Friday, December 31, 2021

Preliminary Media/Scout Poll for 2022

It's time for the first media/scout poll for the 2022 NHL Draft.

Normally I would have already published the preliminary poll, however I have made the decision to reduce the number of these pieces from three to two annually. Moving forward I’ll be doing a preliminary one around the holidays (late December, early January), and then a final one leading up to the draft (June-ish).

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

While the pandemic appears to be rearing its ugly head again, as more and more games are postponed, it has been terrific to have the OHL back playing this year. So many young players have taken that next step forward in their development, despite the lay-off. Many others have gotten off to slower starts. It is important to remember that the vast majority of the players mentioned on this list (or those that just missed mention) are playing in their very first OHL seasons. There will be ups and downs. Many of these players will be better players than they are now by season’s end.

As for the perceived strength of this OHL draft crop, I believe the outlook is still to be determined. Because of the lay-off, many scouts are still playing catch-up and OHL players are bound to be lagging there due to unfamiliarity. At this point in time, it looks like the OHL could have four to five first round selections, including Shane Wright at the top of the draft. The Import group has certainly elevated the crop’s status too, with the likes of Mintyukov, Sapovaliv, Rohrer, and Gazizov elevating the group.

As always, this list involves contributions from a rather colourful cast of characters. Contributing their rankings and thoughts to this preliminary list for 2022 were:

Corey Pronman - NHL Prospects Writer for TheAthletic (@coreypronman)

Dominic Tiano - Writer for The OHL Writers (@dominictiano)

Ryan Kennedy - Associate Senior Writer for The Hockey News (@THNRyanKennedy)

Scott Wheeler - NHL Prospects Writer for TheAthletic (@scottcwheeler)

Will Scouch – Founder of Scouching Draft Analytics & Contributor to McKeen's Hockey (@Scouching)

Sam McGilligan – Video Scout for McKeen's Hockey (@sam_mcgilligan)

Gavin Chiasson - Owner and Head of Scouting for Recruit Scouting (@NHLChiasson)

Mat Sheridan - OHL Regional Scout for Future Considerations (@sheridan_mat)

Dylan Krill - OHL Regional Scout for McKeen’s Hockey (@dylan_krill)

Tony Ferrari - NHL Prospects Writer for The Hockey News (@theTonyFerrari)

Matt Young - OHL broadcaster (@mattyoung71)

Josh Tessler - Director of Scouting for Smaht Scouting (@JoshTessler_)

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten)

Here's the List:

1. Shane Wright - Center - Kingston Frontenacs

Total Votes: 13

Highest Ranking: 1st (13x)

Lowest Ranking: -


“It's amazing what Wright has been able to do after playing just five games last season and I expect his recent point splurge (in the OHL) is going to be the norm from here on out. Total package center and future captain who makes an impact everywhere.” - Ryan Kennedy 

 “Shane Wright has been a tough read. Yes, he hasn’t played hockey since March 2020, but neither has almost everyone else in the OHL and I’ve been more impressed on the surface with other players in a few areas of the game relative to Shane Wright. That being said, I don’t think there’s as much of a gifted hockey mind as Wright in this year’s class. He may not have the flashy skill, immense speed, ridiculous motor or physical intensity that some others may have, but he just goes out and absolutely anchors a group of five hockey players. His awareness and puck support on breakouts, skill to open lanes and drive play up the ice, glide sneakily into offensive zones trailing the focus of play and land himself scoring chances with his trademark release is undeniable. He just executes things so well. I’m very unsure of his overall impact in the NHL however, and he’s not locked in at 1 on my list personally, but I absolutely see why teams would pick him first, and he’s certainly in the top tier of players. He isn’t a player that will transform your franchise on his own, but I think he’ll certainly help if paired with wingers that prefer to lean offensively.” - Will Scouch

“Shane Wright had a slower start to the season. He was a bit sluggish at first since the OHL did not have a season last year, but over the past few weeks, he has started to find more success in the offensive zone. Wright has a quick deceptive release from range which makes him a constant threat. But, he still isn't generating enough passes to dangerous ideas and seems to be more selective with his distribution to the slot. In the defensive zone, he scans the ice but has a slightly more laid back approach to defensive pressure. Yet, he will open up breakout passing lanes for his defenders to exploit and feed him a pass." - Josh Tessler

“The obvious crown jewel of the OHL, Shane Wright entered the season as one of the more hyped potential first overall picks in recent memory. That partly remains true, as a lot would have to change between here and the draft for anyone else's name to be called first at the podium, despite the fact that there are some beginning to question his ability to be a franchise player in the NHL. Wright's best trait is the fact that he plays such a pro level game already. You see it a few times with every Kingston viewing -- where his teammates aren't able to read his support routes and identify the play he's offering them, simply because they don't process the game at his level. He's one of the best examples in recent memory of a player more suited for higher levels of hockey. There is so much to love regarding his off-puck play, defensive capabilities, awareness to open space and macro play driving through smaller, practical touches. Add in one of the most absurd shots I've ever had the privilege of seeing and you have a player who fluidly moves from open space to open space, providing options to his teammates while being a shooting threat that the defence has to stay attentive towards, always looking to make the best play for his team. Yet, it's not unreasonable to want more. The one thing Wright isn't showing in abundance is dynamic playdriving abilities when the puck is on his stick for long periods of time. This doesn't mean he can't do it, in fact he showcased that talent during his 15yo season in the OHL before the pandemic; however, for whatever reason, it hasn't reappeared all too often after he returned from the long layoff. Did he lose this ability? Likely not. My current theory is that Wright, knowing he's likely a lock for the first overall pick, was acutely aware that he can dominate any Jr league in the world and, as such, has focused on developing his game to be as pro-ready as possible. If he manages to blend his previous on-puck brilliance with the intelligent, practical game he has today then he very well could live up to his monstrous hype from the preseason. If not, he still projects as a highly intelligent, efficient two way center who can produce and drive play in all three zones while raising the ceiling of his linemates. Either way, not a bad pick at first overall.” - Sam McGilligan

“It's funny with Wright because it seems like he is taking a lot of criticism in his draft year much as Tavares did back in the day. It's like they are looking for issues but I'm not totally sure they aren't valid concerns to an extent either. I don't think many of us expected to be talking about Wright being fifth on the Frontenacs in scoring as the new year rolled in, especially with goaltending being so poor in the league this season. Prior to the year, some had him pegged for 150 points which actually seemed pretty legit at the time. My personal take is that Wright and everyone else know he can score and he is spending this year refining his game defensively so he is really ready to play in the NHL next season without the puck; even more so than the scouts already said he would be ready. He's still hands down a slam dunk first overall pick for me and he could be very impactful next year in the NHL if the offense isn't there because of his defensive game.” - Matt Young

“The clear-cut number one player in this draft despite his struggles, Wright plays a smart two-way game that has drawn Patrice Bergeron comparisons. While those are lofty expectations, the Frontenacs center does show a great deal on both sides of the puck and he has a tendency to find himself on the scoresheet despite not always flashing that upper echelon flair that is traditionally associated with players as well regarded as Wright. He has a very good shot and solid distribution abilities so he shouldn’t be pigeonholed at the next level, making him a dual-threat, two-way center.” - Tony Ferrari

2. Ty Nelson - Defense - North Bay Battalion

Total Votes: 13

Highest Ranking: 2nd (8x)

Lowest Ranking: 7th (1x)


“Nelson may be a little bit undersized, but he certainly has enough strength to make up for it. Above 190 lbs already, Nelson is a fiery player on the ice anytime he steps on. Third on my OHL list, and last one within the first round, Nelson has quite the offensive toolkit. A great skater, Nelson reads developing offensive plays quickly, and is able to use his judgment to make the right play happen. In the future, I would like Nelson to show more stick-work defensively to stop oncoming plays. His physicality is there and he positions himself nicely, but his defensive stick could be better.” - Gavin Chiasson

“I’ll begin by saying this isn’t negative – but it’s something all young defencemen need to work on and Nelson isn’t any different. While he has shown that he can defend at this level and probably the next, he needs to work on reading the play around him. He has a tendency to take himself out of the play, at times and if you can get to him quick enough on the forecheck, you can cause a turnover. But he has the ability to beat that forecheck with his feet or his stick, he just needs to make quicker reads. As a powerplay quarterback, probably the best in this class. He’s just dynamite at the opposition's blueline, keeping his feet moving to open lanes, using his vision and passing abilities to make plays.” - Dominic Tiano

“It seems opinions on Nelson are quite varied, and I can see why. I’m more bullish on Nelson, as he sits in a tier stretching from 13 to 27 on my list, and he currently holds the top spot there. I love defenders who play like him. Players who are fearless going into defensive scenarios even if they may lack vertical size. Defenders who are confident and creative with the puck, capable of carrying and passing with both flair and execution ability. Nelson’s lateral agility and ability to reliably close off defensive rushes is certainly a work in progress, and size obviously is something worth noting, but I think the pros outweigh the cons, especially considering where Nelson could be with a few years of development.” - Will Scouch

"Ty Nelson is the defenseman that a few years down the road you will see fans raving over and over about his breakout passing ability. He constantly connects on lengthy stretch passes and cross ice feeds that help key up an offensive rush. The North Bay Battalion defender toes the line extremely well and relies on quality crossovers to propel him. His ability to shift east and west along the blue line at a quick rate allows him to be a dependable puck distributor from the point. In the defensive zone, Nelson parks himself in the slot and utilizes an active stick to eliminate passing lanes. He extends his stick blade out towards his opponent's stick blade and that makes it much harder for the attacker to trap possession of a puck off of a pass." - Josh Tessler

“Nelson has really grown on me over the course of the season. He has really cleaned up his decision making with the puck. While he’s most definitely a high risk/high reward kind of offensive player, he is learning to pick his spots better and is starting to limit his turnovers, especially in the defensive and neutral zones. Nelson has improved his effectiveness and poise in the defensive end. He’s never been shy to impose his physical will, however he is picking his spots better and is chasing the play a lot less in the defensive zone. Obviously, his skill as a powerplay QB is also significant. I guess the one concern I have is his ability to defend transitional attacks. He loves to be aggressive in stepping up early, which is great in certain situations. However, his backwards and lateral mobility, in particular his ability to blend them to maintain gaps, is not as good as you would like to see in a smaller defender, given that he does not have that long stick to disrupt attackers. He gets caught flat footed way too often by forwards attacking with speed. He’s an extremely stable and balanced skater, terrific on his edges, but that slightly bow-legged stride does cause some inconsistencies in his stride length and power too. How much that can be improved and how much it affects his game at the next level remains to be seen. However, I do think that scouts should be impressed with the quick adjustments that he’s already made to his game in only a few months.” - Brock Otten

“The OHL's 2020 first overall pick has quickly become one of my personal favourites in the entire 2022 draft class, regardless of region. His stature (or lack of it) has some scouts understandably low on him, and I get it to an extent, but not only do I believe Nelson is an exception to the "short defenceman struggle in the NHL" rule, I think he is one of the most projectable top 4 defenceman in the class. He may be on the smaller side of things, but he's strong and stocky, particularly in the legs and lower back. His low center of gravity allows him to make plays through contact against bigger players that you wouldn't expect from a 5'10 defenceman. Yes, there are going to be some players in the NHL who are likely to simply overpower Nelson in specific small area situations, but part of scouting is understanding a players biggest weaknesses and seeing if they have the means to mitigate those weaknesses. I think Nelson can overcome this problem, as his off-puck defence typically looks fantastic in the defensive zone. He's constantly ahead of the play, preemptively shutting down lanes with the right positioning of his body and stick. He's poised under pressure, comfortable drawing in players and dishing it out into the space they've left behind. He knows when to maintain a defensive foothold on the blue line and when to activate deep into the OZ. He's not the most dynamic skater in the world, and that is troubling given his size as he currently wouldn't be able to escape pressure with regularity in the NHL, but every prospect needs development in some ways. Nelson's flaws are some of the easier ones to fix, his strengths are some of the hardest to develop in other players, and the projectability of his game is matched by maybe 2-3 other defenceman in this class.” - Sam McGilligan


3. Pavel Mintyukov - Defense - Saginaw Spirit

Total Votes: 13

Highest Ranking: 2nd (5x)

Lowest Ranking: 7th (2x)


“Mintyukov is a mobile two-way defender who will continue to garner more attention as the season goes on. What impresses me the most about him is how he defends the rush. He keeps a tight gap on opponents thanks to his skating ability and uses his long reach to cause turnovers. As the season has gone on, he has shown more confidence in carrying the puck as well. He has shown a willingness to attack open space in transition and put the puck in high danger areas for his teammates. If Mintyukov hits his potential, he could become a top pairing defenseman at the next level.” - Mat Sheridan

“What impresses me the most about Mintyukov is how quickly he processes the game and makes the right decisions, especially on the defensive side of the puck. Plus he's got offense, which never hurts.” - Ryan Kennedy

“Sometimes there’s nothing like cowboy hockey, especially when the players who play that style are absolutely hilariously talented when doing so. Mintyukov is a player who has had some of the most ridiculous skill plays I’ve seen from a defender this season in one moment, and some of the most baffling defensive lapses I’ve seen as well. He’s got strength, he uses it, and he’s got skill, and he uses that too. He could easily end up in my 1st round by year’s end as he’s just barely outside it at the moment. There are legitimately worrying lapses that I’ve caught, but the upside is definitely there. He’s a tier down from Nelson for me, but further improvement over the year and we definitely could see that change.” - Will Scouch

“If you follow me on twitter, you know how big of a fan I am of Mintyukov. He’s a legitimate lottery candidate for me and the clear #2 behind Shane Wright from the OHL. I continue to be amazed with his progression and ability to dominate at both ends of the ice. Is his defensive decision making inconsistent? Yeah, there are certainly some lapses. But, overall, he shows great potential as a two-way force because of his combination of mobility, skill, and poise. His confidence with the puck has grown considerably since the start of the year and he has shifts where he just flat out dominates possession in the offensive zone…as a defender. When I look at the crop of defenders available this year inside the first round, I see a lot of “safer, high IQ” types. I don’t see a lot with the upside that I believe Mintyukov possesses.” - Brock Otten

“Make no mistake, there is a lot of work that needs to be done here, but Pavel Mintyukov is fascinating to watch. This is not a “safe” player to draft -- his positioning can be suspect, his effort can be questioned and his decision making, both on and off the puck, can be downright confusing. Yet, I am higher on Mintyukov than the safer OHL options like Ludwinski and Goyette because of his rare ability to attack open space. Pavel has all the means required to escape small area engagements into open space while keeping possession: skill, manipulation and shiftiness. He’s aggressive with the puck, tempting opponents to challenge him in tight in order to slip into the space they leave behind. It’s an extremely valuable skill to have, and one that he could potentially build an NHL career on. It’s one that I’d bet on a lot earlier than some. Unfortunately, Mintyukov has a big problem forcing these types of plays when it doesn’t make sense to do so. There are quite a few examples of Pavel turning down viable passes in order to attempt plays with a higher risk/reward ratio. There are also long periods where Mintyukov seems disassociated from the game, as if he’s watching from afar. As an individual talent, Mintyukov is extremely enticing and worth a gamble earlier in the draft if you’re looking for a potential high end defenceman, but there is going to be a lot of development required in order to maximize his teammates around him at the NHL level.” - Sam McGilligan

4. Matthew Poitras - Center - Guelph Storm

Total Votes: 12

Highest Ranking: 3rd (2x)

Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (1x)


“Poitras has had a successful start to his rookie season, currently with the fourth most points on the Storm, despite only playing an average of 16:45 and spending the majority of his time on their third line. He plays an aggressive brand of hockey, hard on pucks, consistently out-battling opponents, and going to the dirty areas. Poitras has both great vision and an effective shot that he has put on display many times to generate high-scoring chances. He needs to clean up some things in the defensive zone and add more speed to become more complete, but he's showing that he’s a candidate for the first round.” - Dylan Krill

"When Poitras is working the cycle and has an attacker on him, he does a good job with puck control. Manages to extend the puck further out and away from the attacker. Not only does he extend the puck out to hold onto the puck, but it also allows him to separate himself enough from the attacker to wire backhand passes to an open teammate. In addition, Matthew Poitras enjoys cutting to the net with the puck and attempting to manipulate / pull the goaltender in one direction. He does a great job of pouncing on the net and keeping the goaltender on their feet, but Poitras struggles with luring / cradling the puck around to force the goaltender to open up a gap. If Poitras can work on puck manipulation, he will be annoying to deal with." - Josh Tessler

“I saw Poitras in the preseason and he immediately stood out in both games I saw him in, however I always put little stock in the preseason after all Jonah De Simone led the OHL in preseason scoring once. The thing is that Poitras has carried over into the regular season, leading Guelph in plus/minus as a rookie at the Christmas break. He has slowed down offensively a bit after posting 14 points in his first 16 OHL games, but that does not concern me as his skating is solid and he is a really consistent hard-working player. You know what you are going to get on a regular basis from Poitras and his game will continue to grow as this season marches on, should COVID allow it to march on. At the next level, I see a top-nine player that will be a fan favorite because of his work ethic.” - Matt Young

“A high-energy player who displays some interesting puck skills from time to time. He has a bit of rounding out to do in his overall game but he also has the ability to wow fans and analysts alike. He has produced at a decent clip in the OHL to this point but the question comes to what his role at the next level will be. Could he be a top-six winger who works hard and chips in offensively or is he destined for a bottom-six energy role.” - Tony Ferrari

“Poitras is really smart in the way he sees the game. His ability to read the play and break up opponents’ scoring chances is one aspect of his game that stands out. He also shows a lot of confidence with the puck and has been an important producer for the Storm this season. I think he has to continue to build upon his strength especially as he moves to pro where being hard to knock off the puck is important. Poitras has the chance to be a solid middle six center at the NHL level.” - Mat Sheridan

5. Danny Zhilkin - Center - Guelph Storm

Total Votes: 12

Highest Ranking: 3rd (3x)

Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (1x)


“Every line requires a player that can drive the play and for the Guelph Storm Zhilkin is a driver. The knock on Zhilkin is that he lacks hockey IQ. Honestly, I need to see more before I come to that conclusion because, Zhilkin is solid defensively, knows where to be on the ice and is capable of breaking up plays – to me anyway, that doesn’t show a lock of IQ, just the opposite. But someone smarter than me has to tell me why that isn’t translating offensively, because Like Haight earlier, I expected more in the O-Zone. I think the talent is there to be in my top-10, now he just has to go out and prove it.” - Dominic Tiano

“I have a hard time believing that Zhilkin won’t keep getting better and better as time goes on. I went into tracking him expecting to be underwhelmed, and while I don’t have him as a 1st rounder quite yet, he’s knocking on that door often. His pace through the neutral zone, the skill he uses to beat opponents one on one or manipulate his way around pressure, and his ability to create offensively is hard to ignore. My limited data on him looked so remarkable that it’s bound to regress, but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen and hope for better production in the future.” - Will Scouch

"Danny Zhilkin shines in the neutral zone and when not facing difficult pressure, you can expect him to cut through zone-to-zone with ease. In the offensive zone, he will find open ice along the perimeter and outside the slot in hopes of capturing rebounds or netting one-timers. He has a bit of a nonchalant approach with his defensive game in both the defensive zone and neutral zone that needs to improve over time." - Josh Tessler

“To a certain extent, I do think that there is a safeness to Zhilkin’s projection as an NHL player. He plays with NHL level pace. He has developed into a very competent three zone player. He has the skill to create plays in tight spaces and consistently finds his way to the net through traffic. That said, I still don’t know if he possesses the kind of vision and playmaking ability that you need to have to be a top six forward at the NHL level. He skates himself into trouble when passing lanes are available to him and his impressive rushes can often look great or track great, but they are superficial in the sense that they don’t result in a significant scoring chance or prolonged possession. And…he is a little older and has more experience than other players available this year.” - Brock Otten

“One of the best players at using his tools to their fullest extent in the draft class, Zhilkin does a great job of getting the puck up ice in transition and then finding pockets of space to work his offensive game. He has some decent hands and can show the occasional ‘wow play’ from time to time but his biggest value comes as a transporter. The Storm defender needs to work on his passing a bit as he seems to lack touch at times. As a transitional player who works hard on the forecheck and has a good shot, Zhilkin should translate to a middle-six role in the NHl fairly safely.” - Tony Ferrari

6. Paul Ludwinski - Center - Kingston Frontenacs

Total Votes: 11

Highest Ranking: 3rd (1x)

Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (2x)


“Ludwinski has been one of my favourite OHL players to watch this past season. His ability to create offensive pressure using his speed has left me impressed. He has great vision in the offensive zone, finding teammates through sticks and he battles hard to create turnovers behind the net. He is strong defensively as well, making quick reads to close off passing lanes and transitioning with the puck up the ice with pace. Looks like he could be a solid playmaking centre at the NHL level.” - Mat Sheridan

“One of my favourite players from the 2020 OHL Draft Class, Ludwinski has an absolute motor on him. Although the 2020 OHL Draft was weak, Ludwinski immediately stood out to me as a top 5 pick. Though he missed last year due to COVID, Ludwinski has looked well in my viewings so far this season and is shaping up to be a top 40 pick. It isn’t just his hustle either, he has tremendous hockey IQ and has made plays happen quicker and quicker throughout the year. Expect Ludwinski to improve quickly into his development throughout the next few years as well.” - Gavin Chiasson

“Ludwinski's a firebug who plays this energizing game that buzzes from one spot on the ice to the next. He's going to need to slow his mind down and play a little less erratic, because he's not always as effective as he is noticeable, but he's got enough skill that he might figure it out as he progresses.” - Anonymous

“A smart and calculated center who brings a lot to the defensive side of the game. Ludwinski plays well off his teammates, using his tools to accentuate theirs. He isn’t a game-breaker by any means but he has the requisite skill to play with higher-end talent. The Frontenacs “other” draft eligible center has had a solid season in the OHL but his offensive production has slowed down a bit as of recently. There will assuredly be scouts who value the style of meat-and-potatoes game that Ludwinski plays.” - Tony Ferrari

"Ludwinski was my favourite player available for the 2020 OHL Priority Selection. Loved his ability to control pace in all three zones for the Marlboros as a U16 player. However, upon entering the OHL, I've had a difficult time ascertaining his NHL potential. Part of that could be an ever changing role with the Frontenacs. Part of that could be him still shaking off the rust of a lost 18 months. But part of it could be simply that he's not a top six forward at the next level. I love his energy. His two-way awareness and effectiveness has transitioned seamlessly. However, I'm just not certain he has the hands, vision, and touch to be a big time point producer. Is he going to be more than a Brad Richardson type? Coming into the season I felt like Ludwinski was the guy I had the best handle on of all the rookie, draft eligibles. But it's been the opposite. He's the one that I am least confident in my assessment of." - Brock Otten

7. David Goyette - Center - Sudbury Wolves

Total Votes: 9

Highest Ranking: 3rd (1x)

Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (4x)


“Goyette is one of the best skaters in the OHL. His ability to use his edges to escape pressure is impressive. One thing I would like to see him improve on is his decision making. He is not afraid to drive into open space but he sometimes skates into trouble and loses the puck. Improving on that and his strength will help him in the long run as I do believe he has the potential to be a versatile middle six forward.” - Mat Sheridan

“When he’s at his best, Goyette is using his explosive speed to separate himself from opponents and create offensive zone entries consistently. He has displayed his impressive hands many times and shown he has the ability to beat defenders one on one and use deception to remain unpredictable. Goyette has a high offensive ceiling, but to reach his full potential he must become more consistent with his play.” - Dylan Krill

“Goyette's a beautiful, effortless skater who has this way of floating around the ice making plays over his light, almost airy blades. He's got another level to find still but there are some real playmaking tools to his game and he is, for my money, the most underrated draft-eligible player in the OHL (at least for now).” - Anonymous

“Honestly one of the “slipperiest” players out there this year. He reads pressure so well and manages passing lanes with skill and precision very well. Goyette drives tremendous offensive potential in limited 5v5 minutes in my viewings, and while he’s a little on the smaller side, his play up the middle seems like it could glue a line together with his ability to manage and transport the puck. He’s a player that gets in the way of opposing transitions and certainly isn’t stopping anyone in his tracks, but I’d much rather a player make an attempt to turn play around quickly than to keep the foot off the gas pedal and allow easy entries at the junior level. I’m not sure how much higher he’ll end up for me by the end of the year than an early 2nd round pick, but he’s a rock solid intelligence-first pivot that I’ve really been surprised by relative to my viewings last year.” - Will Scouch

“Goyette has been a pleasant joy to watch this year. There isn’t a whole lot of upside with this player, but there’s a reliable, projectable player here. He plays mostly an up-down/north-south style game in between the hashmarks, tracking pucks down and running tight support routes, and he combines it with simple, yet effective puck distribution. Goyette won’t often wow you with high-end stick handling or a net-shattering shot, but watch him long enough to pick up on the patterns within his movement and decision making and you’ll see a practical, two-way center that coaches will love as he continues to climb the pro hockey ladder.” - Sam McGilligan

8. Owen Beck - Center - Mississauga Steelheads

Total Votes: 9

Highest Ranking: 4th (3x)

Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (4x)


“Beck could be ranked higher on this list, but I still need to watch him more. Out of all the OHL talent this year, Beck seems to be somebody who has one of the best shots at making an NHL lineup. My biggest question so far is ‘how far up the lineup?’, good two way ability, good with his stick, high IQ and compete level are sure to drive him up some ranking as well.” - Gavin Chiasson

“Like I said with Mintyukov, if you follow me on social media or read my work at McKeen’s, you know how much I love Beck. He has been an incredible surprise this year for the Steelheads, who have been way better as a team than some thought they would be (like myself). His skill set is extremely translatable to the next level. Not only is he one of the best skaters available this year, but he shows an ability to make plays with pace. Even though he’s flying, the game seems to slow down for him internally. I compare him to some other high end skaters we’ve seen come through the OHL in recent years like Liam Foudy, Michael McLeod, Alex Formenton, etc and he sees the ice so much better than they did as 17 year olds (and probably as 20 year olds). As he gains confidence, we’re seeing that his offensive tool kit is extremely well rounded. I guess the question I still have is…does he have top six NHL upside? I’m honestly not quite sure yet. But I’d be willing to use a late first round pick on him to find out.” - Brock Otten

“One of the top producing OHLers eligible for the NHL Draft, Beck has the scouting community divided. Some think that his goal-scoring ability is good enough to help carry him with his size and relatively decent skill, but others have concerns as to whether he is able to create for himself. He shows a tendency to be a passenger at times and while there is a place for that at the NHL level, it’s not as easy as being a good shooter with decent hands.” - Tony Ferrari

“Beck has been very impressive in his rookie year, currently third on his team in points with 11 goals and 24 points in 27 games. There’s no doubt that Beck’s best asset is his explosive skating, but he’s also been able to showcase his great vision and scoring ability many times as well. The special thing about Beck is that he’s already a very good prospect, but he has a lot of room to grow and the potential is high with him. If he continues to improve his skating and ability to play at high-pace, he’ll be a very attractive target for many teams at the draft, possibly in the first round.” - Dylan Krill

9. Luca DelBelBelluz - Center - Mississauga Steelheads

Total Votes: 9

Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)

Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (4x)


“I don’t know where everyone else is going to rank Del Bel Belluz, but I have been super impressed. He’s got size, vision and terrific playmaking abilities and he plays down the middle, centering Mississauga’s top line. He is a technically sound skater although he doesn’t use the strength in his legs to create more power in his strides. I think it’s a fixable issue as he moves up the ladder and gets more coaching. He’s also not afraid to go to the net with or without the puck. His vision is very good and it supplements his playmaking skills. His shot is good although I would like to see more power behind it. He has a couple of different release points he uses that can catch opponents by surprise.” - Dominic Tiano

“Maybe I'm a bit higher than most on DelBelBelluz but when I watch his two-way game, I see a player a lot of NHL teams would love to have. He's been particularly effective against Shane Wright this year.” - Ryan Kennedy

“While I do prefer Owen Beck as a Steelheads prospect, it’s hard not to be impressed by what DelBelBelluz has done this year. Easily one of the most improved 2003’s in the league, including many players who are already drafted (DelBelBelluz is a late born ‘03). His game has evolved so much since his time with the Toronto Jr. Red Wings (where he lost an OHL Cup Final to Shane Wright and Don Mills). He has always been a skilled player with the puck and a terrific play creator in the offensive zone, but his ability to protect the puck and his attention to detail in the defensive end has improved considerably. He might be one of the OHL’s elite two-way centers. He’s outside my Top 10 right now though because I do have concerns over his skating ability. So much of Luca’s ability to create is reliant on his ability to create in transition and lead the attack, but without improving his explosiveness and stride, that will be difficult for him moving forward to the pro level. Obviously that is not impossible, but it does make him more of a 50-75 candidate for me, rather than a Top 50 guy.” - Brock Otten

“The man with the best name in the OHL has been everything and more the Steelheads could have hoped for this season. Another late birthday in the draft, Del Bel Belluz recorded 15 points through the first 13 games. Unlike the others on this list who have seen their production dip as the season has gone on, Luca has continued to improve with 20 points in his next 14 games. While he still struggles in the faceoff circle, winning less than half his draws, Del Bel Belluz came into the league and you could instantly see his skill, but his positioning this season has allowed for him to be in better position to create opportunities at the end of the ice. He has good size and might just be the most improved player in the OHL this season. Good puck carrier and if you have him in your bottom six as a pro, he's going to contribute quality minutes but he does not scream top six to me at all despite the improvement this year.” - Matt Young

“Del Bel Belluz has been one of the more surprising players to pop up in the draft conversation in the OHL, showing a bunch of really interesting tools including a nice combination of speed and strength. He cuts to the middle quite a bit which bodes well for production. The Steelheads forward can be a bit predictable at times which holds him back but if he can diversify his attack patterns, there could be a very interesting prospect here.” - Tony Ferrari

10. Bryce McConnell-Barker - Center/Wing - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Total Votes: 8

Highest Ranking: 5th (3x)

Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (5x)


“I probably have McConnell- Barker too low, and it’s probably because I had to get Gazizov in there. My issue is that I don’t know if BMB is better suited to play down the middle or on the wing as coach Dean uses him in both positions. I think I prefer him on the wing where he can use his skating to drive to the net or get in on the forecheck where he does some excellent work. But he needs to find some consistency. He can be a solid two-way pivot – there’s still things he has to learn – but I fully admit I have not seen enough of him centering a line to definitively say he should play down the middle.” - Dominic Tiano

"Bryce McConnell-Barker plays a rather gritty and physical game in the corners on both the forecheck and the backcheck. When defending the rush, he keeps solid pace with attackers to cut them off after they retrieve the puck in his own zone. His speed and acceleration require further development and so he will struggle to out beat his attacker, but he manages to net enough speed to cut the attacker off and trap him in the corner. In the offensive zone, McConnell-Barker has flashes in which he can shift around defenders, cut in and fire shots from range. But, he struggles with consistency. One shift, he will manage to wind-mill around an attacker and the next shift he will get stuck when cradling the puck. With his shot, it still needs more refinement especially when you look at how far he positions the puck from his body. If he can work on his reach, puck placement and skating, there is potential for him to be an effective top nine forward at the next level." - Josh Tessler

“I think the hardest part of evaluating BMB thus far is trying to identify just how much skill and creativity he possesses. Right now, he’s a pretty linear attacker in the OHL. He keeps things simple. He works hard away from the puck and projects as a high end defensive forward because of his quickness and awareness. He definitely has a high end shot and release. He occasionally makes some terrific plays in transition to create time and space for himself. But, generally, he has not quite shown the ability to dominate shifts yet. Part of that could be the fact that he’s playing a lesser role on a veteran team. Part of that could be the fact that he’s shifted between the wing and center in his first few months in the OHL. Part of that could be a lack of strength and conditioning early on in his career. Anyway you slice it, scouts are having a tough time trying to get a read on BMB’s potential.” - Brock Otten

“18 points in his first 27 OHL games while not having to carry a load like a lot of other draft-eligible players have been expected to this season makes McConnell-Barker's season more impressive in my eyes. Sure he isn't getting the top defensive matchups but he's playing an important role on a good Sault Ste. Marie team. He is a good skater, works hard and can score at even strength given eight of his 11 goals have come at even strength. I like him a lot and I can't help but wonder how he could do with a bigger role this year on a less competitive team.” - Matt Young

Honorable Mentions:

Hunter Haight - Center - Barrie Colts

Total Votes: 5

Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)


“At full speed, Haight is very dangerous. A skilled skater, he loves to push the pace and use his mobility to drive past defenders. He plays a great east-west game where he has the ability to find teammates in high danger areas. He’s solid defensively as well. He makes quick reads and is able to break up plays in the defensive zone. A common trait amongst OHL draft eligible players, Haight needs to continue to get bigger and stronger in order to fully maximize his potential at the next level.” - Mat Sheridan

“It needs to be remembered that many of these kids did not have a rookie season, so their point totals may be lower than normal. Haight is one of those players. While he has only put up 11 points in 18 games so far this season, Haight is a ton of fun to watch. In a sense, he reminds me of Cole Perfetti with how he plays the neutral zone, how he enters the offensive zone, and his use of the boards to make a play. Haight is speedy and offers an above-average shot as well. He’s certainly a name that if picked later than 50, teams may regret within just one year.” - Gavin Chiasson

Ruslan Gazizov - Wing - London Knights

Total Votes: 3

Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)


“It is often said you can’t base an opinion of a prospect on just one tournament. Gazizov had a superb Hlinka-Gretzky Cup but the fact is that the things he showcased in that tournament are very evident in his play so far with the Knights. His stickhandling may be the best in the class and he can weave through traffic with ease, even in tight. It’s like he has the puck on a string and if he wants to keep it, no one is taking it away. He is a superb playmaker with the vision to go along with it. He makes his teammates better. Offensively, his game is top notch, but the rest of his game needs some work. I may be putting him this high too early. But I like what I have seen.” - Dominic Tiano

“He's a very skilled, intelligent playmaker who competes well but he's undersized and lacks ideal speed for his size.” - Anonymous

“His skill has come as advertised to the OHL. He looks extremely comfortable running the point on the powerplay and can stickhandle in a phone booth to evade applied pressure. His vision with the puck and anticipation in the offensive end are high end. However, I think that his play away from the puck has been a bit of a disappointment. Watching him internationally, Gazizov was a pest at both ends of the ice and someone who was very engaged physically. We have not seen that yet in the OHL consistently. Additionally, given his lack of elite size, I think his quickness is a little underwhelming. No question he is going to need to add more power to his stride. His agility and ability to maintain possession through pivots and cuts is impressive. If he could become a little quicker, we would see him be in a position to take advantage of his offensive gifts a little more consistently. The upside here is significant, though.” - Brock Otten

Pano Fimis - Center - Niagara IceDogs

Total Votes: 3

Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)


“I'm projecting a bit here because Fimis' numbers haven't been eye-popping, but I see the upside in his creative offensive game and he's got the great pedigree.” - Ryan Kennedy

“"Pano Fimis has excellent positioning in his own zone. Goes down low and patrols the red line. He can be rather aggressive behind his net, which is intriguing given his smaller frame. When in control of the puck, Fimis has proven that he can execute will-timed and well placed passes. He has an affinity for backhand lengthier feeds and that has led to a few Niagara goals this season. From a shooting perspective, Fimis loves draining one-timers and gets plenty of power in his shot thanks to his weight transfer. Ideally, I would like to see him stronger at trapping possession for pucks off of passes and work on wrapping around defenders on his way to the slot." - Josh Tessler

“Fimis is a kid who has a desirable skill-effort combination that has endeared him to the staff in Niagara, where he has been sneaky-productive on a team without much of a supporting cast up front. I like him as a mid-round pick. He’s going to be a dominant OHL player within a year or two.” - Anonymous

Gavin Hayes - Wing - Flint Firebirds

Total Votes: 3

Highest Ranking: 7th (2x)


“After being misused at the start of the season, Hayes has now found an appropriate role and has been great ever since. Driving play to the slot, displaying his quick hands and vision to create plays through traffic and effectively using his impressive shot for high scoring chances. Hayes has been strong defensively, applying great pressure on opponents and being a physical presence. Hayes is playing with great confidence right now and I don’t expect him to slow down.” - Dylan Krill

“Hayes is starting to heat up now that he is seeing more consistent ice time. Hayes impressed me with his Hlinka play, and with all 13 points coming from his last 10 games, it is clear that he’s here to stay. Hayes is towards the bottom of my list now due to the slow start, but should be able to rapidly climb if he continues to do well. Great speed, good puck control and sees lanes very easily in OHL action.” - Gavin Chiasson

“I came into the year extremely high on Hayes. I loved his play heading into his OHL draft year and I thought he was terrific at the Hlinka/Gretzky. Obviously he found himself on the fourth line to start the year and his numbers suffered as a result. As he has moved up and earned powerplay time, the production has increased. Big surprise right? Yet…I find himself still more down on him than previously. I think the biggest thing for me is the disappearance of his physical approach. His tenaciousness and aggressiveness was a part of his game that I really liked previously, especially when you combined it with his finishing ability and attacking tendencies. There were a lot of similarities between him and teammate Brennan Othmann. However, through his hot streak, he has become more of a standard triggerman. Obviously, he has chosen to focus more on the offensive side of things to get him through his slump, as balancing physicality and play creation with the puck is difficult for young forwards (from a conditioning perspective especially). However, I think it has made him less noticeable on a shift by shift basis. Which Gavin Hayes is the real one, is basically what I am wondering. That’s the difference for me between him being a first round candidate and a 50-75 guy.” - Brock Otten

“A big winger who has impressive hands and a high work ethic. He was stuck at the bottom of the lineup in the first bit of the season but has come on recently as he’s been given more of a prominent role. Hayes shows a ton of potential and could be one of the biggest second-half risers of the entire OHL group.” - Tony Ferrari

Matyas Sapovaliv - Center - Saginaw Spirit

Total Votes: 2

Highest Ranking: 5th (2x)


“Big center with legit skill who can make a lot of plays. He's not a blazer but I've seen worse feet on guys his size.” - Anonymous

“For me, Sapovaliv is a borderline first round talent right now. For a 6’3 center, his mobility is impressive. Having watched some of his play previously, I also think that his quickness and ability to alter pace and direction has improved greatly to become a strength. This makes one wonder how much further it could improve. Sapovaliv’s ability to protect the puck deep in the offensive zone through turns, pivots, and cuts, is very Quinton Byfield like. As he fills out his frame and becomes a little stronger, he could be a very difficult player to stop. I also really like Sapovaliv’s defensive awareness. He uses his mobility and long stick to be a very disruptive force in the defensive end. If he could up his physical intensity level, he could be a very hard guy to match up against. At the end of the day, I think this is a young man who is just scratching the surface of his potential as a two-way center.” - Brock Otten

Vinzenz Rohrer - Center/Wing - Ottawa 67’s

Total Votes: 2

Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)


“Rohrer has been a huge addition to the 67’s already, being a go-to guy on most nights. Despite being 6 days away from being eligible for next year's draft, he’s second in points on his team and is relied upon heavily, being effective on both special teams. His vision, shot and skating are most impressive, but his competitiveness and defensive awareness is also very good. There’s a lot of room to grow and develop, but the potential is high with Rohrer.” - Dylan Krill

“One of the most pleasant surprises of the year, Rohrer is a tenacious and talented player who goes to the dirty scoring areas and gets rewarded.” - Ryan Kennedy

Spencer Sova - Defense - Erie Otters

Total Votes: 2

Highest Ranking: 10th (2x)


“Staying in the U.S. for my last pick, I’ve chosen Spencer Sova. Sova has a pretty big range of where he can be picked in this draft, he impressed me with his offensive abilities and two-way game. I find Sova to be somewhat inconsistent in his decision making, but I still think highly of him heading into the NHL Draft this year.” - Gavin Chiasson

“Great skater, has good hands, there is a lot of potential in his game but he hasn't had the season many scouts hoped he would.” - Anonymous

Beau Jelsma - Center/Wing - Barrie Colts

Total Votes: 1

Highest Ranking: 10th (1x)


“I threw Beau Jelsma in here, simply because I just really think that a few developments could unlock a hell of a player. Jelsma and new teammate Roenick Jodoin are pure speed, pure fun, but lack the ability to combine that aspect with areas that lead to production. Jelsma often retrieves pucks, only to lose them because well, playing that quick and maintaining strong puck control is really hard and I don’t think it’s quite there. As a late round swing I’m definitely interested, but I see more projectable tenacity and defensive play from Jelsma than some of the prominent OHLers I’ve left off like Haight, Fimis, Sapovaliv and McConnell-Barker.” - Will Scouch

Friday, November 12, 2021

Preliminary Top 50 for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft

It's time for my first official ranking for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. I say official because I release a preseason ranking in the summer (which can be found here). 
The OHL is finally back and man is it awesome.  That said, it's important to limit overreactions to hot or cold starts. Some of those currently disappointing, will most definitely pick up their play. And some of those off to blazing starts won't be able to hold that production. This is especially true considering the division heavy approach the league took to start the year as a precaution. With the schedule opening up more starting this week, we should get a better idea of where players (and teams) are at. At the end of the day, it is a cool exercise to go back and look at my first list of the season.

The list includes detailed reports on the Top 30 and small snippets on the other 20 that make up the Top 50. 

The strength of this draft crop from the OHL is obviously difficult to truly assess right now. Other than Shane Wright, we're looking at a group of players in their rookie seasons, going through the ups and downs of playing their first OHL year against players who have pro level experience and European league experience (after last year's cancellation and exodus). Right now, I'd probably only grade two OHL players as true first round players (Wright and Poitras), which is similar to what NHL Central Scouting currently has. Will it stay that way? No chance. But I want to see more from a lot of players and I want to see some others sustain their hot starts. That said, I see a lot of people on social media stating how bad this OHL draft crop is. I also don't believe that. I think what people need to remember is that these guys (again minus Wright) are playing their first dozen games above the AAA level. There are going to be bumps in the road. Of course players in other leagues are looking more polished right now.
It's also important to note (for those that aren't familiar with my lists), that I don't include 2nd and 3rd year eligible players on the list (like Peterborough's Tucker Robertson or North Bay's Kyle Jackson). I do a year end list for those players and there are bound to be many of them this draft year.

Without further ado, here's my early season top 50.
1. Shane Wright - Center - Kingston Frontenacs
A lot has been made about his slow start...even if he just captured the league's player of the week. Were we unfair to hype Wright as the preseason favourite for the Red Tilson Trophy? I don't think so. So the fact that he's not Top 10 in league scoring currently is a surprise and is underwhelming. To me, he looks a little hesitant out there. I think that line (with Chromiak) is really missing a physical, high energy player in Zayde Wisdom who can open space and back down defenders. I also think that Kingston's lack of a true top notch offensive defender is hurting the production of all the forwards on the roster (especially on the powerplay where they are routinely using five forwards on the top unit). Does this " above average" start concern me or change my perception of Wright? Not one bit. He's still one of the most intelligent and most complete players that I've seen come through the OHL. His attention to detail is something that can only truly be admired through live viewings, as you see how strong his positioning and anticipation is away from the puck. He's not a Connor McDavid kind of player who will bring fans out of their seats with electric one on one moves. He takes a much more subtle approach. The comparisons to the likes of Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews types are apt. I have faith that when all is said and done, Wright will be top 5 in league scoring.

2. Matthew Poitras - Center - Guelph Storm
I can't say enough good things about this strong potential two-way center based on his terrific start to the season. There are a few guys that I'm concerned won't be able to sustain their hot starts. Poitras is not one of them. He is really elevating the play of those around him and his performance this year has been remarkably consistent (in the offensive end), even if he's not hitting the scoresheet. He does pretty much everything at a high level and I think he thinks the game at a high level too. His play away from the puck has the potential to be a major strength as he improves his consistency in the defensive and neutral zones. He shows the ability to make terrific plays with his stick to force turnovers in the neutral and defensive zones. And with his quickness and vision, he can start the breakout quickly and turn things around for the Storm, flipping the script. It's just about finding the endurance and drive to be "on" at all times when he doesn't have the puck. I also have been very impressed with Poitras' ability to navigate traffic and work through it. There is certainly room for him to add strength to be more difficult to separate from the puck, but his edge work and ability to move East/West really creates space for himself and helps him shed defenders. When defenders lose him, he has a high level shot too. Again, I don't see a lot of weaknesses in his game (other than the two-way consistency part) and I think he projects as a high end second line center who can play in all situations as a pro.

3. Bryce McConnell-Barker - Center/Left Wing - Soo Greyhounds
While the consistency hasn't always been there this year so far, I'm still a big fan of BMB and his future NHL potential. I think he's done a pretty good job of adjusting to playing the wing, simplifying his approach to use his quickness to be a factor on the forecheck and to drive the net. He has shifted back and forth between center and the wing, but has shown the ability to lead the charge into the offensive zone with control in either instance. I'm really curious to see how he looks in the second half as right now I think he's still building up his confidence with the puck. There are instances where I wish he was more aggressive, peeling off or dumping in, even though he has a window. And I do think his shot is a major asset, but he needs to do a better job of moving his feet more consistently in the offensive zone to earn those looks, especially in the slot. At his highest potential, I do think McConnell-Barker can be a quick, goal scoring, two-way center who can play through an NHL team's middle of the lineup. At worst, his speed should still play as a potential Blake Coleman type on the wing as he learns to become a little more aggressive away from the puck. After a bit of a slow start, he's coming on strong of late.

4. Hunter Haight - Center - Barrie Colts
The production hasn't consistently been there as of yet (didn't I just start the previous write-up like that?), but Haight still has among the highest offensive potential of any player eligible from the OHL this year because of his speed and creativity combination. Haight's quickness is extremely evident when you watch him play. He loves to push the pace and has the hands to play with the puck at full speed already. I have been impressed (mostly) with Haight's ability to use his speed to breakup plays in the defensive zone too. Highly skilled players who show potential buy-in in the defensive end do not grow on trees. Offensively, Haight has all the tools. The shot is high end. He can keep the puck on a string to make defenders miss down low and prolong possession. The vision and playmaking ability is good. I think the lack of strength and size is the biggest issue right now with his game. There are times where he's getting bullied down low or near the net and just isn't able to finish plays or avoid turnovers. Against his peers at the U18 camp for Hockey Canada in the summer, he was able to dominate the high traffic areas with his skill, but that has been harder for him against bigger and older defenders to start the year. In a year where the OHL may not have a ton of high upside offensive players, Haight still stands out as a possible first rounder.

5. Ty Nelson - Defense - North Bay Battalion
There are times where Nelson looks like a young Ryan Ellis out there for the Battalion, controlling play in the offensive zone with his mobility and ability to get pucks through to the net. He absolutely loves to shoot the puck and he has a cannon. Physically, the two are very similar to each other; stocky and compact. Nelson is at his best when he is controlling the point on the powerplay as he identifies passing and shooting lanes well and always seems to keep his feet moving to help create gaps in coverage. He is aggressive in trying to slide down low to get himself a look from the slot and, as mentioned, the shot is a weapon. As far as defensive play and decision making, that's where things have been a little more inconsistent. He has had some really strong games at both ends. He has had some not so great performances. Nelson needs to do a better job of ID'ing those breakout lanes early in the defensive end. Whether that means an opportunity to escape with his feet or with a clean exit pass, it doesn't matter. However, forecheckers have given him a bit of a tough time and turnovers have been an issue. Physically, he always competes, but at times this over assertiveness takes him out of the play and leads to him running around the defensive zone. Yes, Nelson needs to play with fire because of his lack of stature. However, his mobility is something he needs to do a better job of utilizing as a defensive player, keeping tighter gaps rather than always trying to bully. He needs to keep himself more square to the play in the defensive end. He has a tendency to overcommit and put his back to the other side of the ice. Additionally, he has a habit of leaving his feet and sliding to try to make plays. There is a time and a place for that, of course, but other times he gets himself completely taken out of the play. All that said, Nelson is playing a huge role for one of the better teams in the Conference so far and he is one of the higher scoring defenders in the league right now. I guess my issue is that I'm still not sure what role he plays at the NHL level at five on five. We have lots of time to figure that out.

6. Pavel Mintyukov - Defense - Saginaw Spirit
Is this an aggressive ranking? Perhaps. But I have been incredibly impressed with this Russian rookie import. He was obviously supposed to play in the league last year but his November birthday makes him first time eligible this year. First thing that immediately jumps out at you about his game is his mobility. He might be the best skating defender on this list. His four way mobility and quickness is a major asset at both ends of the ice. He has proven to be nearly unbeatable in transition because of his ability to maintain strict gaps skating backwards and moving east/west. He's not overly physical, but he does not need to be with his skating ability and reach. He is unafraid of being aggressive defensively too, attacking early to squash plays in the neutral zone before they develop, again knowing that his quickness affords him the opportunity to be assertive. Offensively, he is capable of starting the breakout with his feet or with a strong exit pass and seems to be getting more comfortable and confident with the puck on his stick with each passing game. He looks particularly strong manning the point, where he can use his lateral quickness to open up shooting lanes. His point shot is very heavy and has the potential to be a real asset for him. Considering the long lay-off for him, I feel like we're only scratching the surface of his overall potential as a two-way defender. Curious to see how he plays now that the Spirit will start playing games outside of the US group.

7. Paul Ludwinski - Left Wing/Center - Kingston Frontenacs
A natural center, Ludwinski has seen time on the wing with Shane Wright and Martin Chromiak this year, although recently has shifted to playing a middle six center role as the focal point of his own line. Ludwinski was my favourite player of this OHL draft class a few years ago, but I don't think he has found that confidence with the puck yet. I think his vision is his best quality, particularly when he can use his speed to get possession behind the net or anywhere down low. I think Ludwinski is also already a strong defensive player and someone who does have the skill set to stick down the middle. As the season goes on, we just need to see him become more comfortable being that offensive leader with the puck on his stick to truly assess how high his ceiling is. There is lots to work with and I do think that his game will improve drastically by March/April.

8. Gavin Hayes - Right Wing - Flint Firebirds
I am honestly flummoxed at the way that Flint is utilizing Hayes so far this year. I figured that he would be a main fixture in their top six with significant powerplay time. Instead, he's floundering on the team's fourth line (or the press box). This is a talented young man who should be playing more. The great Tony Ferrari of THN pointed out that the Firebirds did use Brennan Othmann in a similar way early on, but it's still odd. I'm going to stay high on Hayes for now, even though we clearly need to see more from him. I've watched a few of his games this year and I don't think he is playing poorly. He is bringing the physical element that we expected him to. He is creating havoc on the forecheck and is finding success entering the zone with speed. At times, he is a little slow to react to the play, parked in the slot. And his defensive intensity has wavered. But he is an OHL rookie. I could say the same thing about many of those listed here. I still really like his combination of size, speed, physicality, and skill and I am keeping him here in the belief that he will turn things around at some point and force Flint to play him more.

9. Spencer Sova - Defense - Erie Otters
Sova is a highly mobile offensive defender whose defensive game has already improved from the start of the season. No question the highlight of his game is his ability to walk the line or lead the attack with lateral quickness and edgework reminiscent of a recent former Otter (Drysdale). However, he is becoming an aggressive stick on puck defender who is stepping up early on attackers at the blueline to disrupt entries, knowing that his mobility affords him this opportunity to play assertively. The offensive production hasn't been significant (except for a recent game against Niagara), but he is generating chances and playing well. The two biggest things for him are learning to pick his spots a little more efficiently when he jumps up in the play. He's been burned a few times this year. You want to see a defender with his quickness take those chances, but there is a fine line between reckless and aggressive. Additionally, I want to see him use his feet more to skate the puck out of trouble in the defensive end. He is too talented to settle for chip outs or blind sweeps around the boards. Part of that is taking better routes to dump ins so that he can keep his feet moving. As his confidence grows, I am hoping that we see him take that next step as a puck mover.

10. David Goyette - Center - Sudbury Wolves
Without question, Goyette is one of the best skating and most skilled forwards on this list. He has that knack for escaping pressure that you want to see from highly skilled and creative playmakers. I think what has impressed me most is his ability to be noticeable with the puck in a variety of different situations. He looks good in transition, often leading the charge across the blueline. However, he also looks good when the pace slows because he constantly keeps his feet moving in the offensive zone and is tough to pin down. Admittedly, I haven't seen Sudbury quite as much as some other teams thus far, for whatever reason. That could certainly be influencing this ranking. The two things I want to see Goyette work on is the consistency of his defensive engagement, being able to utilize his speed to be consistent with his back pressure and his strength on the puck. While he is elusive, he can be knocked off stride rather easily and separated from the puck. When you watch Goyette, it's not uncommon to see him make the first defender miss only to run into the second and lose possession or skate himself into trouble. But players like Goyette are bound to rise over the course of the year if he continues to improve because his offensive ceiling is among the highest in this OHL draft class.

11. Vinzenz Rohrer - Center - Ottawa 67's
I mentioned on twitter early in the season that I was really impressed with Rohrer's skill and creativity despite his lack of production. Pretty much right after I posted that, the points started coming fast. While it is early in this rookie import's OHL career, I feel pretty confident in this aggressive ranking of him (compared to what I've seen from others). In terms of pure skill and poise with the puck, I think he's right up there with the likes of Hunter Haight and David Goyette in that tier behind Shane Wright. It seems like every game Rohrer is able to make OHL defenders look silly with his ability to blend skill and pace. In particular, his ability to play laterally, pivot, stop, start (overall agility, if you will) is very impressive and it allows him to keep that puck on a string. Additionally, I think he plays hard in all three zones and is buying into the way Dave Cameron likes his forwards to play. I see a lot of upside here and I am curious to see if he can sustain the level of play he has shown lately. He's also one of the youngest players eligible this year, so there is reason to believe that further physical development may still occur.

12. Matyas Sapovaliv - Center - Saginaw Spirit
Really impressed with this lanky center from the Czech Republic, who is playing in all situations for the Spirit and may already be the team's best forward. Watching some of his play previous to the OHL for my annual Import Draft review, I found that his balance, lateral mobility, and overall agility was lacking. However, I have been very impressed with the improvements that he has made in this regard. I think they're very visible. You kind of expect a player of his build (6'4, 190lbs) at his age to be a little awkward and stiff in his movements, but it's not the case. This really helps him in two places. The first is when he is controlling the half wall in the offensive zone. He does a great job of keeping plays alive along the wall and can spin off checks and use his size to protect the puck. This really drives time of possession for the Spirit when his line is on the ice. The second is his play in the defensive end. Not only does he have great reach and length, but his footwork and defensive instincts are excellent. His takeaway metrics are very, very impressive (nearly 5 per game, close to Shane Wright's takeaway numbers). Over the course of the season, I think we'll get a better idea of his offensive ceiling as he gains confidence in his ability to play through open ice, but thus far he has been very impressive for Saginaw.

13. Liam Arnsby - Center - North Bay Battalion
After a bit of an underwhelming rookie year with the Battalion, the former 9th overall pick (and late born '03) and Don Mills Flyer has done pretty much everything scouts asked him to do this year. He has taken his offensive game to the next level while maintaining his strong play away from the puck (defensively and physically). He looks way more confident with the puck on his stick in the offensive end. While he is certainly most at home near the crease, he is creating in transition thanks improved puck control at full speed. At this point, he can play any role the Battalion coaching staff asks him to. He's out there to protect leads late or earn them and his physicality and tenacity are real assets in all three zones. He is a very difficult player to match up against and the kind of guy who really gets under the skin of the opposition. Is the offensive upside significant? Probably not. There are limitations to his simplistic, straight line approach. However, Arnsby is safe. He does so many things well. There's a lot of a guy like Scott Laughton in his game and it seems likely that he could carve out a similar career as a high end third line center at the NHL level. The one thing that Arnsby will need to continue to improve is his quickness. Considering his average stature and reach, scouts will be looking for him to improve his explosiveness so that his high energy approach translates well.

14. Danny Zhilkin - Center - Guelph Storm
I think Zhilkin has been better than the production has been (and even that hasn't been awful). On a lot of his shifts he is driving play for the Storm. A bit more puck luck and he could be one of the scoring leaders in the league IMO. That said, isn't that something we've always said about Zhilkin? Impressive drives are common, but they often have come up empty in terms of scores. I found that to be the case in the GTHL, in his OHL rookie year, and now in his NHL draft year. So where's the disconnect? I think there is a bit of a tendency for tunnel vision when he is taking the puck across the blueline. And while his shot is a powerful weapon, I wonder about his scoring instincts and anticipation in the offensive end without the puck. I think his "checking line" role at last year's U18's was great for his development as it proved that he could be a competent two-way player. However, I still have a bit of trouble figuring out what his role at the NHL level would be. I'm just not confident that he is a good enough processor to play a top six role at the NHL level. I kind of see a lot of similarities between he and Leafs' forward Pierre Engvall, a player going through a bit of an identity crisis at the NHL level right now despite some terrific physical tools.
15. Owen Beck - Center - Mississauga Steelheads
No relation to Ottawa's Jack Beck, Owen does have some of the same cerebral qualities. A highly intelligent pivot, Beck plays on the top PK unit in Mississauga, as well as the secondary powerplay unit. He has been absolutely terrific to start this season operating behind Luca Del Bel Belluz as the team's number two center. He has a terrific stick in the neutral zone and is very active in the defensive zone, making him a highly effective defensive forward already. However, he has also has the speed/quickness to turn those turnovers into scoring opportunities quickly. Poised and confident as a puckhandler at full speed, Beck can create in transition and has excellent vision. This vision is also showcased down low in the offensive zone, where he works behind the net or near the half wall (his spot on the powerplay) and can often thread the needle to one of his linemates for a great opportunity. This is just a really well rounded player who is bound to rise up the rankings so long as he continues to play well. There's definitely a middle six projection here as an NHL player. 

16. Pano Fimis - Center - Niagara IceDogs
Fimis has a really well rounded profile and that is part of the allure. The former second overall selection is a highly cerebral center and it translates to success in all three zones. His anticipation and awareness without the puck is a major strength and he's one of the those players who just always seems to be at the right place at the right time. He's not big (5'11, 176lbs), but he's not afraid to play through traffic and has some pest like qualities to his game. I think it's awesome that the Dogs have paired him with Aidan Castle and Brice Cooke (his former JRC teammates) at times this year. I guess the issue is that cerebral playmakers without elite physical tools can be difficult to project to the NHL level. Fimis seems to have one or two really great shifts a game right now, but that consistency (like others on this list) is not there currently. I want to see him take the bull by the horns a little more. Fimis has a really strong shot, but he's not using it enough yet, or looking to use it. I want to see him be more determined and active with the puck. There is a lot of room for him to move up or down the next time I do this ranking. 

17. Luca Del Bel Belluz - Center - Mississauga Steelheads
Admittedly, I was convinced that Del Bel Belluz was eligible last year and originally did not include him in this ranking. But he is, indeed, a late born 2003 and therefore first time eligible. The Steelheads first line center (developing great chemistry with James Hardie), Del Bel Belluz has been terrific this season. His skating mechanics aren't terrific; there is certainly room for improvement in his stride length and power. However, there is a lot to like about his game in the hope that skating coaches can continue to work with him to make the necessary adjustments. Del Bel Belluz's creativity with the puck affords him the time and space that his skating does not, and he does a great job of shielding defenders from the puck and using his size to maintain possession. His overall offensive game is very well rounded. He has a quick shot release and he has been working hard to get himself into the slot and into scoring position. He sees the ice well and has learned to limit the turnovers that often plagued his game in U16 with the Toronto Red Wings. Bottom line, centers with size, creativity, and vision do not grow on trees.

18. Kirill Kudryavtsev - Defense - Soo Greyhounds
There are a lot of things to like about this aggressive offensive defender out of Russia. He absolutely loves to jump up into the play and is not afraid to play deep down low in the offensive end. His hands are very good and he is a strong enough skater to be able to consistently lead the charge with his feet. Sure, his aggressive offensive nature has led to a few bad turnovers, but he is the kind of high risk/high reward player that you expect that from and account for. Defensively, he has some things to learn still, but I think he defends well enough in transition to suggest that he is workable. The big question mark for me right now is the defensive zone decision making with the puck. Again, he's a high risk/high reward player. I'll take my chances when he's pinching deep to try to make a play and trust that my forwards can provide support. However, he needs to pick his spots better with the puck in the defensive zone. Maybe it's an adjustment to the smaller ice surface, but he's had some really bad exit pass attempts into traffic from trying to force plays up ice that just aren't there. Will this improve as he adjusts or does it point to some issues in his vision and processing with the puck? But I love the Calisti/Kudryavtsev pairing that the Hounds are using this season.

19. Servac Petrovsky - Center - Owen Sound Attack
Really like the energy that Petrovsky brings to the ice in all three zones. In terms of his linear stride, he's very quick and it allows him to be very effective chasing down loose pucks or gaining the offensive zone. He has been excellent as a penalty killer for the Attack and his overall defensive zone play has been terrific. Offensively, he has quick hands down low and good vision with the puck, allowing him to excel as a playmaker at the half wall and below the hash marks. I'm not confident the ceiling for him as an NHL player would be extremely high, but given his speed, playmaking ability, and two-way effectiveness, I feel very good about his odds of making it in some capacity. Over the course of the season, we should get a better idea of his overall potential but he has been very impressive so far.

20. Jorian Donovan - Defense - Hamilton Bulldogs
Maybe a bit surprising to see that I have Donovan this low. I know several of my contemporaries would have him in the top 7-8 of this OHL crop. Unquestionably, he has the talent to be there. Jorian has his father's (Shean) speed and explosiveness and he is very aggressive in jumping up or leading the attack. Once he gets that head of steam out of his zone with the puck, he's very difficult to stop in the neutral zone. Donovan is also a skilled puckhandler who can create extra time and space for himself, both in transition and when manning the point. His offensive upside is significant. But in my viewings of Hamilton, his decision making and overall defensive play has not been strong. Can that improve? For sure. Did I just catch him at his worst? Perhaps. Are there flaws in his processing ability and his decision making that could hold him back from reaching his potential? Also perhaps true. I wanted to put him higher, but he needs to show me more to leapfrog a few others first. 

21. Beau Jelsma - Left Wing/Center - Barrie Colts
After a breakout performance at the PBHH (Erie) invitational prior to the beginning of summer, Jelsma had a bit of a slow start this year, trying to figure out a way to standout despite limited ice time on a stacked Barrie offense. However, he seems to be heating up now and is now visibly playing with the kind of energy he was at the PBHH. An electric skater, Jelsma is most dangerous in transition because of his ability to back down or beat defenders one on one. He also has a really powerful wrist/snap shot that he doesn't need much time or space to get off. No question, his combination of speed and shot will make him a goal scorer in this league in the future. The question is can he continue to improve his consistency (especially given his ice time) while rounding out the other areas of his game? If he can elevate his defensive intensity further, and improve his passing touch, his draft stock would rise even further. This is a player I have a lot of time for though.
22. Evan Konyen - Right Wing - Sudbury Wolves
The Sudbury Wolves definitely have something great in their young first line this year (Musty, Goyette, and Konyen). This has already emerged as one of the top lines in the OHL and not one member of that line is older than 17. The three rookies are only going to get better and wreck havoc on the OHL for at least the next year and a half. Konyen is more than just a bit player as part of that threesome. His speed and skill combination makes him deadly in transition, where the majority of chances are created by this group. With open ice, Konyen is really difficult to stop. Equal parts playmaker and scorer, his offensive skill set (in general) is very well rounded. Even though he's not the biggest (5'10, 160lbs), his quick hands create time and space for himself, especially along the wall as he is tough to pin down. As he becomes stronger, he has the potential to be someone who really drives time of possession down low. Right now, you have to live with the odd turnover from him being pushed off the puck or from trying to squeeze through a trap in the neutral zone. If Konyen can continue to be a high end offensive weapon this year and sustains his high level of play, he'll put himself in contention for the Top 75.  
23. Jake Karabela - Center/Left Wing - Guelph Storm
After a really strong preseason, Karabela has carried that success into the regular season where he has been a consistent contributor for the Guelph Storm (mostly as a unit with Poitras and Braeden Bowman). Simply put, Karabela is a very skilled player with the puck. A quick and shifty skater (very confident and smooth on his edges), Karabela can make plays at full speed and he and Poitras have been really fun to watch together because of it. Karabela's quick hands allow him to operate well in traffic where he can manipulate limited space to create openings to shoot the puck or dish off. The goals haven't been there this year, but he is getting his chances and has been a little snake bitten. But several of his assists this year are rebounds from his shots or put back attempts that someone else is finishing off. I think what holds me back from putting him a little higher is that his two-way game and physical intensity is not quite as consistent as some of those similar players that I have ranked higher. Guys like Fimis and Beck are equally as skilled, but are more consistently dialed in without the puck. 

24. Aidan Castle - Right Wing/Left Wing - Niagara IceDogs
Wingers with decent size, speed, and the ability to shoot the puck are often highly coveted on NHL draft day and Aidan Castle certainly fits that description. I really like how Castle uses his size to shield the puck on his drives and he uses his speed to consistently drive the net, with and without the puck. His wrist shot and scoring instincts combine to give him high end potential as a goal scorer. With only two assists on the year, you might expect him to be a purely shoot first kind of player, but that's not the case. His vision and decision making with the puck also stand out as positives, his chemistry with Pano Fimis extremely noticeable. For Castle to start producing a little more consistently, it comes down to providing a little more consistent effort in all three zones and for him to use his size to play a little more physical in the offensive zone, especially down low. However, I could really see him and Fimis (and possibly Brice Cooke) really improving as a group as the season goes on.

25. Isaiah George - Defense - London Knights
Heading into the season, it was anyone's guess how the crowded blueline in London would sort itself out. Lots of talented young players vying for ice time. One of those defenders who has risen to the top is Isaiah George. He's firmly in London's top four and has been anchoring the team's top penalty killing unit. The main key to his effectiveness is his mobility. An effortless mover, George is quick and stable in all four directions. This helps him to be a rock defending in transition, but it also helps him escape the forecheck to start the breakout. In U16 with the Marlboros, he was always deemed as a player with high end physical tools, but scouts questioned his decision making, especially with the puck. In the times I've seen London, he's managed the puck pretty well, certainly better than he did in U16. The growth in his reads is impressive. The question is, what kind of offensive upside does he have? Has he been able to limit turnovers because he is keeping things simple? Is there room for him to use that skating ability to be more of an engaged and dangerous offensive player? I'm not yet certain of the answer to those questions. But I do love what he has brought to the table defensively. He has the tools to be the perfect modern day NHL defender. Just how much his offensive game grows will dictate whether he's a top 75 guy or more of a mid/later round selection.

26. Jackson Edward - Defense - London Knights
Seems fitting to put these two defenders together given how they have moved up the London depth chart together and have similar profiles. Edward is a little bigger and a little more physical, has received a fair amount of powerplay time, and he's not quite as smooth of a skater as George, however he has been equally impressive. Edward has shown well at both ends of the ice. He shuts down the transition game well and makes quick decisions with the puck in the defensive end to start the breakout (similar to George). His ability to make a heads up exit pass cleanly has surely helped him win over Dale Hunter. One thing I have noticed is that he has to be more decisive in the offensive zone with the puck. He has had trouble keeping the puck in at times and turnovers have been an issue when working the powerplay because he stops moving his feet. Like George, I also wonder what the offensive upside is here. But he's in good hands with the Knights and he was one of my favourite defenders in the age group going back to the priority selection out of YSE.
27. Michael Buchinger - Defense - Guelph Storm
I see Buchinger as a bit of a similar prospect to Jorian Donovan right now. At times, he looks great and is one of the better defenders on the ice. And at other times, he's a liability. I certainly don't see the first round grade that Sportsnet recently gave him. Buchinger's best asset is his mobility. In particular, his ability to pivot and change direction really benefits Guelph's ability to start the breakout. Buchinger takes really good routes to dump ins and because of his quickness and heads up mentality, he rarely gets beat to loose pucks and quickly makes an exit pass so that the Storm don't get pinned down. Buchinger also quarterbacks the Guelph powerplay and really loves to shoot the puck, generally doing a good job of getting pucks on net, using his mobility to create those shooting lanes. However, when he's on the move and looking to carry the puck, his decision making leaves some to be desired. Turnovers have been an issue. Additionally, I'd like to see him play with a little more jam in the defensive end. I think the potential is there for him to develop into a strong two-way puck mover and his high end skating ability is going to be very alluring to scouts, however, I want to see more consistency in his reads before he moves up higher. 

28. Ryan Abraham - Center - Windsor Spitfires
How can you not love the constant energy that Abraham brings to the ice? He is tenacious in his pursuit of the puck and consistently dialed in away from the puck. He's not huge (5'10, 164lbs), but he always seems to come away with the puck in jousts and battles below the hash marks. At the beginning of the year, he was a bit snake bitten and was having some problems with turnovers (from trying to force plays to the middle), but he seems to be playing better lately. Abraham uses the mohawk stride a lot to create separation and to help him protect the puck on drives and entries. Some may not like that given the lack of success similar players have had transitioning that style to the pro level. Additionally, I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about Abraham's potential as a skill player. Can he be a top two center at the NHL level? I'm not confident in that assessment right now. However, I really enjoy watching him play and I think he really elevates the play of those lined up with him when he's dialed in. One last nugget...he really needs to improve his percentage in the faceoff circle and then I think coach Marc Savard would use him more on the penalty kill.

29. Dalyn Wakely - Center/Right Wing - North Bay Battalion
Wakely is a strong two-way forward who has had a great start for the Battalion this year. His offensive profile is very diverse. He can play the power game by driving the net or winning battles down low. That is why North Bay uses him as a net front presence a lot on the powerplay. However, he is also highly skilled with the puck and is able to create time and space for himself in transition or when spinning off the wall. His shot is a weapon and he really has a nose for the net that helps him earn scoring chances pretty consistently. I was shocked when he fell as far as he did in the 2020 priority selection (I think everyone was), and he's certainly proving now that he should have been taken higher. Wakely's overall agility is strong and he uses his edges well to escape pressure in the offensive zone. However, I think there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to his linear quickness and top speed. This lack of separation prevents him from being even more dangerous. 

30. Tnias Mathurin - Defense - North Bay Battalion
Big 6'3 defender who has been a real pleasant surprise for the Battalion this year. He has been a defensive anchor for North Bay and has some raw physical tools that will really interest NHL scouts. He carves up open ice with big powerful strides moving forward and it allows him to play pretty aggressively defensively, trusting that he can recover quickly. There is some room for improvement in his four way mobility and footwork, but I think given his size and reach there is a lot potential for him to develop into a high end shutdown defender. This is especially true as he becomes more confident asserting himself physically more consistently. I actually think he has some offensive potential too. While his exit pass does need a bit of work, I see it as more of an experience and confidence thing. When he learns to use his quickness to create space for himself and takes better routes to loose pucks, he should be able to limit his turnovers. He flashes skill carrying the puck too and will occasionally jump up in the attack, suggesting that there could be more there. Really curious to see how his game improves over the course of the season.
31. Cedrick Guindon - Center/Left Wing - Owen Sound Attack
I think Guindon has made a lot of positive improvements to his game since we last saw him. His first few strides look more explosive and he looks a lot more fluid on the ice, which is allowing him to really push the pace offensively. His effort level and overall engagement in the defensive zone also looks more polished and consistent. His stick placement and positioning in his own end makes him a strong defensive presence and he certainly fits the mold of the typical Owen Sound Attack player. Guindon is a talented offensive player, more talented than his offensive production would indicate. A few things I believe are holding him back from being a little more consistent. The first is making better decisions with the puck. Guindon loves to play fast, but at times he's a bit out of control and he settles for low percentage shots or dump ins when he gets pressured, rather than utilizing his linemates or altering his pace to allow passing lanes to open up. Guindon's shot is a major asset, so I'm not sure Owen Sound has a problem with him being a high volume shooter, however a little more patience couldn't hurt. The second is a lack of strength. It's clear that Guindon wants to play a particular way. He wants to play the body, dump and chase, and be a bit of a pest, but he's not winning enough of those one on one battles to gain or keep possession. I expect him to get a lot better as the season goes on, but right now I think the production needs to be more consistent to rank him higher. 

32. Zak Lavoie - Right Wing - Mississauga Steelheads
After a really strong preseason, Lavoie has been a bit snake bitten to start the regular season; he is still searching for his first official OHL goal. And for a player that has been billed as one of the best natural goal scorers in the age group, that will need to change for him to stay on the NHL draft radar. Lavoie has shown good chemistry with Owen Beck and he has been a solid complementary, support piece by playing physical and driving the net, however I want to see more offensively.

33. Jonathan Melee - Center/Left Wing - Hamilton Bulldogs
Melee is not getting a ton of ice time, but he is generally making the most of it. He kills penalties. He works the wall and drives time of possession down low by keeping his feet moving. He has four goals on the year and has shown good hands in tight and in the slot. NHL scouts might want him to get a little quicker, but there is a lot to like and he is making his limited minutes at even strength count.

34. Colton Smith - Left Wing - London Knights
The son of former OHL bench boss DJ Smith, Colton plays pretty much how you would expect him to, if you know anything about the way DJ likes his teams to play. A big winger (6'3, 195lbs), he is engaged physically and he can really shoot the puck. He used a great preseason to grab significant playing time on a deep team and he has really earned the trust of Dale Hunter already. I wanted to put him higher, but I need to see him more to get a better read on what his high end potential is. Will be interesting to see how much he can improve his skating over the course of the year.

35. Cedricson Okitundu - Defense - Owen Sound Attack
Both times I have seen Owen Sound this year, I've come away really impressed with Okitundu. Brings physicality. Good mover. Looks like someone who can impact the game at both ends of the ice and who could really explode as he gains confidence. Tools are there even if he doesn't have a point this year. Unfortunately out with an injury right now.

36. Brady Stonehouse - Right Wing/Left Wing - Ottawa 67's
A little ball of energy. Stonehouse was one of my favourites in this draft class in 2020 and he hasn't disappointed as an OHL player. He is a great pest who buzzes around the ice looking to cause havoc. He forechecks hard. He crashes the net. He plays all three ends. He also has some skill and is capable of playing a larger offensive role IMO. A player who is engineered to play a bottom six role at the NHL level.

37. Andrew Leblanc - Center/Left Wing - Kitchener Rangers
After a very strong preseason, I expected Leblanc to earn a significant role on a deep Rangers team. He was one of my favourites from this draft crop because of his vision, IQ, and playmaking ability. However, he's fallen down the depth chart a bit and his play hasn't really met expectations. I feel comfortable keeping him in this range for now because I believe in his high end potential, but Leblanc needs to improve those "physical tools" (strength on/off the puck, explosiveness, etc).

38. Brice Cooke - Left Wing - Niagara IceDogs
The third member of the former JRC and now current Niagara rookie line, Cooke is 6'3, power winger with a nose for the net and the skill to be a quality attacker and offensive weapon. I want to see him apply himself physically more consistently. I also think that his added growth spurt has taken away a bit from his skating strength that he showed as a U16 player. His top speed is solid, especially for a big kid, but his first step quickness and balance on his edges to move fluidly East/West will need to improve.

39. Ethan Larmand - Center - Sudbury Wolves
Late birthday guys sometimes have a tendency to fall under the radar a bit and I think that is the case with Larmand this year IMO. One of the few first time eligibles to have OHL experience, Larmand has really elevated his game as a top six center for the Wolves and is also wearing an "A." He is a highly competitive kid who can excel in any situation and who skates well. But what is the upside? I think we need more time to figure out the skill progression ceiling.

40. Teddy Sawyer - Defense - Ottawa 67's
Another late born 2003, Sawyer was a high profile commit from the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite program who had some really strong moments as a rookie two years ago. Now he's a defensive anchor for the 67's. Sawyer is an extremely physical defender, but he also moves well and this gives him the type of profile that NHL scouts are looking for among shut down types. They will only wish he was a bit bigger (at 6'0).

41. Sam Alfano - Right Wing - Peterborough Petes
6'3, 200lbs winger who has a lot of potential to develop as an offensive weapon. I think his awareness in the offensive end is strong and he is willing to assert himself physically and do the dirty work you want a big man to do. But the production has been underwhelming so far for the Petes and I think a lot of that has to do with a need to improve his skating. 

42. Kocha Delic - Center - Sudbury Wolves
Delic has worked hard to improve his all around game and to become a pretty well rounded player. Really like his energy in the offensive zone without the puck. He's working hard in pursuit of the puck. I guess the question I have any of his particular talents grade out above average individually? In other words, is Delic the type of player who becomes a quality OHL player but a lack of standout quality prevents him from moving further up the ladder? I need to see more.

43. Justin DeZoete - Right Wing/Left Wing - Peterborough Petes
High energy winger who can play with pace and who works hard in all three zones. Really like his attention to detail and I think that if he keeps working hard, the offensive production will increase. I liked him a lot as a U16 player and I think he is more skilled as a finisher than he has shown us. But does he have more potential than as a fourth line, buzzsaw?

44. Rodwin Dioincio - Defense - Niagara IceDogs
I really like a lot about Dionicio's game. He's skilled. He is pretty poised with the puck. He can certainly quarterback a powerplay. He has size and plays with an edge in the defensive zone. Basically, he has stepped right in to the Niagara lineup and been an impact player. But I think his mobility or lack there of is a real hindrance. He struggles to defend transitional attacks because his backwards and lateral stride is not incredibly clean. Additionally, his lack of explosiveness in any direction prevents him from being even more active offensively. Interested to see if he can show improvement in his mobility over the course of the season. 

45. Gavin Bryant - Center - Owen Sound Attack
Typical Owen Sound Attack forward. Bryant has already shown that he can play any role asked of him (including anchoring a PK) because of his high IQ and compete level. Bryant has some quality playmaking chops too. Like a few of the other high energy guys on this list, I need to see more of him to see what the high end upside is. I could see him being someone who slowly moves up my list the more I see him play.

46. Connor Toms - Defense - Soo Greyhounds
Given that he's seeing inconsistent ice time on a strong team and not playing the powerplay (a strength of his prior to being an OHL player), it could be difficult for Toms to stand out consistently this year. But he skates well, can lead the attack and has performed admirably in his own end thus far. Have heard he has already improved a lot from the start of the year so curious to see how his game continues to evolve as he gains confidence.

47. Max Namestnikov - Center - Sarnia Sting
Maybe it was rust, maybe it was nerves. Maybe it was a combination of the two. But the 2021/22 draft year did not start well for Namestnikov. He was invisible at the U.S. Hlinka evaluation camp and was cut. And then he started the OHL year very slowly. Bottom line, 5'7 forwards will need to produce big numbers to be drafted. It's a reality. That said...he seems to be turning a corner of late and it's something to keep an eye on. Playing with more intensity physically and looking more confident with the puck. Upside is still high. 

48. Domenic DiVincentiis - Goaltender - North Bay Battalion
Definitely not the strongest goaltending crop from the OHL this year. Don't remember the last time I didn't have one ranked inside the top 45. Right now, I think DiVincentiis is the best. He's a high end athlete whose quickness in the crease is an asset. His performance has been inconsistent, but he's also only a few games into his OHL career.

49. Kyle Downey - Goaltender - Windsor Spitfires
You're going to notice a trend here to close out the Top 50. Downey was a very high selection by the Spits for a reason. He hasn't played quite as much as the other goaltenders on this list, but his stats have been the best. Liked his composure and positioning as a U16 player, but his reads need to be more consistent at the OHL level.

50. Jacob Oster - Goaltender - Guelph Storm
He's winning hockey games and taking home accolades, outplaying veteran Owen Bennett thus far. He also has the size advantage over the other goalies listed (at 6'3). Shows potential as a guy who can really shut down shooters by cutting off angles with positioning and control. However, getting quicker will be a priority. 

BONUS - #51. Nolan Lalonde - Goaltender - Erie Otters
The injury to veteran Aidan Campbell has opened the door for Lalonde to get a ton of playing time this year as he has started the majority of games for Erie. Coming into the year I thought he might be the best of this bunch, but his performance has been too inconsistent thus far. He has the agility/athleticism, but he needs to improve his reads and positioning. Curious to see how he improves over the season. One of these four goalies has to improve to the point where they move up this list and earn serious draft consideration right?
Limited Viewing - Ruslan Gazizov - Center - London Knights
Has just arrived recently from Russia and has apparently been very impressive, combining a high energy approach with skill as a playmaker. Want to see more of him before he makes this list, but he is a candidate to crack the Top 10 in the midseason list.