Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Preliminary Media/Scout Poll for the 2021 NHL Draft

It's time for the first media/scout poll for the 2021 NHL Draft.

How do we even start this article? The vast majority of players in Ontario have not played this year due to the pandemic and state of lockdown in Ontario. Some have been fortunate enough to secure a loan overseas, while others wait with baited breath to see if an Ontario Hockey League season (in some capacity) can be squeezed in. Evaluating these players against each other in order to formulate a list like this is incredibly difficult. Some contributors even opted out of participating this time around because they felt like the exercise was too arduous or unjust. Others contributed a partial list, evaluating on only the players they felt confident about. Rachel Doerrie of EPRinkside put it bluntly, “I've really only settled on 6 guys I think deserve to be in the OHL top-10. I think it's really hard to evaluate where guys are after missing key time in a critical development year. 7-11 is a mix of Arcuri, Cardwell, Voit, Grushnikov, and Chayka in no particular order. I'm not sure where I'd put them in that order, and certainly don't feel comfortable ranking them given the situation we are in.”

That said, this is an article which is well received and appreciated by the scouting community and those searching for draft knowledge. I had debated not doing it (or delaying it further since the preliminary poll usually occurs in November), but decided on following through with it. Ultimately, it can serve as a baseline for the Ontario players eligible in 2021. And it will be interesting to look back on later in the year once more is known about the state of hockey in Ontario and the 2021 NHL Draft (in terms of timing and organization). 

The other question people seem to always ask at this stage is, “what is the strength of this Ontario crop?” For obvious reasons, that is difficult to answer at this time. The jury is very much still out. However, the consensus is that the strength of the OHL group available this year looks to mimic that of the rest of the world, in that it may not be the strongest. Many contributors spoke apathetically about the talent level available for the 2021 NHL Draft, across all regions. Obviously the pandemic is playing a role in that as we evaluate a large chunk of North America based on their 16/17 year old seasons. That said, one consistent feature of a “weaker” draft class is the lack of a true #1. Poll 20 scouts and I would bet that you would get at least 5-6 different answers on who they believe is the frontrunner for first overall. Hopefully, the coming months can provide us greater clarity as players find ice time to showcase their abilities.

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

As always, this list involves contributions from a rather colourful cast of characters. Contributing their rankings and thoughts to this preliminary list for 2021 were:

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

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

Dylan GallowayHead of Eastern Scouting for Future Considerations (@dylangalloway_)

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

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

Steve Clark - Play by play voice of the Niagara IceDogs (@ClarkPlaybyPlay

Dan Stewart - Director of DraftsProspects Hockey (@DStewartDP

Will ScouchFounder of Scouching Draft Analytics & Contributor to McKeen's Hockey (@Scouching)

Tony FerrariDirector of North American Scouting for Dobber Prospects (@theTonyFerrari)

Mark Seidel - Scouting Director for NACS Hockey (@MarkSeidel)

Matt Young - OHL broadcaster (@mattyoung71

Josh BellDirector of Content and Scout for Future Considerations (@JoshuaBell31)

Tate HarrisHost of 'The O Show' Podcast (@tateharris9)

Raine Hernandez - OHL Scout for Puck Preps & Socials/NHL Draft for McKeen’s Hockey (@BringerOfRaine)

Levi HillCCHL Scout & Former OHL Video Tracker (@HillHockeyScout)

Rachel Doerrie - Scout and Host of the Staff and Graph Podcast (@racheldoerrie)

Eddy Jones - OHL Scout for The Draft Analyst (@eddyvanjones)

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

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten)

Here's the List:

1. Brandt Clarke - Defense - Barrie Colts

Total Votes: 19

Highest Ranking: 1st (19x)

Lowest Ranking: -


Extremely high hockey IQ...Makes the right play almost every time...Has the ability to get shots through...Very mobile...Got better defensively as the year went on…” - Mark Seidel

"Clarke is a very well-rounded defenseman. His gap control is air tight and he can shut down the rush no matter the size of the attacker. Clarke will also change his strategy per attacker. Sometimes he will put pressure on the attacker from the blue-line out and sometimes he will sit net-front to wait for the perfect moment to pounce on the attacker in the corner. In transition, he won't often skate in a straight line from blue-line to blue-line, he will adapt based on the situation in the neutral zone. His speed can be deceptive at times, given that he will zig-zag when controlling the puck, but he has quality acceleration and his stride extension isn't too long or too short. Offensively, Clarke has shown to be a lethal power play quarterback as he is quite quick with his passing. But, you can also expect Clarke to pinch up and set up his teammates in the slot." - Josh Tessler

Clarke may not look like your typical challenger for No. 1 overall, but that’s because he’s something a little different, something a little unique, and those players are always tougher to evaluate. By all accounts he made real progress on and off the ice this summer, too, which bodes well for his return to more competitive action and the pressure that it will include while he tries to play catch-up. He’s a low-floor, high-ceiling gamble in a draft full of those types.” - Anonymous

A great skater with clever offensive instincts, he's precisely the type of blueliner that NHL teams are looking for. It's good to see him getting reps over in Slovakia, especially since he is a part of an elite class of D-men in this draft.” - Ryan Kennedy

A truly exceptional offensive defenseman, Clarke has all the makings to be a premier point producer at the NHL level. He fits the mold of the modern-day NHL defenseman with effortless skating and exceptional mobility and speed. He does all this, however, with an ideal 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame, which is notably bigger than comparable high-profile defense prospects from previous years like Cale Makar, Quinn Hughes, and Jamie Drysdale. Clarke’s ability to dictate play from the back end is advanced among all OHL draft-eligible defenders. He’s a poised and patient puck carrier, and Clarke’s superb offensive instincts are highlighted with keen vision and tape-to-tape passing ability. Confident and decisive, Clarke is consistent with jumping into the play to create a numbers advantage. His offensive game seemed to take off after Barrie’s mid-season coaching change, so expect him to produce a wire-to-wire season of dominance. He thinks the game at such a high level that any over-aggressiveness inside the opposing end is quickly addressed with his speed headed the other. Clarke’s skating allows him to track back easily and a quick stick effectively break up plays. Much like Drysdale, Clarke should not be considered a stopper on defense, and although his reliability in his own end is generally solid, there remains room for improvement with his consistency in coverage.” - Eddy Jones

Even though the point production hasn’t been there in Slovakia thus far, Clarke has been playing well. Playing against men, he has shown no fear in terms of being an aggressive offensive catalyst and that shows the high level of confidence that he is playing with. After Todd Miller took over in Barrie last year, we started to really see glimpses of that aggressiveness and if the OHL is able to start up, I think he returns to the OHL and immediately becomes one of the best defenseman in the league. While somewhat difficult to ascertain from video views, it would appear that Clarke has really improved his first step explosiveness and overall top speed and it is making him a more dynamic player overall. I actually feel that Clarke’s defensive game is vastly underrated. Playing with Don Mills in MM, that team was such a defensive force because of their systems (and talent level). Sure, Clarke is a bit of a riverboat gambler because he is trying to create scoring opportunities, but his defensive IQ and transitional defensive ability are quite advanced IMO. This is a potential top pairing defender in the NHL and they don’t grow on trees. I think he’s definitely in the group at the top of this draft class.” - Brock Otten

This one (in regards to him being #1 on this list) is pretty clear. Clarke is an aggressive defender who pinches hard and pinches often. A straight-line defender rarely penalized doing so, Clarke shows the potential to be a high end offensive producer. I have questions about his mobility enabling that potential long term, but his instincts, passing skill and anticipation skills are high-end. While I may not draft him in the first five picks of this year’s draft, he’s not far back from there.” - Will Scouch

2. Mason McTavish - Center/Wing - Peterborough Petes

Total Votes: 19

Highest Ranking: 2nd (12x)

Lowest Ranking: 6th (1x)


Pure goal scorer...Pro shot & release...Needs to get quicker...Strong on pucks...Finds seams in the offensive end…” - Mark Seidel

McTavish shows an ability to be highly effective in the offensive zone with the puck on his stick. He possesses quick edges, solid puck skills and an ability to utilize those in combination to find open ice for himself. Having said that I found his hockey sense to be inconsistent from shift to shift and his positional awareness hindered his overall effectiveness at driving offense. If he can fix those things then he could be a solid middle 6 guy at the next level.” - Dylan Galloway

Big, thick kid is a goal scorer who generates his own chances by being in the right position at the proper time. Has a hard wrist shot with a quick trigger. Plays aggressive and gritty. Hard to knock off the puck and likes to lean on opponents as well as look for the big hit. He tried to get over to play in EHC Olten in Switzerland but had some paperwork issues that kept him grounded.” - Dan Stewart

While everyone was paying attention to how the star players from the 2003 Don Mills Flyers would translate at the OHL level, Mason McTavish flew under the radar heading into last season, but not for long after that. McTavish made an instant impact for the Petes, providing secondary scoring for one of the best offences in the CHL. More of a shoot-first center with one of the deadliest releases in the OHL, McTavish is also surprisingly very efficient inside the circles as a face-off man, something very uncommon for 16-year-olds coming into the league.” - Raine Hernandez

Not too many players score at the level he did in his first year. Built solidly, he finds the quiet parts for scorers. He first came to my complete attention when he notched a hat trick in the first period versus Niagara on New Years Eve. 29 goals last year and would have threatened 40 this year and that's only because the Petes graduated a ton of talent.” - Steve Clark

"McTavish is a deceptive puck mover. He isn't too explosive with his speed, but he has figured out ways to exploit that. His slow puck movement will draw attackers in, but he uses his stick-handling at the last second to dodge the attack. When it comes to McTavish's shot, he has proven to have great range and is quite quick with his shot. He does not overthink it. McTavish can drain one-timers with ease and can rope quality snapshots from distance." - Josh Tessler

With a bit of boom-or-bust factor to him, McTavish is best known for a big shot. He can take a bit to load his cannon but once he does, he can beat a goalie clean. His two-way play will need work and he lacks a dynamism as a skater but he profiles as a solid complimentary scorer and could really do some damage in the OHL if and when things get started up.” - Tony Ferrari

McTavish was an interesting study last season as he had a terrific preseason and a great first half of the season before cooling down.  Some of that cool down has to be attributed to the Petes bringing in guys like Akil Thomas who took some of the premium ice time away from McTavish. The thing that stands out about McTavish is his shot.  I remember a preseason game where I overheard scouts discussing his shot and one said “he’s got the best shot I’ve ever seen for a 16-year-old.”  I immediately challenged that a bit saying I’m sure that you see a kid and say that annually but the pair of them both said his shot was by far the best they had seen out of a kid his age – ever.  He’s a natural goal scorer and loves to have the puck on his stick.  You could see, at points when he had shifts where he didn’t get the puck regularly, he looked a bit lost and could not quite find a way to make an impact shift-to-shift.  He will need to figure that out, but I think that will go away as he is utilized in a top-six role.” - Matt Young

This guy scores goals. Great release with a catch and shoot mentality. It’s hard to not rank Mason high with how easy he finds the back of the net. I do worry putting him this high because of his similarities to Will Cuylle and we saw the lack of progression that happened with him. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays in Europe soon.” - Tate Harris

3. Brennan Othmann - Left Wing - Flint Firebirds

Total Votes: 19

Highest Ranking: 2nd (3x)

Lowest Ranking: 9th (1x)


I think we can draw a lot of parallels between Othmann and the recently drafted Jack Quinn of the Ottawa 67’s. NHL scouts love goal scorers who are not one dimensional. Othmann is so detail oriented and his game has a lot of different levels. He can score in a multitude of different ways. He forechecks hard. He plays physically. He continues to improve as a two-way player and projects to be a high end defensive forward at the NHL level IMO. The skating, particularly his first step explosiveness, looks better playing in Switzerland. I truly believe Othmann is the type of player we’ll see slowly creep up draft lists (just like we saw Quinn do) because of how easy it is to see his game translating to the NHL level. There’s a high floor, but also a high ceiling depending on how much his vision and creativity with the puck can continue to improve. Can he be a driving force on a line or is he more of a complimentary piece? Scouts have a lot of time to figure that out. We’ll have him ranked high in our first draft ranking for 2021 at McKeen’s.” - Brock Otten

Othmann looked good in the Swiss League, good enough to return to the OHL and have the kind of year his skill level has always suggested he was capable of doing dating back to minor hockey. When he attacks the guts of the ice, he’s dangerous with the puck on his stick. There’s first round talent there, in an OHL class of talent that is light on dynamic upside after Clarke.” - Anonymous

Othmann is one of few that has been able to ply his trade overseas this season. I’ve caught some of his playing in the Swiss league, and I'm very happy with his progress. I did consider bumping him over McTavish, but without seeing McTavish in 2020-21, didn’t feel comfortable in doing so. Othmann’s offensive awareness is extremely impressive, including finding lanes for himself and passes. His shot is one of the best in this class. I really like the progress he’s made in his first two steps, showing great acceleration. Playing against men overseas, Othmann may be the prospect I’m most excited to see when/if the OHL kicks off.” - Josh Bell

Known for his shot, Othmann seems to have continued progressing the rest of his offensive game as he's looked dangerous as both a shooter and a playmaker. His offensive zone vision is really high end and makes him one of the most lethal players from the OHL with the puck on his stick. His drawbacks are definitely in his skating, which needs to be cleaned up technically, and his DZ play.” - Dylan Galloway

Another OHLer playing abroad, Othmann is proving his worth in the Swiss second level men’s league. Playing against men is a new and unique challenge but he has proven up to it. In a span of about 20 months, Othmann went from playing with the Don Mill Flyers to Flint with the Firebird to Switzerland playing against men. That unique journey has allowed him to continually add to his game and develop a well rounded game. He is known for his slick playmaking and excellent shot but he has added a level of physicality in Switzerland that will present a new challenge for opposing OHL teams when he gets back to the Firebirds.” - Tony Ferarri

Othmann was the second-overall pick in the 2019 OHL draft and has arguably one of the best one-timers in the entire OHL, let alone amongst draft eligibles. He posted respectable totals of 17 goals and 33 points, but it’s Othmann’s attention to detail in all facets of the game that help him stand out beyond the shooting and scoring. An exceptionally smart winger with and without the puck, Othmann’s anticipation is almost at a veteran level. He not only positions himself properly but also picks off passes to jumpstart the attack. Othmann can also serve as a creative playmaker who displays impressive vision and can serve as the offensive-zone orchestrator. Still. It’s Othmann’s shot that continued to leave a lasting impression; not only the shots off the pass but also for an extremely accurate and deceptive snapshot. If there’s one area in need of improvement, it could be Othmann’s confidence while on the puck; especially in the offensive zone. He had only 87 shots last season compared to 177 for McTavish. His skating at this point also is a work in progress, although his edges and balance help make up for a lack of explosiveness or quick first step. He’s looked good on loan in Switzerland with EHC Olten and there has been some notable improvement in his skating.” - Eddy Jones

The Swiss 2nd division is not a walk in the park, and there have been draft eligibles who have played in that league at some point in their careers. Among them, Othmann’s production stands out, and the data I’ve tracked says the same. There are some issues defensively, but he drives offensive transitions through his passing very well and can navigate the ice laterally with agility and aggression that should translate in some way to the NHL. He’s going to get more games of data, but he’s one that has stood out more than I expected against men in Switzerland.” - Will Scouch

4. Francesco Pinelli - Center - Kitchener Rangers

Total Votes: 19

Highest Ranking: 2nd (1x) 

Lowest Ranking: 6th (2x)


Offensive center had a great rookie year, especially towards the end and he could really expand on that and jump up draft rankings as he has the drive, the mobility, the desire, all the tools to be the straw that stirs the drink for the Rangers. One guy who has not been on the ice in a competitive way for almost a year now. Has top six two-way NHL upside, could be a better fit as a winger than center.” - Dan Stewart

It was a coin flip deciding the placement between Francesco Pinelli and Brennan Othmann, but the versatility that Pinelli brings to the table puts him slightly ahead on this list. The former Toronto captain went on an absolute tear right away with six goals in his first six OHL games and remained consistent the rest of the way for a Rangers team that was competitive in the Western conference. Arguably one of the most complete players in this entire draft class, Pinelli plays a 200-foot game and is already very responsible in his own end, a rare sight for any rookie in the OHL. While the Rangers had him playing both on the wing and in the middle, Pinelli should project as a centerman and would be the perfect swiss army knife for any team at the next level, while also providing offensive upside as well, with very underrated playmaking ability, always making the players around him, better.” - Raine Hernandez

Pinelli is a player who could rise up the board if given the opportunity to play and move up the lineup. He has a real dual-threat nature to his game with a shot that can beat goalies thanks to a quick release and pinpoint accuracy and good vision in the offensive zone. His two-way play is good but not great although he shows some tendencies that would indicate he is almost there. He anticipates play well at both ends of the ice. If can elevate himself in the lineup, he could be set for a jump.” - Tony Ferrari

A strong two-way game and solid 41 points in 59 games on a veteran Kitchener team last year was a very strong start to Pinelli’s OHL career.  Pinelli did spend most of his time at left wing last season due to Kitchener’s depth down the middle but that should change if there is an OHL season. The thing that stood out with Pinelli from my first viewing in preseason play to the seasons’ abrupt ending is that he is really intelligent and is able to be involved in the play on a shift-to-shift basis.  That’s not easy to do as a 16-year-old, especially one that could easily get lost in a deep lineup.  The kid is good and I think he will have a strong season but I can’t see him surpassing the other players at the top of this list in the OHL.” - Matt Young

If anyone is going to challenge Othmann for the best two-way forward out of the OHL’s 2021 draft class, there is a good bet it will be Pinelli, who is a well-rounded player and displays consistency both on and off the puck. He is a persistent forechecker who also performs admirably in his own end. You rarely see Pinelli go an entire shift without being involved in one form or another, and his tenaciousness and stick positioning help create turnovers in any zone. On the puck, Pinelli is a dual-threat who can be a catalyst in the offensive end. In one shift he can catch a goalie off guard with a hard shot; the next, Pinelli can draw defenders out of position with deft stickhandling that opens lanes for his linemates. Like Othmann, Pinelli is used as a one-timer option on the power play, but he also has the ability to be a game breaker at even strength. Although he is listed as center, Pinelli played the majority of last season on the wing. With both Riley Damiani and Greg Meireles moving on from Kitchener, the likelihood that Pinelli operates at the center-ice position in his draft year should increase.” - Eddy Jones

5. Daniil Chayka - Defense - Guelph Storm

Total Votes: 17

Highest Ranking: 2nd (2x)

Lowest Ranking: Not Listed (2x)


Chayka looked promising in his D-1 with Guelph and was looking like he could fight for a spot in the 1st round of the 2021 draft. After a subpar WJC showing where he looked like a fish out of water at times and also being underwhelming at various levels overseas, his draft stock is slipping for me. As a mobile, puck-mover he hasn't been able to actually generate that much offence, and he seems to rush a lot of his decisions, not seeing the full ice.” - Dylan Galloway

Chayka is another player that has been playing overseas, but unlike Othmann, I’m not sure it’s been helping his draft stock. He’s had a handful of KHL games, but in my views of him, I don’t see the potential first rounder that he looked like in 2019-20. That was evident in both the Karjala Cup and the World Juniors too, where he seemed to struggle against the competition and get lost. I think there’s potential in Chayka still, hence making this list, but I hope he can have a strong second half, or else he may plummet on draft day.” - Josh Bell

His world juniors wasn't great, but scouts aren't concerned. He's got the size and mobility and has played well back in Russia during the hiatus. May end up being a better shutdown guy because he looks better when he keeps things simple.” - Ryan Kennedy

Much like most players on this list, heading overseas for an opportunity to increase their draft stock has been common. However, for Daniil Chayka, it has been an interesting ride this season since deciding to return home to play for CSKA Moskva in the KHL. Out of all the players on this list, Chayka has played the most hockey with solid performances at the Karjala Cup, the World Juniors, and in the KHL, MHL, and VHL as well. Although Chayka has not logged the 22 heavy minutes as he did last season with Guelph (now roughly playing around 12 minutes a game this season), Chayka still has done enough to keep his name around the first round. The things that impress me most about the Toronto Jr. Canadiens alum is his excellent first pass, but also the way he plays the game so effortlessly; truly has a complete skillset to be a top-4 defenceman.” - Raine Hernandez

Since heading back to Russia, Chayka's offensive game is very different from what it was last season in Guelph. Chayka doesn't drift too far from the point, except for going after loose pucks along the boards. In Guelph, Chayka was going down low and looking for juicy rebounds to snag. While his play style has shifted, his defensive play is still strong. Chayka exerts pressure right at the perimeter and can be a challenge for attackers to pivot around." - Josh Tessler

A stout defender and quietly effective transition player, Chayka may not show up on the scoresheet all that often but he does an excellent job of thwarting zone entries and moving the puck out quickly. His skating is good but not great, as he will need to work on his pivots and agility a bit. He has shown the ability to be a capable defender against men in both the KHL and VHL in Russia this season. He may not be a future PP QB but he has the potential to be a solid minutes eater who can be defensively conscious at even-strength and play on the PK.” - Tony Ferrari

I’m not sure his creativity with the puck and ability to quarterback the powerplay have developed quite the way we anticipated it would after watching him dominate the OHL Cup with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens. That said, I still like him as a candidate to have a long and prosperous NHL career. He really takes care of the puck and sees the ice well from behind his own blueline. A lot of the problems Chayka has stem from trying to do too much once he crosses his own blueline. When he keeps the puck moving quickly, there is a real efficiency to his game. A lot of his qualities grade out above average, which may concern some people. I also worry about his confidence offensively after spending the year in Russia. He didn’t look like the same Chayka that I have watched for the last three years at this year’s WJC’s. However, I do think that if he can find a way to add a little more jam to his game physically, he could be a long time NHL player. It’s just ultimately whether he’s more than a third pairing guy. I think, at this point, he’s aided by the fact that we are all so familiar with him. Two years in the OHL. Many international tournaments. Given the craziness of trying to rank this year, putting Chayka in the first round feels safe. However, if all leagues were operating as normal, I get the sense that he’d be a guy we’d be dropping a bit in favour of other higher upside players whose progression has surpassed him.” - Brock Otten

A guy you probably won’t notice a ton unless you despise point shots. Well over 100 pass attempts/60 at 5v5 and completing over 80% across multiple levels of pro hockey in Russia is very notable, with a 72% rate of maintaining control of offensive transitions and a 24% rate of allowing control on defensive ones is a recipe for success. He takes care of the puck and is at his best when things are kept simple. Probably not a player that will excite large swaths of fans, but a player that should be able to chip in at 5v5 and be an effective part of an NHL unit.” - Will Scouch

6. Brett Harrison - Center - Oshawa Generals

Total Votes: 14

Highest Ranking: 2nd (1x)

Lowest Ranking: Not Listed (5x)


Big centreman from Oshawa who has solid offensive instincts but needs to work on his acceleration. He is effective in the DZ and once he gets to the OZ, but I've found he struggles to outpace opponents through transition which makes him vulnerable on the rush and slow on the backcheck.” - Dylan Galloway

Harrison is a guy that has a really good understanding of the game & will become the Captain of the Oshawa Generals. He has some Jonathon Toews in his game with his ability to create offense but also can make the right play & go into the dirty areas. His defensive game still needs to improve but his ability to do everything right & his offensive play will carry him in the NHL. A smooth player that coaches will love because of his high IQ and high upside.” - Mark Seidel

Hard working, versatile, two-way center. Not a guy that will carry the play or drive the offense but more of a well-rounded, compete in all zones complimentary type player. Coaches trust him. Definite pro upside as a two-way guy who skates well and has a hard shot to go along with his defensive awareness.” - Dan Stewart

Another shoot-first center, Brett Harrison enjoyed an excellent rookie season while playing behind the likes of Phil Tomasino and Brett Neumann, notching 21 goals (which was third among OHL rookies) and 16 assists. A big frame and a powerful stride, Harrison wields a very versatile offensive skillset, using his body to protect the puck, but park him in front of the net, and Harrison is one of the best players in the entire class at deflecting pucks with tremendous hand-eye coordination. The LJK alum is also great at retrieving pucks on the forecheck, making it very difficult for teams to match up against him. With Harrison now headed to Finland to play for Tampereen Koovee U20’s, he’ll have the opportunity to showcase the strides that he has made in his development and jump up on draft boards.” - Raine Hernandez

Harrison is a guy that impressed me last year in Oshawa with his 21 goals and 37 points as a rookie.  I did not have the expectation that he was going to hit 20 goals last year so for him to hit that mark really showed me his shot might play better than I initially thought it would. Harrison is not a guy that will hurt you defensively and had a solid year in all three zones as a rookie.  I’m not sure he’s a high point producer in the NHL but I think he’s a really great third line guy or if he really peaks, a lower-end top-six player but there is nothing wrong with that.  As time goes on he will become more important to the Generals (as soon as this season if Tomasino joins the Predators) which may improve his overall game heading into the professional ranks.” - Matt Young

Another three-zone forward who contributes in multiple areas, Harrison is a capable stickhandler who is tough to knock off the puck. He’s on the younger side of his fellow OHL notables, so expect him to add more muscle to his 6-foot-1, 172-pound frame. Harrison’s skating strengths such as his elusiveness are more pronounced in close quarters than in open ice, although his 1-on-1 moves can be deceptive and known to catch defenders flat footed. Harrison has an underrated shot that is accurate and released quickly. He finished last season with 21 goals, which was second only to McTavish among 2003-born draft eligibles. Harrison was used on the power play, where he tallied seven times. Although his overall package doesn’t scream high-end point producer at the highest level, his versatility and usefulness in any situation should keep him high on the list of go-to forwards for the Generals, who increased Harrison’s role after trading veteran Serron Noel.” - Eddy Jones

7. Chase Stillman - Right Wing - Sudbury Wolves

Total Votes: 13

Highest Ranking: 6th (3x)

Lowest Ranking: Not Listed (6x)


I’ve been really impressed with his play in Denmark. Sure, the competition isn’t great and the league isn’t doing a whole lot to improve his defensive play. However, he is dominating the competition with his skill, IQ, physicality...and surprisingly, his speed. He looks much quicker and is really using the larger ice to his advantage. I was initially worried about his quickness given how it took some time for his brother Riley to improve his skating in the league. However, it’s clear that he put in the work over the hiatus to get stronger and quicker. To be honest, he’s really starting to look like a chip off the old block (his father being Cory Stillman). I certainly think we have a much better idea of the type of pro that he could be now, compared to a year ago.” - Brock Otten

This one was tough, as I had a few names that I thought of including here. Call it recency bias perhaps, but I went with Stillman, who I’ve seen in action in 2020-21. The offensive ability he shows is excellent, and while the Denmark U20 isn’t exactly the best competition for him, he proves that his offensive game is on another level. That’s proven by him averaging two points per game. He sees the ice so well, threading passes and forcing play into the middle. His defensive game has appeared non-existent while in Denmark, so I’ll hope for that to pick up for the back half of the season, but he could be a player who’s offensive ability carries him in the draft.” - Josh Bell

Throwback type of player...Showed offensive flashes last year...not afraid to play physical and fight...Became much better defensively...Added 20 pounds of muscle during pandemic.” - Mark Seidel

I did a lot of colour for the Wolves radio broadcasts last season and at the start of the year, Stillman was a guy on that team that really stood out for me. He stood out because he was undersized but had an exceptional work ethic, and often stole pucks off of the opponent's stick.  He did not play small in the corners either and was able to come away from corner battles with the puck more often than I expected. Stillman, like his father and former coach Cory, will not blow you away with explosive speed but his skating is not a detriment either.  If he improves that each season he could become a much more impactful pro. The one intangible to love about Stillman is that his father was a professional player so he knows what it takes to get there and does not seem to be afraid of the spotlight.  I will be curious to see how he adapts to his father not being his OHL Head Coach but that may further help his development as well, it’s hard to say at this point in time.” - Matt Young

Hard-working, determined, tries to do everything and anything to generate a win type of winger. Skates well, can handle the puck and generate chances, hard on the forecheck and sticks his nose in there. My type of player. Jumped over to Denmark where he was tearing it up with Esbjerg U20 as a top line winger before the OHL season. If he has any of those Cory Stillman genes, then I bet on this kid making the NHL one day based strictly on determination and grit.” - Dan Stewart

8. Ben Gaudreau - Goaltender - Sarnia Sting

Total Votes: 12

Highest Ranking: 6th (2x)

Lowest Ranking: Not Listed (7x)


Showed he is the class of the 2003 goaltenders...Big frame...Excellent anticipation...Takes away a lot of net...Has played on the international stage...Great demeanour...Needs more consistency.” - Mark Seidel

Combines skill with compete. The young netminder made a splash in his rookie season and seemed to be poised to have a great season ahead in his draft year. Goalies are always a bit tricky, but Gaudreau at times seemed to display some really great poise in the net and was impossible to beat. At times he got out of position and would result in making reflexive saves, but he made them for the most part in my viewings. I think he deserves to be taken as a 1st.” - Dylan Galloway

Quite frankly, I don’t remember a goaltender coming out of Minor Midget as good as Ben Gaudreau, and the Sarnia Sting seemed to have the same thoughts as I did when they took Gaudreau with the 7th overall pick. While the stats may not show it, having played on a Sting team that did not play all that well in front of him, when Gaudreau was on, there wasn’t a goaltender in the OHL that could replicate what he could inside that crease. With that being said, Gaudreau is very athletic, but also looks very calm between the pipes as well.” - Raine Hernandez

When I called a game in Sarnia game last year versus Windsor, Gaudreau was excellent and like Brandt Clarke you tended to forget he was a rookie and a goalie at that.  Ignore the stats as Sarnia was awful defensively last year.  His movement is so fluid you can see why Sarnia used a first round pick on him which is almost unheard of for a goalie.” - Steve Clark

"Gaudreau is efficient at trapping low danger shots. He can also be a pest for attackers down low with quick pad movements to confuse the attacker at the doorstep. His athleticism is very robust and can be very quick on his feet as he shifts to cover puck movement." - Josh Tessler

Gaudreau’s raw numbers may not be great but his season last year should be described as such. He was peppered nightly with a struggling Sarnia Sting team and he held his ground. Routinely making 35-40 saves, Gaudreau was keeping them in games. His play improved as the season wore on and his technique continued to improve as well. He is economical in his movement and shows the athleticism to make the flashy save when needed.” - Tony Ferrari

9. Artyom Grushnikov - Defense - Hamilton Bulldogs

Total Votes: 11

Highest Ranking: 4th (3x)

Lowest Ranking: Not Listed (8x)


Big, mobile, smart, hard defender who always earns the trust of his coaches, but his offensive touch is limited.” - Anonymous

Last saw him play at the World Junior A Challenge and liked what I saw in a physical, take care of his own end first, smart blueliner. Makes a crisp first pass and reliable outlets. Has the skating to join the attack or keep up with attacking forwards off the rush. Leans on opponents and uses his strong positioning and reach to disrupt. One that could move up my list quickly depending on how he looks in Hamilton after months off from the ice.” - Dan Stewart

Hard to really pinpoint some of these guys due to them not having played a game yet, but watching tape from Grushnikov gives me hope that this slot makes sense. He’s a careful puck controller with a physical side. A guy my eyeballs want to put higher, but my gut can’t do until he plays somewhere this season.” - Will Scouch

Grushnikov's gap control is not as strong as Chayka's, but he can still be a handful along the half-wall and he has some grit to his game. The Russian defenseman has shown to be deceptive along the boards while fending off the forecheck. He will make you believe that he intends on clearing the puck by raising his stick initially and then feed a pass in the other direction instead. In the offensive zone, he is quick to the puck and will pinch up for the loose puck to keep the cycle alive. He does struggle with shot selection and will need to work on being more selective." - Josh Tessler

If you like defensive defenders, Grushnikov is your man. He should play a big role with Hamilton this year as a shutdown blueliner. He has the mobility to play a modern defensive game but will need to work on his puck skills. He can sometimes throw grenades instead of passes but every once in a while flashes in transition. He certainly won’t wow you but it’s best when you don’t notice him.” - Tony Ferrari

In preparing an article for McKeen’s, I really sat down and watched a lot of video on Grushnikov. MHL footage. International tournaments. I have to say, I really still don’t have a great feel for the type of offensive potential he possesses. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that he has consistently been playing a level up instead of dominating against his own age group. Take the World Junior A Challenge, for example. He played well at that tournament as a double underager, however his game was safe. When you’re playing with older players in these types of formats, there can be a tendency to keep things simple because you don’t want to make a mistake. I have no doubt that he can defend and be a standout player in his own end at the NHL level. But, I wonder what type of ceiling he has as an offensive catalyst..if any. He’s in my top 10 (of the OHL for the purpose of this list) but I don’t feel confident moving him up more until I see him play in Hamilton, on smaller ice where he will have less time and space to make decisions with the puck.” - Brock Otten

10. Tristan Lennox - Goaltender - Saginaw Spirit

Total Votes: 7

Highest Ranking: 7th (1x)

Lowest Ranking: Not Listed (12x)


A big, smooth moving, butterfly keeper who shows excellent athleticism for his size. Puck tracking and rebound control can be hit or miss as can his confidence. Was in the fight to represent Canada at the World Juniors but was cut over two more experienced keepers, which should help his confidence for this season and whatever games the OHL does end up playing. Has slipped on many draft lists due to his inconsistencies over the past couple years but I still see the immense NHL upside. I think the switch goes “flip” and we have ourselves an NHL starter one day.” - Dan Stewart

3rd year goaltender....Has shown he could carry the mail in Saginaw...Technically very sound...Athletic enough to recover on misdirection plays.” - Mark Seidel

"Lennox seems to always be on high-alert. The Saginaw goaltender crouches when attackers enter the mid-slot. He has an excellent glove and decent athleticism. While he coughs up a decent amount of rebounds, he has shown that he can be quick to cough up those rebounds and eliminate second chance opportunities." - Josh Tessler

Lennox has a ton of potential but an up-and-down season last year allowed Gaudreau to pass him. He should be in the conversation for the second netminder taken all year. He has some international pedigree and was a monster for Saginaw in the playoffs prior to last season. He will look to take on the lead role with the Spirit this year and how he handles that will go a long way to determining how high he can go.” - Tony Ferrari

I think we need to wipe last year off his record books, as crazy as that may seem. I just don’t think he was right after getting injured at the Hlinka/Gretzky. I had such high expectations for him last season (I picked him to win the goaltender of the year in my preseason predictions), but those obviously didn’t come to fruition. I think he definitely has the potential to be a starting netminder in the NHL and makes up a quality triumvirate with Gaudreau and Joe Vrbetic as high end OHL goalies eligible in 2021. He was definitely one of the players I was excited to see improvement in the most this OHL season. Not currently in my Top 10 for the OHL, but he was certainly someone I heavily considered.” - Brock Otten 

Honorable Mentions

Wyatt Johnson - Center - Windsor Spitfires

Total Votes: 6

Highest Ranking: 3rd (1x)


He's a highly skilled intelligent playmaker who competes hard. His footspeed isn't the best.” - Anonymous

Super quiet in his first 17 games with only two points but after gaining the trust of Spit’s head coach Trevor Letowski, Wyatt had 28 points in 36 games. Trevor referred to Wyatt as a right handed Elias Petterson and you can see similarities in their game. His hockey IQ is his best asset and because of that I thought he was pretty strong defensively for someone playing in their rookie year. Understanding there is some bias here considering I saw this player the most but I truly believe he has what it takes to be a star at the next level.” - Tate Harris

A solid, two-way forward who can play in the middle or on the wing. He plays a smart game that doesn’t get the love it should. He makes excellent passes in transition and shows the ability to find a man through traffic. He has a good shot and gets to the home plate area with regularity. If he can get some time with Foudy as he did late in the season last year, he really could help form a solid duo for Windsor.” - Tony Ferrari

A slow start notwithstanding, Johnston had an impressive season when you consider his limited role on a deep Windsor squad. He appeared more comfortable and confident last November upon returning from the World U17 Hockey Challenge, where he tied for the Canada-Red lead in scoring with five points in five games. Also considered to be a capable two-way talent, Johnston’s work ethic and attention to detail in his own zone are both impressive. He reads the ice exceptionally well and consistently applies pressure to opposing forwards. Although he’s listed at only 167 pounds, Johnston is more than willing to engage physically and muck it up along the boards or in front of the net. He also saw more time on the power play as the season progressed. Johnston is a good skater with decent top speed, but his agility and edgework are solid. Adding explosiveness to his first step would certainly help, but he can make up for it with close-quarter maneuverability. He can unleash an average shot but also can fill the role of playmaker.” - Eddy Jones

Connor Lockhart - Center/Right Wing - Erie Otters

Total Votes: 6

Highest Ranking: 7th (3x)


The third overall pick in the 2019 OHL draft did not boast the strong offensive numbers of his peers in this group with just 27 points in 57 games. The thing that has me ranking Lockhart so high is his skating and edgework that is probably the best in this group, similar to that of Erie teammate Jamie Drysdale. He reminds me a little of Phil Tomasino as an OHL rookie. Even at the start of Tomasino’s second year, he seemed to defer to the older players like Akil Thomas and Ben Jones. It was not until Thomas left a game in Mississauga that Tomasino took the next step to drive the line and never looked back after that point. With Chad Yetman likely moving on this year, I am excited to see what Lockhart can do with the additional opportunity. I don’t expect Tomasino growth but I do expect significant growth.” - Matt Young

The small forward was underrated coming into this draft year in my opinion. I was really looking forward to seeing him use his smarts and puck skills to shock the OHL with a big season. Obviously, size is an issue, but with his dynamic skating and high-end smarts, I think he could be a player that shocks people and rises up draft boards if/when the OHL gets started.” - Dylan Galloway 

A quick skater who plays a high-energy style, Lockhart is one the smaller side of the OHL’s top draft eligibles but should see an increased role at center with the expected graduation of Chicago draftee Chad Yetman. Lockhart’s point totals weren’t necessarily gaudy in comparison to his peers (9 goals, 18 assists in 57 games), but he has a strong reputation in Hockey Canada circles as he was expected to play at the cancelled under-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament. Lockhart’s skating could very well be the best in the draft class. His ability to create separation is exceptional and his edgework allows him to operate in limited space. Lockhart’s high skill level coupled with elite hands makes him an obvious danger on the rush, and he has an excellent release and power on his shot for a forward his size. Deployed at center throughout his rookie OHL season, Lockhart could stand to improve at faceoffs, which he won at only a 42 percent success rate.” - Eddy Jones

Logan Mailloux - Defense - London Knights

Total Votes: 5

Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)


I have him ranked pretty high right now, even rated as a first round pick for 2021. Dating back to the OHL Cup, this is a kid who has always impressed me. Good mobility. Good offensive instincts. Plays the game very hard and loves to use his size to play the body. Playing in the Swedish third division (HockeyEttan), he has looked terrific...even if his team is a bit of a disaster. Watching him, his stride and four way mobility reminds me a lot of Logan Stanley. And his on ice persona and skill set reminds me of Darnell Nurse. This is a kid who, once he fills out, is going to become a very difficult player to match up against and he has enough skill to be a quality top four defender at the NHL level. Because he barely played in the OHL last year, he’s not on a ton of radars (although kudos to a few lists that have him high already), but he soon will be IMO.” - Brock Otten

Mailloux’s play in the third-tier Swedish HockeyEttan showcased how smooth and effortless his game is while directing play up the ice, especially as a 6-foot-3, right-shot defender. We all know how slow the Knights tend to play things with their kids, and Mailloux (as well as teammate Bryce Montgomery) looks poised for a big leap forward in the OHL. He’s got a chance to be a second rounder if he can polish his D-zone play and make some smarter choices on reads.” - Anonymous

I had not seen Mailloux play until I caught a couple of his games in Sweden but it looks like the Hunters have another stud NHL prospect to develop. Kid is massive with a condor’s wingspan, smooth mobility, a big shot and smarts. Handles the puck very well and contributes on both sides of the puck. Can go through lapses where he stops moving his feet and then that is where he looks just meh. But overall he has terrific upside as a middle pair blueliner. On loan to SK Lejon until the OHL resumes.” - Dan Stewart

One of the weirder case studies, and I am assuming he’s coming back from Sweden if we get an OHL season. Mailloux’s team in the HockeyEttan is… well… awful. Really awful. Just one game tracked thus far, but there’s only so much I can lay at Mailloux’s feet. His defensive transition game wasn’t great, but he pushed offensive transitions well. A strong puck controller, even if his linemates couldn’t handle a pass. Mailloux has strength on his frame that translates to throwing his weight around effectively and a shooting instinct from the point that is diverse, aggressive and threatening. More research is needed, but SK Lejon does not do Mailloux many favors. He could easily be higher on this list by the end of the year.” - Will Scouch

Ty Voit - Center/Wing - Sarnia Sting

Total Votes: 4

Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)


"Ty Voit is this year's Tyler Tullio. Voit thrives at going down low in tight situations with the puck. He is aggressive on the forecheck and is constantly finding defensive gaps to exploit. When at the doorstep, Voit can be a handful to contend with. With quick puck movement and a strong backhand, he can be a challenge for goaltenders to shut down.`` - Josh Tessler

A Pittsburgh-area native who was selected 89th overall in the 2019 OHL draft, Voit is an undersized playmaker with high-end skill and the ability to break games open. Blessed with impressive puck skills, Voit does most of his damage on the rush and is capable of gaining the inside in 1-on-1 scenarios. He can pull off exceptionally skilled plays without requiring optimal conditions such as gaps in coverage or an open path to the net. It shouldn’t be a shock that a player listed at 5-foot-8 is not only fast but also quick in all directions. A playmaker by trade, Voit possesses exceptional vision and the ability to pick out teammates from anywhere on the ice. He’s a power-play specialist who should expect to see an increased role while playing alongside the likes of NHL draftees Jamieson Rees and Jacob Perreault. Adding strength to his 140-pound frame is an obvious requirement for the upcoming season, but Voit still posted eight goals and 20 assists in 49 games.” - Eddy Jones

Ethan Del Mastro - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads

Total Votes: 3

Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)


Large bodied, mobile defender who's capable of moving the puck effectively. He's solid defensively and can use his size in the corners to gain possession. While I don't think he has a ton of offensive upside I think there's more there than the 7 points from his rookie season. He can get the puck up the ice and is competent on the blue line. He's a player I'm looking forward to seeing develop because I think there's a ton of upside in what he brings to the table.” - Dylan Galloway

While the stats don’t show it, Ethan Del Mastro was fantastic for a surging Steelheads team down the stretch. Del Mastro was defensively sound all year for the Trout and logging big minutes and certainly did not look out of place in the defensive zone and in battles in front of the net as well.” - Raine Hernandez

Francesco Arcuri - Left Wing/Center - Kingston Frontenacs

Total Votes: 3

Highest Ranking: 7th (1x)


I’m certainly not one of the contributors who had Arcuri inside their Top 10, but I can see why they would. If we’re talking about the highest offensive ceilings on this list, Arcuri would be near the top. The way he thinks the game, combined with the creativity/skill he possesses makes him a potentially dangerous offensive dynamo. As part of the Don Mills Flyers, he played with Shane Wright and Brennan Othmann and the three were just so dynamic. Arcuri was not just a tag along either. That said, he struggled with the size of OHL defenders and the speed of the OHL game last year. Turnovers were a problem in the offensive zone. However, with a good offseason regiment, I think it is likely that Arcuri really explodes if we have an OHL season and those who did rank him, are banking on him reaching that potential.” - Brock Otten

Stuart Rolofs - Left Wing - London Knights

Total Votes: 2

Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)


A big 2-way power forward, he moves well up and down the ice. He might not jump out as a player with a ton of flash or skill, but I find he does many of the little things right. He's often in the right spots, he works hard on both sides of the puck, and he can get up and down the ice with solid speed with some pretty powerful strides. At the same time, he can flash some skill with the puck given the opportunity. I think this is a player who would have really exploded onto the scene had we had a normal, full season.” - Dylan Galloway

Ryan Winterton - Center - Hamilton Bulldogs

Total Votes: 2

Highest Ranking: 9th (2x)


May be a bit of a reach at this point to have him on this list but there's something there I really like with Winterton. He's got raw potential and needs to fine tune a few things, but he can be a long time pro. He may not be able to drive the offense, but he can be a good complimentary player in the middle 6. He can score and make plays, he can read and react and he can contribute at both ends. He just needs to bring it all together. Needs to work on acceleration and overall quickness too.” - Levi Hill

Just on the outside of my Top 10, but I wanted to add a comment for Winterton. Last year, he was really starting to show signs of improvement before the shutdown. The last month or so of the season, I felt like he was starting to turn a corner and was showing signs of being an impact player. With added strength and explosiveness, this is a kid that I think really projects as a quality two-way center with a goal scorer’s mentality. He can create his own time and space with his hands and he was one of the players that I was most looking forward to seeing play this year; to see the improvements that he had made to his game. From an offensive standpoint, he kind of gave me flashbacks to watching Ryan Strome in his rookie OHL season.” - Brock Otten

Ethan Cardwell - Right Wing/Center - Barrie Colts

Total Votes: 2

Highest Ranking: 9th (1x)


A player that I was very shocked to see go undrafted, Ethan Cardwell was very productive in his draft year. One of the main pieces headed back to Barrie in the Ryan Suzuki trade, Cardwell seemed to have hit another level following the trade, finishing the year off at a PPG pace prior to the shutdown. Much like Hardie’s situation, Cardwell becomes a much more attractive option to teams looking to draft him, simply due to the familiarity with his game. Not to mention, Cardwell made the move to Sweden where he played in a few games with Surahammars IF and looked fantastic in those three games.” - Raine Hernandez

Colby Saganiuk - Right Wing - Erie Otters

Total Votes: 1

Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)


Small and skilled, Saganiuk is at his best when he's playing with speed and carrying the puck through the neutral zone. Despite his size he's not afraid to mix it up and doesn't shy away from contact. In fact, he's at his best when he's initiating contact. He's reliable and can be used in all situations. Needs to fill out his frame and add weight but the skill and IQ are there.” - Levi Hill

Bryce Montgomery - Defense - London Knights

Total Votes: 1

Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)


"Montgomery has the frame that most scouts and general managers drool over. But, he doesn't just have the size, he uses it to his advantage. He uses his 6'5'/220 lb frame to exert pressure and dictate where attackers go with the puck. London has utilized Montgomery on occasion at wing in shut down situations. Given his frame, he can be quite strong and a handful on the forecheck." - Josh Tessler

James Hardie - Left Wing - Mississauga Steelheads

Total Votes: 1

Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)


A player who made my list in the 2020 survey, it was a shame to see James Hardie go undrafted in October. Hardie became one of the best offensive players in the entire OHL the second half of last season, racking up a total of 34 goals and 29 assists. With the uncertainties heading into scouting players, there could be a possibility that teams will trust what they’ve already seen, thus making Hardie a very possible candidate to be a middle-round pick this time around.” - Raine Hernandez

Isaac Enright - Defense - Niagara IceDogs

Total Votes: 1

Highest Ranking: 10th (1x)


Call me biased on this one – I’m completely okay with it.  Enright is a solid two-way defender that does not do any one thing great but the overall game is solid. Did he struggle at times last year?  Absolutely, but I think you could say any 16-year-old that finds themselves on a top pair of a rebuilding team would.  Will it help him in the long run?  Yes, it certainly will. I’m not sure Enright will ever be an offensive guy at the OHL level. I think 35 points would be tremendous for him as he will be a guy that will be really good at contributing to both ends of the ice – especially defensively. He struggled to adjust to the speed of the higher end talent he faced regularly since he was not sheltered which led to turnovers.  Towards late January though you could see the finer points in Enright’s game recognizing the pressure and you would see him make subtle passes to get out of the zone or take that extra step to elude the forechecker. He is a pretty low-key kid that is stronger than he looks.  He grew up on a farm and is used to hard work.  He does not get excited about big moments (he did not even know he was drafted – he was out working on the farm rather than watching the draft) so that should help his poise as he continues to play bigger minutes in the coming seasons. It is hard to get a read on him given what he faced nightly on a poor Niagara team last year but he has the potential to be a really solid defensive player at the professional level.  You need guys to kill penalties and play solid defence to win championships and that’s where Enright could potentially really develop as a pro player.” - Matt Young

Joe Vrbetic - Goaltender - North Bay Battalion

Total Votes: 1

Highest Ranking: 10th (1x)


Unheard of to have two goalies in my top 10, but so is doing a draft ranking based on players who haven't played in the OHL since March. Vrbetic, to be kind, looked awful at times last year. The Battalion were terrible and Vrbetic, a bigger goalie, looked mechanical and slow.  When North Bay turned their fortunes around the latter part of the season, Vrbetic was a big reason and went from slow and mechanical to big, rangy and mobile. Would not have surprised me to see him make a Nico Daws like leap this year in a full season.” - Steve Clark

Dmitri Kuzmin - Defense - Flint Firebirds

Total Votes: 1

Highest Ranking: 10th (1x)


I’ve been told the chances of Kuzmin coming to the OHL this year are slim, which is unfortunate for North American fans, because Kuzmin is really, really interesting. If he doesn’t come over, pencil Vsevolod Gaidamak in here, assuming he comes. Kuzmin is a small defender with an exceptional four-direction skating ability to manage gaps, close rushing and passing lanes, and apply pressure to puck carriers. There’s skill with the puck on his stick that is also at a high level. He’s capable of opening lanes all over the ice in a variety of scenarios and is unafraid of getting involved deep in the offensive zone. The defenseman even tried a lacrosse goal at one point. He’s a guy who could be higher on this list if he does come to the OHL and translate how I feel he could, but if he doesn’t come over, he’s a guy I could easily see a team swing on late and have a laugh about in a few years.” - Will Scouch


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