Monday, December 23, 2019

2020 OHL Trade Deadline Preview

The 2020 OHL Trade Deadline is set for January 9th (for overage players), and January 10th (for all other players).

As is the annual tradition, I will look at previewing the action we may see at the deadline and what some teams may, or may not do.

It has been a pretty quiet year on the OHL trade front. Teams that we expected to be big time sellers this year with some very good pieces (like Guelph) have performed extremely well and are now likely to stay the course. And the Conferences are still very wide open with only a few teams truly not competitive. That means few teams are likely to truly commit to a rebuild/retool.

Additionally, there just aren't many impact players available who aren't overagers or imports. And we know how complicated those trade markets can be. No teams that I expect to be buyers have OA room currently. I do expect London and Windsor to be flexible in adding at the expense of their current OA's, but who knows if that comes to fruition. Additionally, only a handful of teams will likely be in on the Import market, again which is complicated because only imports who have already played an OHL season (like Gross or Jenik) can move.

In the Eastern Conference, Peterborough, Ottawa, and Sudbury are the only buyers. Peterborough likely looks to add another veteran forward, especially if they can add a scoring winger with size. Ottawa, I think looks to improve their forward and defensive depth in the face of all the injuries they've had this year. And Sudbury, they need another impact forward to help Byfield, as well as consistency from the goaltending position. Oshawa is competitive, but I think that they will look to move a few pieces to help their Memorial Cup push in 2021.

In the Western Conference, things are a little more murky. Only one team is under .500 (the Sarnia Sting) and that's only by a single loss. Five points separate 6th from 10th, and six points separate 1st from 6th. Look no further than the Kitchener Rangers whose fantastic stretch to close out the 2019 calendar year has brought them from last place to a few points away from first. Who is a buyer and who is a seller? Are there even defined roles? Look at the Guelph Storm. Everyone expected them to be a bottom dweller with assets to move, yet here they are still playing fantastic through to the half way point. The only three teams that I feel confident in saying won't be buyers are Erie, Sarnia, and the Soo. But that doesn't mean they are sellers either. This is parity at its finest.

The OHL's trade landscape truly is complicated this year. But I'm still attempting to make sense of it with my predictions below:

Jakob Brahaney - Kingston Frontenacs
Veteran two-way defender who is playing a ton of minutes for Kingston this year in his overage season. Being an OA complicates the market for him. But given his size and playoff experience, I actually see him being the most coveted OA defender on the market (over some more offensive or undersized types). A competitive OHL team could feel comfortable using Brahaney as their 4th or 5th defender, in addition to playing on secondary special teams. The OA market comes down to three teams IMO. London, Windsor, and Flint, with each team needing to move out a current body in order to bring in another. Flint could use another defender, but I just don't see them moving on from alternate captain Jack Phibbs. London is a definite possibility. But it is Windsor that I see being the best fit. Brahaney could partner with rookie Dylan Robinson, with him being a definitive upgrade over current OA Thomas Stevenson. This move also helps the Spitfires relatively younger roster with their playoff push at a lower cost than a top flight 2000 would.
Prediction: Brahaney goes to Windsor in exchange for Thomas Stevenson, OTT 2 2022, KGN 3 2023

Dawson Baker - Kingston Frontenacs
Hard nosed, physical goal scoring winger who would be a great addition to a team's 3rd or 4th line for the playoffs. Can kill penalties, clean up near the crease, and provide depth in case of injuries. Guys like Baker don't have a high price tag, but do have a high impact in the playoffs. I look at a team like Ottawa being interested given the injuries they've had this year. Guelph and Peterborough are two other teams that could use more size and goal scoring ability added to their top 9. But it is the Owen Sound Attack that I see being Baker's new home. I think they look to make a few more sneaky additions (like Struthers) to help them in the playoffs and Baker plays the game the way that Attack management likes. He'd fit right in.
Prediction: Baker goes to Owen Sound in exchange for OS 3 2021, OS 4 2023

Isaac Nurse - Hamilton Bulldogs
Who wouldn't want to get their hands on Nurse, an OA veteran who is one of the OHL's elite work horses and penalty killers? His playoff experience would be welcome for any current playoff team. The question is, is any OHL team willing to add him at the expense of a current OA given his nagging ankle injury that has limited him to only a handful of games this year? No question, if he was healthy, he would be moving IMO. But he's not and that's a big risk for a team to take. London is the one team that I think would really love to add him. He plays the game the way Hunter likes and would be an upgrade over either Tymkin or Nelson. I could still see London going after him. But at this point, I think the Bulldogs are likely to just let their local captain heal and finish out the year mentoring their young players.
Prediction: Nurse stays in Hamilton

Jan Jenik - Hamilton Bulldogs
Jenik is one of the true star players available at this year's deadline. He is a difference maker in every sense of the word. His abrasive playmaking ability would help many teams at the current moment, not to mention that he can play center or wing, and play the PP or PK. The only issue is that he's an Import and we know how complicated that market can be. The way I see it is, Guelph, Sudbury, Owen Sound, and Saginaw are the teams that could add an Import at the deadline. I don't think Guelph or Owen Sound go for a big fish like Jenik so that leaves Sudbury and Saginaw. The Spirit are looking to improve their powerplay and add another top 6 forward, and Jenik does both. But it's the Sudbury Wolves that I see being very aggressive in pursuing Jenik. He's exactly the type of playmaker that they need to help elevate a second scoring line behind Quinton Byfield. And with Byfield likely moving on to the NHL next year, in addition to their strong OA's, they need to be aggressive through trade to improve, even if their goaltending is an issue.
Prediction: Jenik goes to Sudbury in exchange for Liam Ross, ERIE 3 2020, SBY 2 2022, SBY 2 2024

Arthur Kaliyev - Hamilton Bulldogs
There will be interest in Kaliyev. He is the current points and goals leader in the OHL. Even if there are some inconsistencies in his play away from the puck, and even if he struggled in last year's playoffs, he's still a dynamic offensive player who could make any OHL team substantially better. The thing is, I'm just not sure the Bulldogs move on from him yet. I think Hamilton sees themselves as a potential contender in the Eastern Conference next year and with Kaliyev being only a 2001, he would still be a big part of that. If the Bulldogs get a package of younger players, especially one involving a top notch '02 or '03 defender, they could be tempted. But there's also no rush to move Kaliyev. If the team does not perform up to expectations next year, they could still move him then as I don't see him being in the NHL next year. And they would still get an amazing return. If he does move, I think Kitchener and Peterborough make the most sense as likely destinations.
Prediction: Kaliyev stays in Hamilton.

Kade Landry - Hamilton Bulldogs
Landry hasn't been quite as good this year for the Bulldogs, losing PP time to Staois, but he's still a veteran OA defender who can help teams with their breakout. I'm just not sure he's the type of defensive stalwart that London or Windsor would add for their playoff run, especially at the expense of current OA's on their roster.
Prediction: Landry stays in Hamilton

Serron Noel - Oshawa Generals
No question, Noel has not had the kind of season that many figured he would. After a very strong performance at the World Junior Summer Showcase, it was expected that Noel would be one of the very best players in the OHL this year and a near lock for the WJC team. But because of his indifferent play, he was left off the WJC camp roster entirely. However, since returning from an upper body injury, Noel has looked like a different player; the physically dominating force in all three zones that many expected he would be. And if he plays like that, he would be a huge upgrade for any team with serious playoff aspirations. Guelph, Kitchener, London, Owen Sound, Saginaw, Ottawa, and Peterborough are all teams that I expect to be in on Noel. Of course, it is also worth explaining why the competitive Generals would look to move Noel in the first place. It's no secret that the Generals intend to bid for the 2021 Memorial Cup. The moves they made last year were about positioning them for that and I expect Oshawa to continue that trend this year. Noel will be in the AHL next year and it would be smart of the Generals to capitalize on that. So who wins the prize? I see the London Knights being the front runner here. I think they badly need an injection of size and physicality to their top 6 and Noel can do that. In this predicted London blockbuster, the Generals take a mild step back this year but get Dunkley, who could be a quality OA player next year and Guskov, who could be a quality Import next year.
Prediction: Noel goes to London (with Nico Gross) in exchange for Nathan Dunkley, Matvey Guskov, Sahil Panwar, KGN 2 2020, HAM 2 2021, HAM 3 2022, KGN 3 2023

Nico Gross - Oshawa Generals
As you can see above, I have Gross moving to the London Knights. It may be a bit of a shocker to see London swap out one of their Import players, but under the Hunters, no stone is left unturned. Guskov is a solid player, but Nico Gross gives London more size and physicality on the back-end, something that they badly need to help out a younger and inexperienced blueline. Gross has taken nice steps forward this year and could flourish under Dale Hunter. Again, the Generals are moving Gross because he is unlikely to return as an OA next year, either because he signs with the New York Rangers, or heads back to Switzerland to play pro. Oshawa would be smart to capitalize on his strong play by dealing him for someone (in this case Guskov) who can really help the team next year.
Prediction: Gross goes to London (with Serron Noel) in exchange for Nathan Dunkley, Matvey Guskov, Sahil Panwar, KGN 2 2020, HAM 2 2021, HAM 3 2022, KGN 3 2023

Brett Neumann - Oshawa Generals
No question, Neumann is one of the top OA's in the OHL this year. His combination of speed and goal scoring ability will be coveted. But there just aren't many teams out there who have the OA room. Yes, Neumann would be an upgrade, but at what cost (in terms of trade value and in terms of a team having to take the risk in changing up the leadership group in the room)? I see Neumann staying put in Oshawa to help them move past the second round again.
Prediction: Neumann stays in Oshawa.

Kyle MacLean - Oshawa Generals
What I said for Neumann goes for MacLean too. The Generals captain, I just don't see being moved. He has way more value to Oshawa than he does to another team. He's a strong two-way presence and a battle tested playoff performer, but is he an offensive upgrade for many of the teams out there looking to swap out an OA? I'm just not sure. Again, Oshawa will be smart about their little retool towards next year.
Prediction: MacLean stays in Oshawa.

Allan McShane - Oshawa Generals
The center market is not very strong in the OHL this year. There just aren't very many up for trade, yet we have some teams (like Saginaw, Flint, Ottawa, Sudbury, London) who could be looking to upgrade down the middle. Having a strong season, there is no question that McShane could bring back a nice return. Here's the thing though; I don't think McShane is a lock to sign with Montreal. And I think Oshawa views this similarly. That means that there is a shot he returns as an OA next year, where he would be one of the top OA's in the OHL and a big piece of a potential Memorial Cup winning squad. With that in mind, I just don't see the Generals moving McShane.
Prediction: McShane stays in Oshawa.

Giovanni Vallati - Oshawa Generals
Rinse, repeat what was said about McShane. Vallati is a fine OHL defender. His offensive production hasn't been quite as good this year, but he's a top OHL blueliner. That said, he's no lock to sign with the Winnipeg Jets and as such, could be an impact OA for next year. Even though I expect the market to be quite strong for his services, I think the Generals roll the dice and assume that he returns next year.
Prediction: Vallati stays in Oshawa.

Akil Thomas - Niagara IceDogs
At this point, Thomas has to be considered the crown jewel of the OHL trade deadline. If there was one player that I had to put money on moving, it would be Thomas. Niagara is in rebuild mode and Thomas is a premier playmaker who will be playing in the AHL next year. They need to recoup some young assets and picks back from their runs in recent years. This is especially true in light of the horrible injury to Tucker Tynan, which really put a damper on the IceDogs' playoff hopes. So who will be in on Thomas? Basically everyone. There is not a competitive team in the OHL that could not use his services. The better question is, which OHL team has the young player that Niagara will demand in return? Would Peterborough move local boy and recent first rounder JR Avon? I don't think they would. Would London part with Stuart Rolofs? What about Sudbury with Landon McCallum? Truthfully, I think the best and most likely dance partner is Saginaw. They want to improve their powerplay and get another top flight center and Thomas would be a great linemate for a guy like Cole Perfetti. Additionally, they could part with someone like Connor Punnett because of how well their other 03's have played (such as Josh Bloom who should have been a first rounder IMO).
Prediction: Thomas goes to Saginaw in exchange for Connor Punnett, OSH 2 2020, SSM 3 2021, SAG 2 2022, KGN 2 2024.

Philip Tomasino - Niagara IceDogs
Given the circumstances, I would be shocked to see Tomasino finish his OHL career in Niagara. But as an '01 (who does not have much of a chance of playing in the NHL next year), the IceDogs can be patient here. They have no reason to rush a deal for him. There will be a market for him, no doubt about it. The center position is one that will be heavily coveted. But given that they can just deal Tomasino next year or this offseason, would Niagara be smart to move him now? Why not wait and give yourself more options. This offseason could open up more talented 03's as trade options from other teams, and with the OHL likely hosting the Memorial Cup next year, the trade market is likely to be more competitive.
Prediction: Tomasino stays in Niagara.

Ivan Lodnia - Niagara IceDogs
I've been impressed with how Lodnia has played this year after being returned by Minnesota into the season. Not always easy to take that demotion in stride. But Lodnia has been an impact player and leader for Niagara. I'm not sure I see many OA's moving and Lodnia is in that group.
Prediction: Lodnia stays in Niagara.

Oliver Castleman - Niagara IceDogs
See Lodnia. Niagara has a great group of OA players this year but the market is just so crowded with very few teams looking to swap. Castleman is a great goal scorer and a hard worker, but he's not likely an upgrade over what other OHL teams currently have in their OA spots.
Prediction: Castleman stays in Niagara

Elijah Roberts - Niagara IceDogs
Another OA, Roberts is a slick skating offensive defender who can really help a team's transition game. But he's not the type of defender that competitive teams often look at to help their playoff push. This is especially true considering an OHL team would need to swap out one of their OA's for him.
Prediction: Roberts stays in Niagara

Matej Pekar - Barrie Colts
A competitive sparkplug, Pekar is a very underrated player. He can play in all situations. He excels on the forecheck. He is a smart player without the puck in the offensive zone and has a good enough release to be a consistent goal scorer. Normally, teams would be all over adding him that deadline. But he happens to be an Import which limits his potential suitors. However, I do expect there to be some. Guelph, Owen Sound, Sudbury, and Saginaw all have Import spots open and I think any four of them could be a potential landing spot. He's the type of player that Owen Sound management loves. But I think Guelph is a terrific spot for him. He wouldn't cost as much as some other impact players and his acquisition would be a great little move to help the Storm's surprising playoff push. Would send a great message to the players if Guelph management were to make a subtle trade like this one; a message of support to the players that management believes in their ability to win a title.
Prediction: Pekar goes to Guelph in exchange for FLT 3 2020, SAG 3 2022, PBO 2 2023.

Tyler Tucker - Barrie Colts
Like Akil Thomas, Tyler Tucker is another player that I absolutely expect to move. Barrie is better positioned to make a run next year and Tucker will be playing in the AHL then. With his size, physicality, offensive skill set, and experience, he will be one of the most highly coveted players on the market. Like the Riley Stillman acquisition by Hamilton a few years ago, Tucker is the type of player who can elevate a team to Champion. I think London will be hard after him, but I don't think the Colts are pleased with the return that they got for Joey Keane last year, so I don't see them making a swap again so soon. I think Peterborough is another team that will be hard after him. But what about Flint? They could use someone like Tucker to help their playoff push (of which I think they are all in while Dellandrea is around and after acquiring Popovich). They also have a talented local kid sitting on the sidelines waiting for a trade (Evan Vierling), who would be a terrific add for Barrie in exchange for Tucker's services. The only thing that could throw a wrench into the plans of dealing Tucker is if the injury he sustained in hitting Ryan O'Rourke the other night is serious.
Prediction: Tucker goes to Flint in exchange for Evan Vierling

Ryan Suzuki - Barrie Colts
I have heard some rumblings that people expect him to move, but I just don't see it. He's coming off of a serious eye injury, only recently returning. And while Barrie may not be able to make waves this year, I expect them to contend for the Eastern Conference title next year. Suzuki would be a big part of that, especially with his chemistry with Tyson Foerster. This is similar to the Arthur Kaliyev situation in Hamilton.
Prediction: Suzuki stays in Barrie.

Luke Bignell - Barrie Colts
One of the few talented role players on the market who isn't an overager. That could make Bignell a very attractive trade target. He is a very physically intense player who can elevate a penalty kill and improve your team's third line. I could see the 67's being very interested. That said, I'm just not sure Barrie moves him. I think they value what he could bring as an OA next year, when they intend to be very competitive. What would be more valuable to the team? The few 2nd and 3rd round picks that they bring back in a deal for him, or having him anchor their PK and 2nd line center spot next year?
Prediction: Bignell stays in Barrie.

Jason Willms - Barrie Colts
Kind of a broken record by now but there just isn't much of a market out there right now for OA's. Willms is a great player. He is one of the best two-way centers in the league and a terrific faceoff man. But most competitive teams in the OHL have similar OA players already. I could see maybe London or Windsor willing to swap out their current players for him, but I think they go in a different direction at the OA spot.
Prediction: Willms stays in Barrie.

Thomas Harley - Mississauga Steelheads
This is the one that I have the hardest time predicting. I'm still torn as of writing this. On one hand, I see the reasoning behind moving Harley. He had a great camp with Dallas this year and the team has two pending UFA's on their blueline which could open up a spot for him on the roster next year. That means that this could be his final OHL season. And the value on his return would be massive. He would command a King's ransom. I could see Peterborough being extremely interested, in particular. On the other hand, the Steelheads are well positioned to be a very competitive team in the Eastern Conference next year. Harley would be a huge part of that if he were to return. Personally, I'm just not sure his defensive game is ready for the NHL and I'm not sure I see Dallas rushing him. That means that I do see him returning. If Mississauga deals him, then they'd have to run the risk of playing against him next year. So what do they do? I'm going to say that...Harley stays. The Steelheads are playing some great hockey of late and I think they focus on being a top 5 team in the Conference this year and higher next year.
Prediction: Harley stays in Mississauga.

Liam Ham - Mississauga Steelheads
Ham plays a ton of minutes for Mississauga currently. No matter the situation, he's on the ice. No question, he could be a nice addition for a playoff team. I could see a team like Windsor swapping out Thomas Stevenson for him, especially given that it wouldn't cost much. But at the same time, does Mississauga think that they can grab the second spot in the division behind Sudbury and values Ham's contribution to the team more than they would a couple mid round picks? I think so.
Prediction: Ham stays in Mississauga.

Luke Moncada - North Bay Battalion
Moncada has quietly had a very nice season and has been among the most improved players in the OHL this year. There's definitely a chance that new GM Adam Dennis keeps him around to be an impact leader in his OA year in 2020/21. That said, given the fact that he plays center, has been one of the league's top penalty killers, and plays with some tenacity, Moncada will be someone that they field a lot of trade calls on. He is the perfect third line player for the OHL playoffs. Is North Bay going to be a competitive team next year? I'm just not convinced that their rebuild has taken them to that point. And if they don't deal Moncada now, there's a chance that he won't have much value as an OA. If you can get a second round pick for him now, I think you do it. A team like Ottawa will be interested. They're trying to improve their third line center spot and Moncada is the type of player who could fit seamlessly into their lineup.
Prediction: Moncada goes to Ottawa in exchange for WSR 2 2022, OTT 4 2023

Brad Chenier - North Bay Battalion
Another quality OA having a good year. Chenier is a hard worker who probably deserves to play in the playoffs. But, again, there just isn't likely a market for him. He's not a large enough upgrade over what some other teams currently have in place.
Prediction: Chenier stays in North Bay.

Quinton Byfield - Sudbury Wolves
I have seen this one mentioned lately. Honestly, it's not the craziest thing that I've seen. Unless the Wolves find a way to upgrade their secondary scoring and get more consistent goaltending, they won't go far in the playoffs. And Byfield will not be playing in the OHL next year, even if he's draft eligible. If Sudbury were to deal him, they would get one hell of a return. But I just don't see it happening. This is a team that has finally righted their ship. How would they explain this one to their fan base? Instead, I see the Wolves adding and really making a push of it. But boy would this make for a story!
Prediction: Byfield stays in Sudbury.

Kurtis Henry - Erie Otters
What I'm going to write about Henry is transferable to Chad Yetman, Jack Duff, and Maxim Golod. The Otters have four quality 2000 born players who will return as OA's next year. While they want to make the playoffs and be competitive, I see the team moving one of these four at this year's deadline, making their OA decision next year easier. That said, which one? Yetman and Golod could be elite offensive players in the OHL next year. Jack Duff is the team's captain. Henry is an alternate. It's not an easy choice. But Henry is the one that I see moving. His size and physicality on the blueline will be coveted by teams looking to shore up their third pairing and PK units. I look at Flint, Guelph, Kitchener, Ottawa, and Windsor being interested.
Prediction: Henry goes to Kitchener in exchange for NIA 3 2020, BAR 2 2024.

Chad Yetman, Maxim Golod, & Jack Duff - Erie Otters
See above and what was said about Henry. I think the Otters move one of their 2000's. I don't think it will be Duff because he's the team's captain and will return to that role next year as an OA. Yetman and Golod would have value for sure as scoring wingers, but if the Otters intend to compete next year, they'll need their offensive contributions as point per game players.
Prediction: All three stay in Erie.

Evan Vierling - Flint Firebirds
He has to move...right? There's no way that Flint lets him stay at home during his NHL draft year. Not when they can use him to make them better currently, as I would say that they are all in on competing this year. The better question is...where would Vierling waive his NTC to go? My guess is that he would want to get closer to home on a team with an opportunity in their top 6. Barrie seems to make the most sense, especially in a deal for a guy like Tyler Tucker (which I have predicted). Mississauga could work too, either for straight up picks (which can be used in other deal) or for a guy like Thomas Harley. What about Oshawa in exchange for picks that they get back in moving Noel? I look forward to seeing him move and getting his draft year back on track.
Prediction: Vierling goes to Barrie in exchange for Tyler Tucker.

Barrett Hayton - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
With the first year of his ELC already burned, I don't expect him back in the OHL following the WJC's. But that hasn't stopped some from speculating. And it likely won't stop an OHL team from picking up his rights. The Kitchener Rangers acquired the rights to Robby Fabbri a few years ago under similar circumstances (even giving up a 3rd round pick for nothing) and he never showed. Can't see Kitchener making that mistake again, even though they could use Hayton's services. I think Peterborough makes the most sense. They could use Hayton's grit and skill in their top 6 for their playoff push.
Prediction: Hayton goes to Peterborough in exchange for several compensatory draft picks (all FC clauses).

Jacob LeGuerrier - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Even with LeGuerrier being a very likely OA next year, I do see the Greyhounds exploring a deal for him. His size and playoff experience will be very attractive to other OHL teams and they could use him to help recover some draft picks given up in recent years. Guelph, Kitchener, London, Saginaw, and Ottawa all make sense. With LeGuerrier being a local kid, I think Ottawa becomes very interested though. Their defense has been destroyed by injury this year and he's the type of player who could slide in and provide that insurance. He can play a third pairing role when everyone returns and be a leader. He could also partner with Merrick Rippon and Cedrick Andree to be Ottawa's OA's next year.
Prediction: LeGuerrier goes to Ottawa in exchange for OTT 3 2020, OTT 2 2021, OTT 4 2023, OTT 2 2024.

Zack Trott - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Trott is kind of an unsung hero for the Greyhounds. Gritty and skilled energy player who can play in any situation, he has been among the team's most consistent players this year. But as a 2000 on a rebuilding team, the Hounds have to make a decision here. As an OA next year, Trott would be an impact player. But as a trade chip now, he could bring back a very nice return. There are a lot of teams out there right now who could use a player like Trott (basically every team with Championship aspirations; London, Ottawa, Peterborough, Flint, Sudbury, etc). I think Peterborough makes the most sense. Trott helps them out in several areas and could be an impact OA for them next year. Now, I have the Hounds making two trades with the Petes, but have kept them separate for a reason as the one involves the rights to Hayton, which is a complicated transaction.
Prediction: Trott goes to Peterborough in exchange for PBO 2 2020, SAR 3 2022, PBO 3 2023.

Holden Wale - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
It's certainly possible that the Hounds completely clean themselves out of veteran players and turn over a new chapter. Wale could be a part of that as a 2000 born defender having a solid season. He could provide quality defensive depth for a playoff run. I've mentioned teams like Ottawa, Kitchener, Guelph, Flint, etc looking for those types. That said, the return for Wale likely wouldn't be extremely strong at this point. The Hounds have done a great job developing defenders in recent years. I think that they would be smart to hang on to Wale and improve his value as an OA. I think that they see this too, as he could continue to improve and be one of the better OA defenders on the market next year, should they find themselves selling again.
Prediction: Wale stays in SSM.

Jaden Peca - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Insert comment about the OA market being saturated. Peca is a great player. He's a competitor with playoff experience. There's a chance that a team like London or Windsor looks to add him in place of what they currently have. But I think they turn their attention to bigger fish or a different position.
Prediction: Peca stays in SSM.

Sean Josling - Sarnia Sting
Josling screams London to me. I feel pretty confident that London will swap out one of (or both) Tymkin/Nelson as their OA's. Josling has had a major breakout season as an OA with the Sting and has been among the scoring leaders in the league. He plays a scrappy game and is the type of player that the Knights need to add to fix their woes in recent weeks. I could see Windsor looking at him to elevate their forward group too. And who knows about a surprise team that isn't happy with their current OA situation. But I'm saying that he ends up in London.
Prediction: Josling goes to London in exchange for Avery Winslow, Josh Nelson, LDN 2 2022, LDN 4 2024.

Ryan McGregor - Sarnia Sting
McGregor hasn't exactly been bad this year. But he hasn't had the type of OA season that I expected of him when the Leafs elected not to sign him and he was returned to the Sting. McGregor is a very smart offensive player and has positional versatility. But as I've said a bunch, is he really an upgrade over what teams currently have in their OA's? I'm just not sure I see a market for him.
Prediction: McGregor stays in Sarnia.

Jordan Kooy - Sarnia Sting
Where in the world is Jordan Kooy? After being acquired in a deal with London, the Vegas draft pick has virtually disappeared. Not much information out there as to why he hasn't been playing either. It goes without saying that he has to be a candidate to move. The return value will be minimal. But there are some teams out there desperate for goaltending help. Would it not be worth a dice roll to see if he can rediscover his form, if not this year, next year as an OA? Would Sudbury not be interested for a minimal price? The Wolves need to do something about their goaltending and bringing Kooy in would make sense.
Prediction: Kooy goes to Sudbury in exchange for WSR 4 2022

Aidan Dudas - Owen Sound Attack
Last player on this list is another one of those 50/50 situations like Mississauga and Thomas Harley. I think the Attack are more likely to add a few small pieces to help their playoff push, than to move Dudas. But I see the reasoning if they did. Dudas is an impact two-way, energy guy who would be one of the most coveted players at this year's deadline. He'll be coming off of a high with Team Canada at the WJC's and would be an impact player for a team with Championship aspirations. The cost would most definitely be a high end young player in addition to draft picks. Kitchener is a team that I could see really swooning over him. He would improve their PK and be a massive upgrade inside their top 6. But I'm just not sure I see Owen Sound moving him. Sure, they're only one point up on a playoff spot. But they're also only four points back of a top 4 spot, the West is that competitive. After having brought in Struthers already, and the fact that I've been seeing their scouts at games involving rebuilding East teams, I think they add and not sell.
Prediction: Dudas stays in Owen Sound.

What are your thoughts? Who stays and who goes?

Friday, November 29, 2019

Preliminary Media/Scout Top 10 for the 2020 NHL Draft

It's time for the first media/scout poll for the 2020 NHL Draft.

After last year's poor crop, the OHL bounces back strong in 2020; much more in line with what is expected from such a top notch development league. We have a candidate for first overall in Quinton Byfield, who swept all first places votes in the poll. We have three other players who are candidates to be taken inside the Top 10 (Drysdale, Perfetti, and Rossi). And we have a handful of other players who look like potential first round picks. This group has star talent but also great depth.

For those unfamiliar with how this works, I poll many of the OHL's brightest minds; those who cover the league incredibly well and know the OHL inside, and out. These contributors supply me with their top 10 available players from the OHL, in addition to some comments. I then put it all together and provide you with a cumulative list. Call it "the consensus."

As always, this list involves contributions from a rather colourful cast of characters. Contributing their rankings and thoughts to this preliminary list for 2020 were:

Corey Pronman - NHL Prospects Writer for TheAthletic (@coreypronman)
Dominic Tiano - Writer for The 
OHL Writers (@dominictiano)
Dylan Galloway - OHL Scout for 
Future Considerations (@dylangalloway_)
Mike Morreale - Staff writer for (@mikemorrealeNHL)
Ryan Kennedy - Associate Senior Writer for 
The Hockey News(@THNRyanKennedy)
Scott Wheeler - NHL Prospects Writer for TheAthletic (@scottcwheeler)
Mark Scheig - OHL writer for 
The Hockey Writers (@THWMark)
Cam Robinson - Managing Editor for Dobber Prospects (@Hockey_Robinson)
Steve Kournianos - Founder of The Draft Analyst(@TheDraftAnalyst)  
Steve Clark - Play by play voice of the Niagara IceDogs (@ClarkPlaybyPlay)  
Dan Stewart - Director of DraftsProspects Hockey (@DStewartDP
Will Scouch – Founder of Scouching Draft Analytics (@Scouching)
Victor Findlay – Writer for Around the OHL and Mississauga Steelheads broadcaster (@Finder_24)
Tony Ferrari – OHL Scout for Future Considerations and NHL Draft Writer for Dobber Prospects (@theTonyFerrari)
Steven Ellis – Digital Content Producer for The Hockey News (@StevenEllisTHN)
Mark Seidel - Scouting Director for NACS Hockey (@MarkSeidel

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten)

Here's the List:

1. Quinton Byfield – Forward – Sudbury Wolves
Total Votes: 17
Highest Ranking: 1st (17x)
Lowest Ranking: -
He's a powerful skater, has breakaway speed and is an excellent puck- possession player. He's got great vision and playmaking ability, and a real heavy shot. He has scored goals where his shot has overpowered goalies. He plays the right way and works hard. At this point in the season, and in my opinion, the best player in the OHL.” - Mike Morreale

Byfield has a great frame, but what excites me the most is the fact he still has room to get bigger and stronger. Considering how dominant he can be already, that's impressive. On top of the build, we're talking about a player with excellent offensive skills and mobility. As the top center in the entire draft class, Byfield has the chance to help turn around an NHL franchise.” - Ryan Kennedy

This one is a no-brainer. The combination of size, skill, creativity, scoring ability, and puck protection are extremely rare to find. I came into the season wondering if he’d be a more physically dominant junior player, or dominate with a more powerful skill game. The latter seems to be the case from my viewings, and the data on him is promising. Considering his age, Over 40+INV% and an NHLeS of over 40 is remarkable. The only knock I’d note is a bit of a lack of consistency as games wear on, and being a net negative defensive player on paper, but his offence more than outweighs whatever cons there may be. To me, it isn’t an outlandish discussion as of today that Byfield may be the first name called in June.” - Will Scouch

A combination of size, speed, and skill that is so rare it makes his ceiling almost scary. Taken steps forward throughout his game early this year. I love the way he sees the ice and can manipulate his body and puck to create and find lanes for himself and his mates. A kingmaker for whichever team lands him.” - Cam Robinson

The more I watch him play, the more I see shades of Eric Lindros with Oshawa in the early 1990s. Of course, Byfield isn’t as physical from a seek-and-destroy standpoint, but the way he uses his size, reach and lower body to protect the puck and drive into the heart of prime scoring areas is very reminiscent of No. 88. I still think he isn’t done growing, so you’re looking at a 6’5, 220-pound playmaking center with soft hands who can win draws and kill penalties. His skating has improved a lot since last year as well.” - Steve Kournianos

A couple things really stand out for me when it comes to Byfield. The first is how he drives time of possession for his team. He controls the zone entry, but does not relinquish the puck. His poise, strength, and skill on the puck, in combination with his agility, allows him to maintain control below the goal line for near entire shifts. And with his vision, he's consistently able to find those passing lanes when they eventually open up because teams send a second defender to him to try to separate him from the puck. The second thing is how much his defensive game has improved under Cory Stillman in Sudbury. He has truly become a force in all three zones. The scary thing? That there's still room for improvement as he gets even stronger. Byfield is a player who will be worth the price of admission in the NHL.” - Brock Otten

2. Jamie Drysdale – Defense – Erie Otters
Total Votes: 17
Highest Ranking: 2nd (12x)
Lowest Ranking: 4th (1x)
I've seen him a few times and you don't have to find him. He finds you. He QB'd their PP last year in his first year and will easily be a point per game guy this year. Smooth skating, great passing and rarely gets a shot blocked.” - Steve Clark

Drysdale is the top defenseman in this draft class and the gap is widening as the season wears on. His elite skating ability allows him to toy with opponents at times. His ability to transition the puck and exit his zone is impressive, whether it’s by skating the puck out or making a crisp first pass. His defensive game has shown growth this season and he should continue to excel as he learns to understand how to use his skating in the defensive zone.” - Tony Ferrari

Hands down the best defenseman in the OHL, and one of the finest of the 2020 NHL Draft class. He's calm, poised and confident. Once he gets 2-3 quick steps, he's gone from pressure. He's a two-way defenseman with great instincts.” - Mike Morreale

Most know how good of an offensive player Drysdale is. But many don't yet realize how good he is defensively despite being under 6-foot. He uses his speed and stick-handling to defend bigger players and usually has the upper hand. There hasn't been a true two-way defenseman in the OHL since Aaron Ekblad. If not for Byfield and Lafreniere, Drysdale's in the conversation to go first overall. “ - Mark Scheig

Any other year that didn’t have a physical beast blessed with high level skills at the top of this OHL list and Drysdale would be at the absolute top guy as he is the prototypical top pairing NHL defender. His elite mobility - agility, balance, quickness and recovery speed – plus his smarts, vision, hands, awareness both when he is carrying the puck as well as when defending make him a huge factor whenever his skates touch the ice. His game screams top pairing NHL defenseman to me.” - Dan Stewart

Highly skilled offensive defenceman who has an elite combination of smarts and agile skating ability. He reads the play incredibly well and he gets the puck to the right place at the right time through sharp passing. I’ve also found him to be quite good at reading the play on the defensive side of the puck and use instinctive positioning to shut down his opponents play through the neutral zone and break in at a high rate.” - Dylan Galloway

3. Cole Perfetti – Forward – Saginaw Spirit
Total Votes: 17
Highest Ranking: 2nd (4x)
Lowest Ranking: 4th (7x)
The hype surrounding Perfetti after the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup was well warranted but the Saginaw Spirit forward has taken his impressive play back with him to the OHL. Billed as a goalscorer, Perfetti has played the role of playmaker thus far this season racking up the assists while he’s dealt with an unusually low shooting percentage. His shot is too good for his shooting percentage to stay that low and the regression to the norm will likely lead to an uptick in his overall production.” - Tony Ferrari

I think his puck skills, vision and his execution are on another level for most prospects his age. There's a little bit of an unpredictability to his game and that's a good thing. He finds seams and has a shooter's mentality.” - Mike Morreale

I’m going to have to be a bit cautious here. I think Cole Perfetti’s creativity, his hands, and his intelligence in the offensive zone are very excellent. He’s had great production and I’d still argue there could be more considering the chances I’ve seen him get. He’s one of those players that isn’t dangerous until he is. That being said, my concern is about his projectability considering what I view as a lack of intensity and a lack of footspeed. I certainly think he’s a Top-10 player this year, but if I had to pick one of this top group to maybe fall short of what their metrics may indicate, Perfetti might be the one. From my viewings, Saginaw has used him at the wing, and that may be a more comfortable position for him moving forward, but if his skating can take a step, he could be a dangerous NHL player.” - Will Scouch

There aren’t too many players with the poise and decision-making of Perfetti. He sees the play develop ahead of most and takes advantage of it regularly. His shot is well known after the Hlinka, but his playmaking is high-end as well. The skating lacks explosion, but he’s a great bet to overcome it.” - Cam Robinson

I’m not concerned with the dip in goal-scoring production because his shot-release is too good to finish the year without reaching 35-40 goals. Perfetti’s starting to be more economical with his shot selection, but the fact that he is capable of making world-class set-ups is what separates him from every draft prospect not named Byfield or Lafreniere.” - Steve Kournianos

I think Perfetti was the type of player who was bound to have his game dissected over the course of this season. He had such a strong start at the Hlinka and was being hyped to the extreme by the major media. That's not to say that he didn't deserve it, far from it. But his lack of explosiveness, in combination with some inconsistencies away from the puck, was bound to be picked apart by scouts as the year went on. This is especially true considering he started slowly statistically (although anyone who saw him play during that stretch knows he was just unlucky). Truthfully, I'm not worried about his skating. He is elusive because his edgework and agility are good. His brain works quicker than anyone else and that makes up for a lack of explosiveness. What I do want to see is more urgency at times. He needs to have the puck on his stick more in order to truly be a game changer. As we saw at the Hlinka, when the offense is able to run through him, he is dynamic. But that means being better in the neutral zone, on the forecheck, and on retrievals. And eventually, I think he will be, which is why I still value him as a top prospect for this draft.” - Brock Otten

4. Marco Rossi – Forward – Ottawa 67's
Total Votes: 17
Highest Ranking: 2nd (1x)
Lowest Ranking: 5th (1x)
I've seen enough of Rossi this season to sell me on him being the best play-maker among draft eligible players in the OHL. Not far behind is Cole Perfetti, but I find Rossi creates more frequent chances and is able to make plays with his skating ability and hands just as much as his is with his passing and vision. Plus, I think he's stronger on pucks than people give him credit for. Rossi has as many career assists as Perfetti (64), but has done it in 15 less games. Rossi leads the league with 1.5 assists per game, and with Rossi now staying with Ottawa throughout the world junior period, I don't think a 70 assist season is off the table for him at all. There have been times when Ottawa's first line of Garreffa, Rossi, and Keating have looked unstoppable lately.” - Victor Findlay

“I’d like to put Rossi higher then at number 4 but I can’t just yet. A year ago, it was tough to pick the top-10 in what was the worst OHL draft class ever. This year is the exact opposite as there are a legitimate 10 that could go in the first round. What Rossi lacks in top-end speed, he makes up for with superb edgework and agility on his blades and that helps him with a strong puck possession game. Like Perfetti, Rossi can beat you with elite playmaking abilities or with his shot, although I wouldn’t put his shot at Perfetti’s level. His ability to dissect defences with pinpoint passing abilities is a treat to watch. Yet, he can beat you off the rush with the same ease.” - Dominic Tiano

Love this kid! Love him! People who are worried about his size, or whether he can stick at centre, either haven’t watched him play enough or don’t recognize how strong he is on the puck, or how responsible he is away from it.” - Anonymous

I’m a big, big Rossi fan. His two way game, speed, sneaky ability to apply pressure, and his well rounded offensive game is extremely desirable. He can weave and cut through defenders, he can play with an edge (to a fault at times), and I’ve found him impressive in almost every shift I’ve watched and tracked. He boosts goal differentials by 87% relative to a talented 67s team, and while he isn’t the best case of primary involvement at even strength (a goal or A1 on just 40% of goals scored on the ice), he’s still producing very well in all situations. I’ll go to bat for him for a long time.” - Will Scouch

I would say Rossi is the second most exciting player to watch after Lafreniere, and for different reasons. Rossi makes those difficult plays look so effortless and natural, but he is probably the only player in the entire league, let alone among his draft peers, who cleanly execute precision plays — shots or passes — while motoring at top speed or in traffic. I think he has big time point-producing potential in the NHL.” - Steve Kournianos

5. Jacob Perreault – Forward – Sarnia Sting
Total Votes: 16
Highest Ranking: 5th (6x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (1x)
He can score there is no doubt about that and now that Sarnia is playing much better after a miserable start the points will come in bunches for Perreault. I always give an intangible point to a player with NHL bloodlines and his dad was a very intelligent player. Sarnia gives up a ton of goals so his 200 foot game is one to keep an eye on.” - Steve Clark

Last season I was a big fan of Perreault after watching him some twenty times as an OHL rookie but after watching him this season I get it. He is a tweener, something between a play driver and a complimentary winger. He has the heavy shot for sure, skates very well and displays good sense of where to be for a prime scoring chance. What he lacks is consistency or the willingness to assert himself offensively, only taking what is given, not forcing the play himself. For me he projects as a future top six NHL goal scorer, especially if playing with a playmaker.” - Dan Stewart

Speedy and agile skater, Perreault can be hell for defenders to try and contain in the offensive and neutral zones. Perreault uses his quick feet expertly to create space for himself and then uses his high end vision to move the puck around the offensive zone through highly intelligent passing and vision. Perreault can be really dangerous in transition, utilizing his speed and nice puck skills to quickly navigate from d zone to o zone, however he can sometimes get too focused on beating his opponents one on one try more complicated plays when a simple one would have been more effective. Perreault looks like he could be a really solid middle 6 playmaker at the next level. He possesses the smarts and skill to potentially reach even higher than even that, but will need to mature his game a bit before that potential will be realized.” - Dylan Galloway

He skates well, has a good top speed level and is creative with the puck. He can make plays at top speed and is a prospect with a ton of upside.” - Mike Morreale

He is averaging over a point a game but I feel like Jacob hasn't had a great start to the year. His torrid offensive pace last year had us thinking he might score 50 this year but Sarnia's slow start had him sputtering. Like the Sting, he has been much better over the last month so we will see if he can become an offensive catalyst again.” - Mark Seidel

6. Antonio Stranges – Forward – London Knights
Total Votes: 15
Highest Ranking: 5th (2x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (2x)
A shifty and dynamic skater, Stranges has seemed to split the prospect world. Some evaluators believe that his unique skating and tendency to resort to “fancy footwork” such as the ‘10-2’ skating style won’t translate at the next level, citing examples from the past (ie: Jeremy Bracco). I am not in that camp. His puck skills are undeniable, his skating is elite and when he does use some more advanced skating techniques such as the ‘10-2’, he uses it to generate speed in the neutral zone and open himself up to the play rather than for purely elusive purposes as past players have. He also attacks the net and center of the ice with it which is where he can be a major difference-maker.” - Tony Ferrari

Ah, Antonio… Another one where I may need to select my words carefully. The 10-2 skating is what everyone has noted, but there is a lot more to the game that results in positive results, especially at even strength - just ask anyone who follows the Toronto Marlies. Stranges certainly has the ability to be dangerous off the wings and getting to dangerous areas. His skill in tight is solid and he drove possession well in the game I watched. So much so that the game was likely an outlier (London had 96% of the shot attempts with him on the ice). The issues start with a not-so-good game in transition moving the puck on his stick or passing it to others. In the offensive zone, he’s dangerous. He has primary points on 78% of London’s goals at even strength with him on the ice, but he relinquishes transitions against him a bit too much to my eye. He has been scored on 24% more with him on the ice relative to his team, and his goal rate for is also below that of the team. His goals for rate is 7th of the 10 listed, and his goals against rate is 2nd worst behind Perreault. I have him here because of his ability to be dangerous offensively, and his skating is notable, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him slip in June unless things improve on paper.” - Will Scouch

One of the truly elite skaters in the OHL, he blends strong vision, ultra skilled hands, creativity with the puck and a solid shot with his impressive mobility to become a dangerous offensive package. He has so much upside, however, I think he floats around looking for an offensive chance and ignoring the 200-foot game far too often to be rated high on my list. NHL teams want guys who are focused on contributing to team success and Stranges’ game does not demonstrate that.” - Dan Stewart

The obvious 10-2 skating style aside, Stranges has shown he can be an effective quick strike forward and really excels at creating scoring chances off the rush. His vision on the offensive side of the puck allows him to find skating and passing lanes and get to the coveted middle of the ice with the puck. I’m a bit concerned his skating style won’t translate as well to the next level.” - Dylan Galloway

He’s one of the flashiest players you’ll find, and I give London coach Dale Hunter credit for reeling these types of players in from being loose cannons and adding structure to their games. On skill alone, Stranges could be a top-10 pick. But there are times when he is somewhat invisible and stays to the outside while a kid like Luke Evangelista shows more of a willingness to get dirty and battle. Much like Noel Gunler, I see Stranges in that top tier of boom or bust types who could crack the late first round but are too risky to go higher.” - Steve Kournianos

It’s tough to find a player that can skate as well as Stranges, but recent benchings have raised some eyebrows. Like Foudy, Stranges sees the game at such a high pace, but he doesn’t do it enough to push him higher in the rankings.” - Steven Ellis

7. Jean Luc Foudy – Forward – Windsor Spitfires
Total Votes: 15
Highest Ranking: 5th (2x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (2x)
I thought I would be more impressed with him than I was, but make no mistake he's a wonderful prospect with good offensive instincts. Paired with Will Cuylle they will form a dangerous combination for Windsor. Skates really, really well, but I found that at times he over handled the puck.” - Steve Clark

He’ll be better than his brother. Has the speed and the athleticism but he’s also a better playmaker. Has decent middle-six forward written all over him.” - Anonymous

A player I had high hopes for who seems to have had a rough patch to start the year. I love Foudy’s speed and puck protection getting up the ice, and he’s getting primary points on 71% of the goals scored with him on the ice, but he may suffer from the same usage issues that Jacob Perreault suffers from. When on the ice, he’s a net negative offensive and defesive impact player, but considering his individual involvement, that may get better as time goes on. At time of writing, he’s on a 13 point over 9 game stretch. Still, being on the ice for 50% more goals against at even strength relative to your team isn’t ideal, especially for a player listed as a centre. He’ll be a guy I take a closer look at, but right now I have a hard time keeping him into the 1st round in such a deep year. Maybe later in the year if things keep improving, but right now he’s still in a bit of a state of limbo.” - Will Scouch

I love cocky players when they can back it up, and Foudy seems to be one of the more confident players I’ve seen among draft eligibles. His speed is the first thing you notice, but you need soft hands to execute as many accurate shots off the pass as he can. I think he’s more controlled under pressure than his brother and should be considered a strong candidate to rise into the top 10 once we get closer to the scouting combine.” - Steve Kournianos

Electric feet that he can use to back down defenders and an ability to distribute the puck but he stays on the perimeter too much. As he matures he will figure it out but he has NHL tools.” - Mark Seidel

Slick, smooth and speedy, Foudy is one of the best kids his age at creating his own chances. He plays at such a high pace that makes him tough to contain.” - Steven Ellis

8. Jaromir Pytlik – Forward – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Total Votes: 12
Highest Ranking: 5th (2x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (5x)
I’m not sure that Pytlik is garnering the attention he deserves in some circles. In fact, I question myself here thinking I may have him too low. He may just be the most complete player in my top-10, already playing an accomplished 200-foot game. He’s been moves around from wing to center and back and has shown he can handle both positions. He’s accepted and met the challenge of being one of the offensive go-to guys on the Greyhounds offence. At the same time, the coaches trust him in key defensive matchups and to take key faceoffs –although faceoffs need some working on.” - Dominic Tiano

In his first full season in the OHL and taking on a top line role for the Greyhounds this season after some roster shuffling, the big forward who can play both center and wing has found success. He is strong, skates well for a big man and is more than capable at protecting the puck, drives the net, works the wall and can make a skilled play with the puck to beat a defender or fire off a quick shot using them as a screen. He also is an underrated playmaker and aggressive forechecker. NHL teams love the well-rounded aspects of his game although his NHL offensive upside is still a question.” - Dan Stewart

I’ve been high on this kid for well over a year, and he’s given me no reason to ding him in the rankings. He isn’t flashy and could stand to improve his foot speed, but I have a hard time finding a smarter player around the goal than Pytlik. The OHL may be run and gun this season, but NHL teams needs guys like Pytlik to win the wars in the trenches and let opposing defensemen know that if they want to control the low slot, they’ll have to fight for it.” - Steve Kournianos

Pytlik is one of the most complete players available in this draft. He has size, speed, skill and can play in all situations. He is excelling even on a young Greyhounds team. He has the tools to be an excellent pro assuming he continues to develop at center.” - Mark Scheig

I see Pytlik as the type of kid who is going to draw more interest from NHL scouts than armchair ones. He plays a very heavy, pro style game. Most of his work is done below the hash marks and he has great control of his body and an understanding of how to use his size. Pytlik is also a strong three zone player who is versatile because he has shown an ability to play both center and wing. As he continues to improve his skating (I think he looks more explosive this year), I think we'll see him become more of a consistent factor in transition and show an ability to be a little more creative. There are probably several players, even on this list, who have a higher ceiling as an NHL player. In order to stay in conversation for the first round, he's going to need to improve his production though, even on an inconsistent Soo team.” - Brock Otten

9. Ryan O'Rourke – Defense – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Total Votes: 11
Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (6x)
I remember Ryan O'Rourke's first OHL game against Cole Perfetti's Saginaw Spirit. I couldn't believe how good he looked for a guy that was one pick away from falling into the 2nd round of the OHL Priority selection. What another great pick by the Soo! I don't see him falling out of the 1st round of the NHL draft either. His aggression and old-school style of hockey stands out easily on the ice, and I think he'll be able to find at least some element of his game that pushes the needle forward at the NHL level. His offensive game appears to be improving, which is great and will only continue to improve his draft stock throughout the year. Also worth noting, he's just 17 years old and is already the captain of his OHL team, you don't see that everyday.” - Victor Findlay

O’Rourke doesn’t have the flair of a Drysdale but he plays a complete game and he doesn’t turn 18 until the middle of May, plus he has NHL size and room to grow. He’s going to be good.” - Anonymous

I might be higher on O'Rourke than most, but I just see so much potential in a kid with great mobility who also plays with an edge and has decent size. The fact O'Rourke was named captain of the Hounds as a 17-year-old when there are NHL picks already on the team speaks volumes.” - Ryan Kennedy

O'Rourke is one of my favorite prospects in this entire draft and I am notably higher on him than most. He's a first rounder for me. While he doesn't have some of the elite skills Jamie Drysdale has, it's pretty good. But he's not afraid to play in your face. He's an excellent defender and very strong for his size. He can block shots on one end and bring creativity on the other end. But what stands out is his maturity. He plays like a 19-year old but is still 17.” - Mark Scheig

The recently named captain of the Greyhounds is a workhorse. He is their top rearguard, depended upon by both his coaches and teammates, and is playing like it. While he possesses teenage strength and will need to bulk up, he is ultra aggressive and physically in the face of whomever he needs to defend his zone. His skating looks more fluid than last season and he has no trouble keeping up unlike some nights last year. His shot is dangerous, but he looks way more comfortable with the puck on his stick this season. Moving up my list and aspects of his game remind me of a young Kevin Bieksa.” - Dan Stewart

10. Will Cuylle – Forward – Windsor Spitfires
Highest Ranking: 5th (3x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (9x)
A power forward that has struggled to start the season. His nasty side has shown up a bit more this season but the production hasn’t quite yet. He isn’t the best skater with acceleration being the primary issue. He has good top speed, using it to drive to the front of the net. His shot is really high-end, but he hasn’t used it nearly as much this year as in the past.” - Tony Ferrari

The first of two Windsor Spitfires to make my top-10 (Jean-Luc Foudy is the other) Cuylle is to Foudy what jam is to peanut butter. Cuylle has an uncanny ability to elude defences and find open areas of the ice, and once the puck is on his stick, he converts more often than not with a superb shot. Although he is not known as a playmaker, he has shown to possess some playmaking abilities. He’s strong on the forecheck and creates turnovers but is also strong defensively and once he disrupts the opposition, transitions to offence quickly.” - Dominic Tiano

He's a big winger with skill and a fantastic shot. He can play in the tough areas and can score from a distance making him tough to check. Foot speed is average though.” - Anonymous

Hasn't had the best start to his year but has all the tools to become a good NHL player. A pro shot that will be an asset in the NHL but he has to start to produce.” - Mark Seidel

Cuylle hasn't exploded offensively like expected, but his strong wrist shot and big frame makes him a solid secondary scoring option at the next level.” - Steven Ellis

Honorable Mentions

Jack Quinn – Forward – Ottawa 67's (8 Votes)
Total Votes: 8
Highest Ranking: 7th (3x)
In Quinn’s case, it’s easy to say “what a difference a year makes.” He’s really worked on his skating and attention to detail in the defensive zone and coming back hard on the backcheck. That’s just a plus as it’s his offensive game that is his biggest asset. His skills with the puck match up with anyone on this list. His improved skating has allowed him to find separation where it previously lacked. He can stop on a dime, twist and turn to avoid the defence, all while maintaining control of the puck.” - Dominic Tiano

Quinn’s a stud and the more I watch him or the more I talk to 67’s staff, the more he rises up my list. Not only can he play in all situations, he has also excelled at all three forward positions this year. Jack’s one of the more underrated players in the draft.” - Anonymous

Goes about his business quietly but is very effective and is a sneaky finisher. He has taken a while to develop into the player that I thought he would be but is always getting better.” - Mark Seidel

It seems like every time I see the 67's, Quinn's game has reached another level. He's getting better and better as he gains more confidence with the puck. I know that the skill level has always been high, but he's a lot more explosive this year, in addition to being stronger, and that's helping him be a facilitator and leader of Ottawa's second line with Mitchell Hoelscher. I've also really come to appreciate how intelligent he is away from the puck and how strong of a defensive player he is. The 67's are using Quinn when they need a goal or need to protect a lead late in games. I know that late birthdays can be tough for some to evaluate, but Quinn is deserving of a first round ranking right now.” - Brock Otten

Tyson Foerster – Forward – Barrie Colts (6 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)
Impossible for me to ignore the breakout season that Tyson Foerster has had for the Barrie Colts so far. But I don't really have a great sense as to where his range is for the NHL Draft. NHL Central Scouting has him listed as a 'C-list' prospect, and I tend to think that's probably the floor for him. Is he a guy that puts up big numbers but doesn't go until the 5th round or later? Or does he develop a part of his game that shows an ability to not just put up big numbers in the OHL, but an ability to score at the next level too. 21 games is too small a sample size for me to make a concrete evaluation of what kind of player he projects to be post-OHL, but it's certainly enough to grab my full attention.” - Victor Findlay

I'm still not quite sure what to make of Foerster yet. The production is there. He's among the league leaders in points per game. He already has more goals, assists and points this season in just one-third of the games. I need to see if he can sustain this pace especially when the games get tougher. But he's definitely on the radar as a fast riser.” - Mark Scheig

Can rip it with the best of them. Has taken noticeable steps forward in the past 16 months and is a clear riser for this crop. Sound decision-making. I would still like to see him explode into holes more.” - Cam Robinson

Foerster is quietly rising in rankings. Foerster shows really good vision and smart positioning, constantly around the play, giving his teammates good outlet options during battles along the boards. Foerster uses his solid hockey IQ to lose his coverage and get open to be able to unleash a dangerous shot. He has a sharp shot on the rush and can get some good velocity on it. Foerster’s straight away skating is solid and he was able to build some good speed through transition, though I felt he keeps his feet planted more often than he should.” - Dylan Galloway

Tyler Tullio – Forward – Oshawa Generals (4 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 9th (2x)
Small, skilled player who has a heck of a motor. What impressed me was his toughness. He took a heck of a beating at times in the playoffs but missed minimal time. He's got a heck of a motor on him and plays with a chip on his shoulder at times.” - Steve Clark

Tenacious, hard-working, aggressive and skilled. Those are the traits that Tullio has brought to the Generals this season. His relentless forecheck and puck hound tendencies often lead to the puck being on his stick more than the opponents and Tullio has the skill to make a difference offensively. A very good scorer on the powerplay and five-on-five, Tullio’s shot plays up because of his excellent release.” - Tony Ferrari

I've seen a lot of growth in Tullio since his days with the minor midget Vaughan Kings and it's all positive. Here's a kid with a great motor and a lot of offensive talent who is willing to put in the work.” - Ryan Kennedy

Jack Thompson – Defense – Sudbury Wolves (4 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 7th (1x)
On a Sudbury blueline that doesn't have a single overage player, they're already relying on Thompson for leadership, big minutes, and offensive contribution. In the games I've watched him, I've been impressed with how much ice he covers in all three zones. He's a decent skater with good hustle, and gets back defensively just as quickly as he jumps into the rush. He looks like a stronger player this year, which is helping him with board battles and his net-front presence. Those are both still areas with room to improve, but if they keep coming along I think he's one of the most versatile defence in this draft class.” - Victor Findlay

Loves to engage in the rush and push the pace of play. Has looked more than competent working on the top unit in Sudbury. His shot is a real weapon.” - Cam Robinson

Very cerebral defender that always makes the right decision. Finds a way to always get shots through & makes excellent decisions on the PP. Overall game is very good & although he won't be an NHL star, he will be a very good piece.” - Mark Seidel

Oliver Suni – Forward – Oshawa Generals (2 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)
I've been so impressed by Oliver Suni and his adjustment to the North American ice. Right away, even in preseason, he seemed right at home playing with Ty Tulio and Alan McShane at the time. He brings a powerful element to his game, which is what sticks out the most to me. He's a power skater, unafraid to drive the net and get involved physically, but he's also got top-end vision and passing ability. He still leads OHL rookies in points, has been lethal on the power play, and if he keeps up this pace throughout the entire OHL season I say he makes a case to be a first round draft pick.” - Victor Findlay

Really underrated in the grand scheme of things. Good mix of speed and skill, but he needs to add a bit of physicality to his game to prevent from being locked to the perimeter.” - Steven Ellis

Nico Daws – Goaltender – Guelph Storm (1 Vote)
Highest Ranking: 10th (1x)
I loved Daws at the CHL-Russia series and with his size and quick feet, I believe he'll be one of the top Canadian goalies available. Not his fault the Storm played the veteran Popovich so much in his original draft year.” - Ryan Kennedy