Wish these guys still wore the Cooperalls! Thanks to an OHL heavy crop at the 2017 draft, the Flyers have a ton of talent playing in the OHL.
1. Isaac Ratcliffe - Guelph Storm
Have to stick with my draft rankings for 2017 and that puts Ratcliffe ahead of Frost for me, but it's very close. Really interested to see how both of them develop in 2017/2018. Ratcliffe is coming off of a good year, his second in the league. The 6'6 winger progressed in a lot of areas; his skating got better, he started to use his size and his shot more, and he really established himself as a budding power forward. There were most definitely some consistency issues, but that's to be expected on a very poor team. Moving forward, adding strength to his frame should be priority number one. Will make him much more difficult to stop in the corners and in front of the net, where he should dominate with his height. Also hoping that it gives him more confidence to play a power game more consistently. Continuing to improve his skating is also a priority. Guelph should be a better team in 2017/18 and Ratcliffe will be at the center of that. With his shot (among the best in his age group), I think he's a 35+ goal scorer and a point per game player next year.
2. Morgan Frost - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
A surprise first rounder this year to a lot of people...but not to those who follow the OHL closely. This is a highly talented kid who was deserving of a high pick. Frost is an extremely intelligent playmaker whose speed and smarts make him an ideal candidate to play a top 6 role at the next level. He was dynamite for SSM on the powerplay this year, using his terrific skating ability to carve up the open ice and find openings. Moving forward, adding size will be critical for Frost. He has the smarts, but getting stronger will make him a better 5 on 5 player, and a better two-way player. And I think that's what we'll see next year when Frost will play a top 6 role for a Greyhounds team that should compete for the Western Conference Championship. Surrounded by a ton of talent, Frost should be an 80+ point player and establish himself as one of the league's elite playmakers.
3. Matthew Strome - Hamilton Bulldogs
I think at this point, everyone knows about Strome's skating weaknesses. What people don't realize is how smart Strome is as a playmaker. With his size, he's able to maintain possession along the wall and he's able to manufacture a lot of scoring chances with excellent vision. His gap recognition and anticipation are terrific. Strome also has excellent finishing ability and can be a very complete offensive player. The skating will need to improve though, as he's really only effective below the hash marks. And I'd love to see him play a more consistent power forward game, something he flashed at times this year. Adding a physical element to his game would help to offset some of those skating deficiencies. I do believe in this player though and I think we'll see him progress a lot over the next two years. He'll return to Hamilton and continue to be their offensive leader. I think the Bulldogs will have a good offense next year and I could realistically see Strome hitting the 80+ point mark.
4. Connor Bunnaman - Kitchener Rangers
What a great draft +1 season for Bunnaman. Jumped from 16 goals to 37 and really established himself as one of the league's most dangerous players near the crease. With his size at 6'3, 215lbs, Bunnaman is a near immovable object in front of the net and he understands his role well. Shows very quick hands in close and he's really worked on his shot to become the quality goal scorer that he is. Next year, I think there are still some things to work on. Would love to see him become an even more dominant power forward, who is consistently physical on the forecheck and as a defensive player. Would also love to see his puck skill continue to improve to make him more of a factor off the rush and as a playmaker coming off the wall. Lastly, his skating still needs to continue to improve, especially those first few steps. But as mentioned, it was a very good year for Bunnaman. If he can replicate his goal scoring success and inch close to the 40 goal mark, but improve his assist totals and become a more well rounded offensive player, that would really elevate his status as a prospect further.
5. Anthony Salinitri - Sarnia Sting
Another player who had a great draft +1 year. Salinitri almost doubled his production from the year prior and looked good doing it. He figured out a way to harness his speed as an asset at both ends and really emerged as a solid player away from the puck. One of the league's better penalty killers and he really attacks loose pucks with urgency. Thought he looked noticeably stronger on the puck too, working the cycle game well. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how much more he can improve his offensive production. Can the hands continue to catch up to the pace that he plays at? Also really want to see him improve his faceoff percentage next year, especially if he wants to stick down the middle as an undersized center. Ultimately, I think his game profiles better on the wing for the next level anyway. With Drake Rymsha and Adam Ruzicka down the middle already, I actually think Sarnia would be smart to move Salinitri to wing too (where he saw some time on the powerplay). We shall see I guess. Would love to see him hit the 30 goal and ppg marks next year.
6. Maksim Sushko - Owen Sound Attack
Solid mid round selection by the Flyers here. Sushko flashed some interesting skills this year in a rather limited role. Quite frankly, of all the guys drafted from the OHL this year, Sushko is one of the few that I just don't have a great read on yet. Solid speed. Flashes one on one skill. Looked good attacking on the penalty kill and plays with a chip on his shoulder at times. But what's the upside? How good is his shot and how good are his scoring instincts? These are questions that could very well be answered next year. The Attack are losing their two best players on the right side in Petrus Palmu and Matt Schmalz, which should mean a top 6 role for Sushko, including maybe some powerplay time. The Attack will be one of the best teams in the Western Conference, so if he sticks in the top 6, I could see Sushko coming close to a 30/30 season, so long as he proves himself capable.