Wednesday, June 30, 2021

My Final Top 50 OHL Players for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft - Part 1: Honorable Mentions

Scouting this year's OHL crop for the NHL draft has been...different. No Ontario Hockey League games this year which means the scouting community has had to get creative. Without question the most difficult thing about evaluating players from Ontario this year has been weighing the different circumstances and leagues against each other. We have some players who went overseas to play in various different leagues. We have some players who played at the U18's, (helping Canada win Gold). We have some players who played at the PBHH Invitational in Erie. We have some players who did not play at all. The one thing that all of these players do have in common is that scouts had to go back and look at their U17 seasons. And even that was a challenge, given some players saw 6 minutes of ice time a night on deep rosters. Needless to say, I hope I never have to scout a draft crop like this ever again.
Even with the challenges of the pandemic I will still bring you four parts: Part 1 - Honorable Mentions, Part 2 - Prospects 50-31, Part 3 - Prospects 30-11, and Part 4 - Prospects 10-1.
One thing that I will not be doing this year is my annual re-entry article. Just not enough of these players, previously passed over, have had the chance to truly show progression. As per usual, I will also not be including them in my Top 50 rankings. Obviously guys like Ethan Cardwell or James Hardie have a chance to be drafted this time around (and should have been drafted in 2020), but if you are searching for information on them, you can simply consult my final 2020 rankings.
One thing you will notice is that I have included some Import players...and omitted others. Here was how I drew the line on who to include and who not to include. If they played in the league last year (like Chanton) and had intended to return, they were included. Additionally, if they signed and committed to the league, but they did not play elsewhere (like Grushnikov or Sobolev), I included them (out of fairness to them). However, if they had not played in the league yet and played elsewhere this year (like Kuzmin, Kolosov or Petrov), they were not included. 

Lastly, as I always state, this ranking is meant to serve as my own list or ranking if I were drafting for an NHL club. It is not a prediction of where I think these players will get drafted. If I did that, the list would look different. If you want a draft projection and a better overall picture of the 2021 NHL Draft crop, be sure to subscribe to McKeen's Hockey and pick up our draft guide, (which I have a large hand in).
Last year, no players in my HM group were drafted. This year? I could see a few late round swings being taken on a few of these players. I truly don't think many of us know how NHL teams will approach Ontario this year. As always, these are listed in alphabetical order.

Ryan Beck - Center - Saginaw Spirit
Like Colby Saganiuk, who I ranked inside my Top 50, Beck left the USHL and a scholarship to Denver to join the OHL this season...only to have the year canceled. A late born '02, Beck's speed, playmaking ability, and two-way effort are evident. I thought he had some very strong moments at the Erie showcase. However, I am also not sure if I see a player who is more than a middle six player at the OHL level. I would certainly need to see more from him to draft him, but would keep close tabs on him in Saginaw in the coming seasons.
Braeden Bowman - Right Wing - Guelph Storm 
Bowman is a good sized scoring winger who played the majority of last season in the GOJHL with Kitchener and was among the best U17 players in the league. He is added to my HM list based on his play in Erie, where he was actually one of the highest scoring players. He may have really opened some eyes at the event with his ability to make plays in traffic and shoot the puck. Given that I am nearly basing my entire assessment on his play in Erie, I would want to see more from him next year before drafting him, but he is definitely a fully on my radar now moving forward.
Alex Christopoulos - Right Wing - North Bay Battalion
The twin brother and teammate of defender Paul (ranked in the top 50), Alex is a high energy winger who excels on the forecheck and in creating room for himself in the slot. His 12 goals two seasons ago with North Bay was tied for the 7th most by a U17 player (with Wyatt Johnston and Ryan Winterton). Christopoulos is definitely a dangerous player in that home plate area because of his wrist shot and his scoring instincts. He is not a huge kid, but he plays a pretty fearless game when it comes to attacking the crease and taking punishment to try to secure a rebound or get his stick on a point shot. Like his brother Paul, Alex's agility and work on his edges is better than his top speed, allowing him to make sharp cuts to evade checks in the offensive zone, but making him a little less effective carrying or participating in transitional attacks. Alex's energy and strength will also need to be applied a little more consistently in the defensive end too. He is definitely worthy of a mention on this list though and he does have the potential to be a 30 goal scorer at the OHL level.
T-Bone Codd - Right Wing - Saginaw Spirit 
Davis "T-Bone" Codd not only has one of the best names in the draft, but he is also one of the fastest skaters available. If you recall, I included a few similar types (Avon, Saganiuk, DeGrazia) in my top 50, but for me, Codd has not shown as much (either in terms of dynamic skill or all around play) as those others. At 5'9, 163lbs, he will need to bring a little more to the table than pure speed and skating ability. That said, he did show some flashes at the Erie showcase, dazzling with his speed and improved strength on the puck. There is skill there, but I would want to see more before committing a draft selection.
Nolan Dann - Left Wing - Sarnia Sting
A standout in the OJHL two years ago with Georgetown, Dann was expected to be one of the league's top rookies this season with Sarnia. The shifty and talented offensive winger is a former standout with the Toronto Red Wings in U16, playing with Francesco Pinelli and Adam Fantilli. Ranking him based on his OJHL season was difficult. Dann is extremely quick and he uses that speed with great effectiveness in the offensive end, to attack the slot and to apply pressure on the forecheck. However, he also had some bad habits that would have limited his effectiveness at the OHL level, such as a lack of involvement and engagement along the wall, and offensive zone turnovers from trying to force plays with pace or beat defenders one on one. Dann could have easily come into the OHL this year and been a 25/25 guy and put himself on the scouting map. He could have also come in and struggled to make a consistent impact as the transition from the OJHL does not always go smoothly, especially when you consider some of those habits. That sort of mystery is what makes it difficult to rank him. That said, when you factor in his speed and offensive skill set, it would not shock me to see him get drafted. Additionally, it would not shock me if NHL teams apply a wait and see approach with him, wanting to see him perform at the OHL level first. For what it's worth, I felt like he failed to stand out at the Erie showcase, save for a few moments where his speed was effective in transition.
Jesse Fishman - Center - Kitchener Rangers 
Strong skating, offensive center who doesn't have terrific size (5'10, 170lbs), but is certainly dynamic in transition because of his quickness. Played a depth role for the Rangers last season but would have likely been a strong candidate for the third line center role this year. At the Erie showcase, he had a strong showing and has certainly raised some eyebrows. If he had a little more size, I would say that he would be a likely draft candidate, but given the small sample size and the chance that he doesn't stick down the middle, he is probably more of a wait and see player. Fishman does have a good shot and that is his best weapon when the game slows down and he is not able to attack with pace. Fishman did go overseas this year to play in the U20 Mestis league in Finland too.

Jacob Frasca - Center - Barrie Colts
Big (6'3) center with some potential to develop into a high end two-way player. Shows good instincts in the offensive and defensive end and did not look out of place with the Colts in his rookie season. Frasca protects the puck well in open ice and with some skill and creativity, could be a real play driver. For me, I would want to see more development as a skater in order to take his game to that next level. In particular, his first few steps are sluggish. Would not shock me to see an NHL team give him a chance given his size down the middle.
Ty Hollett - Defense - North Bay Battalion 
We all know how much NHL scouts love huge right shot defenders and Hollett is just that (6'4, 200lbs). He didn't play much with North Bay in his rookie OHL season (mostly playing at home in the CCHL), however he did attend the Erie showcase. From what I've been told his mobility and edgework have really improved and in comparing video it does appear to be the case. He showed well at the event defensively, with impressive anticipation, awareness, and physicality in the defensive end. Not much to be seen in the way of offense and I think the skating will need to continue to improve. At the very least, he's raised some eye brows.

Kyle Jackson - Center - North Bay Battalion
The CCHL rookie of the year in 2018/19, Jackson was a bit of a disappointment in his rookie OHL season, struggling to find ways to make a consistent impact. He was just too easily knocked off the puck and it prevented him from utilizing his offensive gifts to the best of his ability. A late '02, Jackson could have easily pulled a Jack Quinn this year and put in the work to be better in his draft year, but without that to go on, he remains a longer shot. More of a methodical offensive player, scouts will be looking for Jackson to increase his pace of play and improve his overall game to be more consistently engaged. Lots of offensive potential here, especially at the OHL level.
Jacob Maillet - Center - Guelph Storm 
Maillet is a potential two-way center who struggled with the pace of play in his rookie season in the OHL with Guelph. Upgrading his skating was definitely going to be priority number one. But that definitely appears to be the case based on his showing at the Erie showcase. His high end speed remains below average, however he does look more explosive and more confident on his edges. This has allowed him to find success driving the net at the event and creating with change of pace attacks. Not an NHL draft selection at this current time IMO, but definitely someone who has clearly improved their game this year and would have had a solid OHL season.

Landon McCallum - Center/Wing - Sudbury Wolves 
In all honesty, I did not see much from McCallum in his rookie year that suggested he was an NHL draft prospect to watch (despite being an OHL first rounder). However, I really liked his tenacity and skill package in Erie. More quick and shifty than powerful, McCallum darts in and out of traffic well and seems to earn himself his share of scoring chances with his effort and motor. He played with a ton of physicality and was one of the more physically intense forwards at the event, constantly looking to make things happen on the forecheck. Moving forward, the question I would have is, just how much upside does he have offensively? I definitely saw more from him in terms of scoring ability and creativity than I had previously and that is promising. However, I would also need to see more to suggest that he could be more than a complimentary, change of pace attacker on the fourth line.
Daniel Michaud - Center - Oshawa Generals
A good sized center (6'2), Michaud did not have the kind of rookie season that I expected from him, given I was a big fan of him as a U16 player with Quinte. Michaud was a real force in transition as a U16 player because of his size and skill combination, with the consistent ability to gain the offensive zone and control tempo. However, a lack of power in his stride really prevented him from doing that at the OHL level. He also struggled to win battles down low and along the wall the way he did against his own age group, suggesting that his strength and conditioning also needed to be upgraded. Unfortunately, it is all we have to go off of, but I can't shake how impressive he was with the Quinte Red Devils and I do believe that we would have seen a much better player this season. He was one of the players I was really hoping would attend the PBHH in Erie. 

Riley Pitt - Defense - Oshawa Generals
Came into the Erie showcase not knowing a whole lot about Pitt, but he definitely caught my eye. Big kid (6'5) who moves quite well moving forward and this allows him to be a factor exiting the zone and starting the breakout. He is also good in the corners with his reach, although needs to get a little stronger to defend net front with more ferocity. His lateral and backwards mobility is a little awkward, making him inconsistent in defending in transition, but I think there is some potential here. Additionally, the hands and skill with the puck also seem to play inconsistently, but again....potential. Like I said, Pitt showed some good things in Erie and is someone to keep an eye on.

Chandler Romeo - Defense - Hamilton Bulldogs
Really liked Romeo's game at the OHL Cup back in 2019 when he was a runner up with the Toronto Jr. Red Wings. He didn't play in the OHL last season, instead splitting time between the GOJHL and OJHL. However, he is signed with Hamilton and will be playing in the OHL starting next season. I have the utmost confidence that he will develop into a very good, top four stay at home defender at the OHL level. He's 6'5, 205lbs, moves well backwards and laterally, and plays a physical game. He was one of the players I was most excited to see at the Erie showcase. However, I did not see enough from him as a confident offensive contributor to suggest a draft selection at this time. Obviously small sample size, but that's 2021 for you. Like many of the others mentioned in this HM category (perhaps even more than the others), I'll be watching his progression closely in Hamilton to see if he can upgrade his decision making and confidence with the puck.
Brenden Sirizzotti - Right Wing/Center - Ottawa 67's
Like Dann, Sirizzotti finds himself on the HM list despite how successful their seasons were in the OJHL as U17 players (two of the better performances in the last decade by 16 year olds). However, as mentioned with Dann, it is hard to place them among those that played in the OHL full time two years ago. Sirizzotti is a competitive and quick playmaker who shows an ability to control pace, varying his attacks. Coming out of U16, he was known for his ability to drive possession along the wall and was absolutely lethal below the hash marks, but due to a lack of strength, this has not translated as of yet to the OJHL or OHL levels. In fact, turnovers were an issue at both levels last year, as similar to Dann, Sirizzotti has some bad habits that will need to be corrected, such as his desire to try to force plays through traffic. If the OHL had played this season, Sirizzotti would have likely been a top 9 player for the 67's and probably had a good offensive season. But instead we have to go off of what we saw two years ago when he was not quite strong enough for the league. It goes without saying that with his speed, skill, and vision, Sirizzotti has a chance to be one of the better playmakers in the OHL by the time he graduates, however whether he is a high end NHL prospect remains to be seen. 
Gavin White - Defense - Hamilton Bulldogs 
A late born '02, White was a selection in the U18 draft and did see some spot duty last season in the OHL with the Bulldogs. However, he was a standout at the Erie showcase with his quickness and mobility on the blueline. He can really push the pace and he walks the line extremely well with lateral quickness and strong edgework. You this a kid who has improved a ton in the last year and would have had a strong year in Hamilton? I don't think there is enough there yet to draft him, but I will definitely be watching him more closely in the future.

Trey Zagrzebski - Center/Wing - Barrie Colts
It was a tough rookie year for Zagrzebski. He battled a shoulder injury, got suspended for a slewfoot, and got pushed down the Barrie depth chart. However, he looked very strong at the Erie showcase, showing a fair amount of skill and a real nose for the net despite being around 5'10. I think his skating is going to have to be something that he continues to upgrade, especially as an average (to below average) sized forward. But the offensive awareness and intelligence is evident. He should have a much better year in the OHL when it resumes.
Pasquale Zito - Center - Windsor Spitfires 
Another player who really impressed me back at the 2019 OHL Cup, playing with the Mississauga Rebels (along with Jessie Fishman, another HM). Zito excels playing a power game; bullish with the puck on his stick as he looks to have success through the middle. He definitely had some success doing so at the OHL level last season, but will need to continue to upgrade his explosiveness and add more dynamic layers to his stride (laterally) to really make a consistent impact as that sort of player at the next level. As a strong puck protection center and potentially valuable two-way player, I could see an NHL team taking a chance on him.


Monday, June 14, 2021

PBHH Erie Showcase Tournament Review

Firstly, kudos to Andrew Perrott, Ryan Beck, Ryan Humphrey, and Brendan Hoffman for organizing this event. I wish I could have been there to cover the PBHH live (which is an acronym using the last names of those four men, for those that didn't know), however I have spoken to some who were and it seems that this tournament was remarkably well organized. You gave your peers an opportunity to play again and it is an achievement that deserves significant recognition.
In terms of evaluating what I saw on the ice (watching video), I would say that the play on the ice certainly had its moments. The goaltending was not consistently strong. I think fatigue definitely played a part (especially in the final game of those three day sets). The physicality seemed to taper off as the tournament went on. However, all that being said, it certainly achieved what it set out to do; give NHL scouts an opportunity to see the progression of some OHL players. 
The question is...just how much stock will be put into the tournament? That remains to be seen. For my own personal rankings, it did help to solidify some things for me and definitely influenced some movement. Major movement? No. But it did help to really open my eyes on a few players. Most of all, it was great to just watch some OHL hockey again; that's how I saw it.
For evaluative purposes, I've broken down the players into three categories. First: players in their initial draft year. Second: 2004 born players who would have been OHL rookies this year had a season occurred. Third: players in their second or third year of eligibility for the NHL Draft.
Top First Year Draft Eligible Players:
1. Matt Maggio
From start to finish, I feel like Maggio was the top performing draft eligible player. Other guys may have been a little more inconsistent, from a game to game and shift to shift perspective, Maggio was consistently dialed in. And after a disappointing performance last OHL season with Windsor, this likely really made a positive impression on NHL scouts. Maggio's top speed and explosiveness definitely look better, and when combined his already solid edgework and East/West movement, it added a real dynamic quality to his skating grade. This really allowed him to control tempo and pace, excelling both in transition and when working out of the cycle. He is also a skilled kid and showcased a high level finishing ability at the tournament. I have definitely moved him up my draft board.
2. Tucker Robertson
I liked Robertson in his rookie season with Peterborough, although admittedly, I wasn't exactly sold on his offensive talents being strong enough to be more than a quality OHL player down the line. I saw a high energy, complimentary piece. But at the PBHH, Robertson was certainly able to showcase that he does possess the skill and puck protection ability to drive possession and push the pace. I was very impressed with his poise with the puck and his overall playmaking ability. The tournament was rife with a lot of turnovers, especially in the offensive zone, but Robertson was one of the few who really mitigated that and always seemed to make the right play. When you factor in that he possesses some of the skills you look for in a bottom six NHL player (forechecking ability, speed, two-way awareness), I have moved him on to my draft board.
3. Ty Voit 
For a guy like Voit, playing at this tournament was about solidifying the positive impressions that many Ontario scouts already had of him based on his play as a rookie. And he did just that. His vision and passing ability is among the best of any player out of the OHL this draft. Whether he needs to saucer a pass over three sticks, or keep possession to draw a second defender before threading the needle with a hard seam pass, Voit is capable. Voit is a player that I continue to believe possesses among the highest upside of any player available from the OHL this year. The key for him will be to continue to get stronger so that he is not so easily pushed off the puck, especially along the wall. That was something that was evident as a rookie with Sarnia. And I believe it was evident at this event too. However, Voit delivered offensively for sure.

4. Logan Mailloux 
The highest ranked OHL player at the event, Mailloux largely played up to expectations. His TPH team did not play great over the tournament and I think a lot of the errors he made personally were influenced by the level that his team was playing at, such as some bad pinches when he was trying to kickstart the offense while down a few goals, or some lacklustre defense when his team was down a few goals. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed with his physical intensity level. But, I understand why someone like Mailloux would not be hammering guys like he usually does at an event like this. Ultimately, I would like to see him be a little more aggressive when defending in transition, closing gaps quicker. When he gets in trouble, it is because of this. But his skill set was certainly on display. He did a good job QB'ing the powerplay, with his shot being the highlight. His exits were largely clean. And he showed his strong size/mobility combination at both ends. 
5. Ryan Mast
I really liked how Mast started the tournament. The first half of the PBHH, I thought he was the best defender. As the tournament went on, I do feel like his level of play dropped a bit, especially in terms of decision making with the puck. However, I saw enough from him to keep him ranked highly on my own personal list. A big, right shot defender who stood out in a positive way in his own end with his aggressiveness, Mast also showed more offensively than he had previously. He looked comfortable jumping up into the attack and playing with the puck in the offensive zone. He is still at his best when he keeps things simple right now and some of the turnovers that started to happen later in the tournament were because of him forcing plays. Mast's performance definitely solidified my ranking for him and I think he flashed some offensive abilities that could still be developed further to make him a two-way threat at the NHL level down the line. 

6. Ben Roger
This tournament was held for guy's like Roger. I had a tough time assessing him based upon his play as a rookie with London. But after watching him here, it is easy to see why NHL Central Scouting has him ranked as high as they do. Big, athletic defender with a lot of upside at both ends of the ice. I was really impressed with his ability to quarterback the powerplay, something we did not get to see in London last season. Really moves well in space, manipulating defenders and coverage to open up lanes, either to pass or shoot. Defensively, there is some jam to his game too. One thing he will need to do is clean up his exit passes. Turnovers in the defensive end were a bit of an issue for him in the tournament. That said, he played quite well and has moved up my own personal rankings quite significantly (the most of anyone based on their performance here). 
7. Gavin White
A former selection in the U18 draft (which has not produced a lot of high end OHL talent), White was the surprise of the tournament for me. A late '02, he is eligible for the NHL draft for the first time this year. He remains an extreme long shot. However, he really stood out with his mobility on the backend and his ability to quarterback the powerplay. Among the defenseman scoring leaders at the PBHH, White shows great lateral mobility and edgework that gives him legitimate elusiveness when walking the blueline. This really helps to open up those passing and shooting lanes from the point. White did a good job taking care of the puck in all three zones too. Coming out of this event, I am now extremely intrigued to see how he performs when the OHL starts up again and he gets an opportunity to play an expanded role with the Bulldogs. 

8. Francesco Arcuri 
Similar to other highly regarded players at this event like Voit and Mailloux, Arcuri met expectations. His play was a little inconsistent, but he also battled injuries, missing a few games. One thing I think Arcuri did well at this event was prove that he can play a little more of a physical role. Found him to be more engaged away from the puck and in puck pursuit than I have previously and it was a bit of a concern. However, after a bit of a growth spurt, it seems that this part of his game has matured. His passing ability and creativity with the puck were well on display and it gives him a pretty high ceiling for someone who probably goes in rounds 3-5. I do know scouts have some concern over whether his skating can become a little more dynamic, but he played well here.

9. Stuart Rolofs 
It was really interesting to see Rolofs play center at the tournament as I did not think of him as anything but a winger. The first half of the tournament, I thought he struggled. A lot of neutral zone turnovers from him trying to force plays down the middle with his speed. But his play really improved as the event went on and by the end, I thought he was one of the more effective forwards. I actually really like him down the middle. His defensive zone play was stronger than I saw in his rookie season and he showed great awareness and anticipation defending the slot area. He forced a lot of turnovers with his support. And by playing the middle, he was able to use his speed to drive the net and use his quick release more effectively. As he continues to gain strength, he may be able to protect the puck better and limit some of those turnovers. I really hope London keeps him at center moving forward.

10. Avery Hayes  
I thought Hayes had a strong tournament (though, maybe not as strong as his brother Gavin). It basically solidified everything we already knew about his game. Hayes is at his best playing through the middle of the ice, where he can use his hands, speed, and awareness to make plays. His play along the wall still leaves some to be desired as he gets outmuscled too consistently, but the effort is often there. The only real negative here is that he was measured at 5'7. Considering he is a late '02 and that he did not have a chance to improve upon an injury plagued season a year ago, I do wonder what that means for his NHL draft stock. No doubt that measurement was recorded by NHL scouts.

Honorable Mentions:
Ryan Beck
The strongest of the four tournament organizers at the event, Beck, like Rolofs, struggled initially but by tournament's end had established himself as one of the best forwards. His energy in all three zones is really infectious. His linemates really benefit from his ability to play with pace, attack traffic, and force turnovers on the backcheck. He is going to make a heck of a penalty killer at the OHL level the next couple of years. However, Beck is also a clearly skilled player with the puck and he made a few dazzling plays to create scoring chances for LeBec. Not sure he gets drafted this year as a late '02 who didn't get a chance to play outside of this tournament, but no doubt scouts took notice of his performance.
Simon Motew
Up and down performance for Motew. His edgework and quickness in tight spaces makes him a real treat to watch in the offensive zone. He had a few really strong games. However, he also had a few really weak ones. At this time, he is a high risk, high reward kind of player. His aggressiveness offensively looks great when it works, but not so much when it doesn't. He will have to learn to pick his spots better. But Motew certainly showed scouts the kind of offensive upside he possesses from the backend. 

Kaleb Lawrence
Measured in at 6'8 at the PBHH combine! That's Justin Auger level. Lawrence certainly showed some good things at the event, dominating at times down low in the cycle. His hands and shot have a lot of potential to become assets for him. His pace of play and skating ability will certainly concern NHL scouts and it is what caused some inconsistencies at this event. But, 6'8 forwards with skill don't grow on trees.
Ranvir Gill Shane
Offensively, Gill Shane was pretty quiet at the event. He did jump up into the play a few times, but largely played it very safe. He still hasn't quite shown the skill with the puck that he did as a U16 player or a CCHL player. That said, I thought he was terrific defensively at the PBHH, perhaps one of the best in the defensive end at the event. He was aggressive in breaking up plays in the neutral zone and forced a lot of dump ins, which he then has the mobility to recover. Simply put, he was a rock.
Bryce Montgomery
I have added Montgomery to this HM list because he is a fairly high profiled guy. However, he did not have a terrific tournament IMO. There were flashes. And he did get better as the tournament went on (a reason I added him as an HM), but the decision making was not strong. Turnovers were an issue. Bad defensive reads were an issue. Will this drop him in my rankings? No, probably not. It's a small sample size and if you are drafting Montgomery, you know he is a project. The physical tools are all there. Let the London Knights coaching staff work with him and see what happens.

Top '04 Would Be OHL Rookies 
1. Beau Jelsma 
There were a lot of strong performances by 16/17 year olds at this event and Jelsma was at the top IMO. His speed is such an asset and he was absolutely all over the ice; just buzzing. Very rarely do you see a young forward with speed like Jelsma so dialed in defensively, but that was what I saw. He just has this hunger for the puck and it makes him a really effective two-way player. From a skill perspective, his hands and feet operate at the same speed, which is crucial and it made him an absolute load to handle for defenders at this event. I can't say enough good things about him. He has rocketed up my rankings heading into next year.

2. Spencer Sova 
Speaking of rocketing up rankings, let me introduce you to Spencer Sova, who is bound to be one of the best skaters available for the 2022 NHL Draft. He has that effortless, yet powerful stride like Jamie Drysdale, Cale Makar, etc. Some of the things he did at this event were breathtaking. If he comes to Erie next season and performs well, he is going to rocket up draft charts and be a potential lottery selection. I actually thought Sova played well in his own end here too. He has made some massive gains in his game since I saw him last as a U16 player.
3. Gavin Hayes
While brother Avery was good, younger brother Gavin (a first rounder by Flint) was even better. Measured at 6'1 already, Gavin was incredibly effective in transition at the PBHH, constantly looking to push the pace with the puck on his stick, constantly looking to attack the net. He definitely plays a bit of a power game. But the skill and finishing ability looks high end too. Like Sova, Hayes will feature prominently in my early 2022 rankings.
4. Evan Konyen
I really liked Konyen heading into the 2020 OHL Draft and was happy that the Wolves were able to get him to commit. I knew his speed would play at this level, but I didn't think it would happen so fast. Konyen looked like one of the quickest players at the PBHH, getting his share of breakaways and odd man rushes because of it. Loved the way he and Lucas Ross continued to build on their chemistry from the Jr. Penguins days too. 
5. Ryan Abraham 
A first rounder by the Windsor Spitfires in 2020, Abraham was terrific at this event. He is such a smart player. Really liked how he took care of the puck despite being clearly overmatched physically at times (5'7, 165lbs at the event). While some other smaller players like Avery Hayes and Colby Saganiuk did have their lack of size work against them at times, I never really noticed it with Abraham. I do hope he grows a bit before next year's NHL draft, but hard not to like what we saw here. A really complete performance from Abraham.

6. Lucas Ross 
Another undersized guy (5'6, 162lbs at the event), as mentioned it was great to see he and Konyen play together at the event. Ross was a terrific support piece and showed great finishing ability, especially playing with pace and driving the middle. He was not as successful playing with the puck as some of the other '04's, but he showed a real understanding of how to find open space without the puck and thus was the perfect compliment. 

7. Jorian Donovan
Like Sova, Donovan's skating ability was well on display at the event. I don't think he moves quite as well laterally and on his edges as Sova does, but straight forward and as a puck rusher, Donovan is an impact player. The potential is sky high for him as an OHL defender and he could be a guy who moves quickly up draft boards next year if his defensive zone play continues to evolve.
8. Max Namestnikov
The 3rd overall selection at the 2020 OHL Draft (by Sarnia), Namestnikov is indeed the (much) younger brother of former OHL'er and Detroit Red Wings forward Vladislav Namestnikov. Namestnikov definitely showed his skill and playmaking ability at this tournament. It was not consistent and he is definitely going to need to get stronger, but we got a great idea of the potential he possesses. 

9. Kocha Delic
I was actually most impressed by Delic's play without the puck at this tournament. He really used his speed well to force turnovers on the forecheck and to support on the backcheck. His energy level was very encouraging to see and certainly points to some potential for him to develop into a strong two-way center prospect. Offensively, he played a bit more of a supportive role, but there were many things to like. Excited to see how he grows as part of that strong group in Sudbury.

10. Cedrick Guindon
The 10th overall pick in the 2020 OHL Draft (by Owen Sound), Guindon definitely showcased his potential as a future goal scorer at the OHL level. This guy can shoot the puck. Like how he finds the soft spots in the defense and probably could have scored more at the event but was a bit snake bitten. Like other guys mentioned, he definitely just needs to get a little stronger on the puck as turnovers were a bit of an issue.  

Honorable Mentions:
Nolan Lalonde
The youngest goalie at the event, Lalonde had his moments. Quite frankly, most 16/17 year old goaltenders struggle in their first OHL season, so it should not have come as a surprise to see his performance as inconsistent at the event. The big shock was seeing him measure in at 6'3, a full three inches more than his last OHL measurement. That's a huge growth spurt. He is going to be someone on the scouting radar next year as he vies for the starting job in Erie. At least he now knows what to expect from OHL caliber shooters.
Top Re-Entry Players:
1. Joseph Serpa 
Easily looked like the most improved 2002 born player at the event. This is great news for the Kitchener Rangers because they are going to need him to fill a gap in their top six next season. Serpa dominated in transition with his speed and skill and PBHH defenders had a real tough time slowing him down. He was all over the ice in all three zones too, working hard to recover the puck and to support his linemates. 

2. James Hardie
I understand why James Hardie was not drafted last year. I mentioned in my final write ups about him that I knew scouts were concerned with his pace of play and his high volume shooting tendencies from the perimeter. Would have I still drafted him later? Absolutely. I digress. At this event, I felt like Hardie made a more concerted effort to get to the middle of the ice to score and that will go a long way with scouts. He still has that great shot and release. His pace and the dynamic abilities of his stride still are only average though. Again, I draft him though.

3. Avery Winslow 
I mentioned Winslow as someone I felt would have been drafted if the pandemic had not shut down the season early, based on how well Winslow was playing with North Bay following the trade. And I think all he did was prove that should have been the case. Winslow may have been the best and most consistent defender at this event, using his mobility, skill, and sense to dominate at both ends. When the OHL returns, don't be surprised if Winslow is suddenly one of the best defenders in the OHL. His confidence as an offensive player looks really high based on how aggressive he was jumping up into the play.
4. Logan Morrison 
The leading scorer at the event, Morrison is just such a smart player. He is one of those guys who is always in the right place at the right time in the offensive end and who rarely makes a poor pass or turns the puck over. Offensively, his confidence looks sky high. But his skating still lacks the explosiveness and quickness that NHL scouts look for, and this limits his effectiveness in transition and defensively. One of the first players I would be inviting to an NHL camp this summer to see how his game translates against pro players.
5. Gerard Keane
Definitely another defender who looks much improved from a year ago. If you recall, his brother Joey took huge steps forward in his second year of eligibility and was a high draft pick (and has since become an excellent prospect). Maybe the Keane's are just late bloomers. Gerard skates like his brother does and was very aggressive offensively at this event, constantly looking to push the pace. He also looked very comfortable quarterbacking the powerplay. Some decision making errors were still evident and his defensive engagement was inconsistent, but if you are the London Knights, you are very happy with his progress (and with the progress of all your younger defenders).

Honorable Mentions:
Zachary Paputsakis
As mentioned, the goaltending at the event was not extremely strong. But Paputsakis was definitely the best of the bunch. A late '01, he has the size and athleticism that scouts look for and I actually was a bit surprised that he wasn't drafted late in 2020 after a strong rookie year with Oshawa. Based on what I saw at this event, I would say Paputsakis has a chance to be one of the better goaltenders in the OHL when the league returns to play (his OA year).

Daniel D'Amato
How about the performance of all the Erie Otters at this event? While Erie is going to have some tough choices on who to keep as OA's, they had some players really perform well here. Of those, I believe D'Amato was the most consistent. He looks much quicker and like Serpa, was very difficult for defenders to stop in transition. I think he definitely made some NHL scouts take notice and should at least earn a camp invite (if we are returning to normal and players get invited again). 

Brendan Hoffman
Another Otters player and potential OA next season, Hoffman was not as consistent as D'Amato, but he did finish in a tie for the goal scoring lead at the tournament. A lot of that came in a five goal game where he was absolutely dominant. Because Hoffman is 6'3, over 200lbs, and looks like his skating has added a step, he could definitely be on the pro radar if he can have a strong offensive season next year. He looks like a huge breakout candidate.