Friday, July 31, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Edmonton Oilers

Connor who?? The Oilers have a ton of riding on the development of their OHL prospects.

1. Connor McDavid - Erie Otters
The best player that I've ever seen in the OHL and now it's time for him to move on to face a new challenge. While I'm sure every OHL fan was hoping McDavid would end up on their favourite NHL team, there's no way any of them are cheering against him. McDavid had one heck of a season in 2014/2015. Dominating on the score sheet. Winning the Red Tilson. Winning World Junior Gold. Dominating in the playoffs. Sure, a Memorial Cup would have looked great, but beggars can't be choosers. His 49 points in 20 playoff games speaks for itself. And even though it's hard to fathom it, his game actually continues to improve. He was less predictable offensively this year, changing up pace consistently and not just relying on his speed entering the zone. He was also considerably better in all three zones, showing a consistent commitment to the back check. McDavid is just one heck of a hockey player. So what can we expect from him at the NHL level next year? There's no question that I expect McDavid to be physically ready for the challenges of the NHL. Not only is he talented, but he's also committed. With his speed, skill, and hockey sense, I have no doubt that he will instantly become Edmonton's top player and a serious candidate to hit the point per game mark. Will the Oilers as a team be better next year? That's up for debate. But as far as McDavid goes, I expect him to find instant success.

2. Darnell Nurse - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Like McDavid, Nurse had a very successful final season in the OHL. In all honesty, I'm not sure his game improved a ton from his 2013/2014 season, but that's not really a bad thing. As I wrote last year, I thought he was pro ready then. Defensively, he's a rock with plus mobility, smarts, and the desire to run you through physically. Offensively, he's a solid player who can do a lot of things (rush the puck, jump up for a scoring opportunity, run the point on the power play, start the breakout), but I do think that this year has taught us that his offensive ceiling at the next level may not be outrageously high. If you're expecting him to be a 50-60 point NHL defender who wins multiple Norris trophies, I think you're setting the bar too high. So what can we expect out of his first pro season (and of him in general)? At this point, I think I see Nurse settling into a role similar to that of Brent Seabrook in Chicago. A hard nosed, physical defender who can put up some points, but it's not his main role on the club. I've seen some insinuating that Nurse should start at the AHL level to let him gain some confidence offensively. In all honesty, I don't think that should necessarily be the case. If he's in the AHL next year, it should be because you want his defensive game to gain confidence, for him to adjust to the size and speed of the pro game. This is because that will be his calling card and that's how he's going to best help this club. If his defensive game looks ready in camp, put him on the team and bring his ice time along slowly (kind of the way the Preds have with Seth Jones). Whether he's in the AHL or the NHL, I think he finds success this coming year. I'd be willing to bet that he's with the Oilers for at least half the season though.

3. Kyle Platzer - Owen Sound Attack
What a great year for Platzer. He was probably playing for a contract this year and he came through in the clutch. Platzer paced the Attack to a very solid season, showcasing great development in his offensive game (in nearly every area). He looked quicker, which helped him attack the offensive zone and create scoring chances off the rush. He was more aggressive, attacking the net and on the forecheck. He looked stronger, on and off the puck, which helped his shot and his ability to maintain possession. And, he looked more confident and poised. While he may not possess great size, Platzer is a smart offensive player who is now also a well rounded one. He'll start his AHL career and could find success in a variety of roles. The coaching staff could ask him to play an energy role on the 3rd/4th lines, or they could stick him on a scoring line as a complimentary scorer. I expect him to be a 20 goal scorer in his first season and for him to establish himself as a solid pro prospect.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers are up next.

1. Lawson Crouse - Kingston Frontenacs
The 11th overall pick in 2015, Crouse was the one prospect who seemed to divide opinions the most. Some felt that he shouldn't have sniffed the lottery, while others felt that he was a legitimate Top 10 talent. Those who read this site know that I'm a Crouse fan and that means that I loved the Panthers choice. Crouse has always been a responsible two way player, a smart player away from the puck, and heavy hitter (in his two years in the league). But offensively he did improve this year. His ability and confidence to take the puck from the wall to the net definitely increased, as did his ability to drive wide and use his size to create scoring chances off the rush. He's very much a North/South player at this point, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. His shot and hands in close are good, but his numbers suffered this year because he didn't have a top notch playmaker to get him the puck. There's a reason why his numbers increased once Sam Bennett returned. As he continues to get stronger, quicker, and better with the puck, he's going to be better at creating his own scoring chances and should increase his offensive output. 2015/2016 will be a big year for Crouse as he looks to lead Kingston to a good year. Their year could go either way right now. He'll also be an important member of Canada's WJC team. So what to expect from Crouse? Spencer Watson is going to need to have a big year to get a contract so I think he'll be highly motivated, which will give Lawson a playmaker to play with. I see Crouse being in the 35+ goal range, and hopefully around 65 points.

2. Thomas Schemitsch - Owen Sound Attack
Massively improved over his rookie season in the OHL. Schemitsch was a key contributor in all situations for the Attack, playing nearly 30 minutes a night on occasion. He's a very smart player at both ends, using his instincts to jump up in the play to finish off scoring chances, or to be in position to make a good read defensively. For a player who hasn't been playing defence very long, he's shown great progress thus far. Moving forward, I think two things will be key to his development. First is improving his skating to make himself a more dangerous puck rusher and to help him evade the forecheck. Second is learning to use his size more consistently defensively. I have a lot of faith that he'll develop into a quality NHL prospect though. Next year Owen Sound will be going through a bit of a rebuild and they could struggle offensively, so if Schemitsch can post similar numbers to what he did this year (around 50 points), all the while improving on the above traits, I'd consider that a success.

3. Juho Lammikko - Kingston Frontenacs
Decent first OHL season for the power winger. There were definitely things that impressed me about his game. Plays a power, North/South game, using his size to drive the net. He's also effective at working the corners and has good puck protection ability. Lammikko also proved to be a good two-way player and was excellent at using his size to separate the opposition from the puck on the back check. I must say that I'm not entirely sure how high his offensive ceiling is though. His shot and overall scoring instincts did not prove to be incredibly impressive this year, and for as good as he was in the corners, and in working the cycle, the play did tend to die on his stick at times. Unfortunately, he won't be given the chance to improve his numbers in the OHL next year as he's returning to Finland to play for Assat.

4. Josh Brown - Oshawa Generals
Captain of a Championship winning team. You can't really beat that as an accomplishment. Brown led the Generals to the Memorial Cup, establishing career highs in point production and in +/- along the way. The overager has long been known for his physical play in his own end, but he's grown a lot as a player over his junior career. While he'll never put up points at the next level, he has worked hard to improve his breakout pass and is a lot less susceptible to forechecking turnovers than he used to be. And defensively, he's improved his overall mobility/agility, to make himself a much better defender off the rush, to go with his staunch defence of the crease and the corners. As he moves on to the pros next year (whether it's the AHL or ECHL), I do think that there will be a learning curve as there was in his OHL career. The quicker pace could expose his mobility and his puck skill at first until he's able to adjust. But there's no denying the terrific OHL career that Brown wrapped up has made him a potential NHL defender somewhere down the line.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings have been big fans of the OHL the last few years and that gives us a ton to talk about.

1. Mike Amadio - North Bay Battalion
His game is really blossoming under Coach Stan Butler. In his draft year, Amadio showed flashes of being a go to offensive player, but his inconsistencies and somewhat one dimensional game really held him back. But this past year, he's really worked hard to iron out those deficiencies. Amadio's puck skill is vastly underrated, as he's a terrific puck handler and it helps him be a factor in a variety of different ways. He can create off the rush, using his size down the middle to take the puck hard to the net, but he's also become an effective player along the wall, assimilating with Butler's grind it out style of play. Amadio also sees the ice really well and has great vision as a playmaker. As a puck protection center with size, he shows a lot of potential. Defensively, he's come a long way and is now a committed two-way player who kills penalties. Considering all the graduations in North Bay, Amadio should be a good bet to wear a letter next year. He'll also be needed to increase his offensive production even more with Nick Paul graduating. In Butler's system, the offensive numbers are often a little lower than some of the other teams in the OHL, but if Amadio can crack the 80 point barrier, that would be a great accomplishment. A prospect on the rise.

2. Matthew Mistele - Oshawa Generals
After a disastrous draft season, Mistele definitely got himself back on track this year. Splitting time between Plymouth and Oshawa, Mistele re-established himself as a power winger who can fill the net consistently. Biggest reason for that IMO was re-found confidence. In 2013/2014, he looked lost at times, gripping his stick too hard and putting too much pressure on himself. This year, he kept things simple, playing a strong North/South game. He knows his role on the ice is to go hard to the net and he's got great hands in close and a great wrister coming down the wing. He also re-established himself as a physical player, especially in the corners where he's very effective at winning one on one battles. I thought he was absolutely terrific for the Generals in the playoffs and at the Memorial Cup, helping them to win a Championship. Next year, where he plays remains to be seen. The Kings don't have to sign him until next year, but he's eligible to play in the pros this year thanks to a late birth date. With continued work on his skating and overall strength this offseason, he's probably ready for a top 9 role in the AHL. The Kings will likely give Mistele a chance to win an AHL role in training camp, and sign him if he proves to be ready (as they have done with several other prospects over the years). If he's in the AHL, I could easily see him hitting 15+ goals. If he's back in the OHL as an overager, he should be a strong candidate for the 40 goal mark, although it might be on yet another team as Oshawa goes through a bit of a rebuild.

3. Alex Lintuniemi - Ottawa 67's
Unlike Mistele, Lintuniemi already has an NHL contract, which suggests that they might see him taking on a pro role next year. This past year in the OHL, Lintuniemi was pretty solid. He was a work horse for the 67's, playing in all situations for the playoff team. His skating continues to improve and he's a very difficult player to beat off the rush because of his reach and his desire to plant you on your ass. But I would like to see him play with as much intensity in the corners and in front of the net, as he does in the middle of the ice and the neutral zone. Offensively, he can start the rush and did a better job evading the forecheck this year. Cutting down on the defensive zone turnovers must have been a goal of his and he succeeded. He's still not a natural offensive player though, and I think his calling card at the next level will be in his own end. As mentioned, Lintuniemi's got a contract next year, but the Kings do have options. They've got depth in the system, so he'd have to really compete hard to earn a spot in the AHL. If they elect to send him back to the OHL for his overage year, he'd be leading a 67's team which expects to compete for the Eastern Conference.

4. Zac Leslie - Guelph Storm
Leslie had an OK year, after being sent back to the OHL by the Kings to play as an overager. It was sort of a status quo year for him, perhaps even a slight step backwards. The Storm were not as good of a team this year and I think that will always prevent a player from looking consistently strong as a prospect. And Leslie was also troubled by a shoulder injury this year that eventually required season ending surgery, which obviously negatively impacted his production. I didn't see him as being as aggressive of an offensive player this year, specifically in jumping in on the rush (or leading it). Still did a good job running the point on the power play, but his offensive game just wasn't as sharp (possibly because of the shoulder, possibly because the Kings asked him to focus more on the defensive side of things). Defensively, he's a solid player who plays bigger than his size. Honestly, it wasn't a bad year for Leslie, it's just that I don't think there was any progression over the year prior. Next year he'll turn pro and with the depth in the AHL, he could find himself in the ECHL to start.

5. Jacob Middleton - Ottawa 67's
I think his game made great strides this past year. Offensively, he's still a work in progress (and is behind in his development compared to where I figured he would be at this point in his OHL career). But defensively, he really established himself as a tough guy to play against. His lateral mobility and overall skating ability has improved, making him a better defender off the rush, and quicker to dump ins and corner battles. He's a very physical player and already exceptionally strong, making him difficult to compete against along the wall and in front of the net. Offensively, he plays a simple game, often electing to let Lintuniemi (his partner) start the rush. So where does his game go from here? Obviously, the Kings would probably like to see him maintain his defensive play, but also improve his offensive production. Whether it's improving his breakout pass, or taking more chances up ice, Middleton should be able to contribute more if he can make even bigger strides in his skating. I know that I've always felt that there is hidden potential offensively there and we'll see if that comes to fruition. Next year, as the 67's gear up for a run at the Eastern Conference title, I'd like to see Middleton hit the 35 point mark, while continuing to establish himself as one of the league's elite defenders below the hash marks.

6. Kurtis MacDermid - Erie Otters
Definitely a fantastic year for MacDermid's development as he was able to take on a larger role for the competitive Otters. His offensive production doubled that of his previous career best, which is not uncommon for overage players. Still great to see though. Offensively, MacDermid was way more confident handling the puck, and really improved his ability to start the breakout. His first pass has greatly improved and he showed confidence in skating the puck out at times too. MacDermid even saw power play time this year and certainly did not look uncomfortable. He's got a big shot from the point and as long as his decision making continues to improve, he could even put up a few points at the next level. Defensively, he was a rock. His game has grown a lot in his own end, chasing the play less, no longer taking himself out of position to make the big hit. He's still an exceptionally physical player though, and one of the toughest to match up against in the OHL. His mobility will still need work for the next level, but his size, engagement, and positioning covered up for it at this level. Next year, MacDermid will battle with guys like Leslie for a spot on the AHL blue line. It will be interesting to see if one can crack the lineup, or whether both end up in the ECHL.

7. Jake Marchment - Erie Otters
Certainly an up and down year for Marchment. First the suspension and the stripping of the captaincy in Belleville. Then the trade to Erie where he would eventually grow to be one of their best players in the OHL playoffs. His offensive production this year certainly wasn't terrific. In Belleville he struggled to be a consistent contributor, and then after the trade to Erie, he seemed to struggle with trying to make a consistent impact with a reduced role. But he slowly gained more ice time and responsibility in Erie, and was a huge part of their penalty kill. Marchment remains a big guy; a big powerful center who thrives in traffic and loves to slow the game down in the offensive end. He's also quite defensively responsible and should continue to grow into the type of player who is difficult to match up against (your shut down center). The LA Kings have traditionally shown a desire to send players like Marchment back to Junior for their overage year, so I would definitely expect him back in Erie next year. This would be great for his development IMO. He needs another year to really get his confidence going in his offensive game. To learn how to consistently use his size off the rush, to continue to make improvements to his first few steps, and to work on finishing off plays in close. In Erie, he should assume a top 6 role with power play time and I'd expect him to be a very productive player, in the 30/30 range.

8. Matt Schmalz - Sudbury Wolves
A great draft selection by the Kings this year, as Schmalz proved to be one of the most improved 96's in the OHL. Schmalz was a previous high draft pick to the OHL who had yet to live up to that, failing to grow into his 6'6 frame. But this past year was a huge one for his development, and really one of the few bright spots during an otherwise miserable season for the Wolves. At this point, Schmalz is still quite raw. His game is pretty simple in a North/South way. The majority of his goals and scoring chances are created by him driving wide, trying to use his size and top gear to bully his way to the net. And he's got a pretty decent wrist shot that's got some life on it. His first few steps need work, but once he gets going, he's actually a good skater for a big man. He's also not afraid to use his size physically, throwing his weight around without the puck. But the rest of his game needs improvement. His vision and playmaking ability will need to improve off the rush, as he's more of a 'head down' kind of guy at this moment. I'd like to see him create more off the wall and from the cycle too. And defensively, the effort could be greater. But at 6'6, the potential is quite high if his game continues to grow like it did this year. Sudbury will improve next year and could compete for a playoff spot. Schmalz could be in for another jump in production, especially with a few more talented playmakers injected into the lineup. I think he could easily crack the 30 goal plateau, but I'd actually be more impressed if he could really get those assist totals higher (in the 25+ range).

9. Spencer Watson - Kingston Frontenacs
It was a tough year for Watson IMO, and he still has yet to take that next step forward that he's capable of. Watson missed a big chunk of time with a broken ankle this year, but when he did play, there wasn't much growth from his draft year. The one thing that I will say is that his 200 foot game has improved and his willingness to be a two-way player seems evident. But he's still undersized, and lacks that explosive skating element to his game that all smaller players need to find success at the next level. Watson is still isn't aggressive enough as an offensive player too, and needs to get stronger to be more effective in traffic. His instincts are terrific, and his hands have never been questioned, but the production just doesn't match that. With his skill level, he should be taking over games, but that's just not the case. Next year is a huge one for him. I'd like to see him really play with a chip on his shoulder. To prove to people that he should not have been a 7th round pick. To prove to the Kings that he deserves a contract. Kingston's season next year could go a bunch of different ways, depending on the development of some of their players (which has been underwhelming thus far). If they want to be in the top 4 of the Conference, they're going to need Watson in the 90-ish point range and for him to really take that next step forward as one of the league's premier offensive talents.

*Of Note, Kings 2nd round Erik Cernak was drafted by the Erie Otters in the Import Draft and it seems pretty likely that he'll be there next year. He should see a ton of playing time and I'm excited to see what he's capable of.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Minnesota Wild

The Wild have a couple of late round picks playing in the OHL right now.

1. Gustav Bouramman - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Fantastic first season in North America for Bouramman, who managed to be a consistent contributor for the competitive Hounds. Once the team acquired Anthony DeAngelo and Connor Boland, his ice time was slashed pretty significantly but his play never dropped. Bouramman's standout strength is his ability to start the rush. He's got great vision up ice, and makes very good decisions with the puck in his own end. His smooth stride and excellent mobility makes him a hard player to forecheck effectively, and the majority of his assists this year came from making good first passes. Defensively, the effort level is unquestionably there, but he needs to get stronger to be an effective defensive player. Strength will also help his point shot gain velocity, which would make him more of a weapon on the power play. Overall, he's just a very smart player who I think gets better. Next year, the Hounds hope to continue to be competitive on the back of young, improving players like Bouramman. He'll have a chance to play on their first pairing next year and will definitely be running their top power play unit. I'd expect him to at least match his offensive output from this past season, perhaps even cracking the 50 point barrier (goals increase).

2. Pavel Jenys - Sudbury Wolves
The Sudbury Wolves were awful this year. No bones about it. But Jenys did lead the Sudbury in scoring, which has to be considered an accomplishment following his first season in North America. His 45 points paced the Wolves and Jenys looked quite comfortable on the ice. He's a real honest player. Not necessarily the most skilled, but I liked how he worked off the rush, and off the wall, and showed a penchant for creating scoring chances with some pretty decent first few steps. He's certainly not shy about throwing his weight around either and can be active on the forecheck. That said, he was prone to being invisible too. He needs to play with a higher intensity level every shift. Coming into the season, the scouting reports I got praised him as a shoot first kind of guy, but that wasn't necessarily something I saw in Sudbury. Would love to see him shoot more. Sudbury's rebuild will continue next year, although they will most definitely be better than they were in 2014/2015. Jenys will be at the heart of that as a returning player. With a talented playmaker like Sokolov entering the fold, as well David Levin, Jenys should have some help. I'd love to see him around 25 goals and 35 assists next year.

Monday, July 27, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens have a lot to be excited about in their minimal OHL player pool.

1. Michael McCarron - Oshawa Generals
What a difference a year makes. Honestly, McCarron couldn't have transformed himself any more than he did in 2014/2015. Two years ago, I, like many, were disappointed with the big American forward's play. There honestly weren't many redeeming qualities to his game (turnover prone, soft for his size, undisciplined, etc). This year, he was a difference maker on a Memorial Cup Championship team. The offensive numbers dipped upon the trade to Oshawa, but that doesn't mean that his play dropped off. If anything, his play on both London and Oshawa was great for him. In London he was able to establish himself as an offensive force, a guy who can drive the net, or finish off plays in close. With his size and hands in front, he was nearly impossible for OHL defenders to tie up. His shot also proved to be a massive weapon and it's strength profiles him more as a goal scorer at the next level than people give him credit for. In Oshawa, he was asked to play a shutdown role where he had to kill penalties, take important face-offs, and put pressure on the top lines of the opposition. His tale of two seasons showcases how well rounded of a player he has become. As he moves on to the professional level next year, I honestly wouldn't be shocked to see McCarron in the NHL at some point. If his development goes according to plan, he's the type of guy who could make a difference in the NHL playoffs come May 2016. I won't make any predictions on his offensive output, because it's impossible to pin point what type of role he'll be playing. But I do expect him to find success and establish himself as a top flight prospect.

2. Jeremiah Addison - Ottawa 67's
Addison had a very quietly effective season, finishing strong with a terrific playoff performance. He plays a lot bigger than his size (~6'0) and is a true power forward. He excels when driving the net, with and without the puck, and is slowly learning how to read defences to get himself good scoring chances. As a complimentary offensive player, he was very valuable to Ottawa. He can also kill penalties and is a strong presence at both ends of the ice. As a complete player, he was a great add by Montreal in the late rounds of 2015. Next year, Ottawa should be one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference and Addison will continue to play a scoring line role (with Konecny or Salituro). He should also see power play time. I could see him having a very good season and a 30/30 year is a great possibility.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Nashville Predators

Like the Capitals earlier, the Preds do not currently have any OHL prospects in their system. In fact, the Predators haven't drafted a player out of the OHL since 2011 (Josh Shalla), although they did have Mikko Vainonen play in Kingston in 2014.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - New Jersey Devils

The Devils have quietly built a very solid group of OHL prospects, which was added to by their near OHL sweep at the draft this year (4 out of 5 picks).

1. Pavel Zacha - Sarnia Sting
Even if he was the 6th overall pick, to say that Zacha's first season in the OHL went as planned would be a blatant lie. Injuries and suspensions derailed his season, (along with the WJC's), holding him to just 37 games played. In those 37 games, he was solid. He was a physical beast at times, showcasing an ability to dominate the corners and the middle of the ice with his size and skill package. He really knows how to create his own scoring chances and his puck protection ability at full speed is excellent. He's also a solid two-way player and did a great job against Connor McDavid in round one of the playoffs. That said, there are areas that need refinement. I'm still not sure whether he's a center or a wing (he looked great on the wing at the U18's), and that's because I'm not sure about his vision or playmaking skill for those around him. At times when I saw him, he had trouble identifying open teammates, opting instead for a net drive that accomplished little. So where does that leave us for next year? Physically, Zacha is probably ready for the challenges of the NHL. He's a big kid and with his skill set, he'd probably find success right away. However, I think it would be a mistake. If I was the Devils, I'd want to see him play a full, healthy season before graduating him. The Sting are set to be a serious contender in the OHL next year and sending him back to junior would give him a chance to be an integral part of a potential Championship team.

2. Mackenzie Blackwood - Barrie Colts
Blackwood has already established himself as a top 5 starter in the OHL, thanks to two solid seasons in the league where he's cemented himself as Barrie's starter. While he's had some injuries and had a few shaky performances here and there, he's largely been pretty consistent for a Barrie team that has finished 2nd and 4th the last two years. His size and freakish athleticism give him sky high potential as an NHL net minder, barring he can continue to work on the fundamentals (rebound control, positioning, reads, etc). Next year, Barrie could be one of the best teams in the OHL and the next step for Blackwood would be leading them to a Championship after being bounced in the 2nd round the last two years. I'd also love to see him as one of Canada's backstops at the World Junior Championships.

3. Ryan Kujawinski - North Bay Battalion
The trade to North Bay really saved Kujawinski's season and was absolutely fantastic for his development. He and Coach Stan Butler seemed to be on the same page right from day one and he really brought out the best in Ryan, something other coaches have had a difficult time doing. In North Bay, Kujawinski established himself as a very difficult player to go up against. He used his size to disrupt away from the puck at both ends of the ice, and embraced a consistently physical approach for the first time in his OHL career. He also showcased a great north/south offensive game, finishing off plays off the rush and working hard in the corners/behind the net to wear down the opposing defence. When he's using his size to drive the net, Kujawinski shows he could score some goals at the next level. In the AHL next year, I'm hoping he continues to find the motivation to play as hard as he did under Butler. His skill set makes him an ideal candidate for an NHL 3rd line down the road and I'm hopeful he can have a successful first pro season. Would love to see him hit the 20 goal mark, which is a great goal IMO.

4. Joseph Blandisi - Barrie Colts
After the Avalanche elected not to sign Blandisi, he returned to the OHL as a man possessed. He ended up finishing 4th in league scoring and was tops in goal scoring with 52. The coveted overager then signed with New Jersey. This was really the first year that Blandisi was given a ton of offensive responsibility (top line ice time and first power play unit) and he took that and ran with it. Previously Blandisi had been more of a strong supporting character whose two way play and tenacity away from the puck made him a terrific complimentary scorer. But as he proved this year, he's more than that. Always a good skater, Blandisi took that to another level this past offseason, allowing him to be one of the quickest players in the OHL this year. He was also noticeably stronger and his release and the velocity of his shot greatly improved. Most of all, his confidence was sky high and he was able to take over a lot of games with his play in all three zones. Sometimes players bloom late, and when an NHL team chooses not to sign you, it can light a fire under you (Jake Muzzin comes to mind recently). Blandisi's speed and play without the puck should make him a good pro right off the bat. He's likely going to be ready to contribute pretty quickly in the AHL this year and should have a good year.

5. Blake Speers - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Speers was fantastic in the first half of the OHL season, finding himself with a ton of offensive responsibility in his second year. But as the season went on, a couple of things happened. One, Speers seemed to tire a bit and he didn't bring the same type of energy late in the season as he did early on. Secondly, as the Hounds brought in higher profile veterans (Ritchie, Bailey), he found himself a little further down the depth chart. His speed, his release and overall goal scoring instincts, and his two-way smarts make him a very solid OHL player already. Moving forward, he needs to get stronger, become a little more aggressive in the middle of the ice, and find a way to consistently use his speed to generate scoring chances. Next year In Sault Ste. Marie, Speers will be a go to offensive player and will get the opportunity to blossom. My guess is that he puts in the work this offseason to make himself better and returns to the OHL next year a more consistent player. A 40/40 season and the 90 point marker are realistic expectations IMO.

6. Colton White - Sault Ste. Marie Gryehounds
Buried on the depth chart this year, White is a terrific young defenseman. His mobility is fantastic and I think we're scratching the surface on the types of things he's capable of offensively. He needs to gain confidence, but he's a very capable puck rusher moving forward, and his instincts running the point make him a candidate to run the power play if he can improve his point shot and distribution ability. As a defensive player, he's solid positionally and will likely continue to learn how to use his mobility to be an asset in his own end. Next year, White could be on the top pairing of the Hounds (moving up with partner Bouramman) and see a ton of ice time (thanks to a lot of graduations). He should see power play time and I'd expect his offensive numbers to really grow (in the 35+ points). The Hounds should still be a pretty decent team next year, despite losing a ton of talent, and that's because of the potential their young players White.

7. Connor Chatham - Plymouth Whalers/Flint Firebirds
It was a tough year for Chatham, as he battled a wrist injury that ultimately required season ending surgery. The Whalers (now Firebirds) were a very inconsistent offensive team, as they lacked a dynamic play creator outside of Sonny Milano. Chatham remains the same type of player that he was when he was drafted. A hard nosed, physical winger, who plays a strong North/South game and who has good hands. He has the potential to be more of a dynamic player, who can create scoring chances in a variety of ways (off the rush, off the wall, near the crease), but he just hasn't taken that next step yet. He needs to improve his shot and find a way to involve himself in all aspects of the game. Without a contract currently, it seems likely that Chatham will return to the OHL for his overage year. That would be a smart choice IMO. He should be able to physically dominate shifts and really gain some confidence offensively, before he settles into more of a checking line role at the next level. If he's in the OHL, he should be capable of a 30 goal season.

*Of Note, the Devils' 2nd rounder in 2014, Josh Jacobs, will be joining the Sarnia Sting in 2015/2016. I have very high expectations for him. The Sting should be one of the stronger teams in their Conference and he'll get the chance to play a lot (in all situations). Could even be a partner for Jakob Chychrun.

Friday, July 24, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - New York Islanders

The Islanders are our next stop.

1. Michael Dal Colle - Oshawa Generals
Hard to argue with the kind of year Dal Colle had. Any time one of your top prospects leads his team to a Memorial Cup championship, you should be happy. Dal Colle certainly had a ton of help, as the Generals were one of the strongest OHL teams in recent memory (depth and size wise). However, the question you have to ask yourself is, did Dal Colle really improve a ton as a prospect and a player? The honest answer is probably not. Did he have to? Probably not. He's an exceptionally talented offensive player whose game is multifaceted. Can create offense or finish off plays off the rush, off the wall, near the crease, on the powerplay, 5 on 5, etc. Is he the world's most dynamic skater? No. Has he developed into a power forward the way many anticipated he would? No. But his shot, offensive intelligence, and puck skill profiles him as a great piece to an NHL top 6 down the line. The one thing that I will say improved this year was his defensive play. Greater effort and awareness on the backcheck, which will make him a more attractive NHL option (to his coaches). Is he NHL ready? Yeah I think so. After winning a championship, I think he's plateaued as an OHL player and needs a new challenge. Unfortunately he can't play in the AHL. Which means that it's the NHL or the OHL. The Islanders have some talented players, but that doesn't mean he can't bump someone. If he does return to the OHL, it'll be interesting to see what happens. The Generals will be rebuilding and I could see them dealing Dal Colle to recoup some of the lost assets traded for their Cup run. If he's in the OHL, he's obviously a favourite to lead the league in scoring. Just not sure what else there is for him to learn.

2. Joshua Ho-Sang - Niagara IceDogs
Ho-Sang had a solid year with Niagara, following the early trade from Windsor. He's still quite the character and the type of person who's not afraid to speak his mind. But that doesn't mean that he hasn't matured. Let's talk about his play on the ice though. In terms of being able to make plays, there are few who can match his ability at the OHL level. His ability to work in traffic and create off the rush is often electrifying. Does he over handle the puck at times? Sure. Is he prone to some offensive zone turnovers? Yeah. But he's cut those down every year he's been in the league, from multiple per game, to about one per game. When you look at how much offense he creates, you'll learn to live with his gambles. There are still next steps though. He still needs to get stronger, and I'd like to see him upgrade his shot and ability to use it off the rush. By developing as more of a goal scorer, he'll be able to keep defences more honest and be a little less predictable. And by adding strength, he should be better at fighting off checks near the crease and in the corners, where he needs to be better. Niagara is set to be one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference this year, and if that's the case, they'll need Ho-Sang to be their offensive leader. They need a 90-95 point season from him and I think they'll get it. This is a motivated kid.

3. Mitchell Vande Sompel - Oshawa Generals
Undersized? Sure. But don't count him out. Vande Sompel competes and has already improved so much over the course of his two year OHL career. His intelligence at both ends profiles him as more than just an undersized powerplay specialist. By far Vande Sompel's best skill is his ability to start the breakout. He transitions up ice with ease and his explosive first few strides help him to evade forecheckers pretty easily. I'd actually like to see him be a little more aggressive next year with his rushes, trusting his speed to bail him out if needed. As a defensive player, it's all about adding strength, to give him a stronger base. That way he can be more successful in the corners and protecting his crease. But his defensive positioning and awareness has already grown a ton. Next year Oshawa will likely be rebuilding, but that doesn't mean that they can't still be somewhat competitive. Vande Sompel will be their leader on defence and they will need him to play a ton (30 minutes a night likely) and in all situations. It'll be a great year for his development if he's up for the challenge. I expect him to finish near the top of the defenseman scoring list.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - New York Rangers

To the Big Apple we go!

1. Brandon Halverson - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
I felt like this was a terrific year for Halverson's development. Part of that is because he struggled at times. His inconsistency caused him to lose some playing time to rookie Joseph Raaymakers, and his struggles in the playoffs against Erie (was a whole team effort) were a topic of discussion. Yet, I think these things were good for him. It's shown him what it takes to be an effective starting netminder in this league and it's bound to make him more hungry for success next year. A year when he'll have to be a bit better as the Hounds defence is taking a bit of a hit. His athleticism and size remain major pluses, but he's still learning the mental side of the game and how to read plays and position himself. It will be interesting to see if he's actually a Greyhound all of next year. The Hounds have another top prospect in Joseph Raaymakers who will be pushing for playing time (he's one of the top 98's in the province). There are some that believe the Hounds will trade Halverson if Raaymakers proves he's worthy of starting (as the goaltending market will be hot). No matter where he's playing, I expect Halverson to iron out some things and establish himself as one of the OHL's best.

2. Ryan Mantha - Niagara IceDogs
He was very bad at the beginning of the year. Then he suffered a shoulder injury and upon returning, he got better and better each month. In the final three months of the season, he had 21 points in 33 games. But he was actually very solid defensively too. He slowly gained the trust of the coaching staff and found himself paired with Blake Siebenaler in Niagara's top 4 by the end of the season. He's a big kid, and his mobility is a tad awkward, but his positioning isn't bad and he does a good job using his reach defending the rush. He's not afraid of mixing things up in front of the net too. Next year Niagara should have one of the better teams in the East, and one of the stronger defences in the OHL. Mantha could be in for a big year in 2015/2016, as long as he continues to improve. He'll play in all situations for the Dogs and a 40 point season is a logical expectation.

3. Troy Donnay - Erie Otters
Donnay improved a lot this year. He was a defensive workhorse for the Otters, eating a ton of minutes in key defensive situations and on the penalty kill. His penalty minutes declined, but not because he was less physical. Because his mobility improved (especially agility, turns), he took less hooking, tripping, etc calls because he was able to stay with forwards more effectively. But his defensive positioning also improved, as he's learned to use his reach and size to give himself more time and space. His first pass and overall puck handling ability also improved. He cut down on the defensive zone turnovers and improved his confidence in making first passes, or even skating the puck up to the blue line to make an outlet. But keep in mind that he was playing as an overager with a massive physical advantage. Graduating to the pros will be a big challenge for him. He's finally figured out how to neutralize the speed factor at the OHL level and now will be moving to an even faster pace. I could see him struggling a bit next year (could even be in the ECHL), and he remains a project that will require time and patience. But as long as he slowly improves and doesn't lose confidence, he could still be a defensive 3rd pairing guy down the line.

*Of note, two of the Rangers 2015 selections were chosen in this year's Import Draft. Robin Kovacs by North Bay, and Daniel Bernhardt by London. If either, or both come to the OHL, they'll get top 6 ice time and should be good candidates to have strong seasons.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Ottawa Senators

Time for the Canadian Capital.

1. Nick Paul - North Bay Battalion
What a fantastic season for Paul, as he emerged as one of the top prospect's playing in the OHL. His game has grown so much since he was drafted, credit has to go to both Paul and coach Stan Butler. Offensively, he controls the pace of play with his great puck possession ability. He controls the wall, but is also great off the rush. He just flat out knows how to use his size to maintain possession. Paul also has great scoring instincts and hands in close, which profiles him as a goal scorer at the next level too. As a defensive player, he excels against the opposition's best. Despite being a physical player and someone who excels in all three zones, he had under 50 penalty minutes this year. This points to his intelligence away from the puck. Moving forward, the one criticism that I do have is that he'll need to simplify his approach with the puck at the AHL/NHL level. There were times this year that he was too patient and tried to hold on to the puck too long, looking for the perfect play. He won't have that time and space at the next level. But I do expect him to have a ton of success next year. With how highly Ottawa management thinks of him, I wouldn't at all be surprised to see Paul up with the big club for over half the season. Getting his feet wet at the AHL level wouldn't be a bad thing to start though. Let him build some confidence offensively.

2. Tobias Lindberg - Oshawa Generals
What a great find for the Senators, and for the Generals this year. Lindberg filled a critical scoring line role for Oshawa during their championship season. Lindberg is at his best off the rush, using his size and speed to drive the net. He's also got a terrific release and he's great at using opposing defenders as screens as he flies down the wing. While he's not an overtly physical player, and he's not yet a terrific player along the wall, he does involve himself in these aspects and he excels at being the guy who finds himself in the right spot for scoring chances. As a two way player, Lindberg is solid and he uses his size to effectively separate players from the puck on the back check. Like Paul, Lindberg will be turning pro this year and should take on a top 6 role at the AHL level. I expect him to have a good year, at the very least scoring 20 goals.

3. Ben Harpur - Barrie Colts
I thought Harpur had an OK year, split between Guelph and Barrie. After the trade to the Colts, his offensive responsibilities declined and thus his offensive output also decreased. In a way, I think this was a good thing because it allowed him to focus on his defensive responsibilities. I think being counted on to be a point producer in Guelph hindered his defensive game a bit. In Barrie, his role was to clear the front of the net and play big minutes in key defensive situations. I thought he was excellent in the playoffs, which was the sole reason the Colts brought him in. Moving forward to the pro level next year, I do think that Harpur might struggle initially. His footwork still needs some work and he's still learning how to use his size more effectively (as a positional defender or a physically imposing one). He'll need to learn to make quicker decisions with the puck in his own end too. He should be brought along slowly, in a 3rd pairing role, which is definitely possible considering Ottawa's depth at the position.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Philadelphia Flyers

Only one prospect from the OHL for Philadelphia and he was just drafted.

1. Travis Konecny - Ottawa 67's
Konecny struggled through the first half of the season, trying to establish himself as the offensive leader of the 67's, while also acting as captain. I think he was putting too much pressure on himself to perform and as such he struggled with turnovers in the offensive end. But the Top Prospect's Game was a real turning point for him. His fantastic performance at the event really helped him to understand how much of an impact he can make by playing the game hard and by keeping things simple. His speed is an asset and it allows him to be a factor with and without the puck. He's a tenacious and tireless worker in the offensive end and creates scoring chances for himself and his line mates. Of course, he's also got a fantastic release which makes him the perfect candidate to play with a great playmaker (why I think he profiles best as a winger). As captain, he wears his heart on his sleeve, and as he gets stronger, he'll be an absolute beast in all three zones. Next year he'll return to Ottawa and focus on playing hard, but also staying healthy. Ottawa should have a very solid team and could compete for the East. I'd definitely expect him to be in the 85-90 point range in 2015/2016.

Monday, July 20, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pens haven't drafted out of the OHL much the last few years and as such had only one player in the league this year.

1. Jaden Lindo - Owen Sound Attack
Unfortunately, Lindo's post draft season (and 3rd in the OHL) was his worst. He missed a good chunk of his draft year and the beginning of this year recovering from a knee injury. Upon returning to the lineup this year, Lindo found himself pushed down the depth chart, passed by other players who had stepped up in his absence. His skating remains a concern as it currently prevents him from being fully involved offensively. His physical play wasn't as evident this year too, perhaps hesitant to re-injure himself. 2014/2015 has to be considered a bit of a lost season for his development. Next year, he should come to Owen Sound's camp fully healthy and ready to make an impact. With a ton of graduations, the Attack are going to need guys like Lindo to be high impact players if they want to remain competitive. Fighting for an NHL contract, I'd expect Lindo to be much improved next year. My guess is that he's going to need to be a 25/30 goal guy in order to get a contract from the Pens and that's certainly not unrealistic.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - San Jose Sharks

To the West coast we go. San Jose is up next. Three very solid and underrated prospects who were actually very difficult to rank. Not much separating these guys.

1. Julius Bergman - London Knights
Bergman really impressed me at times this year and I think he definitely has 2nd pairing potential at the NHL level. I figured he'd come in and put up offensive numbers (which he did), but I was actually surprised at his intensity level in the defensive end and his overall play in his own end. Bergman is very active physically, stepping up on players crossing the blue line, and using his size to push forwards to the corners. Overall his size, mobility, and physicality makes him a solid defender off the rush. Coverage is his biggest weakness, but he made strides there. Offensively, he moves the puck well, either by rushing it or by making a solid outlet. His shot from the point is solid too and he could run a power play at the next level. As he moves to the pro ranks this year, I'd expect him to continue to get better and establish himself as one of San Jose's top defence prospects.

2. Dylan Sadowy - Saginaw Spirit
One of the OHL's most underrated players. Sadowy made great strides this year, finishing in the top 10 in goal scoring on a below average team. Biggest difference in his play this year was upgraded skating. Still has some room to grow, but the improvements he made to his first few steps made him significantly more dangerous offensively, whether it was taking the puck wide to the net off the rush, or beating defenders down the ice to create odd man chances. His hands and ability to be creative off the rush actually surprised me too. Showed more there than he did in his draft year. Through all this, he remains a terrific two-way player and one of the OHL's top penalty killers (2nd in the OHL with 7 shorties). Next year Saginaw should be better and Sadowy will be one of their go to offensive catalysts yet again. Difference is, he should have more help this year (with improvements from the likes of Stephens, Felhaber, Clarke, Barwell, Artemov, etc, expected). Wouldn't be surprised if he cracks the 90 point barrier.

3. Kevin Labanc - Barrie Colts
Easily one of the OHL's most improved players this past season. Quite frankly, I didn't think he deserved to be drafted after his rookie season in 2013/2014. But the Sharks proved me wrong, that's for sure. Two things changed in Labanc's game this year. First is skating ability. Massive improvements in that area. Allowed him to be more involved offensively in every facet. Also made him a better player without the puck. Second was his skill level with the puck and his strength in maintaining puck possession. Labanc was a HUGE factor creating scoring chances off the rush this year, dotting in and out and proving to be a very slippery player for defences to key in on. Finishing 6th in league scoring is a huge feat and it sets him up for success in his first pro season this upcoming year. I'm very interested to see how his production is in the AHL. Like he did in his first OHL season, I could see him struggling to be more than a 3rd line energy guy, but given time, he could be an impactful offensive player.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - St. Louis Blues

Off to the Arch!

1. Robby Fabbri - Guelph Storm
As much as I love Fabbri, I'm not so sure it was a terrific year for his development. This is not uncommon for players in his position, who have a terrific first NHL camp, get a solid taste of professional action (NHL preseason games), and then get sent back. Upon returning to Guelph, he didn't seem to have that same drive, that extra bounce in his step that he had displayed his first two years. Keep in mind that the expectations were sky high too. He was still scoring, but there were some issues with turnovers and undisciplined penalties. Then the WJC's came, followed by his ankle injury. Upon returning in the final month, Fabbri continued to press a bit and then struggled big time (along with the rest of his teammates) in the playoffs. He remains an outstanding prospect and a guy I have a TON of faith in. He's going to be an excellent NHL player. The question is…when? Blues fans continue to rave about his performances at team camps. Could he push for a spot this year with the Blues? It seems likely. If he's back in the OHL, he'll need to stay healthy and I'm sure he'll have a terrific year. Whether he's in the NHL or OHL next year, I have high expectations that I expect him to meet.

2. Vince Dunn - Niagara IceDogs
Dunn fell at the NHL draft to the end of the 2nd round, which surprised me greatly. There aren't many defenders in this draft that have more potential than Dunn does. His skating ability and offensive skill set make him a juggernaut. He averaged a goal every other game in the 2nd half. Defensively, I think he's better than people give him credit for. His mobility and willingness to engage are pluses, once he learns to settle his game down a bit. Next year the IceDogs aim to be one of the top teams in the league. Dunn could have an absolutely monster season. I'm going to make a bold prediction here. The last OHL defender to score 30 goals was Allan Rourke 15 years ago. Dunn will reach that feat (pending he stays healthy).

3. Liam Dunda - Owen Sound Attack
Was a big fan of the Blues using a late round pick on Dunda. He deserved more credit than he got from scouting agencies heading into the draft (I think I may have been the only one to have him ranked). The offensive numbers weren't there. And that's for a reason. His hands, shot, and ability to carry the puck are still very raw. BUT, he's a really big guy who plays exceptionally well away from the puck. His board work and forechecking ability make him a noticeable player for the right reasons. As the youngest player available this past year, he still has a ton of filling out to do. As he gets stronger, he could become a real beast. I think back to the way guys like Hunter Smith and Justin Auger looked in their first draft year, and Dunda is ahead of them IMO. Owen Sound is going through a bit of a rebuild next year (a ton of graduations), which means Dunda is in line for way more ice time and even power play time if he's up for it. I expect a pretty big jump in production and at least a 20 goal season.

4. Dmitri Sergeev - Kitchener Rangers
The Blues signed Sergeev last year after inviting him to training camp. Kitchener was a pretty inconsistent young team, but Sergeev was largely pretty solid for them and their most dependable defender IMO. His skill set is pretty well rounded, doing most things pretty well. To some degree that might be the issue. I'm still not sure how his game projects to the next level. I'd like to see his offensive game really blossom this year. The Rangers are going to need someone to really QB their power play as they'll have some firepower up front. Sergeev should be that guy. I'd also like to see him take more chances in jumping up in the play as he's a pretty decent skater. As Kitchener looks to take that next step in 2016, they'll need players entering their final year (like Sergeev) to really step up.

5. Chandler Yakimowicz - London Knights
A big power forward who has done well in a limited role with London thus far. C.J. gets himself involved on the forecheck and does well to create offensive chances from being physical. At times this year, he showed himself to have the potential to develop into a more well rounded offensive player (a guy who can drive the net and make skilled plays coming across the blue line), but that part of his game remains pretty raw. I'm not sure how good his hands are either and just how much potential he has as a goal scorer. Even with some of the big acquisitions the Knights have made this year (Jones, Tkachuk, Sherwood, etc), he could still slot into a scoring role with some limited power play time. It'll be a big year for him as he plays for a contract and he's probably a guy on the fence right now.

*Of Note, St. Louis Blues 5th rounder Luke Opilka will be heading to Kitchener next year, where he'll be the club's starting netminder. The Rangers could be a very good team next year if they can get good goaltending from him.

Friday, July 17, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Tampa Bay Lightning

Off to sunny Florida. This is a long list (Stevie Y loves his OHL talent)

1. Anthony DeAngelo - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
What a terrific season for DeAngelo. I had previously been quite hard on him in my write ups, but his progression this season defensively, and his maturation as a player (attitude wise) was noticeable. DeAngelo has never had any issue offensively. He rushes the puck up ice with ease and because of his explosive stride and puck skill, he gains entry to the blueline whenever he wants at this level. But his rushes were more purposeful this year and he was way more confident in finishing off plays or using his great shot from the slot/point. As mentioned, defensively there were some improvements. His engagement level in his own end, especially post trade to the Soo, was much higher and he plays a lot bigger than his size. He was a more willing combatant in the corners and in front of the net and his form of scrappy, in your face defence worked well at the OHL level this past year. Moving forward to the professional ranks, his positional awareness and zone coverage still will need refining. But as long as the effort remains there in his own end and his body language remains positive, he could transform himself into an ice time eater at the NHL level. If I'm comparing him to a guy like Ryan Murphy, I think DeAngelo's defensive game is ahead of where Murphy's was upon his graduation from the league.

2. Mitchell Stephens - Saginaw Spirit
After captaining Canada to a bronze medal at the U18's, Stephens' stock shot up the charts at the draft and the Bolts used an early 2nd on him. Well deserved and Stephens is a terrific prospect. He got better and better as the season went on this year. His speed, tenacity, and hockey sense will be put to good use offensively as he gains strength and becomes a more consistently dominating force. Saginaw should be a better team next year and Stephens will be right in the thick of that. Through the 2nd half this past year, he was a point per game player, so a 70 point season would be a realistic expectation. I think he's also a dark horse to earn a spot on the Canadian WJC team because of how well he's performed internationally for Canada.

3. Dominik Masin - Peterborough Petes
Masin really struggled in the first couple months of the season. He looked a bit lost at both ends of the ice and I think he was trying to do too much. In the 2nd half, his game was much more controlled and he was more the type of guy I saw at the U18's in his draft year. He's very difficult to beat off the rush defensively, using mobility, reach and truculence to keep forwards away from the net. His willingness to engage physically makes him a difficult guy to play against. His offensive game is actually better than I thought it would be too, and at times this year he really flashed an ability to lead the rush and even quarterback the powerplay. Next year, he needs to focus on staying healthy (had a brutal season ending injury this year), and he needs to have a more refined approach, letting the game come to him. Definitely could be one of the better defenders in the OHL next year though; a 40 point season, combined with hard nosed defence.

4. Matt Spencer - Peterborough Petes
Spencer remains a fractured player. He has all the pieces, but just hasn't put it all together yet. Similar to Masin, Spencer struggled with trying to do too much in Peterborough this year. This was especially true when Masin was out of the lineup. When he simplifies his game, sticks to his guns defensively, and makes good outlet passes, he's a very valuable defender. But when he's forcing plays up ice, he can be a bit of a turnover machine. This was very noticeable at the U18's this year too. I'm hoping that next year, Spencer returns to Peterborough with confidence. I'd actually like to see him focus more on the defensive component to his game (the way Chris Bigras did post draft year), before he starts to take more chances offensively. Play physical in his own end, work on his outlets and play within himself. If his offensive numbers were to regress next year, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if it meant cutting down on the turnovers and becoming a defensive stalwart. There's a reason he'll get two more years in the league and not just one.

5. Anthony Cirelli - Oshawa Generals
Que the rebuild! Thankfully for Tampa, Cirelli will be right in the thick of it. Cirelli, an undrafted OHL free agent, worked his way up the Generals line up this year (and obviously up NHL draft boards too). I don't think we've quite seen what he's capable of offensively yet, because of the complimentary role he was asked to play this past year. He gets his nose dirty in the corners and in front of the net, and really excels without the puck. Lets see how he does with the puck on his stick, where he's responsible for creating chances and not finishing them off. If Michael Dal Colle returns (and isn't traded), the Generals will at least have some fire power. If not, they could struggle a bit offensively. I'd love to see Cirelli hit the 25 goal/55 point marker on a rebuilding team.

6. Cristiano DiGiacinto - Windsor Spitfires
A hard nosed player who wears his heart on his sleeve. DiGiacinto is one of the OHL's top agitators. Windsor struggled offensively this year, and that was partially because players like DiGiacinto were asked to do a little too much. There just wasn't a center to control the play and dictate pace and the supporting cast had trouble creating their own scoring chances consistently. DiGiacinto's hands in close remain his best asset, on top of the things he does away from the puck. Hopefully this offseason he continues to work on his skating, and his ability to carry and receive the puck, which would open up his game offensively. For Lightning fans, they should also hope that DiGiacinto ends up on a line with Logan Brown next year, as he's the real deal. A 30 goal season should not be a far fetched goal for him.

*of note, Tampa's 4th rounder Jonne Tammela was taken by Peterborough in the Import Draft and could possibility report to play there next year, where he'd receive top 6 ice time.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Toronto Maple Leafs

With a team of the OHL's best administrators and coaches now under the MLSE umbrella, there's no doubt that Toronto will become a hot bed for OHL talent. Ultimately, before the 2015 NHL Draft, the team didn't have much in the wake of current OHL prospects.

1. Mitch Marner - London Knights
I'm sure Leaf fans have made themselves quite well versed in all things Marner by now. You can read about him at great lengths on this blog. His hockey sense, skill with the puck and offensive creativity are all elite and make him a great bet to develop into a top scorer in the National Hockey League. The great thing is how he's been able to accomplish everything he has thus far, while being so immature physically. That's why I expect Marner to be back in the OHL for another season, for him to get stronger, fine tune a few things, play at the WJC's, and avenge his tough defeat in the OHL scoring race. Marner should be a face of the new look Leafs for quite some time. Even with a performance at the U20's, I expect him to be in competition for the scoring title in the OHL next year.

2. Travis Dermott - Erie Otters
Already Mr. everything for the Otters, Dermott will be relied upon even more next year with so many graduations on the back end for Erie. Dermott's an incredibly smart defender at both ends, but a return to the OHL will allow him to work on his ability to run the power play (particularly his shot), in addition to gaining confidence as a puck rusher. It will also allow him to continue to get stronger and gain confidence in using his body to separate forwards from the puck. Towards the end of the season and into the playoffs, he really started to blossom into a physical player and I think his intense nature in the defensive end will make him one of the league's elite at his position next year. I also think he's a strong candidate to wear the 'C" for Erie, taking over for McDavid. I think he finishes in the top 5 of defensive scoring next year.

3. Carter Verhaeghe - Niagara IceDogs
Struggled initially this past year, with Brendan Perlini out of the Niagara line up. Ultimately, he really needed someone to help him create time and space for him to operate. Verhaeghe isn't a burner, so he really benefits from a big, quick guy like Perlini to stretch defences. In the 2nd half (and into the playoffs) Verhaeghe was great for Niagara and managed to match his offensive output of 2013/2014. With a very well rounded skill set, it remains to be seen what type of role he'll play at the next level. In the AHL next year, he could play a variety of different roles. He could be slotted on a scoring line right away, and as long as he's got some quicker wingers, he could be fine. But he's also a solid two-way player who would likely find success in a checking role. It'll be interesting to see how his game translates next year.

4. Nikita Korostelev - Sarnia Sting
One of the biggest fallers at this year's NHL draft, Korostelev will have a lot to prove next year in Sarnia. This past year he struggled with being a go to offensive guy (when Zacha was out of the line up) and he needs to spend this offseason making some improvements to his game. The most obvious of those is improving his first few steps to become a more explosive player down the wing. But he also needs to find the physical aggression that he played with as an OHL rookie in 2013/2014. With his size and skill, adding that power element to his game will be key to his development. Sarnia should be among the best team's in the West next year (pending they get Zacha back and their young players progress) and Korostelev will be a big part of that. I'd be downright shocked if he's not hovering around the 35 goal mark next year.

5. Stephen Desrocher - Oshawa Generals
What a great selection by the Leafs this year. Not many players improved as much as Desrocher over the course of this season. From bit player, to Memorial Cup star. Desrocher is only scratching the surface of his potential. With great size, mobility, and a budding offensive game, Desrocher could be a big time point producer next year. This is especially true if Oshawa decides to pair he and Vande Sompel together on the first pairing. He'll most definitely see power play time too. Could be a real breakout star in the league next year with the increased playing time and responsibility he should receive on a rebuilding Oshawa team. Don't be surprised if he's around the 12 goal and 40 point mark next year.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks are up next. Lots of OHL talent to discuss here.

1. Jared McCann - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The Canucks have two of the OHL's best two-way forwards (would have had 3 in Horvat if he returned), so it's obvious that they've focused on that part of development. McCann projects as a slightly more involved offensive player at the next level (than Cassels) IMO, because of his shot, release, and skating ability. McCann doesn't need a ton of space to get his shot off and he's got great velocity on it. As he continues to learn to read defences and gets stronger, he could be a big time goal scorer at the next level. McCann is also a terrific defensive player and face off man who excels on the penalty kill and without the puck in general. Only thing missing is that I'd like to see him play a little more physical, especially without the puck on the forecheck. If he's returned to the OHL next year, McCann is a slam dunk to be named the new captain of the Hounds (at least IMO) and he should be a candidate to find the top 5 of the OHL scoring leader board.

2. Cole Cassels - Oshawa Generals
Absolutely terrific prospect. Was a tough choice as to whether I prefer McCann or Cassels, but I felt McCann's potential is slightly higher so I ranked Cassels second. For the Champion Generals, Cassels did everything this year. Particularly impressive was his play in the playoffs, where he was asked to score and shutdown the opposition's best. Without question, Cassels is one of the most well rounded prospects in the OHL. Because of this, I don't think he's far from being able to contribute at the NHL level. His playmaking ability and vision is top notch, he's aggressive with and without the puck, and his skating has really improved over the course of his OHL career. I do hope that the Canucks start him in the AHL though, where he can work his way up the lineup and see some special teams play. Definitely a potential 2nd/3rd line guy who could chip in 50 points consistently.

3. Jordan Subban - Belleville Bulls (now Hamilton Bulldogs)
Offensively, there is a ton to like about Subban. Despite being undersized, his ability to protect the puck through the neutral zone is terrific and he does a great job getting the puck over the opposing blue line. Subban's shot is also world class and he does a great job reading defences and knowing when to jump up to get himself a look. His skating ability, offensive instincts and pure skill level make him a good bet to continue to put up points in the AHL next year. That said, he still struggles defensively at times. The effort level to engage physically is there, but against bigger players with speed, he struggles in containment. For being so mobile, Subban can also have issue keeping forwards in front of him and his reads/positioning still needs refinement. I'll be interested to track his progress professionally, but I still worry about his ability to defend at the next level.

4. Evan McEneny - Kingston Frontenacs
The Canucks made the right call sending McEneny back to the OHL for his overage season. It gave him the opportunity to play a significant leadership role and continue to grow offensively and defensively. He looked more comfortable and confident leading the rush, although probably wasn't as aggressive as he once was in doing so. He's learned to pick his spots and has become more confident using the stretch pass too. As a power play QB, he still doesn't look natural, but he was efficient this year and did a good job keeping pucks in and getting low shots through. Ultimately, McEneny's calling card at the next level will be his play in his own end IMO. This year his defensive game was terrific and he really took that next step in using his size more aggressively in the corners and in front of the net. His mobility and size makes him a big asset as he can use a good stick check or his body to keep forwards to the outside. I think he could definitely develop into a third pairing guy at the NHL level, and he should be able to play that role in the AHL next year (although I wouldn't be surprised to see him see some time in the ECHL too).

5. Kyle Pettit - Erie Otters
Pettit was a bit player on a terrific Otters team this year. He missed most of the playoffs with a fractured hand (blocking a shot), but he moved around the lineup between C and W and played his role well. As a big body, Pettit is asked to play more of a possession style game to wear down opposing defences, and he's asked to play well at both ends. Offensively, I don't think we've quite seen what he's capable of, especially if he shifts back to center. Getting quicker, improving his puck handling, and learning to use his size more physically remain areas needing growth. Next year, he's going to likely be asked to play a top 6 role and should receive some power play time too. Whether he plays down the middle or on the wing depends on whether Strome makes the NHL, and Marchment is returned as an OA. I think a realistic expectation for him would be the 25 goal mark.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Washington Capitals

Up next we visit the U.S. Capital.

Unfortunately it's a quick visit as they don't have any OHL prospects right now (after electing to keep Andre Burakovsky in the pros this year…ultimately a great decision).

Monday, July 13, 2015

30 Teams in 30 Days - Winnipeg Jets

Summertime means one thing; my annual review of each NHL team's OHL prospects. 30 Teams in 30 Days returns again! New this year, I'll be ranking the prospects (on each team) on top of reviewing them.

Because I'm tired of Winnipeg fans giving me the gears, let's start at the bottom of the alphabet and work our way up this year.

1. Brendan Lemieux - Barrie Colts
One of the main components to that blockbuster deal with Buffalo, Lemieux had a very solid season. He was one of 12 players in the league to hit the 40 goal plateau. Towards the end of the season he suffered a hand injury (and a suspension), and wasn't incredibly effective in the playoffs upon his return, but that shouldn't be held against him. This past year, Lemieux's shot and goal scoring ability really elevated to the next level. He's always had great hands in close, but his wrist shot gained velocity and accuracy and he really appears to have worked on his release. His confidence level was quite high all season. Lemieux's skating also looked improved and it helped him be a more consistent force away from the puck, and more of a factor off the rush. I think he's actually very pro ready and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets NHL time this coming year. He could easily play a supporting role on a checking line. If he's returned to the OHL, the 50 goal plateau might not be far fetched. The Colts will be one of the league's powerhouses next season.

2. Jimmy Lodge - Mississauga Steelheads
The stat line may not do justice to how much Lodge grew this year as a player. After the trade to Mississauga, his game really exploded as their go to offensive catalyst. He didn't have a ton to work with, but he made the best of the situation. Any time I saw Mississauga, he was their best player and incredibly noticeable. After a disappointing year last year, it was refreshing to see him reestablish himself as an NHL prospect. In particular, his aggressiveness with the puck and protection ability off the rush were significantly improved. This would point to both an attitude shift (towards being aggressive) and improvements made in conditioning (strength). I'm curious to see how Lodge's first AHL season goes this coming year. Hopefully he continues to build off the improvements he made this past year, as he'll need to play aggressive (even more so) to find success in a limited role at the next level (at least until he gains confidence offensively).

Friday, July 10, 2015

2015 CHL Import Draft Review

On Tuesday, June 30, the Canadian Hockey League held its annual Import Draft. It is here, CHL teams get the opportunity to add import talent to their roster. There are two rounds of the draft, and a team can pass on their pick at any time. Import picks can not be traded. Goalies are also no longer allowed to be selected.

Just to remind you, CHL clubs are permitted to carry only two import players on their team or protected list every year. However, if a CHL team has an Import who was an NHL first round pick (such as Sarnia with Pavel Zacha), they receive the opportunity to add another player to their protected list to cover should that first round import (like Zacha) make the NHL.

While the Import Draft can be a bit of a crap shoot, many of the players drafted do come over and can have an impact. Let's breakdown the results of previous five Import Drafts.

In 2010
26 of 26 players selected came to the Ontario Hockey League (100%)
21 of 26 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (81%)
10 (open for debate) of 26 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (38%)

In 2011
17 of 20 players selected came to the OHL (85%)
17 of 20 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (85%)
10 (open for debate) of 20 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (50%)

In 2012
22 of 27 players selected came to the OHL (81%)
17 of 27 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (63%)
9 (open for debate) of the 20 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (33%)

In 2013
22 of 25 players selected came to the OHL (88%)
20 of 25 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (80%)
7 (open for debate) of the 25 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (28%)

In 2014
19 of 25 players selected came to the OHL (76%)
18 of 25 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (72%)
11 (open for debate) of the 25 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (44%)

This article will provide you with some information and scouting reports on those selected.

Of course this article wouldn't have been possible without the help of these experts:

Matt Grainda is currently a US Scout for, and is a former USHL scout for ISS Hockey. He can be followed on twitter too (@graindaiv)

Dan Stewart is the head scout for Future Considerations. He and the staff there were able to help out and I'm grateful for that. Others from FC that helped include: Daniel Deschenes, Colin Mayberry, Niklas Adolfsson, Mikael Kreutz, Marco Bambino.

Anthony Mauro of Draft Buzz Hockey is a terrific source for information about NHL prospects. Be sure to follow him on twitter (@draftbuzzhockey).

Chapin Landvogt is also a writer for HockeysFuture, in addition to being a scout for Future Considerations. Give him a follow on twitter (@Csomichapin).

And of course our anonymous European scout (who chooses to remain that way for various reasons). Without his help, these articles wouldn't be possible year after year.

3. Sudbury Wolves - Dmitry Sokolov - Forward
The Wolves start off the draft with a bang, selecting a Russian forward who is currently considered a Top 10 selection for the 2016 NHL Draft (FC has him 8th, HP has him 10th). He had quite the year in 2014/2015, finishing 3rd in scoring at the U17's, and then finishing 3rd in scoring on Team Russia as an underager at the U18's. Needless to say, if he reports, he's a great get for the Wolves.
Scouting Report: Dan Stewart of Future Considerations says,“A big, thickly built forward with some impressive ‘get-your-butt-out -of-your-seat’ offensive skills. Plays a heavy yet light game in that he is hard to move or knock off stride but also has the ability to really dangle through defenders. A powerful stride and cannon shot are his best assets but his underrated playmaking ability rounds out his offensive arsenal. This kid has huge upside and will be one of the top picks in the 2016 NHL draft.” Daniel Deschenes of Future Considerations says, "“The smooth skating winger has a nice mix of speed, size, and puck skills. Uses his large frame to his advantage as he is hard on the puck and protects it exceptionally well. Uses his size to create some space with and without the puck. Possesses a heavy slap shot and a decently quick wrist shot - mixing them with good shot selection based on the time he has to work with. Puck hungry and shows a determination to have it on his stick as he pushes the pace and move the puck up ice. Books it back hard and fast on the backcheck to help defend; moves very well and reads and reacts even better.” Our anonymous European scout says, "First round prospect. Excellent scoring touch and has good size/strength. Uses size to protect the puck. Excellent shot, has quick release, good finishing touch and good hands-eyes coordination. Hard wrister, good hands in tight, instinctive in offensive zone. Very dangerous on PP. Sees passing lanes in offensive zone and has a bit of creativity too. Not hardworker, little effort without the puck, doesn´t use his size to get the puck in battles and doesn´t finish many checks. First steps needs improvement as well as foot speed. Hard to knock off his skates."

6. Windsor Spitfires - Mikhail Sergachev - Defence
Windsor aims to rebuild their defence with the selection of Sergachev, a talented and defensive oriented blueliner who is also currently garnering attention as a potential first round pick in 2016 (HP has him 17th). The big, physical defender who likely really help a Spitfires defence that struggled last year.
Scouting Report: Daniel Deschenes of Future Considerations says, “Makes very good passes and plays under pressure, not seeming hesitant or scared when forced to make a decision quicker than expected, showing good awareness and the ability to make a good pass up the wall to his man. Has a heavy shot loaded with power as he lets it go from the point. His slap shot possesses a high amount of velocity while looking to be somewhat pedestrian as he winds up. I would like to see him be more physical in his own zone - he has the size to do so - as he looked very hesitant to engage physically and use his body in my views. Good defensive awareness and does a very good job of pushing his man to the outside and limiting the space he gives the puck carrier to work with.” Our anonymous European scout says, "First round prospect, plays mature game, doesn´t make mistakes at both sides. Very good at both sides of rink, reads the play really well, plays with poise and patience. Excels in moving the puck out of zone. Good size/strength, thick body, strong on skates. Goes on pinching, forces the play at the blue line and stands up and makes the play at the blueline. Rubs opposing player at the board and plays physical and aggressive game, doesn´t back down, stands his ground. Plays the point on the PP very well, accurate in moving the puck, moves well laterally to create lanes for passing and shooting and has hard shot which he keeps low and gets on net through traffic consistently. Highly confident with the puck, fakes shot, slides around defending forwards and moves into better position. Has nice instinct, jumps into the play at right time, joins rushes. Can make surprising, creative passes through traffic. Has very good footwork." Matt Grainda says, "Mikhail Sergachev was one of my favorite 1998-born defensemen I saw all of last season. I really like his balanced two-way style along with his toughness. His size and strength are immediately noticeable along with his physicality. He plays an aggressive, mean style and balances it well with lots of skill. He’s more of a pass and move player and can create space very well while accelerating up the ice. His skating stride is powerful and smooth. He is highly poised in possession and uses his vision to make quality decisions on both ends of the ice. His game management skills are impressive. He’s got a very hard shot from the point and solid command for when to use it. Sergachev projects as a first round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft due to his complete overall game and physical nature. He’s a fantastic, young player."

9. Flint Firebirds - Vili Saarijarvi - Defence
Flint rolls the dice selecting Detroit's 3rd rounder (73rd OV) in the most recent NHL draft. Saarijarvi is an undersized offensive defender who rose up the draft charts after an explosive U18's, where he was named the Top Defenseman. With Gianluca Curcuruto graduating, Flint really needed a powerplay QB and puck moving replacement. Problem is that Saarijarvi just signed a deal to play for Karpat back home in Finland. Maybe the Red Wings can help get him to Flint.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations says, "The tiny puck-moving blueliner has a heavy shot from the point and moves with some strong elusiveness and quickness. He can be a bit too much of a scrambled mess in his own zone and obviously gets pushed off the puck or loses one-on-one battles too easily. But, he still plays an aggressive style of game from the blue line. He gets up the ice with regularity and also is keen on starting the transition game with a nice pass." Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "He’s a small but decently filled out [23.8 BMI] D who can flex as both a speedy puck rusher and a tactical puck mover. His skating is visually pleasing displaying all of the ingredients of a great skater. His legs pop off the ice with sharp movement and response, and he looks very fluid in reverse. He may lack some strength and power to his stride, but that will come with age. He has a very good shot that he wasn’t able to actualize much with a shooting percentage of less than 6%. Though a good passer in control, he did have some difficulty hitting tape under pressure or in quick action sequences."Our anonymous European scout says, "Very impressive at international stage but (I was told) struggled a bit in USHL. Smallish D is dynamic and smart with the puck. Great skater, leads offensive attacks all the time, jumps into the play, excellent decision making, can either go through neutral zone and gain the zone or skate the puck out of zone and make perfect cross passes into the full speed. Impossible to contain, very tricky leading the puck, always skates with head up and goes into open spots, excellent timing on his passes. Rarely rushed into bad decision, excellent reading, has poise. Agility, quickness and puck control enables him to gain space and time to make play. Has enough speed to get back from his rushes into offensive zone. Passes are crisp and accurate, excellent vision. Runs PP well, moves his feet creating passing and shooting lines, knows when to shoot and when pass. Good shot, keeps it low and gets it to the net through traffic. Fast enough to get back from his rushes. Love his passion and competitiveness." Matt Grainda says, "Vili Saarijarvi is a very quick, highly-skilled offensive defenseman. Right away you notice his fast footworkand efficient skating stride. He can really explode up the ice while in possession of the puck. He gets the rush started from the defensive zone and makes smart decisions with his passes. He can quarterback a power-play very well from the point. You really notice his great puck control and mobility when the puck is on his stick. His shot is quick, accurate and hard for his smaller sized frame. The only thing really holding his defensive game back is his smaller size. He’s not the most physical player and he’s not very strong. Detroit took him in the third round of the 2015 NHL Draft and I don’t believe NHL Central Scouting had him on their midterm or final rankings. That should tell you something."

12. Mississauga Steelheads - Alexander Nylander - Forward
They struck out with William last year, but that doesn't deter the Steelheads from selecting his brother Alex this year. Honestly, it's not a terrible strategy. His brother will be playing in Toronto, so playing for Mississauga would give Alex a chance to be near (or even live with) his brother. The younger Nylander is very highly regarded for the 2016 NHL Draft (currently ranked 14th by FC and 22nd by HP). He'd give the Steelheads another potential first rounder for 2016 (with Day and McLeod). And also give them a much needed injection of offensive ability.
Scouting Report: Colin Mayberry of Future Considerations says, "“Nylander is a pretty special player. He is primarily a finesse player, relying heavily on his high skill level. It seems to me that he rides and dies with his feet as he is a fantastic skater. His feet allow him to get away from or elude defenders, both in open space and along the boards. I also love his ability to stop on a dime, making defenders go right past him and give himself an extra second or two to survey his options. His vision is on point and his passing is precise. He hits players cross ice, through the smallest of holes, tape to tape. Nylander is a high upside guy for Sweden in 2016.” Niklas Adolfsson of Future Considerations says, “His skill level and reading of the game seemed simply a fair amount above the rest. He is very much a copy of his older brother William, with a few differences. But just like his brother his has some weaknesses in his game. Very agile and moves well in all directions. He can make quick turn with ease. He skates a lot like his brother William but a little less explosive. Really soft hands. Almost as good as William, but he doesn’t dangle or try to beat his defender 1 - on -1 as much as William does. He can make jaw dropping passes and seems to have some accuracy in his wrist shot but is more of a playmaker than William. He is not very physically mature and needs to get stronger.”

15. Peterborough Petes - Jonne Tammela - Forward
The Petes go for Tampa Bay 4th rounder (118 OV) Tammela in hopes of adding depth to their top 6 for next season. Tammela was a standout for a Finland U18 team that won the Silver at this year's event. Problem is, like Saarijarvi, he has a contract to play in Finland next year with KalPa (where he played against men this past year). The Lightning love their OHL content though, so something tells me that they'll be pushing hard to get Tammela here, especially with Masin and Spencer already in Peterborough.
Scouting Report: Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "Blessed with high-end skating ability, he can take off with insane acceleration and blow the pants off defenders. A constant threat, even if he isn’t outright beating his opponents, he is the type of speedy forward who can cause them to take last resort penalties in the process of attempting to stop him. The type of direction changes he’s able to make at top speed are remarkable. He’s not a puck possessive forward in a good way IE he has the skill to make plays, but only does as much as he needs to stickhandling wise expertly splitting energy between speed and handle. He’s small, no doubt about it, but the way he positions his arms and adjusts his body to contact while still keeping his stick on the puck shows he will be able to get it done in the bigs. He will hit and is competitive in the right way. A natural playmaker, Tammela is just a super player who will break out soon." Future Considerations says, "A solid two-way prospect who is just starting to show what he can become. Possesses good separation speed and he can break away from his check and split to a lane for a pass. Often loses the puck when under pressure as he tries to gain speed and work his way up ice; will need to get stronger on the puck in order to maintain possession at top speed. Makes crisp passes to the most solid options in all three zones. Applies immense pressure on the forecheck and makes good use of his stick and body; finishes his checks as he gets low and drives his man into the wall. Has a bomb of a shot. Tammela is strong in the face-off circle, winning draws cleanly to the perfect spot; setting his team up for success. We
like what he brings to the game; a character, hard-working player." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Very good skater with speed, quick burst of speed. Not big, but solidly built, low point of gravity, decent balance. Soft and quick hands, has flash in his game, can dangle a bit and beat D with finesse moves. Good vision and passing touch. Goes to the net with and without the puck and plays bigger than his size, feisty, has some grit. Finishes some checks, takes hit to make play and goes through checks. Never stops moving his feet trying to get away of attention of opposing D, difficult to cover. Shifty, hard to contain, tough to knock off the puck. Decent shot and can finish off his chances. Plays with nice passion and energy, good effort every shift, competes. Plays up-tempo game. Smooth passing and receiving in full stride. Uses his speed to gain control of the puck. Hockey sense is above average but still needs to work on decision making."

18. Saginaw Spirit - Markus Niemelainen - Defence
The Spirit go for a young Finnish defender (a '98) who is a highly regarded prospect for the 2016 NHL draft. At 6'4, Niemelainen would join forces with the likes of Keaton Middleton, to give Saginaw a dynamic and large duo. Niemelainen played for the Finnish U18 as an underager (that won Silver), which has to point to his ability being strong.
Scouting Report: Colin Mayberry of Future Considerations says, “Niemel√§inen got kind of lost in such a deep U17 Finnish team at the World U17 Challenge in Sarnia, but he did have some flashes of brilliance out there. For a bigger kid, I loved his agility and ability to quickly get to the line to keep the puck in as well as pinch in from the point. He is smart in the offensive zone, knowing how to move effectively with the puck to open up space for himself. He has an absolute bomb from the point and can really rip the puck on net.” Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Big, strong, mobile, can play physical game. Quick feet for big guy. Can skate the puck out of danger. Strong in battles. Fairly solid and steady defensively, contains well and has solid awareness. Move the puck simply but quite efficially. Hockey sense above average."

21. Hamilton Bulldogs - Ondrej Kachyna - Defence
One of two defenders selected by Hamilton as they try to reshape a defense that struggled last year. Kachyna is a '98 who would be eligible for the 2016 NHL draft. In terms of hype, there doesn't appear to be a lot surrounding him, so here's hoping that the Bulldogs found a diamond in the rough.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Regarding Ondrej Kachyna, I saw him only once in Czech junior Extraleague. He was rather bad but frankly the whole team looked terrible. Missed that U17 series with Finland where I saw plenty of 98´born players. Report on Kachyna from forementioned game: " Tall but a bit lanky. Moves fairly well for his size. Decent lateral mobility and footwork but stopped moving his feet off the rush and beaten wide on several occasion. Doesn´t use his size enough to play physical game. Made some positional mistakes and not very quick in reading developing play. Limited puck skills and very average hockey sense. However he probably isn´t that bad, there were scouts who told me that he was okay when they saw him."

24. Sarnia Sting - Patrik Laine - Forward
After lucking out with Zacha last year, the Sting go big again this year. Laine is considered a potential lottery pick for 2016 (8th by HP, 15th by FC). At the U18's this year, where he played as an underager, he tied with Austin Matthews for the goal scoring lead (8 goals in 7 games). He's got a contract with Tappara in Finland, so who knows what to expect. If he comes, that strong Sarnia team just got even better.
Scouting Report: Mikael Kreutz of Future Considerations says, “Stands out from the rest of the team with his huge frame. Heard about some skating deficiencies but in my opinion he moved relatively smoothly for his size and age, see no issues with his skating in the future. Played limited minutes but he did the most he could with it in the offensive zone, flashes of brilliance with the puck, great passing game and not afraid to take shots when the opportunity presented itself. Hard to believe he's only 16 when you see him out on the ice playing against men, he looks bigger and better built then most adult players out there, but he was clearly not comfortable with using his size as he was cautious along the boards and avoided plays where there was risk of physical play. Impossible to get a good read of a players game based on a handful of shifts, but it is clear that Laine is a big talent that will be interesting to follow for the 2016 draft.” Daniel Deschenes of Future Considerations says, “(At the U18’s in April) Laine is a massive winger who has all the confidence in the world. He shows poise in his ability to deke his way up ice and gain the offensive zone with speed and control. He displays a desire to finish in tight and doesn’t back down easily. Possesses all kinds of speed and quick feet on the rush, not limiting his decision making despite the speed as he makes quick decisions to deliver a centering pass or drive the net and get a shot off.”

27. Kingston Frontenacs - Konstantin Chernyuk - Defence
The Fronts take Chernyuk, a big Russian defender who has been playing in North America for a few years now. Last year he split time between a Wilkes Barre U18 team and Wichita Falls in the NAHL. In 2014 he committed to the University of Maine (a prestigious program). Seems like Chernyuk has some options after being selected last year in the USHL draft. Could suit up there or the OHL next year. Depends how serious he is about this Maine commitment.
Scouting Report: Matt Grainda says, "Konstantin Chernyuk is a really, really tall defensive defenseman. His big, lanky frame is probably his most notable characteristic. Physically he looks really tall, but also somewhat skinny. He has good smarts and plays his position very well. He knows how to take away space by using his defensive angles and his extremely long reach. It can be tough breaking into the offensive zone due to his smart stick defense. He can play the body but sometimes relies on his stick to do the work. His skating stride is a little awkward but he moves pretty quickly north-to-south. He’s smart while in control of the puck and he likes to look for the long stretch pass. His shot is good but he’s not one to use it often. His size alone might make him a NHL pick for next season but he needs to add weight and improve his footwork."

33. Niagara IceDogs - David Kase - Forward
It's not often that a player gets selected twice in the Import Draft, but that's the case with Kase (see what I did there?). He went to Blainville-Boisbriand last year in the 1st and never showed. This year what's different? A couple of things that may sway him to North America. Firstly, he was taken in the 5th round by Philadelphia at the NHL Draft. Maybe they influence him. Secondly, his brother Ondrej will be crossing the pond next year to play in the AHL. Kase would be a great add by the Dogs, as he's a legit offensive talent and prospect. He played on the Czech WJC team (U20) this year and served as the captain of their U18 team (and Silver medal winning Hlinka team).
Scouting Report: The Hockey News says, "A solid all around talent who is great on draws and protects the puck well." Future Considerations says, "Kase is a diminutive and high-impact offensive player with the ability to drive the pace of a game. Plays at high speed and always is in the hunt to attack. Exceptional acceleration, agility and separation speed. Kase is very confident player who is a high-end stick handler. He knows where to find space in the offensive zone and can elude coverage with quickness and skill. Has a quick release on his shot with some sneaky fast zip to it. 
He loves to play the possession game, even though he can be easily outmatched if caught. He tends to over complicate passes at times, trying to make high level plays when easy routes are to be had. He sometimes fumbles the execution and doesn’t always deliver flat, accurate passes in the open lane. He is weak and easily outmatched physically. Despite deficiencies, Kase does see some penalty kill time and exhibits patience, defensive awareness and quickness with his stick." Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "He has made a name for himself with a chameleon like ability to take different roles in different environments. With older competition, he relies on his work ethic, well-rounded game, and fire to help in any way possible IE not focused on points. With his own age group, he has captained teams and been one of the go to offensive guys as seen in his 5PTS in 4GP this past U18. He’s fast because he keeps his cadence high, but his strides can look uncontrolled. He can be flippant with the puck and not have the smoothest handle/passes come off it, but can orchestrate top line dekes when things click. A little fierce dynamo." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Love his character, competitiveness, effort, heart, smart player. Plays bigger than his size, great passion and determination, does everything to win the game. Skates hard both ways, always first forward on backcheck, keeps moving his feet. Anticipates well, first on the puck on many occasion despite of lack of speed, always around the puck. Slick with the puck and controls the puck well along the boards but still just above average hands for small guy. Good playmaking skills and vision. Protects the puck well and fairly strong on puck along the boards. Neither quick and shifty nor great change of pace, lacks more effective stride and his feet are not very quick for his size. |Not afraid to take hit and gets involved in high traffic areas regularly but lacks dynamic stick skills. Good hands in close but shot is nothing special. Actually think that he will be very good player on European rinks in the future however his NHL upside is questionable due to combination of lack of size, average skating ability and lack of top end puck skills. Could be excellent junior player if he decides to come over though."

39. Guelph Storm - Timo Haussener - Forward
The Storm have some big shoes to fill with two import selections this year. Pius Suter and Phil Baltisberger have been great for that organization. Haussener is a huge forward (6'4) who was eligible for this year's NHL draft and went undrafted (was ranked 94th by NHL Central Scouting). At the very least, he looks like he could play a physical role on the team's 3rd line.
Scouting Report: Daniel Deschenes of Future Considerations says, “Haussener is a strong power forward type who has a slick set of hands. He has a long reach and is active with his stick in the defensive zone. Displayed confidence to take a little in the offensive zone by deking around his opponent and driving into the offensive zone.”

42. Ottawa 67's - Stepan Falkovsky - Defence
Holy crap. I thought there was a typo when I saw the size of Falkovsky. 6'9, 231lbs. That's one big defender. He was eligible for this year's NHL Draft but went undrafted (was ranked 44th by NHL Central Scouting). The Belarus native suited up for the Belarus U20 team this year (in the 2nd division) and helped them earn a chance to get back to the main group next year. Seems like a potentially big add (pun intended).
Scouting Report: Haven't gotten anything back from my scouts yet on Falkovsky, so in the meantime, here's a great write up on him (with scouting) from Alex Quevillon. Link is here.

45. London Knights - Olli Juolevi - Defence
London's had some good luck with defenders named Olli, so this looks like a good pick. All joking aside, Juolevi is a very highly regarded young defender. HP has him 14th currently for 2016, while FC has him 16th. He played as an underager this past year at the Hlinka for Finland and has been wearing an "A" for Finland internationally. If he comes, this gives London 4 potential first rounders for next year (with Jones, Tkachuk, and Mete).
Scouting Report: Marco Bambino of Future Considerations says, “Juolevi is such a talented and strong player at both ends of the ice that if I you didn't know, you would think he's a 20-year-old player. First of all, his puck management and reliability are one of his strengths. He did make two quite bad passes that went for icings, which is unusual for him. However, overall his playing with the puck and ability make that strong first pass, whether it be a long or short one, are clearly above a 16-year-old. Juolevi skates well with a long stride, smooth at turning pivots and with his clever positioning he's very tough to get around. He reads the game very well and thus his hockey sense is great. He can also contribute offensively. He got the puck once at the offensive blueline, showed quick hands and moves to get by the forward. His pass to the slot area wasn't the best, but again, this just shows how well he reads the play. He can really shoot the puck as well and almost score in the game after taking a shot on a rolling puck. The shot went a bit wide. This player has a ton of talent.“ Daniel Deschenes of Future Considerations says, “He runs the power play with strong passes and good offensive instincts. Receives passes like an egg, doing so with ease. Makes smart, crisp D to D passes that help the transition game. Has an array of dekes and can get creative offensively as seen by his slick heel to toe pull around the defender to open some space and get a shot off.” Our anonymous European scout says, "Excellent defensive prospect, should be first round draft pick next June. Highly mobile in all four directions, strong footwork, almost impossible to beat him off the rush, smooth pivots. Excellent wheels with the puck, fluid, long stride, can skate the puck out of zone, creates separation easily. Plays strong gap and forces forward to the outside off the rush. Sees the ice very well and strong moving the puck out of zone, excellent creative first pass giving puck away on the fly. Passes are crisp and accurate and likes to join rush. Rarely makes bad decision both with and without the puck. Aggressive in battles, ties forwards up at the board, uses active stick off the rush, tough to beat, contains well in tight areas. Forces the play at the blueline. Has ability to play the point on PP but needs to work on shot, some trouble to get the puck through traffic and hit the net, too many shots misses the net."

48. North Bay Battalion - Max Kislinger - Forward
Kislinger certainly hasn't taken the conventional hockey journey. The young German forward came to play for the Peterborough Petes minor midget team last year and played in the OHL Cup. He was one of the team's leading scorers. This past year he returned to Europe and played in Austria. The '98 forward has good size and will likely try to fill one of Henriksson or Olsson's spots on a checking line.
Scouting Report: Chapin Landvogt says, "Max Kislinger is already a tall player who is more likely 195-200 lbs. as opposed to the 172 or so that some sites state. He is coming off a season where he was in anything but a prominent role. Before that, he got a good taste of North American play in the Peterborough area and shouldn't have any problem adjusting to life in North America should he play in the CHL. Likely to be used as more of a hard-working banger heading in, he's quick to pick up what's being taught and tends to be very well liked by coaches and teammates alike." Also, here's a great article on his year in Minor Midget (with a scouting report) from the Peterborough Examiner. Link is here.

51. Barrie Colts - Julius Nattinen - Forward
At the Import Draft, sometimes you just have to shoot for the stars. The Colts have done that in selecting Nattinen, a 2nd rounder by Anaheim at the 2015 Draft. Nattinen played against men this year in the Finnish league and was one of the top players on a Finland U18 team that won Silver. The two-way center would be a fantastic addition if he comes over, especially considering Barrie's losses down the middle (Blandisi and Hooey).
Scouting Report: The Hockey News says, "creative producer who has added a much needed physical element to his game." Future Considerations says, "Nattinen is a two-way center who plays a solid playmaking game. He has good skating mechanics and is solid in his skates but doesn’t really have an extra gear that will drop jaws. He can generate speed on the rush but works best when he flows with the play and uses his smarts to find the openings. He shines when given time and space like on the powerplay. Has a cool head and is efficient under pressure. Spots teammates well and can open up space with quick and accurate passes. Has some soft mitts and a big frame to support some power forward characteristics when in the offensive zone and in transition. Strong positioning in the defensive zone and plays a highly efficient center’s role. Supports the puck well and goes to work when called upon." Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "He is a focused two way forward whose puck ability allows him to be just as good defensively as he is offensively. Over the year, he has been the type of forward to make extremely nice passes and dekes that actually materialize into goals [longer traveled plays]. He is hard to knock off the puck though his skating could improve. He’s a smooth, long legged skater, but his agility isn’t great and acceleration lags. His overall pace can be slow though it doesn’t really affect him much as he has great vision, and ability to cut back and utilize quick hands." Our anonymous European scout says, "More skilled and creative, much higher offensive upside than his older brother, thrives on PP. Deceptive skater, not dynamic skater and first steps a bit slow but actually has some acceleration and top end speed, just doesn´t use it much. Needs to shoot the puck more, he can shoot the puck but rarely uses it. Excellent vision and playmaking skills and elite passer. Very patient with the puck on stick, great timing on his passes, makes terrific sets-up through traffic, very soft touch no his passes. Highly intelligent in all three zones, very imaginative. Doesn´t play tough, physical game but good positionally on d-side and goes deep for puck in transition. Controls the puck well, very good hands. Not aggressive at all, it´s simply not his game, lacks aggressive mentality. Needs to get stronger on puck, protect it better."

54. Erie Otters - Erik Cernak - Defence
There were rumours suggesting that Cernak would definitely be picked at the Import Draft and those came to fruition. The 43rd overall pick in 2015 (by Los Angeles) has been a much hyped prospect coming out of Slovakia for quite some time. He's played at the last two U20's as an underager. Physically mature, Cernak would help to counter some of the significant OA losses to Erie's blueline. A fantastic pick here.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations says, "Cernak is a physically imposing defender who can wreak havoc on the wall with his size and pure strength. He brings strong play at both ends of the ice. He is aware and has very fluid movements to go with his solid mobility. Makes good decisions with the puck and sees lots of options in front of him as he scopes out the ice and decides what to do with the puck. Cernak makes crisp, effortless passes through the neutral zone. His strong, crisp passes normally lead his man, but can also be inconsistent at times; a challenge for those who try to receive them. Protects and shields the puck with his large frame but has moments where he can give it up with questionable decision on when to move it. Has the defensive smarts to pick up missed assignments and uses his stick to swat pucks away or poke them off of sticks. Strong gaps when the opposition tries to enter the zone. Plays his man hard and will drive him into, or even through, the boards to show that he is a physical force and should not be messed with. Not as tight to the man around the crease as he should be. A solid defense-first prospect with underrated
offensive tools." Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "A huge on ice presence, he loves laying into opponents and is the type of defender who can unexpectedly destroy opponents with little to no acceleration/speed. A surprise point man for his size and reach on the line, he uses good mobility to seek the right pass and/or move into his hard shot. Defensively, he is a strong force on the puck who can stand a play up on his own and win battles to move the puck safely. His skating is a point of contention, as he needs to improve in a few areas, which are his straight line and crossover power. Too often it looks like he isn’t generating enough speed forward, and is just weakly shuffling his feet on cross. This puts him at a disadvantage against forwards with speed, as he does have a problem letting forwards slip behind him in lapses." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "I´m not a big fan, overrated as NHL prospect in my eyes. Improved decision making with the puck as the season progressed, became more efficient moving the puck out of zone. Plays it mostly simply, often making only D to D passes. Never will be puck moving D but has some ability to skate the puck and make first pass into the stride. Not smart and poised under pressure though. Passes are crisp but accuracy is often lacking. Lacks hands for soft passes. Very average skater for his size, stride is short, not very athletic, pivots are not smooth and quick, feet a bit slow. Forwards are often able to get behind him, unable to contain them. Needs to play better gap. His thought process and reading in own zone is slow, he often looks lost in d-zone coverage, lacks awareness. Doesn´t play with the edge, not consistently aggressive in 1 on 1 battles, lacks mean streak. Not afraid to join rush occasionally, slides into the cycle down low in offensive zone and has solid shot but very little creativity."

56. Oshawa Generals - Lukas Lofquist - Forward
An interesting pick here by Oshawa. Lofquist is a '96 born forward who has gone through two NHL drafts. He has good size and has put up some decent numbers in the Swedish junior leagues. He recently signed a contract with Djurgarden next year, where he'll try to make the main club. Or he comes over for a year in Oshawa to get some ice time. Who knows.
Scouting Report: Still waiting on a report from a contact on Lofquist. Until then, I was able to translate an interview with Lofquist (from here) where he describes himself as being a terrific skater with a great shot who works hard on the ice, but needs to use his size more physically.

58. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Makar Tokarev - Forward
I tend to trust the Soo scouts in situations like this. Tokarev is not a guy who's received a lot of attention thus far. He only played a handful of games in the MHL this year (the Russian junior league) and had some success there. But he didn't play for the Russian U17 team at the World Hockey Challenge. The '98 forward must have done something right to catch the eye of the Greyhounds.
Scouting Report: Waiting on a report on Tokarev from a scout. Until then, check out what GM Kyle Raftis had to say about him from a Sault Star article (here)

66. Windsor Spitfries - Christof Kromp - Forward
The Spitfires make their second pick a talented offensive forward from Austria. Kromp was passed over at this year's NHL Draft, but looks to have some talent. He led the second division at the U18's in scoring and got Austria back to the main group for next year. His father Wolfgang was a longtime member of the Austrian National and Olympic team.
Scouting Report: Waiting on a scouting report on Kromp. Until then, I've found a scouting report in German on Kromp following the completion of the U18's (here). The report is very complimentary and states that "Kromp was one of the best players in the tournament. He's a sniper with a terrific wrister who has great hands and speed. He's a tad inconsistent and his play away from the puck needs improvement."

69. Flint Firebirds - Matyas Kantner - Forward
With their second pick, the Firebirds take a '98 Czech forward who seems to have a fair amount of offensive talent. He averaged over a point per game internationally this year and could be a nice under the radar selection. Flint's going to need some help scoring next year so he's worth a look.
Scouting Report: Our Anonymous Euro scout says, " I only saw him twice playing for Czech U17 team against Finns in December. Short report from these games: "Tall and lanky, decent competitor, gets some pucks along the boards but not overly physical. Drives the net a bit and goes through checks occasionally. Stiff skater, no stride, no speed and acceleration, often behind the play. A bit of stone hands, not smooth with the puck and lacks skills to beat D 1 on 1. Looks like character kid with heart but can´t skate and below average hands."

72. Mississauga Steelheads - Daniel Muzito-Bagenda - Forward
This Swedish forward is an older selection ('96) who has gone through two NHL Drafts, but does seem to have some talent. He's played for Sweden at the U17's and U18's throughout his career and he did see some limited action for Modo at the men's league level this year. The Steelheads need help scoring, so let's see what he's made of.
Scouting Report: Still waiting on a report from a contact. In the meantime, Mike Mackley posted his scouting report of Muzito-Bagenda on twitter (check it out here). Basically sounds like he's a hard nosed winger who could chip in offensively too.

81. Hamilton Bulldogs - Christian Mieritz - Defence
The second defender taken by Hamilton on the day, Mieritz is an offensive blueliner from Denmark. He was passed over at this year's NHL Draft, but he played professionally in Denmark against men in 2015. He's also played at the U18's for Denmark the past two years, captaining their team this year.
Scouting Report: Still waiting on a report from a scout. Here are a couple of links to give you an idea of the type of player Mieritz is. First is an audio recording from Dogs Radio, which speaks to Mieritz (found here). Second is a Hamilton Spectator article where George Burnett describes Mieritz as a good skating puck mover with an edge. Article is here.

84. Sarnia Sting - Louis Latta - Forward
The name should be pretty familiar. Louis is the brother of former Sting captain Nick. The '98 forward would obviously be eager to come over and play for Sarnia. The issue is that Sarnia has 3 Imports (because Zacha was an NHL first rounder). If Zacha is sent back, one of Laine (if he reports) or Latta has to go. It'll be interesting to see how this situation unfolds.
Scouting Report: Chapin Landvogt says, "Latta may have a better developmental trajectory than his older brother, a former captain for Sarnia, and is already quite big for a 17 year old. He was rookie of the year for a pro team in the third league and was fairly dominant when he did play in the junior team. His brother Nick had a fine career for Sarnia after having coming straight over from the DNL, never having seen the type of pro play Louis has already gotten a taste of. He may even be excluded from his foreign player status at some point since his father Ken, who coaches here, is originally from Canada. A good hustler who can handle the rough stuff. Definitely a guy to watch out for."

99. Guelph Storm - Vladislav Barulin - Forward
Barulin is an older Import selection ('96) who has been playing in the MHL B League (2nd tier junior division). He's been a leading scorer there, but the competition isn't incredibly strong. He's never suited up internationally for Russia and has gone through a couple of NHL Drafts. Not sure I'm expecting much out of this pick, but you never know.
Scouting Report: Still waiting on a report on Barulin. Until then, here's a Tony Saxon article which has some info from Mike Kelly on Barulin. Link is here.

105. London Knights - Daniel Bernhardt - Forward
A 4th rounder by the New York Rangers in 2015, Bernhardt is a '96 who was chosen as a re-entry in the NHL. The 6'2 forward has a good year in the Swedish U20 league, where he led the league in scoring. He's signed on with Djurgarden for next year, but perhaps the Rangers try to get him to North America in 2015/16.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations says, "This big, skilled winger creates a lot of offense by entering the offensive zone with good speed and protecting the puck with his long reach. He keeps the puck away from the defenders with pretty skilled hands and a decent wrist shot. Good top speed but just average acceleration. He is quite shifty and can change directions pretty quickly, often throwing off defenders. He is not a physically punishing player, but is pretty strong on his feet in regards to fending off defenders along the wall. He is no softie, but it would be nice to see him bring more bite and be able to use his impressive frame more effectively. Average defensive player, but has shown improved hustling and back checking from last season’s many lackadaisical efforts. If you like puck possession hockey, Daniel is a very good fit. He needs to improve his slapshot and his first step, which isn’t horrible but not really an asset either. Top speed is good though."

108. North Bay Battalion - Robin Kovacs - Forward
Another New York Rangers pick from 2015 (3rd round), Kovacs is also a '96 born forward. He had a ton of success playing against men in Sweden this past year (with AIK), but I don't believe he has a contract to play over there for next year. He'd be an absolutely fantastic add for the Battalion next year if he comes over.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations says, "Kovacs is a high skill offensive type of player with good hands and skating. He has top-notch skating ability, as his acceleration, speed and mobility are excellent. He proves successful handling the puck and on zone entries as he is very slippery between the defenders, making him hard to stop. He is more of a scorer with a sharp, quick release than a playmaker trying to set up his teammates. His determination makes his efforts strong; although, he needs to work on his defensive positioning. Offensively, he needs to get a little bit stronger in front of the net. Even though he is willing to play that feisty type of game, he needs to bulk up. His hockey sense is very good as he makes quick and smart decisions with the puck. He supports his defenders in the defensive zone when needed and he tries to verbally build up his teammates as much as possible, showing strong leadership qualities." Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "With team adjusted numbers that match top 5-15 picks [Marner, Strome, Crouse] in %GF [14] and %PTS [24] that match 2nd rounders [Roy, Bittner, Stephens, Korostelev], it is amazing he factored in these equivalencies at men’s league play. Seen in his SuperElit play, he came to play as top dog and looked a very confident top liner. Dictating play, he took his HA experience and became an all around threat actually leaning more towards setting his teammates up with technical bullets of passes. He is a very good skater who uses full body quickness to swivel and position himself as a target in all 3 zones. He has an inclination to play very physical making it no surprise he did well in HA. Kovacs plays hard, can skate, and has goal scoring instincts, what’s not to like?"

114. Erie Otters - Jakob Mayenschein -Forward
A German forward who has suited up for Germany at the U18's the past two years. He was eligible for this year's NHL Draft but was passed over. He saw some time in the German second league against men this past year (on the same team as former OHL'er Patrick Jarrett). Can't be any worse than Erie's 2nd rounder at the Import Draft last year.
Scouting Report: Chapin Landvogt says, "Mayenschein had some injuries and then played 3rd/4th line minutes on a pro team in the second league and was asked to be a defensive player. What his real offensive upside is has yet to be seen. Could help Erie surely as a responsible 3rd liner. I suspect he'll go over. He has some stuff to prove."

116. Oshawa Generals - Mischa Moor - Defence
The final OHL pick of the Import Draft, Moor is a Swiss defender with good size who played in the Swiss U20 league this past year. He was eligible for the NHL Draft but was not selected. Could be a good depth option similar to Hertzberg this past year.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous European scout says, "Tall and lanky D is raw but there are a few aspects in his game to like. Mobile for his size, has good lateral agility and footwork, plays good gap, uses stick to break plays, long reach. Pushes forwards on outside and hard to beat off the rush. Lacks strength to be more effective in battles, simply overpowered a lot but not afraid to get involved physically and competes in battles down low. Just okay skills/hands but decent vision and a bit of ability to move the puck out of zone. Lacks balance and knocked off the puck in battles. Needs to work a lot on his shot. A bit of sleeper, could turn into better player than some of much higher selected players"