Thursday, August 29, 2019

Preseason Top 30 for the 2020 NHL Draft

With the Ivan Hlinka tournament completed and OHL preseason action around the corner, it's time for the first draft list of the season. I only started doing a preseason list a few years ago, but I enjoy it because it gives you a great perspective on where players have come from (for fun, here's the 2019 preseason list).

This is obviously a very difficult list to make. The progression for draft eligible players can often be a tad unpredictable. The player you see in a sophomore season isn't often the same player you see in a freshman year. Growth spurts occur. Strength is added. Confidence grows. Timid perimeter players can become physical beasts, etc. Or, conversely, you've got players who look great as 16/17 year olds but just don't progress in their sophomore seasons. Plus, you've got all the players who haven't yet played in the OHL (at least more than a few games), but who are projected to be impact players in their draft year (like Ruben Rafkin or Oliver Suni, etc).

This year's crop for the OHL is a sharp contrast to last year. We go from one of the weakest groups the OHL has ever produced, to potentially one of the strongest. At this point, Quinton Byfield, Cole Perfetti, and Jamie Drysdale all look like candidates for the top 5. And upwards of a dozen or so players (including those three) already look like potential first round picks. When all is said and done, the OHL could very well take up a third of the first round. I think most scouts would echo my sentiment of being excited to watch this crop grow and develop this season.

Here's my early list:

1. Quinton Byfield - Forward - Sudbury Wolves
Byfield is a straight up beast. He's an August birth date, yet he's already 6'5, 220lbs. This is a man playing against boys at times. But what makes him a potential unstoppable force is the fact that he's actually a fantastic skater. He generates such power in his stride and just explodes into the offensive zone with what appears to be little effort. It's not that straight ahead speed that makes him so hard to contain though. It is his agility; stops, starts, turns. He can cut on a dime and it makes him very difficult to pin down in the offensive zone. Not only can he put you on his back, but he can skate circles around you. Byfield is also a terrific playmaker, something that was on full display at this year's Hlinka/Gretzky Cup. His reads and his anticipation are top notch, which is not something you see very often from players like him, who sometimes have a tendency to drive the net with their head down, using their size/speed advantage predominantly. An aspect of his game that really improved over the second half of his rookie OHL season and was evident at the Hlinka, is his play in all three zones. While there are no doubt times where you'd like to see him use his size more to be more assertive, his instincts and coverage are solid. In fact, you'll see him rotate back to the point and control play from there quite often in the offensive zone, to cover for pinching defenders. He swallows up so much ice with those strides, so the potential for him to develop further as a two-way player is extremely high. An area that I would like to see improve (on top of using his size more consistently away from the puck), is his shot. He can have a tendency to be too pass happy when in tight, trying to thread passes for higher percentage shooting lanes, rather than simply making that quick decision to put the puck home himself. Or he'll try to make an extra move to get the goaltender out of position, again, rather than trusting his shot. As he gains confidence here, the sky is truly the limit. He is a potential player with no flaws who is worth the price of admission to watch. 

2. Jamie Drysdale - Defense - Erie Otters
Some may be slightly surprised to see Drysdale ahead of Perfetti, but I do think Drysdale is a special player (not to say that Perfetti isn't) and I'll take a potential franchise defender over a star forward. Compound this with the fact that this year's draft isn't very deep or strong on defense and I think Drysdale has slightly more value currently. Last year in Erie, not only did he play an insane amount of minutes for a 16 year old, but he was also only the fifth U17 defender in the new millennium to hit the 40 point plateau (along with Merkley, Ellis, Del Zotto, and Ebert). At the heart of Drysdale's game is his skating ability. He is just so smooth on the ice, taking little time to hit full speed coming out of the defensive end. But his four way mobility is such an asset in the defensive end. Even though he's not exceptionally strong yet, forwards rarely get by him in transition, or escape him in coverage. Drysdale is also highly intelligent and sees the ice so well. Calm under pressure, you rarely see him make a mistake, despite his aggressiveness on the attack. Quite frankly, I don't see many flaws in Drysdale's game already, and he's only going to get better. One thing that I would like to see improve is his shot and his confidence in using it. He opens up those passing lanes with his mobility when running the point, but you rarely see him looking to exploit those gaps for shots. Also would love to see him take more chances to jump up in the play as a 3rd or 4th man in, again relying on his mobility to recover should he need to. Last year, Drysdale was 29th in the league in shots among defenders. As an elite powerplay QB, I want to see that number jump.

3. Cole Perfetti - Forward - Saginaw Spirit
Tough to rank a player as good as Perfetti third, but someone has to be 3rd in this elite OHL class. Even in ranking him 3rd, I do think that Perfetti deserves to be in discussion for a top 5 selection along with Byfield and Drysdale. As an offensive winger (a projection, as I know he can lineup at center too), I do think that Byfield and Drysdale could be more complete players, and that's why I've got them ahead by a hair right now. This year, his game is bound to be dissected at times as is the case for any draft eligible player. And the first thing likely to be picked on is Perfetti's skating and size combination. He's not the biggest at 5'10, and he's not the quickest player on the ice. But I'm not worried at all about that. I actually think his start ups and edgework are improving greatly, and when you combine that with his elite hockey IQ, you have a dynamic offensive player. You saw what he is capable of at the Hlinka. Well second half of the previous OHL season, he was doing those things pretty regularly too. His anticipation, be it as a goal scorer or a playmaker, is top notch. And he just has this poise with the puck on his stick that can not be taught. He'll work the cycle, keep his feet moving, and eventually find an opening that he believes can create a high end scoring chance. And of course, he has a fantastic shot with a quick release that makes him equal part goal scorer and playmaker. At the Hlinka, I saw Perfetti be a lot more aggressive without the puck, especially as a forechecker and this is something that I really hope caries over to the OHL season this year. Don't be surprised at all if this kid is top 5 in OHL scoring this year.

4. Marco Rossi - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Here's a stat for you (courtesy the great that summarizes Rossi's impact beautifully. His even strength goals for percentage last year was a remarkable 85%, tops in the entire OHL by a pretty significant margin. He is such a strong overall player and a testament to that, is the fact that he was named the East's smartest player in last year's coaches' poll. He creates so much time and space for his wingers because of how well he dictates pace and how well he works below the hash marks. He's not a huge kid at 5'9, 175lbs, but he's very strong on the puck and comes away with the puck in so many of those 50/50 battles. That's because he anticipates the play well and is great at using his body to gain inside leverage on defenders. Rossi is also aggressive in attacking the net, using his strong skating ability and strength on the puck to fight through traffic to generate scoring chances. And as I alluded to earlier, he's a very strong three zone player who projects as a terrific two-way forward at the next level. This is a very complete player who is bound to generate buzz inside the Top 10 if he continues to improve next year as part of another strong Ottawa team.

5. Jacob Perreault - Forward - Sarnia Sting
Perreault was very impressive as a rookie in the OHL last year. The son of former NHL'er Yanic, Perreault is a multi-faceted offensive player. He does a lot of things well. His best asset is a terrific shot. Perreault's elite release allows him to be effective in traffic. He is also a good skater whose first few steps are quite impressive. His quick feet allow him to be a quick strike player who can find those soft spots and beat defenders to gaps or loose pucks. At the Hlinka Camp, we saw him be a lot more confident and aggressive as a puck carrier and this is something that I am really looking forward to seeing from him in his second OHL season. Last year, he was more of a supporting character who relied on his smarts and skill to finish off plays that his linemates created for him. But I want to see how well he creates his own chances this year. And speaking of the Hlinka, still shocked that he did not make that team. He would have been the perfect linemate for Quinton Byfield, who could use his speed and elusiveness to finish off the plays that he was creating.

6. Antonio Stranges - Forward - London Knights
Stranges is a tough player to rank heading into the new year. I had debated putting him lower, but ultimately settled on him here because of his high end upside. There are some things that I really liked last year and some things that concern me about his game. First the positives. Stranges' hands are so good. He is such a creative offensive player who can make multiple defenders miss on any given shift. He really can keep the puck on a string. Stranges is also an explosive skater who has such power in his stride. He has this 10/2, surfing style skating stride that allows him to cut and change direction so efficiently. When you combine his hands and skating, you have a very dynamic player in transition who can attack the offensive zone and really push the pace of attack. Stranges also has an absolutely lethal backhand. He generates just as much power on the backhand as he does with his wrist shot and as such, he goes to it a lot. Now some negatives. First is his ability to work through traffic. The majority of the "electricity" that I saw from Stranges last year occurred in the neutral zone and not the offensive end. So while it looked great, did it really create a scoring chance? I think this is part of why Stranges' ice time fluctuated so greatly in London last year, as the Hunters worked through getting Stranges to be more assertive and a willing combatant in the offensive end. Second is some of the negative things that I have heard about his demeanor, especially stemming from his surprise cut from the U.S. Hlinka team this offseason. Is he the type that will be willing to work on improving some of his weaker areas? But the potential here is sky high.

7. Jean Luc Foudy - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Like his brother Liam, Jean Luc's game is built around his elite skating ability. He is just so much fun to watch glide around. If he picks up the puck in his own end or neutral zone and is given some daylight, you aren't preventing him from gaining the opposing blueline. And he does a better job than Liam does, at times, in terms of not forcing plays or turning the puck over. Jean Luc is a good playmaker who will circle the offensive zone and continue to keep his feet moving until he feels confident distributing. With the NHL game getting faster and faster, Foudy could most definitely be an offensive asset. There are some things that I am looking for from him during the upcoming year though. The first is attacking the middle of the ice more with his speed. He can be kept to the perimeter currently, and while his speed is impressive, teams neutralize it by challenging him to bring the puck to the net, keeping him to the outside rather easily. I want to see him driving the net to open those lanes for his linemates more effectively, forcing defenders to actually come to him. I also want to see him identifying passing lanes more effectively in his own end and neutral zone. Late in the year (and this was evident at the Hlinka too), teams were really keying in on Foudy early, taking away his time and space before he could get a head of steam and turnovers were a bit of an issue. Lastly, like his brother Liam, Jean Luc's shot will need to improve. Again, teams will cheat when defending against him because they give him that space knowing that he is looking to pass. But his skating ability and skill make him a very exciting player to watch and it will be interesting to see if he can become more of a well rounded offensive player this year.

8. Will Cuylle - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Cuylle has a lot of things going for him as a prospect. Good sized winger who plays a power game. Good skater who can generate power on his net drives and who protects the puck well through traffic. Cuylle also has a very good release on his shot and projects as a goal scorer at the next level. I really respect the direct approach he takes on the ice. You give him an inch and he knows where he's going, straight through to the net. The rest of his game is pretty inconsistent. In minor midget, he showed an ability to take over games off of the rush, but this was not as easy for him (obviously) in the OHL last year and it led to some turnover issues at times. Want to see his vision with the puck improve, where he can use his power and strength to dominate possession time and really identify those passing lanes a little more effectively. I thought that this was evident at the Hlinka camp and at the Hlinka too. And obviously with his power and strength, seeing him dominate in all three zones is something that is very possible. But power forwards take time to develop and patience is going to be required here. Rome was not built in a day and Cuylle has all the parts necessary to make a terrific all situations power winger.

9. Jaromir Pytlik - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
I really liked what I saw from Pytlik towards the end of last year and I'm extremely curious to see how this carries over to 2019/2020. This is especially true for his ability to create off the rush and show off an ability to be creative with the puck. He won't have Morgan Frost or likely Barrett Hayton (at least to start) to assist in this regard and Pytlik is going to be counted on heavily to be an impact player. I think his development in this regard will tell us a lot about the type of potential he possesses at the NHL level. What he is already, though, is a strong offensive player down low who operates well in traffic. Really liked how willing he was to take a beating in front of the net to make a play or score a goal. And his hands are quite smooth. It can be tough to evaluate him given how few games he played last year after joining the OHL late, so it will be interesting to see him more comfortable this year.

10. Ryan O'Rourke - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Hard nosed defender who was a standout in the defensive end, even as a 16 year old last year. Has that size, mobility, and physicality combination that you look for from potential defensive stalwarts these days. Really like O'Rourke's aggressiveness in the corners, especially, as you can tell that this is a kid who does not like losing a single battle along the wall. Where he can struggle at times (and I think this was evident at the recent Hlinka camp and at the Hlinka) is in his gap control. Can be forced to take some penalties if his feet aren't moving or if he's not hedging his man correctly. But this will come with experience as he learns to balance aggressiveness with his mobility and reach. Offensively, his point shot can be a weapon. He can really wind up and fire a puck. I'm hoping that we get a chance to see what he is capable of doing running the point of the powerplay in the Soo this year. And hopefully we get a chance to see him explore his ability to lead the rush too. What he does offensively this year will dictate just how high he can go at the draft as I'm fairly certain teams will love the potential he possesses defensively. 

11. Hayden Fowler - Forward - Erie Otters
A forgotten man, to a certain extent, due to the fractured clavicle that he suffered last year. Additionally, late birthdays entering their third year in the league can also be pushed out of the spotlight. But it's my job, sort of speak, to help you remember that Fowler is an explosive offensive player with serious offensive potential. His skating, hands, and creativity off the rush make him a very dangerous player in transition. When he's playing at the top of his game, he can be a really dangerous attacker who is aggressive and hungry through the middle of the ice. Strength on the puck in the corners, and having a little more confidence in his shot (which is good), are areas that I'm really looking for as he is finally healthy. Going to be a big part of Erie's resurgence moving forward.

12. Evan Vierling - Forward - Flint Firebirds
I'm sure his first OHL season didn't go exactly as planned after being selected second overall in 2018. But I thought there was some growth from beginning to the end of last year. And I saw even more growth at the Hlinka camp this summer. He is still a potentially strong two-way forward who can skate and that has value. He looked way stronger on and off the puck at the Hlinka, which allowed him to really drive possession in the offensive end, in addition to forcing some turnovers with great backchecks. On a list like this, I think we need to balance performance and expectation. Some kids get it right away like Perreault. And others need time. Vierling was a high OHL selection for a reason and those reasons will also make him a coveted player at the NHL draft should his game improve; and I think it will. We'll get a really good idea early on of where he is at when Ty Dellandrea is at Dallas' camp.

13. Ty Tullio - Forward - Oshawa Generals
Tullio personifies the term energy...or grit. He is like the energizer bunny on the ice. He just keeps going, and going, and going. His play away from the puck is often the first thing you notice about him. Forecheck, backcheck, driving the net. He is ultra aggressive in pursuit of the puck in any zone and any situation. And he's a good enough skater to close ground quickly, which means that he's quite often successful in his attempts to force turnovers. But Tullio is also a fairly skilled and confident puck carrier who works very well in transition, using power and cuts to remain unpredictable in his attacks. Like Vierling, I thought Tullio was terrific at the Hlinka camp and he should be in for a very good season in Oshawa. It's easy to see his game translating well to the NHL level. It's just a matter of how good his offensive game can become, and how high his potential is.

14. Logan Morrison - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs
One thing I really like to see from 16 year old rookies is that they finish their rookie season strong. And that was definitely the case for Morrison. Injuries derailed his start, but in the final 31 games of the year, he had 28 points. Prorate to an entire season and that would have put him in line with Byfield and Perreault as the top scoring 02's behind Perfetti. Morrison is an extremely intelligent pivot who controls the middle of the ice well, dictating pace and using his strength on the puck to gain entry in the offensive zone. I see a very well rounded player who could develop into an elite two-way, all situations type of center in this league and moving forward. Where Morrison lacked a bit last year was in his skating. Not enough power in his stride to really drive the play consistently. But at the Hlinka camp this summer, I thought his skating definitely looked improved. It will obviously be a focal point moving forward for him, but he could be in for a big year with Hamilton. 

15. Donovan Sebrango - Defense - Kichener Rangers
I'm usually pretty cautious ranking defenders on my first ranking for the draft, so the next three guys (Sebrango, Moore, Thompson) are probably a little lower than they should be, even though I really like all of them. Sebrango really impressed as a 16/17 year old defender last year. He uses his good mobility to make clean exits out of the defensive zone, handling the forecheck well. He quarterbacks the powerplay well and has great potential manning the point. And he showed little quit in the defensive end. Even though he didn't win every battle against bigger forwards, he was aggressive and assertive. He should become a very solid all around defender as he gains strength. For the Hlinka team this summer, he was utilized more in a stay at home role, excelling as a penalty killer. This really showed how effective he can be in his own end. I'm most curious to see this year, how his puck skill and ability to create in transition develops. He had some trouble with turnovers at times last year, but the potential for him to improve greatly is present.

16. Lleyton Moore - Defense - Oshawa Generals
Maybe not the rookie season that Moore would have imagined, between injury issues and a trade to Oshawa. But that should not diminish Moore's potential to be an impact defender in the OHL. Of any defenseman on this list (Drysdale included), Moore's offensive skill set and potential as a point producer are tops in this OHL class. Yes, he's undersized at around 5'8, which will no doubt impact his draft stock if he does not produce consistently from the back-end. However, size is less important in today's NHL and more smaller players are being drafted, and drafted high than ever before. A defender at 5'8 is going to be heavily critiqued. But, this kid is a potential elite powerplay QB and puck mover. His four way mobility is excellent, especially his ability to cut on a dime. This makes him extremely elusive and difficult to pin down. And I thought that at the Hlinka camp, his stride had more power which made him a more effective offensive player 5 on 5. I'm pretty confident that Moore will produce for Oshawa this year, so it will come down to how effective he is in his own end.

17. Jack Thompson - Defense - Sudbury Wolves
One of the most underrated prospects from the OHL currently. Would not shock me at all if Thompson ends up as the second OHL defender drafted in June behind Drysdale. This is a kid with massive pro potential who improved greatly over the course of his rookie OHL season in Sudbury. Uses his skating ability very effectively to be involved in transition, be it as a leader or trailer. And shows great poise and promise as a powerplay QB, something he did regularly on the top unit in Sudbury. He has a very powerful point shot that will see him score his share of goals in the OHL. He's aggressive in sliding into the high slot to get himself those looks too. With his size (6'1 and growing), and his mobility, there's a chance that his defensive game could eventually become quite good too. If he gets off to a good start with the Wolves (who I expect to be a solid team), I will likely move him up pretty aggressively. This is a solid pro prospect who I know some teams are already looking at as a potential first rounder.

18. Cameron Butler - Forward - Peterborough Petes
The forward version of Thompson in the sense that I feel like Butler is underrated by the scouting community right now and could move up lists quickly if he starts the season well. This is a 6'4 power winger with speed and great potential as a goal scorer. Even as a 16 year old, defenders had a difficult time stopping him in transition, at times, as he powered his way to the net. But he also has a terrific and explosive wrist shot that he can unleash while in full stride. As the season progressed, we really started to see him assert himself physically without the puck too and I look forward to that area of his game being more consistent this year. What I am unsure of currently is just how well rounded Butler's offensive game can become. As someone who can drive the net and use his speed and power combination, how good can he be when the game slows down? I didn't see a player with terrific vision last year, nor someone with dynamic puck carrying ability. But as he gains confidence, this could change/improve. Raw but explosive player with a very high ceiling as it stands now.

19. Jack Quinn - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Always tough to rank late birth date players from the previous year in a list like this. So I tend to be a little tentative with them too, at the start, as you'll see with several of them in the back half of this top 30. Quinn is a very talented offensive playmaker who possesses dynamic puck skill and creativity. He can prolong possession in the offensive end because he keeps the puck on a string and is able to maneuver in and out of traffic, keeping defenders off balance. Quinn also has good vision and identifies passing lanes well, anticipating where his linemates will be. The motor is strong here, but his skating would be classified as average right now. Can have trouble creating the space he needs to in order to drive the play consistently. And as a player under 6'0 and slight of build, he can have trouble being an effective player in the middle of the ice. Because the hands and vision are quite good, and because he is going to get an increased role this year, he could really explode offensively. But a lot of that will be dependent on whether he was able to become a little more explosive and strong on his skates this summer.

20. Brandon Coe - Forward - North Bay Battalion
Another late born 2001, Coe's biggest issue at this point is consistency. He flashes an ability to dominate on the puck in the offensive zone with his blend of power and skill. At 6'3, he can be a real load for defenders below the hash marks. He has these shifts where he's able to maintain possession for extended periods and is able to create by driving the net with an explosive push that catches defenders off guard. In a nut shell, I think all the tools are there. He has shown a strong wrist shot and an ability to score in a variety of ways. He has shown strong vision and playmaking ability in the offensive end. He has shown a strong motor and an ability to impact the game in all three zones without the puck. But what he has not been able to show is an ability to string together strong consecutive periods or games, or his entire toolbox throughout a game. Will he be able to put things together this year in North Bay, considering that the team is going to rely on him to be a go to player? And even if the puck skill and productivity never develop fully, can he still be a valuable NHL prospect as a forechecker and two-way power presence? 

21. Jake Murray - Defense - Kingston Frontenacs
Pretty tough for Murray to standout last year on such a poor Kingston team. He definitely went through some growing pains adjusting to the pace of play and the strength of opposing forwards. No question, he's a "raw" player. But the pro potential is quite strong here. This is a 6'3 kid who projects well as an offensive defender because he flashes strong four way mobility, vision, and a big point shot. Based on what I saw last year, his intensity level will need to be consistently higher. And his decision making with the puck under pressure will need to improve. Additionally, I'd like to see him become a little more explosive in his pushes, even if he has that sort of smooth stride that looks like he's coasting, but in reality, he's coasting past people. All of that said, I saw improvements in all of those areas at the Hlinka camp this summer. If he can carry that over to the OHL this year, he could move quickly up draft lists. Kingston is still going to be in tough most nights, but Murray should have a better season.

22. Alec Belanger - Defense - Ottawa 67's
Small sample size, but Belanger was quite impressive for the 67's as a 16 year old last year. You don't have to spend much time watching Belanger to see how intelligent he is. Really liked some of the decisions he made as an offensive player, be it holding the blueline, making quick decisions in his own end to start the breakout, or cutting to the middle to open up shooting or passing lanes. He also showed well defensively with that strong IQ, taking good routes to dump ins and succeeding in coverage with an active stick. But, at this point, I do think that there are some limitations with his mobility. He can look a little stiff at times when moving laterally and backwards, and his forward stride isn't the most powerful, which can limit his effectiveness as a puck mover. I've read a few articles recently talking about this and how Belanger dedicated his summer to really improving his skating. I'm very excited to see how he looks this year because I was a fan last year.

23. Isaak Phillips - Defense - Sudbury Wolves
I really wanted to put Phillips higher on this list. The late 2001 is a very interesting player. He's a 6'3 defender, but I actually think he may be one of the better skaters on this list. His mobility is a big time asset on the back-end. With his reach and an improving skill set, it's pretty hard to put a limit on his high end ceiling. This kid is a pure athlete. But his game will need refinement. When he looks to attack with the puck, he can get himself bottled up in the neutral zone, even with his skating ability. And defensively, he relies a lot on his mobility, but will need to improve his reads and decision making with the puck to limit turnovers. So is he a two-way defender? Is he a future stay at home stalwart? Can his vision with the puck develop further? How well does he think the game? I think these are all questions that will be answered this year. If he plays well, you can bet that I will be moving him up pretty aggressively. Like Cameron Butler above, this is a kid that NHL teams are going to be very curious about.

24. Cameron Tolnai - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Admittedly, this placement is based solely on potential. Due to Ottawa's depth, Tolnai wasn't really able to show what he was capable of last year. In a lot of my viewings of Ottawa, he just wasn't noticeable for good or bad. But a lot of people I trust still vouch for him and as a former 6th overall pick, he still deserves to be ranked. This is especially true when you consider that Tolnai is the big power center with the potential to dominate in all three zones that every NHL team is looking for. As a minor midget player, Tolnai was one of the most complete prospects in the age group; equally dominant with and without the puck. So what does this season hold for Tolnai? He likely enters the year as Ottawa's 3rd line center behind Rossi and Hoelscher, and will most definitely receive more playing time. What he does with that playing time remains to be seen. One of the prospects on this list that I am most excited to see progression from this year, especially after not getting a great read on him last year.

25. Gerard Keane - Defense - London Knights
Given how much of a fan I am of Joey Keane, it should probably come as no surprise to see me rank his brother Gerard inside this top 30. Like Belanger, Keane showed well in limited action with London last year. He profiles as a similar player to his brother. He has a very impressive skating stride and overall mobility. And even though he's 5'10, he's stocky and was fairly successful in his own end. Defends in a similar way to former OHL'er Travis Dermott. Keane also flashed some real nice skill with the puck that makes me think he could be a point producer and powerplay QB one day. London is going to have some serious battles for defensive playing time this year, but the field is wide open for Keane to grab playing time if he plays well, which I think he will.

26. Reid Valade - Forward - Kitchener Rangers
Valade is an aggressive attacking winger who possesses good speed and an understanding of how to play without the puck. He's undersized at 5'10, but he's actually quite successful in the corners and near the crease already. He keeps his feet moving well and can be a major asset in the cycle. I have some questions as to his offensive upside and whether he can truly be an impact offensive player. His shot and release looked to be only average last year. And I wonder how good his hands are and whether he can be a consistent playmaker off of the rush. Is he someone the Rangers will plug into Joseph Garreffa's role now that it's been announced that he won't be returning?

27. Mark Woolley - Defense - Owen Sound Attack
Again, tough to rank late birthdays, especially ones with Woolley's particular skill set. 6'2, 200lbs and solid in his own end, Woolley definitely will be a quality stay at home defender in the OHL for the next several years. He has the entire toolbox that you like to see from players of this ilk; good mobility, physical tenacity, heart, and defensive awareness. But offensively, things haven't progressed quite as well. While he will use his mobility to jump up in the rush at times, his skill with the puck and general decision making would have to be considered quite raw. No question, his ability to start the breakout and his confidence with the puck will need to improve. But I have seen enough from him to believe that the potential for him to develop into a two-way defender still exists. 

28. James Hardie - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
Hardie has high end goal scoring potential because he owns one of the best shots and releases in the age group. Possesses the ability to generate a lot of power on his shot while in full stride too, not just while setting up in the slot. Also liked Hardie's aggressiveness in attacking the net, looking to find those soft spots. Thought he looked good as a skater without the puck, but with the puck on his stick, he seems to lose a step. Additionally, I found that he struggled receiving passes while in stride, in addition to playing through the neutral zone. I also wonder just how good of a playmaker he is, as that vision in the offensive zone was not something I noticed. But, all of these things can be attributed to strength and confidence deficits that are normal for rookies. As one of the top goal scorers available, he deserves to be on this list with the hope that other parts of his game greatly improve.

29. Aidan Prueter - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
Another late 2001 born player, Prueter is a high energy forward who can have an impact in all three zones with his energy and tenacity, on and off the puck. In the offensive end, he always keeps his feet moving and can be tough to pin down. Working the cycle, he also exhibits good vision and can create coming off of the wall. When he doesn't have the puck, he is hungry to get it and plays with a fire that can be infectious for his linemates. But I'm just not sure if he's a good enough skater at 5'10 to really draw serious NHL attention. He can have difficulty creating separation off the rush and is more dangerous operating at a slower pace. Additionally, I wonder about his high end offensive potential and whether his hands and finishing ability are good enough. We'll learn more about that during the upcoming season when Prueter can settle in with consistent ice time in Mississauga for a full year.

30. Alex Johnston - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
This one may surprise some people. And I could have probably gone with any one of the HM's at the 30 spot. But in a preseason list, I'm going to go with a player that really impressed me, even if the production wasn't terrific, especially from a late birth date 2001. I just felt that every time I saw the Hounds in the second half of the season, this guy was was noticeable in a limited role. And by the time playoffs rolled around, his role had increased, but his play had not dropped. He skates quite well and I was always impressed by his ability to carve up the neutral zone and gain entry to the offensive zone. And while he wasn't always effective at playing through traffic or maintaining possession through the middle of the ice, it did not stop him from trying. I think this guy has a real high upside once he fills out and adds that strength. I think he's a top 6 center and an important player for the Greyhounds this year.

Honorable Mentions

Riley Piercey - Forward - Barrie Colts

Luke Evangelista - Forward - London Knights

Tyson Foerster - Forward - Barrie Colts

Rory Kerins - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Kyle McDonald - Forward - Windsor Spitfires

Nick Wong - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs

Colton Kammerer - Defense - Sarnia Sting

Zayde Wisdom - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs

Dylan Robinson - Forward - Oshawa Generals

Isaac Langdon - Forward - Kitchener Rangers

Nolan Seed - Defense - Owen Sound Attack

Will Cranley - Goaltender - Ottawa 67's

Appearing Soon

Ruben Rafkin - Defense - Windsor Spitfires

Oliver Suni - Forward - Oshawa Generals

Kirill Steklov - Defense - London Knights

Declan McDonnell - Forward - Kitchener Rangers

Aidan Campbell - Goaltender - Erie Otters

Clark Hiebert - Defense - Guleph Storm

Dylan Robinson - Defense - Windsor Spitfires

Ethan Cardwell - Forward - Saginaw Spirit

Elias Cohen - Forward - Erie Otters

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Top 10 - Unheralded Rookies Who Could Make an Impact in 2019-2020

This annual article looks at some of the rookies who could make an impact in the OHL next year. And by that I mean players not selected in the Import Draft or the recent priority draft (or new midget draft for that matter). I'm talking about 2002 (possibly even 2001) born players who should finally crack their respective teams this year. The list of successful players of this ilk is long (see Mark Scheifele, Remi Elie, Matt Clark, Trevor Carrick, Travis Dermott, Zach Senyshyn, Nic Hague, Boris Katchouk, Alex Formenton, Cam Hillis, Jack Quinn, etc).

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

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


Owen Bennett - Guelph Storm
A 4th round selection by the Storm, Bennett spent last year in the Carelton Place program of the CCHL (and CCHL2). At 6'2, Bennett has good size in the net and is a graduate of the Halton Hurricanes organization. To start the year, it seems likely that Bennett will be part of a three way goaltending carousel with OA Anthony Popovich, and returnee Nico Daws. But the rebuilding Storm will no doubt look for suitors for Popovich or Daws, so that Bennett can receive more starts at some point.
Scouting Report: "Possesses great size and uses it to take minimal angles out of the conversation. Some may wish for more athleticism, but his simple saves get the job done." 

Aidan Campbell - Erie Otters 
Fresh off winning a U.S. midget Championship with the Pittsburgh Penguins elite program last year, the 6'4 netminder has signed in Erie where he'll push Daniel Murphy for playing time during the upcoming season. A 12th round pick by Erie originally, Campbell has turned into a quality goaltending prospect, even seeing a few games for the U.S. U17 team last year as a fill in. With a late August birth date, patience may be required as he continues to physically mature, but this could be the Otters' goalie of the future.
Scouting Report: "Taller, very calm goalie. Knows what he is and what he needs to do. Plays poised and focuses on sound positioning and calm play. Doesn't move overly quickly but takes away space with his big frame. Soft goals at times."
Marco Costantini - Hamilton Bulldogs 
A 5th rounder of the Bulldogs, Costantini had an excellent season last year with Hamilton of the GOJHL, posting the best GAA and save percentage of any U17 goalie in the league (in fact, the fourth best in the last 10 years for his age). The former OHL Cup all star with Vaughn may not have elite size for the position (hovering around the 6'0 mark), but he has consistently been considered one of the better Ontario goaltenders in this age group. He will come to Hamilton's camp with the hopes of splitting time with Zach Roy in Hamilton's crease. Fun fact, his twin brother Anthony is also an OHL prospect; a defender with Ottawa. 
Scouting Report: "A consistent rock in goal who shuts down the lower portion of the net better than any goalie in the age group. Calm, controlled movements and rarely overplays a shot." Voted second most athletic netminder in the age group behind Tristan Lennox. 

Xavier Medina - Windsor Spitfires 
The hope for Windsor is that Medina will come in and battle Import Kari Piiroinen for playing time, creating an excellent platoon situation. The 6'0 netminder was a standout in the U.S. Midget league last year, posting the best GAA in the league for the terrific Oakland Grizzlies program. A 3rd round pick by Windsor, Medina, like Costantini (listed above), was at one time considered one of the best goaltenders in this age group.
Scouting Report: "Athletic goalie who does a great job challenging shooters, along with having good poise and patience under pressure. Slightly undersized, he uses his athleticism to take away space. Also plays the puck well."

Matt Onuska - London Knights
Like Marco Costantini, Onuska was a standout in the GOJHL last year, finishing the year with close to the same stat line. But Onuska also won a Championship with Waterloo, something that was, no doubt, terrific for his development. A 6'3 netminder, Onuska was going to be part of a crowded crease in Kingston, before a recent trade to London. He should have the inside track at the backup job behind Jordan Kooy.
Scouting Report: "Displays a calm, cool, and collected demeanor in the crease. Is an athletic netminder who rarely has to scramble to make a save because of good instincts."

Zachary Paputsakis - Oshawa Generals
A late 2001 born, and former 5th rounder, Paputsakis has signed with Oshawa for this season after a great season with Kimball Union Academy in the U.S. prep loop. The 6'3 netminder will be one of several goalies tasked with trying to fill the shoes of the great Kyle Keyser for the Generals. 
Scouting Report: "A big, calm goaltender who has flashed some terrific long term potential. Naturally fills the net with his size, but also moves well in his crease. Holds the line well and controls most pucks, limiting second chance opportunities. Does open up some holes due to his rangy limbs." 

Joe Vrbetic - North Bay Battalion 
At this point, Vrbetic has to be considered the top young '02 goaltender who did not suit up in the OHL last year. The 6'4 netminder had the best save percentage in the NOJHL last year and was a standout at the Canadian Hlinka camp this summer, making him one of the top '02 goaltenders in the country. He will battle returnee Christian Purboo for playing time to start in North Bay, but would imagine that by midseason, he will have hold of the starting gig. 
Scouting Report: "A big strong goaltender who uses his size advantage any way he can. Extremely strong in his positional play, tracking stopping pucks with confidence. Has quick leg work despite his size and resets his positioning quickly for second chance opportunities. Can at times be beaten high at times with quicker releases."


Clark Hiebert - Guelph Storm 
A late 2001 born, Hiebert was named to the prestigious OJHL all prospect team this past season after a terrific year with Burlington. At 6'2, 180lbs, Hiebert will add some nice size to a rebuilding blueline in Guelph, where he has a good shot at getting serious ice time. This was a big signing by the Storm.
Scouting Report: "Plays a simple and reliable game. Walks the blueline well and shows good shot placement from the point. Room for improvement in his puck handling ability as it can be rigid at times."

Tyler Deline - Flint Firebirds
Deline bounced around last season, splitting time between Flint, Pickering (OJHL), and playing midget with Clarington. The 5'10 defender will be in the mix for more ice time this season, although likely in the 6th or 7th defender role. 
Scouting Report: "Good skating defender with four way mobility. Has potential as a powerplay QB." 

Austin D'Orazio - Barrie Colts 
Physical defender who was originally part of the Vaughn Kings organization. D'Orazio had a solid season for Newmarket of the OJHL last year and appears poised to make the jump to the OHL this year for Barrie. He would be a candidate to play a third pairing role for the team.
Scouting Report: "A physical defender who exhibits good decision making with the puck. Compete level is quite high and is an excellent open ice hitter." 

Jack Harper - Flint Firebirds 
A teammate of Clark Hiebert (appearing earlier on this list) last year in Burlington (OJHL), Harper had an excellent season for a U17 defender in the league. A recent signee of the Firebirds, he will battle a guy like Tyler Deline to be in the mix for one of the final defensive spots in the lineup.
Scouting Report: "A strong puck moving defender who projects as a powerplay QB. A fluent skater, Harper's defensive game has been improving steadily." 

Brendan Kennette - Sarnia Sting 
A rebuilding Sarnia team will be looking for more from their young blueline this upcoming season and that could include a contribution from former 9th rounder Kennette. He is coming off a good season with Sarnia of the GOJHL, where he was a member of Western Conference's all rookie team. 
Scouting Report: "A very strong and mobile skater, he possesses good offensive upside. Decision making with the puck has been an issue, although did show better later in his draft year." 

James Mayotte - North Bay Battalion 
A product of the Shattuck St. Mary's program the last few years, Mayotte signed on recently with the Battalion. An offensive defender, Mayotte could be a good get for North Bay. He'll be in the mix for ice time with several other similar defenders as North Bay tries to improve on last year's disappointing result. 
Scouting Report: Nothing from TheScout, but some of the information that I've gathered from reading articles on him suggests that his mobility is a big time asset, as is his vision with the puck.

Bryce Montgomery - London Knights
Prep school defender who gave up a scholarship to Providence to sign as a free agent with London. Playing for Cushing Academy last year, the 6'3, 200lbs defender put up average stats, but is someone who could be a long term play for the Knights. Trying to rebuild their defense this year, Montgomery is going to fight it out with several other players on this list for ice time.
Scouting Report: "Tall, big bodied defender with athleticism and pro potential. Long stride really allows him to cover ground. Uses his body well to defend. Puck skill needs to refining and hockey sense remains a question mark."

Dylan Robinson - Windsor Spitfires
Robinson had one of the better seasons of any player on this list last year, taking home the top rookie defender in the GOJHL. Playing for LaSalle mostly, Robinson did also finish the year with Windsor, getting in playoff games. The 6'3 defender should be a shoe in for Windsor's top 6 for the upcoming year.
Scouting Report: "A high risk, high reward defender. Can be a factor leading the breakout and continues to improve defensively. Raw, but has all the tools need to be an impact player." 

Benjamin Roger - London Knights 
Roger did play one game for the Knights last year, but spent the rest of the season with the Wellington Dukes. Roger actually had the second most points of any U17 defender in the OJHL last year (behind Jack Harper, listed above). Like Montgomery, Roger will be in tough for consistent ice time, battling several other fresh faces.
Scouting Report: Nothing on TheScout, but after some research, Roger is considered to be a poised and strong puck mover.

Hunter Skinner - London Knights
Don't normally include NHL draft picks in this list, but given that Skinner is a little bit under the radar and is still young (2001 born), I have made an exception here (but I am not including Jonathan Gruden). A 4th rounder by the New York Rangers in 2019, Skinner split last year between Muskegon and Lincoln. Unlike Montgomery, Roger, and Winslow, it seems pretty likely that Skinner will be counted on to be a top 4 defender for London next season.
Scouting Report: McKeens listed Skinner as having the second best shot behind Cam York among American draft eligible players. Here's a great article from Blueshirtbanter on Skinner. Interestingly, he has not been playing defense long and is a converted forward. His athleticism is mentioned as a serious strength. 

Mitchell Smith - Saginaw Spirit
A standout with the Oakland Grizzlies program the last two years, Smith is a hometown product and a former 5th round pick by the Spirit. While he did not make the U.S. Hlinka/Gretzky team, he was the second highest scoring defender at the camp. He'll likely battle fellow 2018 selection Ian Lemieux, and 2019 first rounder Connor Punnett for ice time.
Scouting Report: "Fleet skating defenseman who excels at eluding out of his own zone, making quick breakout passes to send his team the other way. An excellent skater in all directions, Smith can put the opposition on their heels. Game can be a bit erratic but he has tools."

Avery Winslow - London Knights
A former product of the prestigious Notre Dame Hounds program, Winslow played last year in the BCHL for Wenatchee. He was one of only five U17 defenders to play over 30 games in the regular season and one of only two to play over 15 playoff games. That's quite impressive. Not to sound like a broken record, but the competition for those last few defensive spots in London camp will be intense.
Scouting Report: In my 2018 OHL Priority Selection Primer, blog friend Matt Grainda called Winslow one of his favourite sleepers. "A polished two-way defender with great skating ability. His four way mobility helps him in all areas. Great in the defensive zone with an active stick. Has potential offensively." 


Daniel Baldassarra - Erie Otters 
Remains to be seen what Baldassarra's intentions are, but the St. Andrew's College forward deserves to be mentioned here. The undersized forward is a former Vaughn Kings player and is someone who could help Erie next season in a third or fourth line role.
Scouting Report: "Smaller but skilled player who makes his presence felt with his energy and tenaciousness. With his speed, he can be a factor in transition and on the penalty kill." 

Hunter Brazier - Oshawa Generals
A Northern player who is coming off a very successful season in the NOJHL with French River. Brazier had the most goals and points of any U17 player in the league. Whether he intends to play for Oshawa remains to be seen, as he has recently signed on with Kemptville of the CCHL next year. Things can change though and Brazier could be someone looked at for a checking line role.
Scouting Report: "Possesses a good combination of speed and skill. Can make plays in traffic and is aggressive in taking the puck to the net."

Finn Brown - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Brown was a standout for the St. Michael's Buzzers of the OJHL last year (along with former Marlboros teammate Ryan Alexander), finishing 3rd in points among U17 players in the league. The massive 6'4 winger was recently named to Canada East's selection Camp for the World Junior A Challenge, which suggests to me that he's focused on returning to the OJHL next year and not to SSM. But his presence in the Soo would really give them a lift.
Scouting Report: "Brown can be a very effective player in the offensive zone with good finishing ability and vision." 

Nolan Burke - Sarnia Sting 
Burke split time last year between Pickering of the OJHL and Sarnia, even getting into some playoff games with the Sting. A December birth day, Burke is still physically maturing and is considered to be a part of Sarnia's future, likely starting this year in a 3rd or 4th line role.
Scouting Report: "A good sized two-way forward who can potentially play in any situation. A good playmaker who can open up lanes by driving the net. Burke is also strong without the puck as an aggressive forechecker."

Blake Butler - Sudbury Wolves
Remains to be seen whether Butler will report to the Wolves, as the former 3rd round pick recently signed on with Navan of the CCHL. But Butler had a solid year in the GOJHL with Sarnia and is one of the higher 2018 selections to not play in the OHL. Should he sign and report, Butler could be someone who plays a depth role for the Wolves next season.
Scouting Report: "Brings a healthy mix of size, speed, and skill to the table. An offensive catalyst who can make others around him better. High offensive potential at the OHL level." 

David Campbell - North Bay Battalion 
Earlier Hunter Brazier was mentioned because he was the top scoring U17 player in the NOJHL last year. Campbell wasn't far behind for Powassan. Not too often you see a Northern player spurn the Northern team that drafted him, but Campbell has yet to commit to the Battalion. If he does show in North Bay, he could be a part of their top 9 forwards and a potential impact player down the line.
Scouting Report: "A goal scorer who likes to use his size and strength to drive the net, beating defenders wide. He can play in all situations and has the offensive skill set to succeed in the OHL." 

Ethan Cardwell - Saginaw Spirit
Cardwell was one of the highest drafted players to not suit up regularly in the OHL last year. He did get into 15 games for Saginaw, scoring 5 goals (and one more in the playoffs), but he was also a standout for Trenton and Pickering of the OJHL. With a full time spot all but guaranteed this year, Cardwell could be a big part of Saginaw's offense already this year, although they do have terrific depth at the forward position.
Scouting Report: "Has the ability to make skilled plays with the puck and is good at using his body as leverage in the offensive zone. Also possesses a hard shot and goal scorer's mentality."

Elias Cohen - Erie Otters 
A Telus Cup Champion with the Toronto Nationals last year, Cohen did get into limited action with the Otters too, scoring 3 goals in only 6 games. He figures to be a permanent fixture with Erie this year and could potentially have one of the larger impacts of any player on this list.
Scouting Report: "A fun player to watch with his energy, smarts, and skill. Brings a great compete level and plays a very intelligent game. As he adds strength and continues to grow, he could be an impact player in the OHL." 

Yanic Crete - Ottawa 67's 
Good sized forward who got into 14 games with the 67's last year, but spent most of the year with Hawkesbury of the CCHL. Ottawa is going to have a very strong team next year, but with some graduations will be an opportunity to grab a few spots at forward. Crete is a likely everyday player for Ottawa.
Scouting Report: "Calculated and smooth center who demonstrates poise and playmaking awareness. Is a solid finisher too." 

George Diaco - Hamilton Bulldogs 
While Diaco had a good season with London of the GOJHL, he stepped up his game massively in the playoffs as one of the leading scorers in the league (of any age). He had 29 points in the postseason. Next closest U17 player had less than half of that. That shows progression. The quite small Diaco, at 5'5, is likely going to be a big part of Hamilton next year, perhaps as a consistent top 9 forward.
Scouting Report: "Creates offense with his speed and plays the game at a high pace. He's a true facilitator with the puck on his stick. What he makes up for in a lack of size, he makes up for in effort."

Tanner Dickinson - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
A free agent signing by the Greyhounds this offseason (de-committing from Ohio State), Dickinson enters the OHL with a little bit of hype. The 6'0 forward was a standout for the Belle Tire program last year and even suited up in the USHL for 8 games with Green Bay. The hope is that he can come into camp and jump into the top 9 for a team that needs some forwards to really step up offensively this year.
Scouting Report: "Speedy forward who can beat defenders out wide and has a lot of confidence with the puck on his stick. Has a very quick release on his shot too." 

Ryan Gagnier - Oshawa Generals 
The GOJHL Western Rookie of the Year last year, Gagnier had an excellent season with Leamington. The average sized center was a 3rd round pick of Oshawa and should have a very good shot of playing a 3rd or 4th line role with the Generals for the upcoming season.
Scouting Report: "A complete 200 foot center who is willing to do whatever is necessary on the ice to help his team win. Can play with pace and displays good hands in tight."

Kyle Jackson - North Bay Battalion
Another of the players on this list that you would have to consider one of the most likely to have a big impact in the OHL. He is a legitimate potential top flight player. Jackson had a heck of a season last year in the CCHL, winning the rookie of the year and a league championship. To give you an idea, Jackson is one of only two U17 forwards in the last ten years to average a point per game or more with significant game action. The other was Lucas Lessio. I would expect Jackson to be a top 6 forward in North Bay by season's end.
Scouting Report: "Displays strong puck possession skating and has the ability to circle the offensive end, dangling around defenders until lanes open up. Can take the puck to the net, but it smart without the puck, identifying scoring lanes." 

Matt Maggio - Windsor Spitfires
Traded to Windsor this offseason from Ottawa, Maggio actually played 35 games already in the OHL last year. But seeing as he finished the year in Tier 2 and never really cemented himself in Ottawa's lineup, I've decided to include him. Maggio is a potential impact player who was a standout at the U17's last year for Canada and who also played well in the CCHL with Kanata. He should have a top 9 role with Windsor for the upcoming season and is a player to watch moving forward.
Scouting Report: "His play lacks consistency, but when he wants to turn it on, he can be one of the most dominant goal scorers in the age group. Is a dynamic puck handler who can electrify with his one on one moves."

Kosta Manikis - Sudbury Wolves 
A recent signing by the Wolves as Manikis gave up his scholarship to Clarkson. This was a bit of a shocking move, but a potential home run for the Wolves. A 2001 born, Manikis should be able to jump right into Sudbury's top 9 and be a consistent contributor. He had an excellent season in the OJHL last year, splitting time between Stouffville and the Toronto JR Canadiens, where he was very nearly a point per game player.
Scouting Report: "Plays a gritty, hard game that gets under the skin of the opposition. But also has a considerable amount of skill with crafty hands and a deft touch in tight. Just needs to be more consistent."

Declan McDonell - Kitchener Rangers

McDonell was a high profile signing by the Rangers, de-committing from Providence to ink with Kitchener. He was the highest scoring '02 in the OJHL last season with Buffalo and even got into a few games in the USHL with Lincoln. The expectation is that McDonell can be a fixture in the Rangers bottom six this year and be a potential impact player down the road.
Scouting Report: "Can lead the rush with his high end skating ability and does a great job spinning off checks. Has good vision and hands down low."

Sean McGurn - London Knights 

It's not always easy for young forwards to crack the always deep London Knights, but McGurn will be attempting just that next year. He made the GOJHL all rookie team after a great year with St. Thomas that saw him near a point per game. If he makes the Knights, he's likely a rotating fourth liner for now.
Scouting Report: "Oozes leadership and high character. Highly intelligent and solid at both ends of the ice. Has confidence with the puck and is an excellent playmaker. Excels in all situations asked of him."

Dawson McKinney - Oshawa Generals
McKinney did see a few games with Oshawa last year, but spent most of the season with St. Catharines of the GOJHL. He performed well there and the former 4th rounder will be hoping to be more of a regular contributor for the Generals this upcoming season.
Scouting Report: "Power skating center who can play physical and finish checks. Has a good shot but puck skill remains raw. Solid forechecker and penalty killer." 

Matthew Papais - Guelph Storm 
The 5'10 winger got into 12 games with the Storm last year, but was a standout with Brantford of the OJHL otherwise. With Guelph going through a rebuild this season, Papais could likely receive all the ice time he can handle if he performs well.
Scouting Report: "Highly intelligent forward who is great at finding gaps in the offensive zone. Excellent puck manager who always makes good decisions." 

Eric Russell - Barrie Colts 
Russell is a big bodied winger who was a former standout with the Vaughn Kings program. Last year, he played for the Toronto Patriots of the OJHL, putting up average stats. But the former 3rd round pick is no doubt in Barrie's plans as they look to work him into the lineup this year (along with former Vaughn teammate D'Orazio, who was listed above).
Scouting Report: "Possesses a natural scoring touch below the hash marks. Is a terrific support player who can open up ice for his linemates. Can force plays at times." 

Joshua Samanski - Owen Sound Attack 
An interesting player who played the majority of his minor hockey in Germany (with his father playing and coaching there). But the Canadian citizen came back home last year and played with Brantford of the OJHL where he had a pretty decent season. Seeing this, the Attack signed him and hope that he can be a regular contributor in a depth role next season. 
Scouting Report: Obviously nothing on TheScout for Samanski, but doing some digging he appears to be a big forward (6'3) who can play any forward position. He's lauded for two-way play and compete level, in addition to his offensive potential.

Ethan Sims - Niagara IceDogs 
Got into four games with the IceDogs last year, spending the majority of the year with St. Catharines of the GOJHL. He was nearly a point per game player and has a chance of playing a much larger role this year with Niagara having so many forwards graduate from the previous year.
Scouting Report: "One of the better pure playmakers in the age group with excellent vision. Also possesses a great wrist shot and creativity with the puck."

Cameron Snow - Niagara IceDogs 
Playing with The Hill Academy last year, Snow was one of the highest scoring midget players in the loop, helping his team win a prep Championship. The undersized center inked with the IceDogs in June and, like Sims, should be a regular player for the IceDogs in 2019/2020.
Scouting Report: "Has no fear or quit in his game. Has dynamic skating and puck skill to go with a terrific hockey IQ. Just a matter of whether he can overcome his lack of size and strength."

Austen Swankler - Erie Otters
Was ranked 109th by NHL Central Scouting last year but was not selected, despite having a strong season in the USHL with Waterloo and Sioux Falls. He was 7th among U18 players in scoring, and helped Sioux Falls win the Clark Cup. An August born 2001, Swankler will join Erie next year and should be a top 6 player for them. No doubt he is hoping that a strong season in the OHL can have his name called at the NHL draft.
Scouting Report: Not much on TheScout, but combing through draft coverage articles, Swankler is a speedy, attacking forward with improving puck skill. He can play through traffic and drive the net.

Brody Waters - Owen Sound Attack
Remains to be seen whether Waters will commit to the Attack, but the good sized winger had an excellent year in the GOJHL with Elmira. He was the only U17 player to average a point per game (although the sample size was smaller at 21 games). If signed, Waters could be a 3rd or 4th line winger for Owen Sound next season.
Scouting Report: "Power winger with a scoring touch who plays the game the right way. Is one of the more complete players in the age group and should be able to play in all situations."

Kalvyn Watson - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Undersized forward who has already committed to the Greyhounds after playing one game with the team last year. Spent the rest of the year with Lindsay of the OJHL, where he nearly led the team in scoring (one point off). He will be in the mix for a spot on the team's 3rd or 4th line.
Scouting Report: "A high IQ distributor who can play with pace or slow the game down. Confident with the puck, Watson is also a strong skater." 

Davis Young - Hamilton Bulldogs 
Hamilton second rounder Davis Young was one of the highest drafted players to not spend the whole year in the OHL. The talented center split the year between Oakville and Brantford of the OJHL, producing modestly. But he did finish the year with Hamilton getting into two playoff games. Would have to believe that he sees regular ice time with the Bulldogs next year.
Scouting Report: "One of the best passing minds in the age group. Skates well and can dictate the pace of a game. Needs to work on his shot to be more of a consistent offensive threat."