Tuesday, May 21, 2019

My Final Top 50 OHL Players for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft - Part 2: 31-50

The 2nd part of my Top 50 OHL players available for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. This is where we actually dive into the Top 50, with players ranked 50 through to 31.

31. Jack York - Defense - Barrie Colts
Split the year between Kitchener and Barrie after a three team deal that saw him go to the Colts in December. The trade really allowed him to get more ice time, especially on the powerplay and his game blossomed as a result. York is excellent running the point. He has great instincts and really identifies passing and shooting lanes well. Doesn't force shots through traffic and makes very quick decisions to ensure that puck movement is fluid. York also has a terrific point shot that will see him score his share of goals in the OHL before he graduates from the league. Defensively, I think York's play can best be described as inconsistent. At times he can become complacent back there and lose sight of the play. At times he doesn't keep his feet moving and his average mobility can be exploited. And at times, turnovers can be an issue from not being assertive enough. But, the flip side is that at other times, York looks like a great two-way defender who exhibits good positioning in the defensive end and who is great at getting his stick in passing lanes. With his vision up ice, he can start the breakout quickly and should eventually develop into a great offensive asset 5 on 5. York, of course, also has great bloodlines, being the son of former NHL'er Jason York. The biggest issue that scouts may have with York though, is his average feet. He's an average mover and with his average size, there may be projection issues moving forward, especially with him being, primarily, an offensively oriented defender. If he could find a way to improve his acceleration, in particular, it would really help him to be a bigger part of the transition game and would see him take more control of the game. York finished the season extremely well in Barrie and is definitely trending in the right direction from a development standpoint, even if he's a little older than your average draft eligible player (missed the 2018 cut off by a few days).

32. Mason Millman - Defense - Saginaw Spirit
Millman had an excellent year for the Spirit, his first full season in the OHL. He was particularly good in the playoffs for Saginaw, as they pushed their way to the Western Conference finals. One of Millman's best assets is his skating ability. He is very fluid and covers ground very well. Tough to get by him in the defensive end, as his backwards and lateral mobility are excellent. And his forward stride is smooth and allows him to quickly skate the puck out of trouble in his own end when needed. Also like how he uses his feet when running the point on the powerplay. Will open up passing and shooting lanes with quick cuts or stops and exhibits patience with the puck. All that said, I do have some questions as to Millman's overall offensive potential. At times, I do think he lacks urgency with the puck and seems hesitant to extend his rushes or take chances. He also does not currently possess a point shot that could be deemed as a major scoring threat, nor does he shoot the puck very often. Now, both of these things could be related to the fact that this was Millman's first year in the OHL and he just needs a little more confidence at this level. Millman offers well as a mobile two-way defender with intrigue over just how much his production can improve.

33. Mason Primeau - Forward - North Bay Battalion
Massive center at 6'5, with some NHL bloodlines (son of Wayne Primeau). Moved from Guelph to North Bay this year, which allowed him to get more ice time down the stretch and into the first round of the playoffs. If there is a coach out there in the OHL who does well with big and raw forwards, it's Stan Butler. In North Bay, I thought Primeau's compete level without the puck was significantly higher and that is going to be key for his development moving forward. If he can learn to use his size consistently to engage in the offensive end, (forcing turnovers, dominating the wall, dominating near the net), he could turn into a real player. There is definitely some puck skill there and he shows well at times, moving across the blueline as he looks to attack the middle of the ice. Obviously with his size, he can be difficult to separate from the puck, especially as he draws nearer to the crease. As he adds bulk to his frame and becomes even stronger, it will be interesting to see just how unstoppable he can become below the dots. I also wonder just how much room for improvement there is in his skating. Primeau is alright once he gets going, but his slow starts allow him to be pinned in the neutral zone sometimes, and really prevent him from being a consistent offensive contributor. Again, in North Bay, he's in good hands for the type of player he should become. He was also one of the few Battalion players to show up in the first round of the playoffs. While size is less important in today's NHL, there will always be room for 6'5 centers who can play like Primeau.

34. Danil Antropov - Forward - Oshawa Generals
Late December 2000 born winger is the son of former Toronto Maple Leaf Nik Antropov. There are definitely a lot of similarities in their games. Danil can be a very effective player in the offensive zone when he uses his size to his advantage. Can be a major asset in terms of puck protection because he does shield the puck well, especially coming off of the wall. He also possesses good vision when operating down low and is very much a pass first player who does exhibit poise and confidence with the puck. As such, he's an asset on the powerplay who can work that half wall or even behind the net. Danil likes to slow the game down, just as his father did, rather than play with a ton of pace. And that's likely where NHL scouts have a few concerns. I think he also needs to be more hungry for the puck and play less on the perimeter. If he used his size more to attack the middle, crash the net, and really battle for those 50/50 pucks, he'd be a more effective and consistently noticeable player. Other than an increase in ice time, I wouldn't necessarily say that his game progressed a lot from his second to third year in the league. But he is a winger with size and skill, who, if he can play with a little more urgency and pace, would become a very solid NHL prospect. Despite a disappointing year, I was surprised to see him drop out of NHL Central Scouting's rankings all together.

35. Navrin Mutter - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs
The ultimate wild card. Is there a place in the game for guys like Mutter still? I think the success of the Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, and Cal Clutterbuck line in New York this year would suggest there is. It's an extremely fine line, but if you can play the game as hard as Mutter does, but stay out of the box, you can really be an asset for your team. Mutter is possibly the most physical forward in the OHL. He is like a human torpedo out there at times. And he does use that physicality for good quite often; on the forecheck especially. But he crosses that line far too often still and finds himself in the box or suspended for hits that just don't have a place in the game anymore. So the question is, can Mutter eventually figure out a way to harness his energy level? And just how much offensive ability does he possess? At times this year, I thought Mutter looked very effective with the puck. He earned promotions to scoring lines and powerplay units and did not look out of place. His shot is heavy and if he can get himself in better scoring position, he could really develop that side of his game. I think his skating has really improved over his two years in the OHL too. There is progression as more than just a brute. Whether Mutter gets drafted or not will tell us a lot about how the game has changed in the eyes of NHL scouts. 10-15 years ago, Mutter would have been an automatic selection as a big kid with some raw skill and a ton of physicality and energy. Now, I'm just not as certain.

36. Lucas Peric - Defense - Ottawa 67's
I think that this guy possesses a ton of potential as a puck moving defender, but just was not able to showcase that on one of the top teams in the CHL, who also happens to have one of the deepest defensive corps. Peric has terrific overall mobility and is an effortless skater. He could eventually be a big time asset in the transition game as the leash comes off a bit and he starts extending his rushes deeper into the offensive zone. He escapes the forecheck very well, but is more likely to make a quick exit pass or a dump in, rather than continue with the puck through the neutral zone. As such, it was tough to get a read on his puck skill without that confidence. But there were flashes throughout the year where he would go end to end and you'd say, "man why doesn't this guy do that more often?" I also think his mobility could be a big asset as a powerplay QB. He walks the line so well and is able to keep pucks in and be that general back there. Defensively, Peric is solid too. Doesn't make a ton of mistakes and is just quietly effective, although he could stand to increase his intensity level a bit and add some strength to handle bigger forwards in front of the net. Some people may look at Peric and see a well rounded defender with not a lot of projection as a pro, but I definitely see a potential puck mover who could explode if he were given more responsibility and ice time. If I were an NHL GM, I would definitely have him circled on my list as a late round pick possibility or a camp invite, at the very least.

37. Brayden Guy - Forward - Sarnia Sing
Competitive winger who was a very effective role player for Sarnia this year, finishing fourth on the Sting with 17 even strength goals (also good for 7th among all first time draft eligible players in the OHL this year). Guy is the type of kid who knows his role on the ice. Drives the net. Battles along the wall. Competes in all three zones. Can kill penalties. Can be the net front presence on a powerplay. He's certainly not the fastest guy on the ice, nor is he the most skilled with the puck. But he knows how to play without the puck and he never seems to give up on a play. As he gains more responsibility, maybe there's room for improvement as a puck carrier. Likely room for improvement as a skater too. But, all good teams have players like Guy.

38. Andrew Perrott - Defense - Owen Sound Attack
Physical, stay at home defender who is the son of former NHL depth player Nathan Perrott. Perrott was one of my favourite 2001's last year, but his game didn't progress a ton this year. Was traded to Owen Sound near the deadline in exchange for veteran Kevin Hancock. Perrott is one of the most physical young defenders in the OHL. He has the potential to develop into a real rock in the defensive end in the OHL (think along the lines of former Battalion workhorse Zach Bell). Love how aggressive he is with his zone entry denials. Loves stepping up on incoming forwards. But his skating will have to improve. Slippery forwards can really exploit his over aggressiveness and mediocre mobility off the rush. Perrott's puck skill is raw. He flashes the ability to be a puck carrier and will make some moves, especially inside the offensive zone when trying to hold the line, that make you believe he has more offensively in him. In a way, there are some comparisons to the way Tyler Tucker was last year when the Blues rolled the dice late in the draft on him only to have him really come out of his shell this year. I wonder if the same happens to Perrott. Physical defenders like him don't grow on trees anymore.

39. Cody Morgan - Forward - Flint Firebirds
Former first round pick who is already on his third organization, but he fit in like a glove after a trade to the Firebirds, posting a point per game over 30 contests and even managed to come out with a positive +/-, a remarkable feat on a last place club. Morgan does a really good job of controlling pace in the offensive end. The type of player who can slow things down and tire out opposing defenses by maintaining possession through the cycle until he sees an opening. Has that Gabriel Vilardi like quality. Later in the year, we really started to see him come out of his shell and play with more pace and creativity. That is something that we really haven't seen from him in the OHL so far. But given his average size at 5'11, this is something that he's going to have to do more often if he wants to be on the NHL radar. I do think that he's a good skater, it's just not something he shows often. But in his last 11 games he had 9 goals, 4 assists. Very encouraging. I don't think we've seen the best from him yet and I wonder if an NHL team throws a later pick at him in hopes that he continues to evolve and gain confidence as part of a solid Flint team moving forward.

40. Nathan Staois - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
Really wish that Staois was bigger. But it's pretty tough for 5'8 defenders to draw serious NHL attention, even in today's faster paced game where size isn't as imperative. Staois moves exceptionally well. Has that Ryan Merkley like edgework that he uses to maintain possession of the puck, especially when escaping pressure in his own end, or when working the point of the powerplay. Staois also competes well in his own end and plays a lot bigger than his size, similar to a guy like Mac Hollowell in the Soo. Doesn't back down from any challenge, even if he doesn't always come out on the right side of them. Even though I really like watching Staois play, I find it tough to rank him much higher because the offensive production just wasn't that high. The skating ability is top notch, but I don't know if the hands/puck skill and vision are also, which could limit his offensive potential moving forward. A guy like Hollowell had to go through a draft before he was taken, after he proved that his offensive capabilities could take that next step. I wonder if Staois will have the same fate.

41. Eric Uba - Forward - Flint Firebirds
Another Firebird here, and I don't think that Morgan and Uba could be more different as players. Uba is a North/South attacker who is at his best when the pace picks up. Uba is ultra aggressive in attacking the net and has quick hands that allow him to make creative plays while at full speed. He is very effective at putting defenders on his back and plays a lot bigger than his 6'0 frame. Uba also has a sneaky wrister that he loves to shoot coming down the wing. As a penalty killer, his energy level and aggressiveness are big time assets, and having seen him a bit during his time with the Oakville Blades, I would say his skating has improved a lot. A late 2000 born, Uba was playing in only his first OHL season, but I thought that he was one of Flint's most consistent players from beginning to end (even when the team was struggling to start the year). That has to be worth something. I feel like Uba is going to develop into a very good OHL scorer at some point, just a matter of whether he has pro potential or not.

42. Camaryn Baber - Forward - Saginaw Spirit
A little bit surprised that he has flown under the radar so much this year. First year OHL player who started out as a depth player but slowly gained more ice time as the season went on and by the time the playoffs rolled around, he had fully earned coach Lazary's trust. Had 7 points in 17 games in the postseason, largely operating as the Spirit's fourth line center. Doesn't possess top end speed, but he's got good acceleration that allows him to be quick to loose pucks and quick to openings. Combine that with some tenacity and you have an effective player in all three zones who is noticeable even when the puck isn't on his stick. At 5'11, he doesn't have elite size down the middle, and his physical tools would probably be considered average. But there's a lot to like about his game and the progression he showed from September to April in his first OHL season.

43. Tyler Angle - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Angle is a competitive, high energy center who is terrific in puck pursuit and whose motor never seems to waver. Even with Windsor going through some ups and downs this year, Angle was largely a consistent performer for them and a guy that was shuffled around different lines in hopes of using him as a spark plug to get different wingers going. At only 5'9, Angle actually excels in traffic and is great along the wall where he always seems to keep his feet moving. He isn't the most creative player, but he protects the puck well and is great working the dump and chase game. With his lack of size, and late 2000 birth date, Angle seems like a long shot to be drafted. But his consistent energy is infectious and impossible to ignore.

44. Emmett Sproule - Forward - Erie Otters
Sproule really improved as the year went on, which is obviously extremely encouraging. Undersized at 5'10, but he possesses terrific speed and is a solid North/South winger who can really be effective off of the rush. Early on in the year, it seemed like a lot of plays died on his stick because he was unable to handle the puck at full speed, or maintain possession through traffic. But his ability to operate with the puck really improved later in the year and he became extremely dangerous in transition. Also noticed a big difference in his confidence level in attacking the net and playing with more fire. Would love to see him shoot the puck a little more, but is a quick and dynamic playmaker with more offensive potential than he has shown so far. Is going to be a big part of Erie's future moving forward.

45. Kyen Sopa - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
Late 2000 born, first year Import from Switzerland, Sopa was an effective role player for the IceDogs this year. At 5'9, he's like the little engine that could out there. Constantly battling for every inch of ice and shows no fear playing through traffic. For a smaller player, Sopa really protects the puck well in tight and is difficult to separate from the puck. He also shows well in puck pursuit, using his speed to attack and his strength to force turnovers. That said, I wonder about his offensive potential, both in the OHL and moving forward to professional leagues. He's not the most creative or individually skilled with the puck. And I don't think his hockey sense or vision is high end either. He works hard and he can finish, but undersized role players aren't usually high on NHL scouts wish lists. But he deserves to be on this list for what he was able to do with limited ice time this year on a deep Niagara team.

46. Kari Piiroinen - Goaltender - Windsor Spitfires
Highly touted Finnish netminder was supposed to be the incumbent to Dipietro in Windsor. And while he had some solid outings and flashed potential, his rookie OHL season had to be largely considered a disappointment. Piiroinen is definitely an athletic netminder. He moves well post to post and is capable of making those highlight reel saves. And his quick legs are great at taking away the bottom part of the net. But he really struggled with a few things that prevented him from being consistent. First was rebound control. I found him to have particular trouble with shots up high and he gave up way too many second chances. Second was fighting through traffic to make saves, and again, being able to secure those initial shots to make sure additional chances were limited. It will be interesting to see what Windsor does next year. They could obviously bring him back, but it also wouldn't shock me if they cut him loose in hopes that Xavier Medina and Colton Incze can run the show as a platoon.

47. Grayson Ladd - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
A quality stay at home defender, Ladd had his OHL season end prematurely after suffering a broken thumb in late January. Ladd is very much a modern day shutdown defender who uses mobility and a good stick to shutdown the opposition, as opposed to physicality. IMO Ladd is one of the more intelligent young defenders in the OHL. It's pretty rare that you see him miss an assignment or make a mistake in his own end. Ladd also has really improved his first pass and has cut down on his mistakes with the puck. If only he could use his mobility to be a little more aggressive as an offensive player, but he does not yet possesses the puck skill or the confidence. Ladd is also not a threat on the point and does seem to struggle when in the offensive zone. But as I said, there are not many OHL'ers in this top 50 that are as good as Ladd is in his own end. Compounding things is the fact that Ladd requires offseason shoulder surgery that will disrupt offseason training and perhaps even the start of next year. We've seen the trouble that a guy like Connor Hall has had with shoulder injuries, I wonder if that, along with his lack of offensive abilities, scares away NHL teams come June.

48. Ashton Reesor - Defense - Sarnia Sting
Another stay at home defender, Reesor logged some big minutes for the Sting this year, even if the statistical production isn't very glamorous. As an offensive player, he has some limitations, even more so than Grayson Ladd. Reesor opts for safe chip outs, or deferrals to his partner most of the time and will need to improve his ability to handle the forecheck and make plays with the puck. But, he has some impressive physical gifts that will catch the attention of NHL scouts. At 6'3, he has that long reach to make him very difficult to maneuver around. And he's good at using his size down low, boxing out attackers to prevent them from recovering dump ins, or preventing them from establishing position near the crease. His mobility isn't quite as good as Ladd's, but it's still pretty decent for a 6'3, first year OHL defender. Similar to Ladd, I'm just not sure if there's enough potential to warrant a draft pick, but he's going to be a very good OHL defender by the time he graduates.

49. Nathan Allensen - Defense - Barrie Colts
Compact, yet mobile two way defender who was a standout in his rookie year last year, but who failed to take that next step forward from a progression stand point this year. Allensen, while possessing only average size at 5'11, is built similar to a guy like Travis Dermott and plays a lot bigger than his size would indicate. Allensen is consistently engaged physically and shows well when he is aggressive in preventing zone entry or net drives. He also has a strong lower body which helps him to gain leverage along the wall. Allensen also has impressive four way mobility and is a fluid skater, although his forward stride does lack some power which prevents him from being more of a factor offensively. His breakout pass is solid though and he is someone who does not commit a ton of turnovers in his own end. To summarize, Allensen is just a very solid all around defender. But he's also 5'11 and lacks high end upside as a pro player. The lack of growth in his game from year one to year two speaks to that. While he should be a quality five year OHL player, and eventually a top 3 defender for the Colts, at this point he is probably a long shot to be drafted despite his well rounded game,

50. Liam Van Loon - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs
It seemed like every time I thought Van Loon was going to get going this year, after a couple of strong performances, he'd disappear for stretches afterward. That lack of consistency finds him as the last player ranked inside the top 50. When he's at his best, Van Loon is someone who brings relentless energy as an attacker. He uses good speed to be an active forechecker and to track down loose pucks, and competes in all three zones. He can drive the net or work the wall and proved to be an excellent support player, at times this year, on scoring lines because of his ability to open up space for his linemates. But his puck skill lacks polish and it prevents him from being able to compete with higher skilled players right now. Too often plays would die on his stick. And for someone who has such a high compete level at times, he would go stretches of being invisible. I really like Van Loon as an OHL player and I think he will eventually develop into a terrific 2nd/3rd line winger who can chip in offensively and kill penalties. But at times this year, he really struggled to find or maintain his identity in that role. With only average size and a lack of projection as an offensive contributor, Van Loon may not be on many NHL draft lists.

1 comment:

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