Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Final Media/Scout Top 10 for 2015

The 2015 NHL Entry Draft is fast approaching (a couple of weeks away), which means we've got to complete the media/scout trilogy.

Here are the previous editions:

Preliminary (In November)

Midseason (In February)

As always, this list involves contributions from some of the brightest minds covering junior hockey and the draft. Submitting this round were:

Corey Pronman - ESPN writer (@coreypronman)
Nathan Fournier - Writer for Maine Hockey Journal/Contributor to The Hockey News (@jrhockeywriter)
Dan Stewart - Director of Scouting for Future Considerations (@StewartFC)
Brendan Ross - Co-Manager of DobberProspects, scout for McKeens Hockey & TheScout.ca (@RossyYoungblood)
Carl Maloney - OHL correspondent for TheHockeyWriters (@carlTHW)
Dennis Macinnis - Director of Scouting for ISS Hockey (@ISShockey)
Tony Ambrogio - PA Announcer for the Mississauga Steelheads & TSN editor/producer (@Tony_Ambrogio)
Mike Morreale - Staff writer for NHL.com (@mikemorrealeNHL)
Anthony Mauro - Director/Founder of Draft Buzz Hockey (@draftbuzzhockey)
Sean LaFortune - Director of Scouting for Thescout.ca & scout for McKeens Hockey (@SeanLafortune)
Peter Harling - Writer for the Kingston Frontenacs & McKeens Hockey (@pharling)
John Matisz - Toronto Sun writer (@MatiszJohn)
Peter Kneulman - Writer for the OHL Writers and In the O Radio (@PeterKneulman)
Ryan Kennedy - Associate senior writer for The Hockey News (@THNRyanKennedy
Neate Sager - Writer for Yahoo Sports (@NaitSAYger)
Dominic Tiano - Writer for The OHL Writers (@dominictiano)
Mark Seidel - Scouting Director for NACS Hockey (@MarkSeidel)

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten)

Some interesting tidbits on the final list of this year.

1. Connor McDavid, to no one's surprise, received all 18 first place votes. Believe it or not, that's actually the first time that it's happened in the 5 years I've done these lists (check the side bar for the older versions).

2. Seven different players received votes for the 7th spot on this list, however each one of those players was omitted several times on other lists. This tells you that the Top 6 from the OHL is pretty clear cut. After that, everyone has their own preference.

3. The race for 2nd was incredibly tight with Dylan Strome getting 9 votes and Mitch Marner getting 9 votes. Strome pulls ahead because Marner was 4th on a few lists.

4. The player who received the most 7th place votes (Senyshyn) actually finished lower down on the list because he was completely left off more lists than others. Tells you that opinions on him are pretty varied.

5. The race for top defenceman was very close. Dunn, Vande Sompel, and Dermott all received multiple votes inside the Top 10. However, it was Matt Spencer who received the highest single vote of 6th (but he failed to crack the list because he did not appear on enough other lists). The lack of votes for Rasmus Andersson was actually surprising to me, as he only received two, preventing him from competing with the aforementioned big 3.

Here are the top 10 with several honourable mentions:

10. Travis Dermott - Defence - Erie Otters
Total Votes: 8/18
Highest/Lowest Placement: 7th (1x)/Outside the Top 10 (10x)
"One of the most efficient defenders in the CHL, Dermott plays a low-maintenance puck moving style showing good potential on both sides of the puck. His skating is advanced, his hockey sense is one of his best attributes and his ability to read his opponents and position himself accordingly allows him to be an effective defensive weapon. Dermott will never out-muscle his opponents because he doesn't have to - he'll just out smart them. I could see him develop into a Duncan Keith type of defender." - Ross

"Elite puck moving skills exiting defensive zone as well as through neutral zone. Has improved defensive zone play but must continue to study film and learn to read coverage." - MacInnis 

"His play for the Otters when Kurtis Mcdermid was suspended should have opened everyones eyes as to how good he can be. Overshadowed a bit by the other two Otters prospects concealed the fact that he has been steadily improving and playing at a high level all season." - Kneulman

"As good as he is escaping forecheckers, he is unusually strong even if he doesn’t. Owning pro one on one tactics when the playgets to the boards,  he can win battles despite being a shade under  6.  A  real  treat  to  watch  quarterback  the  point;  he  is disgustingly slick as he dances the line, toys with hungry penalty killers, and moves the puck deftly to difficult targets. An area he needs to develop is taking the puck the distance, and taking it with authority, as he has the feet and hands to do so. Too often he abruptly stops his beautiful coast to coast rush to defer  to McDavid and company." - Mauro

"Love this smart and aware blue liner’s play at both ends of the ice. He has the ability to think the game at a high level and contribute by making the small play that alleviates pressure and sends the play back on the attack. Not a flashy coast to coast kind of guy but does like to carry the puck, has a heavy shot and makes some solid breakout passes to streaking forwards. His confidence, poise and intelligence will have him play at the NHL level even if he is not a big offensive contributor. His defensive play is solid and he is just a real solid overall defender." - Stewart  

"Fine decision maker and likely to be Erie's captain. Fits the prototype of the modern NHL D-man." - Sager 

"Really improved as the year went on...Was a catalyst in Erie's playoff run...Excellent offensive instincts from the back end...His ability to defend continued to improve under Jay McKee." - Seidel 

9. Zach Senyshyn - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Total Votes: 11/18
Highest/Lowest Placement: 7th (5x)/Outside the Top 10 (7x)
"Everyone's favourite "sleeper" for the draft because of his electrifying speed and ability to produce off the rush. He didn't have the greatest finish to his season as he struggled with inconsistency in the Greyhounds' long playoff run. With that said, Senyshyn is all about upside as a team hopes he continues his surging developing when he takes on a more prominent role with the 'Hounds next season. He has the chance to have a huge breakout season and make a team look very intelligent if they take a chance on him in the second round." - Ross

"Man does this kid have some explosive wheels. Not since Brandon Saad was in Saginaw have I noticed a guy with his skill and size combo move so well.  He is a true wildcard for the draft as a guy that some team could step up and nab as early as the middle of round one due to what he projects to become. Has a great shot and nose for the net and many project he will breakout next season if he can continue to bring the consistent effort each shift. He will continue to develop in a prime offensive role for SSM over the next couple of seasons." - Stewart 

"The right wing, who is 6-1, 192 pounds, served as a bottom six producer on a loaded Soo team this year. He still finished with 26 goals and 45 points; he skates well and offers good puck skills. Senyshyn could be a major dark horse in this draft class. He was No. 38 on Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the draft, but could ultimately be a first-round talent with the proper development." - Morreale

"Senyshyn is an explosive winger with a solid frame. His first full season of major junior was a rousing success. The right-handed shot found his niche on the deepest roster in the OHL. Next season ​he will be able to truly break out​. His draft year situation reminds me of Chris Tierney, a fourth-liner grinding away on a stacked 2011-12 London Knights team. Projected to go in a middle round, the Sharks scooped him up 55th overall. ​Maybe ​an NHL GM gets trigger-happy and jumps at the chance to select Senyshyn late in the first round​?​" - Matisz 

"Speed, Speed and more speed. Was able to maintain strong offensive production for the Greyhounds into the 2nd half of the season even after they loaded up and his role was diminished. Was a matchup disaster in the opening 2 rounds of the playoffs as the bottom 6 of Saginaw and Guelph could not keep up with him. Has the skill to beat you one on one and is not afraid to drive the net and take punishment in order to score." - Kneulman 

8. Mitchell Vande Sompel - Defence - Oshawa Generals
Total Votes: 12/18
Highest/Lowest Placement: 7th (4x)/Outside the Top 10 (6x)
"If any scouts were on the fence about Vande Sompel going into the Memorial Cup, I think he did his best to sway them. He had an absolutely fantastic tournament, showcasing his natural offensive ability, but also the improvements that he's made defensively. His engagement in his own end was very promising. He did a terrific job of using his outstanding mobility to separate forwards from the puck down low. Scouts like winners and all it takes is one team to be sold on the fact that size won't hurt him from being a 5 on 5 contributor." - Otten

"Watching him in Oshawa, it's hard not to picture Vande Sompel as a power play quarterback on an NHL team down the road. ​A one-dimensional player at times, he's starting to show flashes of what it takes to compete at the next level. Defensively, the progression has begun but there's still plenty to be learned. Overall, the undersized rearguard is a likeable prospect whose draft ​year ended in the best possible way, with a national championship victory." - Matisz

"Vande Sompel really impressed me this season with his play in his own zone as someone who coach Smith could use in a multitude of situations while also taking advantage of his strong puck skills and vision with the puck. His versatility and work ethic are very promising. He is a great first pass blue liner who follows the play up ice and consistently contributes offensively, mind you not always in a flashy manner. His skating is absolutely beautiful as he is ultra-mobile and generates good amounts of speed with very little effort. His size and lack of physical play holds him back from being higher on my list." - Stewart 

"This guy is a coach's dream. He takes the meaning playing in all situations to a new meaning as he's been relied onto play forward and defense. It will be interesting to see what position his NHL team wants to focus on." - Fournier

"As dynamic a defenseman as there is in this draft class. He can rule the point on the power play, but also serve as a tenacious forward on the penalty kill. He has great competitiveness and hockey sense." - Morreale
7. Vince Dunn - Defence - Niagara IceDogs
Total Votes: 14/18
Highest/Lowest Placement: 7th (2x)/Outside of the Top 10 (4x)
"Early in the year, it was clear he was a project with great tools and questionable decision-making. Once the TPG hit, his rapid improvement took him from project to top prospect with his own zone IQ taking a turn for the better. He is a sight to see gear up from coast to coast, and to top it all off has a striking ability to get into scoring areas and connect. A pure rusher, he doesn’t telegraph his paths as he can stunningly 360 and pirouette his way out of gridlock. He plays fearlessly and with edge, and doesn’t mind taking a risk to make a play showing big league swagger ." - Mauro

"Dunn started the season off slow but came on like gangbusters after about the 20 game mark. I’d put Dunn in the top three defenders when it comes to skating ability. It’s that ability that makes him evasive and allows him to excel under pressure." - Tiano

"A fleet foot defender who brings a high risk, high reward game. Always looking to attack, he brings a high offensive aptitude to ice. Adept at walking the line on the powerplay and finding open lines, getting the puck through to the net or making quick, sharp reads. While there's a lot to like offensively, he still needs to strive to add structure and better judge risk/reward. I’m as big a fan as the next guy in player who play with a sense of risk, as long as at the end of the day the positives outweigh the negatives, and at the OHL level it does for Dunn, but as he moves forward hell need to learn to be a bit more selective and harness his impressive tools the right way. He'll never be a pure shutdown type, but has the athletic tools to play a smart two way game, which for me is the new 'shut down' defender." - Lafortune

"Here's a stat for you. In his final 32 games (including playoffs), he had 17 goals. We'd be happy with that type of production from a draft eligible forward (that's more than Crouse & Zacha in their final 32 for example), let alone a defender. It points to his incredible offensive potential. IMO, he has the most offensive potential of any defender in the draft. But he's also a risky pick because of the improvements that need to be made defensively and in the decision making department. Bottom line, guys like Dunn don't stay on the board long (see Julius Honka, Anthony DeAngelo, etc)." - Otten 

"A defenseman with excellent mobility, Dunn has speed and quickness.  Has the ability to create offense from the backend and jump into the rush.  Projects as a future powerplay quarterback who has a hard and accurate shot from the point.  Still has to add muscle and there are questions about him getting pushed around in his own zone, but his offensive game translates and will be enough for him to be enticing to teams." - Maloney 

"Comparable with Anthony DeAngelo in some regards, had an outstanding playoff for Niagara." - Sager 

6. Travis Konecny - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Total Votes: 18/18
Highest/Lowest Placement: 4th (2x)/6th (10x)
"Kids a winner! Can play on my team, Absolutely fearless. He's got the skill to match as well. Passion of Brendan Gallagher only with more offensive upside. Safe pick - top 15 pick for me." - MacInnis

"He had a slow start to the year before eventually sliding over to the wall, where he seemed more comfortable. For me, it all comes down to what you think Konecny will be moving forward. If you believe in his skill and compete level, then he’s a top 6 winger who can score and create off the rush, if you’re unsure about he growth that he has left and his ability to remain healthy, his projections would be more limited, projecting him as a bottom 6 forward, quality penalty killer and depth scorer. Count me as someone in the middle, I could see him being a valuable piece to a team, as he has the talent to play in the top six core, but he may be more effective in a depth role, slotting in on special teams and adding secondary scoring to a team’s core. He could go either way at this point." - Lafortune

"A super-driven kid who plays with high levels of skill and intensity. He is an on-ice leader and an elite level skater who uses strong offensive instincts, creative puck skills, a quick shot release and even reckless physical play to take over games. I absolutely love his all-round play and he is a guy I would love to have on my team. Problem is his durability due to his style of reckless play as we have seen over his short OHL career, will it translate to the NHL level or will he be destined to become an injury prone pro? I would bet he becomes a solid NHL pro as he learns to pick his spots better." - Stewart

"Very good shot from a release and quality standpoint. Scouts love Konecny’s drive and willingness to play the ‘big man’ game despite his small-ish stature. It’s also the 67’s captain’s biggest downfall, as injuries have plagued his OHL tenure. Probably the last OHLer to go in the top 30. Seen him compared to Ryan Callahan, which seems fair. Obviously longevity is a concern." - Matisz

"Have loved his game even if the production isn't there at a very high level. Great skater, very skilled, smart, works his tail off, and can play at both ends. Size and injuries worry me but not too much." - Anonymous 

"Solid combination of passion and skill...Will be a Coach's dream...Can he get to the scoring areas in the NHL?...Passion is his strong suit." - Seidel 

5. Pavel Zacha - Forward - Sarnia Sting
Total Votes: 18/18
Highest/Lowest Placement: 4th (3x)/7th (1x)
""Ask any scout or OHL follower and Pavel Zacha may be the most most confusing and polarizing eligible draft player from the OHL. It's a fair analysis because he never really got the ball rolling in a frustrating first season interrupted by suspensions, injury and missed time due to the World Juniors. However, at his best, Zacha's fierce competitiveness and ability to dominate shines through. His shot is elite, his first few steps are explosive and powerful and his physicality makes him a feared presence on the ice. To add, Zacha finished on a very strong note as he kept Connor McDavid in check better than most others did in playoff action and then proceeded to have an excellent showing at the Under-18s. He may not be located on some Top 10 lists but he's got the potential to be the best forward from this draft not named McDavid or Eichel." - Ross

"With soft hands and lateral  quickness,  he was a challenge for OHL opponents  to  defend against because [A]  he could make them miss at 6’3 and [B] set up his teammates without losing a step. A generally smart player, he must show he can remove the careless physicality from his game. Even though he didn’t have the season imagined, his production was a success in itself for how  disrupted  his  season  was  and  will  hopefully  improve markedly next year. He needs to break the pattern of having the same concerns and show development somewhere in his game." - Mauro

"Has all the physical tools, there's no question about that. I was actually very surprised with how physical he was, the first time I saw him play in Sarnia. My concern is with how he processes the game. I'm not convinced his vision is good enough to stay down the middle. There were times this year where I saw him pass up a good opportunity to distribute, only to turn the puck over trying to force his way to the net. In this way, it's similar to Radek Faksa. I will say this though. The guys who like him the most are the ones who've seen him the most. He's obviously a prospect who grows on you the more you see him, and for me that wasn't enough this year." - Otten

"Heading into the year, there was a lot of talk about Zacha being a lock for a top 10 selection this year. He already had played against pro completion in Europe and has the tools to be a strong two way contributor at the next level. While he still may be a top 10 selection, at times this year he has shown that abilities, he's left me wanting more when I’ve had the opportunity to see him this year. Right away you can see he plays a pro style, he's often the high man in offensive zone situations, first to track back, supports his defenders smartly. He's big, he’s powerful, he shots the puck like a pro and moves well given his frame. All good assets to have, but I was expecting more dynamic skills, less of a tough, north to south pivot. I’ll be the first to admit I’m probably lower on him then most simply because the games that I’ve seen him play he's been less impressive as others,He reminds me alot of former Kitchener Rangers centre Radek Faksa." - Lafortune 

"While some were disappointed with his production he isn't the first 17 year old european to come over and struggle in their rookie year while adjusting to a new rink size on the ice and culture and language off the ice. He has a size and skill combination that you dream of and helps paint a picture of his tantalizing potential." - Kneulman

4. Lawson Crouse - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs
Total Votes: 18/18
Highest/Lowest Placement: 3rd (2x)/6th (1x)
"In his time in Kingston this year, Crouse spent significant time with Connor McGlynn and Juho Lammikko. With all due respect to McGlynn and Lammikko, it’s not like playing with Domi and Dvorak (Marner) or Elie (Strome). When Crouse was playing with equal linemates and didn't have to do everything himself, his production rose over a point a game. Make no mistake, he'll never create on his own like Strome or Marner, however he has the skill to produce (especially score), while also playing a smart two way game, adding impressive footwork, wining battles down low and offering an elite snapshot. Crouse won't be the 'best' playmaker in this draft, but he offers a lot of non-measurables that are valued at the next level, while producing enough to justify the high pick." - Lafortune

" Sure-fire NHL power forward who has underrated offensive skills, broke out in a defensive role with Canada at the WJC also has leadership and some nasty in his game" - Harling

"Huge body and certainly isn’t afraid you use it. Plays all 200 feet of the rink and loves those dirty areas. Has great hand eye coordination and has a pro shot." - MacInnis

"NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told me that a team would be nuts not to take Crouse after McDavid and BU freshman Jack Eichel are off the board. He pointed to his size and strength; a player who physically dominates opponents similarly to the way Eric Lindros once did in Oshawa. There are other players more skilled and who have over 100 points, but Crouse was relied upon so much in Kingston. Edwards believes that if Course played with Sam Bennett all year, he would also be a point-per game player, in addition to being the most physically gifted player in this draft class." - Morreale

"The more I see him play, the more he does to make an impression. A solid skater with good puck skills. Strikes me as a smart player. He rarely is out of position. I think playing at the world junior only made him more confident. I worry that his physical style will limit his success in the NHL. How many "bangers" from junior do we see struggle to maintain that style in the NHL? Can he adjust to being less of a physical player and more of just 'a player'?" - Ambrogio

"We’ve seen it many times before: The next Milan Lucic. And we’ve seen it fail just as many times. So what sets Crouse apart from all those before him? He can play the elite power forward game, an excellent defensive player with decent scoring potential. My concern is: how much offense can he produce on his own?" - Tiano

"Offering sheer size, skating ability, and complimentary top 6 skill, he may entice with NHL readiness next year.  To his credit,  he really  pulled  his  individual  skills  together  quickly  over  the summer.  Understanding  his  physicality  supports  his  offensive push is imperative to him growing as a threat. Crouse is simply too big and not hand-sy enough to become an outright offensive star, but he sure will turn into a freight train of a winger who can ride with them." - Mauro

"There are times when I would watch Crouse and I would find myself creeping to the edge of my seat only to be let down as the anticipation grew. When looking at his potential offensively it is throught he roof with his blend of size, skill and fearless attitude but while his ceiling is high his floor seems to be lower then others. Crouse seems like a player who if drafted by the right team will turn out fantastic but if the wrong team with a poor development track record gets him it could be trouble. Sure that is true with all prospects but with Crouse it seems it is more magnified." - Kneulman

3. Mitch Marner - Forward - London Knights
Total Votes: 18/18
Highest/Lowest Placement: 2nd (9x)/4th (2x)
"He plays bigger than his size and is not afraid to get involved in traffic or battle for pucks. He possesses some of the quickest hands in this year’s draft class; love his hockey smarts and where to go with the puck. Best comparison is probably Jordan Eberle -- a player who is slick with the puck, has soft hands, great vision and a guy anyone would love to play with." - Morreale

"I'm not concerned about his size. We're talking about a guy who is pushing 6'0, not a guy pushing 5'10. When you look at how quickly he processes the game, how good of a skater he is, and the high motor he plays with, it's tough to imagine him failing at the NHL level. I see the Patrick Kane comparisons, but I actually see a lot of another Pat in him. Pat LaFontaine. Brings the same tenacity to the offensive end as LaFonatine did, and matches his smarts and creation ability." - Otten

"The biggest thing with him that he plays in all three zones as a young player. He may be in that grey zone next season where he's too good for the OHL but it may not be in his best interest to be in the NHL full time." - Fournier

"One of my biggest 'misses' in his OHL Draft year was Mitch Marner. Then measuring in at roughly 5'7, Marner was a dynamic pivot with the Don Mills Flyers who impressed with his elite skill, however left obvious doubts about his ability to transition to the OHL. While he was growing, the assessment at the time (by roughly everyone other than the London Knights) was off. Fast forward two years and Marner is among the top of his age group, displaying game breaking puck skills and creativity. His offensive totals may have been elevated by playing with skilled players such as Max Domi and Chrsitian Dvorak, however, make no mistake, Marner lead that line as much as anyone else, and its more than fair to expect him to bring a high level of success to the NHL. Those who bring up questions about his size either don't know the players background and what he's already overcome, or dont appriciate the changing aspect of hockey, size is nice to have, but skill is a primary need." - Lafortune

"With Mitch Marner going head-to-head against Dylan Strome in almost every draft debate, it comes down to Marner's edge in overall upside and ability to impact the game more consistently that slides him above a very talented Dylan Strome on my list. Marner's attacking speed, creativity in passing and ability to control the pace contribute to a high-possession playing style that I prefer. Strome's production, size down the middle and evolving skating will lead to a very good NHLer but, in my opinion, Marner has the makings of a potential superstar and that's worth gambling on." - Ross

"If not for the likes of Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, Marner would garner attention as a first overall pick. He quite possibly could have the best vision of anyone in the draft not named McDavid/Eichel. Along with his vision, his playmaking, skating, agility and ability to anticipate/read/react are elite level." - Tiano

"Creates offensive opportunities on almost every shift...Dynamic...Size is no longer an issue...Been very well coached...huge offensive upside." - Seidel

2. Dylan Strome - Forward - Erie Otters
Total Votes: 18/18
Highest/Lowest Placement: 2nd (9x)/3rd (9x)
"Excellent in faceoff circle, has one of the best shots in the entire draft class, smart with and without puck, has the reach and size to battle with anyone. Bigger and better than his older brother Ryan was at 18, which is saying something. Aside from skating, not a lot to dislike about ​the middle ​Strome​ kid​." - Matisz

"A hard to read threat for duality in shot vs. pass, he has a verygood release on all pucks off his stick. Great at making subtlepositional changes to free himself up, he gets to pucks that otherforwards wouldn’t even with questioned skating ability. You willoften see him take subtle opposite direction steps to increase hispass radius or de-clog his shooting lane." - Mauro

"A top prospect in his own right and while his production dipped a little with McDavid out, he still continued to put up impressive numbers and won the OHL scoring title withan impressive finish. Like his brother he has great hands and vision and is an excellent playmaker.The difference is that he has size that his brother never had and plays a complete game.  Skating still an area of progression but it has been improved already since the beginning of the season." - Maloney

"The kid possesses many of the hard to come by traits NHL organizations desire to build their teams around. Big, smart, efficient, point-producing centre with very impressive vision and creative playmaking abilities. While there are areas that need work such as his skating, which is a tad sluggish, those are areas that I have no doubt he will figure out in the next couple seasons. The thing that puts him just marginally ahead of Marner for me is that he is a big playmaking centre and Marner is a below average size winger. Top line offensive wingers are relatively easier to come by than a top line centres." - Stewart

"Strome was excellent when McDavid was out with his hand injury, proving how much of a complete player he is. Many scouts saw him as a sniper type guy that needed to be fed and he could really fire the puck. Depending on who he was playing with he easily racks up points because he just had to wait for the puck. He is more of passer and his hockey sense is elite where he can create opportunities himself. He'll create that secondary at the next level." - Morreale

"Big strong Centreman that teams need to win...Exceptionally smart...Tremendous stick skills...Skating lacks that extra gear...Very low risk." - Seidel 

1. Connor McDavid - Forward - Erie Otters
Total Votes: 18/18
Highest/Lowest Placement: 1st (18x)
"Worth the price of admission. His acceleration and execution with the puck at high speed is the best I've seen since Bobby Orr. Superior speed, skill, smarts and size." - MacInnis

"Whether you are judging the unreal draft year PPG, his topping the WJC scoring, or him scoring 5 goals in an OHL playoff game, his feats are real and continue to be special. An amazing quality he has is his vision for the entire shift around him in that he can adjust to as simple or complex a movement he feels is necessary, all in a split second. A full rink threat, he is hard to track as he can handle his body at top speed as if it weren’t at top speed. For a guy whose off games include hat tricks, the hockey world  can’t wait to get McDavid on NHL ice and he won’t disappoint." - Mauro

"By now everyone knows he is the best draft prospect on the board since Sidney Crosby. His speed might just be unprecedented. It's not necessarily skating speed but overall speed and how that speed can threaten and intimidate in multiple ways. There a lot of players who can skate fast but it's the ability to execute and process what is unfolding in front of him at that high speed that separate McDavid from the rest of the pack." - Morreale

"There is nothing more to add than what others have said. I remember a conversation I had with an OHL GM last season who raved about McDavid's skating ability and that explosive first step. That more than anything is the first thing you notice, when he turns it up a notch. Considering all the time he missed before the World Jr, it was hard not to be impressed. Didn't matter his linemates, he was dominating. I thought he ran out of gas in the OHL final (plus the Generals are so good defensively) but he carried that team to the final. No way they beat the Greyhounds without McDavid." - Ambrogio

"Hardly a shock to see Connor McDavid at the top of the list. The best player I've seen come out of Ontario at this level since I've started this hockey endeavor, McDavid has game changing abilities. Quick, agile and extremely creative, he's the absolute definition of a franchise player. Not much more that can be said about him that hasn't already been commented on in the past." - LaFortune

"I recall a play from this year's playoffs that perfectly describes what Connor McDavid brings to the ice. Nick Betz dumped a puck in, got to it first and chipped it behind the net. McDavid used his speed to get there before two defenders, then made a no look back pass to a net crashing Betz who put it to the back of the net. McDavid was able to process so many things all at once. He knew Betz would be coming hard off the wall following the chip in. He knew that the defender coming around the net would close off his wrap around attempt. And he even fooled the goaltender who didn't even flinch off his far post. The way McDavid sees the game, at the incredibly high speed he plays the game, is what makes him the generational prospect that he is." - Otten

Honorable Mentions

Mackenzie Blackwood - Goaltender - Barrie Colts (7 votes)
Highest Placement: 7th (2x)
"Central Scouting's No. 1 ranked goalie on the North American list possesses NHL strength, quickness and battle. He has great size. He's one of those goalies you could see in the NHL 4-5 years down the road from now. He's got tools that separate him from the others. I like his power. Calm and relaxed and exhibits excellent positional play. His butterfly style provides great low net coverage and he has good control laterally." - Morreale

"He didn't have a dominate year statistically but he's what the the prototypical goalie in the NHL is today, 6-4 200 plus pounds.  He is calm and doesn't let players get under his skin. If an NHL team allows him to develop the next three-four years he can become an above-average starter down the road." - Fournier

"It’s not a great year for goaltenders in the OHL. While the 98 and 99 birth years look very impressive, generally speaking the 97s lack true NHL starter potential goaltenders. That said, Barrie Colts net minder Mackenzie Blackwood has established himself as one of the best in the draft, combining size, athleticism and a healthy compete level that have grabbed scouts attention over the past two years in the OHL. Measuring in at 6'4', he has the prototypical NHL level size that is almost a requirement these days, and while usually big goaltenders rely not hat size to block, Blackwood also offers a impressive athleticism, which allows him to make impressive reflex/reaction saves. He still struggles at times with his consistency, he looks like a star for games on end only to lose his positioning and technique and struggle for the next few starts, which hopefully will disappear as he gets more experience at higher levels." - Lafortune 

Matt Spencer - Defence - Peterborough Petes (4 votes)
Highest Placement: 6th (1x)
"A strong solid defenceman who does his job although he and the Petes struggled this year. Spencer is still the best blueliner in the OHL eligible for the NHL draft. I think he is years away from making the NHL. What ever team drafts him will need patience." - Ambrogio

"Spencer is one of those players that scream potential. A minute eating defenceman that was projected as a two way game player, his defensive game progressed at a higher pace then his offensive game. He is a very good skater that thinks the game very well and plays with poise." - Tiano 

"A player who’s draft ranking seems to change depending who you talk to. Some have him as high as a late first rounder while some have him going in the third round. His true spot should likely be somewhere in the middle and the mid second round. Spencer is an excellent skater who plays a very well rounded game. He has added more muscle and a more physical aspect to his game this year. Has been asked to do a lot for Peterborough in a disappointing season on a team that vastly underachieved." - Maloney 

Mitchell Stephens - Forward - Saginaw Spirit (4 votes)
Highest Placement: 7th (2x)
"The U18s were a real eye-opener for me on Stephens, especially since he also showed well at the Ivan Hlinka too. When he's on a team that can get him the puck he can make a lot of plays. He's also very solid defensively too." - Anonymous

""One of the draft's best forecheckers, Stephens uses his speed and hockey sense to get in on pucks quickly and that trait should make him valuable middle-six attacker capable of playing in all situations. Stephens is a high-character player with a competitive will-to-win and that attribute ensures that he'll likely be an impact player when crunch time strikes. Stephens had a bit of an offensive surge as captain of Canada's Under-18 team, continuing from a strong offensive second half. He was a fantastic scorer in his pre-draft season and he may just be beginning to tap into a promising offensive half. Look for Stephens to be a mid-2nd or early-3rd round pick." - Ross

"Coming out party at the U18s. Brings character, leadership on both sides of the puck." - MacInnis

Nikita Korostelev - Forward - Sarnia Sting (4 votes)
Highest Placement: 7th (1x)
"An excellent puck handler, who has plenty of upside. Had a 5 point game earlier this year against Windsor which shows he is a very good offensive producer. I know he dropped in many rankings, but I still see good things out of him going forward." - Ambrogio

"Got off to an incredibly hot start to the season for the Sting, and was sidelined by injury during the season.  He’s an offensive minded forward who’s very creative with the puck and possesses a great shot with a quick release.  His stock has dropped with questions about his defensive game and consistency level, but you can’t deny his talent." - Maloney

"Russian born skater who moved to Ontario half way through his Bantam year, Korostelev has always been an offensive leader among his peers. Possessing one of the best shots in the OHL, Korostolev is the definition of a catch and release shooter, operating effectively as a north to south winger and showing chemistry with a playmaking pivot. He plays an honest style, will battle for his space and grind down low if needed, although he is more effective finding soft spots in coverage in the defensive zone. His biggest development need to this point has been his lack of progressing with his footwork/skating. It’s been an issue for him dating back to his Vaughan Kings days, and continues to be the one aspect of his game that may or may not hold him back. One point in Korostolev's favor is that skating is the one aspect that you can improve on, assuming that your willing to put the work in. Could be be another Tyler Toffoli?" - Lafortune 

Blake Speers - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (2 votes)
Highest Placement: 8th (1x)
"Speers is a very good playmaker with an ability to make all those around him better on the ice. He has very good hockey IQ and sees the ice well. Showed major improvement over his rookie season but slowed a little in the second half." - Tiano

"A smart, two way winger who can play multiple roles. Played a depth role in the second half this year, but still managed to put up some pretty impressive numbers all year long (helps being surrounded by the offensive talent that the Greyhounds produce). At his core Speers brings many attributes to the table, an intuative, offensive minded winger with good speed, he’s very well rounded in the fact that he can play multiple roles, be it leading the offense or playing a smart defence. While he is well rounded, he doesn't necessarily have elite offensive tools, which does call into question his ability to play a prime offensive role at the next level. End of the day, fair to suggest he'll find a niche as a specialty teams player who can add secondary scoring to a team’s lineup." - Lafortune

Rasmus Andersson - Defence - Barrie Colts (2 votes)
Highest Placement: 9th (2x)
"Could argue him real high or low, but overall think the offensive upside is too enticing. His skill level is really high-end even if he's got a lot of warts too." - Anonymous

"I saw Craig Button compared him to Dennis Wideman recently and I think that's a not bad comparison. Andersson sees the ice very well and I was very impressed with his ability to run the powerplay. But I question whether his game is dynamic enough for the next level. His skating ability is average and there are quite a few holes in his defensive game. Proof that scouting is more than statistics. Still a solid 3rd rounder for me, but I prefer the likes of Dunn, Dermott, Vande Sompel, etc, ahead of him." - Otten

Graham Knott - Forward - Niagara IceDogs (2 votes)
Highest Placement: 10th (2x)
"When I first watched him he really didn't stand out. But the last few times, he has as he gets more comfortable in his draft year. Best way to describe him is this way: A solid all-around player. There is nothing flashy just consistency. I know he has dropped in the rankings but I see a solid NHL'er down the road." - Ambrogio

"Excellent 200 foot guy...Goes to the net...Will never put up big offensive numbers...Can be a very effective 2 way guy...Will only keep getting stronger." - Seidel 
Dante Salituro - Forward - Ottawa 67's (1 vote)
Highest Placement: 9th (1x)
"Outscored higher ranked Konecny by 10 points but is even smaller." - Harling

"Credit needs to be given considering how consistent he was this year. In reality, it was Salituro who paced the 67's this year and not Konecny. Size is the big issue because of the way he excels at the OHL level (opportunistic scorer, excels near the crease, coming off the wall). Will he be able to find those same holes against bigger and stronger players?" - Otten

Kyle Capobiano - Defence - Sudbury Wolves (1 vote)
Highest Placement: 10th (1x)
"Not sure if there was a more improved draft eligible player in the OHL this year then Kyle Capobianco. Playing limited minutes on a Sudbury team that was looking to take a run in the Eastern Conference last year, Kyle didn't see alot of ice. Capobianco was given more responsibilities this year an took a big step forward. He looked more confident and poised in possession, last year he would force things and struggle under an intense forecheck, this year he looks more poised and polished, confident in his own abilities. It's also helpful that he's grown physically, added weight and playing with more of an edge. While he'll never be considered a tough player to play against, it was nice to see him offer more defensive resistance below the opposition red line. He'll still need to add strength and work on positioning and structure, but when you look at the pluses and minuses, there are many more pluses at this point in his development. Should take an additional step next year." - Lafortune


If you enjoy this content, but have a desire for more information (specifically about some of the non OHL'ers available for this year's draft, be sure to order one (or all) of the below draft guides. These guys work exceptionally hard to produce fantastic products.


Future Considerations


Draft Buzz Hockey 

The Hockey Writers Draft Guide

And also be sure to check out the full rankings of some of my other contributors!

Sean Lafortune's Top 40

Corey Pronman's Top 100 (ESPN Insider needed)

The Hockey Writers Top 180

And of course, be sure to check out my final Top 50 prospects from the OHL.


Anonymous said...

The midseason rankings link at the top doesn't appear to be working.

Brock Otten said...

Fixed now. Thanks for the heads up.