Vancouver is the second Canadian team analyzed here.
1. Michael Dipietro - Ottawa 67's
Kind of a tale of two seasons for Dipietro. In Windsor, he was having a fantastic year, perhaps his best yet in the OHL behind a pretty young defense. Then he went to the World Juniors and performed well, even if Canada had a disappointing result. But all of that changed after Vancouver had to recall him on an emergency basis and he had a truly nightmare appearance. Upon being sent back to the OHL, Dipietro's confidence was clearly shot and his play with Ottawa really never got up to the standard that we were used to. He seemed to be second guessing himself a lot, or guessing instead of reacting to plays with his athleticism. As such, he found himself out of position and really fighting the puck. Then just as he started to get his game going again in the playoffs, he suffered that season ending ankle injury. I'm very intrigued to see how Dipietro does at the pro level next year. I could see there being some initial struggles. Like any "smaller" goalie who relies on his athleticism a lot, Dipietro will need to figure out how to best position himself to make saves. By that I mean, working on staying square to shooters longer, trying to find a balance between challenging shooters and not overcommitting, and making himself bigger when down in the butterfly deeper in his crease. The Canucks have four goalies signed for the AHL/ECHL level so where Dipietro starts remains a mystery. Could see him starting in the ECHL to build his confidence, especially after last year. But this is one of the most driven and hard working kids to ever come through the OHL. Even if it doesn't come to him right away, have faith that he will figure things out. I still believe that he will be an NHL netminder down the road.
2. Ethan Keppen - Flint Firebirds
A very astute selection by the Canucks this year, getting Keppen in the 4th round. This is a kid who I feel should have gone earlier. His 5 on 5 production was among the best for draft eligible players this year in the OHL. And his effort was consistent all year long for a team that struggled to hit the win column with regularity. Keppen's more than just a north/south power winger. Yes, he drives the net well, has a powerful shot, and brings physical intensity to the ice. But he also possesses good vision and hockey sense in all three zones. This is a very well rounded kid. As he gains confidence in his ability to handle the puck, and as he gets a little quicker, he could truly be a force out there. In Flint next year, he'll likely get top line ice time and responsibility in every situation. As the Firebirds look to remove themselves from the basement, I think a 35/35 draft +1 year is very possible and realistic.
3. Mitch Eliot - Sarnia Sting
The Canucks signed Eliot after a strong OA season with the Sarnia Sting. This signing is very similar to their Jalen Chatfield signing a few years prior. They are similar types of players with a similar projection as a pro player. Eliot is a smooth skater who plays both ends well. He also brings some jam to his game, willing to take the body. He will catch forwards with their head down as they cross the blueline and he is aggressive in denying zone entry. Eliot also possesses a big point shot and he is aggressive in jumping up in the play to find holes to create scoring chances for himself. As he starts his pro career next year, I would expect he could find himself in the ECHL to start. The Canucks have 13 defenders under pro contract, and I suspect that means Eliot could find himself playing a prominent role in the ECHL, or as a 7th defender/scratch in the AHL to start. He is a longer term project, but does have some nice skills that could make him a third pairing defender in the NHL eventually.
*Arthurs Silovs - Barrie Colts
Silovs was an import selection by Barrie this year. In the OHL next year, he will likely split time in a platoon with Jet Greaves until one, or the other, establishes themselves as the better and more reliable goaltender. This is a good situation for Silovs' development as the Colts should be a relatively decent team next season after a short rebuild. I wouldn't expect Ukke-Pekka Luukkonen type numbers, but a save percentage north of .910 is certainly possible and a good target for a goalie spending his first season in North America.