There are two rounds of the draft, and a team can pass on their pick at any time. As per the new rules, import picks could not be traded. Goalies are also no longer allowed to be selected.

Just to remind you, CHL clubs are permitted to carry only two import players on their team or protected list every year. However, if a CHL team has an Import who was an NHL first round pick (such as London with Nikita Zadorov), they receive the opportunity to add another player to their protected list to cover should that first round import (like Zadorov) make the NHL.

While the Import Draft can be a bit of a crap shoot, many of the players drafted do come over and can have an impact. Let's breakdown the results of previous three Import Drafts.

In 2010
26 of 26 players selected came to the Ontario Hockey League (100%)
21 of 26 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (81%)
10 (open for debate) of 26 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (38%)

In 2011
17 of 20 players selected came to the OHL (85%)
17 of 20 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (85%)
10 (open for debate) of 20 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (50%)

In 2012
22 of 27 players selected came to the OHL (81%)
17 of 27 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (63%)
9 (open for debate) of the 20 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (33%)

In 2013
22 of 25 players selected came to the OHL (88%)
20 of 25 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (80%)
7 (open for debate) of the 25 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (28%)

This article will provide you with some information and scouting reports on those selected.

Of course this article wouldn't have been possible without the help of these experts:

Sean LaFortune was able to give his reflections on some of these players based on what he may have seen in the past and from what he was able to gather from various contacts. He's the man behind and is also a scout for McKeen's Hockey. He's always quick to lend a helping hand with this blog and is a must follow on twitter (@SeanLafortune) for ANY junior hockey enthusiast.

Steve Cocker is one of ISS' main scouts in Europe. He can be followed on twitter (@scocker11).

Matt Grainda is one of ISS' USHL scouts and he can be followed on twitter too (@graindaiv)

Dan Stewart is the head scout for Future Considerations. He and the staff there were able to help out and I'm grateful for that.

Chapin Landvogt is also a writer for HockeysFuture, in addition to being a scout for Future Considerations. Give him a follow on twitter (@Csomichapin).

Alessandro Seren Rosso is a writer for practically everyone! He writes for HockeysFuture, and for the Hockey Writers and a variety of other sources. He is truly a Russian hockey expert. Follow him on twitter. (@AlexSerenRosso)

And of course our two anonymous European scouts (who chooses to remain that way for various reasons). Without their help, these articles wouldn't be possible year after year.

1. Sarnia Sting - Pavel Zacha - Forward
If he shows up, this could be one heck of a pick by the Sting. Zacha is considered to be a potential top 10, perhaps even top 5 pick for the 2015 NHL Draft. The big forward was a force for the Czech Republic internationally this year, suiting up at the U-18's and the U-20's. He also played the majority of the season against men in the Czech league. But his agent ruffled some feathers by stating his discontent about Sarnia taking his client. But we've heard that before.
Scouting Report:: Future Considerations (who ranks him 10th for 2015) says, "The top Czech prospect for the 2015 draft who is a big boy who is pretty physical for his age. He will hit you and he goes hard to the net and is relentless on the forecheck, which can be a scary sight for the opposing defensemen. He has a strong shot that is both hard and accurate. He prefers a shot to a pass…willing, but immature game defensively…good on PK where he gets his frame into lanes and just clears the puck when he gets the chance…patient player with good vision, soft hands and the ability to make one-on-one dekes…strong skater with good balance, but needs to get faster." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Big,strong center plays excellent two-way game. Plays with poise and smartness in all three zones, strong hockey sense. Makes plenty of small things well, makes right decision both with and without the puck(even with the puck high in own zone under pressure). Improved skating in last 12 moths, first steps still needs improvement but has good speed and stride, agile for his size. Can finish checks hard, wins battles along the boards, very good defensively in own zone, uses size to knock opponents off the puck, can dominate physically. Uses long reach to keep opponents off the puck. Hands/puck skills good but not elite(by no means). Passes are firm and accurate, can move puck in all directions. Sees the ice really well and has playmaking skills. Can distribute the puck from tight areas. Very hard and accurate shot both, slap and wrist shot, lighning fast release of wrist shot. Good character and heart, strong effort every shift. Still think he lacks top line upside at NHL level and won´t be top point producer there, more of second line upside but kind of player you need on team to win the Cup. Still uncertain if he comes to Sarnia as he wanted to play somewhere alse but I think he will end up there after all(my opinion)."

4. Kitchener Rangers - Gustaf Franzen - Forward
The Rangers had pretty good luck the last time they took a Swedish forward who has captained or assumed a leadership role on their international teams (Franzen was the captain of the U-18 this year). Of course, assuming Franzen can have a Landeskog like impact might be a tad far fetched, but it's not outside the realm of possibility. Franzen, a late '96, is a highly touted prospect for the 2015 draft and currently considered a possible first round pick. He should add a lot to a young line up that needs help offensively.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Love this guy. Really fun to watch and competes hard every shift at both side. Good speed, more agile and tough to contain with his east-west mobility. Strong puck control in tight. Always around the puck, smart, strong anticipation. Excellent vision and playmaking skills, distributes the puck well. Patient on PP, can make surprising saucer passes through traffic. Soft touch on his passes. Creates separation in corner and takes the puck straight to net or walks out into the open to shoot or setting-up the play. Has scoring instinct in close to the net but finishing is ?. Strong effort, disruptive on forecheck, skates hard to get the puck on puck pursuit, steals the puck with his stisk, effective on PK. Not very physical but gets involved in high traffic all the time and takes hits to make play." Meanwhile, the scouts at Future Considerations say, "a complete player, he takes great care of his responsibilities in both ends of the rink. His hockey sense is far beyond his peers, he's able to get open for passes in dangerous shooting areas at all times. He got everything going for him, good skater, quick release, fast and accurate wrist shot, good in the face off circle." ISS scout Steve Cocker says, "The Kitchener Rangers prospect and 2015 eligible Franzen is a leader in every sense of the word. His game is defined by his pit-bull mentality, overwhelming tempo, relentless battle and defensive consistency. Captain for team Sweden at the U18 World Championships, he was looked at to provide valuable minutes on special teams and in critical situations on both sides of the puck. His energetic speed and quick hands give him a good foundation for the offensive game but has shown some inconsistency when going toe-to-toe with physical defenders. Being named captain to his club team HV71 U20 last season as a 17 year old tells you all you need to know about his character and mental makeup. Expect him to adapt well early on in his OHL career while being able to fill roles and eventually flourish into an all-around leader."

7. Ottawa 67's - Artur Tyanulin - Forward
While undersized, Tyanulin appears to be quite the offensive dynamo. At the U-17's this year, he was the tournament's 3rd leading scorer and finished ahead of the likes of Mitchell Marner, Dylan Strome, and of course, Travis Konecny. If Tyanulin can help to give the 67's another balanced scoring line, he'll be a big improvement over Adrian Sloboda (who the 67's released to make this selection).
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "Tyanulin is a quick, spirited winger who lit the U17s on fire offensively in December. He's a skilled, undersized winger who puts on displays of skill and tenacity. Quick hands, heads up vision and a high work ethic, both with and without the puck. Despite his diminutive frame, he exploits his smallish statue to dart in and out of traffic, looking for loose pucks and playmaking options. Excellent edgework and pivots, always seems to play at a very high speed. The structure of the 67s lineup is still to be determined, but don't be shocked to see him lineup on the team’s top offensive line, given his combination of speed, puck skills, as he has the ability to break games open." Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "A smallish forward with good sense of hockey, excellent puck skills and good skating abilities, had a rocky season without much success in the MHL 2 and being then excluded from the national team. He didn’t progress too much this season, he was among the leaders of the national team and now it’s not even that easy for him to get a spot at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. Most likely he’ll cross the pond as he can easily be a top line player in the CHL."

10. Belleville Bulls - David Pastrnak - Forward
The Bulls opted to take Pastrnak, a Czech forward (playing in Sweden) who the Bruins took 25th overall at the 2014 NHL draft. The stocky winger had success at the U-18's and the U-20's this year and appears to be a favourite among scouts. He would add a lot to the Bulls line up should he report, which seems to be up in the air at this point.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Love him, prefer him over higher selected Czech Jakub Vrana. Such creative and instinctive player, you never know what he will do with the puck, makes surprising decisions. Great puck control, tough to contain in tight, very agile and shifty, quick changes of direction. Excellent stickhandler. Like his mentality on and off the ice, very determined, great passion. Very tenacious and always competes hard for puck when he loses the puck, wants to get it back immediately. Excellent passing touch and vision, makes saucer sets-up in traffic. Not afraid of contact at all, takes hit to make play and goes through checks despite of average size. Never gives up on play, loses puck but able to get it back immediately, aggressive and quick stick, steals pucks. Can score in many ways, has excellent hands in close and accurate shot with quick release." Future Considerations had him ranked 18th in 2014 and had this to say about him, "Pastrnak is a flashy, creative offensive talent who is dangerous every time he touches the puck. His game is a lot about handling the puck at high speed. He loves to collect some speed in the neutral zone and challenge his defender one on one. On the power play, he plays the left circle, passes the puck quite well and is constantly looking for the one-timer. His shot is lethal; it’s super hard and super accurate, and what’s amazing about it is that he doesn’t need too much space or time to release it. He’s not easily knocked off the puck. Pastrnak didn’t get much done in his own zone, as his defensive game has a way to go, but he is still a pretty hard-working player overall. Physically, there is not much to his game to write about. He does not like to get hit and rarely throws a big check of his own."

13. Mississauga Steelheads - William Nylander - Forward
While it's unlikely that he'll report, you never really know. He's currently a free agent in Sweden and seems very focused on playing in North America this year (be it the NHL or AHL). The Leafs, who drafted him 8th overall, may feel that it's best for him to play a year in the OHL. They could obviously keep pretty close tabs on him in Mississauga. It's far fetched, but not impossible. If your a Steelheads fan, cross your fingers because he's the dynamic offensive talent your organization is lacking.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Dynamic offensive, game breaking skills, world class skills. Super quick and soft hands, can dangle and can beat even top D with nifty moves off the rush. Excellent hard, accurate wrist shot, lightning fast release, surprises goalies as he is tough to read(if he makes pass or shoots the puck, shoots from full speed with no indication). Fantastic vision and premium playmaking skills. So creative that he surprises own linemates with his saucer passes through traffic. Gains the zone easily and protects the puck well, absolutely elusive. Agile and great puck control in tight, often impossible to contain. Slows the play down and than sets-up chances with ridiculous passes through traffic at right time. Great stickhandler and dominant on PP. Doesn´t always compete hard without the puck and selfish at times, one-dimentional player(but of course superb in his role). Tends to make flashy individual plays at times instead of the most effective ones, overhandles the puck at times." Future Considerations had him ranked 4th for 2014 and had this to say about him, "An impressive dangler with the puck and flashy playmaker. Nylander likely possesses the quickest, most creative hands in the draft and can really dance around the offensive zone with the puck. He sees the ice like few kids his age can and has the ability to distribute the puck through the tightest of lanes. His feet add to his impressive offensive abilities as he is explosive and quick north to south as well as east to west. Nylander is always willing to go to the net and play in traffic both with and without the puck.This kid’s character has been called into question as he has been painted as a malcontent, a selfish kid who does not buy into the team mentality and full of self-serving attitude. His attitude and entitlement issues were the main reason for his team-hopping drama this past season. Nylander’s play on the ice mirrored his off-the ice attitude as he played the game selfishly many nights. He needs to learn to utilize his teammates more effectively going forward. His consistency will need to improve as he can have an impressive match one night, making you think this kid needs to be in the conversation for top spot in the draft and the next night, he is ineffective, easily pushed off the puck and only showing a flash or two of the effective game he displayed the previous night."

16. Niagara IceDogs - Mikkel Aagaard - Forward
Aagaard is a forward from Denmark who has an impressive resume. He starred for the U-20 team this year and helped them to win the Division A crown, which qualifies Denmark for the main U-20 division again next year. He played on a line with 9th overall pick Nik Ehlers in that tournament, and actually led the team in scoring (over Ehlers and fellow terrific NHL prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand). The late '95 forward was passed over in this year's NHL draft but seems like someone who can help Niagara get more secondary scoring next year.
Scouting Report: HF's Chapin Landvogt says, "he's a pretty interesting prospect. 6'0" and on his way to 200 pounds, he just spent the entire season playing in Denmark's best league (which isn't saying much) and put up 12 goals and 10 assists in 49 games. He doesn't have a problem playing physical and can definitely go where it hurts to get things done. What he did have was a really big D1A U20 tournament as an 18 year old. There he had three goals and eight points in 5 games. He was one of the big reasons that the Danes will be at the WJC next year. It'd be real interesting if he goes over. With Aagaard, we're not talking about another Ehlers here. He's not even a Jensen. I can imagine him being a 20-15-35 player."

22. Owen Sound Attack - Petrus Palmu - Forward
Owen Sound opts for a miniature forward from Finland who plays out of the Jokerit program. The 5'6 would instantly become one of the OHL's smallest players should he make the Attack roster.
Scouting Report: ISS scout Steve Cocker says, "Despite Palmu's diminutive frame there is nothing small about his offensive skill-set, creativity and possession game which he has proven his effectiveness at the U17 International stage for Finland and with Jokerit B-SM. He is a player who needs the puck on his stick to make an impact and possesses elite level vision, puckhandling and creativity... highlight-reel waiting to happen. Expect him to continue his International dominance with Finland U18s at the Ivan Hlinka and World Championships. No doubt Petrus will need time to acclimate himself to the CHL game. He was unable to find his offensive rhythm when called up to Jokerit A-SM for a brief stint in the latter stages of the season. He needs to be given an offensive role and freedom on the puck in order to flourish in the OHL." Sean Lafortune says, "While the Owen Sound Attack are more known for tenacious, aggressive wingers with a high compete level, Dale Degray reached into Finland to inject a high skill winger with Petrus Palmu. A tiny but clever dynamo is a highly skilled playmaker. A talented skater who is fast and slipped, he possesses excellent lateral agility and an excellent change of pace. Plays the game at a high pace, can execute smart plays at full speed. Sneaky in one on one situations, powered by soft, quick hands and great in tight puck focus. While he may struggle a bit initially, which isn't uncommon for smaller CHL imports such at Pius Suter and Vladislav Kodola, but when the Attack are ready to challenge for a Western Conference championship, he should be primed to  play a key offensive role for the Attack."

25. Peterborough Petes - Dominik Masin - Defense
With Clark Seymour and Nelson Armstrong, the Petes have some big shoes to fill on the back-end. By selecting Masin, they've hopefully helped lesson the blow. Masin (pronounced "machine") was the 35th overall pick by Tampa Bay in this year's NHL draft and is considered to be a very solid stay at home defender. He captained a surprising Czech team at the U-18's and I think was a terrific pick by Peterborough.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations had him ranked 130th for this year's draft and had this to say, "He is a stay-at-home defenseman who doesn’t really fail when he goes to the blue line, but his offensive upside doesn’t go beyond the fact that his shot is hard and a bit accurate. His passes are just okay and so is his carrying of the puck. In his own zone, you will see him use both his stick and his large frame to steal pucks from opponent’s sticks. He’s the guy who will do the hard work back there and protect his goaltender as much as possible. He’s a hard worker and has good leadership abilities. He likes to get into the rough stuff if an opponent crosses the line and he feels the need to do something." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Showed two faces during the season, solid and steady at international level but tended to play in role of puck moving, more offence oriented D in junior Extraleague which will never work for him, lacks above average puck skills and creativity to be that kind of player. I don´t see very high upside at NHL level, for me he is third pair D who could be used on PK, I wouldn´t select him that high in NHL draft, more of mid-round pick for me. Not punishing hitter, lacks mean streak but more of banger, pins opponents at the boards, wins battles taking the puck away, blocks shots, competes to keep crease clear. Not afraid to handle the puck and rush him up the ice but hands are average at best, not creative at all, misses some good passing lines holding on puck too long, lacks instinct. Thought process is all right but execution is lacking at times, passes lacks zip and accuracy at times. Most effective when he moves the puck quickly, has poise under pressure with puck on stick,reading in own zone is solid as well as decision making. He is not skilled enough to be PP guy at higher level, shot is only decent. His d-zone awareness is good, doesn´t make positional mistakes. Not the smoothest stride and not great forward speed but decent lateral mobility, turns fairly well, moves his feet and plays solid gap. Contains well in corner and tough to beat 1 on 1 off the rush, reads well and uses active stick. Good character and some leadership ability, plays with intensity, usually solid and steady defensively."

28. Saginaw Spirit - Artem Artemov - Forward
This stocky Russian forward already plays in North America, suiting up for Chicago of the USHL last year. He actually had a terrific year as a 16/17 year old and was one of the highest scoring '97's in the league (16 goals, 17 assists). The Spirit hope that Artemov can add some scoring depth to a team that will need some players to step up this coming season.
Scouting Report: ISS scout Matt Grainda says, "Physically, Artemov is slightly smaller than a typical NHL/OHL forward but does have a rock solid base at around 200 lbs. He plays with a mixture of power/skill and likely has more offensive than defensive upside. Strength is one of his best qualities. The guy is tough to move in the offensive zone and has good body positioning to protect the puck. He is not necessarily a body-contact or tough player but certainly has the strength to do so. His creativity and hockey sense help him display his strong stick-handling skills. He can dance with the puck and likes to use this ability on the power play and while looking to beat other defenseman one-on-one. He is a pretty good playmaker and can thread the needle with a precision pass when the opportunity arises. His defensive play was on par with a typical player in the USHL. He could probably work a little harder and show some more toughness. Plays with a lot of patience and likes to move/float to the open ice looking to develop offensive chances."

31. Sudbury Wolves - Pavel Jenys - Forward
Sudbury opts for Czech forward Pavel Jenys, who was a 7th round selection by the Minnesota Wild this year. He saw some action against men this year in the Czech main league and should be able to jump into a top 9 role for the Wolves this year.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations had Jenys ranked 125th for this year's draft and had this to say about him, "Jenyš is a big forward who looked amazing early on this season, but a lack of ice time in the Extraliga eventually hurt him more than expected. He’s a force when he’s on the ice, and he’s got that kind of vision. He looks like he just knows what to do and when to do it. You’d expect him to be a great passer, but that’s not the case as he’s a shoot-first forward. His shot is a real great one with top-notch velocity and accuracy, one of the best I’ve seen all year. Even though he’s not the best puckhandler, he’s a pretty effective carrier who uses his size to his advantage. That also makes him stand out while off the puck in areas in front of the net or along the boards. Defensively, he needs to step up. He can do it, but it looks like he doesn’t want to do it all the time. His character is questionable, but when he wants to, he can really make a difference. Proper motivation is the key when it comes to him." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "What a waste of talent. He is big, has good wheels, can shoot the puck and can finish checks pretty hard however he is soft player who plays small game and doesn´ t get involved much in corner and loses too many battles for puck with smaller, weaker opponents. Goes straight to net without the puck but never drives the net with the puck, usually ends up behind the net. Finishes checks hard but rarely goes first to the board/into the corner. Crisp passes and can make nice cross passes into the speed when he has time but lacks poise and awareness when slightly pressured and limited vision. Not creative player, more of scorer. Lacks heart and hockey sense. Has power in stride, good speed, acceleration, balance. Decent stick in tight for his size. Heavy shot(usually from perimeter). Never cuts to net going off the wing in speed, always either ends up behind the net(with the puck) or makes blind(often) backhand pass across the net. Can finish checks hard but never goes into the corner/to the board first and unwilling to take hit to make play. Passes are crisp but needs to improve receiving the puck in speed." Sean Lafortune says, "A tenacious, big bodied pivot who brings an honest effort every time he touches the ice, Jenys lacks some flash to his game, however does contribute in multiple ways. Hard to play against, he keeps opponents honest as he will finish checks in punishing fashion. A decent stickhandler, he does flash moments of creativity, although will never be mistaken for a pure possession player. With the graduation of Radek Faksa and a litany of 94's that are expected to move on, Jenys will have every opportunity to earn himself quality ice in Sudbury."

34. Windsor Spitfires - Markus Soberg - Forward
Soberg is a Norwegian winger who has been playing in Sweden the last three years. He's played for Norway at the last 3 U-20's, and is a 6th round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets (in 2013). A '95, Soberg seems like a short term fix for the Spits as if he comes over, he'll likely only be a one year player for the team.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations had Soberg ranked 196th in 2013 and had this to say about him, "Soberg is a small, offensively skilled winger who plays a perimeter game all too often. He has shown some flashes that lead you to believe he has pro upside but needs to add both consistency and strength to his game in order to achieve that." Sean Lafortune says, "A pure finisher who has exhibited an ability to finish plays, Soberg will add depth to a Spitfires lineup that lacks just that. Not a pure possession player yet does flash with some sublime skill. A confident stickhandler who excels at orchestrating the play. Dangerous around the net, possesses a highly deceptive snap shot, one that allows him to finish off plays around the net. Not overly aggressive, yet does inject physicality from time to time, added strength and mass will certainly allow him to be more aggressive and confident when attempting to separate defenders from the puck. While he will have his struggles at first, it’s not unfair to expect a top 6 winger with finishing abilities, one who could realistically add 20-25 goals to the Spitfires lineup." Our second anonymous Euro scout says, "Ok size on a lean and skinny frame.. competes and works ok, lacks power and strength to be effective in battles along the boards.. drifts away at times when playing away from the puck and defensive focus can be improved.. very good skater, agile and fast.. good balance from a wide stance.. skilled, fine touch and controls puck well at top speed.. very good release.. more of a shooter than a passer.. likes to fire the puck coming down the wing in speed or backing up in the slot to fire a one timer.. good instincts, lurks around gets open and is always ready to fire his shot."

37. Barrie Colts - Rasmus Andersson - Defense
The Colts seem to have struck gold with this pick, again taking a high profile Swedish prospect (after taking Kempe last year). This one seems like he might actually report though. Andersson, a strong two-way defender is considered a first round prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft. He's excelled against men the last two years in the Swedish 2nd league (Allsvenskan) with Malmo. Funny enough, Andersson is a late '96 and an international teammate of Adrien Kempe. As Kempe was a first round pick by LA, the Colts can keep his rights without sacrificing a Euro pick. We all know how much the Kings love the OHL. Maybe, there's a glimmer of hope that he still shows up and has a friend and teammate in Andersson with him?
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Outstanding moving the puck, passes are very crisp and accurate, confident and decisive under pressure, makes right decision, reads well. Excellent vision and creative break out outlets hitting forwards in full speed. Joins the rush all the time and can lead rush. Goes end to end with the puck, dynamic wheels with the puck. Force the play offensively. Activates feet at the point on PP, moves well. Heavy one-timer from the point and excellent running the PP from the point. Strong on skates. Forward skating is very good but a bit heavy footed, not great lateral mobility and needs to work on foot speed. Aggressive and physical in own zone, good d-zone awareness, doesn´t make positional mistakes, battles hard to keep crease clear, ties man up in front of net." Future Considerations (who has him ranked 9th for 2015) says this about him, "Pretty versatile. Great positional play in the defensive zone. He's always where he should be. Tough to check. Dishes out punishment when encountering power forwards nested at the doorstep, but doesn't really hit you that much or that often. Offensively, he can use his speed to an advantage and he's also a great passer, thanks to both vision and technique. His shot is pretty hard and he's always willing to join the rush and go all the way. He's got a lot to work on though, but the final product seen in him is great. Balance and discipline are two of the things to improve." Sean Lafortune says, "Andersson is an intelligent game management type who reads the game instinctively and keeps things safe and secure in his own zone. A smart, methodical blueliner who interprets the game effortlessly, he limits mistakes and makes astute decisions in possession. Consistently makes safe, education decisions, reads the play and can stretch the ice, however usually opts for the safest path.  A mature, steading defender who demonstrates strong positioning as well as high patience in one on one situations. Mentally sharp, limits mental errors and is rarely pulled out of positioning. Footwork will be an area to monitor, as his edgework, pivots and skating stride are his biggest development need. Should be fair to expect him to come into Barrie and play within the Colts top 4 right off the bat."

40. North Bay Battalion - Hampus Olsson - Forward
With Vincent Praplan heading back to Europe, the Battalion had an opening to take the massive Olsson. At 6'5, 210lbs, he certainly fits the mold of a Stan Butler player. They must be hoping that Olsson can form part of an excellent checking line with fellow Swede Alex Henriksson. As a '95, Olsson is likely a one year and done player. He did play part of this year against men in the Allsvenskan (Swedish 2nd league).
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "An undrafted 95 born skater who will bring size and intensity to the Battalion's lineup. Not an outwardly flashy possession player, but takes hard routes to the net, protects the puck well in and is extremely tenacious on the cycle. Not a possession player, yet does pack a fairly lethal snapshot that can be lethal from the slot. Smart, positions himself intelligently and is quick to identify opportunities to finish plays. Willing to set up in front of the net and take a physical pounding to create offense. A bit of a plodding skater, the transition to the CHL may be a positive one for him, as he'll have less space to manage. Projects as a top 6 forward who should add some depth to a fairly underrated forward group." Our second anonymous Euro scout says, "Very good size.., strong and powerful.. works ok, a bit inconsistent in his efforts.. likes to get involved with his body and play a rather assertive game.. effective down low with his big, heavy frame.. drives to the net at times.. average skater, lacks some agility and speed is just ok from a quite short stride.. decision making and offensive skill is limited, lacks ability to finish of plays and make plays around the net."

43. Kingston Frontenacs - Juho Lammikko - Forward
The Fronts have had some good luck with Finnish players in recent years so they take Lammikko, a rugged winger who was a 3rd round pick of the Florida Panthers this NHL draft. He had a terrific U-18 tournament this year, leading the team in scoring. And he also played a good chunk of this year with Assat of the Finnish main league. At 6'2, 190lbs, the Fronts have to be hoping he can add some size and scoring punch to their top 9, something only Lawson Crouse really did last year.
Scouting Report: ISS scout Steve Cocker says, "The Assat product and Florida Panthers prospect Lammikko showed incredible consistency and upward trend throughout the past season. He possesses strong tools on both sides of the puck and determination to be a factor in all situations. He has developing offensive weapons with good hands, a heavy shot and a knack for producing in the slot as he utilizes his size and powerful frame to earn time and space. Displays a strong, powerful stride to navigate his way into the offensive zone with good possession and protection game. Juho is a driven forward who wants to make a difference whether on the scoresheet or doing what it takes defensively. Look for him to fill roles with Finland U20 in Lake Placid this August and potentially be a member of the returning U20 Champions in Montreal this Christmas." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "His shot and decent scoring touch is his best assets. Hard wrist shot with nice release and has nose for the net. Plays with determination around the net and takes pounding in front of net, drives the net. Solid effort at both sides and works for pucks in battles along the boards. Uses big body well, fairly strong on puck and willing to take hit. Average skater, good balance but not much of speed, acceleration, quickness. Not creative and won´t ooze you with his puck skills or hands. In my opinion one of several questionable second/third round pick from Europe in recent NHL draft(others: Masin, Bergman, Rod, Lintuniemi, Vaněček)." Future Considerations had Lammikko ranked 120th this year and had this to say about him, "Does not have any problems with the physical game. He is not overly active hitting opponents, however, he gets involved in the corners. He shows good vision on the power play, making skilled and smart passes. His shooting is solid as well; shots from surprising spots and does not hesitate to go to the net. He has really soft hands and good coordination. Lammikko knows where to be on the ice offensively. Defensively he does a solid job and shows a good compete level. His skating is something that could improve as he does not look overly fast or agile. His balance is excellent though."

46. Oshawa Generals - Tobias Lindberg - Forward
A 4th rounder by the Ottawa Senators in 2013, Lindberg didn't have the greatest year in Sweden this year. He repeated the same league (J20) and actually saw a decrease in his goal production. He also saw less time with the men's team in the Allsvenskan. The 6'3 forward apparently has a terrific skill set, but the may not have the head to use it. A move to the OHL seems like a smart one for him as he tries to earn a contract from Ottawa. The Generals will certainly give him a chance as they attempt to replace the likes of Scott Laughton and Dylan Smoskowitz.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "A big, powerful winger who injects physicality, Lindbrerg should add a healthy compete level and secondary scoring to the Generals lineup. A tireless and tenacious winger with a flair to getting the inside track on defenders and winning battles for the puck. Plays brave, crashes the crease, takes pucks to the net and creates offense by utilizing his frame and puck protection skills. Not a pure playmaker, he will operate best with a playmaker who can create offense. Adding strength and working on his footwork and agility will be areas to look at this year. Will be playing for an NHL contract in Oshawa this year." Our second anonymous Euro scout says, "Tall with a decent frame.. works, is physical and plays a assertive and determined game on some shifts but can be quiet and a non factor on other shifts.. attitude and discipline has been a concern – has shown a tendency to taking bad penalties and his body language can be questionable.. strong and effective in battles/along the boards when being on his game.. not a smooth skater and feets are a bit off but got good balance and speed as he gets going.. got some solid skill, sees the ice ok and can make decent moves and plays at high speed.. responsible and plays a solid 2 way game."

49. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Gustav Bouramman - Defense
If Darnell Nurse cracks the Oilers this year, it's not a bad idea to have some additional depth on the back-end. Especially a guy who can run the powerplay, which Bouramann potentially can. The 6'0, '97 born defender, is a talented offensive blueliner who played for Sweden at this year's U-17's.
Scouting Report: The scouts at Future Considerations say, "Bouramman shows some impressive offensive skill, including great hand speed and elusiveness with the puck. He is a very quick skater with good foot-speed and acceleration up the wing. He handles the puck well and has the ability to beat players as he rushes the puck up the ice. He makes good first passes to clear the zone and doesn’t take much time to move it. He plays with plenty of grit and toughness in his own end. He isn't huge but he packs a heavy punch and makes some solid body-contact. He makes smart reads on defense and plays aggressively, but keeps his position." Sean Lafortune says, "Bouramman is a quick, agile defender who is extremely dangerous in possession. Reaches top speed with just a few powerful strides, he possesses sharp offensive instincts, breaking down plays and assessing. Has a knack for knowing when to join the attack and when to pivot back. Makes smart outlets and distributes the puck intuitively, will stretch the ice, but is not his primary goal. More of a stick to puck defender, yet he can show engagement down low, engaging physically and initiating contact. Will still need to continue to add defensive structure to his game, as he has a tenancy to play a run and gun style. Will get pulled out of position, over pursing in the defensive zone and loosing focus. While he has some rough areas to his game, it’s fair to expect a defender who will take a regular shift and positively impact the powerplay, while also giving them more depth in case the team loses Edmonton Oilers draft pick Darnell Nurse." Our second anonymous Euro scout says, "decent size..skinny.. needs to add power and strength to his frame.. defends ok but got inconsistent compete level..lacks assertiveness, tends to get too passive at times.. not a physical or hard guy to play against.. relies mostly on his smarts and stick.. good skater/feet.. moves really well on his skates.. highly skilled with the puck, smooth.. moves the puck well out of his zone.. likes to hang on to puck waiting for a play to develop.. accurate shot.. crafty, good vision and poise.. high risk/high reward type of player."

52. London Knights - Julius Bergman - Defense
The Knights, hoping to grab a high impact player, opt for an older one in Bergman. A '95, Bergman is likely a one year player for the Knights but he should help to run the team's powerplay and provide more defensive depth with the losses of Bell, Basso, and Austin. And if Zadorov makes Buffalo for good this time, he might have to assume a role on the club's top pairing. Bergman was a 2nd round pick of San Jose this year, so they'll likely be happy he's playing in the OHL after Chris Tierney's development as a prospect in London.
Scouting Report: Future considerations had Bergman ranked 90th for this year's draft and had this to say about him, "Provides a physical presence out on the ice. Good along the boards and stands up well to incoming opponents along the blueline. His game from juniors translated fluidly to Swedish pro last year, no major changes to his style of play. Generates solid scoring chances by following the play up the ice after turnovers in the neutral zone. Impressive instincts, he knows when a scoring chance is about to present itself and jumps on the opportunity. His crisp passing game one of his best assets." Our anonymous Euro scout hasn't seen Bergman in a year, but did have this to say about his game previous to that point, "“Puck moving D is very good with the puck but d-zone coverage and skating mobility average at best. Smart moving the puck, passes are both firm and soft, moves puck quickly and accurately, has very good vision. Excels in transition game, reads the play very well and makes creative break out passes out of zone. Nice puck skills, hands. Likes to join the rush occasionally or jump into the play. Rarely used on PP here but has ability to play as QB on the point, moves the puck quickly, can make creative cross-ice sets-up, sees passing lanes well. Defensive game and skating need lots of refining. Looked heavier on his skates, beaten a few times 1 on 1, caught flat-footed, foot work and foot speed is ?. Needs to take the body regularly and read the play better in own zone." Sean Lafortune says, "An agile, lively skater who generates a sharp acceleration burst from a wide stride, he plays a safe, smart two way game. Not blessed with elite offense tools yet shows an ability to play a safe, secure offensive game. More of a puck manager versus a pure offensive defender, he manages the game intuitively from the back end. Showed substantial improvement in his defensive structure, no longer chasing pucks and getting pulled out of possession, will patiently await forwards to enter the zone before forcing him to the outside. Should play significant minutes for the Knights this year for a Knights team that has lost a significant amount of depth on the back-end."

55. Erie Otters - Anton Karlsson - Forward
Erie returns to Sweden again this year, taking another highly scouted and NHL drafted Swedish player. Karlsson was a 3rd round pick of the Coyotes this year and was an assistant captain with Team Sweden at this year's U-18's. He's a hard working winger who can likely replace a lot of the things Michael Curtis brought to the team last year.
Scouting Report: ISS scout Steve Cocker says, "Despite a lacklustre U18 World Championships for Sweden based on his standards, Anton Karlsson proved his compete, battle and physical dominance on a consistent basis with Frölunda U20 this season. The Arizona Coyotes prospect can be an absolute beast along the wall as he lowers his shoulder and drives to the net while playing that North-South style. He does excellent work on the PP as he plants himself in the slot and is next to impossible to move for opposition defenders. Expect him to come into the OHL and quickly acclimate himself to the game as he is known to be a physically imposing forward who thrives in a crash and bang game." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Enigma for me. Excellent physical tools and good skills but where is toolbox? Smooth skater with fluid stride, balance. Good speed but lacks ability to shift gears, uses one speed, doesn´t create separation. Controls the puck well both off the rush and in tight areas. Protects the puck well, tough to separate off the puck. Big, strong, finishes some checks but not very intense and physical, uses size to protect puck down low but doesn´t win enough battles along the boards. Intensity is lacking, passion, desire is ?. A bit of playmaking skills and has good passing touch(including ability to make backhand passes) but hardly seen on puck for longer periods, anticipation and ability to get puck on the fly is?. Decent effort backchecking though." Future Considerations had Karlsson ranked 35th this year and had this to say about him, "A solid two-way winger who never quits on a play and competes very hard in all three zones. Karlsson is an excellent skater, and he has good top speed and reaches it quickly. He’s not afraid to use his strong balance to muscle himself straight to the net. Shooting wise, Karlsson’s biggest asset is his quick release. He could work on both his slap shot and wrist shot; he’s good at quickly getting them off, but their accuracy and velocity is not great. Makes good, simple passes, but lacks creativity. He is strong and physical on the walls, playing a tough, gritty game and showing no fear in getting involved. He closes off lanes on the forecheck, and does a good job getting back quickly on defense to block a shot or clog the lanes in his own end. He is strong on the puck and makes good, simple plays off the rush. Strong on the cycle game and keeps pressure with possession down low. He gives a good effort in the physical game, finishing checks and using his size, but he sometimes goes out of position to make a hit."

73. Mississauga Steelheads - Lukas Haudum - Forward
With the selection of Haudum, the Steelheads now have the rights to three Import players. They released the rights to Artem Rasulov, but retained Sam Babintsev. Should Nylander report, Haudum and Babintsev will battle it out for a spot. If he doesn't, it would appear that Haudum and Babintsev can both stay. Haudum is an Austrian forward who led their U-18 in goal scoring this year. A '97 born, he's eligible for the NHL draft in 2015.
Scouting Report: HF's Chapin Landvogt says, "Lukas Haudum is not particularly big, but just had a pretty good year for Linz' U18 and U20 teams. I can't say how much buzz there is about him in Austria, but he had a pretty strong D1B U18 tournament and I know that a number of CHL and USHL scouts do visit those tournaments nowadays. I'd have to assume he was spotted there and that someone heard about him through connections in the Austrian hockey scene, likely through one of the many Canadians that coach or manage there. Expect Lukas Haudum - if he heads over - to be a bit like Maximilian Kammerer for the Regina Pats (who put up 5 points this past year, but had a terrific U-18 tournament)."

85. Peterborough Petes - Artyom Vladimirov - Defense
As mentioned, the Petes have some holes on defense so they use their 2nd Import pick on a defender too. Vladimirov is a 6'4 Russian defender who served as an assistant captain on their U-17 team this year. He was also a 1st round pick in the KHL draft this year.
Scouting Report: Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "A big defensive defenseman with good discipline, doesn’t play overly aggressive and never had problems with PIMs. He doesn’t join the rush and isn’t much of an offensive threat, he definitely has to improve his offensive skills, he can be a good player at junior level, we’ll see what he can do as a pro he might lack some offensive skills to actually succeed, at least at NHL level."

91. Sudbury Wolves - Ivan Kashtanov - Forward
While Sudbury took the assistant, the Wolves opt for the captain of the Russian U-17 team. Kashtanov is a stocky winger who was the 5th overall pick in this year's KHL draft. The Wolves have gotten pretty good production of their Euro's in recent years so they must be hoping Jenys and Kashtanov can team to play inside their top 9.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Undersized but very thick body, very strong and mature physically, strong legs, strong on skates. Upside is due to it questionable, not sure if there is much space for improvement. Good hands/stick, good skill level. However maks plenty of individual plays, keeps the puck too long on stick. Not great speed, agile but lacks separation gear and average foot speed. Good puck control in tight and protects the puck fairly well. Soft touch on his passes. A bit feisty occasionally." Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "The most talented player of the bunch, one of the best prospects for 97 year. He’s not tall, but is very solid, great puck skills, skating, technique. He can score and mostly plays the off wing. A good goal scorer, but can pass the puck too and isn’t a liability on defense, he actually tries to get back and tries always hard. A very solid pick, but it’s yet to be seen if he’ll report. He’s also a leader and has been captain of his teams in several occasions, but needs to play more of a team game."

103. Kingston Frontenacs - Jarkko Parikka - Defense
The Fronts appear to have made a very shrewd pick here, taking Parikka a 6'0 '97 born defender. He's already adjusted to playing in North America after suiting up for Des Moines of the USHL this year. It's not common for a 16/17 year old defender to see regular ice time in that league, so that alone is impressive. He should be able to play a role for the team this year.
Scouting Report: ISS scout Matt Grainda says, " Parikka plays a nice two-way game and likely has upside onboth the offensive and defensive ends. He is a very smooth skater with excellent mobility in all directions with and without the puck. His hockey vision is solid and allows him to make a quality first pass coming out of his own end. Parikka knows where the puck needs to go and makes sure it gets there. He displays some physical tendencies down low in his own zone and has a nice active stick. He likes to get the puck on net with quickness when the opportunity to shoot comes around. Parikka displays solid communication with other teammates while calling for shots and passes. He is able to lead the breakout on the power play from the back end, showing his on-ice awareness and situational reads. He has developed his physical strength and it shows in his defensive play." Sean Lafortune says, "A smart, strong skating defender with good agility, Parikka is a heady, offensive minded defender who can add offensive depth to a squad. Thrives orchestrating on the powerplay, loves to attack and push the play. Effective on the powerplay, walking the line, heads up and assessing. Can be a bit to offensive minded at times, as he can take undue risks when attempting to jumpstart offense, but the tools are there. While he shouldn't be expected to be impactful right off the bat, he has the tools to be a serviceable OHL defender who can add offense to a team’s backend."

106. Oshawa Generals - Sonny Hertzberg - Defense
Last year the Generals took an offensive defenseman in the import draft hoping that he could help run their powerplay. Unfortunately the Jimi Kuronen experiment was a failure. This year they take Hertzberg, a 6'2 defender from Denmark who has been playing in Sweden. He was the top defenseman on the U-20 team that qualified for the main division this coming year and was the highest scoring defenseman at the tournament. I guess we'll see.
Scouting Report: HF's Chapin Landvogt says, "He's a Danish kid who has pretty decent size. Already 19, he had a real good year for the very talent-rich Frolunda program (check out my Swedish review of the draft at HF). He's not a big offensive weapon, but he's smart and been clearly coached pretty well along the line. He was a +35 this season. He also did really well with four points in five U20 D1A contests as Denmark's top defenseman at that tourney. He should be part of Denmark's WJC team this winter. Lefty shot. He's been in Sweden for at least four years now, so he's not your typical Danish player at this point." Our second anonymous Euro scout says, "Solid size on a decent frame.. competitive, assertive - goes in to situations with speed.. not overly physical but battles and defends well down low, good active stick.. good awareness, moves his head and picks up his guy.. good skater, strong on his feet, got solid speed and moves fine laterally and skating backwards.. barely average with the puck overall, can be ok at times with the puck but tends to turn pucks over under pressure and can miss simple passes too often."

112 - London Knights - Daniil Miromanov - Forward
Not your typical import pick, as Miromanov played major midget in Ontario this year (with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens). The 6'2 forward was the 3rd leading scorer on that team. If Nikita Zadorov is returned from Buffalo, it's not likely we'll see Miromanov in a Knights' uniform. But if he sticks, Miromanov will be thrown into the Hunters' blender for 4th line ice time.
Scouting Report: Sean Lafortune says, "A cerebral offensive presence for one of the top Midget programs in Ontario. Playing his first season in Ontario after moving from his native Russia for a higher level of competition. Displays good athleticism, nifty stickhandler able to make quick, skilled plays in traffic. Protects the puck, exploiting a tall, lanky frame. Best weapon is a crisp wristshot and snapshot that he can unload in top gear. Textbook smart, yet prone to lapses in decision making. Can be Jekyll and hide at times, dominating one shift and reluctant to compete the next. Must continue to upgrade his battle intensity and overall focus. Projects as a high end offensive forward, one who can play a top six role while adding that rare ability to finish plays. With the Knights loosing Tim Bender and potentially Nikita Zadarov, Miromanov could slip into the Knights bottom 6 forward core and develop into a fairly valuable import, it’s just a matter if he will get that opportunity."

115. Erie Otters - Igor Vladykovsky - Forward
The Otters had an extra Import pick to use because Andre Burakovsky is an NHL first rounder. They used it on Vladykovsky, a '95 born Russian who played in the NAHL last year with Springfield. It's pretty likely he never sees time in an Erie uniform as it seems pretty likely that the Otters will be rolling with Burakovsky and Karlsson this year.
Scouting Report: No joke, I must have talked to a dozen scouts who cover the USHL/NAHL and not a single one had notes on him. If he wasn't listed as playing in the NAHL last year, I would have thought that the Otters had made him up. EDIT, someone knows him! Alessandro Seren Rosso says, "Never been a top player in Russia he tried crossing the pond to improve his stock and get some NA experience. I didn’t see last year, but maybe he had some adaptation problems or something similar because he’s capable to be better than 5 points in a season. He has a decent frame and a good touch, but it’s a long way for him to have a successful pro career, even if he has a good nose for the net."