The 2021 OHL Priority Selection is set for the weekend of June 4th and 5th, with the first round going on Friday and other rounds on Saturday. Obviously, this is like no other OHL Priority Selection in history. The majority of the players eligible played very little this season, forcing scouts to trust U15 viewings and hours of videos from practices and scrimmages to help them make their decisions. Additionally, due to the lockdown and the cancelled OHL season, OHL teams have no idea how their prospects from the 2020 Priority Selection have progressed, complicating potential teams needs and wants.
It should be noted that this mock draft was started over a week ago, before the US NTDP final roster was announced and before some of the information on team preferences started to leak. At the end of the day, just like last year's endeavour, it may not be extremely accurate as a prediction, but it does serve as an informative piece on the best players available.
This is the third year that we are doing the OHL Collaborative Mock Draft. In a normal year, I don't see as much minor midget action as I would like to, let alone this year, so yet again I have brought in some great minds who have seen these draft prospects play a ton.
Helping out with this mock draft are:
Steven Ellis – Web Editor & Writer/Digital Content Producer for The Hockey News (@StevenEllisTHN)
Raine Hernandez – OHL coverage for Puck Preps & NHL Draft Coverage for McKeen's Hockey (@BringerofRaine)
Josh Bell – Director of Content and Scout for Future Considerations & OHL Scout for Puck Preps (@JoshuaBell31)
If you're hungry for more content on the upcoming OHL Draft, be sure to check out the websites linked above, as they all provide great content.
Without further ado, here is our two round mock with many honorable mentions:
1. Sudbury Wolves (Brock) - Quentin Musty - Forward - North Jersey Avalanche U16 (AYHL)
The Sudbury Wolves hit the jackpot by winning this year’s randomized lottery, seeing as they would have likely been drafting in the back quarter of the first round had an OHL season occurred. A later developing story is that one of the top American 05’s, Quentin Musty, turned down an offer to join the NTDP, which has made him a top candidate to go first overall. Fresh off winning a National Championship with North Jersey, the 6’3 forward is an absolutely dynamic offensive forward who blends both power and skill. He would be an immediate impact player for the Wolves and set them up to continue their run of contention in the East. Of course, the Wolves could also still look at a top two-way center like Oakville’s Calum Ritchie, but Musty is both the rumoured selection and the one that makes sense. The last star to come out of Buffalo and to play in the OHL turned out alright, am I right?
2. Oshawa Generals (Ethan) - Calum Ritchie - C - Oakville Rangers (SCTA)
The Oshawa Generals receive a large boost to their roster with Canadian talent Calum Ritchie from the Oakville Rangers. After a successful season of showing he can be one of Ontario’s top 2005 players, he has earned enough consideration as one of the top players in the draft class. Ritchie possesses a strong two-way forward like presence with the skillset to show-off his creative talents. His puck-handling and hockey IQ can be displayed through his decision making on the ice as well as his contributions to his teammates through his leadership. To add to his toolbox of skills is his shooting ability with his quick snapshot. His shooting accuracy is very precise and he doesn't waste time getting a good shot off his stick. Ritchie would be a solid addition to the talent generated within the Oshawa system and could easily find success with last year's draft pick Aidan Castle (should he sign). Both would pair their speed and playstyle to create another dynamic Oshawa duo.
3. Guelph Storm (Connor) - Cameron Allen D - Toronto Young Nationals (GTHL)
Back in 2016 the Guelph Storm had the opportunity to select an offensive defenceman with the 1st overall pick in Ryan Merkley, and with the 3rd pick the Storm have the chance to select another high-end talented defenseman with offensive abilities that can bring you out of your seat. Not only would Guelph be getting the best player available, but also a player that would fill a need on the back end. With a fairly deep forward group, that includes returning 2003 born Danny Zhilkin, the Storm also have several prospects who they selected in the 2020 OHL Draft to look forward to, in Matthew Poitras, Jake Karabela, and Ryan McGuire. Allen is a high-end defenceman with tons of skill, to go with his mobility and puck moving ability. He loves to control the play from the back end and carry the puck up ice. He is a player, who despite having tons of skill, plays with an edge, unafraid to use his body and bring a physical presence to opposing forwards.
4. Windsor Spitfires (Steven) - Noah Cochrane, D - Barrie Jr. Colts (SCTA)
Cochrane has been a standout defenseman for a few years now. Cochrane played a year up with the Barrie Colts’ minor midget program and was the team’s best player on many nights, trailing Charlie Fowler for the team lead in points by a defenseman. Cochrane loves to engage himself in offensive rushes and there are a few clips out there of him stealing the puck for a breakaway chance. Physically, Cochrane can hold his own, but his true strength lies in how he handles the puck – whether it be shooting with his quick, dangerous wrist shot on the power play or the way he sets up forwards at a high pace.
5. Kingston Frontenacs (Raine) - Colby Barlow - C - Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)
For the second consecutive season, the Kingston Frontenacs take the best player available, coming from the Toronto Marlboros; Colby Barlow. In what will certainly be Shane Wright’s final season in Kingston, a potential run to the Memorial Cup will be on the line, a run in which Barlow can easily slide into and contribute right away as a secondary scorer. Once Wright becomes the first overall pick and leaves for the NHL, Kingston will do just fine with their future in place with Paul Ludwinski and Barlow.
6. Peterborough Petes (Ryan) - Nicholas Sima, C/RW, Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)
After selecting defenceman Donovan McCoy in the first round of 2020, the Petes land a top power forward prospect from the JRC in 2021. Nicholas Sima has a powerful motor, and skates like the wind with incredible acceleration and top speed. His balance on his skates and tremendous strength make him a formidable presence on the ice physically. Sima throws punishing body checks regularly and has a consistent complete level each shift. That ability to pressure defenders with his relentless forecheck creates an abundance of turnovers, and causes dangerous disruptions to the oppositions’ flow on the breakout. Nicholas has excellent hands in tight areas and can dangle. His ability to cut middle on the rush and snipe with a quick snapshot is special. He’s improved a ton over the last year or so, and he’s established himself as one of the elite players in the 2021 draft class. Sima also has off-the-charts hockey intelligence, natural leadership skills, and many other intangible qualities that should lead to success at the next level.
7. Flint Firebirds (Garnet) - Carson Rehkopf - F - Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)
Carson is tendered with Muskegon; however, I am confident he will end up in the OHL as he is a prospect with NHL Draft upside. Before making this selection, I would have spoken to the player and agent and saw if we could come to a deal for his 16-year-old year or join us as a 17-year-old after one year in the USHL. If this deal were a no-go, I would have selected Luke McNamara or Carey Terrance at this spot, depending on which one of the two interviewed best. Carson is long, lean, athletic, projectable, and possesses the skill sets to be a top two-line impact in the Canadian Hockey league. He plays with pace, moves his feet very well for a big man, and penetrates the scoring areas of the ice very nicely. Carson has the size to drive the net and is a willing combatant in the battle strike areas of the ice. His best asset is his ability to take the puck to the net, and he likes to take it wide and deep on defenders. He competes well, can play heavy minutes, projectable body, pro-style frame, and possesses intangibles - checks off all the boxes.
8. Owen Sound Attack (Josh) - Tristan Bertucci, D, Toronto Malboros (GTHL)
With their only pick in the first two rounds, the Attack opt for one of the most offensively-gifted defensemen in this class. Bertucci is a smooth-skating defender with excellent hands and great vision. His four-way mobility stands out on the ice, with the ability to dance along the blue line as he creates space for himself. He already has a knack for carrying the puck into the house for a high-danger chance, versus a low-percentage shot from the point. Already six-foot-one, the defender has a good posture with a long reach and while there are some improvements to make on the defensive side of the puck, his offensive game should excel at the next level. With the Attack selecting skilled forwards Cedrick Guidon and Gavin Bryant in the 2020 Priority Selection, looking to the backend makes sense for the team with their first selection in 2021.
9. Mississauga Steelheads (Ethan) - Luke McNamara, C, Bishop Kearny Selects 15U/ JRC (GTHL)
Coming down to the wire, the Mississauga Steelheads would have liked to have seen one of the defencemen drop down to their hands. But don’t get me wrong, they would be super excited to see one of the stronger snipers in this draft class with Luke McNamara still remaining. After drafting many right handed shots at last year’s priority selection, the Steelheads will be looking thin with left handed talent. McNamara can bring a puck control aspect to the game and he is one to communicate well on the ice. His smooth skating stride paired with a snipers mentality can easily be mistaken by opposing goaltenders leaving him a good scoring opportunity. He also adds a good size element to his game and has learned to find a balance of protecting the puck and driving the play. Overall, this adds to Mississauga's deep pool of talent with recent draftees Lavoie, Beck and Christy.
10. Erie Otters (Benjamin) - Chris Barlas - F - Navan Grads (HEO)
Chris can develop in time to be a top 6 scoring forward in the OHL and should have a solid career as a point-producing forward. He showed advanced maturity and was a dominant player in his U18 league this season as a 15/16 year old. Chris is an offensive driver for his team – he plays an intelligent game and knows exactly what to do with the puck on his stick. A very organized player that analyses the game at a first-round level. When the puck is on his stick, he is astute! He shows consistent play management skills and keeps turnovers to a minimum, making him an effective player coaches will want to reward with his ice time. Generates scoring opportunities out of nothing and creates a lot with his pace on zone entries. Good down low on the wall, cycles the puck well, exhibits good puck protection skills, and has the natural intuition you need to put up points at the OHL level of performance. Poise and patience with the puck are prime assets Chris brings to the table. He can feed his teammates surging into the holes and lanes.
Chris's overall delay tactics are solid, and he is able to think a step ahead of the opponent at the U18 level. Chris gains speed with his quick elliptical crossovers and fools defenders with his deceptive pace. High level defenders are experts at detecting rhythm, patterns, and offensive trends – for example, former #1 NHL Draft selection Alexander Daigle had 2 or 3 fantastic set moves in the QMJHL that transitioned over wonderfully into the NHL out of Junior's when he was 18 years old. In his first 8 games with Ottawa, he was one of the leading scorers in the league and looked well on his way to being an NHL superstar; however, D-men figured out his patterns and shut it all down. Variance is the key to delivering offense at the higher levels and I want to see Chris continue to work on his attacking setups. Right now - he has OHL level skill-sets, and variability - unpredictability is a big element of being a successful player at high performance hockey and a player always has to find new ways to mix it up. Chris is projectable because he is not a one-trick pony! He varies it up, and he is athletic enough to accelerate/decelerate - in other words, this player forces D-men into a state of good confusion where they are constantly guessing, overthinking, and over-analyzing.
I like Chris's ability to gain speed on crossovers - big improvement with his elliptical movement in the past 12 months - this is an essential element in scouting/projecting who will and who won't achieve high-level success. Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid are world class players in large part thanks to their rate of turnover in crossovers, small muscle initiations and rate of force speed production which comes as a result. In these critical athletic area's Chris has a solid base, and with continued good fundamental coaching, this player is projectable. Clearly, his coaches who have worked with him 1 on 1 in his career know what they are doing, and most importantly, they have had an excellent student that grasps it. OHL game reps, daily practice against older and more experienced players, patience, sleep, and nutrition will take this player to the next level. Chris excels in creating plays out of nothing and uses his low center of gravity to get into scoring areas. He is dangerous between the dots, shoots the puck with a quick release, and is equally able to dish to both sides of the ice on the forehand and backhand.
Chris is a slippery attacker that makes his line-mates better with his heads-up play. His ability to counter-react is at the OHL performance level, and I like his split-second decision-making under pressure. These two positive aspects to his game will ensure durability in the OHL, where scoring forwards have less time and space to generate on the attack and need to avoid heavy contact that creates wear and tear on the body. It's why Gretzky practiced with pylons - increasing reaction time, which in turn results in durability, extra time/space and elite creative performance results. Coaches need players that are good to go every night! Chris' collected mannerisms on the ice, solid mental game, and self-confidence are three crucial key assets he brings to the table that will ensure gradual improvement over a four to five-year period. Gradual small incremental improvements and focused work day in and day out are the keys to success in life and in hockey, and Chris has done a solid job over the past 10 years of his development getting better and better with each day.
11. North Bay Battalion (Steven) - Nick Lardis, F, Oakville Rangers (SCTA)
First thing you'll see when watching Lardis is his feet are his biggest assets. He's not only quick, but he's technically talented when it comes to starts and stops and keeping balance under pressure. It's a good thing his hands can keep up with the pace because everything about his game is built around being energetic. Not the most physical kid, but as the game continues to be dominated by skilled, speedy forwards, Lardis really finds a way to shine.
12. Ottawa 67’s (Josh) - Cole Brown, C, York Simcoe Express (ETAHL)
The 67’s are facing a changing of the guard, with top players Marco Rossi, Jack Quinn, Graeme Clarke, Noel Hoefenmayer, likely Kevin Bahl, and more, all moving on to higher levels. With that, the team is unlikely to be as successful as they have been in recent years and some retooling is in order. With their first selection, picking Cole Brown might just turn out to be a big steal of this draft. Brown is an extremely intelligent centerman with strong skating mechanics and impressive vision. He has a long, wide stride, and mixes lateral crossovers into his movements to constantly change his direction of attack. He opens his hips well, allowing him to quickly pivot and when combined with his edges, makes him a deceptive player. Especially for his age, he’s extremely calm and poised under pressure and displays the ability to draw defenders in while creating space for his teammates. He could very well be a top-line, playmaking centerman in the OHL and a key piece of the 67’s moving forward. With many high-end players leaving the team, Brown could very much help to fill that void.
13. Sarnia Sting (Ryan) - Ethan Miedema, LW, Quinte Red Devils (OMHA ETA)
Sarnia rushes to the podium to select Ethan Miedema, who brings a rare blend of size and skill to the table. Once he fills into his 6-foot-4 frame and builds up his strength a bit more, he could become an unstoppable winger in the latter stages of his OHL career. Players with his size rarely have the elite skill level in their hands and quiet feet like Miedema. He is also lightning quick and has excellent edges, which help him utilize drastic changes of pace and/or direction. Ethan’s elite skating affords him extra time and space with the puck to operate in the offensive zone, and helps create clear passing lanes. The timing and precision of his passes off either the forehand or backhand shows elite touch and playmaking vision. Miedema is a high-end finisher and natural goal scorer too. The full package he brings to the table when you add his infectious personality is another factor that makes him too difficult for Sarnia to pass on.
14. Hamilton Bulldogs (Brock) - Luke Misa, C, Oakville Rangers (SCTA)
One thing I believe that the Bulldogs will aim to accomplish in this draft is to become quicker and they do that by adding Luke Misa from the powerhouse Oakville Rangers. Misa also adds a dynamic goal scoring ability to a team that is losing Arthur Kaliyev the next time the OHL takes the ice. Another positive to Misa is that he has apparently grown significantly since his bantam season and is now 6’0. You would be hard pressed to find a forward with more upside than Misa at this point in the draft. That said, I could also see Misa’s teammate Owen Outwater as an option here, who would add size and goal scoring ability to the wing and whose raw, natural athletic abilities also would make him a high upside selection. It should be noted that the Bulldogs have targeted OMHA players four of the last five years in the first round.
16. Saginaw Spirit (Benjamin) - Marco Mignosa - F - Toronto Nationals (GTHL)
Very thrilled to get Marco Mignosa at this slot in the draft. Unless he is looking at the college route and is not 100 percent firm in his commitment, I cannot see him slipping down this low in the draft process. How good is this player? I loved this young man's play two years ago playing a year up, and you'd never have guessed he was underage. In fact, one scouting service had him ranked top 80 for the 2020 draft – and who can blame them as the kid was super mature, listed as 2004 in the programs, and a key player playing up a year as an underage! Marco is a very solid hockey player, looks the part and delivers in the big moments. He will fit in nicely as a 16 year old and find a way to convince the coach to trust him in all situations I am sure with his reliable all around game.
So what makes this kid a prospect, you might ask? A fascinating book I read recently “Triphasic Training (Cal Dietz)” - this book pretty much uses the scientific evidence compiled 50 years ago by the Russian sports scientist and the godfather of plyometrics and depth jumps, Doctor Yuri Verkhoshansky. The Russian's developed several methods of improving eccentrics (an area Marco excels in) - and it quickly improved their athlete's full-body strength. At first, they were doing crazy things like literally throwing athletes against a wall in a hammock and doing depth jumps that bordered on pure insanity. As you can imagine, a few injuries from their careless drive to achieve more and more too fast and too quick. In training you have to focus on small gains over years and years of proper work/rest/nutrition, and never get greedy, or it will always backfire on you. Eventually, the Russian's invented the plyo-swing, where you could force a safer overspeed eccentric through bands/weight (although I would not do the weight with Marco at this stage of his development) and it did not injure the athletes. Want to get stronger? Do depth jumps and over-speed eccentric work, and you will get stronger! We are always concerned with rock star instagram NFL combine vertical jumps of beauty - but, as a sports scientist, I want to see a depth jump and then a vertical jump, and/or I want to evaluate the athlete's ability to come out of a leap - remain engaged for a second jump. How well does the athlete use energy off a depth jump and how do they land after a big vertical jump? You see some NBA careers for instance end early because of poor eccentrics. Landing/rebounding/generating force off the ground and being able to load the hips with speed tells me all I need to know about an athlete's potential.
You won't be a successful OHL/NHL player if you cannot absorb force, and drop the hips quickly to a contact position. I believe Rogue fitness has this machine (plyo-swing) in stock as they have taken over building machines for renowned strength coach Louie Simmons who has developed world record powerlifters as well as NFL/NBA/MMA athletes. Use it two times a week, you will swear by it. I built my own model with a bigger platform and more ways to attach bands to provide variance. The Russian model got a 14% increase with their volleyball players (which is unheard of in this business) back in the 1960s. So, what I technically like so much about Marco is his ability to drop his hips and load power. If you have eccentric control (which is Marco’s best asset) coaches will be able to develop you VERY QUICKLY. If you overlook this aspect you will end up not being a durable athlete. Some athletes have control - and, in others you need to put the work in to get it optimal so they can withstand the physical play and force generated at the next level of hockey. Generally I find some athletes a bit weaker these days because they are not jumping out of trees, playing multiple sports and skipping ETC ETC. Now I am not sure if Marco is a great student that had a superb teacher or it's something that he normally does – but it is intriguing! As a scout, you are always looking for a functional athlete, and you are always praying after the draft, your sports science team can improve your players, or they have an agent that has been to the rodeo a few times in his career and has the knowledge and connections to get the athlete to the right people. I have seen many first rounder players ruined over the years by poor training, overusing gross muscles, lack of glute/ham strength, weak hips, not focusing on small muscle work and messing up in the nutrition/resting/sleep areas of performance. An excellent training staff working with players in these areas makes a great scout, and a team investing in sports science gets the most value out of their draft picks and maximizes organizational depth. Hockey is really a team game, and if you are a Skill Performance Coach, Head Coach or Assistant Coach, your job can be made much easier if you have the right sport science team connecting the dots in the gym and putting in place the activations that will make a player successful in drill sets your coaches teach that will transition well to game situations where vast amounts of force are thrown upon the athlete. It's no coincidence some NHL agencies are running their own gyms, and talking developmental matters into their own hands with specific in-house experts. It's all about connecting the dots - and, the best in the world figure out a way to do it one way or another! I see this player has done a lot of the right things, so for me he is scientifically projectable.
Marco does an excellent job of getting pucks to the net, and he displays perfect continuity of momentum and flow to his game. Maintaining speed is vital for playing success in pro/OHL hockey - if you do not have a sound glide/posture and flow like water (as Bruce Lee used to say), your energy systems will be overworked and cause career backward trending breakdowns and stock devaluation of the your performance assets. If you are not durable - you won’t be around long. The OHL schedule and demands on the body are no joke! Marco time and time again builds speed, takes it to the net, and never loses much pace through heavy or incidental contact. His rock solid athletic ability results in confidence and fearlessness when he is driving to the net and zero performance anxiety. Very thrilled to get this player at this spot in the draft – scientifically speaking this player is exciting in terms of what you can do with development. He’s the epitome of what we call “highly projectable!”
17. London Knights (Garnet) - Aram Minnetian - D - Mid Fairfield Rangers (15U AAA)
As the GM of the London Knights I would have offered Aram the first round slot. This draft started before the NTDP team was selected, so he’d be my number 1 option on the table to try and come to an agreement on. If the answer was no I likely would have selected either Carey Terrance or big Owen Outwater in this position. Aram is a high-end player that shows the ability to defend and kill plays in the defensive end, and versus the rush. He is safe and can break up plays and move the puck forward quickly. Potential to be a top 2 D-man in his prime years of OHL NTDP, USHL and NCAA. Solid pro-style defender, an athletic player, controlled center of gravity, skates well in all four directions and will one day be a D-man that plays 25-30 minutes. Shows the potential to help run a PP at the elite levels. Moves nicely in all three zones, walks the line well on the offensive end and can use his movement defensively to cover elite level 16/17/18/19/20 year old forwards. Plays a mature game, gets pucks to the right man on the power play, and is capable of jumping up into the play as the number four man on the attack. Transitions the puck nicely, exits his zone cleanly, holds gap position nicely for a 16-year-old, and has good overall instincts for the game. Plays hard, and has always been able to take his game to the next level when the money is on the line in a national championship game.
18. Kitchener Rangers (Raine) - Luca Pinelli, F, Toronto Jr. Canadiens
Third time's the charm, right? With veterans like Riley Damiani and Jon Yantsis gone from the team, it is time for the Rangers to reload and build around their new face of the franchise, Francesco Pinelli, and what better way to do that than to pair alongside his younger brother Luca.
19. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Connor) - Owen Outwater, Wing, Oakville Rangers (SCTA)
Another forward from the 2005 born Oakville Rangers squad gets taken in the 1st round, with Owen Outwater surprisingly still available for Sault Ste. Marie to select with the 19th pick. After selecting a high-end prospect in Bryce McConnell-Barker, the Greyhounds have a chance to give him a high hockey IQ winger, who has consistently shown that he can play alongside top players, being a key piece on what could be called Oakville’s top line alongside Calum Ritchie and Nick Lardis. Outwater knows how to get his teammates the puck on the breakout in transition, while also understanding where he needs to be to get the puck, putting himself in a scoring position at the right times. Outwater brings a net front presence, while possessing great hands in tight, contributing to his high-end finishing ability. Ultimately, Ouwater would be a steal if he is still available for the Greyhounds to pick, and I fully expect him to be gone much sooner.
20. Barrie Colts (Ryan) - Declan Waddick, C, Waterloo Wolves (ALLIANCE)
The Barrie Colts are pleasantly surprised to see Declan Waddick (the top player from the ALLIANCE) available at the end of the first round. Waddick led the ALLIANCE in goals for the last two seasons (U14 and U15) with the Sun County Panthers. His transfer to the Waterloo Wolves program for his draft year bolstered a formidable Waterloo squad into a legitimate OHL Cup contender, had there been a season. Waddick creates an abundance of scoring opportunities due his elusiveness, high-end skill, and sharp offensive instincts. He’s a very slippery player and is tough to contain with his quickness and shifty lateral movement. Declan is a natural goal scorer with upside that Barrie can’t pass on at this point in the draft. Barrie has placed a premium on speed, skill, and puck possession capabilities in recent years. They have also signed their top three draft picks from 2020, which are forwards with similar skill sets (Hunter Haight, Beau Jelsma & Cooper Matthews). Waddick would fit into their system perfectly and is expected to produce at an elite level during his OHL rookie year. The Colts will place significant value on this, especially since they’re expected to be one of the top teams in the OHL’s Eastern Conference during the upcoming season.
21. Windsor Spitfires (via Barrie Colts) (Steven) - Cam Mercer - F - Barrie Colts (SCTA)
With most players missing out on the 2020-21 season, the nice thing with Mercer is that he got a full year with the U-16 Barrie Colts a year ago. His biggest asset is his wrist shot: just quick, accurate and without much of a windup. Just watching his highlights, there's more than a few clips where he's gotten the shot in the net before the goaltender could tell a shot was about to take place. Despite his great shot, he's not a high-volume goal-scorer and will need to figure out the consistency portion of that, but he's at a good spot in his development right now. Mercer doesn't make many mistakes finding teammates with the puck and creating his own space is a positive of his game.
22. Erie Otters (via Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) (Benjamin) - Mathieu Paris - F - Navan Grads (HEO)
I wanted two players at this stage of the draft – Mathieu Paris and Carey Terrance. I decided only to select Canadians with my high picks, and unfortunately, we are not allowed to trade, swap picks, etc (in this mock draft)., but if I were on the draft floor, I would have paid a significant premium to get New York born Carey, as I think he is a hell of a player. Well done, Sir Ryan McArthur, on getting the steal of the draft! And on that note, congrats on your success with the U16 podcast - a fantastic job you and Connor are doing with that and a must listen for all OHL Draft fans, coaches, scouts, parents, and followers! The OHL Draft tends to be a predictable affair, so I would have done what I had to do to move into a position where I could get both of these players if the price were within reason, of course. Mathieu Paris will be the player I am selecting here, and for me, he is VERY INTERESTING, and I think with the right sports science team, he could exceed expectations!
An essential factor you are looking for in athletes is Stretch Reflex – and Mathieu is excellent in this area! Essential areas I am looking at in an athlete are the ankle neurology, achilles tendon, and the spinal column functionality. If you got that going for you (which Mathieu does in spades), you are off to the races. I met an accomplished MMA coach once and observed her training sessions for a week - every new kid that would come to her; she'd take off their shoes/socks/and do 7-8 things to see where they were at with their feet. Evaluating the foot was her scouting system! She wasn't the greatest coach either – but she developed a lot of national champions with this simple methodology – and she was always doing what she could to make that support structure (the foot) the best she could! Her kids always got better, and she did an excellent job with talent identification in her program model. The worst training programs are the ones that don't put a HUGE MAJOR emphasis on the good old foot and spine! The foot is the perfect machine – it is the only part of your body that is in contact with the ground, and as veteran NBA players say, “if your dawgs are not 100%, it's all over!” I have yet to see an athlete increase his myelin (a substance that is surrounding the nerve cell axons that determines technical skill output in elite athletes) if they are not great in the ankle/spine area by this stage of their career. Sooner or later, you see potential/athletes max out if these two areas are not optimal. I hope moving forward, Mathieu continues to put a significant emphasis on this area as that is what will drive success for him. Balance and proprioception are the two reasons he is a very good player that could transition into a great one if he is doing the right things off the ice.
I like Mathieu's skill a ton – talented player, good movement to his game, ease of motion few have in this age group possess, and a very high level of creativity. The team drafting this player will be picking a player that will get better and better as he has the right proportions, natural quickness, and ability to relax under pressure. Good underlying athletic mechanics and posture, mindfulness and awareness tend to project well for OHL hockey, where the rate of speed/force can be overwhelming for the neurological and energy systems of 16 and 17 years old. You better have trained hard in the summer and done the right things if you want to survive in the jungle with the best of the best. 19/20 years olds in the OHL who all have Harvard sports science degrees so to speak, a NHL camp or two behind their belts etc - they tend to figure out the young lions very quickly. Remember that all summer draft prospects, and educate yourself, read books and really watch what is really happening in all pro sports - not just hockey. Mathieu is a good candidate to succeed, I think!
With that said, there are a few things I do not like about his game - but, veteran OHL coaches will quickly fix them if Mathieu is a quick study and buys into what the experts and 20 years old vets tell him to do! The key thing for any young player entering the league - keep your eyes/ears open, watch and learn very quickly. The players that end up being the best use every resource provided 110%, ask the best technical questions and put themselves in a position to have a winning outcome at the end of the day. Mathieu can go a long way - a very interesting prospect with potential. However, in the OHL you need to go from potential to pro reality very quickly! Production matters now.
23. Niagara IceDogs (via Kitchener Rangers) (Raine) - Grayson Tiller - D - Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs (SCTA)
Despite not having a first round pick this season, the IceDogs are set to bring in a great group of talent next season highlighted by Pano Fimis, and potentially San Jose Sharks second-round pick Daniil Guschin. That said, Grayson Tiller was such an important piece on the back-end for the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs, and will be a great piece alongside the likes of Landon Cato and Giancarlo Chanton.
24. Niagara IceDogs (via London Knights) (Connor) - Matthew Soto, Wing, Oakville Rangers (SCTA)
The IceDogs don’t have to travel too far to make their second of back to back picks in the second round, taking a short trip up the 403 to select a dynamic winger in Matthew Soto, a dominant player in the South Central AAA league with the Oakville Rangers. With his speed and agility, he is able to push the pace, but also slow the game down with his edges when he needs to. Soto controls the puck really well using his poise and skating to protect the puck effectively, drawing players in and then setting up his teammates. With Soto’s quick snap shot and ability to create in transition, he would be a welcome addition to a roster that is adding 2020 draft picks in Pano Fimis, Brice Cooke, Alec Leonard, Dylan Roobroeck, and Ryan Struthers.
25. Barrie Colts (via Saginaw Spirit) (Ryan) - Angus MacDonell, C, Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)
The Colts use their next selection on Toronto Marlboros captain Angus MacDonell. MacDonell is a complete, 200-foot forward that does everything well. As an elite lacrosse player, Angus has excellent hand-eye coordination and balance. He is very firm on his skates and does well working in small areas with elite puck skills and fast hands. MacDonell’s skating is something to behold with his elite top cruising speed and shiftiness. He attacks open ice like a dart with his quickness and accelerates in a hurry. Angus can be relied on in any game situation and steps up for his team when the pressure is on during crucial moments. Barrie is excited to nab two elite forwards with their first two selections in the 2021 draft.
26. Barrie Colts (via Niagara IceDogs) (Ryan) - Beau Akey, D, Waterloo Wolves (ALLIANCE)
Barrie steps up with the second of back to back picks and takes right shot defender Beau Akey from the Waterloo Wolves program. Akey is a tremendous overall skater with elite speed going both forwards and backwards. Players that are gifted with natural skating abilities like this are very rare and Beau’s explosiveness is special. He’s also very shifty and good at moving laterally. This makes him dangerous off the rush and his offensive instincts are top notch. Akey is a beast quarterbacking the power play and he finds the seams well when distributing the puck. He doesn’t have tunnel vision and instinctively works through the progressions with his reads on the PP quite effectively. Akey is an excellent pick for the Colts here as a successor to take over the power play one day from stud Barrie dman Brandt Clarke. Beau also possesses excellent leadership abilities and he wore the ‘C’ for Waterloo in their U15 season.
27. London Knights (via Hamilton Bulldogs) (Garnet) - Ryan Fine - Mid Fairfield Rangers (15U AAA)
When I made this selection it was before the NTDP camp and Ryan was still on the uncommitted marketplace. This is my choice at this spot, and if I was unable to commit to London I would have drafted Carey Terrance or Mitchell Brooks at this spot. Ryan has the upside to be an excellent scoring line forward in the Ontario Hockey League if he can eventually be signed. Intelligent hockey player that plays with a ton of pace and gets into the holes offensively. He finds the right lanes and shows a high level of hockey IQ. Ryan reads the ice very well, knows what to do on the PP, and uses his combination of movement, speed, quickness, and agility to create dynamic offense. One of the best 2005 DOB first strike offensive forwards in North America.
28. North Bay Battalion (via Sarnia Sting) (Steven) - Anthony Romani - F - Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)
Romani is a dangerous two-way forward who seems willing to take abuse in front of the net to help his team and likes to chip in rebounds from in close. Romani does a nice job of picking angles with an above-average wrist shot and is one of the better passers on the Jr. Canadiens. He isn’t a great skater, but he’s good enough to put himself in scoring areas and grabs a lot of points as a result. It’s worth noting that just three players outscored Romani at the U-13 World Selects Invitational three years ago, and one of them was Connor Bedard.
29. Ottawa 67’s (Josh) - Alex Assadourian, F, York Simcoe Express (ETAHL)
A smaller centerman with great speed and a high motor? That just screams 67’s pick. While Assadorian might not be at the level of Marco Rossi, he does fit that mould as a player. His lighting quick on the ice, in both his foot speed and hands. His skating is very fluid and should only improve as he grows and builds strength. He’s fearless on the ice, jumping into board battles at both ends of the ice, diving in front of shots, and taking on bigger opponents. He battles hard, always working to get the puck back to his team. With the puck he’s just as impressive, maintaining good possession, changing direction and pace as he enters the zone, and showing off some impressive creativity at times. After selecting Brown with their first pick, the 67’s add two highly-skilled offensive players that know how to contribute in their own end as well. With these two picks, the 67’s are well on their way to get back to the top of the league.
30. North Bay Battalion (Steven) - Mitchell Brooks - F - Toronto Titans (GTHL)
A former member of the Burlington Eagles, Brooks made the move to the Titans for his U-15 season and didn’t disappoint. At first glance, Brooks plays like a pure offensive-minded forward, but he’s trusted to play the penalty kill and can handle himself admirably in his own zone. Much of his game is still raw, and there’s still work needed to manage his consistency, but there’s a reason scouts have followed his game closely for a while now: he makes everyone around him better.
31. Sarnia Sting (via Erie Otters) (Ryan) - Carey Terrance, C, Kemptville 73’s (HEO)
Sarnia management are pleased to see Carey Terrance still on the board at the 31 spot and are excited to see how his game breaking speed will translate at the next level. Darrell Woodley, Director of Central Scouting for the OHL, said in Terrance’s prospect profile that he is “arguably the best skating forward in this years’ draft.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement and speed is a major component of the modern game. Terrance garners a lot of respect off the rush and defenders keep backing in because they don’t want to get beat. This affords him so much time and room to operate in the offensive zone. His speed and quickness also help him play a complete game and his effort on the back check to close gaps quickly is divine. This kid is a gem and the Sting are happy to land him here to team up with Miedema, who also has exceptional speed.
32. Guelph Storm (via Mississauga Steelheads) (Connor) - Charlie Paquette. Wing, Windsor Jr. Spitfires (Alliance)
After selecting Cameron Allen with the 3rd pick in the draft, the Storm decide to not only give Allen a breakout option, but also give one of their 4 centres they selected last year, a winger. Paquette is a dynamic offensive player who is great in transition, where he can use his speed to separate and create space from the opposition. With his quick hands, he combines them with his quick feet and strong edges where he utilizes quick cuts to maneuver through traffic while navigating the puck through sticks and pressure from the defence. With his puck skills, Paquette can consistently put the puck in the net with his strong finishing ability tight to the crease.
33. Ottawa 67’s (via Owen Sound Attack) (Josh) - Lucas Moore, D, Peterborough Petes (ETAHL)
With their third selection in the first two rounds, the 67’s now turn their sights to the backend to help to fill the void of the departing veteran defenders. By selecting Lucas Moore, Ottawa lands a two-way defenseman that is extremely hard to play against. He’s a very well-rounded prospect but shows flashes of brilliance on the ice. In his own end, he shows off his strength and willingness to play a physical game, already 185 pounds at just five-foot-10. But he’s also very smart in his end, positioned well and very aware of his surroundings thanks to consistent head checks. He maintains gaps well, using his edges to stick like glue on his opponents. His athleticism is also a strength with the puck, as he carries it well through transition thanks to his speed and impressive puck handling. He can dish it out too, making crisp passes in the attacking zone or through the neutral zone. He’s very adaptable, being able to be the defensively-conscious d-man, or acting as a fourth forward in the offensive zone. Being selected this low might be a steal to nab the young defender, who could be a strong option in the first round. There’s star potential in this young player.
34. Flint Firebirds (Garnet) - Bronson Ride - D - Oakville Rangers (SCTA)
Bronson is a projectable 6'6 defender with intriguing potential. His older brother Declan is an NCAA D1 commit and ranked by NHL central scouting for the 2021 NHL Draft. So, with that said before I make this pick I speak with the family/agent and see if there is interest in the league. If there is no interest in the league - I will likely draft Oliver Bonk at this position as he is a projectable talent that got better and better as the season went forward. Back to Bronson - I think with the right coaching, mentorship, training and team behind him the sky's the limit. Tough to fairly evaluate and break down this player's game based on the quarantine in 2021 and limited action. In my opinion, a big man like this needs many reps, games, and competition to get into a rhythm, and this was not in the cards for Ride in 2021 due to the pandemic and quarantines. I liked him a lot as a bantam with Oakville in 2020. Lots of tools here!
35. Kingston Frontenacs (via Peterborough Petes) (Raine) - James Petrovski - D - Toronto Titans (GTHL)
The Barlow selection makes Kingston even more loaded offensively, meaning these next two picks need to come from a different area of need. With the losses of Emmett Gordon, Jakob Brahaney, and Nick King, there will be plenty of opportunities for rookies to play an important role for this Frontenacs team. That said, James Petrovski brings a very interesting skillset with tremendous instincts, and was trusted by head coach Darcy Tucker in all situations, not to mention the ability to quarterback a powerplay unit right from the get-go.
36. Kingston Frontenacs (Raine) - Christopher Brydges - D - Quinte Red Devils (ETAHL)
With back-to-back picks, the Frontenacs continue to bolster their back-end, selecting Quinte’s Christopher Brydges. The Red Devil is a dynamic player that is very strong at both ends of the ice, and with his great skating ability, is terrific in transition and setting up breakouts.
37. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (via Windsor Spitfires) (Connor) - Cooper Foster, Forward, Soo Jr. Greyhounds U18 (GNML)
Sault Ste. Marie will not have to look too far to pick this player, Foster is not just a homegrown talent, but also one of the top forwards in the draft. A smooth skating, elusive forward, he loves to have the puck on his stick, controlling the play with his maneuverability and vision, to create chances for himself and his teammates. While also being an offensive threat, Foster brings a 200-foot game with slick stick work to steal the puck off opposing players. In the end, the Greyhounds have multiple options with the choice of adding a defencemen, but certainly they can’t go wrong with the addition of Foster.
38. Sudbury Wolves (via Guelph Storm) (Brock) - Alex Pharand - Forward - Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves (GNML)
Sudury has to be ecstatic that the top local talent available this year, Pharand, is still available when they pick in this situation. A competitive, goal scoring forward with size, Pharand is oozing with athletic potential due to a late growth spurt (now close to 6’3) and improving skating abilities. Of course, there is always a chance that they take one of the top defenders still available, since they have used their previous five top two round selections on forwards (six if you include Musty in this mock). But, Pharand is just too interesting to pass up on here.
39. Oshawa Generals (Ethan) - Conor Thacker - Left Defence - Oakville Rangers (SCTA)
Oshawa receives a physical big body through the selection of Oakville Rangers defenceman Conor Thacker. He brings a booming presence from the point where he displays his great shooting ability and heads up decision making. He has a smart shot selection moving across the blueline to find an open lane to fire upon. Thacker does an excellent job of moving to different positions of the offensive zone and setting up for his big one-timer slap shot. Defensively, Thacker’s long reach and physical play allows for him to contain and control the play more. He utilizes his size to his advantage and has a commanding presence defensively.
40. Mississauga Steelheads (via Sudbury Wolves) (Ethan) - Jacob Crisp - Defence - Oakville Rangers (SCTA)
After losing out on a strong defenceman in the first round the Steelheads would elect to select a defenceman in the 2nd round. Following the Oshawa pick, Mississauga would elect to take another Oakville counterpart in defenceman Jacob Crisp. A close to home pick, Crisp is a sleek and smart puck moving defenceman who establishes a strong two-way presence in whatever game he steps into. His decision-making and puck possession skills are one of his strongest attributes and pairing those with his great skating ability, he could be one to quarterback a puck-moving power play from the point. Crisp has a good eye for detail in his playstyle as he likes to do things to a perfectionate standard. If he makes a mistake on his part, he will do everything possible to prevent an unfortunate turn of events by trying to win back the mistake. This selection by Mississauga would allow the Steelheads to bolster that defensive prospect pool and have a young core to replace some of the graduating players.
Contributors Honorable Mentions:
Gabriel Perreault - Forward - Chicago Mission (HPHL)
Initially the thought was...Gabriel has to be committed to playing in the OHL because his brother Jacob did right? But, he has accepted an invitation to play with the NTDP next year. Of course, there’s always a chance that we see him in a couple years after he gets drafted into the NHL, but the future path is murky at best. Gabriel is a player who is similar to his brother Jacob, a potentially elite level goalscorer who is dynamic with the puck in transition.
Brandon Svoboda - Center - Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 15U (15U AAA)
A candidate for the NTDP roster, but the OHL has had a lot of success recruiting out of the Pittsburgh Penguins program in recent years (Ty Voit, Teddy Sawyer, Evan Konyen and Colby Saganiuk) and Svoboda is the top player on that roster this year. A dynamic and complete offensive player, Svoboda could easily be a top two round candidate if he makes it known that he would report to the OHL.
Owen Davy - Goaltender - Elgin Middlesex Chiefs (Alliance)
Predicting the first goaltender off the board this year is extremely difficult. Without actual game and tournament action, it was likely tough to get a read on the position. However, Davy was one of the top bantam goaltenders from a year ago and has to be considered one of the best available from the position at the draft. He has that combination of size, athleticism, and technical procision that all scouts look for in the position.
Zack Sandhu - Defenceman - Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)
Sandhu is a rearguard that did an excellent job shutting down top ‘04 attackers in the G, while playing up with the Marlies last season. What made this feat more impressive was the fact that he’s a December 2005 birthday, and was therefore facing players almost two full years older than him. Zack has developed tremendously over the last few seasons, and the trajectory of his progression bodes well for him at the next level. He’s a big body that enjoys the physical aspect of the game, and he uses his superior strength to his advantage as the foundation of his overall lockdown game. Sandhu has a heavy shot from the point as well, especially when he blasts booming one-timers on net. Don’t sleep on this stud defender at the 2021 draft!
Chase Coughlan - Forward - Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)
Coughlan has been a big riser on draft boards from his U15 to U16 seasons, due to his much improved skating. He can flat out fly at top speed, and has improved his acceleration and edges a lot in a short period of time. This makes him a hidden gem for the upcoming draft. Chase has a solid body and has an extremely formidable presence on the ice. He finishes his checks regularly and can dish out devastating hits. Coughlan has a cannon of a shot and can rip it quickly with a nice shot release. Fun to watch him play and an OHL team looking for a physical presence that can produce offensively are likely to find themselves happy with this pick down the road.
Juan Copeland - Forward - Detroit Honeybaked 15U (USA)
Copeland is an intriguing prospect from the States that surprisingly didn’t get an invite to the USNTDP development camp tryouts. He has been rumoured to be favouring the OHL path for a while now, and that very likely factored into his omission from the camp by USA Hockey. Juan has game breaking speed and is a swift, shifty forward. His puck skills are also high-end, and he has the puck on a string at top speed. Plenty to like about the American speedster, and OHL fans are in for a treat if he chooses the league for his development path.
Cal Uens - Forward/Defence - Quinte Red Devils (ETA)
One of the most versatile players in the draft, in part due to his high hockey IQ, Uens has been a player who his coach, Tyler Longo, could put back on defence when needed. This ability to transition from forward to defence quite seamlessly is evident in his 2-way game as a centreman, putting himself in the right position on the defensive end. With his fluid skating, smooth hands, and strong shot, Uens also poses as an offensive threat in addition to his strong defensive game. Ultimately, whichever team gets the chance to pick Uens, will certainly have options for where they want him to play, but with his knowledge and flexibility the transition likely will be a bit smoother.
Brayden Degelas - Centre - Chatham-Kent Cyclones (Alliance)
After leading the Alliance in assists while putting up a staggering 53 points in just 32 games in his Major Bantam season, Degelas showed to be a catalyst on offence for Chatham-Kent. Owing to his vision and anticipation, Degelas can put himself in positions on the ice to not only receive the puck but also use his vision and distribute the puck. While he can see the ice and distribute the puck, Degelas uses quick hands to maintain control of the puck, as well as use a heavy shot to beat goaltenders.
Noah VandenBrink - Forward - Elgin Middlesex Chiefs (Alliance)
Last year saw a couple players go early from the Chiefs in Hunter Haight and Brady Stonehouse to Barrie and Ottawa respectively. This year they have another talented forward in Noah VandenBrink. With his quickness, speed and puck skills, VandenBrink is constantly creating chances on the ice, not only for himself, but also setting his teammates up as well. While VandenBrink can distribute the puck well, he also has a quick shot he gets off from multiple angles, which is a big reason he was ultimately able to put up 26 goals and 58 points in Major Bantam.
Jack Ziliotto, F - Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs U16/Burlington Eagles U15 (SCTA)
Good size with the potential to develop into a power forward role. Ziliotto has good speed, and while he'll never be the fastest guy in a game, high-tempo games fit his style well. The puck always seems to find him in open space.
Cameron Briere, F - Nashville Jr. Predators (USA)
With the GTHL season off the table for 2021, Briere made the move to the Nashville Jr. Predators U-16 team down south and had a solid 19-goal, 33-point season. Briere was invited to the USNTDP camp but didn't ultimately make the team, which isn't a bad thing in his case. Briere still needs to pick up the pace, but when you give him space, his decision-making is off the charts.
Joseph Macchione, F - Markham Majors (GTHL)
Some real sleeper potential here. Not always the most engaged physically, but he's got the raw talent with the puck that you can't ignore. Loves the puck on his stick and has a release that's hard to read as a goaltender.
Corson Maguire - Forward - Selects Academy 15U (15U AAA)
One of the most OHL-ready prospects in the entire draft class, Maguire brings a nasty element to his game that OHL coaches will love the moment he steps into camp.
Braxton Ross - Forward - Ottawa Senators 15U (HEO)
One of the most offensively gifted players from the HEO area, Ross always plays a great all-around game, being able to play in every situation.
Stephen Campbell - Forward - Mississauga Reps (GTHL)
A big part of the Reps team last season, at 6’2, 200lbs Campbell’s big frame and skill from the middle of the ice puts him in a position to make an impact right away at the junior level.
Ben Rossi - Goaltender, Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs (SCTA)
Rossi is a phenomenal goaltender that has one supportive team in front of him. He has shown that he has the skill to stand on his head for his team with good timing saves. He has a good build to his size being able to stretch across the crease and cover a majority of the net. Rossi has a quick post to post movement and very nimble feet to adjust into position.
Mason Vaccari - Goaltender, Vaughan Kings (GTHL)
Vaccari has been noted to be one of the toughest goaltenders to face by some of the top prospects in this year's upcoming draft. Although he is not the biggest, he is a very quick goaltender and has the unique ability to make recovery saves. He has a good vision when it comes to seeing through traffic, as well as finding and tracking the opposing shooters.
Zach Losier - Centre/ Left Wing, Oakville Rangers (SCTA)
Losier is a player that has seen his game develop from a consistent power forward to a reliable two way scoring player. He has added a good scoring touch to his game and has developed a better sense for puck protection. Playing in the SCTA division, Losier can be seen to match-up with many of the opposition's top scorers. He has a prolific skating ability and his stride has developed, where he can protect the puck and maintain a good speed to attack the net.
Jack Dever, RW, Quinte Red Devils (ETAHL)
If you like players that can score goals and show commitment in their own end, Jack Dever might just be your guy. The Belleville native has a nose for the net and a finishing ability to produce. He finds the lanes well thanks to his high hockey IQ and can dish it out as well, making him a threat whenever he has the puck. Without the puck, he’s just as good. He shows a willingness to get physical, the ability to strip pucks, and a competitiveness to fight for the puck in all three zones. I’d expect him to be selected in the first two rounds.
Ben Lalkin, F, Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)
You’ve likely already seen Lalkin without realizing it was him. In a viral video, Lalkin undressed a defender with three impressive, consecutive dekes before potting the goal – shorthanded. He has excellent hands and the ability to work them well in tight spaces. He oozes confidence with the puck, has an impressive release and has good patience. While there’s room to improve defensively, Lalkin is a very intriguing offensive talent.
Oliver Bonk, D, Carleton Place Canadians (HEO)
Bonk could be a name that surprises on draft day, going higher than many think. He’s one of the strongest defenders in this class in his own end, but shows the ability and the urge to jump up into the play when called upon. He under handles the puck, but dishes it around well, his backwards skating is excellent, and his simply well-rounded overall. There won’t be a ton of flash to his game, but he could be a very attractive option for a team looking for a steady rearguard. He’s a very smart, reliable defender with leadership qualities that OHL teams will covet.
Matthew Mania - Defense - North Jersey Avalanche 16U (AYHL)
Amazingly, this player was not picked for the USA NTDP team. Developed a ton in the past 12 months - and is a pro prospect. Not surprised he was one of the most heavily sought after players for a USHL early tender.
Charlie Cerrato - Forward - Honeybaked 15U (HPHL)
Charlie is a high end two way character forward that was signed by the USA NTDP team - you can move him up and down your lineup no problems! He can play with anyone and is a legit Swiss Army knife! These are the guys you need on your team to win!
Tanner Adams - Center - Mount Charles Academy 15U (15U AAA)
Team speed is very important at the OHL level of play, and Tanner brings that to the table!
Now obviously some of those players would have said no due to the NCAA/NTDP/USHL factor - so, the three I would have gone to alternatively if I got a no would have been Oliver Bonk (a big time heads up pick by Josh Bell who did his research on that one), Cal Uens (skill level is very interesting and watch out when the rest comes together) and Stefan Forgione (safe bet to play due to his solid intangibles, work ethic and leadership capabilities).
Matt Buckley - Forward - Navan Grads U18 (HEO)/Oakville Rangers U15 (SCTA)
Matt Buckley has exciting tools, and when he puts it all together, he could be VERY INTERESTING! Matt shows a good first step, athletic ability, smarts, high hockey IQ and is always around the puck. He is an opportunistic forward with an intriguing skill set that is a solid value at this stage of the draft process.
Stefan Forgione - Forward - Vaughan Kings (GTHL)
Very thrilled to mention Stefan! I think he is a great character player, and you win championships with players like this in your lineup. A hard working kid that puts in the time and effort to be the best player he can be. Stefan plays well in all three zones of the ice, works hard, solid down low, gets into the greasy areas of the ice and makes his line-mates better with his hard work and second effort. Always keeps his feet moving, completes his checks, and will be captain/assistant captain material in his 19/20-year-old season.
Chris Grisolia - Forward - Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)
I think Christopher Grisolia has the potential to be a solid OHL hockey player. He gets up/down the ice very well, and has the hip mobility/athletic range to be effective in the league. Christopher makes a ton of solid high IQ plays, shows good hand skills in the offensive zone, forces defenders wide, plays all three forward positions, and works well anywhere up and down a team's top three units.
Other U.S. Prospects to Watch
Brandon Hilton – Forward – Honeybaked 15U
Undersized (5'9, 160lbs), but competitive and skilled center who helped Honeybaked win the 15U National title this year. Had 2 goals in 6 games over the course of Nationals. Was a standout with the Belle Tire program last year in U14, but made the switch to Honeybaked this year. Has the quickness you like to see, given his stature and playing style.
Brian Nicholas – Forward – Mid Fairfield Rangers 15U
6'1 forward from New York who was an absolute standout for a very strong Mid Fairfield squad at the U15 Nationals. Led the team in scoring at the event, and four of his teammates made the recently announced U17 team. Nicholas was at the NTDP evaluation camp, but apparently had an average showing and did not make the team. However, Nicholas is a kid who blends size with skill and is dynamite in transition.
Chase Pirtle – Forward – North Jersey Avalanche 16U
Big and skilled winger (6'2, 180lbs already) who apparently has among the highest upside of any '05 forward from the U.S. Was part of the NJ Avalanche team that won Nationals at the U16 level this year, along with Quentin Musty and Ottawa 67's first round pick Nicholas Moldenhauer. Was at the US NTDP Evaluation Camp, but did not make the final roster.
Nathan Murray – Forward – Honeybaked 15U
Another standout member of the National champion Honeybaked U15's, Murray actually was second behind Charles Cerrato (recently named to the NTDP roster) in team scoring at the event. In fact, he had a hat trick in the National title game against Florida Alliance. Murray is lightning quick and has a dynamite release which profiles him as a high end goal scorer. He too, was at the NTDP Evaluation camp but failed to make the final roster.
Ian Emery – Forward – Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 15U
Quick and skilled playmaking winger who was the running mate of Brandon Svoboda with the Penguins this year. Really dynamic player in transition who also has a bit of bite to his game. Again, the OHL has recruited well out of this program in recent years.
Chris Pelosi – Forward – Mount St. Charles Academy 15U
Good sized forward from New Jersey who loves to shoot the puck and is difficult to contain in traffic. Played out of Rhode Island this year with Mount St. Charles along with Tanner Adams, listed as an HM on this list.
Ryan Smith – Forward – Buffalo Jr. Sabres 15U
Undersized (5'9), but highly competitive forward out of Buffalo who is a bit of a jack of all trades kind of player. Probably not a high OHL draft selection, but someone who could definitely play several years in the league and be an impactful player.
Dylan McFadden – Forward – Buffalo Jr. Sabres 15U
A dual citizen who used to play with the Niagara North Stars before switching to the Buffalo Jr. Sabres program a few years ago. McFadden is quite small (last listed at 5'6), but he is highly skilled and led the Jr. Sabres in scoring this season.
Tyler Borgula – Forward – Honeybaked 15U
Another undersized, but skilled forward (last listed at 5'6), Borgula came into the year as one of the more highly touted US former Bantam aged players. But with the additions Honeybaked made this year to their roster, Borgula was pushed down the depth chart a bit (removed from the top powerplay unit). Borgula is really strong on his edges and it makes him highly effective East/West for a smaller player. Did score a goal in the National Championship game.
Thomas Neu – Forward – Compuware 15U
Neu is a power forward with a real well rounded skill set who also wears a letter for Compuware, who had an early exit at the National Championships after a shootout loss to the eventual runners up, Florida Alliance. Neu plays a game that is tailored perfectly to the OHL and could be someone who hears his name called relatively early.
Chris O'Flaherty – Forward – CYA 15U
Chicago Mission get all the attention out of Illinois usually, but CYA (Chicago Young Americans) had a terrific season and O'Flaherty was the straw that stirred the drink for them. Had a breakout performance at Nationals, where his 5 goals led the tournament and CYA lost in a shootout to eventual champions Honeybaked. This kid is one of the better goal scorers available from the United States this year.
Michael Burchill – Forward – Compuware 15U
Highly quick center was one of the top players for Compuware this year along with the previously mentioned Thomas Neu. Burchill's first step quickness is a real asset and it makes him extremely dangerous leading the attack. This is definitely a potential top two line player in the OHL should he commit.
Connor Brown – Forward – Florida Alliance 15U
Quickly becoming a powerhouse program in the U.S., Florida Alliance was runner up at this year's National Championships and Brown was the star of that team. A highly intelligent center, Brown is probably not the kind of dynamic skater you like to see from a 5'9 forward, but you can't argue with his results. He was a star in the shootout at Nationals.
Trey Wandall - Forward - Florida Alliance 15U
Wandall, a strong playmaking winger, was Brown's running mate in Florida this year and is someone who is terrific in puck protection situations. Only 5'10, but he's already strong on the puck and shows the kind of tenacity and energy you like to see from a strong supporting character. Shockingly not drafted in Phase I of the USHL Draft, so perhaps he has his eyes set on the OHL.
Nicholas Fascia – Defense – North Jersey Avalanche 16U
If he commits to the OHL, Fascia would likely be considered one of the better defense prospects available this year. Strong two-way defender with good mobility and no glaring weaknesses. Was at the NTDP evaluation camp but did not make the final roster. Won a National championship alongside Musty at the U16 level, consistently standing out against many players a year older.
Sean Smith – Defense – Honeybaked 15U
Big (6'1, 180lbs), physical stay at home defender was an anchor for the Honeybaked program this year. His skating will need to improve, but he really defends well down low and is a difficult player to match up against. One of the main reasons that Honeybaked was able to take home a National Championship.
Jack Willson – Defense – Honeybaked 15U
Smaller, but competitive defender who was the anchor of Honeybaked's powerplay. Willson is a terrific skater who often carves up open ice and has the skill and vision to be a top notch facillitator. Wilson was one of the highest scoring blueliners at the National Championships this year.