Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sunday Top 10 - Unheralded Rookies Who Could Make an Impact in 2018-19

This annual article looks at some of the rookies who could make an impact in the OHL next year. And by that I mean players not selected in the Import Draft or the recent priority draft (or new midget draft for that matter). I'm talking about 2001 (possibly even 2000) born players who should finally crack their respective teams this year. The list of successful players of this ilk is long (see Mark Scheifele, Remi Elie, Matt Clark, Trevor Carrick, Travis Dermott, Zach Senyshyn, Nic Hague, Boris Katchouk, Alex Formenton, Cam Hillis etc).

In addition to my write ups, I've also included brief scouting reports from TheScout's priority selection guide and picked out a few tidbits from that.

Here's the list (sorted by alphabetical order and position):


Gabriel Carriere - Kingston Frontenacs
The list starts off with two Kingston Frontenacs goaltenders. Carriere was a draft pick of Kingston in the inaugural 2017 U18 draft. Didn't make the Fronts then, but he played in the CCHL last year and was one of the league's top netminders as a rookie and was named to the All-Rookie team. Remains to be seen if he is considering the OHL or not, but the Fronts have some big holes in net and it would be a great idea to try to bring him into the fold.
Scouting Report: Don't have a scouting report on Carriere.

Ryan Dugas - Kingston Frontenacs
Second Fronts netminder to appear and the one more likely to suit up for the team this year. Dugas backstopped the Mississauga Reps to an OHL Cup title two years ago and was a standout in the GOJHL with Ancaster last year, finishing with a .931 save percentage and a GAA barely above 2. He's long been considered one of the top netminders in the age group and profiles as a potential starter for Kingston this season.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Dugas is a good sized butterfly goaltender with excellent athleticism and body control. He displays strong mental focus, rarely giving up a bad goal. His glove and blocker are lightning quick and he rarely gives up rebounds to his upper extremities. He does have a tendency to play deeper in his net, which could be problematic against OHL shooters."

Matthew Dunsmoor - Mississauga Steelheads
With the move of Vella to Flint, someone is going to have to backup Jacob Ingham. Recent pick Joe Ranger is a serious candidate, but as is 2017 pick Matthew Dunsmoor. Dunsmoor spent the majority of last year playing Midget in Guelph, but did get in three games with Burlington of the OJHL where his stats would suggest he wasn't over his head (.898 save percentage).
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Might be the biggest gamer of the 2001 crop, emitting a confidence and swagger. He combats below average size with outstanding competitiveness, using quick athletic limbs to steer away shots."

Jet Greaves - Barrie Colts
Remains to be seen what happens in the crease with Barrie this year. Import pick Maksim Zhukov has yet to sign, but did suit up for Barrie's summer league team. If he arrives, he'll no doubt be the starter. Last year's back-up, Kai Edmonds, is returning. And the team has top prospect Jet Greaves ready to take his next step after a solid year in the GOJHL with Guelph where he was named to the All-Rookie team. Greaves is a highly touted prospect, so one would have to wonder if they would consider moving Edmonds, should Greaves show well and Zhukov plays.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "One of the most athletic netminders in the 2001 age group, relying on this athleticism and post to post agility, more than technical efficiency. Excellent recovery quickness to turn away second and third chance opportunities. Is not tall, but rarely gets beaten high because of his competitiveness battling screens."

Ethan Langevin - Sarnia Sting
With Justin Fazio moving on, the crease in Sarnia remains wide open. Aidan Hughes will look to finally take hold of the starter's job, but nothing is set in stone. Insert Langevin, an undersized netminder who is coming off an excellent season in the OJHL with Pickering that saw him post a .914 save percentage and be named to the prestigious OJHL First Team All Prospect (which has alumni like Michael McNiven and Michael Giugovaz).
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "His toolbox is full of all the qualities that you look for in elite goaltender and he couples that with outstanding work ethic. Challenging shooters and staying square to the puck allows him to limit holes despite his lack of size. Rebound control is not an issue for him as pucks stick to him like glue and he diverts pucks to the corners."
Luke Pearson - Ottawa 67's
One of the greatest mysteries heading into this OHL season is what the 67's are going to do with their starting goaltender position. The team could compete for the Eastern Conference Championship, yet has no starter in place. Cedrick Andree is returning, but remains relatively unproven. They drafted Will Cranley in the 2nd round this year. But they also have Luke Pearson in the pipeline, a former OHL Cup standout who was solid for Whitby of the OJHL this year. Not in 67's camp currently, however Pearson could definitely be worth a long look. Funny enough, Pearson was Langevin's platoon mate in minor midget.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Plays a composed style relying on positioning and technique. Good at limiting rebounds. Will need to improve his quickness to better handle second and third chance opportunities."


Anthony Aguanno - Guelph Storm
After spending part of last year with the Storm, it seems very likely that Aguanno will spend the entire year with Guelph in 2018/19. Looks to be heading into the season as the 7th defender, but his development will be critical if injuries arise. Aguanno was excellent for Oakville in the OJHL last year, especially in the playoffs, where he averaged a point per game from the back-end.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "On the defensive side of the puck, Aguanno's physical presence leaves opponents timid below the goal line. With a strong frame he is rarely outmuscled for the puck. He consistently makes a crisp pass heading up ice, but if none are available, he is confident enough to rush the puck up ice. He is not the smoothest offensive defender, but his eagerness, quickness, and unpredictability make him successful at creating chances. He is a hard defender to play against and that should translate well to him being competitive in all situations."

Evan Brand - Kingston Frontenacs
Massive defender at 6'7, 200lbs who got into about a half season in Kingston last year. Split time between the OHL and OJHL, also suiting up for Canada Red at the U17's. Rebuilding, the Frontenacs defense will be going under a make-over thanks to the losses of Sean Day, Eemeli Rasanen, and Liam Murray. Brand (along with a guy like recent 1st rounder Jake Murray), could end up as a top 4 defender by season's end.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Brand displays an impressive combination of size and physicality on the defensive side of the puck. He proves difficult to beat along the boards and suffocates opponents with his strength, length, and reach. His skating has improved, although it will never be a standout trait. He handles the puck with grace and control, identifying smart options and executing heads up passing. He may never be leaned upon as a prime puck carrier but can support the rush well."

Robert Calisti - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Like many on this list, Calisti got into a few OHL games last year, but was mostly a standout in the NOJHL with the Soo Thunderbirds, where he averaged nearly a point per game in the playoffs as a defender. Likely a third pairing defender for the Greyhounds next year, Calisti could push for more playing time if his play dictates it.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Calisti is a defender who seeks out opportunities to lead the rush and gain the offensive zone by slicing through the neutral zone with slippery hands and elusive feet. He is undersized, but handles contact well because of his strength on pucks. When opponents think they have him beat, he uses his speed and physical play to knock larger opponents off the puck. His competitiveness is an asset in all situations."

Jake Gravelle - Hamilton Bulldogs
Originally a Mississauga Steelhead draft pick, Gravelle got into a few games in Mississauga this year until he was traded to Hamilton. This was a trade obviously made for this coming year when Hamilton knew that they would be losing some talent on the back-end. Gravelle should at the very least be a third pairing defender for the Bulldogs this year, after a strong performance in the OJHL last year with Mississauga (when he wasn't in the OHL).
Scouting Report: Not much in the way of a scouting report for Gravelle.

Xavier Henry - Hamilton Bulldogs
Remains to be seen whether Henry intends on going the OHL route (especially with him being a USHL pick this year too). The 6'4 defender played with St. Andrew's College this year where he won a CISAA championship. Like mentioned with Gravelle, the Bulldogs have some serious holes on the back-end entering the year so he'd most definitely get playing time should he sign.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "a rangy raw defender with plus size and skating ability with some consistency issues. At his best when keeping the game simple, however does own impressive upside."

Mason Howard - Niagara IceDogs
No doubt about it, the Dogs have some impressive depth on the back-end currently. Even with the MacPherson deal, they may have upwards of 9 OHL quality defenders for training camp. Howard, already signed, is coming off an excellent year with Thorold where he led them in scoring among blueliners.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Offers a likeable and intriguing blend of a throwback style defending and modern day puck moving. One of the best checking defenders in the age group. May not be a pure powerplay option for the OHL, but is an intelligent puck mover. Skating needs work (especially start ups and lateral agility), but it shouldn't hold him back."

Ethan Lavalee - Sudbury Wolves
A once hyped prospect for the OHL draft, Lavalee has yet to crack an OHL roster. Could simply go the NCAA route at this point, but his rights were traded to Sudbury last year and I would assume that he will try to crack the Wolves' roster this coming year. The hulking defender (6'7, 220lbs) had a great first year in the NOJHL with Rayside-Balfour and could be a solid third pairing option for Sudbury in 2018/19.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Has shown improvement in his footwork and skating stride but it's an area that will continually need attention. Projects as a nasty shutdown defender so long as he can improve the consistency of his nastiness."

Mason Millman - Saginaw Spirit
Millman got into a few games with Saginaw last year but spent the majority of the year with St. Thomas of the GOJHL. He excelled there and was named the Top Rookie defender and to the All Rookie team. With the addition of Bode Wilde, Millman probably ends up as the 7th defender in Saginaw next year but should still see decent playing time with injuries.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "strong skating defender who owns a good level of skill and smarts. Thrives at getting point shots through to the net and at moving the puck up ice. Plays a relatively quiet game, but that shouldn't hide his upside because of his high IQ."

Daniel Nardi - Niagara IceDogs
Like Mason Howard, Nardi is facing an uphill battle on a crowded Niagara blueline. But he is signed and got into a few games last year as an injury replacement. Like Howard, he was a standout in the GOJHL for Fort Erie, where he too led his team in blueline scoring. Have to think one of these guys will be used as trade bait at some point.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "cerebral and calculated are two important characteristics of a player and that's precisely what Nardi is. A smooth, effortless skater who always makes the right decision. Nardi is an excellent stick on puck defender with great recognition of gaps. Underrated."

Ashton Reesor - Sarnia Sting
Reesor got into one OHL game last year, spending the rest of the year with Stouffville of the OJHL. With Stouffville, Reesor was a key defender on a younger, rebuilding team. The Vaughn Kings product projects to be an everyday player for a Sting blueline that has incurred some changes.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Reesor is a tall, tenacious defender who can control the pace of the game and be relied upon to be a shut down defender. Skating is a work in progress, but Reesor involves himself in the defensive zone by outworking opponents and using his long reach to push opponents to the perimeter. He must improve his zone exits, but he does possess the ability to read the play well and find options."

Cameron Supryka - Peterborough Petes
Brother of Josh, a part time player of the Kingston Frontenacs a few years ago, Cameron is a lanky defender out of the Quinte program. He got into a few games in Peterborough but spent most of last season with Lindsay of the OJHL where he was an everyday player. The Petes have a lot of depth on the back-end currently, so he'll have to battle some second year players like McNamara and Beraldo for playing time.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Supryka is a smooth skating defender with high hockey instincts and the athletic ability and skills to lead the rush. High level of efficiency transitioning the puck up ice, using his lively skating ability to gain the offensive zone. Has potential as a powerplay QB. With his impressive footwork he is able to stay square to the puck and maintains strong defensive positioning."

Payton Vescio - North Bay Battalion
Local product who got into one game with the Battalion last year but spent the rest of the year with Powassan of the NOJHL, where he was an everyday player on a playoff team. The Battalion will have to completely revamp their blueline this coming season (with Bruce, Saban, and Thilander all gone), so Vescio figures to get a lot of playing time if he proves capable.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "easy blueliner to like with his natural mobility, competitive demeanor, and two-way efficiency. Gifted skater who moves about the ice, acting as a cerebral puck carrier. Will need to add strength to improve his shot and separate attackers from the puck."


Camaryn Baber - Saginaw Spirit
While the Spirit have built up some nice depth up front that could complicate Baber's role with the club this season, you have to believe that they will try to make room for him to play consistently. Baber was a point per game player in the NOJHL last year with the Soo Thunderbirds and even scored an OHL goal in limited action with Saginaw.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Unique player who has a knack for capitalizing on his opportunities, which comes from his ability to consistently push the pace of attack. He's got good puck touch around the net and displays good creativity in his attacks. Would benefit from adding size."

Brendan Bowie - Sudbury Wolves
The top scoring 2001 on the prestigious St. Andrew's College team last year, Bowie could end up being a nice diamond in the rough for the Wolves this year. Bowie is a former standout with the Toronto Nationals who were runners up at the 2017 OHL Cup (on a team featuring Brandon Coe, a guy he might see a lot of soon).
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "intelligent offensive winger with elusive skating ability. He's a smaller forward but he owns good strength on the puck relative to his height. Shows a high level of patience in possession and has the potential to develop into one of the better offensive players in the age group."

Jacob DiDanielli - Ottawa 67's
I remember DiDanielli being a favourite of Matt Barbera (formerly of TheScout, now Assistant GM of Whitby) before the OHL Draft (info from my primer here). The good sized center will be in a dogfight for a roster spot at 67's camp, but could be an ideal 4th line center for the team this year who can bring physicality after a strong year with Pickering of the OJHL in 2017/18.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Two-way pivot who uses his strong, long frame to engage and separate opposing players from the puck. Has shown some intriguing creativity as an attacker, but mostly uses his strength to drive the net and keeps things simple. Highly competitive player."

Curtis Fabbro - Kingston Frontenacs
A member of the CCHL all rookie team last year playing for Navan. The offensive numbers don't immediately jump out at you, but it's all relative because his 11 goals were right near the team lead on the last place team. There's no guarantee that Fabbro plays for Kingston this year (as he may keep NCAA options open), but given that they may lose 5 of their top forwards from a year ago, they could use the added depth.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "a tenacious pivot who relishes the opportunity to carry the puck into traffic. Excels at maintaining possession while absorbing contact. His high work rate also makes him an effective penalty killer. Not the greatest skater or most creative player, but he is a bull in the offensive zone."

Peter Fleming - Barrie Colts
Looks to be leaning towards avoiding the OHL, after joining the Toronto Patriots of the OJHL for next year. But with some forward spots open, it is worth mentioning Fleming as a candidate for the Colts, none the less. Fleming is a big winger who had a good year in the GOJHL with St. Thomas last year, as one of the team's leading scorers in the regular season and playoffs.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "plays a very sound game and has a high hockey IQ. Excels with and without the puck and has underrated passing skill. Can play down the middle or on either wing. Someone who is reliable in all three zones and can generate offense to boot. Safe bet to be an OHL player (if he chooses that route)."

Jordan Frasca - Windsor Spitfires
The Spits are a talented young team with some wide open races for 3rd/4th line forward spots heading into the 2018/19 season. Frasca is one of the guys in the mix. He got into 11 games with Windsor last year, but spent most of the year in a starring role for Chatham of the GOJHL.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Determined and driven pivot who plays a north/south attacking style, using his speed to be effective. Has room to grow as a finesse player, but he's committed at both ends and projects well as a middle 6 forward at the OHL level."

Dennis Golovatchev - Guelph Storm
Remains to be seen if he has any interest in playing in the OHL, but the former OHL Cup champion and high draft pick would definitely be in Guelph's plans as a potential bottom 6 player should he sign. Spent last year with Burlington of the OJHL, but has since seen his rights transferred to Trenton.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "An impressive attacker who possesses elite potential if he can iron out inconsistencies in his game. His skating and power gives him separation that allows him to be a lethal finisher. Can be prone to forcing plays but owns one of the best shots and releases in the age group."

Alec Lovisek - Owen Sound Attack
Another St. Andrew's grad, Lovisek was a 4th rounder by the Attack in 2017. As part of St. Andrew's and their Championship squad in 2017/18, Lovisek was an integral component and a near point per game player. Owen Sound has some graduations at the forward position heading into this year and Lovisek could be an intriguing option for a 3rd/4th line role if he intends to take the OHL route.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "drives the puck to the net well with a strong power forward type game. At is best when competing with an edge and his attacking style can be hard to contain. Also possesses an excellent shot which makes him a potential goal scorer."

Tanner McEachern - Flint Firebirds
One of the top scorers on the Welland Jr. Canadiens last year (GOJHL), McEachern could be a candidate for a bottom 6 spot on the Firebirds this year should he choose the OHL route. The former 4th rounder recently had his rights transferred to Oakville (OJHL) though, which could suggest an interest in the College route.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "former captain of the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs who had a ton of injuries in his OHL draft year. He's a smart two-way center who possesses good speed and hand eye coordination. Needs to fill out, but should be a safe bet to be a competent OHL player."

Jack Quinn - Ottawa 67's
Possibly the player on this list with the chance to make the biggest impact. Quinn is a potential top 6 forward who was named the CCHL rookie of the year last year and the league's top prospect (5 of the last 6 have been NHL drafted). Spent most of the year with Kanata, but did see some limited time with Ottawa, including a couple playoff games. They'll make room for him on the roster this year to, at least, play a bottom 6 role.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Quinn's best attribute is his ability to finish, but also possesses above average puck skills. Top speed will need to improve, but he moves well without the puck. Will also need to improve his interest in the defensive end. But potential is high as an impact offensive player."

Jake Partridge - Peterborough Petes
Not too often that a team's recent 11th round pick gets into some OHL action, but that was the case for Partirdge last year. Played 4 games with Peterborough, but the rest of the year with Rayside-Balfour of the NOJHL where he was nearly a point per game player and a standout in the playoffs. He was also the highest scoring U17 player in the league. Should be a candidate to play a top 9 role with the Petes this coming year.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "Possesses terrific skating ability that makes him a consistent threat. Controls the tempo in the offensive zone with good puck skill and displays efficiency as a passer."

Emmett Pierce - London Knights
Hulking winger signed on with London but did not get into any game action last year with the Knights. Spent 2017/18 with Strathroy where he was an offensive contributor, as his 15 goals were third on the team. He'll have his work cut out for him in making the Knights, but his size could definitely play in their bottom 6.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "sky is the limit for this winger as he learns to better utilize his range to his advantage. Pierce is displays advanced mobility for a big man. If he can improve his consistency as a physical player and become a little more selfish as a goal scorer, he will have NHL scouts interested in him."

Levi Siau - Sudbury Wolves  
Siau was one of three 2001 born players to hit the 40 point mark in the NOJHL last year (along with Partridge and Bowie). He did get into a few games with Sudbury though and should be in for a larger role potentially this coming year. Like I said with Partridge, not bad for a 12th round pick.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "At his best in possession as a crafty distributor. Very efficient below the hash marks and a quality skater. Definitely a subtleness to his playmaking game and is excellent under pressure and in traffic."

Eric Uba - Flint Firebirds
A late birth date 2000 who looks like a potential offensive difference maker as an OHL player in the future. Got into 4 games with Flint last year, but spent the majority of the year in the OJHL (split between Wellington and Oakville). Should be a bottom 6 winger for Flint this year.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "a strong, competitive forward who plays with authority and confidence. Skating could stand to improve, but his strength on the puck is excellent, allowing him to maximize possession opportunities. Creates havoc for defenders by driving through traffic and powering towards the net. Plays an aware and responsible two-way game. Going to be a versatile OHL player."

Liam Van Loon - Hamilton Bulldogs
Reigning GOJHL Rookie of the Year was over a point per game for Ancaster last year, while also suiting up in the OHL for a few games (including one in the playoffs). But Van Loon is going to get a big opportunity to be a top 9 forward this year on a Hamilton team who is going to lose players to graduation. Could definitely be one of the more impactful players on this list.
Scouting Report: TheScout says, "brings energy and a tremendous work ethic on every shift. Will challenge any defender, at any time and usually comes out on top. Drives the pace of play by being a confident puckhandler. Owns natural hockey sense and is able to control possession, exhibiting poise with the puck. Not the most innately skilled, but makes up for it with sheer determination."

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Preseason Top 30 for the 2019 NHL Draft

With the Ivan Hlinka tournament completed and OHL preseason action around the corner, it's time for the first draft list of the season. I only started doing a preseason list a few years ago, but I enjoy it because it gives you a great perspective on where players have come from (for fun, here's the 2018 preseason list).

This is obviously a very difficult list to make. The progression for draft eligible players can often be a tad unpredictable. The player you see in a sophomore season isn't often the same player you see in a freshman year. Growth spurts occur. Strength is added. Confidence grows. Timid perimeter players can become physical beasts, etc. Or, conversely, you've got players who look great as 17 year olds but just don't progress in their sophomore seasons. Plus, you've got all the players who haven't yet played in the OHL (at least more than a few games), but who are projected to be impact players in their draft year (like Matvei Guskov, Jet Greaves, etc).

If you watched the Hlinka tournament this year, you were able to take in some of the highly talented players available in 2019 (and in 2020 for that matter). You also probably noticed the lack of OHL content at the event, with Team Canada made up of primarily WHL and QMJHL players. I still think that the OHL has some very good players available and I wouldn't call it a down year. But as of right now, the strength in some of the other leagues (and other countries, such as the talent coming out of the U.S. this year), probably means less OHL first round candidates. In fact, we may not even see an OHL player taken in the lottery when all is said and done. However, it's still very early. Plenty of time for player(s) to emerge and steal the spotlight.

Here's my early list:

1. Ryan Suzuki - Forward - Barrie Colts
Originally thought that I would have Kaliyev at number one, but flip flopped them after their Hlinka performances. That's not to say that Kaliyev was bad. It's to say that I thought Suzuki was excellent for Canada and showed that his "overall" game and the way that he impacts it, is perhaps more advanced than Kaliyev right now. Plus, he plays a more premium position as a center. If we're comparing Ryan to his brother Nick, they are pretty comparable players. Ryan is a bit bigger and a better skater, and Nick would have to be considered the more lethal goal scorer. But both are extremely talented playmakers. Really like how Ryan controls the half wall. Always keeps his feet moving and has terrific hands, darting in and out of traffic. Also has fantastic vision, something that made him a lethal weapon on the powerplay for Canada at the Hlinka. As we progress to the 2018/19 season, Suzuki is going to have to be a little more selfish. Want to see him display more confidence in his shot and look to drive the middle to open up lanes to use it. Also want to see him improve his faceoff ability, an area he struggled with as an OHL rookie. If he can round out his game even further, his playmaking ability and physical gifts will be in high demand come June.

2. Arthur Kaliyev - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs
Speaking of physical gifts, that's Kaliyev in a nutshell. A 6'2 power winger with tremendous goal scoring ability. Some stats to throw at you. Kaliyev was the first 30 goal scoring U17 player in the OHL since Alex Galchenyuk. Topping out at 31 on the year, that tied him with the likes of Rick Nash, Nathan Horton, and Galchenyuk for a top 20 season all time (for a U17). Additionally, his 11 playoff points were the 4th most among U17 forwards in the OHL playoffs in the 2000's. Ahead of him? Tavares, McDavid, and Seguin. Not only is his shot powerful, but he has such a quick release and good hands in tight. Can score in a multitude of ways. Not a one trick pony. In the OHL last year, Hamilton often used Kaliyev on the point or as a half wall option. But the U.S. used Kaliyev as a net/slot presence on the powerplay and he looked equally impressive there. Because of his size and deceptive skating strength, Kaliyev is also a very difficult player to stop one on one as he drives the net. He has a lot of confidence with that puck. Where we need to see growth is away from the puck. Being able to use that size to be more of a factor in all three zones. Being a more consistent player along the wall. Also think there's room for improvement as a playmaker. Has shown he can drive the net, but does he possess the vision to make plays for linemates and be a true offensive catalyst instead of an opportunistic scorer?

3. Blake Murray - Forward - Sudbury Wolves
Murray is a power center who possesses tremendous physical gifts. Ended up leading the Wolves in scoring as a 17 year old (after they dealt off Sokolov and Pezzetta). Already plays a complete game and sees action in all situations for Sudbury because his size and skating ability makes him just as good without the puck as he is with it. Loves to drive the net and really is a driving force off the rush, as he looks to back up defenders to create room for him to utilize his terrific wrist shot. Does damage in front of the net without the puck and is a willing combatant already against older and stronger defenders. As we move into this year, I'll be looking for him to elevate his game physically. Just how much "power" is there in his game? Also want to see how much growth he can show as a puck carrier and distributor. He'll have more help this year with Quinton Byfield in the fold and if he can help the Wolves get back to being competitive, Murray will move up draft lists quickly.

4. Michael Vukojevic - Defense - Kitchener Rangers
Started last year with Green Bay before signing with Kitchener and honestly was impressive right from the get go. His poise in the defensive end is that of a four year OHL veteran. By the time the playoffs rolled around, he was Kitchener's second best defender behind Logan Stanley. And this was on a team who advanced all the way to the Western Conference finals. At 6'2, 200lbs, his size is an asset in his own end, especially when you consider how good his defensive positioning is. His anticipation and reads are very mature for his age. Very curious to see how his offensive game develops this coming year. At the Hlinka, I thought he looked good in the o-zone despite not posting a point. Did a very good job keeping pucks in and getting shots through to the net. As a puck carrier, there's room for growth. Ditto on the mobility front. But this is a very solid defensive prospect who plays a mature game with the potential to develop into a two-way beast.

5. Philip Tomasino - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
Tomasino is a dynamic offensive player who loves to play at a high speed. Pushes the pace off the rush and possesses electric skating and puck handling ability, which causes a lot of match up issues for the opposition. Thought he looked very good at the Hlinka camp recently, although didn't make the final cut due to the depth available. As of right now, probably slots into Niagara's terrific top 6 and will get a chance to play alongside the likes of Akil Thomas, Ben Jones, Ivan Lodnia, or Kirill Maksimov. I guess the question for the future is, is he a winger or a center? Can he use his skating ability to become a nuisance without the puck this year? Playing with guys like the four above, he's going to have to operate a lot without the puck on his stick and that will be a great challenge for him. But big time offensive potential here.

6. Nikita Okhotyuk - Defense - Ottawa 67's
Seems like a forgotten man at this point on most draft lists. Not mine. The late 2000 born Russian defender was a big time defensive standout for the 67's last year as a rookie. Keeps a wide base while defending the rush and is just a very difficult guy to get behind. Below the hash marks, he's ultra aggressive and really seemed to gain confidence as a physical player later in the year. Just not a fun guy to match up against and that's why the 67's started using him to close out games and match up against top lines. Offensively, I don't really know what the ceiling is. There's definitely some puck skill in there, it's just that he wasn't aggressive at all in that regard this past season. Does show potential as someone who can skate the puck out of trouble. I expect the 67's to be very good this year and I expect growth for Okhotyuk in all areas as he establishes himself as a terrific two-way defender. If the offensive game doesn't improve, he'll fall but as of right now, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.

7. Graeme Clarke - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Hard not to overreact to a single tournament like the Hlinka, but sometimes you do need to pay attention to the growth that a player has shown. Clarke has always been an extremely skilled player, perhaps one of the best in the age group with the puck on his stick. But at the Hlinka, he showed two things that caused me to move him up. The first was improved skating ability. Don't think he's ever going to be a burner, but he looks much more explosive than he did as an OHL rookie last year and that's going to help him exploit gaps and find scoring lanes that he couldn't consistently before. The second was improved play without the puck. Was completely engaged in the offensive end, working the cycle and even engaging physically to win battles. Clarke's bread and butter is his goal scoring ability and skill, but if he can continue to round out his game and improve his skating (given his average size), that is going to make him a lot more attractive to NHL teams come June. Getting a huge Tyler Toffoli vibe from him.

8. Nick Robertson - Forward - Peterborough Petes
This is 2018 (soon to be 2019) where smaller offensive forwards are no longer punished for their lack of size so long as they are skilled enough. And Robertson is skilled enough. He also grew, listed at 5'9 at the Hlinka, a couple inches more than he was listed as a Pete last year. Important to note that he's one of the younger players available this coming year, so wouldn't be surprised to see him continue to hit a late growth spurt. Brother of Kingston's power winger Jason, Nick plays a different game. A game based on speed, energy, and puck creativity. Very slippery in the offensive end, as he darts in and out of traffic, using quick hands to keep defenders guessing. Robertson is also an effective player without the puck as he uses his speed to chase down loose pucks and is effective in the neutral zone looking to force turnovers. Not sure I expect the Petes to be a terrific team this year, but I do expect Robertson to emerge as an offensive force. On a team with Der-Arguchintsev, Gogolev, Hinz, Gallant, etc, don't be surprised if he's the leading scorer come March.

9. Jamieson Rees - Forward - Sarnia Sting
Well rounded offensive player who had an impressive performance at the most recent Hlinka for Canada. Had a bit of an injury prone rookie season with the Sting that saw him get into only 46 games in 2017/18. And given his lack of size (listed as 5'10, 160lbs on the Hlinka roster), durability is going to be a concern. But this is a kid who can impact the game in a lot of ways. Brings good speed to the table and has great skill with the puck. As a rookie, this was extremely noticeable as it was one of the only ways he could generate scoring chances. But at the Hlinka, we saw him be an extremely effective player in traffic, which bodes well for his development this year. Really liked how he played down low for Canada, getting after loose pucks below the hash marks, and showing good poise and skill to turn those won battles into scoring chances. He looked a lot stronger on the puck and was able to fight off checks to play that scrappy puck hound role. If he stays healthy and continues to evolve as a complete player who can bring energy and skill, Rees' lack of size will be overlooked.

10. Tag Bertuzzi - Forward - Guelph Storm
Not uncommon for 16/17 year old rookies to struggle in their first OHL season. Especially when they deal with the injury issues (concussion, hip, and a few others) like Bertuzzi did. At this point, we need to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that the former #2 overall pick will take big steps forward this year. Let's not forget that this is an NHL draft ranking and not a ranking of OHL success to date. Bertuzzi has the size and power game that will tantalize scouts. Already over 6'1, and 200lbs, Tag blends power and skill together to be a big time factor off the rush and the type of player who could be very difficult to contain within 10 feet of the net. He could be that dominant possession driving force that could control the wall and tire out defenses. This is something that was, again, only teased as a rookie but let's see how he looks to start the year before we move him down. On NHL potential alone, he deserves to be this high currently.

11. Connor McMichael - Forward - London Knights
The key piece in the Robert Thomas trade, McMichael is one of the smartest players in the age group. A very well rounded center who projects as someone who can be used in all situations and can eventually develop into an elite two-way player. Solid skater who I thought looked pretty good in a limited role with London to end last year, where his intelligence without the puck and vision as a playmaker were evident. A lack of strength was an issue as it often is for rookies. Will be interesting to see how much ice time he gets in London this coming season. If he moves from center, he could likely be a 3rd liner, but if they want him down the middle, he'll be slow played on the 4th like many top end London players before him. If the strength has improved, he can hopefully use his speed and smarts to be a strong penalty killer and stand out any way he can.

12. Billy Constantinou - Defense - Niagara IceDogs
A favourite of mine last year as an OHL rookie. I think this kid just oozes NHL potential. Constantinou is an explosive offensive defender who can lead the rush and push the pace. An effortless skater, Constantinou generates a ton of power and reaches top speed relatively quickly, allowing him to shoot out of the d-zone and start the breakout. Consistency in decision making was an issue. But I was impressed with his defensive zone commitment level, something that was supposed to be poor coming out of minor midget. Niagara has a pretty deep team heading into next year, but I'm hoping he gets more powerplay time so we can evaluate his ability as a quarterback. But as stated, he might have the highest ceiling of any defender on this list.

13. Nicholas Porco - Forward - Saginaw Spirit
The 4th overall pick in 2017's priority selection, Porco had a bit of a disappointing rookie season in the OHL. But as mentioned with Bertuzzi, this is not uncommon in the OHL. Need to give Porco the benefit of the doubt that he will improve. Porco, with his speed and skill, possesses a lot of offensive potential. He is a dynamic player who I definitely see a bit of Jordan Kyrou in at the same age. As we move into this coming year, I'm looking for his decision making and play away from the puck to improve. If he starts putting up numbers on an improving, young Saginaw team, Porco could climb draft lists quickly.

14. Andrew Perrott - Defense - London Knights
From start to finish, Perrott was one of the rookies who improved the most over the course of last season. That's definitely encouraging as often times 16/17 year olds will hit a wall. Was super impressed with Perrott's physical intensity in the defensive end. Just a fearless player who can physically punish you already and who really seemed to learn how to play with more composure and patience as the season went on. I think there's more to his game offensively too. Later in the year we saw him start to lead the rush and gain confidence in his ability to work the point. Could develop into a real throwback two-way defender. Next year, I think he has a chance to be a top 4 defender for London, perhaps as a partner for Adam Boqvist. Let's see how his skating continues to evolve (as it's only average) and how his game grows, but I'm a big fan.

15. Mitchell Brewer - Defense - Oshawa Generals
Brewer is a defender with good size who already has a great compete level and established himself as a dependable defensive option for Oshawa as a rookie. Blocks shots. Clears the crease. Wins battles in the corner. Is also a good skater who has proven to be extremely mobile. As of yet, that mobility has not translated to offensive success. Brewer seemed content to learn how to play in his own end first and his confidence with the puck wasn't incredibly high. But at the Hlinka camp this summer, I was impressed with Brewer at both ends. If he can carry over that confidence and look to use his skating ability to be a factor offensively to go with his strong defensive acumen, he'll move up this list quickly as a potential two-way defender. Has a lot of qualities that NHL scouts look for.

16. Nathan Allensen - Defense - Barrie Colts
Like the two players ranked ahead of him, Allensen was impressive as a defensive player as an OHL rookie last year. Was always impressed by his mobility, in particular his gap control and ability to defend off the rush. Also thought he did a good job with the puck in his own end, keeping things safe and rarely turning the puck over. Just was a very dependable player for the Colts. The question is, how much offensive potential does he possess? Moves up into the top four likely this year and we'll see what he's capable of and just how much his game can grow. Have to believe one of these strong defensive defenders shows to be a more than competent player offensively too.

17. Grayson Ladd - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
The fourth consecutive defender who showed well in his own zone as an OHL rookie. While Ladd's size and mobility are major pluses, I think his offensive upside is the lowest of the four and that's why I've got him ranked lowest among the four defensive standouts. But Ladd showed a lot of progression last year, especially after a trade to Windsor. Has the potential to develop into a fantastic stay at home defender given that his movement is so fluid and his IQ in the defensive end so high. This was also evident at the Hlinka camp. Seemed like every time I wrote down a number of a defender making a great defensive play, it was Ladd. But, I'm just not sure how much skill with the puck he has and if that part of his game will ever be even above average. If the offensive game stagnates, he's going to have to step it up even more as a defensive player, especially his physical intensity. Currently a stick on puck defender, Ladd will have to step up his physical game to match his defensive IQ and be a harder guy to match up against. Will be a top four defender for the Spits this season.

18. Ethan Keppen - Forward - Flint Firebirds
Big, powerful winger with a goal scorer's touch. Had 10 goals last year, which doesn't jump off the page at you, but he did have 112 shots which was 4th among 01's (behind Kaliyev, Clarke, and Robertson). This kid will be a goal scorer in this league. But his power game is also impressive. Even as a rookie, he stood out at times with his ability to plow through traffic and drive the net. He knows his role on the ice and he really embraces it. Expect the physical component to his game to improve/increase even more this year. I guess the question I have is, can he improve his skating ability and just how good is his skill with the puck? Will need to get quicker so that he can be more of a factor away from the puck. And is he more than just a complimentary/opportunistic scorer? Let's see how he looks this year on what should be an improved Flint team.

19. Mack Guzda - Goaltender - Owen Sound Attack
Huge goaltender (6'4, 220lbs) who has the size and athleticism that NHL scouts are looking for in the position now. Moves well laterally for such a big kid and profiles as a big time stopper. Consistency was an issue last year, especially in his positioning and rebound control. Hard to be that big and in control all the time. But he will head into this year as the starter for an Owen Sound team that will still compete heavily for a playoff spot. Wanted to rank him a bit higher, but I usually like to be conservative when ranking goalies this early as it can be tough to predict their development.

20. Lev Starikov - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
Lanky, behemoth Import defender who is coming into his second year in the OHL. The 6'7, 190lbs blueliner was an Import Draft selection by Windsor in 2017 and just missed the cutoff for the 2018 NHL Draft by a few days. Starikov's athleticism for such a big blueliner is what will draw NHL scouts to him. Moves quite well for a big guy and I actually think he projects a bit more as an offensive blueliner than a strictly stay at home type. Flashes some good puck skill and shows potential as a puck mover who can lead the rush. Defensively, that reach is a major asset. Would like to see him play a little meaner. And at times he looks a little awkward with the puck when pressed for time. But, as much as he remains a project, he has a lot of potential and could move quickly if he shows improvement and growth (hopefully not in height anyway).

21. Daniil Antropov - Forward - Oshawa Generals
The son of former Maple Leaf Nikolai, Daniil is a similar type of player. Long winger who can excel off the rush, driving the net and profiles as a quality playmaker and net presence. He's a late 2000 born, so this will be his 3rd OHL season upcoming. Thought he had a disappointing second season and as such I've ranked him lower than I thought I would have had him, at say, the midpoint of last year. His skating will need to improve, ditto for his play away from the puck and his intensity level in the offensive end. Still possesses a lot of potential, but will have to fight for ice time, yet again, on a quality Oshawa team. 

22. Cody Morgan - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Another recently acquired Spitfire with Cody Morgan, the center piece of the Vilardi/Day deal to Kingston. Thought Morgan was very impressive as a rookie. Really like how he controls possession already, working the wall and keeping pucks alive. Not blessed with elite size, but already very strong on the puck. Morgan is a kid with a very high hockey IQ who profiles as a well rounded offensive player. I know coming out of MM, he was said to possess a lot of goal scoring potential, so we'll see how that develops. With that hockey IQ and his strength on/off the puck, he profiles as a strong two-way player too. The only thing going against Morgan is his current average skating ability coupled with average size. I'm sure improving that was a focus this offseason so we'll see if he looks more explosive come September.
23. Luke Cavallin - Goaltender - Flint Firebirds
This ranking is based purely on potential as Cavallin struggled on a poor Flint team last year. But that's usually the case for 16/17 year old netminders in this league as they adjust to the speed of the OHL coming out of minor midget. Cavallin is definitely an athletic netminder, but from what I've seen, his positioning needs work. At this year's Hlinka camp, that was evident as he was getting caught out of position while tracking the play, over skating angles and leaving openings too big for top end shooters. Again, projecting goaltenders is difficult and Cavallin has as much potential as anyone on this list. Likely splits time with Emanuel Vella this year and should get more help in front of him which can only help his confidence.

24. Nathan Staios - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
Would be ranked higher if he wasn't 5'8. The game has definitely changed, but 5'8 defenders still face an uphill battle when it comes to drawing NHL draft attention. This is probably even higher than some scouts would have him currently, but I'm a big fan. Staios is very mobile. Really like his edgework and ability to stop, start, change direction. This helps him to be an asset on the point and IMO, eventually a very strong powerplay QB. As he gains confidence, I think we'll see him be a big time factor as a leader of the breakout too. Defensively, he plays way bigger than his size. Engages physically and wins more battles than he should along the wall given his stature and the size of players he's going up against. That competitive nature will do him well moving forward. If he wants to stay ranked this high and draw serious interest from NHL scouts, the offensive production will need to be there this coming year in Windsor. Not outside the realm of possibility for him to start the year as the top powerplay QB and main offensive weapon on the blueline. The pedigree is great, but will probably need to be in the 40 point range to be a potential NHL pick.

25. Joe Carroll - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Athletic power winger who excelled in a depth role with the Greyhounds this past year. The former 4th round pick was a huge surprise, but clearly has the tools to be an impact OHL player. At 6'2, 200lbs, he blends size and skill and I was very impressed with his ability to operate in traffic, especially in close. I think he possesses big time goal scoring potential. Dating back to his MM days, the knock against Carroll was a wavering intensity level, especially without the puck. But the SSM coaching staff (although overhauled) has done a great job getting forwards to buy into playing in all three zones. Carroll is likely going to get a crack at a top 6 role this year, perhaps even playing with Frost or Hayton and if so, he could be a big draft riser given his skill set.

26. Cole Mackay - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Felt right putting these two guys back to back since both were impressive as bottom six players on a strong SSM team last year. Like Carroll, I think Mackay possesses a ton of offensive potential, especially as a goal scorer. He certainly doesn't possess Carroll's elite physical package, which could be troublesome for NHL scouts. But I love how engaged he is in the offensive zone. Battles for every inch of ice and seems to have really good hands. When he was given a few chances to play up, I thought he fit right in and you can tell that his hockey sense is very good. Again, like Carroll, he's going to get a shot to play a larger role next year and has the ability to put up points. Let's see if his skating and ability to carry the puck look more advanced.

27. Liam Ross - Defense - Sudbury Wolves
If you recall, Ross was one of my favourites to watch as a minor midget player. Needless to say that I'm a fan. And he had a solid rookie year for Sudbury that saw him improve as the year went on. Love his competitive nature and he leaves little to be desired in the defensive end. Definitely projects as a quality shutdown defender at this level, at the very least. I guess the question I have is, just how much room for growth is there in his game? How much better can his skating get? Is there significant offensive upside? The size is certainly nice and as I said, I really like this kid as an OHL player. I just wonder what type of NHL prospect he ends up becoming, even if I'm confident in his ability to develop into a quality OHL defender.

28. Thomas Harley - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads
Not sure he had the best of rookie seasons in the OHL after being a first round priority selection, but the potential remains quite high because of his physical gifts. Big kid who moves extremely well on the back-end. I know many felt that he possessed some of the highest upside of any defender in this age group because of his athleticism. There were certainly flashes of that last year, be it his ability to lead the rush, quarterback the powerplay, or play in his own end. But his play wasn't as consistent as some of his contemporaries and his game would definitely have to be classified as "raw." But if his game really comes together this year, he could end up as a top pairing defender on the Steelheads and would definitely move up draft rankings quickly.

29. Jack York - Defense - Kitchener Rangers
The son of former NHL'er Jason York, Jack was a rookie with the Rangers this year and was used rather sparingly until later in the year. Like Starikov in Windsor, Jack missed the cutoff for the 2018 NHL Draft by just a few days, meaning he's a late 2000 born. But when asked to play a larger role late in the year and into the playoffs, I thought York really impressed at both ends. Really liked his vision operating the point and later in the year, we saw his confidence grow offensively to the point where he was starting to jump up into the play and showcased a quality shot that suggests he could have some scoring potential from the back-end like his father (who scored 56 career OHL goals). Looks to have good potential as a two-way defender. Should get more ice time this year and will look to build off of his playoff performance.

30. Daniel D'Amico - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Intelligent and slick forward who was a big surprise for Windsor this year as a 6th rounder in the 2017 priority draft. Seems to possess really nice hands and finishing ability as his 12 goals were the 6th highest among 2001 born players last year. Really seems to understand how to play without the puck already in the offensive end. Doesn't possess terrific size at this point, but the offensive potential seems quite high to me. As he gets stronger and is able to be more of a consistent factor with the puck, he could develop into a very well balanced scoring line option. Should see significant ice time in Windsor this season and I know Spitfire fans love him.

Honorable Mentions:

Mason Primeau - Forward - Guelph Storm

Keean Washkurak - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads

Cole Schwindt - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads

Duncan Penman - Defense - Saginaw Spirit

Luke Bignell - Forward - Barrie Colts

Jacob LeGuerrier - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Keegan Stevenson - Forward - Guelph Storm

Navrin Mutter - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs

Hunter Jones - Goaltender - Peterborough Petes

Mitchell Russell - Forward - Owen Sound Attack

Emmett Sproule - Forward - Erie Otters

Appearing Soon:

Matvei Guskov - Forward - London Knights

Kari Piiroinen - Goaltender - Windsor Spitfires

Tim Fleischer - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs

Jet Greaves - Goaltender - Barrie Colts

Liam Van Loon - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs

Friday, August 17, 2018

Top 25 OHL Prospects - Summer of 2018

As has become regular practice now, following the conclusion of my NHL team write ups ('31 Teams in 31 Days'), I give you a list of the top prospects who played in the OHL during the previous season. In this case, it was the 2017/18 season. The list is capped at 25, with some honorable mentions. I'm also going to keep the write ups slightly short. If you want to read more about these guys, simply click on their NHL team in brackets and you'll be taken to the team's '31 in 31" from this summer and you'll get a detailed write up on their skill set and progression.

1. Andrei Svechnikov - Forward - Barrie Colts (Carolina Hurricanes)
The 2nd overall pick in the most recent NHL draft, the Hurricanes struck gold with Svechnikov. He is without a doubt, the top prospect who played in the OHL this year (in my eyes). He can control the game in every facet and his ability to use his size and speed to wreck havoc in all three zones is reminiscent of Marian Hossa. Excited to see what he does in the NHL next year. 

2. Gabriel Vilardi - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs (Los Angeles Kings)
I remain a huge Vilardi fan, despite the fact that injuries are still following him around a bit. Played half this year, but was dominant in that half. And he had to sit out the most recent World Junior summer showcase. But I just feel that his game is so perfectly suited for the NHL. Can breakdown defenses with his skill and his head. Because of his size and strength, I have him slightly ahead of guys like Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou.

3. Robert Thomas - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs (St. Louis Blues)
Had such a tremendous draft +1 year, winning World Junior Gold and an OHL Championship. Massive steps forward in almost every facet of his game. If there was a redraft a year later, I think he'd be a surefire Top 10 pick. Like Vilardi, he breaks the game down and dictates the pace because of how intelligent he is. Such a well rounded player who could play in the NHL next year.

4. Jordan Kyrou - Forward - Sarnia Sting (St. Louis Blues)
On pure skill alone, Kyrou has to be considered the most dynamic player in the OHL. His ability to carve up opposing defenses with his speed, puck handling ability, and creativity can be downright electric to watch. At times in the OHL, it feels like he possesses the puck for entire shifts. The elusiveness will play in the NHL. He'll need to continue to round out his game in multiple areas, but Kyrou was born to play in the modern National Hockey League.

5. Evan Bouchard - Defense - London Knights (Edmonton Oilers)
Such an intelligent defender whose game has evolved exponentially over the course of his OHL career, leading him to be a top pick of the Edmonton Oilers recently. His vision and decision making with the puck are as good as I've seen from a defender in the OHL. The physical gifts may not be as grand, but they can be improved upon. A team like the Oilers could really use his ability to quarterback the powerplay.

6. Nick Suzuki - Forward - Owen Sound Attack (Vegas Golden Knights)
One of a few extremely intelligent centres to appear on this list. Suzuki doesn't possess the skating ability of a Robert Thomas, or the size of a Gabriel Vilardi, but he does play with a fire in his belly that can not be taught. His tenaciousness away from the puck and his feel for the game in all three zones makes him a consistent threat. His goal scoring ability is also extremely underrated.

7. Morgan Frost - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Philadelphia Flyers)
Huge jump for Frost this year and deservedly so. As he has matured physically, we've seen his game grow leaps and bounds within a year. That added strength has allowed him to showcase his abilities as a playmaker. Makes such quick decisions with the puck and is a very complete player. 

8. Barrett Hayton - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Arizona Coyotes)
Probably surprised some to see Hayton taken at 5th overall, but he's a top quality NHL prospect. Has the versatility to not only play in any situation, but excel at it. Such a terrific player away from the puck and he does so much to elevate the play of those around him. The comparisons to a guy like Patrice Bergeron are legitimate. 

9. Logan Brown - Forward - Kitchener Rangers (Ottawa Senators)
I remain high on Brown because I still believe in his size and skill package as a center. There may be an adjustment period as a pro as he learns to make his intensity level a little more consistent. But players like him don't grow on trees. Can be so dominant down low with his puck protection ability.

10. Owen Tippett - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads (Florida Panthers)
Tippett had a very good year in Mississauga, where we saw his game grow from being more than just a pure goal scorer. His vision and tenacity without the puck saw growth and that bodes well for his development as a top 6 scorer at the NHL level. He's a bit lower down on this list because I'm not as confident he'll impact the game in as many ways as the guys ahead of him will.

11. Ty Dellandrea - Forward - Flint Firebirds (Dallas Stars)
Anyone who reads this blog knows how big of a fan I am of Dellandrea. But I'll temper his place on this list for now until he showcases his offensive ability more (which I think he will). Like Hayton, Dellandrea is such an effective player without the puck. Forces so many turnovers off the forecheck and in the neutral zone. And...he's way more skilled with the puck than people give him credit for. Will be next year's Robert Thomas.

12. Conor Timmins - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Colorado Avalanche)
A rock for the Greyhounds this year and for Team Canada at the WJC's, where he was, without a doubt, one of the better defenders at the tournament. Timmins is one of the best at coming away with the puck along the wall, which really limits time of possession for the opposition. And he is obviously quite skilled offensively. Don't know if I see a future top pairing guy, but he should play as a reliable second pairing guy for many years.

13. Nic Hague - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads (Vegas Golden Knights)
Had one of the best offensive seasons from a blueliner in the history of the OHL. 35 goals in today's day and age is insane. With his shot and offensive aggressiveness, he could be a big time factor on Vegas' powerplay in the near future. The rest of his game will need to continue to improve (especially the pace he plays at), and like Timmins, I'm not sure he's a top pairing guy. But with his size, physicality, and skill, he has to be ranked highly on a list like this.

14. Boris Katchouk - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Huge fan of Katchouk. Canada's Russian rocket. Plays with reckless abandon and leaves it all on the ice. Such an effective forechecker and penalty killer. But his offensive game grew leaps and bounds this year. Dangerous with the puck and has very good hands. Should be a solid complimentary 2nd line winger in the NHL.

15. Michael McLeod - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads (New Jersey Devils)
A fall for McLeod on this list. It's not because I dislike him as a prospect. I actually have always been a fan of McLeod's and the history of this blog proves that. It's more so that I feel other prospects in the OHL have stepped up offensively and have shown to possess a little more upside than McLeod might for the NHL level. Still likely a 10+ year vet ala Andrew Cogliano though.

16. Rasmus Sandin - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Toronto Maple Leafs)
I was so impressed by this rookie defender this year. He's a guy you really have to see multiple times to gain an appreciate of. Doesn't play a flashy game, but is such an effective player at both ends because of his reads and anticipation. Makes as good of a first pass as anyone in the league. Lack of true physical skills probably makes him a solid second pairing guy too, like other defenders on this list.

17. Ryan Merkley - Defense - Guelph Storm (San Jose Sharks)
Without a doubt, Merkley's physical gifts would be tops among OHL defenders on this list. Such a dynamic skater; one of the best that I've seen in the OHL from the back-end. Creates so many lanes with his agility. The volatile nature of his on ice persona is obviously talked about just as much unfortunately. High end potential for days. Let's see how his game develops over the next two years. Is he Ryan Murphy/Tony DeAngelo or is he Paul Coffey?

18. Jason Robertson - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs (Dallas Stars)
A truly gifted offensive player who controls play along the wall and below the hash marks as well as anyone on this list. Keeps his feet moving and is uber aggressive as an offensive player. Just a well rounded player in the o-zone. Skating will continue to need work, as will his play in all three zones. But he's a quality prospect for the Stars.

19. Alex Formenton - Forward - London Knights (Ottawa Senators)
Speed, speed, and more speed. Formenton knows his role on the ice is to push the pace of play and put pressure on opposing defenses. His play without the puck and his physical intensity level improved drastically this year. And he continues to get better at making plays with the puck at top speed. Going to be a very useful NHL player for a long time, perhaps even as early as next year.

20. Michael Dipietro - Goaltender - Windsor Spitfires (Vancouver Canucks)
The ultra competitive Dipietro is the reigning OHL goaltender of the year and likely a top 10 goaltending prospect on the planet. He makes up for his lack of elite size with fantastic anticipation and athleticism. Just a human highlight reel. Hopefully he can lead Canada to WJC gold this season and further cement his status as a blue chip prospect.

21. Logan Stanley - Defense - Kitchener Rangers (Winnipeg Jets)
Behemoth defender who had a good year in helping the Rangers to the West final. Moves very well for a big man which really helps to establish him as an effective two-way defender at the OHL level. Remains to be seen how much the offensive game translates at the pro level, but the size, physicality, and mobility certainly will. 

22. Max Jones - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs (Anaheim Ducks)
Had a disappointing year in the OHL IMO. Was tempted to leave him off the list, but the physical gifts are just too alluring still. The size, skating ability, hands, and obviously the physical intensity are all there. I do question how good his vision and hockey sense are, which would help to explain why his game was never able to reach that next level. But with the right linemates in the NHL, he could certainly still develop into a consistent 25-30 goal scorer.

23. Jack Studnicka - Forward - Oshawa Generals (Boston Bruins)
A criminally underrated prospect who won't be underrated after next year. With his strong play at the WJC summer showcase recently, he's finally started to garner attention from the main stream media. This kid can do it all. Improvements in his skating really helped him take his game to the next level this year. Let's see just how much he has in him offensively now. Can he lead the Oshawa Generals to an OHL championship next year?

24. Isaac Ratcliffe - Forward - Guelph Storm (Philadelphia Flyers)
Players with Ratcliffe's package of size and skill don't grow on trees; a phrase that I've ironically already stated in this article. And while the game is getting smaller, behemoth's like Ratcliffe who can put the puck in the net will still have a place. His skating continues to evolve and his 40+ goals this year were no fluke. He can rifle the puck. Need to see how the rest of his game develops.

25. Taylor Raddysh - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Probably much lower than you expected to see Raddysh on a list like this. He has been a heck of an OHL player over the course of the last few years, and a guy who has been a big part of his team's success. His hockey sense is terrific and will be his bread and butter at the next level. A very well rounded offensive player who can play any role asked of him. I'm just not as confident in his offensive game translating to the next level, because of a lack of dynamic skating ability. 

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order):

Sasha Chmelevski - Forward - Ottawa 67's (San Jose Sharks)
Had a fantastic year where he re-established himself as a top prospect after a very disappointing draft year. Marked improvements in his play away from the puck. Dare I say he's becoming a complete player?

Cam Dineen - Defense - Sarnia Sting (Arizona Coyotes)
A terrific puck moving defender who has a great head for the game. Terrific vision in the offensive end. Knee injury didn't hamper his mobility. Time to see how he holds up defensively at the pro level.

Sean Durzi - Defense - Owen Sound Attack (Toronto Maple Leafs)
One of the OHL's elite powerplay quarterbacks and offensive defenders. So effective leading the rush and operating on the attack. Remains to be seen where he plays next year and how good he can be defensively.

Liam Foudy - Forward - London Knights (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Huge fan of Foudy's game and was elated to see him drafted in the first round. At this point, I think it's fair to see what he can do offensively over a full season with significant ice time before we move him up on a list like this. But I think next year we'll see him up quite high. In terms of offensive potential, I think Foudy possesses more than teammate Alex Formenton.

Jonah Gadjovich - Forward - Owen Sound Attack (Vancouver Canucks)
Tough year on the injury front for the big man child. But he's going to be an NHL player IMO. A very complete player and he's got better hands than people give him credit for. Skating just needs to continue to get better.

Joey Keane - Defense - Barrie Colts (New York Rangers)
5 on 5 point leaders among defenders last year: Bouchard, Hague...and Keane? I'm telling you, this guy is a legitimate NHL prospect with his skating ability and effectiveness at both ends of the ice.

Kirill Maksimov - Forward - Niagara IceDogs (Edmonton Oilers)
Bull in a china shop scoring winger who has size and skill. One of the most underrated prospects around. Possesses one of the best shots and releases of any forward in the OHL.

Adam Mascherin - Forward - Kitchener Rangers (Dallas Stars)
Speaking of shots, Mascherin is among the cream of the crop in that category. Stocky forward who is tough to separate from the puck below the hash marks. Garnered a lot of attention recently because he failed to sign with Florida, re-entered the draft and was taken by Dallas.

Ryan McLeod - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads (Edmonton Oilers)
Very different player than his brother Michael. Ryan's game is built around his ability to dictate pace with his speed and creativity. Just needs to play with more intensity and attack the middle more consistently. Could have a big year next season.

Serron Noel - Forward - Oshawa Generals (Florida Panthers)
A very raw forward, but one with untapped potential. Powerful skater who has a ton of physical gifts. Let's see how the rest of his game catches up.

Cliff Pu - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs (Carolina Hurricanes now/Buffalo Sabres prior)
One of the main pieces going back to Carolina in the Jeff Skinner trade. Pu is a terrific skater who has the potential to be a solid pro in a variety of different roles. I think there are questions as to how good his vision and hockey sense is.

Akil Thomas - Forward - Niagara IceDogs (Los Angeles Kings)
Was shocked to see him drop as far as he did at this year's draft. Very good playmaker who has also shown the ability to play with a chip on his shoulder. Consistency is an issue, but should be corrected as he matures physically. Has a good head on his shoulders.

Dmitry Sokolov - Forward - Barrie Colts (Minnesota Wild)
Would have been #26 on this list and a guy I wanted to try to fit into the Top 25. His game has improved a lot over his OHL career. Top goal scoring import in OHL history. Conditioning and skating were once big worries, but have definitely improved. Very curious to see how his game translates to the pro level. I do think he'll be the type that needs a quality playmaking center to help him get the puck.