Friday, August 16, 2019

Top 25 OHL Prospects - Summer of 2019

As has become regular practice now, following the conclusion of my NHL team write ups ('31 Teams in 31 Days'), I give you a list of the top prospects who played in the OHL during the previous season. In this case, it was the 2018/19 season. The list is capped at 25, with some honorable mentions. I'm also going to keep the write ups slightly short. If you want to read more about these guys, simply click on their NHL team in brackets and you'll be taken to the team's '31 in 31" from this summer and you'll get a detailed write up on their skill set and progression.

1. Evan Bouchard - Defense - London Knights (Edmonton Oilers)
You could make a case for any of the guys in my top 5 to be the top prospect from the OHL currently. And on a different day, I might give you a different answer. In fact, I think I changed the order of the top 5 multiple times before settling on this. So here's why I have Bouchard first: I think his vision, poise, and overall play with the puck should translate well to the NHL level. While he'll never be a truly dynamic defender like an Erik Karlsson, nor will he be the league's best in his own end, I do think that he'll grow in those areas over his career and become a very solid top 4 defender and number one powerplay QB for the Oilers.
NHL Comparison: Larry Murphy


2. Adam Boqvist - Defense - London Knights (Chicago Blackhawks)
Kind of the antithesis of Bouchard from an offensive perspective, even though the two were teammates this year. Boqvist is electric with the puck on his stick and aggressive as hell as an offensive defender. He plays a high risk game, but it works at this level. Defensively, he has a ways to go, but this is a guy made to be an impact player in today's faster paced NHL game.
NHL Comparison: Sergei Gonchar


3. Barrett Hayton - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Arizona Coyotes)
Hayton is a very safe prospect IMO because of how well rounded his game is and how competitive he is in the offensive end. His finishing skills in tight are top notch and he processes the game well in any situation. His game is pro ready and it seems quite unlikely that we see him back in the OHL for his 19 year old season.
NHL Comparison: Bryan Little


4. Morgan Frost - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Philadelphia Flyers)
A cerebral playmaker, Frost and Suzuki are almost 4A and 4B here. But I've given the slight nod to Frost because I think that he's elevated the power in his stride to be a little quicker than Suzuki is. He can really keep the puck on a string and his offensive upside is quite high. As he gets stronger at the pro level, I think he eventually becomes a pretty solid two-way player too. It just may take time.
NHL Comparison: Logan Couture


5. Nick Suzuki - Forward - Guelph Storm (Montreal Canadiens)
Like Frost, Suzuki is a top notch playmaker. He is a creative puckhandler whose strength on the puck and ability to operate through traffic really improved this year. After winning an OHL championship and taking his game to another level in the playoffs, he's ready for the next challenge. I do think that there could be a learning curve for him as he adjusts to the pace of the pro game. And I do have questions as to whether he stays down the middle. But he's a terrific young offensive player.
NHL Comparison: Joe Pavelski


6. Ty Dellandrea - Forward - Flint Firebirds (Dallas Stars)
I seem to be higher on Dellandrea than my contemporaries, but I have the utmost faith that he will be a long time impact NHL player. He may not have the potential of some others on this list, but he is the type that you win Stanley Cup's with, anchoring your second line. He will prove this year that he is more skilled than people give him credit for. As much as there is hype surrounding him sticking in Dallas this season, I really think another year in the OHL would be best for him and his development as an offensive player.
NHL Comparison: Daymond Langkow


7. Jason Robertson - Forward - Niagara IceDogs (Dallas Stars)
Best player in the OHL between and below the dots. Has the ability to dominate time of possession because of how well he protects the puck. But it's the improvement to his skating that has him this high and helped him win a scoring title last season. I no longer have concerns that this will hold his game back. Just a matter of how well his puck skill and creativity translate to the NHL level. Might end up more as a quality second line supporting winger.
NHL Comparison: Andrew Brunette


8. Bode Wilde - Defense - Saginaw Spirit (New York Islanders)
Wilde is someone that you just can't take your eyes off of when he has the puck. He has such power in his stride and seems to gain entry to the offensive zone at will. He may have averaged an end to end rush per game from my viewings of Saginaw this year. He is just an electric player. Like Boqvist, he plays a high risk game and he will need to clean some things up with his decision making and defensive play. But he is such a pure athlete with a very high ceiling.
NHL Comparison: Brent Burns


9. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen - Goaltender - Sudbury Wolves (Buffalo Sabres)
Hip surgery be damned, what UPL did in the OHL this year was remarkable; one of the best goaltending performances that I have seen in the league. First European goaltender to win the Top goaltender award and first European at any position to take home the Red Tilson. He is so composed in the crease. With his size, he is just a wall in the net with how well he tracks the play. Goalies are tough to project, but I'd be shocked if he doesn't become a starting netminder in the NHL.
NHL Comparison: Frederik Andersen


10. Owen Tippett - Forward - Saginaw Spirit (Florida Panthers)
Tippett's two-way game has improved a lot over his OHL career, and that was the one area that the Florida Panthers really asked him to focus on when they sent him back rather early this past season. His bread and butter will always be his shot and ability to score goals and his North/South attacking style should translate well. Not sure if he sees the ice well enough or has the puck poise to be a driving force at the NHL level though. More likely a supporting winger who can play shotgun with a good playmaking center.
NHL Comparison: Scott Young


11. Dmitri Samorukov - Defense - Guelph Storm (Edmonton Oilers)
Few prospects on the planet have seen their star rise the way that Samorukov has this past season. What he did in the second half of the season and in the OHL playoffs was just, flat out, a treat to watch. He dominated at both ends of the ice with his mobility, skill, and tenaciousness. Is this the real Samorukov or was it just a hot streak? Remains to be seen. He'll have to prove himself at the pro level, but I am a believer in what I saw. He's always possessed that kind of potential, and the light bulb finally went off.
NHL Comparison: Niklas Kronwall


12. Arthur Kaliyev - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs (Los Angeles Kings)
Yes, he fell to the second round, but in these summer rankings, I tend to stick with my own personal rankings for the previous draft. I had Kaliyev ranked first among 2019 eligibles from the OHL so he remains there. There are concerns over the pace at which he plays and his engagement level without the puck. But you can't argue with his production. And who's to say that he won't improve some of his weaker areas? He certainly looked pretty good at the world junior summer showcase.
NHL Comparison: Thomas Vanek


13. Philip Tomasino - Forward - Niagara IceDogs (Nashville Predators)
Love the pace at which Tomasino plays. He is constantly buzzing; constantly looking to attack the offensive zone. His skating will play at the next level. His decision making with the puck will need to improve and he needs to get stronger on the puck too. But he was a standout for Niagara this year in his draft year, producing without consistent ice time or special teams play. He's only going to get better.
NHL Comparison: Andy McDonald


14. Thomas Harley - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads (Dallas Stars)
Modern day NHL defender who possesses elite mobility and size. Harley is a little bit like Bode Wilde in that regard. He can be electric in transition and very difficult to stop from gaining the offensive zone. He's a project though who will require some patience as he matures mentally and physically. High upside here though.
NHL Comparison: Thomas Chabot


15. Ryan Suzuki - Forward - Barrie Colts (Carolina Hurricanes)
Suzuki is an absolutely elite playmaker. His vision with the puck in the offensive zone is probably the best of any player on this list except Evan Bouchard. But he struggled at times this year, both with being the focal point of Barrie's attack, and with playing through checks. As he learns to navigate and attack between the dots more, he'll breakout just as Morgan Frost and his brother Nick did, once upon a time ago.
NHL Comparison: David Krejci


16. Ryan Merkley - Defense - Peterborough Petes (San Jose Sharks)
On talent alone, he probably deserves to be higher. Few defenders in the OHL can create offense the way that he does. But everyone knows that already. He's a high risk, high reward defender in the same vein as Boqvist and Wilde. But the same issues keep creeping up with his on and off the ice distractions; the same issues that saw him dealt to Peterborough by a team that just won an OHL championship. He's a competitive kid, but as of right now, these things aren't improving. Until they do, he'll be ranked lower on lists like this.
NHL Comparison: Steve Duchesne


17. Isaac Ratcliffe - Forward - Guelph Storm (Philadelphia Flyers)
Hulking goal scorer who had a terrific year winning an OHL championship with Guelph. Was excellent in the playoffs and the Memorial Cup too. His shot and release are lethal, especially when you consider his reach and strength. He'll need to make quicker decisions with the puck at the pro level, and continue to improve his agility, but he could be a perfect linemate for Morgan Frost in the future.
NHL Comparison: Fredrik Modin


18. Jack Studnicka - Forward - Niagara IceDogs (Boston Bruins)
A "jack" (pun intended) of all trades forward whose versatility will likely see him rise to the NHL level quicker than some others on this list. Can be on the ice in any situation, and similar to Jason Robertson, has really improved his skating over his OHL career. Projection not quite as high as some others, but could still be a very solid and longtime middle six center. This is the type of player who helps you win Championships.
NHL Comparison: Matt Cullen


19. Serron Noel - Forward - Oshawa Generals (Florida Panthers)
What a remarkable athlete Noel is. The power he generates in his stride is a thing of beauty to watch, as he carves through the neutral zone and puts defenders on his back on the way to the net. His hands are still catching up and his agility/balance still needs work, but he has a very high upside. Took a massive leap forward this year as a puck carrier and distributor. Look forward to seeing further growth this coming season.
NHL Comparison: Glen Murray


20. Liam Foudy - Forward - London Knights (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Speed, speed, and more speed. Foudy is one of the OHL's premier skaters. And he is starting to learn to use his speed to be a greater factor without the puck. But his shot is still a weakness as he needs to be in tight to score. His high end upside depends on the development of said shot, and his vision with the puck as he takes on a larger role with London this upcoming season.
NHL Comparison: Andrew Cogliano


21. Michael Dipietro - Goaltender - Ottawa 67's (Vancouver Canucks)
Was tough to see Dipietro's season end the way that it did. From the disastrous emergency recall to Vancouver, to the injury in the playoffs. His second half was one to forget. But let's NOT forget all the great things that he had done previously to this. And let's not forget that Dipietro is a top shelf individual who has the work ethic and attitude to improve. There may be some growing pains as he will need to adjust his style to excel at the pro level. In a way, similar to Alex Nedeljkovic in Carolina. But I do still feel that he will be an NHL netminder down the road. When he's dialed in, he can be absolutely unbeatable with the way he tracks the play and with his athleticism.
NHL Comparison: Jonathan Quick


22. Sasha Chmelevski - Forward - Ottawa 67's (San Jose Sharks)
Chmelevski had an excellent second half to the year in Ottawa and was, without a doubt, one of the top forwards in the league post trade deadline (including the playoffs). He's developed into such a competitive player over his OHL career and that competitiveness will help him move quickly through San Jose's system. Let's not forget that Chmelevski also has a great shot and release. Should become a solid middle six forward.
NHL Comparison: Alex Steen


23. Akil Thomas - Forward - Niagara IceDogs (Los Angeles Kings)
Quick strike offensive player who has excellent vision in the offensive end and should be one of the OHL's leading scorers next year (as he was this year). Has the skating ability and offensive talent to be a top 6 player at the NHL level. But still needs to get stronger and be a more willing and successful combatant in tighter checking games.
NHL Comparison: Mikael Granlund


24. Alex Formenton - Forward - London Knights (Ottawa Senators)
Like Liam Foudy, Formenton's game is built around his skating ability. He can flat out fly. Formenton is also very aggressive physically and will assert himself in all three zones to make a play on the puck. At this point, I'm just not convinced that his vision with the puck, nor his hands are good enough to be a top 6 player at the next level. But, he will still provide a lot of value to the Senators and could be an elite third liner.
NHL Comparison: Martin Gelinas


25. Sean Durzi - Defense - Guelph Storm (Los Angeles Kings)
Kind of a tough year for Durzi as he dealt with shoulder issues. I felt like his game wasn't quite right until the playoffs and Memorial Cup when we truly saw him at his best. But he's a great offensive defender because of his mobility and vision. You just don't see him turn the puck over. There are definitely questions as to whether he'll be able to defend at the NHL level, but his offensive upside is enough for me to have him as the last player on this list.
NHL Comparison: Nick Leddy


Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order):

Kevin Bahl - Defense - Ottawa 67s (Arizona Coyotes)
Behemoth defender who had a very good year for a first place Ottawa team. As good as you'll find in the OHL in his own end, but his puck skill and confidence offensively are growing.
NHL Comparison: Braydon Coburn


Riley Damiani - Forward - Kitchener Rangers (Dallas Stars)
Competitive, high energy offensive forward who was one of the OHL's most improved players this past season. Needs to continue to get quicker and stronger, but this is a prospect on the upswing.
NHL Comparison: Valtteri Filppula


Mackenzie Entwistle - Forward - Guelph Storm (Chicago Blackhawks)
A Swiss army knife who can do pretty much anything to help his team win. And win they have, with back to back OHL Championships. Upside at the pro level is similar to Formenton's, but I do think Alex is a better goal scorer which sees him in the Top 25 over Entwistle.
NHL Comparison: Austin Watson


Tye Felhaber - Forward - Ottawa 67's (Dallas Stars)
Not too often I include OA breakout stars in these lists (even as HM's), but Felhaber deserves to be mentioned. He possesses the speed and skill to be an NHL player and this year made the necessary adjustments to improve other areas of his game.
NHL Comparison: Chris Kunitz


Mac Hollowell - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Toronto Maple Leafs)
One of the most underrated prospects on the planet because of his lack of size and the position he plays. But this kid is a gamer. He was the leading defenseman scorer in the OHL this year for a reason. And he took a regular shift in the AHL playoffs, for a reason.
NHL Comparison: Jared Spurgeon


Jan Jenik - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs (Arizona Coyotes)
Took very little time adjusting to the OHL level after coming over half way through the season. Was a player I really enjoyed watching this year. Skilled, yet plays with a big time edge. I have high expectations for him this coming season and I'd be shocked if I don't include him in next summer's Top 25.
NHL Comparison: Travis Green


Ben Jones - Forward - Niagara IceDogs (Vegas Golden Knights)
Another jack of all trades kind of forward, Jones doesn't get a ton of hype but he is a legitimate NHL prospect. Intelligent, competitive, and skilled, Jones could move quick through Vegas' system.
NHL Comparison: Lars Eller


Joey Keane - Defense - London Knights (New York Rangers)
Keane didn't have the best of seasons; as he never really fit in with London post trade deadline. But I still believe in his NHL potential because he plays an all around game and skates extremely well.
NHL Comparison: Bret Hedican


Kyle Keyser - Goaltender - Oshawa Generals (Boston Bruins)
Athletic netminder who was one of the OHL's best this past season. Few move post to post as quick as Keyser does. A longer term project for the Bruins (what goalie isn't?), but he could be a good one.
NHL Comparison: Corey Crawford


Vladislav Kolyachonok - Defense - Flint Firebirds (Florida Panthers)
I don't think we truly know what we are getting in Kolyachonok. Every time you watch him play, he shows you a different element to his game. Just a matter of how he puts all those elements together to go with his elite mobility. His first few steps are really good.
NHL Comparison: Brett Pesce


Kirill Maksimov - Forward - Niagara IceDogs (Edmonton Oilers)
Was a little disappointed by Maksimov's development this year and a knee injury kept him from contributing in the playoffs. But this power forward is a goal scorer. He just needs to be separated from some bad habits.
NHL Comparison: James Neal


Ryan McLeod - Forward - Saginaw Spirit (Edmonton Oilers)
McLeod checks a lot of boxes. He skates well. He has size. He has a good stick in all three zones. He can keep the puck on a string. But his lack of offensive production at the OHL level concerns me. He still lacks that killer instinct on the ice.
NHL Comparison: J.T. Miller


Connor McMichael - Forward - London Knights (Washington Capitals)
Not too often you see a recent first round selection off my top 25, but again, I'm going to be consistent with my recent draft rankings where I had McMichael lower. I want to see improvements made to his aggressiveness with the puck and for him to be a more consistent factor away from the puck.
NHL Comparison: Bryan Smolinski


Ivan Prosvetov - Goaltender - Saginaw Spirit (Arizona Coyotes)
One of the most entertaining players in the OHL because of his exuberance and zest for life (just youtube his cartwheel celebrations). But he's a big goalie who just happens to be extremely athletic. That combination, with the right development at the pro level, could turn him into an NHL netminder.
NHL Comparison: Ben Bishop


Jamieson Rees - Forward - Sarnia Sting (Carolina Hurricanes)
I've used the word competitive a lot to describe players on this list, but few personify it the way Rees does. Needs to be more consistent offensively and improve his decision making with the puck. He also needs to stay healthy. But I love him as a player and a prospect.
NHL Comparison: T.J. Oshie


Nick Robertson - Forward - Peterborough Petes (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Robertson recently turned some heads at the World Junior summer showcase where he was a standout for the Americans with his skill and tenacity in the offensive end. Just want to see that more consistently with Peterborough before he's added to the list. I'm a fan though.
NHL Comparison: Slava Kozlov


Nate Schnarr - Forward - Guelph Storm (Arizona Coyotes)
One of the OHL's most improved players this year, Schnarr has a projectable frame and skill set for the NHL level. Rangy, playmaking center who excels below the hash marks. Just a matter of how much upside he possesses as he can not be classified as a "flashy" player.
NHL Comparison: Nick Bjugstad



Anonymous said...

It’s official: Brock sells out.

5 years ago I could read a bold, original, insightful list.

Now it’s the same trite, vapid fodder you can get from Craig Butthead, Bob McBoring, etc.

Same thing happened to Consentino; all aboard the compartmentalized banal analysis for the masses.

Go back to taking risks, Brock.

It might have contained more misses but at least it was original and led with gleams.

The safe approach with the same misses as the establishment doesn’t make you unique and worth reading anymore.


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