Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Final Media/Scout Poll for the 2019 NHL Draft

The NHL draft is now only a few weeks away, so it's time to conclude our yearly media/scout poll.

For comparison's sake, here are the preliminary (from November) and the midseason (from February) consensus lists.

Preliminary List
 
Midseason List

It's always interesting to note some of the major changes/trends from the beginning of the year to the end. Billy Constantinou and Matvey Guskov are big fallers over the course of the season after starting the year in most Top 10's for the OHL. Ryan Suzuki also has to be considered here. Came into the year as the unquestionable number one from the OHL and ends the year at number 3. At this rate, he is not even a lock to be a first round pick. He went from 14 number one votes in the preliminary list, down to 8 at midseason, down to only two votes now. As for the big riser, that has to be Jamieson Rees. He got only 5 votes total in November, and is now on every single list, even receiving multiple top 5 votes.

At this point, the number of OHL players taken in the first round remains a total mystery. It's a noted down year in the OHL. Who will be the first player taken and when? Will the OHL even have a player taken inside the Top 20? One thing is certain and that is the top 8 players from the OHL this year appear to be pretty set no matter who you ask. On almost every list, the top 8 players listed here were the top 8 players, just in different orders.

As always, it's important to note the contributors, as without them and their terrific insight, this article does not exist. For the final list, the following helped out:
 

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 
NHL.com (@mikemorrealeNHL)
Scott Wheeler - NHL Prospects Writer for TheAthletic (@scottcwheeler)
Chris Peters - NHL Prospects Writer for ESPN (@chrismpeters)
Cam Robinson - Managing Editor for Dobber Prospects (@Hockey_Robinson)
Levi Hill - Independent Hockey Scout (@HillHockeyScout
Ryan Kennedy - Associate Senior Writer for The Hockey News (@THNRyanKennedy)
Mark Seidel - Scouting Director for NACS Hockey (@MarkSeidel
Steve Clark - Play by play voice of the Niagara IceDogs (@ClarkPlaybyPlay
Will Scouch – Founder of Scouching Draft Analytics (@Scouching)
J.D. Burke – Editor in Chief for Elite Prospects (@JDylanBurke)
Steven Ellis – Digital Content Producer for The Hockey News (@StevenEllisTHN)
Steve Kournianos - Founder of The Draft Analyst (@TheDraftAnalyst)  
Victor Findlay – Writer for Around the OHL (@Finder_24)
Dan Stewart - Director of the Newly Formed Drafts Prospects Hockey (@DStewartDP
 
and of course...myself (@BrockOtten

Here's the list:


1. Arthur Kaliyev – Forward – Hamilton Bulldogs
Total Votes: 18
Highest Ranking: 1st (13x)
Lowest Ranking: 6th (1x)
Comments:
The best shooter in the draft after Cole Caufield, Kaliyev has been my No. 1 prospect in the OHL for some time now, which says as much about his skill level (he’s better than some scouts give him credit) as it does about the strength of this OHL group (the best junior league on the planet would probably prefer to have its top prospect be a kid who’s going to go higher than the teens).” - Anonymous 

Stupid smart player. He can run a power play with the best of them because of his offensive IQ and shot. Everything Hamilton did ran through him. He'll need a driver on his line though to get into the offensive zone.” - Anonymous 

Boom or bust type player. His scoring is without a doubt impressive and could make him an impact player at the next level. He's an average skater, and if he can improve on this aspect of his game he will be one step closer to realizing that dream. My biggest worry with his game is his compete level and play off the puck in general. This could be a maturity issue and improve over time and he could prove to be the best OHL player to come out of the 2019 NHL Draft. But with the state of his current game he's got some work to do to reach his true potential.” - Dylan Galloway 

There are few players in this crop that can divide the scouting world so demonstrably. Kaliyev is a premier point producer. His shot is right near the top of the heap. He has good vision, quality puck skills, and knows how to find the quiet areas of the rink. His deficiencies are readily apparent. He clearly lacks fire away from the puck, and often relies on his mates to recoup it for him to finish. I like to swing big on talent, and Kaliyev has that in spades. He’s on the younger side of this class, so perhaps a bit of maturity can aid in the inspiration process moving forwards.” - Cam Robinson 

He's polarizing for questions of whether he'll be a 200 foot player so I'm going all in and saying he'll be the first OHL player picked. We all know he can get to the scoring areas, score and his release is lethal. The defensive game will come. I saw him kill penalties for Hamilton during the latter part of the season and he did just fine. Did I want to see more in the playoffs? Sure, but Hamilton got dusted pretty quick.” - Steve Clark 

I like guys with measurable talent and a bit of personality. It’s something the game kinda needs, and Kaliyev certainly brings it. The guy knows how to score in a variety of ways in many situations, and is the only OHLer who crossed 40% involvement in total team scoring, and only one of three players I’ve tracked this year with primary points on 30% even strength goals on average. I certainly can understand the reservations regarding his apparent lack of intensity on-ice, but the results are there, and if there is a fit with the right system/program, there could be a tremendous scoring winger here. Whatever it is he’s doing, it works, but whatever he becomes is really up to him.” - Will Scouch 


When it comes to draft eligible OHL players, Kaliyev is without a doubt the most offensively gifted of the bunch. 51 goals on a young Bulldogs team is an exceptional feat, and he already has one of the most lethal shots in the league. His wrist shot off the wing while stationary is deadly accurate, while he's still capable of firing pucks to the net off the rush and has a powerful slapshot/one-timer in his arsenal too. Kaliyev is a volume shooter and often follows his shot to the net. That makes him a threat to score from anywhere on the ice. But what I really like about Kaliyev's game is his ability to find space on the ice without the puck. He benefitted from some great playmaking linemates in Hamilton this year, but Kaliyev's knack for finding the right place on the ice always made him dangerous, even when everybody in the building knew he was the man to stop. Whether or not he can continue to find that space at the next level is certainly a question mark, and for me, will determine how much of his offence will carry over from the OHL. Overall, his defence has plenty of room for improvement. But given his offensive skillset, all he needs is to not be a liability in his own end to have value. Kaliyev's offensive potential is sky-high, and with goals always at a premium, I have a hard time believing he goes any later than 17th overall in the draft.” - Victor Findlay 

2. Thomas Harley – Defense – Mississauga Steelheads
Total Votes: 18
Highest Ranking: 1st (2x)
Lowest Ranking: 6th (2x)
Comments:
Great skating ability allows him to close quickly on players. Knows his gaps and how to use his stick. He possesses an all-around game and an ability to create time and space when he handles the puck. Harley, to me, is the second-best best defenseman among North American skaters in the draft, after Bowen Byram of Vancouver (WHL).” - Mike Morreale 

I like Harley. A lot. But I can’t bring myself to put him at the top of this list like we’ve seen from some rankings out there throughout the season. He’s an excellent skater who has an intriguing and excellent set of skills and thinks the game at an extremely high level. He’s an elite pp quarterback, an excellent defender at the transition game – a one-man breakout machine – and joins the rush like no other defender in the class. But when I try to find his compete level in his own zone, I think he leaves it at the opposing blueline. If he can find that, then we have a real player here.” - Dominic Tiano 

I honestly have zero clue what Harley’s potential is. I’ve always found him to be a good skater who can quarterback a power play, but his analytics at even strength are certainly not what you’d expect for a 1st round NHL talent. A lot of his production came on the power play, he earned points on even strength goals at about an average rate for CHL defensemen (~35%), and while he boosted goals for rates by over 50%, goals against rates increased by over 60%, and my viewings backed that up somewhat. I found him somewhat underwhelming at the U18s, especially with his decision making in his own zone, and my OHL viewings showed a solid passing, aggressive defender who got burned a few times. I see why people are enticed, but I’m not nearly on the wagon as much as others, Top-10 30+ NHLeScore be darned.” - Will Scouch

I've seen some scouts compare Mississauga Steelheads defenceman Thomas Harley to Cam Fowler on the low-end and Thomas Chabot on the high-end. Stylistically, the Chabot comparison satisfies my sense. Harley is an effortless skater who can gain speed in the blink of an eye and swivel his way through the neutral zone as a puck-carrier with relative ease. His shot is okay -- nothing special. I'm not as sold on Harley's hockey sense as most scouts, but it's not a weakness by any means. The big concern with Harley was his effort level. I often found Harley to be a little on the laissez-faire side of things, almost to a fault, and that he struggled to flip the switch when his team needed it. That said, Harley had to play huge minutes for the Steelheads, so perhaps some of that is conditioning related, as he might have been conserving energy. I'm not sure I see Harley as a top pair defenceman at the NHL level, but he could comfortably slot into a second-pair somewhere down the road.” - J.D. Burke 

Has a lot of the traits that you like in a young defender with size, skill & an ability to skate. Spent time quarterbacking the Steelheads PP but I'm not sold on his total hockey IQ. Took too many gambles & could be pressured when he went back to get pucks but the raw tools are there.” - Mark Seidel 


Defender is a strong puck mover who skates the puck or makes a heady pass. Love the poise, size, smarts and speed combo he possesses. Even though his development trajectory was steep from when he came into the OHL he is still progressing in all areas. Not super refined in his own zone, he has a ways to go in his development yet.” - Dan Stewart 

3. Ryan Suzuki – Forward – Barrie Colts
Total Votes: 18
Highest Ranking: 1st (2x)
Lowest Ranking: 6th (1x)
Comments:
One of the best playmakers in this draft class. His vision and creativity are very high end and enable to see passing lanes and execute plays with extreme precision and consistency. On top of his incredible play making ability Suzuki has showcased a lethal shot, that, when he chooses to use it comes off his stick with great accuracy and speed. Suzuki needs to utilize his shot more often to become a more effective player and I found his overall compete to be inconsistent at best. He would show up some periods and steal the show and at other times was invisible.” - Dylan Galloway 

Excellent playmaking tools, but lacks consistency. I think some of those concerns are a little overblown, but I agree with others that he can hang on the perimeter too much.” - Anonymous 

Suzuki has dropped on every list out there except mine. Just can not ignore the skills he possesses, but I readily admit his season may have hurt his draft stock. He possesses elite skills with superb skating and excellent hockey sense. There’s not a better passer available from this draft class and he can do it at top speed. Like Kaliyev, it all comes down to compete level and whether he can raise that. It’s there at times so it is not as big a red flag for me. It’s all about consistency.” - Dominic Tiano 

Outside of measurable talent and personality, I value swinging on upside greatly. Suzuki is arguably the biggest upside player out of the OHL to me. He was quite inconsistent, and his primary point involvement was average (~21%), but every time I’ve laid eyes on him he strikes me as a player who can quarterback a line, seeing plays developing well in advance, and on the right line, could centre a powerful unit in the NHL. He may not get to dangerous areas as much as you might want, but I don’t think that’s his game. He does seem to lack confidence at times, which may be tough to improve, but if he puts it all together, he could be one of the better “field general-type” playmakers to come out of this draft.” - Will Scouch

The list of players in this year's NHL Entry Draft with more raw talent than Barrie Colts forward Ryan Suzuki isn't a long one. It's why Suzuki started the year at No. 10 on Jeremy Davis' consolidated Draft rankings, where it showed that one scout had him as high as sixth overall. Here we are barely a week-plus away from the Draft itself, and I'm uncertain as to whether he'll cross the stage on day one. Suzuki's on-ice vision and playmaking ability are top-five in his class. He's a strong skater already, and I suspect that he'll only get better as he builds muscle. I've come away from most of my Suzuki viewings this season disappointed though. His competitiveness waxed and waned between piss poor and halfway decent. Way too much of Suzuki's time was spent on the perimeter, letting the game come to him. If Suzuki can put it all together, there's serious home run potential. It's going to take a lot of work on Suzuki's end to get there though.” - J.D. Burke 

One of the highest IQ's in the draft & makes passes that his teammates don't even expect but he disappeared too many shifts and periods for my liking. Doesn't have a physical side to his game but his smarts and poise will be important as he moves into the NHL.” - Mark Seidel 


After a strong start to his season, Suzuki's draft stock trailed off towards the end of the year as players like Kaliyev, Harley, and Tomasino all solidified themselves as first round talent for the draft. Suzuki never seemed to find chemistry with anybody else the same way he did with Lucas Chiodo before the trade, and an injury did his stock no favours at the 2019 U-18 tournament in Sweden. However, there's still a lot I like about Suzuki's game. For starters, his bread and butter is transition offence off the rush. He can get it started with an excellent pass, or he can create opportunities with his top-end skating ability. Although not a powerful skater, Suzuki's elusiveness and agility makes him a nightmare for defenders coming in over the blueline. Couple this with his excellent vision and you have the best pure '01 born playmaker in the OHL, for my money at least. Away from the puck, Suzuki has lots of room for improvement. While I do like his active stick and willingness to support low in the zone, but he's relatively ineffective until the play heads the other way. But to me, it's not a lack of effort rather than a lack of strength. If this is an area that Suzuki continues to build on with age, I can still see him projecting to be a top six playmaker in the NHL. I don't see him going any lower that 23rd in the draft.” - Victor Findlay 

4. Philip Tomasino – Forward – Niagara IceDogs
Total Votes: 18
Highest Ranking: 1st (1x)
Lowest Ranking: 8th (1x)
Comments:
An excellent skater with really solid puck control and good vision. Tomasino carries the puck well through traffic and utilizes some nifty edge work and hands to get the puck to dangerous scoring areas. Sometimes can stick handle himself into corners and force plays that aren't there. Good quick stick on the back helps break up plays, but is inconsistent in his defensive play.” - Dylan Galloway 

I could put Suzuki here, but I saw Tomasino a lot more and his offensive gifts are outstanding and you can check the highlight reels for some his goals. Hopefully next year he will kill penalties because his defensive game is OK, but far from well-rounded.” - Steve Clark 

Tomasino has an excellent combination of skill, skating, compete and high-level hockey sense and may just be the best all-around forward in the draft class. Despite his size, he plays fearlessly with a non-stop motor and work ethic. It may sound foolish to say of a guy that put up 30+ goals, but one thing he needs to work on is his shot. If he could get more power behind it, improve his release and his accuracy, there’s no telling what he would be capable of.” - Dominic Tiano 

Tomasino has a much more projectable game to me. Good skill, solid skating, gets to dangerous areas. I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone jump to take him over some more well-known names. Played on a great team, but his impact on even strength goal scoring are promising. Of CHL first-time eligibles, just he, Dylan Cozens, Raphael Lavoie, Alex Beaucage and Nathan Legare were on the ice for 4.5 even strength goals for per 60 minutes, and he’s the only one who had points on 60% or more of those goals. The numbers are favourable, but I’m somewhat skeptical of super-high upside, but he’s certainly no slouch.” - Will Scouch

A well-rounded centre, Tomasino is very dangerous around the net and actually plays a solid physical game despite being on the smaller side. He’s so strong at carrying the puck and his quick release makes his one-timers so fascinating to watch. Consistency is an issue and he needs to be more engaged in his own zone.” - Steven Ellis 

One of the most underrated players in the Draft. Really became a catalyst for Niagara despite his age. Reminds me of when Josh Bailey stayed under the radar during his draft year & has proven to become a very good NHL'er.” - Mark Seidel


High-end speed and burst. Super skilled hands and the ability to make plays at full speed. Strong shot. Love the abilities he has but hate the consistency of which he utilizes his skill-set. Also, for a guy with decent size he gets knocked around at the junior level far too much for my liking. He does have value in the early second round but I do not see the first round hype he’s been getting at this point.” - Dan Stewart 

5. Nick Robertson – Forward – Peterborough Petes
Total Votes: 18
Highest Ranking: 2nd (1x)
Lowest Ranking: 8th (2x)
Comments:
I love Nick Robertson. I love the way he skates. I love the way he shoots. I love how relentlessly he hunts pucks. I love that he finishes every check and bounces to the next one. You get the picture. He’s going to make a good middle-six winger someday. One of the youngest players in the draft too.” - Anonymous 

A personal favorite of mine, I think Robertson has the skill and pace to play with today's NHL. He's unafraid to mix it up, gains the zone so well and I think his release is among the best in this draft.” - Anonymous 

It took some time for Robertson to grow on me after a strong Hlinka/Gretzky Tournament. In fairness, it took some time to recover from a wrist injury and that slowed him down at the start of the season. The diminutive forward has an excellent set of skills, hockey smarts and work ethic. He possesses an excellent shot, is very good at puck possession and has an ability to draw in defenders and use excellent passing skills to set up teammates. However, I think his skating is just average and for a player of his size, I would like to see near elite level speed.” - Dominic Tiano 
 
To me he is underrated, not unlike his brother was in his draft year. Being one of the youngest players in the draft, having made the cut off date by a handful of days, he still has that much more room to develop. A skilled playmaker who uses his creativity to make plays. Really like his quick feet and the way he moves in tight. Should be a top producer in the OHL next year.” - Levi Hill

You want to talk about a player growing on me over the course of the season, that player is Peterborough Petes forward Nicholas Robertson. Whereas someone like Suzuki was able to rest on their laurels -- where laurels is a stand-in for immense, preternatural talent -- Robertson built his case to be a late first-round pick by battling night-in and night-out to help his team in whatever way possible. We're not talking about a garden variety grinder though. Robertson has legitimate offensive chops. His skating is a strength, as are his hands, and he owes to a solid wrist-shot. While Robertson's production, which barely eclipsed a point per game, isn't overwhelming, by any means, it looks a lot better with SEAL (Situational Era Age League) adjustments, where Robertson was one of the 20 most productive players in this entire class.” - J.D. Burke 

6. Connor McMichael – Forward – London Knights
Total Votes: 18
Highest Ranking: 2nd (2x)
Lowest Ranking: 8th (4x)
Comments:
McMichael might be one of the smartest players of this draft class. He’s very opportunistic and scored 36 goals and 72 points despite not receiving a ton of minutes on the power play. He’s that player you hate to play against, mature with a shoot-first mentality.” - Mike Morreale 

Really impressed by the improvement he's shown in his skating. When I first saw him in Minor Midget he was powerful and got around, but he looked like he had heavy feet and was a bit clunky. Now his skating is an attribute. He's a quiet goal scorer, meaning he doesn't score on a big one timer or go end to end but he finds quiet areas around the net and capitalizes on rebounds or cross ice passes. 90% of his goals are scored 10 feet from the net. Slick hands in tight. Him and Stranges should be magic next season for London.” - Levi Hill

 There is a lot to like about McMichael. Firstly, I know scouts put stock into the London Knights program and how they develop forwards. Their track record speaks for itself. Second, he possesses great speed to go with one of the best IQ's available this year. He is so smart without the puck and is able to exploit those gaps because of how well he skates. But there are some red flags for me that have him a little further down my list. First is that he can be a passenger at times, and can really disappear out there because his physical intensity wavers, as does his aggressiveness with the puck. Second, is that I'm not sure he is a center long term. Faceoff ability aside, I think he profiles better as a scoring winger who can attack the offensive zone with his speed. He's a 30-45 pick for me and not someone I would take well into the first round as some lists have him.” - Brock Otten 

With 72 points, McMichael was one of the best 17-year-olds in the OHL this season and really became an exciting prospect. He’s so smart when it comes to getting the puck where he wants it and he has a couple of tools at his disposal to score at a high rate. On the downside, he spends a lot of time just watching the play and a missed call can cause him to stop being effective for a few shifts.” - Steven Ellis  

If you asked me, the line between draft-year Robert Thomas and draft year Connor McMichael is razor thin. Thomas obviously was the superior defensive player but McMichael last year was far more creative and dangerous in the offensive zone. I didn’t like his series against Guelph, but then again, every Knight pretty much stunk after Game 3.” - Steve Kournianos 


Of all the draft eligible OHL players this year, I think McMichael is the most well-rounded of them all. We can say that now after he took a massive leap from 8 to 36 goals with London as their leading point-getter this year. He became a factor for the Knights in every zone and in all situations. But I side with many in the popular belief that McMichael does a collection of things quite well, but isn't incredible at any one single thing. While there's some nights or flashes of potential where he looks like a top six player at the next level, I see him more of a bottom six reliable forward. His defensive game is very strong, and his skating ability helps him in all three zones. It's possible McMichael focuses in on an element of his game and takes another big step forward while he's still in the OHL, but right now I think he's one of the safer picks with a high floor, but a lower ceiling than the top-end draft eligible OHLers. That's why I see McMichael as a mid to late second round draft pick.” - Victor Findlay 

7. Jamieson Rees – Forward – Sarnia Sting
Total Votes: 18
Highest Ranking: 5th (4x)
Lowest Ranking: 8th (4x)
Comments:
A smaller guy (5-10, 173) who can get to where he needs to go in a flash; he has real strong edges and he plays with his head up. He’s a player you want on your line because he’s a magnet on pucks, makes plays and is a pain in neck to defend.” - Mike Morreale 

A buzz saw pivot who blends terrific two-step quickness, high-end top-end speed, and a tenacious style. He endears himself to coaches and teammates alike by living in the red zone. Has suffered through multiple injuries in his OHL career and scouts have questioned whether his body will be able to handle his style of play in the long run. However, if it can, he has definite upside. Can impact the game in all situations. A fun player to root for.” - Cam Robinson 

Honestly, an impossible player not to like as a scout. He works his ass off out there, but has way more skill than your average “pest.” He does everything well at a high tempo, including carrying the puck, and that should translate well to the next level. I do think that he'll need to prove that he can be a goal scorer by improving his shot. And I do think that he will also need to prove that his body can handle the way that he plays, as durability is a real concern. But guys like Rees do not grow on trees anymore. He is a throwback and a guy that could be a clutch playoff performer down the line. Just look at how his game elevated this year when faced with challenges (Hlinka-Gretzky, TPG, U18's). Someone has to like this guy enough to take him in the first round right?” - Brock Otten 

Injuries and suspensions robbed the Draft analysis community of so much of Sarnia Sting forward Jamieson Rees' season, so there's a bit of risk with taking him just based on the limited sample of games from his first draft-eligible campaign. You have to hand it to Rees, though, as he put in perhaps his best performances of the year on the biggest stage as a part of Team Canada at the Under-18 World Hockey Championships. Rees' speed really stuck out on the larger ice surface, and his battle level was evident on a shift-to-shift basis -- he dragged Canada into hockey games, kicking and screaming sometimes. I like Rees' creativity with the puck, but I'm not sure it's high-end or something that I would project at the NHL level. Ultimately, Rees is one of those players that struck me as the type that will not be refused an NHL career. The question is what type of impact he'll have at the next level. Rees has some tantalizing tools but ultimately strikes me as someone destined for a bottom-six role.” - J.D. Burke


After Rees got over his early season injury troubles, he really took the OHL by storm. His numbers aren't exactly eye-catching, but it's impossible to take your eye off him when he's on the ice. He was the motor for Sarnia down the stretch this year, and his energy on the ice is infectious. This carried over to the U-18s in April where he stood out to me as a key part of Team Canada among other very talented draft eligible players. The questions a lot of people have now is in regard to his health. Injuries and a suspension limited his playing time this year, and even in his rookie season ankle problems affected him twice. Given the way Rees plays the game, he is often putting himself in situations where if he doesn't dish out the contact, he's going to take it. But health questions aside, Rees can be a difference-maker every night, and can be a spark on nights when his team comes out flat. At best, Rees can impact his team in a similar fashion that Boone Jenner does with Columbus. But even if he's not contributing offensively, he's still an effective player down the lineup and away from the puck because of his energy. That's why I see Rees as an early second round pick in this year's draft.” - Victor Findlay 

8. Vladislav Kolyachonok – Defense – Flint Firebirds
Total Votes: 18
Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)
Lowest Ranking: 9th (2x)
Comments:
High-end skater with that size is truly impressive. I think he gave himself a better shot to move up some boards based on his U18 play. Hard guy to gauge due to Flint's season.” - Anonymous 

Early season waiver pickup by the Firebirds from the Knights, Kolyachonok’ s debut with Flint was delayed by visa issues. But when he arrived, we began to see what we already knew. He’s an elite level skater and probably the most technically sound skater in the draft class. He’s a two-way defender who has some physicality to his game. Defensively, he’s one of the best in the draft class. Offensively, his transition game is superb, he reads what is in front of him extremely well, and he can quarterback the powerplay. His work ethic is off the charts and by all accounts, is very coachable. I actually wanted to put him higher on my list, but it playing in Flint wasn’t the best case for his draft stock.” - Dominic Tiano 

Kolyachonok is the type of player that you need to look past the stat line for. His game really grew on me over the course of the year. You can tell (and I know from what I have heard) that he takes his development very seriously. I imagine that he probably interviewed very well at the combine. Just a really good kid. His defensive game was always solid this year, but it was his offensive game that really grew as the season went on. He's a sneaky quick skater, on top of being extremely fluid in all four directions. He gets to loose pucks so quick, especially on the point. At the U18's, we also saw a side of him that we did not see a ton of this year; as a powerplay QB. I really do think that this is a guy who will just keep getting better and better.” - Brock Otten 

Is an extremely strong skater and is tough to beat off the rush or off the cycle. He has a high-character personality and is a student of the game. He finished second among OHL rookie defensemen in assists (26).” - Mike Morreale 

Kolyachonok is an elite skater, whether we're talking about his straight-line speed or agility on his edge, with a great shot to match. The production reflects that, too, whether we're talking about Kolyachonok's OHL numbers or the point per game pace he ran at the U18s for Belarus. The only concern I have with Kolyachonok is that I've found his hockey sense is on the low-end -- it's a big concern because that's not the sort of thing most players can correct. If Kolyachonok can put it together, we might be looking at a second-pair, two-way defenceman down the road. It's going to take time and patience, though, if Kolyachonok will ever get there at all.” - J.D. Burke 

I totally get the love people are feeling for him, because being a No.1 for both Flint and Belarus is no laughing matter. But is smart, sound one-on-on defensive play enough to make him a first rounder? Still, everything he does is clean, and I can see a team thinking there’s a creative gene somewhere upstairs that’s waiting to be revealed. But if he has a long NHL career, it will be because of the way he performs on his side of the red line.” - Steve Kournianos


As the Ontario Hockey League season wore on, and watching him in international events, I just could see the NHL upside the Belarussian defender has. He looks to have top four NHL upside as an intelligent, mobile, puck moving, athletic, two-way guy in a couple years and I would be surprised if his offensive game did not take a massive jump in his second OHL season.” - Dan Stewart 

9. Ethan Keppen – Forward – Flint Firebirds
Total Votes: 6
Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (12x)
Comments:
Big winger with excellent speed and a strong stride down the wing. Good vision make him a sharp passer. A little weak on the puck and along the boards at times and needs to improve his ability to win puck battles. That being said, Keppen does have a nice scoring touch and quietly put up 30 goals and 59 points on the Flint Firebirds.” - Dylan Galloway 

Despite being stuck in a difficult situation in Flint, Keppen was one of the more impactful draft-eligible wingers in the OHL. The power forward is a load to handle down low and can force his way into prime scoring areas. Once there, he boasts the heavy and accurate release that helped him score 30 goals and average over three shots per game this past season. He was a play-driver for the Firebirds, with 51 of his 59 points being primary. He's rarely outworked or outmuscled. Likely destined for an energy role, that should still bring value to a team selecting outside the top-60. Quicker feet. Better puck skills. And adding some more creativity to his game would certainly improve his chances of being offensively impactful at the next level.” - Cam Robinson 

Power forward with good skating and scoring touch. Battles along the boards and protects the puck well. My pick for one of the steals of the draft. Wouldn’t be surprised that in five years people are asking why he wasn’t a 1st-2nd rounder. “ - Levi Hill

One of, if not the underrated player in the draft. I’ve been told he could be a better skater, but I’ve seen a lot and I don’t see that criticism. Keppen is tremendously strong and determined on the ice. He is never far from the puck, plays responsibly in his own end patrolling both the centre and left wing of the ice well on an awful team, and was often kept away from Flint’s most talented forwards. Great in transition and an underrated passer, but his biggest advantage is moving pucks and playing hard all the time. If you love Vasily Podkolzin and don’t get him, Keppen is far from a bad alternative, and you could land him far later in the draft than he should go. You want metrics? Just a 27% total involvement, but 25% primary point involvement at even strength, second only to Kaliyev, and had primary points on a remarkable 70% of goals scored at even strength. Once Flint rounds out their defensive game, which was horrid at times, the whole ship should start to right itself, and Keppen will be the top beneficiary.” - Will Scouch 

After a quiet rookie season, Ethan Keppen made some major strides and has become a diverse power forward for the Flint Firebirds. Keppen notched 30 goals this year in a variety of ways. Sometimes he used his size and positioning to score the ugly way, other times he'd fired one in off the wing, and sometimes he'd finish off plays in tight or on a breakaway as gracefully as they come. Although I think Keppen can improve his skill a lot, he added some serious finesse to his game and the improvements he's made in a one year span are enough for me to believe he's got even more potential he hasn't shown us yet. Keppen really exploded in the second half of 2018-19, and found great chemistry on the top unit with Dellandrea/Durham, but also had some great flashes with Cody Morgan who faired exceptionally well in Flint after being traded from Windsor. Keppen showed his ability to improve, he's versatile, and he's a good fit with the Firebirds. Those are all positive signs moving forward, and are enough to make me think he'll end up as a late third round pick in this year's draft.” - Victor Findlay 

10. Mike Vukojevic – Defense – Kitchener Rangers
Total Votes: 5
Highest Ranking: 9th (5x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (13x)
Comments:
Defense-first, steady and smart. Has good size and can blend his physical game well with defensive responsibility. Very limited offensive potential hurts his draft stock.” - Anonymous 

Another big D man who covers his position well and I think has another level when it comes to his offensive game. Kitchener was really mediocre this year, so he didn't have a chance to shine as much as I thought he would when he made his much heralded entry into the OHL last year. Still, D like this don't grown on trees.” - Steve Clark 

A mobile shutdown defender, Vukojevic isn’t going to contribute much offensively at the next level but, man, he does a good job of bringing energy to the game. A physical blueliner, Vukojevic is a good skater and is extremely smart in his own zone.” - Steven Ellis 

Just on the outside, looking in of my top 10. But I think he made great progress as a prospect this year. Previously, I think he has been a kid who relied on his size advantage at a younger age to really establish himself as a monster in his own end. But he's dedicated himself to improving the weaker areas of his game to ensure that he can be a pro hockey player. His skating made great strides this year, which was evident at the U18's, where he looked great on the larger ice surface, especially when it came to taking away time and space from quicker forwards on the attack. And his play with the puck really improved in the second half of the OHL season. I still don't know how much upside there is as an NHL defender, but he should play in the league for a long time as at least a PK anchor and third pairing guy.” - Brock Otten

Honorable Mentions  

Graeme Clarke – Forward – Ottawa 67's
Total Votes: 5
Highest Ranking: 9th (2x)
Comments:
The sixth overall selection in the 2017 OHL Priority Draft, Clarke brings creativity, and some seriously quick hands to the rink each night. He also possesses a deadly shot that is most effective when he changes the release point. However, his ability to get to scoring positions is compromised by his weak stride. He improved his play away from the puck and was rewarded with an increased role in the playoffs. Once in the top six, his metrics rose with his ice time. If he can improve his quickness and top gear, he’ll add the elusiveness needed to thrive at the next level. A high-skilled player with big upside to be found later in the draft.” - Cam Robinson 

I've come around later on Clarke. He's got some intriguing puck skills, but I'm concerned by the relative lack of production. I wonder if he suffered the same fate Foudy did last year before the trade deadline because Liam didn't pop until after London started moving guys. That obviously wasn't going to happen with Ottawa. I think he could be a real standout for them next season.” - Anonymous 

I was really impressed with how Clarke elevated his game in the playoffs this year for Ottawa, who ended up losing out to Guelph in the OHL finals. Clarke is right there, neck and neck, with Nick Robertson as the most individually skilled player in this age group. The things he can do with the puck are shocking at times. He's far from a polished product. He'll need to improve his skating. He'll need to continue to improve his consistency without the puck. And he needs to show better as a playmaker and not just a finisher. But on a stacked Ottawa team, where ice was hard to come by, he always found a way to be noticeable and that can be a tough thing for a skilled kid like him who is asked to adapt and not always have the puck on his stick. I don't think we've seen anywhere close to the best from him. Will challenge for the OHL scoring title by the time he graduates from the league.” - Brock Otten

Billy Constantinou – Defense – Kingston Frontenacs
Total Votes: 4
Highest Ranking: 7th (1x)
Comments:
I love the way Constantinou skates. He didn’t get the proper recognition this season due in large part to the trade but Constantinou has four-way mobility and the confidence to match. I can’t wait to see where he’s at in 2-3 years. Patience will be key but there’s sneaky upside to his game.” - Anonymous 

Constantinou got about as short end of a stick as you can get by being traded to Kingston during the year. He got tons of ice time, but his results took a complete nosedive after his time with Niagara. However, I have always come away impressed with what Constantinou brings. He really strikes me as a modern minutes eating two-way defender. Great skill, great patience, smart puck movement and some offensive flair on top. I think if his raw speed can hit another gear in Kingston, he could take a huge jump as the team improves. Defensive positioning and physical strength could use work, but Kingston is a rebuilding team and Constantinou should grow into his role as a focal point. A/B’ing his offensive metrics to Kolyachonok is pretty striking, landing primary points on double the on-ice even strength goals, but Kingston’s lack of offense as a whole brought him down a bit.” - Will Scouch

An offensive defenseman with average size. Loves to rush the puck from his end all the way up to the offensive zone. Would rather keep possession at all costs instead of throwing the puck away. Skating is an asset of his, with speed and mobility, but his technique is questionable. Unorthodox skater but it works for him. Great vision on the offensive side of the puck. Great reach. His skating and reach are assets on the defensive side as well, but his decision making and positioning can be suspect at times. With him it's more learning then an effort or commitment issue. More junior time and pro coaching should solve his defensive game. Raw prospect with great upside." - Levi Hill 

Hunter Jones – Goaltender – Peterborough Petes
Total Votes: 4
Highest Ranking: 9th (2x)
Comments:
The only goalie to make the list, Jones became a victim of his team's uneven play. He was brilliant the first half of the season, slipped in the mid season and then responded well down the stretch. He was outplayed by Kyle Keyser in the playoffs, but so was everyone save for Mikey DiPietro. Jones is your typical big goalie who covers a lot of ground. Playing on what should be a very good Petes team next year will be interesting for sure.” - Steve Clark 

Jones had an extremely up and down year with the Petes and his numbers don’t look great. But he’s one of the more promising goaltenders to come from the OHL and should contend for a spot on Canada’s World Junior team in a few months from now. His conditioning was well improved from last year and has a nice combination of size and athleticism in net. The issue with Jones is that you never truly know what to expect from him: one game, he’ll steal a win for the Petes. The other, he’s allowing soft goals and not moving as well as he should. He looks like a future NHL backup.” - Steven Ellis


Big stopper who played on a bad team but held his own. Very good skill and smarts. Works hard to improve his game. Not sure if he has the best mental approach as he lets his team’s performance effect his individual play. His season as well went from impressive to just okay towards the end but with that said he is still a top ten goaltending prospect for this draft.” - Dan Stewart 

Nikita Okhotyuk – Defense – Ottawa 67's
Total Votes: 3
Highest Ranking: 9th (1x)
Comments:
I have such hard time reconciling Ottawa 67s defenceman Nikhita Okhotyuk's production with what I was seeing from him on a game-to-game basis. Okhotyuk competes hard on a shift-to-shift, game-to-game basis, is a high-end skater, particularly after he's picked up steam -- those first two steps could use a little work -- and I've even seen some high-end puck skills flashed from time to time. The 67s had a lot of defensive depth, so perhaps Okhotyuk's lack of production has more to do with a lack of opportunity than skill. If that's the case, then we're talking about a solid defensive prospect because his defensive zone reads, physicality, etc. are already at a high enough level to project at the professional level.” - J.D. Burke 

In my opinion, he was Ottawa’s most consistent blue-liner from start to finish. I think his hockey sense is underrated. Defensively, he’s tough to beat, plays his angles extremely well, has excellent gap control and an extremely active stick. Plays a physical game and won’t give up his blue line. He’s a one-man machine when it comes to breaking the cycle. I also think his skating is underrated. While he doesn’t have top end speed, his mobility is excellent and his lateral movement is superb. There are concerns about his offensive abilities, and I share some of those concerns. I think he’s shown hints of offensive abilities at times, but how much did the 67’s have to use him offensively when you have the 5th best offense in the league, especially when you have Kevin Bahl and Noel Hoefenmayer leading the charge from the back end?” - Dominic Tiano 

Nikita reminds me of the throwback defenders from the 70's in that he plays the game very hard. An emphasis will be placed on prospects that play heavy & this kid personifies that. He hits like a truck, will fight anyone & has enough skill to make a good 1st pass. He will be a bottom pairing guy in the NHL but your team will be better with him in the lineup.” - Mark Seidel

Matvey Guskov – Forward – London Knights
Total Votes: 3
Highest Ranking: 10th (3x)
Comments:
Not in my Top 10 to end the year, but I can see why someone would have him in there based on this weak OHL crop. One of those “toolsy” types. Size. Skating ability. Flashes puck skill. Flashes physicality. Flashes pretty much everything you would want in an NHL player. Just does not do it consistently. Can he put it all together? I think it depends how much you trust the London coaching staff to develop the rest of his game and bring out the best in his raw physical tools.” - Brock Otten 

London Knights forward Matvei Guskov was the ultimate victim of circumstances this season. Because of London's forward depth, Guskov had to spend most of the season in a checking role, without much in the way of opportunities to prove his worth offensively. So while I'm not sure that I'd project Guskov as a playmaking centre at the next level, I'm not sure his point production this season is reflective of his skill level either. He's a strong skater who is hard on pucks, with great vision and defensive habits. I like Guskov more as a distributor of the puck in the offensive zone, but he has an okay shot, too. If Guskov can get a bit quicker, there's a chance he can carve out a bottom-six career in the NHL.” - J.D. Burke  

Playing as a depth player for London always is a double-edged sword. Yes, you are no longer a top-line star. But you also get maximum exposure and play for an elite training program. I love the way Guskov continued to impact his shifts despite getting what seemed to be mostly defensive-zone starts. He’s strong on the puck and an underrated playmaker. Overall, i think his hockey sense is very high.” - Steve Kournianos 

Blake Murray – Forward – Sudbury Wolves
Total Votes: 3
Highest Ranking: 10th (3x)
Comments:
Seems like I might be the only one advocating for this kid to be a top 3 round pick this June. Look, he has his warts. I'd love to see him use his size to play with a little more physicality between the dots and below the dots, instead of using just his length. His skating is good, but could stand to add more explosiveness to it. He could be a better in all three zones. His puckhandling ability, especially at full speed, could use some refinement. Yet, this is a 6'3 center who scored 30 goals in the CHL this year and was a go to member on a quality team. Guys like Murray do not grow on trees. Picking outside of the second round, you'd be hard pressed to find a kid who possesses as much potential as him.” - Brock Otten 

Keean Washkurak – Forward – Mississauga Steelheads
Total Votes: 2
Highest Ranking: 9th (1x)
Comments:
He's a pretty good skater, he's skilled, he competes his butt off. He's an August 01 so he may fill out and get even quicker. I think he's got a chance to be a 3rd/4th line type.” - Anonymous 

A guy who will find a way to play in the NHL. Will be a bottom 6 guy but he has tremendous leadership skills, a genuine toughness & an ability to think the game. His play away from the puck has been good & he will be a future captain.” - Mark Seidel

Nick Porco – Forward – Saginaw Spirit
Total Votes: 1
Highest Ranking: 10th (1x)
Comments:
Speedy, agile goal scorer. Though he doesn't necessarily have explosive speed in his first few steps, once he hits full stride he has impressive speed that makes him hard to catch through transition. In addition he possesses solid mobility with and without the puck making him a fairly well rounded player. Porco also possesses some good creativity which enables him to beat players one-on-one and get to the inside of the ice and into the dangerous scoring areas. He needs to work on his vision a bit more as he can keep his head down and over skate the puck rather than utilizing his teammates more.” - Dylan Galloway




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