Saturday, February 13, 2016

Midseason Media/Scout Top 10 for 2016

It's time for an update to our media/scout list. There's still lots of meaningful hockey to be played (CHL February/March, CHL playoffs, U18's), but it's always great to see how opinions change over the course of a season.

Ultimately, things haven't changed all that much from our Preliminary list in November (here). While there has been some minor shuffling, nothing outrageous has happened. Mikhail Sergachev moves up a few spots, while Max Jones moves down a few. Dmitri Sokolov goes from receiving 6 votes to zero. Nathan Bastian cracks the top 10, going from one vote in November to 8 this time around. And Jakob Chychrun hangs on to the top spot, despite falling on many lists lately (although he did go from receiving 100% of the first place votes, to just over 50%).

As always, it's important to note the contributors, as without them and their terrific insight, this article does not exist. For the midseason list, the following helped out:

Corey Pronman - ESPN writer (@coreypronman)
Dominic Tiano - Writer for The OHL Writers (@dominictiano)
Dan Stewart - Director of Scouting for Future Considerations (@StewartFC)
Brendan Ross - Director of Scouting for TheScout.ca (@RossyYoungblood)
Peter Kneulman - Provides OHL coverage at OHL Writer (@PeterKneulman)
Dennis Macinnis - Director of Scouting for ISS Hockey (@ISShockey)
Tony Ambrogio - PA Announcer for the Mississauga Steelheads & TSN editor (@Tony_Ambrogio)
Mike Morreale - Staff writer for NHL.com (@mikemorrealeNHL)
Anthony Mauro - Director/Founder of Draft Buzz Hockey (@draftbuzzhockey)
Ryan Kennedy - Associate Senior Writer for The Hockey News (@THNRyanKennedy)
Manny Paiva - Play by Play voice of the Owen Sound Attack (@paivatheway)
Mark Seidel - Scouting Director for NACS Hockey (@MarkSeidel)
Matt Grainda - Scout for TheScoutca (@graindaiv)
Todd Warriner - CHL analyst for Sportsnet, Colour analyst for the Windsor Spitfires (@Todd_Warriner)
Mike Mackley - Writer at Prospects Hockey and Scout for the Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL) (@Macker61)
Peter Harling - Writer for the Kingston Frontenacs, McKeens Hockey, & Dobber Prospects (@pharling)
Scott Wheeler - OHL scout with Future Considerations & Site Manager of Pension Plan Puppets (@scottcwheeler)
Reed Duthie - Play by Play voice of the Hamilton Bulldogs (@rcduthie)
Kathryn Jean - OHL scout for Draft Buzz Hockey & Writer for Ottawa 67's Report (@msconduct)

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten

Here's the Top 10 with several honorable mentions:

1. Jakob Chychrun - Defence - Sarnia Sting
Total Votes: 20
High/Low: 1st (11x)/3rd (2x)
Comments:
"I know there's a lot of hype around other players, but I keep asking NHL execs about Chychrun and they still love him. Man-child, Noah Hanifin's skating acumen but with an edge, generational talent…it's hard to ignore those types of comments." - Ryan Kennedy

"Poor guy is doing too much and distorting the picture making it harder to tell what is what. Physical freak, purebred leader, great skater, but grenade-y hands and jumpy decisions. Jones abused him back to back – bad timing. The 2nd half is his to show he has it in him to be a top pairing D and not just one with #3D ceiling.” - Anthony Mauro

"NHL scouts are really torn on him, although some still absolutely love him and believe he's right there with Matthews. I love a lot of things about his game, but I just wish I saw him be more of a consistent game breaker." - Anonymous

"Still the top OHL skater available in the upcoming NHL draft, Jakob Chychrun has such an intriguing skill set its hard for me to see any player in the Ontario Hockey League getting selected before him. Chychrun plays with veteran poise, shows tremendous leadership qualities and is impactful in every situation he's deployed in. A high end skater with excellent mobility and elite speed, Chychrun excels in possession as he can dictate the pace of the game and create offensive from the back end. Displaying high end vision and playmaking skills, Chychrun is a strong decision maker that boasts high end hockey sense. Defensively Chychrun closes gaps quickly and effectively, shows excellent contain and an ability to be a versatile defender, excelling in both a physical aspect and as a stick on puck defender. If there is one knock on Chychrun at this point, it's that he can try to do to much. When his team is down he begins to force plays and take risks that aren't necessary. However those are very correctable errors that should smooth out as he continues to learn and develop." - Mike Mackley

"Seen Jakob over a dozen times this season alone. Still my undisputed top OHL prospect as his upside is that of a true top pairing NHL defender no matter what some outlets might be spinning. Coach Hatcher has him reeling in his offensive game a bit more in favor of playing a safer game which might not be for Jakob’s best interest from a showcase of talent point of view as his offensive rushing ability is absolutely dynamic.  A jack of all trades type who holds excellent size, skating, smarts and offensive skill plus the ability to be a pretty impressive shutdown defender." - Dan Stewart

"Chychrun has the ability to impact the game at both ends of the ice. His skating, vision and hockey smarts allow him to jump into the offense with relative ease and when you add in his shot, his offense is at a level that is NHL ready. And so is his defensive game. He already has NHL size, plays a physical game and is almost always in position. There is one thing that really stands out to me about him when I focus solely on him: I cannot recall ever seeing a player who regularly directs traffic like Chychrun does, especially, but not limited to the defensive zone. He has so much respect from his teammates that they follow his lead and direction and good things usually happen." - Dominic Tiano

"Has really had an uneven season...Last month he has started to find his groove...All the physical tools you want in a franchise D...Will need to play good through the playoffs to help the Sting go deep AND keep his stock high...Teams are becoming wary of his indifferent play at times." - Mark Seidel

2.  Matthew Tkachuk - Forward - London Knights
Total Votes: 20
High/Low: 1st (9x)/3rd (2x)
Comments:
"Like his attitude and work ethic to go along with excellent one ice awareness and small space skills. Still growing, getting stronger. As good as anyone below hash marks offensively, where the NHL game is played." - Todd Warriner

"What impresses me most about Tkachuk is his ability to play any style the game commands. He can play finesse as demonstrated by his 70 points in 37 games. He can play the physical game as a 6’1”, 194 pound power forward. He can think the game at an elite level for his peer group. All this wrapped up with his impressive bloodlines make him a highly attractive and safe prospect." - Peter Harling

"No doubting his offensive skills but slides down my list because of benefits by playing with Dvorak and Marner." - Manny Paiva

"High end hockey sense and positional play, plus the grit and sandpaper combined with offensive skill to boot make him a projected top line winger and Stanley Cup playoff warrior. Reminds me a bit of a young Adam Deadmarsh more so than his old man after seeing him play a bunch this season in London. A top-5 pick at this point." - Dan Stewart

"As good as Mitch Marner and Christian Dvorak are, Matthew Tkachuk might be this year’s Knight ‘MVP’. He has added another dimension to an already gifted team, and they’ve been unstoppable offensively as a result. Love the way he plays with both power and finesse. Not an extremely good skater, but he can handle the puck and score as well as he can pass. He has an edge to his game that makes him a complimentary fit with pretty much any type of centre. Tkachuk’s relentless on loose pucks and excellent at lifting them off defenders to create turnover. He’s going to excel in the NHL soon rather than later because of his maturity." - Scott Wheeler

"There's so much to like about Tkachuk because he's the one player that really stresses giving it 100 percent on every shift, and not just every game. I admire that in him. He really opened some eyes for the U.S. at the World Junior Championship, tying Auston Matthews in points for the team lead. He has good hands, a nice scoring touch and can also fight for pucks in the dirty areas of the ice." - Mike Morreale

"His dad was a great NHL player. Matthew could be more of an offensive force. Like his dad, Matthew has a "dirty" streak to him. As a scout said to me, with a smile on his face, "he's a nasty piece of work, eh?"  Isn't afraid to get his nose dirty or go to the dirty areas. I never would have expected him to be number 1 on this list, but in my opinion his play has improved as the season has gone on, that he deserves it." - Tony Ambrogio

3. Alex Nylander - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
Total Votes: 20
High/Low: 2nd (3x)/7th (1x)
Comments:
"One word: Dynamic. I don’t often use the word elite – it’s something I save for the best of all time – but Nylander has some very elite qualities if he is not elite overall. His puck handling is elite and his hockey IQ is elite, his vision is elite. He is phenomenal in one on one situation. He is extremely elusive; defenders have to be aware of his presence constantly. When I watched him at the Ivan Hlinka, I thought he played a soft game. But that is the furthest thing from the truth in his first OHL season. While he is more physically involved than his older brother, he’s not a basher. But he doesn’t shy away from the physical game – he’ll take what the opposition throws at him and keeps on going. Nylander will also battle along the boards even though he needs to add some bulk. He plays it smart and has excellent puck possession skills, even in those battles. While he can improve defensively, he’s no slouch in that aspect of his game either. He works extremely hard to get back on the backcheck, and it’s helped out greatly by his skating." - Dominic Tiano

"Play at the World Juniors aside, Alex Nylander has quickly become arguably the top Ontario Hockey League forward available in the upcoming draft. Nylander is equally as smart as he is skilled.  While the natural skill set is undeniably good, Nylander's anticipation, on ice awareness, play away from the puck and overall hockey sense is off the charts. All of which that when combined with his high end skill set allow him to a high end NHL prospect. In possession Nylander displays elite vision and playmaking skills, along with high end puck skills and an ability create something out of nothing. A strong skater, Nylander possesses above average speed and strong change of pace/direction abilities that when combined with his high end puck skills and hockey sense allow him to be extremely shifty and elusive. Most impressive about Nylander's skating is his separation speed. Nylander often catches unsuspecting defenders flat footed when he turns on his second gear, beating the opposition to high percentage scoring areas. Boasting an absolutely lethal shot, that combines a quick release with pin point accuracy, Alex Nylander is a lethal offensive threat. Defensively speaking Nylander is consistently engaged in the play and makes himself effective in his own zone, although if there is one knock against him, he does turn the puck over looking to get creative in zone exits in his own zone, which in turn can lead to quality scoring chances for the opposition." - Mike Mackley

"Nylander has wowed me in all of my live viewings with the Steelheads this season. Sweden’s best player at Hlinka Memorial, including a handful of dazzling plays in their Gold Medal loss to Canada (created all three of Sweden’s goals in the 7-3 loss) certainly helps. One of three draft-eligible forwards to make Team Sweden at the WJCs and he didn’t disappoint, leading the team in scoring. A shifty skater, jumps in and out of traffic with the puck, weaving his way around the ice. Likes to cut to the inside and open up opportunities for drop passes or a lane for a teammate. He out-performed fellow top prospects and linemates Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian in my viewings this year. Not afraid to cut to the middle and shoot if defenders anticipate pass. Lethal shot, shifts his weight effortlessly for a quick snap, can score high from the high slot. He has one of the most accurate shots I’ve seen in recent years in the OHL and QMJHL. Plays the point on the powerplay, plays on the penalty kill as well — more responsible defensively than he’s given credit. Can score with ease using his slapshot from the point too – low follow through, loose grip. I think Nylander should be considered a strong candidate to for 5th or 6th overall. But then again, I had William ranked No. 5/6 in 2014 and he went 8th. Déjà vu in 2016? Maybe." - Scott Wheeler

"Despite being slightly undersized (6'0'' 176) Nylander is an electrifying talent, who can simply dazzle fans, scouts and announcers. Able to create plays in the heaviest of traffic, Alexander can also control the pace of the game with the puck on his stick as well as being able to change the course of a game with one shift. In the offensive zone Alexander is more then prepared to head to the next level, however his deficiencies are on the defensive side of the game, Alexander can get lost in neutral & defensive zone coverage BUT can create immediate transition by using his speed to capture pucks in the defensive zones. Although not a physical player, Nylander uses his tremendous skill and puck sense to remove pucks from board battles before he can get pinned down. A player who with some work on the defensive side can be an impact pro." - Reed Duthie

"An elusive skater with elite hockey smarts. He is a strong puckhandler and has fantastic vision which makes for great playmaking skills. His agility and fancy footwork allows himself to get out of trouble. Nylander is also intimidating as a goal scorer as he has a very accurate shot combined with soft hands. He tends to shoot more from the outside when he is bringing the puck in otherwise, without the puck he finds open spaces and gets in perfect positioning for a shot in close. He is not an overly physical player, but does not shy away from it and is able to come out with the puck with battles along the board and in the corners." - Kathryn Jean 

"Might have the best pure skill in the OHL...Will bring fans out of their seats...Getting better defensively...High ceiling." - Mark Seidel

4. Michael McLeod - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
Total Votes: 20
High/Low: 2nd (1x)/8th (1x)
Comments:
"I don't get all the "doesn't have a high offensive ceiling" talk lately. Why is it that when a draft eligible prospect is a responsible two-way player, he's suddenly labelled a future 3rd liner as if it's not feasible that his offensive skill set improves? His skating ability makes him so dangerous off the rush and with his size and smarts, he has the potential to control play below the hashmarks too. His shot and finishing ability need to get better, but that's something that can be improved. I'd still take him over his teammate Nylander (although I do like Alex as a prospect too). Something that doesn't get mentioned enough - he's currently the OHL's top faceoff man." - Brock Otten

""Let's get this out there now: no one is letting this kid fall out of the top ten to get Larkin’d again. He’s 6’2’’ with light speed, and he’s getting check your eyes even faster with each new view. McLeod is a stud, who should refine his choppy stickhandling and O zone choices to become a beast of a #2C.” - Anthony Mauro

"The speed is incredible. Having seen him live, I could barely believe some of the stuff he pulls off when he has the puck and he's pretty good on face-offs, as well. Scouts love how he stood out on Canada's Ivan Hlinka team." - Ryan Kennedy

" I know I have him higher than most others. The more I watch him, the more I like. A tremendous all around player. Great leadership skills and it seemed every goal he scored as a rookie was a highlight reel goal. Not much has changed this year. Solid penalty killer and a big reason why the Steelheads have the best PK in the OHL (as of this writing). I don't know if he will be much of a goal scorer in the NHL, but I would take him on my team, any day! He makes the line with Alexander Nylander and Nathan Bastian (all NHL draft eligible) players go. He really is the straw that stirs the drink on that line." - Tony Ambrogio

"One of the best well-rounded players in the draft. He is a threat with and without the puck has a fantastic shot and effective playmaking skills. He uses his size and speed to drive to the net and his acceleration makes him hard to contain. McLeod has a strong wrist shot and is able to finish plays at top speed which will make him very attractive to NHL teams. He competes hard and is strong on the puck. McLeod is solid on face-offs and trusted to be used in many key situations. I would pick McLeod over Nylander, but Nylander plays with a little more flash and has strong NHL roots which may be more attractive to some NHL scouts." - Kathryn Jean

5. Olli Juolevi - Defence - London Knights
Total Votes: 20
High/Low: 2nd (1x)/7th (3x)
Comments:
"I was actually more impressed with how he used his speed to defend at the world juniors than with the actual offensive numbers, but Juolevi is definitely the fast-riser in the bunch. Add in size and you've got a great one." - Ryan Kennedy

"Two way D with the mind of an NFL quarterback. He hasn’t been seen as flashy up to this point, but playing with Team Finland spiced things up a bit. Juolevi could be worth spending a higher pick on than consensus would suggest because of what he might look like unleashed as a pro. Has safety as a prospect with his frame and head for the game.” - Anthony Mauro

"Arguably the best defenseman at the World Junior, Juolevi had a breakout performance and solidified his hold on a top ten ranking for the 2016 draft. He has good size at 6’2”, but doesn’t play the physical game as well as he could; he doesn’t need to. He skates and thinks the game so well, like Niklas Lidstrom he does not need to use body checks to be effective. Juolevi is a very smart player and consistently displays sound decision making choices and is positionaly very responsible. He has the confidence and skills to carry the puck up ice and the vision to make breakout passes and run a power play. He will have an impact in the NHL when he arrives." - Peter Harling

"Tremendous upside for the skilled defenceman who still has to pack on the pounds. Good skater and shooter with great passing skills." - Manny Paiva

"Very few defenders, at a young age, can manage gaps as well as Juolevi – a special gift, he forces attackers wide with ease. He has really blossomed as the year has progressed. Plays in all situations for London and rarely looks out of place. He won’t wow you by creating scoring chances for himself off the rush but he excels at handling the puck and slowing the game down to create clean entries or find teammates with outlet passes. He doesn’t get exposed in puck battles but he could still stand to bulk up physically a bit before making the step to the NHL. He has quickly become the second best defensemen in the class, not just in the OHL." - Scott Wheeler

"London's Finnish import is very similar to previous Finnish import Olli Maata. A force at both ends of the rink, Juolevi can play anyway his team needs him to win. Physically, Juolevi is not the largest of defenceman but makes up for it by taking tremendous angles in defensive coverage and using that to benefit him in physical situations. His defensive zone coverage is solid, if unspectacular but when the Knights looks for transition to offence, Juolevi uses his tremendous hockey IQ & vision to deliver outstanding outlet passes, crisp & accurate. Juolevi can also jump up into the play and again uses great angles to create lanes and gets pucks to the net with regularity." - Reed Duthie

6. Mikhail Sergachev - Defence - Windsor Spitfires
Total Votes: 19
High/Low: 3rd (1x)/Outside the Top 10 (1x)
Comments:
"Honestly, I think he has the highest ceiling of any defender in the draft. Controls the point on the powerplay exceptionally well and creates a ton of chances with his booming shot. Skates really well, which allows him to create off the rush and evade the forecheck. Has all the physical gifts you want from someone who can excel in his own end too. Even with the terrific WJC's and Top Prospect's game from Olli Juolevi, I'd still take Sergachev first." - Brock Otten

"Keeps getting better. Powerful skater, poised and solid with puck. Rink and gym rat, who's a fierce competitor and wants to be an NHL player." - Todd Warriner

"Sergachev has been very impressive in all my viewings this season. A defender that possesses high end two-way capabilities, Sergachev is highly impactful in all three zones. Defensively speaking Sergachev is tough to play against. A player that shows little hesitance to engage physically, Segachev shows an active and effective stick along with excellent contain along with quick feet and impressive mobility. Sergachev separates player from puck with relative ease and transitions up ice well. Effective as a puck carrier, Sergachev also makes a strong and crisp first pass, before getting up ice and joining the rush looking to join in offensively. Sergachev controls the offensive attack off the rush well, forcing players to low percentage areas while also taking the middle of the ice away with effectiveness. In the offensive zone, Sergachev makes smart and calculated pinches while showing an ability to create from the back end. Effectively creating shooting lanes with subtle body and head fakes allows Sergachev to get his rocket of a point shot on goal." - Mike Mackley

"Scouts have been really impressed with the 17-year-old Russian, a two-way defenseman. He is solid 1 on 1 and is smart with and without the puck. He is strong in his defensive zone, has a good shot and is good on the penalty kill. It's interesting to note that Sergachev's favorite NHL player is Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson." - Mike Morreale

"Didn’t like the way his play slowed down in October after a good first couple of games but Sergachev has been remarkable in December and January. He has really found his rhythm and dictated play offensively. After Chychrun and Juolevi, I like Sergachev in the next tier of defensemen in this class with Dante Fabbro, Charlie McAvoy and Jake Bean. He’s physically built for the NHL game and plays a lot in all situations. He could stand to actually shoot even more than he already does, because his shot is a unique weapon. He’s got some bite to his game but he doesn’t take too many penalties, which is nice. Exciting talent." - Scott Wheeler

7. Max Jones - Forward - London Knights
Total Votes: 18
High/Low: 3rd (1x)/Outside the Top 10 (2x)
Comments:
"I'm sure I have him a lot higher than most but Max Jones is a player I would take on my team anyday. I love how he plays mean and with an edge although at times I would like to see him play more controlled. Has shown he has the skill and ability to end games when he wants as demonstrated by his highlight real OT goals vs Sarnia in back to back games over the Christmas holidays." - Peter Kneulman

“Still nasty, still held back in terms of role on a loaded Knights squad. He set off sparks with the top line out during the WJC with 1.43PPG in 7GP. He’s a PF still rounding into form who is yet to blossom fully even though he has produced fine. Don’t like the TPG he had and may not have top ten natural skill, but still, he has too many factors in his favor to fall that far past it.” - Anthony Mauro

"Jones is a straight forward north-south player who possesses aggressiveness, great speed and nastiness who is more than willing to go through defenders –successfully- rather than try and dangle around them.  He’s a prototypical power forward who can get on top of the defence and punish them. He battles along the walls and is near impossible to move off the puck. Jones will fight for his space in front of the opposition goal. He plays on the powerplay and that is usually where you’ll find him planted.  He’s very good in tight and has some finish there. It’s not all strength and power to Jones’ game however. There is finesse to his repertoire. He’s an excellent skater with high end top speed and an excellent first step. He possesses a pro level shot with an excellent release and accuracy. His vision is very good and has the high hockey IQ to go with it – an underrated playmaker in my opinion. Jones’ play without the puck needs some improvement and is a work in progress. He also needs to better choose his spots to be physical – he sometimes goes out of his way chasing the hit. As he matures, those things will come to him." - Dominic Tiano

"Jones is a chippy power forward with dynamic skills. He is relentless with the puck and can often be seen forcing his way towards the net creating scoring opportunities and havoc. His speed and strength allows him create space for himself. He has a good shot and score in a variety of different ways. He has a tendency to be overly aggressive and not always make the best decisions without the puck – this is why I have him ranked a little lower. His size, determination and nose for the net are his biggest attributes." - Kathryn Jean

"Jones is making gradual strides in London. He's a big, strong power-forward type possessing good speed and acceleration. He's got a heavy shot and quick hands and loves to drive the net and challenge defenders physically. He's proving to be tough for defenders below the hash marks in the offensive zone." - Mike Morreale

8. Logan Brown - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Total Votes: 20
High/Low: 6th (1x)/9th (6x)
Comments:
“Everything about Brown is a contradiction. Big – agile. High-end artistry – brain dead glitches. Physical – pillow soft. I love the fact that in showcases, Brown buries the puck with fire. He had his down moments, but this latest TPG has shown that he is growing as a player in stages during this season and improving in front of our eyes.” - Anthony Mauro

"Logan Brown is a player I want to like so badly and see a ton of pro potential in, yet I come away wanting more nearly every time I see Brown and the Spitfires play. Consistency is a big issue for Brown as he can be utterly dominate one game and near invisible the next. This is also something you can see with Brown on a shift to shift bases as he can fly under the radar are be hard to miss. A 6'6, 218 pound centre who skates like the wind, Brown is undoubtedly and appealing prospect. Possessing a long, fluid stride that allows him to get around the ice in little to know time, Brown possesses intriguing hockey sense and a level of offensive creativity along with a quick release and accurate shot. I would love to see Brown and his hulking frame inject himself physically more often and add an aggressiveness to his game. In my views Brown has been a perimeter player more often than not, however when he does inject himself and drive the net off the rush and off the cycle he is near impossible to defend." - Mike Mackley

"This big fella is a conundrum to me as he has so much talent and projectable upside but ultimately I leave the rink after many Windsor games disappointed and wanting more from him. Reminds me of how I viewed Ryan Johansen in Portland during his draft season. He needs to ramp up the intensity and bring more consistently to move up my board. Still a first rounder but slipping due to poor shift-to-shift intensity." - Dan Stewart

"Massive center from the Windsor Spitfires (6'6'' 220), Brown plays a style like legendary setup man Joe Thornton, in that he uses his size to hold off defenders and his reach and vision to find passing lanes to allow teammates to set up find the back of the net. One on one Brown is one of the hardest players to play against due to his already advanced physical stature and has continued from improve from his rookie season a year ago." - Reed Duthie 

"That big strong Centre that many teams covet...Reminds me a lot of Ryan MacInnis in his draft year...Leaves you wanting more at times..." - Mark Seidel

9. Alex Debrincat - Forward - Erie Otters
Total Votes: 14
High/Low: 5th (1x)/Outside the Top 10 (6x)
Comments:
"I'm not looking to much into his slow stretch the past month because you can tell he hasnt been 100% since the world juniors. He showed in October and November what he can do when healthy. He has a nose for the net and score in multiple ways." - Peter Kneulman

"The questions around him are valid. Question marks on size, his recent WJC's, and who he plays with at center. But you can't argue with production. 1.5 points per game, tons of shots, and only a few secondary assists. He drives the game offensively and wins more battles than he loses. Ultimately it only takes one team in the first round to really love him." - Anonymous

"There is no denying DeBrincat is very undersized. But he has superb speed to overtake guys one on one and is excellent at “hiding” and moving into the scoring areas at the right time. While his mindset playing with McDavid was that of a shoot first winger, he displayed his playmaking abilities in the latter’s absence. Despite the size issue, he is more than willing to play physical and is not dissuaded from going to the dirty areas. DeBrincat is also an agitator and creates the impression that he enjoys the chirping game on the ice. He can lure the opposition into taking needless and foolish penalties and then work his magic on the powerplay. There is no question that discussions about DeBrincat among National Hockey League teams will center on his size. Is he a first round talent? In this viewer’s eyes: absolutely. NHL teams will have to decide whether DeBrincat can be the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Tyler Johnson or the Calgary Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau." - Dominic Tiano

"The fact that he is two inches shorter than Johnny Gaudreau, and that he had a disappointing WJC with USA are the only reasons why he is not in the top three. DeBrincat is an electrifying offensive wizard with the puck. His skills, hockey sense and creativity are off the charts good. Survives the physical side of the game by virtue of always playing with his head up, keeps his feet moving and has excellent agility and quickness making him very difficult to hit. All these traits should translate to success at higher levels, if not all the way to the NHL." - Peter Harling

"It was too bad we didn't get to see more of DeBrincat at the World Junior Championship for the United States. He is smaller than most (5-7, 163) but I've been sold on his compete level and ability to score points with or without high-end talent. DeBrincat can play with the best of them, skating with Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome last year, and this year spending some time with Tkachuk and Matthews in the WJC" - Mike Morreale

10. Nathan Bastian - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
Total Votes: 8
High/Low: 9th (1x)/Outside the Top 10 (12x)
Comments:
"Power forward who is getting a lot more attention thanks to the high-skill guys on his line, Bastian is making the most of his opportunity with Nylander and McLeod." - Ryan Kennedy

"At 6’4” Bastian has very good size and while he’s never been “soft” is using his size more effectively and beginning to play with an edge. His skating and speed are above average which allows him to get on top of defenders, almost always finishing his checks. His smarts, relentless pursuit and anticipation cause opposition turnovers. Offensively, Bastian has good puck skills. He reads plays very well and has very good vision and excellent playmaking skills. He’s not afraid to drive to the net and is very good at finishing in close. He has a very good shot and is not hesitant to use it. He’s currently at 15.3 shooting percentage. He’s had the opportunity to play with both Nylander and McLeod and has shown he can “keep up”. Defensively, Bastian does very well. He can play a complete 200 foot game. He gets into passing lanes and has a very active stick – and at 6’4”, you know he has the reach. He will not shy away from getting into the shooting lanes and blocking shots. He’s also been a steady contributor for two seasons on the Steelheads penalty kill." - Dominic Tiano

"The power winger has looked really dominant in some views and invisible in some as well. When he is on his game he compliments a skilled centre very well with a physical/skill blend. Has improved his skating and shot this season and I like him as a future shotgun riding winger. An early-to-mid second round selection for me." - Dan Stewart

"
He has really come into his own on a talented Mississauga team. He is big (6-4, 28), strong, has good hands and a nice scoring touch. Playing significant minutes, he has set career-high totals for the Steelheads in assists and points. He might be a little underrated as a passer, but has proven to be a solid playmaker. He also likes to play a physical game when needed." - Mike Morreale

"I'm still not sure if I'd use a first rounder on him, but I do really like Bastian's game. He's got a very soft touch for a power winger, as his playmaking ability is vastly underrated as a critical component to that solid McLeod/Nylander/Bastian line in Mississauga. Works the boards very well and can really turn it up a notch physically when he needs to. He's a pretty similar prospect to Ottawa's Nick Paul IMO. Could either continue to develop his offensive game, or level off as a very solid 3rd line player at the next level. He was a smaller kid in his OHL draft year (5'11) and is still growing into his now large frame. Patience could pay off with him." - Brock Otten 

Honorable Mentions

Logan Stanley - Defence - Windsor Spitfires (7 votes)
Highest Placement: 8th (2x)
Comments:
"My fastest riser has been a rock on Windsors bluelue. Teamed with Sergachyov it is an enviable pair and Logan has done a great job in standing out himself and getting out of his teammates shadow. A big blueliner who has shown an offensive touch this year." - Peter Kneulman

"Most improved prospect, especially his skating. Confidence wains from time to time but, size, strength toughness are alway there and works hard at improving his skills. Loads of potential as well." - Todd Warriner

“6’7, graceful, and on a sharp development curve is exactly what an NHL team will make a statement to select on draft day. I don’t blame them. Stanley has the goods to make it as a top 4 titan who can merge subtle offense and suffocating defense with excitement.” - Anthony Mauro

"I have a feeling Stanley will be a high-riser when all is said and done. A defenseman with his frame that can move and play with nastiness is always in demand." - Ryan Kennedy

"Made unbelievable strides from last year...Big horse that uses length well...Will be hard to play against as a 25 year old...Limited offensive upside." - Mark Seidel

Will Bitten - Forward - Flint Firebirds (5 votes)
Highest Placement: 9th (3x)
Comments:
"Honestly, I'm not even sure he's fully realized how to harness his speed to his advantage offensively yet. With his work ethic and tenacity, once he adds strength, he's going to be so hard to stop (off the rush, and away from the puck). Throw in the leadership qualities and you've got yourself a pretty solid prospect at back end of the first/early second. Should have a coming out party at the Under 18's in April, if he can stay healthy." - Brock Otten

"Drafted seventh overall into the OHL by Plymouth, Bitten became part of a relocated Flint team that walked out after coaching staff was fired early on this season. Scored a big goal in Canada’s Group A action against Sweden in this summer’s Ivan Hlinka tournament on route to a gold medal. Registered 11 points in five-game streak to start the month of November. Smooth skater who isn’t afraid force a rush, carry the puck deep into the offensive zone or take it to the net. Works effectively along the boards by sliding out of checks despite his size. Hits extremely hard, can level players with their heads down but needs to avoid leaving his feet. Stops up or twists and turns when gap closes which allows him to hang onto the puck and create with his skill. He’s extremely quick on his edges and buzzes around the ice. Can be aggressive with his stick and will be prone to taking slashing and hooking penalties if he doesn’t curb it. Needs to work on his faceoffs, gets out-muscled in the circle. Has the skill to be a top 20 pick in the draft but will likely be more of a later first round pick due to his size. He’s one of the more gifted skaters in the OHL." - Scott Wheeler

"Flashy offensive player with game breaking speed, is slightly undersized (5'10'' 170) but more then makes up for it with his tenacity, skill & goal scoring ability. Defensive coverage will be something to work on for the Flint winger but he can make up for mistakes made better then most due to his explosive first stride and closing speed. Bitten has proven he can score at the OHL level but the question he will have to answer is will his skill elements translate to the next level." - Reed Duthie

"Bitten is a tenacious, speedy pivot who has been putting up nearly a point-a-game numbers on a struggling Flint Firebirds team. He’s a very smooth skater and can jump of the fly at any moment. He’s undersized but plays a tougher style of game and isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas. He’s always fighting for pucks in the corner, backchecking and forechecking. He has good anticipation skills and it allows him create turnovers often resulting in a breakaway for himself. He has strong crisp passes and a soild wrist shot that helps him finish plays. He stayed focus through all the Flint drama earlier this season. He hasn’t been great with face-offs and will need to work on it. Otherwise, moving Bitten to the wing might be a better choice when a NHL drafts him."- Kathryn Jean

Adam Mascherin - Forward - Kitchener Rangers (3 votes)
Highest Placement: 9th (1x)
Comments:
"Still one of my favourite draft eligibles in the OHL. His shot is NHL caliber and has been dynamite for Kitchener when 100%. Shocked he was passed over for the top prospects game." - Peter Kneulman

"I was shocked when Mascherin wasn’t named to the CHL Top Prospects Game. He’s been outstanding all year and a key player in the Rangers’ success. Crafty for an undersized player, but thick build/strong lower body. Extremely low, hard kick on his release that pops off his stick and beats goaltenders cleanly — a real gift. Gets his shot off quickly and can score low or high with ease. Strong possession player who likes to hang onto the puck rather than rushing plays. A joy to watch. In my live viewings of him this season he has dictated play with his agility (not the fastest top speed, but can change speeds to beat defenders from a standstill or change directions). One of the more talented draft eligible forwards and he’s helped by his experience as a winger and a centre. A worthwhile second rounder with late first-round upside." - Scott Wheeler

"Since moving to the wing last season, Adam Mascherin has slowly worked his way into late first round to mid-second round NHL discussions for me. His height may scare some NHL scouts away, but his skill set and strength make him stand out. He’s small but plays with a physical edge and doesn’t back down. Mascherin has become an important key for the Kitchener Rangers this season. He has great vision, creativity and awareness which allow him to set up his teammates. He also has a very good shot when he uses it. He has a powerful stride and excellent agility but sometimes struggles in his first few steps. Once at top speed, he is hard to contain. Mascherin needs to continue to work on being more active in the defensive zone. I placed Bitten above Mascherin because of his better skating skills." - Kathryn Jean

Taylor Raddysh - Forward - Erie Otters (3 votes)
Highest Placement: 10th (3x)
Comments:
"Consistent, strong guy, who's smart and showed drastic improvement from last year...sleeper for me, like what he brings in terms of all round game." - Todd Warriner

"Taylor Raddysh is a player who has intrigued me since I saw him playing Bantam hockey. A big bodied forward with impressive hockey sense and a nose for the net, Raddysh might not be the high end impactful player that others on this list are, however he finds an effectiveness as a complimentary winger, toiling on the Otters top line. A player who can create space for himself with his size, Raddysh displays strong puck skills along with deceptively good vision and playmaking skills on top of his elite shot. A player who effectively finds soft spots in defensive zone coverage's, Raddysh works the cycle and half boards with impressive effectiveness. Tough to contain out of the corners and below the goal line, Raddysh combines strong puck protection skills with good puck control to drive the net with authority. Raddysh is equally as strong away from the puck and in his own zone which make him not only a strong complimentary player but also a reliable defensive zone player as well. If Raddysh could ever improve his skating, which I'd considered average, he would become that more dynamic of a hockey player." - Mike Mackley

"Another big body that has offensive upside...Still has some holes to his game but there is good potential...Would like to see him play more physical..." - Mark Seidel

Cam Dineen - Defence - North Bay Battalion (2 votes)
Highest Placement: 7th (1x)
Comments:
"As I write this, Dineen leads the OHL in defenseman scoring. That's not something that's easy to do in Stan Butler's defensive system. Dineen is the real deal and it's only a matter of time before others realize it. Doesn't have elite size, but he's already improved a ton in his own end (and now sees consistent time on the penalty kill). Not even the immensely talented Bobby Sanguinetti (even if he never worked out as an NHL player) led OHL defenders in scoring under Butler. Never mind Rookie of the Year, if the Battalion keep climbing the East Standings, Dineen could be a candidate for Defenseman of the Year." - Brock Otten

"Perhaps one of the lowest rated players who should vault up the rankings in the second half of the season. Dineen as an OHL rookie has been an offensive revelation of the defensively minded Stan Butler. Dineen is the driving force behind the Battalion offence and while size is a concern, his defensive game has developed under Butler noticeably this year. Like Provorov last year, and Sanheim the year prior, expect Dineen to be this year’s big riser in the rankings." - Peter Harling

Markus Niemelainen - Defence - Saginaw Spirit (1 vote)
Highest Placement: 8th (1x)
Comments:
"Strong, physical, powerful defenceman who skates very well for a defenceman of his size (6'5'' 190). Niemelainen was at one point considered a defensive specialist, where he does continue to thrive at both 5 on 5 & on the PK, however the Finnish import has improved his offensive game (despite only 1 goal on the season) to the tune of 23 assists in 47 games on a Saginaw team which has seen extended periods of offensive drought. Niemelainen will need to continue to his development on the ice as well as off but has the potential to be a tremendous addition for a team in the latter stages of the 1st round." - Reed Duthie

Sean Day - Defence - Mississauga Steelheads (1 vote)
Highest Placement: 9th (1x)
Comments:
"No one in this draft is as intriguing as this guy. When you watch him you think, "there is NO way he is 17 years old." Then other times you watch him and you realize, "Yup, he IS 17" Shift to shift you just never know what you are going to get. But when he is on, look out! He has had some family mattes to deal with and has been a healthy scratch at times, but at the end of the day when you look at him and see his skill set and his size and skating ability, it screams NHL'er. If he puts it all together - and yes that is a big if - he could be the steal of the draft." - Tony Ambrogio









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