The San Jose Sharks are up next.
Chris Tierney - London Knights
Numbers don't tell the whole story. Tierney was considerably more valuable to the Knights than his 57 points indicate. You have to love his progression as an OHL player over the course of his three years in the league. In his rookie year, he struggled to stay in the line-up and looked largely over-matched at this level. Then in his draft year, he embraced a different role (a third line role) and did whatever it took to stay in the lineup and get consistent ice time. Then last year he finally got some time on special teams and saw his offensive role increase. He excels as a playmaker and has terrific vision and poise with the puck, be it off the rush or below the hash marks. I thought Tierney looked visibly quicker and stronger this year and it lead to a more consistent offensive contribution. It also made him a stronger defensive player, where he often makes plays on the backcheck, or breaks up plays in the middle of the ice. Next year, I'd like to see his physical game develop more consistency. He'd be an even more dangerous player if he was more aggressive away from the puck. He could stand to win more battles in the corners and go harder to the net to make plays. I don't know if his offensive numbers we'll go up MUCH more, considering the talent ahead of him in the line-up, but I do think he'll crack the point per game mark for the first time in his career.
Dylan DeMelo - Mississauga Steelheads
DeMelo has improved immensely every year he's been in the league. He used to be a turnover machine in his own end, but he has become a secure and confident puck distributor who rarely makes mistakes with the puck. His first few steps have improved a lot the last few years, which has helped him elude the forecheck and cut down on those turnovers. He's also become more confident with the puck and has no issue going from blueline to blueline. The one thing I said last year about him is that I wanted him to work on using his shot more to generate scoring chances. Well he definitely did that this year. DeMelo was more aggressive in jumping up in the play, looking for opportunities to score. He also looked to shoot more on the powerplay and read shooting lanes better. Defensively, he continued to look relatively solid and was pretty aggressive in the corners and in front of the net. He's ready to turn pro and I think he'll be able to make an immediate impact with Worcester. In his first full pro season, I'd expect him to crack the 25-30 point mark and be a factor on their powerplay. The key for him will be whether he's able to play physically at the AHL level. He'll need to try and intimidate people in the defensive end.
J.P. Anderson - Sarnia Sting
The Rodney Dangerfield of OHL goalies. He gets no respect. This despite becoming the OHL's all time winningest goaltender this year (his 126 victories is now first to Kyle Gajewski's 114). All Anderson has done is win. He's certainly played for some pretty good teams over the course of his career, but you have to give him credit for being consistent. He may not dazzle you with highlight reel saves. He's certainly not flashy. And his numbers have never been fantastic. But he makes the saves when he needs to, and he doesn't give up a ton of bad goals. He's a very focused guy who always seems to keep his team in games. Because he's not the biggest, nor the most dynamic, I'm not sure what that means for his professional career. But I'm sure he'll work his butt off. It seems like he'll be battling NCAA signing Troy Grosenick to be Harri Sateri's back-up in Worcester. Whether he's in the AHL or ECHL, I could see him struggling to adjust at first, but few goalies don't go through growing pains when they hit pro. Still has NHL potential.
*of note, the Sharks did not sign Justin Sefton, making him a free agent.