Tuesday, December 25, 2012

XMas Special - Trade Deadline Preview

The OHL trade deadline is fast approaching (January 10). No better time for me to preview the trade deadline. Once the holiday season is over, it's fairly likely that the trades will start to trickle in, leading to a frenzy on the 10th. There are some very big names on the market this year (apparently). Let's take a look at where these players could end up. I've listed 20 potential candidates.

Sorted by team:

Ottawa 67's

I had the 67's penciled in for 7th in the East this year, and many prognosticators had them in a similar standing. So the expectations for this season were not high. However, the 67's have been worse than many thought. Not enough depth at the forward position, an inexperienced and porous defense, and overworked goaltenders have dug this team a hole that isn't likely recoverable. Traditionally, Ottawa hasn't been a team who has been one to rebuild. But then again, they also haven't been in this position for quite some time. The 67's haven't missed the playoffs since the 1994-1995 season! That said, the 67's would be absolutely foolish to not deal some of their bigger pieces to help improve the team's depth moving forward. And I think Brian Kilrea realizes this, based on some of the comments he's been making in the media of late. Let's look at the team's trade chips.

Sean Monahan
One of the premier centerman in the league. Monahan does it all. I shutter at the thought of him playing with some more talented wingers. He'd be an absolutely unreal addition to nearly any playoff bound team in the league. He's an interesting case too. Monahan is almost guaranteed to be a lottery selection in 2013, but he's also a very NHL ready player. As a late birthday, he's got 3 years of OHL experience under his belt. He's also already a committed two-way player. I'd be surprised if he's not in the NHL next year (playing a similar role that Sean Couturier played in his rookie season with Philly). So he's a rental, with a small chance of being a returning player. If he's dealt, I'd expect there to be a future considerations clause attached to it. If he returns next year, the 67's could negotiate a few extra high picks their way. Even without a clause like that, I'd expect that he'd bring back a recent first rounder (once the trading window for 2012 first rounders opens), in addition to a few 2nd rounders/3rd rounders. Who are the potential suitors? If I had to suggest the three team's I felt could use him the most, I'd probably go with Belleville, Guelph, and Kitchener. Plymouth could be a suitor too, based on their sort of disappointing start.
Prediction: Monahan does indeed get traded and he goes to Kitchener for Matt Schmalz, Jared Gilbert, and a collection of high draft picks.

Cody Ceci
Anyone who has watched the 67's this year will admit that Ceci hasn't had the strongest of years. He looks over worked. He also looks like he's trying to do too much and it's putting a bit of a strain on his development. If there's a player in this league who needs a trade right now, it's Ceci. He's still a terrific defenseman and someone who could badly help out a struggling powerplay. Ceci is a 93, and I don't think there's much doubt that he'll be in the AHL next year. So he's purely a rental. Even still, the price for his services won't be cheap. He'll likely cost a similar amount to what Ryan O'Connor and Matt Petgrave/Geoffrey Schemitsch went for last year. A solid player who can contribute next year, and a collection of draft picks. There's been a lot of Ceci to London talk, and quite frankly that makes sense. Even if London's powerplay has been strong, they still lack a true natural back there. They also have the assets to give up. That said, don't rule out a team like Owen Sound, jumping in there. They gave up Petgrave and Schemitsch last year, but now their powerplay is struggling and Chris Bigras could use a bit of help back there.
Prediction: Ceci gets dealt to London in exchange for local boy Jacob Jammes, and a collection of high end draft picks.

Tyler Graovac 
Graovac has exploded offensively this season. A big year for him, as he tries to earn an NHL contract offer from Minnesota. He's still not someone who uses his size to push people around, but he's finally strong enough to take advantage of his size offensively. He's become a terrific slot presence and a board battler. I think he could play any forward position, which gives him value to most team's in the league looking for a bigger triggerman. Like Ceci, Graovac is almost certainly gone to the AHL next year. There are three teams that really stick out for me, in terms of a home for Graovac. Barrie, Plymouth, and Sarnia. That said, don't be surprised if Graovac is packaged with Ceci to London in a super package. Outside of Bo Horvat and Josh Anderson, the Knights don't have a ton of size on their scoring lines. That said, I think the 67's would be better off dealing him separately to ensure they maximize on their return.
Prediction: Graovac also gets dealt. Part of me believes it will be part of a bigger London deal, but I'm going to predict he heads to Barrie for Alex Yuill and Justin Scott.

Steven Janes
A big hulking winger, Janes can crash and bang, and he does have decent hands in close to the net. He's been on Monahan's wing for a large part of the season and has had some success there, helping to create room for his talented center. Janes hasn't been drafted, so he's a likely candidate to return for his overage season. With his size and skill package, I could see him being a very solid overager for someone. A potential 25 goal man. There are lots of teams out there who could use Janes' size on the wing. He could help to fill out depth and bring physically to a 3rd line. A team like Kingston could throw their hat in the ring for this one, acquiring Janes to help protect some of their younger, smaller forwards. Not just this year, but next year in his overage year. I could also see London acquiring him as part of a package with Ceci (similar to the Graovac explanation above).
Prediction: I don't think Janes moves. I think the 67's keep him so that he can play his overage year in Ottawa, provide leadership to a young team, and help flank the smaller Dante Salituro (who would be the new number one center after Monahan leaves).

Peterborough Petes

What a disaster of a year in Peterborough. With the talent they had on the roster, greater things were expected of them. Instead, they're the worst team in the league (as I write this). There has been a coaching chance. There has been a GM change. And recently, there have been rumours of players wanting out. It would appear to be a good idea to really blow this team up and start fresh. They do have a lot of talent on the roster who could bring back some nice young pieces. That would allow management to start over and create a new identity. Let's look at the team's trade chips.

Francis Menard
Brought in from Guelph this offseason to provide some veteran leadership, Menard has actually delivered in Peterborough. He's been the team's leading scorer all season and one of their only consistent contributors. The overager deserves a chance to play in the playoffs one last time and I think he'd be able to help quite a few teams out there. Obviously, when dealing with overagers the fit can be a tad difficult to find. Niagara is one team only carrying two overagers. And they could certainly use secondary scoring help. But it depends whether you think they're rebuilding or not (which I don't think they are). Brampton also has room and they could definitely a find a spot for Menard. In the West, Sarnia, London (if they remove Ferry or Hughes), Owen Sound (if they remove Zweep), and Kitchener (if they remove Czinder or Alberga) could be suitors.
Prediction: I see Menard heading to Brampton. Butler has had a habit of picking up overagers at the deadline for a playoff push (see Josh Day and Andrew Merrett a few years ago). Probably only for a pick in the 3rd round.

Slater Koekkoek
One of the players who has "apparently" asked for a trade. Who knows if that's true. What is true is that Koekkoek is a high NHL draft pick with a lot of talent. He'd instantly make any blueline in the league better, not just this year, but next year too. I can't see Koekkoek making the jump to the NHL next year, considering he's had some injury problems. The Bolts will likely be pretty patient with him. The consistency issues have still been a bit of a problem for him, but that could have a lot to do with the fact that he's constantly playing from behind. Hard to stand out in that situation. I'm sure there a few teams really licking their chops at the chance to acquire him. Probably the same teams who lose out on Cody Ceci. He'd certainly fit right in, in London. Or in Plymouth, where he could help to inject a bit of offense on their blueline (which has been a bit of a disappointment this year).
Prediction: I don't think Koekkoek moves...yet. I think Peterborough does end up dealing him, but not until the offseason. He stays put for now.

Alan Quine
Battled mono at the beginning of the year, but has been pretty good since returning. I think he's certainly capable of more too, if he's on a team in a winning environment. Somewhere which would push him to be a bit more aggressive with and without the puck. He's certainly very talented offensively. In particular, his goal scoring ability is underrated. He's a natural center, but I actually think he could play the wing too. I think the two best fits for Quine would be in Belleville and Plymouth. Both could use a player like Quine to inject some more offense into their attack and I think he'd gel well with the players already in those spots.
Prediction: I think Quine goes to Belleville. On the big ice, he'd have more room to operate and the Bulls have a bevy of bigger forwards who could help to create some room for him. The return ends up being a couple of high end picks (2nd and 3rd).

Steven Trojanovic
He's quietly had a pretty solid offensive season for the Petes. He's certainly turned himself into a very serviceable OHL player, and the type of guy a team would definitely keep around as an overager next year. Any team looking to trade for him this year, would also be giving him a spot next year. I actually think he could generate a fair amount of interest on the open market, to a team looking to fill out it's defense, and gain a body for next year (where they plan on making more of a push). A team like Kingston could fit that bill, who only really have 2 93's on the roster (if you exclude the recently acquired Luke Hietkamp). Could also see a team like Sarnia reaching out, or even Niagara.
Prediction: Trojanovic moves, and goes to Kingston for Braydon Blight and a 3rd.

Nick Ritchie
It's not that often you see a player in Ritchie's situation being talked about in a trade deadline preview. He's a late '95, which mean he isn't even eligible to be drafted until 2014. He's had a bit of a tough year, suffering a separated shoulder, and inconsistent play. After the way he played at the Ivan Hlinka tournament in the summer, I think a lot of people expected him to come in and start dominating games. That leads us to the many trade rumours circulating around him, including the new "trade request" one. Like Koekkoek, the suitors for Ritchie are endless. I'm sure he'd love to play with his brother in Niagara, should they go that route. But, his trade value would also be very high. After the Petes got hosed in the Matt Puempel deal, you'd have to think they'll want to maximize their return this time around.
Prediction: Like Koekkoek, I don't think Ritchie moves...yet. I could certainly see him traded this offseason, but this isn't the type of trade that gets done at the deadline.

Brett Findlay 
Another overager brought in by Peterborough this offseason, Findlay hasn't exactly worked out as planned. He hasn't been able to provide the amount of offense the team expected of him. Because the team is rebuilding, there's no doubt that they'll try to trade him. But because of overage limits, I can't see the line-up being very long for his services. Is he really that much of an upgrade for certain teams? The only team I could see adding him would be Niagara, because they've had some secondary scoring issues and they do have an overage spot available. The problem is, I'm not sure how much success he'd find in that rink.
Prediction: I don't think Findlay moves. I don't see the market being strong for him, given his play this season.

Derek Schoenmakers
After a trade from Windsor, Schoenmakers decided not to report to Peterborough. He's a very solid player and someone who could certainly help a lot of offenses in this league. He's sort of that prototypical playoff type guy; lots of energy, truculence, and scoring ability from the wing. But, he is an overager, which means the line of suitors won't be long. Sarnia is the best fit IMO. They could use some of what he brings on the wing, and they've got an overage spot open. Niagara could be a great fit too. Of course, Brampton as well (if they don't do the above trade I predicted). I could also see Kitchener picking him up to swap out Nick Czinder.
Prediction: Schoenmakers goes to Sarnia in exchange for a mid round pick.

Derek Mathers
At this point, you'd have to assume Peterborough is accepting calls on any player they have. That includes their scrapper, behemoth Derek Mathers. Mathers is a Flyers draft pick, and he's likely in his last season in the OHL before going to the AHL or ECHL to beat up on some people (without fear of suspension). But Mathers is still a fairly valuable OHL player who could help to protect his teammates and provide physicality from a checking line. If he's available, I think there would be several teams interested, as long as the price is not incredibly high. I look at a team like Oshawa, who have some younger players playing roles on their checking line. They also have some of the most physical star players in the league (Jenner, Laughton, Biggs), who are sometimes forced to protect themselves for the hits they lay out. Could Oshawa use someone like Mathers to provide security? Same could be said for Guelph, or even London (although does London really have room for Mathers?).
Prediction: Mathers goes to Oshawa (with Seymour) in exchange for a 3rd round draft pick and Will Petschenig

Clark Seymour
A draft pick of the Penguins last year (kind of a surprise, off the board pick), Seymour is part of the leadership group in Peterborough. He plays a ton of minutes and is a big physical, shut down type of guy. He is a '93, which means he could play in the AHL next year. But I don't see the Pens signing him yet and I think he'll play his overage year in the O. So he's a nice investment for a team looking to improve their defense for the next year and a half. For the reason, I think he generates a lot of interest. He's sort of one of those unsung types. Not a lot of fan fare, but he gets the job done. Oshawa has long rumoured to be searching for depth on defense. I could see Barrie jumping in on him too. In the West, he'd look good in Plymouth and in Kitchener (where they have lots of depth, but could use another veteran presence).
Prediction: Seymour is packaged with Mathers to Oshawa for a 3rd and Will Petschenig

Sudbury Wolves

It seems pretty cut and dry as to which teams in the East are going to make the playoffs. The 67's and Petes have been so bad all year, the top 8 seem set. However, there are about four teams who look like they'll jockey for spots 5-8 (Brampton, Mississauga, Kingston, and Sudbury). Of those four teams, I think the Wolves are most likely to trade off a few pieces. Brampton rarely rebuilds under Butler and I think they're most likely to add (given their overage situation). Kingston is in the rebuilding process already and they likely won't tinker much. Mississauga has some big pieces (like Percy and Brace), but with a new owner and a fluctuating fan base, I can't see the team selling off their best players. If the Majors start losing all their games, they'll be in trouble at the gate. A new owner, trying to make an impact isn't likely to want to trade his team's two best players, while they have a shot at the 5th spot (hell, maybe even higher) in the Conference. That leaves Sudbury. They currently sit 8th, but have been playing some pretty inspired hockey as of late. However, the team has a very solid nucleus of players for the future. They don't have the goaltending or depth to do serious damage in the playoffs. Of the four teams I listed, I think Sudbury is the best bet to trade some players in order to make a run next year, or the year after. Let's look at the team's tradeable assets.

Josh Leivo 
If I was a team in the hunt for a championship, he'd be the one forward I'd really try to get off this list (even more than Monahan). He's like Austin Watson last year. Leivo is one of the league's premier two-way forwards and he has an impact on the game even if he's not generating offense (which he usually does). You think the Knights wouldn't want to try and fill the void Watson left this year? That said, I'm not 100% certain the Wolves would look to move Leivo, even if it will be his last year in the OHL (in all likelihood). Again, I look around the league and wonder what team COULDN'T use Leivo. He'd be the perfect addition to any team. The best fit? Probably Belleville, where I think he'd be able to help them put the puck in the net and provide great two-way play. Ditto for London. What about Owen Sound? Where he'd fit into a lineup already full of similar players. Sounds redundant, but it'd make them one of the toughest teams in the league to play against (if they aren't already).
Prediction: As much as I think he generates a ton of interest, I don't think he moves. Unless the Wolves are blown away by an offer.

Frankie Corrado
I'm not sure many casual fans of the league realize how good of a player Corrado has become. He's easily one of the five best defenseman in the league (truly). He's become a force at both ends of the ice. I was shocked when he was cut from the WJC team, after it seemed like he was part of every highlight package (for the right reasons), and he was receiving praise from all the right people. If the Wolves are willing to move him, every team in the league better have Sudbury on speed dial. There's no doubt that he wouldn't come cheaply. I think we're talking a Greg McKegg type package of last year. A couple of players and draft picks. That said, he's definitely going to be in the AHL next year. The Wolves have some depth on defense (including some solid youngsters like first rounder Conor Cummins) and I think they'd be smart to try and use Corrado to build a championship contender for the coming years. I think the best fit is in Barrie. They could use another high impact defenseman and they have some assets to trade from. Plymouth is another obvious one, since their defense hasn't exactly played out like they thought it would. Again though, every team in the league could use Frankie.
Prediction: I think someone out there comes up with an offer that Sudbury is blown away by. I think it's Barrie, who realize this could be their year. So I'm saying Corrado (along with Taylor Dupuis) goes to Barrie for Erik Bradford, Alex Fotinos, and a 3rd.

Charlie Dodero
Similar to the above mentioned Clark Seymour, Dodero is an unsung hero. He plays in all situations for the Wolves, but is ultimately at his best defending the front of the net with his big frame. He's an overager, which again, limits where he could go. He could go to Niagara, Brampton, or Sarnia if they feel like adding on defense. I could also see Owen Sound picking him up and dropping Daniel Zweep. Of course, Kitchener could be a potential suitor too, bringing his OHL career back around full circle.
Prediction: I don't see Dodero moving. I think he's more valuable to the Wolves as a leader and to help them continue their push to the playoffs, than the 3rd or 4th round pick they'd probably get for him.

Justin Sefton
He hasn't exactly developed the way the Wolves probably had hoped, but he's still one of the league's biggest and most physical defenseman. He can clear a crease and has no problem putting his body in harm's way. The rest of his game is still a bit limited, but if he's given a strict role, he could excel in a new environment. A Canes draft pick, Sefton could play pro next year (although I'm not entirely sure he's ready). As long as the price isn't ridiculous, I'm sure there could be interested suitors. Oshawa would be a good location for him, as they'll look to add defensive depth.
Prediction: Sefton doesn't move.

Saginaw Spirit

Even though they are still in contention for a playoff spot, the Spirit seem like the most likely team in the West to sell off their assets (save Erie). They have some very valuable assets (like Trocheck and Ross), but they also have a very solid group of 94's, 95's, and 96's, which puts them in good position to contend again as early as next year (if they supplement them). By trading Trocheck and Ross (and even Eric Locke), they could really help fill out their roster with more talented youngsters. Let's look at their tradeable assets.

Vincent Trocheck
Criminally underrated. He's not only a true heart and soul kind of player (plays much bigger than he is), but he's also one of the league's premier playmakers. He elevates the play of his wingers. Because he's away at the WJC's (the only player on this list there), he can't be traded until after the freeze is lifted (inside a week of the deadline). But he'll no doubt draw interest. Any of the powerhouses in the league should be interested. A team like Belleville could absolutely use him to help bring out the best in their struggling wingers. Kitchener is in dire need of another veteran scoring center. What about Plymouth? When Mitchell Heard stuck in the AHL, their center depth took a bit of a hit. And you never really know if London feels like they need him to make their forward group just that more dominant.
Prediction: Trocheck goes to Plymouth in exchange for Zach Bratina, and a ton of future draft picks (2nd's and 3rd's). I think he's a terrific fit in Plymouth, who are very familiar with him. He'd be great to pair with a bigger winger like Tom Wilson, Cody Payne, or Garret Meurs.

Garret Ross
No question about it, Ross is the top overager on the market right now. He's had a terrific season (coming off being drafted by the Hawks) and he is the type of guy you want on your playoff bound roster. Scrappy and hardnosed, he also has playoff experience (performing quite well for Saginaw during last year's postseason run). I think he'll come with a pretty decent price tag too. I think that puts Niagara and Brampton out of the running, as I see them adding to their OA situation without giving up a ton. Sarnia could be a suitor, but I'm not sure they move a ton of assets for an overager again (like they did for Adrian Robertson last year). I think that leaves us with a team like London, Owen Sound, or Kitchener, who would have to remove an overager from their line-up to make the deal. London, in particular, could use someone like Ross on a scoring line to help create more room.
Prediction: Ross goes to London for Tommy Hughes or Tyler Ferry (to balance the overage situation), Kyle Platzer, and a 3rd.

Eric Locke 
Has had a solid season, his first full one in Saginaw after coming over from Barrie last year (in that Camara, O'Connor mega deal). He's fitting in well and providing some veteran leadership to a somewhat younger forward group (minus Trocheck and Ross). He's already been traded twice in his OHL career, so I'm sure he's used to the rumours. His speed and goal scoring ability would look great on the big ice in Belleville. I think that'd be the best fit for him. I could also use a team like Kitchener interested in him to help provide secondary scoring. As a '93 without an NHL affiliation, he seems like a very likely overage candidate. That should give him some pretty decent value.
Prediction: Locke stays put (for once). The Spirit are going to want a veteran forward to help lead the team next year (along with Justin Kea), and Locke is a perfect candidate as an overager. His value to the Spirit next year supersedes his trade value IMO.

Erie Otters

The worst team in the Western Conference, one would think they'd be massive sellers. But truthfully, I don't really see them making any major moves. Overager JP Labardo has been good for the team, but he's been a terrific veteran presence for the Otters' younger players. His value probably isn't more than a 3rd or 4th rounder. Is he worth trading then? Oscar Dansk is an interesting case. Even though he's a '94, this could be his last year in the OHL, if the Jackets decide he's ready for the AHL (he was drafted out of Europe and can therefore play in the AHL as a 19 year old). Plus, the Otters have a terrific young goaltender in Devin Williams, ready for an increased work load. But, I don't see any market for Dansk. If the Spitfires were in the hunt for the top of the West, I could see them being interested. But they aren't. And 93's like Dane Fox and Jimmy McDowell, would have great value to the team as overagers next year, when the Otters could be a very strong team. Therefore, I'm not listing any players from Erie as serious trade chips. They stay silent, save for possibly a couple of depth moves (they've got some depth on defense).

Well that's it folks. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Who goes where? Agree or disagree with my predictions?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Top 10 - Preliminary Media Top 10 for 2013

It's time for the first edition of our media/scouting agency top 10 for 2013.

Helping out for the early season list are Dominic Tiano (OHL Writers), Future Considerations Chief Scout Dan Stewart, Mckeen's Director of Scouting David Burstyn and Mckeen's scout Sean Lafortune (also of Thescout.ca), Corey Pronman (Hockey Prospectus), Scott Campbell (The Scouting Report), Ryan Kennedy (The Hockey News) and Nathan Fournier (The World of Junior Hockey). I also incorporated my list into the discussion.

At this point in the season, there really doesn't seem to be a whole lot of debate as to who the top prospects from the OHL are for this draft. Only 12 players received consideration for 10 spots. And one player received every number one vote. If last year's preliminary list is any indication, other players will work themselves into this argument.

10. Justin Bailey - Kitchener Rangers
Received Votes From: 5/8
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 6th (1x))/Outside the Top 10 (3x)
Comments: The OHL rookie had a bit of a tough time getting going, but has been better of late (putting up 8 points in 13 November games). He's currently out indefinitely with a sternum injury (likely until after the holidays). This is the second time an injury has kept him out of the lineup this year. "The injuries concern me. He plays with his head down a lot. I want a big guy who can handle the rough stuff, and bounce off of it," says one contributor. "However," says the same contributor, "I do really like his goal scoring potential. He might have the best 'pro' shot of any OHL draft eligible." Another contributor agrees, "Bailey has a high skill level for a player of his size. I like his willingness to shoot the puck and he’s really developing into a quality finisher. He’ll be a longer term prospect, but with proper development he could certainly be a legit Top 6 NHL forward." When he does return from injury, he'll have to try to find a groove again to keep himself in the top 10.

9. Ryan Kujawinski - Kingston Frontenacs
Received Votes From: 6/8
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 6th (1x)/Outside the Top 10 (2x)
Comments: Currently going through a 13 game goalless drought (with only 5 assists during that time), the timing wasn't great for Kujawinski in regards to this list. "He's got to get back to playing hard consistently and working in the corners. Right now he's being outshined by the 96's on his team," says one contributor. Another contributor agrees. "Ryan is going through a lull right now, maybe because he is putting too much pressure on himself, maybe because he is playing a game that is not true to his natural abilities; but if he simplifies his game and gets back to working harder than everyone else, battling in those dirty areas he will be just fine." Consistency is definitely the key word from this point on. "Kujawinski has shown flashes of dominance which have been marred by sustained periods of ineffectiveness. When he’s on, he has a Top 15 skillset in this draft, but NHL teams will have to really do their work in determining whether or not they’re getting the Top 15 Kujawinski, or the inconsistent enigma." The guys at McKeen's give one suggestion as to why he may be struggling. "Forced to play out of position, Kujawinski is better suited for the wing however is playing up the middle due to a lack of natural centres on the team. He has limited creativity to distribute the puck and is more of a shooter." However, they also love his potential to rebound, stating "nonetheless with his size, skill set and skating ability he shows considerable promise."

8. Spencer Martin - Mississauga Steelheads
Received Votes From: 6/8
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 2nd (1x)/Outside of the Top 10 (2x)
Comments: Like any young goaltender, Martin is currently going through a tough stretch right now. He started the year off carrying the Steelheads on his back, something that couldn't be expected to continue. The guys at McKeen's suggest an injury may be a hindrance moving forward. "In recent weeks he has struggled a bit playing against stronger Western teams however there has been speculation that Martin is playing with a knee injury that may require surgery at the end of the season." That said, one contributor absolutely loves his attitude. "Even when this kid gets shelled and gives up a few he still has the attitude to be sitting on his teams bench vocally encouraging his mates. Love this kids skill, natural talents and attitude and NHL teams will likely too." Even if he's struggled a tad lately, he possesses the qualities that NHL teams covet in goaltenders these days, something nearly every contributor echoed. McKeen's summed it up best, "Martin is extremely economical as he limits his movements and plays an unflappable butterfly style making good use of his size to cover the top portion of the goal. At 6’2, 195 he certainly boasts the size NHL teams covet in a goalie." There were multiple mentions of him needing to improve his rebound control though, again not out of the ordinary for a young netminder. 

7. Bo Horvat - London Knights
Received Votes From: 8/8
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 5th (1x)/10th (1x)
Comments: Horvat seems to be one of the most heavily debated prospects available from the O. It's the classic case of a hard working player facing questions about his upside. Just among our contributors, we have the following two differing opinions. "I’ve been a little disappointed with Horvat’s offensive game this season, but I certainly haven’t soured on him altogether. I’m not sure he’ll become more than a 3rd line forward, but he would be a very strong 3rd line player to have on your roster," says one contributor. While another states, "You have to love the potential with Horvat. Playing under Domi's shadow in London and is probably not getting the attention he deserves. Doesn't get the top minutes Domi does but there's no arguing his potential." Where does the truth lie? You certainly can't argue about the leadership qualities and the tenacity he brings to the ice though. This is something every contributor spoke highly of. From McKeens, "On most other team’s Horvat would be a top line centre however due to the depth of the Knights he has toiled primarily on the third line while getting occasional spot duty on the second line. A multi-purpose forward with subtle skills he also plays a solid two-way game and is aware of his defensive responsibilities. Horvat is a jack of all trades as he can do everything well and plays a gutsy game, often sacrificing his body for the sake of the play." From another contributor, "Horvat exemplifies a high compete level and plays with a level of grit that would embody the top 4th liners. Does a great job in the cycle and protecting the puck as well as absorbing contact and fighting through checks." And from another, "Best thing you can say about this kid is he is like a general out there, talking to his teammates and leading by a hard working example. Still like him around the late first or mid-second round but he has been passed by other talents in this crop." Don't look now, but maybe he's just starting to heat up, (7 goals and 4 assists in his last 8 games). Another contributor speaks to this. "I think I'm the opposite of everyone else. I was slow to the party and questioned his upside. But I'm really starting to come around on Horvat. Every game I've seen of him lately, he makes a couple of really smart plays that not many guys in this league can or do. Hockey sense is very high. I still don't know about the upside, but he's turning me into a fan."

6. Jason Dickinson - Guelph Storm
Received Votes From: 8/8
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 4th (3x)/10th (1x)
Comments: "Why don't we hear more about this kid?" says one contributor. "Criminally underrated. Every time I've seen Guelph this year, he's been the best player on the ice. His potential is sky high." And from one extreme, we go to the other. "Consistency and lack of drive on some nights has killed Jason in my views so far this season. Sure the kid has nice size, skating ability and a good shot release. But he needs to bring it more regularly to be put into the top end of this drafts first round in my opinion. Out of my five views this season, in four of them he was invisible for most of the game, just showing flashes of his skill and shot here and there," says another contributor. Looks like it depends on what night you catch Dickinson. Let's be honest, consistency isn't a rare problem for draft eligible players. The key moving forward, seems to be a consistent involvement in the physical game, as the guys from McKeen's point out. "He is an extremely smooth and effortless skater with deceptive quickness and can handle the puck at top speeds. Extremely effective on the PP where he utilizes his time and space more judiciously. A lack of physical consistency is missing from his overall game as he tends to pick and choose his spots and does not always fully engage even though he likes to create the illusion that he does. Dickenson needs to also bare down in defensive 5-5 situations as he leaves the zone far too early, remarkably he is a good penalty killer when placed on the PK and forced to play in a structured system. His offensive ceiling at the pro level is high however he must show that he can deliver the goods when the temperate of the game rises." I wonder if the opinion of the first two contributors will change at some point this year?

5. Kerby Rychel - Windsor Spitfires
Received Votes From: 8/8
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 2nd (1x)/7th (1x)
Comments: There's absolutely no denying that Kerby has come a long way since being that kid 'the Colts drafted way too high in the priority draft just to piss off Windsor.' Maybe they were on to something since he's gone from priority draft reach, to nearly first round lock in 2013. One contributor sums it up it best. "A pure sniper and it looks like he has all the tools which will translate at the next level." Another contributor elaborates. "Rychel’s game screams “pro” and I think he’s going to bring a unique versatility that will be valuable to an NHL club. Rychel may not score a lot of pretty goals, but he’s not afraid to drive the net and pay the price. When he’s on, he competes hard and is a tenacious player to contain in the corners. Skating and consistency need to improve, but I think Rychel will develop into a very serviceable 2nd-3rd line forward." That said, there seems to be a consensus that more was expected from him this season. From McKeen's, "Rychel is not playing with the same type of determination and fire that he exhibited last season. The loss of Khokhlachev up the middle has crippled his game as he lacks a true center to get him the puck. Rychel thrives down low where he can use his thick frame to impose his will and does a very good job of retrieving pucks in scrums. He is also equipped with a sensational shot which explodes off his blade at the top of the dots usually resulting in a faceoff at centre ice. Rychel’s biggest obstacle is his skating as it is not only awkward in appearance but limited in its overall effectiveness. With a very short stride he is unable to get much power or explosiveness from it and usually gets caught too deep in offensive situations resulting in him being the last man back to defend. Rychel needs to return to the basics and keep his shifts shorter and compete harder while not trying to pad his offensive stats." Another contributor adds to that, "I don't like the notion of him as a power forward. I've seen that thrown around a lot and I don't agree with it. He's a skilled goal scorer and I love his presence in front of the net. But he's not consistently aggressive enough without the puck to be called a power forward. He needs to be way more physically intimidating.
4. Max Domi - London Knights
Received Votes From: 8/8
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 2nd (2x)/7th (1x)
Comments: Domi has been nothing short of great this year; top 10 in OHL scoring and the leader in draft eligible scoring in the OHL (ahead of Sean Monahan). Not to mention the Knights current impressive winning streak. One contributor characterizes him well. "He has great hands, impressive vision and playmaking ability plus he can fill the net himself making him a complete offensive threat. He is not all finesse though as he does share the same agitating, determined, pain in the ass persona his old man made a living with on the ice. The younger however is not just a glove dropping goon by any stretch but shows a strong will to battle and grind it out on top of his predominant offensive skills. Some have concerns over his lack of “ideal” size but with an already stalky and balanced stature this is not a true issue." McKeen's is also quick to point out that size is not an issue for him moving forward. "Thanks to a rigorous off-season workout program, he has gained over 12 pounds in his lower body (now weighing 190 pounds)  making it virtually impossible for players to knock him off stride or down." Another contributor applauds his playmaking ability. "He's such a dynamic player off the rush. The game seems to slow down for him and I love how patient he is with the puck. Such a terrific distributor." He doesn't come without his warts though, as McKeen's is quick to point out. "Sadly his play without the puck is unsettling as he simply does not know where to go. Domi continues to pile up the points but playing with more consistency in the neutral and defensive zone is an absolute must." 

3. Nikita Zadorov - London Knights
Received Votes From: 8/8
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 2nd (1x)/8th (1x)
Comments: One of the faster rising players of this young OHL season, Zadorov has met and exceeded the hype he entered the league with. He's created quite the battle between him and Darnell Nurse for the title of top OHL defenseman available. Ironically, they play similar, which makes separating them hard. "At this point, I'm not sure which one I prefer. Can I have them both?" says one contributor. The common word used by all contributors, "potential." "Sure he has been impressive keeping attackers pinned to the boards, swatting away pucks with his long reach and laying some destructive hits, even dropping the glove a couple times early in the year, but his pro upside is what has many excited. He has a great frame to build upon, and he skates well for a man his size and possesses a strong physical presence to him. He has the ability to skate with the puck and make some solid passes as well leading me to believe he could add some offensive elements to his game going forward as well." Another contributor goes a step further. "His offensive game took off in November. I saw him flat out dominate a couple of games at both ends of the ice. He's the complete package." Some contributors aren't quite jumping the gun yet though, "Haven't moved him as high as some have - yet. No question he's the premier shut down defenseman available. He's starting to feel more comfortable after an adjustment to North America and it's showing in his offensive game. No place to go but up for Zadorov from here on out." 

2. Darnell Nurse - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Received Votes From: 8/8
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 2nd (3x)/7th (1x)
Comments: This seems about right. "Size, physicality, skating, defense, offense, can QB a powerplay, good shot, can transition the puck in any way. The best all around defenseman available," says one contributor. "Potential is what is exciting about Nurse. Started the year well and did not crumble with the added pressure he faced by his team’s early injury struggles on the backend. He has great developing size, smooth mobility and the strong two-way play that has many, yours truly included, thinking that he could end up becoming one of the better NHL defenseman from this draft crop once he reaches the top of his development curve," says another. "Few players in this year’s draft exhibit the athleticism and character that Nurse possesses. He has excelled in International play with his strong outings at last year’s U18 World Championships and followed it up with a gold medal performance at the Ivan Hlinka. Nurse was forced to do too much this season due to a rash of injuries on the Greyhounds backend. With Sproul and Miller returning, Nurse has been able to do less with the puck and focus on playing a staunch defensive game which better compliments his skill set. Highly competitive down low, he is constantly on the puck carrier but needs to be aware of his positioning in correlation to the play. Nurse has all the ingredients to play at the pro level however he will need to add weight to his rather slender frame to be effective," says McKeen's. I think you get the idea. However, there was one contributor who did issue a caution. "A raw offensive game is what ultimately will dictate just how good Nurse can be, but there are concerns in his game. Nurse can be prone to mental lapses and can get sloppy in defensive zone coverage and gap control. He needs to be more consistent in his defensive effort to truly emerge as a shutdown force, something that NHL teams will want to see before he turns his attention to the offensive side of the game." 

1. Sean Monahan - Ottawa 67's
Received Votes From: 8/8
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 1st (8x)
Comments: NHL ready, or so says our contributors. "He already has all the pro size. I can still see him in the NHL next year, if there's a NHL season." Another echoes these sentiments. "The most complete player available. Has shown that he can take the next step offensively while still being top notch defensively. Skating is not his strongest asset, but he makes up for it with his smarts. The most NHL ready player today." Let's see what the rest are saying. "The top OHL prospect by a long shot in my books. Despite his teams struggles this season, Monahan has remained his constant positive play. He has a presence about him, not in a flashy deke through the entire oppositions team way, but more along the lines of that imposing NHL power centre, similar to what Eric Lindros looked like in his early OHL days. The goals or heady passes aren’t what make Monahan a top-5 pick for the 2013 NHL draft though; it’s rather that he is a smart dedicated player in all zones and has the ability to contribute in any way required to get the W. His hockey sense and awareness are top end NHL level already. His sturdy size, smarts and strong all-round game makes him a prime candidate to remain inside the top five selection of this draft despite all the other flashy talent making waves," says one contributor. When asked, another contributor responded by saying "Eric Lindros? Wow, I'm not sure about that one. I'll tell you what though, his physical game has really stepped up this year. He's dropping the hammer on people." Another contributor suggests another comparison. "He's so smart out there. That mind plus a big frame and great offensive skills equals a youngster who can jump straight from the draft to the NHL and not look out of place. Even if he's given a role like Sean Couturier got on the Flyers last year, he'll contribute." Meanwhile, McKeen's says, "What sets Monahan apart from other prospects is his uncompromising work ethic as he battles and competes regardless of the score. He can make plays with the puck and is always two moves ahead due to his uncanny anticipation skills in the offensive zone. His skating continues to be a work in progress but his mechanics suggest that it can improve. Monahan excels in the face-off circle as well and plays a complete 200 foot game to compliment his offensive game." He's the real deal folks.

Honorable Mentions:

Ryan Hartman - Plymouth Whalers
Received 3 votes
"The Whalers have been getting some agitators to their program the last few years. You could say his game is like Brad Marchand's. A smaller guy who isn't afraid to go into the dirty areas, annoy you, and score."

"He was ok to start the year but has come on more recently, reminiscent of his time with the NTDP. He's very skilled and has a physical edge too."

"Hartman plays with gusto and bite as he is not afraid to engage physically and is the type of player that gets under the opposition’s skin. To start the season he was guilty of taking far too many minor infractions as referees quickly caught on to his after the whistle antics. Hartman played with more discipline and focussed on producing offensively. He is an effective offensive player as he has good speed coming down the wing and can make a pass in full flight. Not afraid to take the puck to danger zones, Hartman thrashes and battles his way into scoring areas. Plays a spirited game and is not unlike Matt Cooke." (McKeen's)  

Chris Bigras - Owen Sound Attack
Received 2 votes
"May come as a surprise to some but Bigras is this years Matt Finn. Already an accomplished defensive defenseman, he's shown his offensive abilities and then some. He's right there with Jordan Subban and Nurse in terms of offense while not affecting his defensive game."

"Mr. Safe has slowly been rising on my personal list since the Hlinka in August. He does not jump out at you with flash and dash or with big bone crushing hits but instead goes about his business and helps his team succeed. His smarts, effectiveness at both ends and the many other assets he brings just scream future top four D-man who can play both special teams at the NHL level." 

Sergei Tolchinsky - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Received 1 vote
"Love his talent level a lot. High-end or better speed and hands and can create a lot of offense."

Thanks to all the contributors (listed above). Couldn't do these without you.