Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Top 10 - Unheralded Rookies Who Could Make an Impact in 2009-10

I had no idea what to call the list this week. After mentioning Dalton Smith last week, it got me thinking about other players in a similar situation who could make an impact. Those players being, 1992 and 1991 born players who didn't play or played very sparingly in the OHL last year. So I did a lot of researching to drum up 10 guys who could fit that description.

Of course, any list like that could include guys like Cam Fowler, Jeremy Morin or Brandon Maxwell. But I decided against including them. Instead I went with more unheralded guys. Every year, lesser knowns like Calvin de Haan (3rd rounder in 2007) and Matt Clark (11th rounder in 2006) make OHL teams with little hype, only to emerge as impact players.

However, since I had to do a lot of research for this week's list, it will not appear as the usual top 10 list. The players will not be ranked according to their potential impact, because I simply have not seen most of these guys play. Instead, it will be a list of 10 guys who could make such impacts. No order, just 10 guys whom you may not know right now, but could know by this time next year.

Here are 10 potential 1992 and 1991 born rookies to look out for next season:

David Searle - Guelph Storm
Searle is a gigantic defenceman who played for the GOHL's Guelph Dominators (Junior B) last season. Listed at 6'5, 225lbs, Searle was the 32nd overall pick by Guelph in the 2008 Priority draft. While probably not a threat to be a big contributor offensively, judging by his 9 points in 50 games last year, Searle could supply Guelph's defense with a towering and imposing stay at home presence. Considering the uncertainty around Guelph's goaltending situation next season, the addition of a more mature Searle could help keep pucks out.

Shayne Rover - Niagara IceDogs
Rover is another big defenceman and a fellow 2nd round pick in 2008. Rover did see some limited time with Niagara last year when they were experiencing injury trouble on the backend. At 6'3, 200lbs, Rover played well in a limited role, showcasing a solid skating ability and defensive presence. He played the majority of the season with the York Simcoe Express Midget AAA team, where he was a AAA all star. If Rover can play well early in the season, he could easily slip into the IceDogs top 4 defenceman and have a Matt Clark type impact for Niagara.

Aaron Pearce - Peterborough Petes
Pearce, a talented offensive forward, was the last pick of the 2nd round in 2008. The 5'11 forward was an OPJHL junior all star last season, where he posted 47 points in 49 games for Georgetown. The problem is that Pearce isn't yet committed to coming to the OHL. Still undecided on his future, Pearce has been talking to NCAA schools as well. The fact that Pearce has yet to sign a letter of intent anywhere, and that he's still in active talks with Peterborough, bodes well for their chances to convince him to play. If he does play, Pearce could be an immediate impact forward in their top 6.

Steven Beyers - Sudbury Wolves
Beyers, the first pick of the third round in 2008, is an undersized center who played with Orangeville of the OPJHL. Beyers was also an OPJHL junior all star, after posting 31 points in 34 games in 2008-09. Although slightly undersized at 5'10, Beyers could make an impact in Sudbury by giving them more scoring depth and rounding out their top 3 forward lines.

Chris Brown - Owen Sound Attack
Brown was the team's 3rd round pick in 2008 out of the York Simcoe Express. Brown is a 6'1 winger with speed, offensive ability and grit. While he only played Junior C this past year with Alliston, Brown did finish in the top 10 of league scoring with 52 points in 37 games. With Owen Sound hoping to make a climb in the West, Brown could be a welcome addition to the teams forward lines, where he could be an offensive catalyst for the second or third line.

Matt Solomon - Erie Otters
This talented offensive defenceman was a 12th round pick of Erie in 2008. He was a OPJHL junior all star this year while playing for Upper Canada. The 6'0 Solomon nearly led his team in scoring as a defenceman with 8 goals and 23 points in 40 games. He is a slick skating, puck mover who could fit very well into an Erie line up which badly needs more offense from its backend.

Phil Lane - Brampton Battalion
Lane is a real wildcard. He could have been a first rounder in 2008 had it not been for the scares that he'd go NCAA. The New York native ended up going in the 4th round to Brampton. However, he spurned the NTDP to play in Buffalo of the OPJHL last year, where his 42 points in 45 games led him to become an OPJHL junior all star. Lane is a 6'2 forward with speed, skill and grit. The total package. At the recent US Select 17 Camp, he outperformed Windsor's Austin Watson, whom is obviously a very talented player. The question remains as to whether he's going to play in Brampton or play with Omaha in the USHL to keep his NCAA options open. If he does decide to play in Brampton, he could be an immediate impact player.

Dalton McGrath - Barrie Colts
McGrath is a goaltender who was Barrie's 6th round pick in 2008. He was an OPJHL junior all star this year while playing for the dominate Couchiching Terriers. In fact, Mcgrath lost only one game all year (in the playoffs) and was a perfect 16-0 in the regular season. His numbers are quite sparkling, with a 1.65 GAA and .937 SV%. His performance earned him a share of the Rookie of the Year in his Division. With Barrie trading Michael Hutchinson to London, Barrie has opened up a spot for Mcgrath to likely back up Peter Di Salvo. However I wouldn't be surprised to see them split games, similar to how Hutchinson and Di Salvo did last year.

Branden Morris - Kitchener Rangers
Morris, a 6'3 defenceman, was a 4th round pick of Kitchener in 2008. He was a OPJHL junior all star this year playing for Cobourg. Morris is a tall and lanky two way defender who put up 13 points in 50 games. He's also not afraid to use his size and is an aggressive defender. He could be a welcomed addition to the improving Kitchener Rangers blueline, if he can fight through the log jam.

Domenic Alberga - Brampton Battalion
Alberga was actually a 5th round pick of Brampton in 2009, as a draft overager (1992 born). This 6'1 forward led Villanova of the OPJHL in scoring with 40 points in 49 games. He also posted 104 penalty minutes which leads you to believe he's got some feistyness in him. After a very strong season, Alberga actually shared his Division Rookie of the Year award with the aforementioned Dalton McGrath. The door is open for Alberga to have big impact in the OHL this year, with Brampton likely losing Cody Hodgson, Evgeni Grachev, and Matt Duchene to the NHL (or AHL in Grachev's case).

Two Honorable Mentions Worth Noting:

Nick Quinn - Sudbury Wolves
The first pick of the 2nd round in 2008, Quinn has thus far rejected Sudbury's wishes for him to play for them. Quinn, a 6'0 defenceman, is apparently looking for an NCAA scholarship, with Boston College being the most talked about destination. So while his OHL prospects are looking suspect at best (since he has yet to show for a Sudbury camp), I think he's still worth noting because of the impact he could have. As an OPJHL junior all star for Dixie, Quinn put up 25 points in 45 games. He is an excellent two way blueliner who could immediately make Sudbury's defence better should he change his mind.

Brock Higgs - Kingston Frontenacs
Higgs could possibly make the biggest impact of any player on this list. The 5'11 forward, and Kingston native, was a 5th round pick of the Frontenacs in 2008. A dynamic offensive player, Higgs finished second in scoring for OPJHL Champions Kingston, with 28 goals and 58 points in 49 games. Higgs was especially incredible for Kingston on their quest for the RBC Cup, where he had 22 goals in 25 playoff games. This led all OPJHL players in playoff scoring. Higgs would be an immediate impact player in the OHL and would be a big boost to an improving Kingston team. However, for whatever reason, the Kingston native does not appear to want to play for his hometown OHL team. He's verbally committed to Canisius for 2010, which could obviously change the same way Ethan Werek's commitment to Boston University did.

Got any other under the radar guys who could make an impact on your team this year? Leave a comment!

Stay tuned for next week's Top 10 which will take a look at the apparent top performances for OHL players at NHL Development Camps.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday Top 10 - Big Guy Breakouts

This week's Top 10 will take a look at the top big forwards who could have breakout offensive seasons in 2009-2010. I alluded to this in last week's Top 10 (2010 rankings), by mentioning that guys like Greg Sutch and Austin Watson could have monster years. So I decided to create a hole list around it.

In order to narrow down the search, I've given the list some parameters. To be "big" a player had to be 6'2 and taller. And in order to have a potential "breakout" season, this player had to have less than 40 points last season.

Here are your top 10 forwards with size who could breakout offensively next season:

10. R.J. Mahalak - Plymouth Whalers
A late 1991 birthdate, Mahalak isn't eligible for the NHL draft until 2010. If he wants to get drafted, he's going to have to step up offensively next season. With Plymouth Captain Chris Terry moving on, a wing spot will open up on the team's first line with Tyler Seguin. Does Mahalak have what it takes to seize that spot? Not to mention that with Terry and Caria gone, the Whalers are going to have to become more than a one line team. Mahalak has some good hands and he's shown a willingness to do everything the team needs of him so far in his OHL career. Now the team needs him to start becoming a force in front of the net, can he step up to the challenge?

9. Jason Wilson - London Knights
Wilson played his first OHL season last year as a 1990 birth date. As an "overaged" rookie, he potted 12 goals and saw limited time on offensive lines. With London's offensive lines a bit up in the air right now, Wilson could play himself on to an offensive role. He has one thing going for him, his size. Wilson is one of the few Knights forwards with good size and a physical nature to his game. With London getting roughed up a bit by Windsor last year, don't be surprised if Wilson gets the call to be a big body in front of the net on a scoring line, or at least on the powerplay. He demonstrated some ability to put the puck in the net last season, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him pot 20 this year.

8. Dalton Smith - Ottawa 67's
Smith saw very limited time with Ottawa last season, playing the majority of the year closer to home. However, when he did play, he made an impact. Smith is the son of former 67 and Buffalo Sabre, Derrick Smith. Dalton impressed me most in the playoffs against Niagara, where he made things happen every time he was on the ice. While he didn't put up any points, he showcased an ability to win battles in the corners and take the puck to the net. This budding power forward is eligible for the 2010 draft and could be one of those surprise players who shoots up the draft rankings. With Ottawa's top three scorers likely moving on (Couture, Cowick, Kiriakou), the opportunity will be there for Smith to seize a top 6 scoring role.

7. Steven Shipley - Owen Sound Attack
I think it's safe to say that more will be expected of this 3rd overall pick in the 2008 Priority draft. Shipley showed glimpses of the capability to produce points, however he needs to continue to learn to use his size to his advantage offensively. With 39 points last year, Shipley sneaks under the parameters set for this list. If Shipley wants to be drafted high to the NHL in 2010, he's going to need to step up next season. Owen Sound could be fairly deep offensively next year, with some returning OA's, so Shipley is going to have to earn his minutes. I'm thinking he does.

6. Garrett Wilson - Owen Sound Attack
Back to back Attack. Wilson is a big Owen Sound forward who does use his size to his advantage. He loves being that presence in front of the net. In 2008-09, he had a bit of a weird season. He got off to a blazing start, but was then suspended for a suspect slewfoot on the Rangers Dan Kelly. The suspension definitely took him out of his groove, as he was never able to regain that consistency the rest of the season. This 4th round pick by Florida in 2009 should be able to secure a spot playing with Joey Hishon next year and he could benefit huge being Hishon's "garbage man."

5. Kyle Clifford - Barrie Colts
After getting drafted 35th overall (to LAK), I think it's safe to say the pressure is on for Clifford to step it up offensively. While I do question his overall offensive potential, he does have the size and skating ability to be a force in this league. Many NHL teams feel he has the hands too. Next year he's going to have to prove it. Barrie is assembling quite the offensive team next season, and Clifford is going to be expected to be right in the middle of it. Last season, Stefan Della Rovere took that step forward from grinder to scorer for Barrie. But can Clifford?

4. Marcus Foligno - Sudbury Wolves
I will repeat what I said a few weeks ago about Foligno in relation to the NHL draft. "I think what needs to be remembered is that Marcus is one of the youngest players eligible for the draft. Nick, when he put up 70 points and went in the first round, was almost a full year older than Marcus was in his 2nd OHL season. At the same age, Nick actually put up pretty similar OHL stats." So if Nick Foligno took that step forward offensively when he was 18, I think we can expect Marcus to as well. Sudbury is going to be expecting him to be more involved on a consistent basis and even though he's playing for his father, he's going to have to earn his ice time. Judging by what Sabres fans are saying about his performance in their Development Camp, I'd say there is a pretty good chance he takes some big steps forward next season.

3. Gregg Sutch - Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
This former 11th overall pick played in a checking line role for Sarnia last season, where he showcased his excellent skating, as well as his ability to crash and bang. However, he requested a trade this offseason and was recently shipped to Mississauga. The Majors will be losing 4 of their top forwards going into next season (Pelech, Gomes, Daugavins, Messier) and will be expecting Sutch to carry the torch. Judging by how much they gave up to get him, I think it's safe to say they have high expectations. What a lot of people don't know about Sutch is that he's hearing impaired and wears a hearing aid in both ears (here is an excellent article on it). I think this speaks wonders about Sutch's hockey sense, since he relies so heavily on reading and reacting to the plays. I expect Sutch to have a very good year in Mississauga where could establish himself as a potential first round selection for 2010. That is, if the NHL can look past his empairment.

2. James Livingston - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
A lot of people, including myself, expected last year to be Livingston's coming out party. He has everything going for him; size, speed, skill, and physical aggression. Yet, he actually regressed offensively, suffocated by a terrible Greyhounds team. This NHL 3rd rounder (STL in 2008), will need to be a leader in the Soo's surge to get back to the playoffs. The Greyhounds should be a better team next year. They've picked up veteran talent in T.J. Battani and Vern Cooper, drafted Daniel Catenacci first overall, and selected Robin Lehner in the import draft. Now they need there returning players to step up to the plate and Livingston is their clean up hitter.

1. Austin Watson - Windsor Spitfires
With only a few forwards not returning for the defending Memorial Cup champions, the battle for ice time will be just as fierce as it was this season. In 2008-09, this Michigan rookie played well in a limited role for Windsor, giving us only a glimpse of his offensive potential. He skates exceptionally well for a big man and is not afraid to use his size to help him get the puck to the net. I'm hoping that he gets an increased role in Windsor next season and that he really explodes offensively. If he does, he could very well end up a high draft pick in 2010.
Anybody on your team you expect to take that step forward? Anybody you think I missed?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Undrafted Prospects Get Their Chance at NHL Development Camps

Over the course of the next two weeks, NHL teams will be holding their annual Development Camps. These camps are generally for their drafted and contracted prospects and they include fitness testing, drills and scrimmages. It is essentially a venue for the prospects to show an NHL team that they made a wise choice in drafting them, or that they've improved from previous years.

However, these camps also serve as a venue for undrafted and non-contracted players. Many NHL teams (although not all) invite these players to their development camp to get a look at them. These players could be players that they liked, but didn't end up drafting, or they could be local kids they feel like giving shot.

Last year, several OHL players earned contracts following development camps. These guys ranged from Overagers on their last shot (Mike Swift, Justin Soryal), to recently passed over draft prospects (Brian Lashoff, Mark Cundari).

This year, several OHL players have earned such invites to NHL Development Camps, and I've attempted to gather all the information I could on these invites. Not every NHL team has released their development camp lists, and not every NHL team has invited OHL players. So consider this a somewhat incomplete list.

To New York Rangers:
Chris Chappell - Saginaw
Luke Pither - Barrie

To Columbus BlueJackets:
Darren Archibald - Barrie
Matt Caria - Plymouth
Kelly Geoffrey - Kingston

To Buffalo Sabres:
Chris DeSousa - Niagara
Adam Payerl - Barrie
Michael Fine - Sault Ste. Marie

To Toronto Maple Leafs:
Richard Greenop - Windsor
Adrian Robertson - Peterborough
Andrew Engelage - Windsor
Adam Wallace - Windsor

To Chicago Blackhawks:
Jacob Muzzin - Sault Ste. Marie

To Boston Bruins:
Rob Kwiet - Windsor

To Los Angeles Kings:
Ben Shutron - Windsor
Brett Parnham - Oshawa

To St. Louis Blues:
Andrew Agozzino - Niagara
Leigh Salters - London
Jack Combs - Saginaw
Tony DeHart - Oshawa

To Atlanta Thrashers:
Jay Gilbert - Niagara

Carolina Hurricanes:
Beau Schmitz - Plymouth

  • Chris Chappell, Rob Kwiet, and Richard Greenop have recently signed NHL contracts with the teams of the development camp they attended. Big congratulations to those guys. Chappell, of course, was my top ranked available overager. I think he's your classic late blooming forward with size. I have larger doubts about Kwiet and Greenop's NHL potential, but obviously they did enough to impress.
  • Luke Pither was apparently very impressive at the Rangers camp. As an 89 birthdate, I'm sure he'd rather get a contract now than get one after playing his overage season. Here is a great article from HockeysFuture's Leslie Treff, that includes snippets about Pither's (and Chappell's) performance.
  • Chris DeSousa, a guy I largely expected to get drafted, is apparently playing very well at the Sabres camp. He's showcasing his strong scoring ability and his tenacious energetic playing style.
Obviously, I'll try to continue to update you on development camp invites and any players who earn themselves a contract.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Top 10 - An Early Look at 2010

With the 2009 NHL Entry Draft behind us, I'd like to take a closer look at the OHL prospects eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Obviously, with another full year of OHL hockey ahead of us, and three major tournaments (Ivan Hlinka, Under 20 WJC's, Under 18 WJC's), a top 10 list could be conceived as premature. That being said, I think a lot of 1992 born (and late 1991) players had excellent seasons and it gives us at least an early indication of who we can expect to see at the top of a list like this a year from now.

In making a list like this, it's obvious how talented this crop of players is. I had a lot of trouble narrowing it down to a Top 10. The top end talent is there, as is the depth. It may seem early to say, but I think this may be the best and deepest OHL talent crop since 2003.

Another astute observation sees a lot of average or undersized forwards in this top 10. Part of me sees this as asinine because of the emphasis put on size in 2009. When a talented guy like Alex Hutchings can fall to the 4th, and a big "project" like Jamie Devane can go in the 3rd, you know that NHL scouts see size as important in today's NHL. However, I just couldn't ignore the talent level of these players, and subsequently I left out a lot of bigger forwards (Austin Watson, Andrew Yogan, Greg Sutch, etc). Is this likely to change next year? Who knows.

Here is my very early look at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft Top 10 (from the OHL of course).

10. Jared Knight - London Knights
Knight has the makings of a dominant power winger. He doesn't have the ideal size of a power forward at pushing 6'0, but he brings all the other intangibles. He's aggressive on the forecheck, he works the corners, he takes the body, he drops the gloves. On top of that, he's actually got a lot of skill. I think he has the potential to put up high offensive numbers in this league. And I think that could happen as early as next year when he's surely a lock to move into London's top 6.

9. J.P. Anderson - Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
I look at the emphasis put on goaltender size in this years entry draft, and it makes me wonder where a guy like Anderson will fit in next year. At 5'10, he's definitely an undersized goalie. However, he impressed me a ton this year. In the playoffs for Mississauga, he was unbelievable. And at the Under 17's, he was great in backstopping Team Ontario. Clearly, Anderson is a big game goalie. Getting off to a quick start next year is going to be crucial for him. He's still going to be in a platoon battle with Chris Carrozzi and he'll need to play a high level of hockey to emerge as the true number one. But when a 92 born goalie performs as well as he did in the playoffs, people take notice.

8. Tyler Toffoli - Ottawa 67's
Toffoli is another one of those averaged sized forwards. Listed at pushing 6 feet, Toffoli is an offensively talented winger who caught my eye with his determination this year. He's a slick offensive player, but he's not afraid of the danger areas. He isn't afraid of the front of the net or the slot and he takes the punishment associated with occupying that space. However, he's also a very elusive player. He's one of those forwards who finds open space well, despite not being a speedster. Ottawa's coaching staff seemed to have a lot of confidence in him this season and in particular the playoffs. When Ottawa played Niagara in the first round, Toffoli was often used as an offensive catalyst. He would be placed on a line that wasn't performing well offensively, in order to give it a boost. I think he's a guy we see a lot of progression in next year, as he gets more confident in having the puck on his stick, and as he gets stronger.

7. Tyler Seguin - Plymouth Whalers
Seguin is one of those guys that is flying under a lot of people's radar right now. He doesn't get mentioned with the best of this draft class, perhaps because he isn't as flashy or because he's isnt the biggest. However, Seguin is very talented. A lot of people look at the season he had (67 points) and comment on how he was part of one of the best lines in the OHL with Chris Terry and Matt Caria. I think most people also assume that Terry and Caria did the majority of the heavy lifting and his stats may be inflated because of that. That assumption won't be proven wrong or right until next season. But keep in mind that Seguin was fantastic for Team Ontario at the Under 17's, finishing 2nd in tournament scoring. Seguin is an exceptionally talented playmaker and next season I think he proves to a lot of people that Terry and Caria's success may have in fact been a by product of Seguin's performance.

6. Jeff Skinner - Kitchener Rangers
Skinner is definitely not the biggest guy out there, but he's one of the most exciting to watch. He topped a past top 10, where I ranked the most impressive 92's this season. Every time I saw him play, he caught my eye for the better. He gives 100% all the time and uses his speed to be a pest to the opposition. I don't think he size holds him back because of the elusive quality he possesses, in combination with what appears to be really solid strength. He reminds me of Bryan Little in the way that he uses his lower body to protect the puck, despite not being the biggest. Skinner is also incredibly skilled and has the ability to make that electrifying one on one move. With the talent coming in to Kitchener this season, Skinner should be at the forefront of their explosion. Judging by how well he ended the season, Skinner could very well finish the season as the 2nd highest scoring forward among his draft class behind Taylor Hall.

5. Joey Hishon - Owen Sound Attack
Hishon is another little guy with little fear. He is exceptionally talented offensively, as many people saw at the most recent Under 18's. Hishon finished with 5 goals and 5 assists in 6 games, which led Canada in scoring. Much like Skinner and Toffoli, Hishon's size holds him back very little. He hits open scoring lanes, he crashes the net, and has no fear in working the corners. Being a late birthdate 91, and undersized, Hishon is going to need to have an explosive offensive season in Owen Sound in order to maintain a solid draft position.

4. John McFarland - Sudbury Wolves
Admittedly, McFarland would not have been at number 4 on this list before the Under 18's. In my viewings of him in Sudbury this year, he did not impress. The skill level was evident, however the determination, strength, team play, and two way play were absent. Anyone else I've talked to felt the same way. Perhaps that is a reflection of Sudbury's disappointing season in general. However at the Under 18's, McFarland was outstanding. He finished 1 point behind Hishon for the team lead and I felt that at times, he was Canada's best player, at a tournament largely designed for 1991 born players. His offensive skill level is incredibly high. He needs to play really well in Sudbury next year and show that he can lead a team. If he can do that, he could very well be a top 10 pick.

3. Erik Gudbranson - Kingston Frontenacs
This big and talented rearguard had an incredibly impressive season for a 1992 born player. He was solid for a disappointing Kingston team, one that probably held back his offensive production. He was probably the best defenceman for Team Ontario at the Under 17's (honorable mention to Stephen Silas), who won Gold. And he was solid for Team Canada at the Under 18's, not looking out of place at all. With the way he skates at 6'3 (and growing), and his ability to play at both ends of the ice, he's going to need to take a huge step back next year in order to NOT be a top 10 selection.

2. Cam Fowler - Windsor Spitfires
I debated this one for a while. Fowler or Hall at number 1? I think it's really close. In the end, to be honest, I gave the nod to Hall because he's actually playing in the OHL and because I know what he's capable of in that league. Fowler, of course, is a talented two way defenceman from the US Development Program who has signed on to play for the Spitfires next season. He's coming off an excellent season for the program, and an even better Under 18's where he was named the tournament's best defenceman in helping Team USA to Gold. If anyone saw that tournament, they would have seen what he's capable of.

1. Taylor Hall - Windsor Spitfires
Like I said, it was close. But I gave the nod to Hall because of my familiarity with him. And heck, if I want to give the nod to Fowler for winning Under 18 Gold, I can't forget that Hall was a crucial member of Team Canada's Gold medal winning Under 18 team the year before. He didn't play this year due to Windsor's Memorial Cup run. Everyone knows how much offensive ability they are getting with Hall, however I think his performance in the playoffs and Memorial Cup really increased his stock (if that's possible). The one knock on him previously, was that he didn't show up in big games. He didn't have a strong playoffs last year, where Windsor got bounced disappointingly early. This year, he returned determined to lead Windsor to the promised land, which he did. The only thing he's got left to prove is becoming a valuable member of Team Canada at the Under 20 WJC's, where he was cut this year. It'll be quite the battle to see teammates Hall and Fowler battle it out for the likely first overall spot in 2010.

Honorable Mentions:
I don't normally include an HM list in the Sunday Top 10, however due to the nature of the list, I felt it appropriate this week.

Keep an eye on the "big" forwards I left off. Guys like Austin Watson, Greg Sutch, Andrew Yogan, Steven Shipley, and Ryan Martindale. Yogan will try to continue his solid play with Erie next year, where I hope he continues to develop his power forward game and mean streak. Sutch was recently traded to Mississauga. He played last year with Sarnia and he has a lot of talent. He skates exceptionally well for a big man and he has offensive talent despite putting up few points last year. Watson will look to play a bigger role in Windsor and establish himself as a consistent scorer. Shipley can hopefully take a step forward next season offensively, after a slightly disappointing rookie season. And Martindale just needs to stay healthy.

Also keep an eye on Ryan Spooner, the one undersized forward I left off. Admittedly, he was the last guy I cut off this list, which makes you wonder even further about a possible fascination of mine with undersized forwards. Spooner is a pure goal scorer and can hopefully establish himself as a more consistent threat this year.

Lastly, keep an eye on two defenceman. Ryan O'Connor in Barrie is an undersized defenceman cut from the same cloth as Ryan Ellis. He quietly had a very strong offensive season and is going to be quarterbacking a very solid Barrie powerplay next season. Also, Belleville's Stephen Silas. He was fantastic at the Under 17's, but didn't play a large role in Belleville. With P.K. Subban gone, Silas might be a guy who explodes next year and establishes himself as a very, very solid NHL draft pick.

That's it for our early look. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, or even your own top 10 list for 2010. Stay tuned for next week's Top 10. Not sure what the topic will be yet though.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

2009 CHL Import Draft Results, Scouting Reports, and News

Yesterday, the Canadian Hockey League held its annual Import Draft where CHL teams get the opportunity to add import talent to their teams. There is two rounds of the draft, and a team can pass on or trade their pick at any time. Just to remind you, CHL clubs are permitted to carry 2 import players on their team every year.

While the Import Draft can be a bit of a crap shoot, many of the players drafted do come over. Last year for example, of the first round selections made by OHL clubs, 17 came over, while 3 (one of which is coming over this year) did not. That's an 85% success rate for your pick coming over. Players chosen in the 2nd round tend to come over at a lower rate, with only 2 of the 6 selections coming over last year.

The rate of success achieved by your picks is a different story. Some players come over but fail to make the team (Maximillian Engelbrecht for Niagara), or are cut loose after a short time (Edgar Rybokov for Erie). While other players end up becoming star players in the league (see Evgeni Grachev and Andrei Loktionov last year).

Let's take a look at all the selections made by OHL clubs this year, as well as some notes and scouting reports I've compiled to help you gauge your expectations.

The Results

3. Plymouth Whalers - Gabriel Landeskog - Forward
Everything I've read about Landeskog points to him being a potential star in the making. Because of a late 1992 birthdate, he's not eligible for the NHL Entry Draft until 2011. At only 16, this winger managed to play a few games for Djurgarden in the Swedish Elite League this year. At the Under 18's, he was voted by coaches in the tourney as one of the top 3 players for Team Sweden. It's pretty easy to see why Plymouth traded up to try and secure this guys rights. It also appears he's pretty set on coming over next year.
Scouting Report: Here is what the guys at had to say about him (here): "An offensively skilled forward with good speed, technical skills and hockey sense. Landeskog likes to shoot the puck and finish plays himself. Scoring touch is pretty good, but he could pass the puck more often. Loves to throw his body around and play physical and is a very good penalty killer."
Stats: (Again thanks to
2008-2009 Stockholm/Vit TV-Pucken 8 9 817 8

Djurgården J18 J18 Elit 5 4 59 39

Djurgården J18 J18 Allsvenskan 3 1 23 2

Djurgården J20 SuperElit 31 7 1421 63

Djurgården Elitserien 3 0 11 2

Team Sweden U17 (all) International 6 5 05 6

Team Sweden U18 WJC-18 6 4 04 24

Team Sweden U18 (all) International 8 4 15 28

6. Kitchener Rangers - Tomas Tatar - Forward
Tatar is the NHL 2nd rounder (60th) of the Detroit Red Wings. If you recognize the name, it's probably from the most recent World Junior Hockey Championships, where Tatar was the offensive catalyst for the surprising Slovakians. He finished the tournament among the top 5 in scoring and showcased his dynamite offensive skills. It remains to be seen whether he comes over or not. He played last year in the Slovakian men's league, so who knows whether his contractual situation allows him to come over. Judging by Kitchener trading up for this pick, you have to think they've got a pretty good shot at convincing him to come over and be a part of a team on the upswing.
Scouting Report: Here are a couple quotes from Red Wings management (thanks to the guys at Red Wings Central): "He's one of those guys the puck just follows," said Jim Nill, the Red Wings' assistant GM. "He's got the offensive instincts, the head and the hands. He can make those little plays and he has a nose for the net." "He's a little bit bigger than Jiri Hudler, but this guy can skate," said Hakan Andersson, the Red Wings' director of European scouting. "If there's one knock on Hudler, it's that he doesn't have that top speed. Tatar has good top speed. He has good offensive instincts, too. He can shoot the puck, he can make a play, he can beat a defenseman 1-on-1."
Stats: (Thanks to Eliteprospects)
2008-2009 HKM Zvolen Slovakia 48 7 815 20

Slovakia U20 WJC-20 7 7 411 4

9. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Robin Lehner - Goaltender
It would appear the Hounds have found their starting goaltender for next season. And while you have to wonder what that means for Bryce O'Hagan, Lehner appears to be a very talented netminder. He was the 2nd round pick (46th) of the Ottawa Senators at the 2009 Entry Draft and started for Sweden at the most recent World Junior Championships. He has also already committed to coming over.
Scouting Report: Here is what the guys at Eliteprospects had to say about him: "A butterfly goalie with excellent size and good overall skills. Uses his big frame to his advantage and challenges the shooters, although perhaps not with the desired consistency. Rebound control is somewhat suspicious, but overall mobility quite impressive for a big guy. Moves pretty well side to side and is tough to beat down low."
Stats: (EliteProspects)
2008-2009 Frölunda J18 J18 Allsvenskan2 2.56 .933

Frölunda J20 SuperElit22 3.05 .903

Team Sweden U18 WJC-184 2.80 .916

Team Sweden U18 (all) International9 2.25 .899

12. Barrie Colts - Alexander Burmistrov - Forward
Everything I've read concerning this guy, points to the fact that he's considered one of the top Russian players available for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, and a potential first round selection. He lit it up at the most recent Under 18's, with 11 points in 7 games for the Silver medal winning Russian team. I guess the mystery remains as to whether he comes over, considering the allure of the KHL. But maybe he's thinking the CHL did great for Dmitri Kulikov's draft stock this year and he has a motivation to be a high NHL draft selection.
Scouting Report: Hockeysfuture Russian hockey writer Alessandro Seren Rosso says that "Burmistrov is a center with great reading and a damn good shot as well. He has to do a little work on his frame & defensive play." At The Hockey News, they had fellow players give scouting reports on Burmistrov following the Ivan Hlinka tournament. “Burmistrov was also someone to take note of,” Colinn Bowman of team U.S.A. said. “Not an overly big guy, but has tremendous puck skills and is a shifty center.” Added Taylor Hall: “This kid was unreal. I thought he was the best player on the ice for the Russians. He wasn’t really quick, but he had great hands and passed through sticks and skates with ease.”
Stats: (Eliteprospects)
2008-2009 Ak Bars-2 Kazan Russia3 34 25 2550 54

Ak Bars Kazan KHL 1 0 00 0

Russia U18 WJC-18 7 4 711 6

15. Owen Sound Attack - Roman Berdnikov - Forward
Berdnikov is a bit of an unknown. He's a Russian forward who's a 1992 birthdate and elgible for the 2010 NHL entry Draft. He's apparently a slick skating forward with skill, whom you'd have to imagine is coming over.
Scouting Report: Attack General Manager Dale Degray describes Berdnikov as a "highly skilled, offensive right winger."
Stats: (the only ones I could find).
2008-2009 Russia WJC 17
4 2 24 10

Russia WJ A Challenge
4 0 11 0

18. Peterborough Petes - Jiri Sekac - Forward
Another guy who seems to be a bit of a mystery. A slightly undersized forward, Sekac played for HC Kladno's Under 18 team this year, putting up impressive stats. He's also a 1992 born, making him eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Outside of that I've got nothing.
Scouting Report: -
Stats: (thanks to Elite Prospects)
2008-2009 Czech Republic
Under 17 4 Nations
3 0 33 -
2008-2009 HC Kladno U18 Czech U18 46 38 4987 48

21. Niagara IceDogs - Petteri Simila - Goaltender
Simila was Mr. Irrelevant this year the NHL Entry Draft. He was the last player chosen in the draft, by the Montreal Canadiens (211). With Jeremy Smith likely headed to play professional hockey, the Dogs are likely looking for someone to split time with youngster Mark Visentin. Simila is a giant goaltender (listed at 6'6) and he was the back-up for Karpat's (Finnish League) Under 20 team. Obviously this leads him to be a bit of a mystery as well.
Scouting Report: All I've got on Simila is that Trevor Timmins, Director of Montreal Player Development, states he's a gamble selection. He's been working with the goaltending coach of Pekka Rinne and that he believes he has a high projection curve. That could also mean that if he's working with goaltending coaches over there, he may not want to come over here. We'll see.
Stats: (Elite Prospects)
2008-2009 Kärpät U20 Jr. A SM-Liiga17 3.61 .897

24. Windsor Spitfires - Tom Kuhnhackl - Forward
Kuhnhackl is a very talented German forward, apparently qquite possibly the best prospect to ever come out of Germany. He's a 1992 born, with good size at 6'2, who is supposed to be a first round talent for 2010. With Richard Panik (last year's pick) already committed to coming over this year, The Spits roll the dice on Kuhnhackl, who apparently already has a contract in the DEL (Top German League) for next season. That being said, don't be surprised if Windsor works their magic and gets him over here as well, especially since they are likely to have some holes in their line up next year. If not, he could pull a Panik and come over next year.
Scouting Report: According to translating a few German articles, he compares to Marco Sturm at the same age. He also had very good speed and stickhandling ability. With his coach saying "he can do magical things with the puck."
Stats: (Elite Prospects)
2008-2009 EV Landshut Germany2 42 11 1021 34
Germany U18 WJC-18 6 1 12 4
2008-2009 Germany World Under 17 HC
5 4 37 2

27. Oshawa Generals - Alain Berger - Forward
Berger is a late 1990 born forward who was passed up in this year's NHL Entry Draft. He's a monster at 6'4, 200lbs and actually saw some time with Bern in the Swiss League this year. He played for the relegated Swiss team at the WJC's this year (in Division 1 because of 2008's relegation). He has already stated his intentions of coming over. Two years ago, he was named a top 3 player by coaches on the Under 18 Swiss team.
Scouting Report: Generals G.M. Chris DePiero says. “Alain is a big strong kid and he’s more mature because of the experience he’s been able to obtain playing at home."
2008-2009 Bern NLA 19 0 00 6

Bern U20 Elite Jr. A 2 2 35 6

Young Sprinters NLB 22 9 918 32

Schweiz U-20 NLB 6 3 03 20

Switzerland U20 WJC-20 D1 4 1 12 6

30. Ottawa 67's - Peter Mrazek - Goaltender
Mrazek is a 1992 born goaltender who is eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He's not the biggest goaltender, but he's put up impressive stats in the Czech Junior leagues. He was on the Czech Under 18 team, but was the 3rd goalie and didn't see any action. The 67's have to be hoping that he comes in and challenges Chris Perugini for the number one spot. A little healthy competition only makes everyone play to the best of their abilities.
Scouting Report: I can't find anything on the type of style he brings to the ice.
Stats: (Elite Prospects)
2008-2009 HC Vitkovice U18 Czech U1828 1.99 .946

HC Vitkovice U20 Czech U2013 2.49 .924

Czech Republic U18 WJC-180 0 0

33. Saginaw Spirit - Tadeas Galansky - Goaltender
Galansky is another Czech netminder, a late 92 birthdate, which makes him eligble for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He's already got good size at 6'1 and put up good stats in the Czech Under 18 league. Galansky has to be thought of as a potential back up goaltender for Edward Pasquale. Pasquale played a ton last year and perhaps this can explain his lackluster play in the playoffs, as he tired.
Scouting Report: "He brings good size to the position and he has a lot of upside," stated Spirit Director of Scouting Jim Paliafito, "He had close to a .930 save percentage on a team that struggled in his home league."
Stats: Elite Prospects
2008-2009 HC Kometa Brno U18 Czech U185 2.17 .935

HC Havirov U18 Czech U1834 2.22 .938

36. Erie Otters - Ramis Sadikov - Goaltender
Sadikov is a behemoth goaltender from Russia, listed at 6'5, 220lbs. As an early 1991 birthdate, he was passed over in this years NHL Entry Draft. Not a whole lot is known about Sadikov since his stats from this year are nowhere to be found. He was drafted in the first round of the recent KHL draft, which tells you he must have some ability.
Scouting Report: -
Stats: -

39. Sudbury Wolves - Stefan Stepanov - Defence
Stepanov is a young defender, a late 92 birthdate, whom isn't eligible for the NHL Draft until 2011. He is averagely sized at 6'0, 170lbs. Stepanov is highly regarded and considered one of the best defensive prospects among his age group. He was also a recent draftee in the KHL Draft, but has already committed to coming over and playing in Sudbury, where they could use a little defensive help.
Scouting Report: Here is a great and promising scouting report I've found. Thanks to Ian Dunham at Even Strength. "He is primarily an offensive defenseman, using phenomenal skating ability and hockey sense to jump into the play for scoring chances. Instead of using bone crushing hits on opposing forwards, Stepanov uses sound positional play to stop attacking forwards. Stepanov is supremely confident with the puck, often tapping his stick on the ice and shouting for a pass. Although this can give away his position, it shows how much Stepanov wants to participate in the play. He scored a beautiful goal with a heavy wrist shot while pinching in from the point on the power play. Stepanov also has an array of tricks up his sleeve, often playing the puck off the boards to himself or his line mates. Stepanov also has the ability to rush the puck from one end of the ice to the other, somewhat like Sergei Fedorov did while playing defense in Detroit. Stepanov passes with great accuracy, and many of his passes were too strong for other players to handle. Stepanov still needs to grow and fill out, but once he does, he will be a integral part of any team he plays with. Stepanov is truly a special player." HF's Russian writer Alessandro Seren Rosso also calls Stepanov one of the top players available for Russia in 2011.
Stats: (Elite Prospects)
2008-2009 Krylia Sovetov Russia2 8 0 00 10

42. Saginaw Spirit - Ivan Telegin - Forward
Telegin is a big forward, at 6'3, 190lbs. As a 92 birthdate, he is eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He played in the Russian 3rd league this year, for which I can not find stats. However he did play for Russia at the Under 17's and another Under 17 4 Nations event, putting up solid stats in both.
Scouting Report: Courtesy of Spirit Director of Scouting Jim Paliafito, ""Ivan plays hard and goes to the net with authority courtesy his big size. He has the potential to bring a lot to a team's offense." Also, take this for what it is worth, but here is a quote from a poster at HF who states he saw Telegin play at the Under 17's. "His center (#24 Ivan Telegin) was also just as impressive, he is listed as 6ft but has clearly grown since. He was great on the PK and was an immovable force in front of the net on the PP."
World Under 17 HC5


2008-2009 Russia Under 17 4 Nations
3 2 13 -

45. Kitchener Rangers - Patrik Andersson - Defence
Andersson is a 1990 birthdate, whom has already gone through 2 NHL Drafts without being selected. He has good size at 6'2, 185lbs. His addition means the end of the Simon Gronvaldt experiment in Kitchener. The Rangers probably went with a little older of a player due to the fact that they are looking to make a run in the OHL this year and want some experience on the backend. Andersson's team in the Under 20 Swedish League won the league title last season, of which he was a big part of.
Scouting Report: From the Kitchener Rangers website, "Scouts describe Andersson as a big puck moving defenseman who is strong at both ends of the ice."
Stats: Elite Prospects
2008-2009 Brynäs J20 SuperElit 36 7 1724 26

Team Sweden U19 (all) International 7 0 33 0

48. Ottawa 67's - Matias Sointu - Forward
Sointu is an undersized Finnish forward who was a 7th round selection of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. As a 1990 born forward, he still isn't taking a regular shift in the SM-Liiga (Finnish top league), so it is likely he's looking to cross the pond in hopes of more playing time and an NHL contract.
Scouting Report: From HF's Profile, "A forward with soft hands and natural goal scoring ability, Sointu would likely be ranked much higher amongst European prospects in his draft class if it were not for his slight frame. Sointu has fantastic hockey vision to go along with his soft hands and, if he can overcome his size, could be an impact offensive player."
Stats: Elite Prospects
2007-2008 Ilves U18 Jr. B SM-sarja 10 8 614 6

Ilves U20 Jr. A SM-Liiga 41 21 1940 38

Finland U18 WJC-18 6 3 03 8
2008-2009 Ilves U20 Jr. A SM-Liiga 7 1 12 6

51. Brampton Battalion - Forward - Valeri Kniazev
Kniasev is an average sized offensive forward who's 1992 birthdate makes him eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Interestingly enough, Kniazev is a bit of a mystery, but with a good reason. He's Russian born, but plays in the Czech Junior League due to a move to the Czech Republic when he was a child. He appears to be very motivated to make the jump to North America so that he can increase his draft stock for 2010. He's going to have big shoes to fill following the likely loss of Evgeni Grachev to professional hockey in the Rangers organization.
Scouting Report: Battalion Head Coach Stan Butler describes him: "He plays hard and competes hard. I was told he’s a tremendous skater and an intense kid." While Kniazev himself says "“I think I’m a very good skater with a good shot. I can pass. I’m not a player who is always going to rush on his own.”
2008-2009 Sparta Prague U18
Czech U18

Sparta Prague U20
Czech U20
24 19 2140 -

54. Sudbury Wolves - Edijs Leitans - Forward
Leitans is a monsterous forward who was born and plays in Germany, but who holds a citizenship in both Germany and Latvia. Thus, he plays for Latvia internationally. With Stepanov and Leitans, you have to wonder if that means the end of Sergei Sheleg's time in Sudbury. At 6'5, 215lbs, it's pretty easy to guess what he'll bring to the table. And if it's not obvious, check out his penalty minute totals from this years Division 1 World Under 18's.
Scouting Report: Wolves’ Coach/GM Mike Foligno says “Eddie is the big power forward we were looking to find in the Import draft. He loves to play physical but he has the hands to score big goals. Both players are here for at least two years and we are confident that they will be effective players for us.”
Stats: Elite Prospects
2008-2009 Iserlohner Junioren DNL 22 2 911 38

Jungadler Mannheim DNL 5 4 711 8

Latvia U18 WJC-18 D1 5 1 23 33

58. London Knights - Anton Klementyev - Defence
Klementyev, a 1990 born defenceman, was drafted in the 5th round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders. He's played the past two seasons in the Russian 3rd League, and is likely looking to get exposure in North America.
Scouting Report: A great scouting report supplied by the guys over at (Alessandro Seren Russo also writes for them). "A reliable defensive defenseman…right stick, plays on right side…average-to-good skating…good speed and acceleration…hard to be knocked off the puck, he has very good stability and balance on skates…can work on his agility and mobility…average technical skills…he tries to play simple and isn’t creative with the puck…doesn’t have the skills for an opening pass…relies mostly on tape-to-tape passes…playing his simple way he rarely makes errors with the puck…can release a quick shot, but has to work on it…good mental game, plays hard…strong player along the boards…good physical presence, but he must put it on ice more constantly…good overall conditioning…good defensive hockey sense, knows when to step up and when to be patient not anticipating too much…rarely off position back in the zone…knows how shadow shots, isn’t scared by the puck while defending…mainly a stay-at-home defenseman who can occasionally showcase a not bad touch…a reliable player.."
Stats: Also supplied by Russian Prospects
2008-2009 Russia Tyumen Cup
4 0 11 6

Lokomotiv KHL
1 0 00 0

62. London Knights - Kalle Ekelund - Defence
The Knights chose again at the beginning of the 2nd round and took another, what appears to be, stay at home defenceman. Ekelund is a 6'3, 190, 1990 born player who has been passed over in the last 2 NHL Entry Drafts. He's also played the past two seasons in the Swedish Second League, otherwise known as the Allsvenskan league. With the selection of Klementyev and Ekelund, I'm guessing this spells the end for Vladimir Roth in London.
Scouting Report: I've got nothing other than a very small quote from a Swedish poster on HF, "very solid 2-way d-man played two years against men with Nybro."
Stats: Elite Prospects
2008-2009 Nybro IF Allsvenskan 42 2 02 12

Team Sweden U19 (all) International 4 1 01 2

68. Oshawa Generals - Jakub Strnad - Forward
Strnad is an undersized 92 born Czech forward who played this past season in both the Czech Under 18 and Under 20 leagues. With Robert Kousal, Alex Denezhkin, and now Alain Berger, the Gens have a bit of a logjam among Euro's. My guess is that Kousal leaves for home, Denezhkin and Berger take the spots, and Strnad doesn't come over, perhaps until next year.
Scouting Report: -
Stats: Elite Prospects
2008-2009 HC Kladno U18 Czech U18 14 2 911 6

HC Kladno U20 Czech U20 32 2 68 10

70. Barrie Colts - Denis Gladkov - Forward
The Colts draft another 2010 eligible Russian forward, this time the average sized Gladkov. I can honestly say that I can't find anything on Gladkov. A complete mystery.
Scouting Report: -
Stats: -

72. Erie Otters - Victor Perezhogin - Forward
Again a virtual unknown as of this time. All that is known is that he's a forward at 6'1, 190, whose 1992 birthdate makes him eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Scouting Report: -
Stats: -

73. Guelph Storm - Vadim Guskov - Forward
The 2nd round of the Import draft sure can be difficult to track. Guskov is yet another guy I can't find anything on. He's a 6'0 forward who was passed over in the NHL Entry Draft this season.
Scouting Report: -
Stats: -

75. Sarnia Sting - Ted Brithen - Forward
A guy I could actually find some information on! Brithen is a late 90 born center who went undrafted in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He's of average size (6'0), and slight in build. He played this past season for Rogle's Under 20 team in the SuperElit league in Sweden. He did however get in to Elitserien games for the big club. Impressive for a player his age. With only one euro spot taken by Miroslav Preisinger, Brithen has to be a good bet to be one of those rare second rounders who comes over.
Scouting Report: Thanks to the guys at Elite Prospects: "An allround center with good hockey sense. Brithén plays a smart two-way game and is valuable on the powerplay unit as well as in shorthanded situations. He has a good release, that he should use more often. Also a skilled playmaker."
Stats: Elite Prospects
2008-2009 Rögle J20 SuperElit 40 16 3046 18

Rögle Elitserien 2 0 00 0

That concludes this years CHL Import Draft, for the full draft list, click here.

Let's not forget that Richard Panik, a selection in last year's Import Draft, will be suiting up for the Windsor Spitfires this season.

Richard Panik - Forward
Panik was a 2nd round selection (51) of the Tampa Bay Lightning at this year's NHL Entry Draft and brings good size to the forward position at 6'3, 200lbs. Like Tomas Tatar, Panik was a part of the surprising Slovak team at the 2009 WJC's. He had a mediocre tournament, which really dropped his draft stock from being a potential first round pick, to a mid-late 2nd. There have been questions about his work ethic and conditoning, something the Spitfires will correct quite early.
Scouting Report: THN ranked Panik 31st for this year's draft. Here is a small blurb on what they had to say. "There's no doubting his talent level, but commitment is another issue. He has the skills, but is he going to bring it every night?" From Bob Mackenzie's Draft Preview, ISS had this to say, "After a strong performance at the 2008 U18 tournament in Kazan, Russia, he had a disappointing showing at this year's WJC. Then, a season ending injury in knocked him out of World U-18 in Fargo, Minn. Consistency and ability to play the North American style of game are the two biggest question marks that come with Panik, but his offensive upside is extremely high. He has good outside speed and quick hands. "
Stats: Elite Prospects
2008-2009 HC Trinec U20 Czech U20 16 10 919 36

HC Trinec Czech 15 1 12 4

HC Havirov Czech2 3 2 13 0

Slovakia U20 WJC-20 7 2 35 4

Also, pay close attention to the following scenario. It's purely speculation on my part, but I have to wonder why the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors traded their Import selection. Consider this. The Majors are hoping to make a run at the Eastern Conference this year, and they only have one Import spot filled up (by William Wallen) after Kaspers Daugavins graduates to the professional ranks. Owner Eugene Melnyk has always been a big player in the Import draft, so it strikes me odd that he wouldn't attempt to bring over more talent for that run. UNLESS, he's planning on saving a spot for Senators first round pick Erik Karlsson, whom was an import selection by the Majors last year. Karlsson is coming over to North America this year after signing with the Senators in May. If you are following me here, Melnyk also owns the Senators, and used that influence to get fellow Sens draftee Kaspers Daugavins on to the Majors. While Karlsson could play in the NHL, and appears to be quite talented, would Melnyk rather Karlsson play in the AHL or the OHL, should he fail to make the NHL? My hunch says the OHL, to give Melnyk's Majors a shot at a Memorial Cup title. First and foremost, I'm sure the plan is for Karlsson to be playing in the NHL, on a depleted Sens blueline. However, should they deem him not ready, I'd expect Melnyk is keeping that spot open in Mississauga for Karlsson. Just my two cents.

Also, just to give everyone a recap, there were a ton of trades leading up to and at the Import Draft. Some big names changing places. I've thrown in two big trades that happened a week or so before the draft too. This is taken right from the OHL website (here).

To Mississauga: Greg Sutch To Sarnia: Kale Kerbashian, Kyle Neuber, draft picks

To Kingston: Zach Harden, Kaine Geldart To Peterborough and Plymouth: Draft pick

To London: Michael Hutchinson To Barrie: Draft picks

To Sault Ste. Marie:
T.J. Battani, Vern Cooper To Plymouth and Kitchener: Draft picks

To Sarnia: Adam Courchaine To Ottawa: Draft picks

To Guelph: Adam Comrie, Matt Hoyle To Saginaw: Josh Shalla, Draft picks

To Barrie: Luke Pither To Belleville: Draft picks

Just to let you know, the goaltender traded to Guelph, Matt Hoyle, was the starter for Harvard this past season as a freshman. A 1990 born, Hoyle was once a highly touted OHL prospect who went the NCAA route instead. However, judging by magnitude of the trade, I'd say you can expect him to leave Harvard to become Guelph's starter next season. Should be an interesting guy to keep an eye on.