Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My Final Top 50 OHL Players for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft - Part 1: Honorable Mentions

The Under 18's have wrapped up (and Canada earned its 4th straight medal). The CHL playoffs are nearing completion (the Memorial Cup begins May 22). The race to the draft is on. We're about a month away from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, so that means it's time for me to release my rankings.

The top 50 will be released in four parts: Part 1 - Honorable Mentions, Part 2 - Prospects 50-31, Part 3 - Prospects 30-11, and Part 4 - Prospects 10-1.

Just for clarification, for my top 50 ranking, I haven't included any players eligible for draft re-entry, such as Andrew Mangiapane. This has been consistent all the way through my lists. Instead, I did a list of the top 10 draft re-entries, which can be found here.

Also for clarification, this list is MY list of the top 50 OHL prospects, as if I were drafting for my own team. In other words, this isn't a list of where I THINK or believe players will go, but a ranking of my own opinion on the top players eligible for this draft based on my viewings this season. If you want a draft projection and information about players outside the OHL, be sure to order the Future Considerations, ISS, and/or McKeen's Draft Guides.

This first part includes the Honorable Mentions of my list. These are the players who received consideration for my top 50, but who fell just short. There are 20 in total. I'm not sure I see many of these guys generating NHL draft interest. However, many could get training camp/rookie camp invites and generate interest from there.

Here are my HM's (in alphabetical order)...

Mike Baird - Forward - North Bay Battalion
Baird is a hard nosed forward who played a limited role for the Battalion this year. His role is to come out crashing/banging and to be active on the forecheck. He skates well North/South and it makes him a valuable energy player. But the offensive side of his game is a major work in progress. May have limited goal scoring potential because the hands in close and ability to find scoring lanes are currently below average. He's a former high draft pick who remains a project under Stan Butler.

Doug Blaisdell - Defence - Kitchener Rangers
Along with Medric Mercier, Blaisdell was the final cut from my top 50. I had high hopes for him this year after he performed quite admirably as a rookie for Kitchener last year. But his development wasn't terrific this year. He's got great size and he has decent mobility, but he can get caught flat footed and is still learning how to use his size effectively defensively. Offensively, his first pass is OK, but he lacks confidence with the puck. Still lots of time for him to reach his potential.

Tyler Boston - Forward - Guelph Storm
An OHL rookie this year (after playing last year for Aurora), Boston was a pleasant surprise for the Storm. Through stretches this year, he proved himself to be an adequate secondary scoring option who can use speed, energy, and intelligence to create scoring chances. He's not big though and his lack of strength was evident. As he fills out, he could be a guy who slowly gets better in the OHL and draws the interest of NHL scouts (reminds me a bit of former Storm Zach Mitchell).

Riley Bruce - Defence - North Bay Battalion
A behemoth defenceman (6'6) who does have potential, especially playing under defensive genius Butler. Right now he's still a major work in progress though. Defensively, he's a bit awkward and he can be exposed by quicker forwards off the rush. As he upgrades his mobility and ability to use his reach, he could develop into a solid defensive prospect. He also needs to play with more intensity, especially in the corners. Offensively, he keeps things simple and seems hesitant to attack. A player to monitor as he develops (and fills into his frame).

Andrew Burns - Defence - Windsor Spitfires
Had seriously high hopes for Burns, but his development did not go as expected this year. Windsor even shuffled him to forward at times to get him in the lineup. When he was at forward, he actually looked the best he did all year. His offensive IQ is very strong, but the speed of the game seemed to overwhelm him on defense. He struggled with turnovers and will need to get stronger/quicker to fight off the forecheck. I still have a lot of faith in him developing into a quality offensive blueliner in this league. It wasn't an easy year to be a defensive rookie on a rocky Windsor team.

Johnny Corneil - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
A fan favourite in Niagara, Corneil is a battler who saw ice time in a variety of different roles this year. He's not large (height wise), but he can be strong on the puck thanks to good lower body strength. His playmaking ability shows a lot of promise. However, I think he needs to develop into a more consistent energy player to find success. At times I felt like he struggled with an identity. If he can become a consistent physical player, and create space on a scoring line, he may earn NHL attention.

Adam Craievich - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Like Burns, Craievich was another player I had very high hopes for this year. Ultimately, his skating was not upgraded enough to make him a consistent offensive threat. And his play away from the puck remains inconsistent. He has a fantastic shot and offensive skill, but he'll need to put in some serious work this offseason to come back strong next year in Ottawa. The 67's are likely to give him another shot on a scoring line next year, but he'll need to show gains.

Ben Fanjoy - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Fanjoy is a meat and potatoes kind of player who saw action in a variety of roles for the 67's this year (including some first line ice time). He has goal scoring potential and will take a hit or make a hit to create a scoring chance. He's only averaged sized though and doesn't really have any standout characteristics. 

Justin Fazio - Goaltender - Sarnia Sting
The goaltender of the future for the Sting, Fazio had some good performances this year, but was largely very inconsistent. It was his first full year in the league and he seemed to struggle at times with some mental lapses. Next year he should be the starter in Sarnia (for an improved team) so he'll have a chance to make a bigger impact on the scouting community.

Jeremy Helvig - Goaltender - Kingston Frontenacs
Lucas Peressini won the starter's role and was a workhorse for the Fronts this year, leaving Helvig on the sidelines for the majority of the season. When he did see game action, the first year OHL'er struggled. He has everything scouts look for in a goaltender (size and athleticism), but just wasn't able to build any confidence this year. Potential exists to develop into a strong OHL starter down the line.

Michael Holmes - Defence - Saginaw Spirit
Physically imposing blue liner (6'3) who is still learning how to use his size to become a strong stay at home defender. There are certainly times where he looks like he could develop into a quality shut down guy. He'll need to improve his skating and his first pass out of the zone though.

Mason Kohn - Forward - Kitchener Rangers
Undersized forward who brings a ton of energy and tenacity to the ice. He made the most of his inconsistent ice time this year and had a very strong performance in this year's playoffs (when he actually received quality ice time). May not be a serious NHL prospect, but could develop into a very valuable OHL player.

Matthew Kreis - Forward - Barrie Colts
The Colts' first rounder from 2013, Kreis' development stagnated this year. He has good speed and shows flashes of being able to create off the rush. But he still lacks the strength to excel with the puck on his stick and will need to show improvements next year in order to earn more ice time.

Troy Lajeunesse - Forward - Sarnia Sting
Undersized, but very intelligent offensive player. Lajeunesse was a free agent signing by the Sting this offseason and he's worked his way into their long term plans. He's not the fastest or most skilled guy on the ice, but he's a hard worker who seems to find his way on to the score sheet. I'm interested to see how he develops with a young (and talented) Sting roster.

Medric Mercier - Defence - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Wouldn't be surprised at all if an NHL team takes a chance on him late in the draft. He's a real wild card. Mercier is a late '96, but is only in his first OHL season. Because of the Soo's terrific depth on the backend, his ice time and responsibility has been minimal (especially later in the season and in the playoffs). But he did well to make an impression despite limited opportunity to do so. He's got great size (6'4) and has the potential to impact the game at both ends of the ice. Has a chance to earn top 4 ice time next year.

Liam Murray - Defence - Windsor Spitfires
Big, physical, stay at home defender who was a bright spot for the Spitfires this year. Keeps the game relatively simple and could definitely develop into a premier shutdown guy. IMO he was more impressive than Patrick Sanvido this year, who was an NHL draft pick last year.

Petrus Palmu - Forward - Owen Sound Attack
Pint sized forward (5'6) who was a consistent performer all year for Owen Sound. Because of his lack of size, he's not likely on the NHL radar, but I thought he still deserved mention on this list. He has tremendous skill with the puck and doesn't back down from playing in traffic.

Jesse Saban - Defence - Belleville Bulls/Hamilton Bulldogs
A good sized defender who was one of the key pieces of the Remi Elie/Jake Marchment deal. Saban has the potential to develop into a quality OHL defender, but I don't think he's developed a true identity yet. His confidence with the puck needs to improve if he wants to be an offensive defender. And he needs to assert himself physically and make quicker decisions in the defensive end if he wants to be a strong stay at home guy. 

Artem Vladimirov - Defence - Peterborough Petes
An import who should have been better this year given his skill set. He's got an absolute rocket of a shot, can skate with the puck and will look to throw a big hit. But he seemed to struggle with the speed of the OHL game this year and had some difficulty with his decision making at both ends of the ice. It will be interesting to see if the Petes keep him next year. He could breakout ala Damir Sharipzyanov next year.

Bryce Yetman - Forward - Plymouth Whalers/Flint Firebirds
Missed over half the season with an upper body injury. Potential to be a talented goal scorer, but still too slight and needs to add strength to be more effective in close. With limited viewings this year, he's not likely to be a guy NHL teams look at. But, he could certainly bounce back next year if he stays healthy. I know the Whalers (now Firebirds) franchise had high hopes for him coming into this year.


Anonymous said...

How bad is Mississauga run that not a single player from that team is on this list. They should be embarrassed.

Brock Otten said...

I've been as hard on the Steelheads this year as anyone (for their mismanagement this year), but in fairness to them, they don't have anyone on this list because their two best players from that 2013 Priority selection crop are not eligible until next year (Sean Day, Nathan Bastian).

With Day, Bastian, and Mike McLeod in 2016, they could have 3 in the Top 20.

However, you are right. The Steelheads' inability to draft in the 2nd and 3rd rounds has absolutely killed that franchise the last few years. That's the difference between a team like SSM and Mississauga.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Steelheads brass are aware that the goaltender they drafted, Cayden Primeau, is an NCAA commit to Northeastern. Don't they find this sort of thing out before drafting players?