Friday, July 16, 2021

Final Media/Scout Poll for the 2021 NHL Draft

What a draft year. There's really no other way to say it. Each league had their challenges in evaluating talent, but none more so than the OHL. That, of course, is because the season was cancelled. So scouts are forced to evaluate based on European transfers, the U18's, the Erie showcase, and even the U17 seasons of players.

This year, for the annual media/scout poll, we only did two lists. The first one was in January and the final one now.

For comparison's sake, here was the preliminary (from January) list:

Preliminary List

It's always interesting to note some of the major changes/trends from the beginning of the year to the end. This is especially true this year given the nature of hockey in Ontario. Not a ton of changes though. The top four remains the same from January. Wyatt Johnston is the only one you can say truly raised their stock significantly. Daniil Chayka remains in the Top 10 but falls a bit. Tristan Lennox is the big one here as he goes from getting seven votes in January to one in July. Harsh, considering that he did not play a game, but it is the reality of scouting the league this year. Not playing really hurt a young man like him who was hoping to have a bounce back season.

The question does this group fair at the draft? Many are projecting that OHL players will fall and that we may see a record low of players selected from the league. I am not as convinced. That said, I do think that it is realistic that only three players from the OHL go in the first round this year. I also think that it is very likely that under ten go inside the first two rounds.

As always, it's important to note the contributors, as without them and their terrific insight, this article does not exist. For the final list, the following helped out:

Corey Pronman - NHL Prospects Writer for TheAthletic (@coreypronman)
Dominic Tiano - Writer for The OHL Writers (@dominictiano)
Dylan Galloway – Head of Eastern Scouting for Future Considerations (@dylangalloway_)
Ryan Kennedy - Associate Senior Writer for The Hockey News(@THNRyanKennedy)

Scott Wheeler - NHL Prospects Writer for TheAthletic (@scottcwheeler)
Dan Stewart - Director of DraftsProspects Hockey (@DStewartDP
Mark Seidel - Scouting Director for NACS Hockey (@MarkSeidel)
Matt Young - OHL broadcaster (@mattyoung71
Rachel Doerrie - Scout for EPRinkside and Host of the Staff and Graph Podcast (@racheldoerrie)
Josh Tessler - Director of Scouting for Smaht Scouting (@JoshTessler_)
Sam McGilligan – Video Scout for McKeen's Hockey (@sam_mcgilligan)

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten)

Here's the List:


1. Brandt Clarke – Defense – Barrie Colts

Total Votes: 12

Highest Ranking: 1st (11x)

Lowest Ranking: 2nd (1x)


Mason McTavish is a great player who had a heck of a second half to his shortened season. But Brandt Clarke, even with all of his quirks, should be the first OHLer off the board. There isn’t a player in this draft class, or a prospect in hockey, who looks anything like him (for good and bad reasons, but mostly the former).” - Anonymous

My top player overall in the 2021 NHL Draft. The offensive tool kit is among the best in this draft class for the defenders available. Not only that, but if an NHL team can help Clarke clean up his skating, ever so slightly it will really take his offensive potential to another level. While he didn't have the greatest showing at the U18s, looking at his full season I still believe he possesses the tools to be a highly effective offensive defender in a team's top pairing.” - Dylan Galloway

Brandt Clarke is the top OHL prospect. He’s an effective power play quarterback. He will drop down low and look to key up scoring chances in medium/high danger. The area that needs most development is his skating. His ankle flexion and knocked knee need to be addressed.” - Josh Tessler

What is up with all the Clarke nay-sayers??? Sure, he is a little knock-kneed in his skating stride, but he is also ultra-talented. His base can get a little wide and off balance looking. But the kid does have quick feet, and an even quicker head. Now hear me out, I see a similar style to Nick Lidstrom in that he is so strong in his reads, recognition of where he needs to be, that he looks faster than he is. Not to say Clarke will have a HOF career just that Lidstrom was not the fastest skater but usually the smartest guy on the ice each time he jumped over the boards. Clarke is very intelligent and give him a couple more years of growth and maturity and he will not leave himself in situations or position to get burned. Add in the offensive abilities and I see a potential top pairing blueliner.” - Dan Stewart

What is there to say about Clarke that hasn’t already been said. Well, probably not too much, but I figured I’d praise him anyway. Brandt Clarke is the most creative passer off the back end in this class by a significantly large margin. There isn’t any play he isn’t willing to try, and I believe this type of experimentation will do him well as he figures out what dynamic plays work and what plays don’t. There are genuine concerns about his skating that need to be ironed out if he’s to play this style of game at the NHL level. Likewise, while his production over in Europe was great this year for a DY defenceman (15 points in 26 game) it’s worth pointing out that his underlying numbers (pass efficiency, transitional efficiency, etc) were underwhelming relative to expectations. This can be a legitimate cause for concern for some. That being said, I believe his inefficiencies can be explained by playing in a professional league for the first time that doesn’t encourage the style of offensive play that Clarke is accustomed to. Clarke’s biggest asks development wise are to improve his skating, figure out what type of creative offensive plays work and which ones don’t, and becoming a more reliable and efficient player to run offensive transitions through. With another year or two in the OHL with his old development team, it’s not that crazy an ask. The payoff could be beyond worth it.” - Sam McGilligan


"I am always willing to bet on smart players succeeding and Brandt Clarke is no different. His skating deficiencies (the knock-kneed approach limiting explosiveness and lateral quickness) have not limited him thus far because of how well he anticipates and how quickly he reacts to the play around him. How often does Clarke manage to walk around over aggressive checks inside the offensive zone in order to create an exploitable lane, despite not possessing the edgework of someone like Cale Makar? He has a few years to make some adjustments and I believe he will. Additionally, he is such an intelligent player, I think that his defensive game really develops well because he will be able to adapt to the system employed by his future NHL team. We saw how well Clarke played in the Don Mills Flyers program as a U16 player, a team with a terrific defensive system (that Flyers MM team was better defensively than a whack of OHL teams that year). Sometimes players just have that 'IT" factor and Clarke has that. He finds ways to make his teams better. For what it's worth, scouts said similar things about Adam Fox in his draft year coming out of the US Development Program." - Brock Otten 

2. Mason McTavish – Forward – Peterborough Petes

Total Votes: 12

Highest Ranking: 1st (1x)

Lowest Ranking: 2nd (11x)


One of my favourites in this draft. Big and smart, McTavish uses his size to drive the puck from the perimeter to the centre lane. He owns one of the best shots in the draft but I also like that he can be a dual-threat and be an intelligent playmaker as well. I really think he will flourish with continued development from an NHL team.” - Dylan Galloway

I loved how he seized his opportunity in Switzerland, playing with aggression and never taking a step back. Plus he's got the wicked goal-scoring ability, which never hurts.” - Ryan Kennedy

Was a dominant force at the Under 18's....Pro Shot...The knock on him when he was younger was that he didn't play hard all the time but that is ancient history these days.. Reminds me of Ryan O'Reilly but may have some more finish.” - Mark Seidel

Talk about growth. McTavish looked good but inconsistent, almost to the point of being disinterested at times, in his rookie OHL season. Watching him this year both in Europe and at the U18’s and you see a boy who became a man in a matter of months. His confidence is now sky high, his already impressive shot with its elite release looks even more dangerous, his skating has also improved although more work in that area will be needed, and his work ethic looks to have matured as well. Add in the 200-foot centers good size, physicality and willingness to go to the dirty areas consistently and it would not surprise me to see him be the big jump guys that goes far higher than most projected, maybe even top five.” - Dan Stewart

I love high-energy prospects like McTavish. He’s one of the safest bets you can find in the whole draft. I think that’s what a lot of the reasoning behind people placing him in the top 10. He projects as a center in a draft that lacks high-end centers, his energy level and fearlessness is infectious and he plays such a structured game for a guy who never stops moving. He’s the best goal scorer from the OHL and combines it with a knack for timing his movements to the net-front and getting inside body positioning. His game doesn’t possess a lot of fat to it, it’s effective and highly projectable with good habits. He could line up as a quality third line center, but there’s also room to grow into a top 6 NHL center. That depends on whether or not his skating can continue it’s development (and it should, he took a big leap between last year and this year) and just how advanced his passing can be when he’s facing complex defensive structures in the NHL.” - Sam McGilligan

I would actually be surprised if McTavish wasn't selected BEFORE Brandt Clarke. Given the nature of this draft, there are a lot of high end defenders available and not many top end centers who offer what McTavish does. I expect him to be in high demand. This is a player who has progressed incredibly this year, transforming himself into a dominant two-way power center. Any question marks that I had about his game coming into the season have been answered (skating, decision making, vision with the puck). For me, he is right in the conversation with Beniers and Eklund as the top forward available this year.” - Brock Otten

3. Brennan Othmann – Forward – Flint Firebirds

Total Votes: 12

Highest Ranking: 3rd (7x)

Lowest Ranking: 5th (1x)


Brennan Othmann is an under-sized power forward, who does an excellent job at finding open ice down low. He possesses a silky smooth shot and his shot is highly underrated when you compare it to others in the 2021 NHL Draft class.” - Josh Tessler

Started slow at U18's but got better as tourney progressed...Skating still scares me a bit...Can really shoot it...” - Mark Seidel

A puck magician with offensive creativity, compete, and a strong shot who brings a gritty edge as well. Jumped over to Switzerland with McTavish and played with EHC Olten of the SL which was a great idea during the pandemic. His overall game took a big jump; his ability to utilize his line mates and even his skating all improved noticeably. Really looked strong playing for Canada at the IIHF U18’s in Texas. Someone who is just scratching the surface of their NHL potential. Will need to continue to work on his feet but he could be a guy that develops into one of the top scoring plus grit wingers from this class.” - Dan Stewart

I really wish that we had an opportunity to see Othmann apply his talents in the OHL this year, as I would've loved to see how he developed within the league for a year-over-year comparison. Instead, he also took his talents to the Swiss league where the numbers were good but don't jump off the page. He was definitely more involved in the play overseas and saw an increase in his penalty minutes as he applied a physical presence with a solid compete level. I think the thing with Othmann is that you can tell he will play in the NHL but it's just really hard to say where he fits into a lineup at present. He's a safe pick though which puts him third on my list because you know you will get a guy that can play somewhere in your lineup down the road.” - Matt Young

One thing that I think really makes Othmann attractive to NHL scouts is that he can find success with limited puck touches in the offensive end. He is the perfect complement to highly skilled players, which he has shown across his young hockey career thus far. You know that he is going to bring it physically. You know that the shot plays and that he can score. However, his playmaking ability and puck skill are underrated and it allows him to keep up with guys like Shane Wright. The explosiveness and speed are going to need to continue to improve, but the progression he has already shown is promising and points to further improvement being possible. And while his two-way play has not yet hit the level that I expected it would coming out of the Don Mills Flyers program, I do expect him to become a solid two-way winger at the NHL level.” - Brock Otten

4. Francesco Pinelli – Forward – Kitchener Rangers

Total Votes: 12

Highest Ranking: 3rd (4x)

Lowest Ranking: 6th (1x)


Francesco Pinelli has a solid motor and thrives at gaining necessary acceleration on two skate extensions. He’s an aggressive forechecker and utilizes an active stick to trap attackers. Pinelli finds tight gaps to pass through and can be rather deceptive on the rush.” - Josh Tessler

"Going back to his rookie season, you could instantly tell Pinelli was a good offensive player with his 41 points in his first 59 OHL games.  There was a lot to like there, and Kitchener was able to take some of the defensive pressures away from him by insulating him at left wing that first season.  Pinelli returned to center this season and his defensive game was still intact, despite playing wing for the year. With the OHL hiatus, Pinelli took his game to Slovenia where he added 11 points in 13 games before notching 11 points in seven games for Canada at the under-18 tournament.  By all accounts, Pinelli's game has improved a lot this year but there are a lot of questions about his projectability at the next level.  I have fewer doubts than some of the others as the kid has produced at every level and I don't think that changes at the next level.  I just think he doesn't offer the guarantee he'll play that the three above him do at this point." - Matt Young 

Pinelli doesn’t have McTavish’s safety, but I think he has him beat in terms of pure upside. He’s one of the more dynamic skill players in the entire draft, the product of his elite passing vision and handling skill. Like Clarke and McTavish, Pinelli entered the year with skating concerns but what concerns scouts is that in conjunction with his off-puck effort away from the play. He has a brilliant mind for understanding where and how play is going to develop and when play naturally makes its way towards Pinelli, you can see some wondrous vision from the young Ranger. However, when play is unfolding away from Pinelli, he kind of just lets it happen sometimes. He doesn’t come across as a player with a particularly high compete level; however, I haven’t actually spoken to him so I don’t know how true that is. What I do know is that his effort levels away from the puck have taken strides as the year progressed and looked its best at the U18’s, so maybe that bodes well for Pinelli going forward. If he consistently gets himself involved in play, I can see Pinelli becoming one of the most sophisticated problem solvers in the draft class and one of the few that could consistently create 5v5 offence with dynamic skill.” - Sam McGilligan

I think, without question, that Pinelli is one of the most intelligent forwards available this year. That is going to carry him a long way. A lot of the issues with Pinelli currently revolve around a lack of physical tools. The skating will likely get better as he builds additional lower body strength and power. The consistency will improve as he improves his conditioning and overall strength. I think we will see him develop a more consistent physical approach in the future that makes him a really good two-way player. I worry a bit that he falls in the NHL draft because I see him as the type that scouts will overlook or over-critique. But I do think that he eventually becomes a long time NHL player.” - Brock Otten

Right up there with McTavish in terms of talent, though Pinelli is more of a playmaker. Skating goes in and out, so that's something to work on.” - Ryan Kennedy

5. Wyatt Johnston – Forward – Windsor Spitfires

Total Votes: 10

Highest Ranking: 3rd (1x)

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


He's a skilled, smart, competitive center whose growth spurt has elevated his pro prospects. He was one of Canada's most reliable players at the 18's, continuing a upward trajectory for him the last few years.” - Anonymous

This kid could be a major sleeper in the end. His hockey sense is fantastic and he attacks the offensive zone with speed.” - Ryan Kennedy

The top 4 are a given and if they aren’t on everyone’s list, then those are lists you should probably ignore. In my opinion, this is where the draft questions begin and I went with Wyatt Johnston. Wyatt is a very good skater with his greatest asset being his acceleration. He takes off like a rocket and reaches his top speed quickly. That said, his top end speed could use some improvement. Johnston is excellent on the forecheck. He gets in there quickly and wins most puck races but when he doesn’t, he is a willing participant in battles. He reads the ice extremely well and is a natural in finding those open areas and making himself an option. Johnston is very good at controlling the puck on his stick while skating down the ice, but will need to get better when he is in tight with opponents. Johnston can play both down the middle and on the wing, which is a bonus to some scouts.” - Dominic Tiano

Truthfully, I still don't quite know what to make of Johnston. I think there are a lot of things to like. I think he's a really smart player who will provide a lot of versatility to his coaches in the future. I think with his tenacity and strength, he becomes a really strong defensive forward, at the very least. The skating is a bit of a concern for me, although I think a lot of that has to do with a lack of lower body power due to a late growth spurt. Ultimately, I just don't know what the offensive ceiling is. Do I think he is an NHL player? Yes. Am I certain he has the skill and dynamic qualities to his game necessary to make him a top six forward? No. That is sort of the issue for a lot of these OHL guys this year.” - Brock Otten

6. Ben Gaudreau – Goaltender – Sarnia Sting

Total Votes: 10

Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)

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


He's calm and smart positionally but can flash some athleticism when he needs to. I've also seen that Gaudreau is capable of playing under pressure and facing a lot of rubber while keeping his team in it. In his rookie season, he did a solid job of reading and reacting to the play and getting into position. I'm not sure if he'll be an NHL starter, because goalie trajectories are tough to project, but he certainly looks like he could be at least a 1B type of goalie in the NHL.” - Dylan Galloway

Extremely athletic goaltender that has tremendous mental strength...Challenges well...Teammates love him...Perfect demeanor for a starting goaltender...Rebound control had been an issue but he made huge improvements at the U18's.” - Mark Seidel

In all the years of doing these consensus rankings, I have never put a goaltender in my top 10, until now that is. It is of course, a strange year and we can only base it on what we’ve seen, hence my Gaudreau ranking. There are so many things that stand out with Gaudreau, none more then is movement in the crease. He moves laterally with ease, he darts out to the top of the paint in the blink of an eye, and his recovery from being down in the butterfly back onto his skates is lightning quick. His ability to reset is rare to find at this level. The other thing that stands out is his composure. He never seems to get rattled and has that let’s move onto the next shot mentality. At 6’2” he has the size but he is a beanpole at 175 pounds.” - Dominic Tiano

Had the OHL played this year, I truthfully believe that we would be mentioning Gaudreau in the same breath as Wallstedt and Cossa. I see a goalie with very few weaknesses, who clearly has the mental toughness, focus, and athleticism to be top notch NHL goaltender. His glove hand has improved a lot this year based on what I saw at the U18's. His rebound control is the area requiring the most work, but everything I know about this young man suggests that he will work hard to improve it. I don't think the scouting community is making a big enough deal about his performance at the U18's. The best 2003 born goaltender on the planet IMO.” - Brock Otten


7. Brett Harrison – Forward – Oshawa Generals

Total Votes: 10

Highest Ranking: 5th (1x)

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


Big-bodied forward who can really finish off his chances. If he can get more consistent and play with more jam, he'll be a terror.” - Ryan Kennedy

Showed a lot of offense in Oshawa but I'm not sure that will be his role in the NHL...Feet are improving but still need work...Great awareness on the ice...Will be a captain in Oshawa.” - Mark Seidel

I had him higher at the beginning of the season, but he drops a bit for me due to others passing him on my list. Still love his upside. Blends a finesse and power game, showing equal playmaking skill to finishing ability. Dangerous around the crease. Smart and gives a solid effort on both sides of the puck. Uses his size well, battling for pucks or creating space. He has improved his feet but still has some room to grow in that regard. Played a handful of games in Finland with Koovee and did not look out of place, but also did not really jump out. His game has many of the intangibles you want in a prospect, however, he disappears for stretches.” - Dan Stewart

Harrison has a lot of interesting tools but admittedly, some need some work. He likes the physical game and does not shy away from it both offensively on the forecheck and in the defensive zone. As a centerman, he is counted on for a defensive game as well as offensive and he is adept at that. He transitions well from the d-zone to offense and has decent top end speed. But he lacks in acceleration. As he transitions to pro, maybe they can work on his technique to improve on that. He has an upright skating technique that doesn’t create a lot of power when starting off. But he is also difficult to knock off the puck. He sees the ice extremely well and finds openings to get off an extremely good shot.” - Dominic Tiano


8. Chase Stillman – Forward – Sudbury Wolves

Total Votes: 9

Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)

Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (3x)


Crash-and-bang kid who had a nice presence at the world under-18s. Can fit up and down your lineup.” - Ryan Kennedy

Reminds me so much of Tom Wilson when he played in Plymouth...Plays hard EVERY shift...Will hit & fight & block shots...Has more offense than people give him credit for...Had shifts at the U18s that changed the tone of the game.” - Mark Seidel

I absolutely love the heart and soul style a guy like Stillman brings to the game every night. If I were calling the shots at an NHL draft table, I would target one or two of these types in each draft in hopes of filling my third and fourth lines with these “all effort, all the time” types. Stillman’s offensive skill level is not elite, he can struggle handling the puck at high speed and maybe is not the most creative, but he drives the net, hits to hurt, digs for pucks, and plays with high levels of energy. He is also smart. A second-round guy for me.” - Dan Stewart

Stillman is such a smooth and deceptive skater, it may just be his best asset. He has superb acceleration with great agility. He changes direction with relative ease and has superb edge work. This allows him to draw defenders in close where it opens up teammates. With his high-end vision, he then completes passes to his teammates for scoring chances. Stillman also has a deceptively strong shot. He gets a lot of power behind it and can often fool goaltenders because he gets it off quickly. Stillman is an excellent and gifted offensive talent. It is his defensive game that needs some work. He sometimes comes off as not putting in 100% effort to defend and that hurts his stock.” - Dominic Tiano

I did a lot of colour for the Wolves radio broadcasts last OHL season and at the start of the year, Stillman was a guy on that team that really stood out for me. He stood out because he was undersized but had an exceptional work ethic, and often stole pucks off of the opponent's stick.  He did not play small in the corners either and was able to come away from corner battles with the puck more often than I expected. Stillman spent the year on loan in an under-20 league in Denmark where he put up two points per game and finished the year on Canada's under-18 team where he continued to demonstrate the work ethic I mentioned earlier, while also contributing four points in seven games. I continue to be a fan of Stillman's game because he works very hard consistently.  He's also got the pedigree as well since his dad was an NHL player and is now a coach.  Stillman will likely find a way to play given that he understands the game and has such a great work ethic, but I'm not sure how much offence he'll chip in at the next level.” - Matt Young

9. Daniil Chayka – Defense – Guelph Storm

Total Votes: 9

Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)

Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (3x)


Daniil Chayka played his entire season in Russia in the CSKA Moscow system. It’s evident that CSKA wanted him to play a more defensive game and Chayka’s game evolved. While Chayka wasn’t offensively-involved, there is still a lot of offensive talent in his game. During his days with Guelph, he excelled at creating offensive scoring chances in the slot. Aside from his offense, he will play a relaxed style of defense. He will generally sit back and wait for the puck to cross the perimeter line before putting on tight pressure. In addition, he’s shown that his stick-handling reach is in great shape. His frame allows him to take up more space and reaches loose pucks with ease.” - Josh Tessler

At this point it feels like Chayka will be more of a shutdown defender at the next level, but with his size and mobility that's far from a knock.” - Ryan Kennedy

Chayka is a late birthday and has already played two full OHL seasons and now some time in the KHL as well, where many of his peers do not even have a full season of Major Junior on their resumes yet.  Chayka has also played 20 games with the Guelph Storm in the OHL playoffs, almost half a season of what his peers have played. When Chayka came to the OHL there was a lot of hype about his offensive game, which while respectable, has not been what I thought it would have been to date.  That could definitely change in Guelph this fall but we can only work off of the body of evidence in front of us at this point.  This leaves me to believe that Chayka will become more of a shutdown 6'3" defender than an offensive player at the next level, and that's fine as you need those guys to win.  I think he's a guy that has a chance to be a player at the next level with a more simplistic game than I did when he was an OHL rookie.” - Matt Young

Having watched Chayka for several years now, dating back to his U16 days, I guess my biggest concern is that he may have plateaued. If the OHL season occurs and he's not playing in Russia, are we having this conversation? Maybe not. But we have to deal with the realities we have been dealt. This year, I didn't see a ton of growth in the areas that needed to grow and given that he is a late born '02, that concerns me. As the pace increases, Chayka's decision making and skill with the puck seems to dissipate. Even in the OHL, Chayka was always at his best offensively without the puck, as he would find soft spots in coverage to get scoring chances. Do I think Chayka can be an NHL defender? Yes. But I do have concerns that his offensive game will not translate as well and given the way the NHL game is trending, does that make him anything more than a third pairing or depth guy? In the second round, I have a lot of time for him. But there are many other defenders in this defense deep draft that would interest me more.” - Brock Otten

10. Artyom Grushnikov- Defense – Hamilton Bulldogs

Total Votes: 4

Highest Ranking: 6th (2x)

Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (8x)


Big, mobile, physical defensemen who can move pucks competently tend to go rather high. He's bit of a man of mystery due to no games in the past year but he's not going to last too long in the draft.” - Anonymous

A true defensive defender. He has great poise and calmness in his own zone. He's very mobile and owns an incredibly annoying poke check. Grushnikov has a maturity to his game that you rarely see in players this age. His calmness and poise on his own blueline is particularly evident on the PK. He'll be a solid middle to bottom pairing defensive defender who will shoulder a lot of the work on an NHL team's penalty kill.” - Dylan Galloway

The big WHAT IF of this draft. Came into the year as a potential first rounder. The hype for him playing in Hamilton was significant. But, given that he did not play at the U18's, we're left with one of the only high end players in this draft class who did not play a single game this season to show any sort of progression. At least the other high end OHL guys got to play at the U18's if they didn't go overseas. Playing up a level (or two) previously, it was hard to get a read on Grushnikov's true offensive capabilities. And therein lies the difficulty in ranking or projecting him. I guarantee that Grushnikov is or was probably the most widely debated player on NHL draft boards. Have to think someone jumps on him in the Top 75, as his size, physicality, and mobility at least make him an option to play a defensively oriented role at the next level.” - Brock Otten

Honorable Mentions

Ryan Winterton – Forward – Hamilton Bulldogs

Total Votes: 4

Highest Ranking: 8th (2x)


Winterton’s the player to watch from this crop when the OHL finally returns for the 2021-2022 season. His game has breakout season written all over it.” - Anonymous

The thing that stands out most to me about Winterton is how well developed he is defensively – he’s well above his years. There are few that backcheck as hard as he does. He will come back deep into his zone to help out his defenders. He is physically strong and can knock opponents on their rear ends. He understands how to take away lanes and close gaps. Offensively, Winterton plays with pace. He is a tenacious forechecker, using good speed to get in physically on defenders and is very adept at creating turnovers. He plays confidently with the puck on his stick. Winterton can play both wing and down the middle but his excellent defensive game may be suited as a pivot at the next level.” - Dominic Tiano

I liked Winterton a lot heading into the year, but the big thing that he needed to work on was becoming quicker. At the U18's, I think he proved that his skating has been upgraded significantly and it makes him a lot easier to project as an NHL player, even with limited exposure this year. I think his shot is really good and gives him potential as a high end goal scorer. I think he's a well rounded player who can play a lot of different roles. The million dollar questions are, can he drive the pace of play and is he skilled enough with the puck to be an impact player? Tough to truly answer those leading up to the draft. But I'm a big fan of his as a potential second round selection.” - Brock Otten

Ethan Del Mastro – Defense – Mississauga Steelheads

Total Votes: 4

Highest Ranking: 7th (1x)


Love the big frame coupled with the all-encompassing mobility and the nasty edge he can bring physically. Takes care of his own zone first, wraps up opponents, drops into shooting lanes, and closes off speedier attackers to the outside with solid gap control. Considered Ryan Winterton and even James Hardie for this spot as they are in a similar tier for me, but ultimately, I like the safe, physical, defensive style game Del Mastro will give the team that draft him and feel while he will not be a big point producer on the scoreboard he could become just as effective on the scoreboard keeping the oppositions shot total and goal total down. He is still a couple years away but should have a pretty solid OHL season in the fall.” - Dan Stewart

As I've mentioned a few times, from the start to the finish of his rookie year, Del Mastro was one of the most improved '03's in the OHL. This is usually a precursor for significant success in a draft year, especially for defenders. But we didn't get a chance to see that, except at the U18's where he was shaking off the rust and played a more conservative role. I see a big defender with a lot of redeeming qualities. I think the mobility is good, especially moving forward. The physicality is great; he could end up being a really tough guy to match up against. I think he's more skilled than we give him credit for. The real question his decision making with the puck good enough? Tough to really get a read on that this year. He can definitely still be pressured into turnovers. Much like Ryan Winterton, I have a lot of time for him in the second round as I am curious about the potential he possesses.” - Brock Otten

Connor Lockhart – Forward – Erie Otters

Total Votes: 4

Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)


I think I like Lockhart and I hope he has made the kind of progress that warrants a mid-round pick, but I can’t truthfully tell you because I haven’t seen him play in 16 months!” - Anonymous

Highly intelligent and agile playmaker. He owns some great edges and is highly mobile in all four directions. Love how he sees the ice and his ability to generate chances through smart passing. Lockhart really helps his team transition the puck with great speed do to his quick passing ability. He is on the smaller side, and could struggle to put it all together at the NHL level, but I see a player who could contribute to some good offensive depth in the NHL in a team's bottom 6.” - Dylan Galloway

I am going off the board here with Connor Lockhart. Let’s face it, if he wasn’t 5’9”, he would get a lot more attention. In my opinion anyway. Lockhart is one of the top 2 or 3 skaters in the draft class. Truly elite speed and first step acceleration with the edgework to go along with that. And despite his diminutive size, few are as willing to use to the middle and use that skating ability to drive to the net. For a small guy, he really possesses a deceptive shot. And again, for his size, he is a tenacious forechecker using his speed to get in on defences quickly. What he needs to work on is to continually push the pace on the offence. That is when he is at his best. He often pauses to let the play develop around him and see what is happening instead of going continuously.” - Dominic Tiano

Logan Mailloux – Defense – London Knights

Total Votes: 3

Highest Ranking: 5th (1x)


It's all about the raw potential here and in a weird draft year I wouldn't be surprised if a team calls on him early. Plus he's in a great development system in London.” - Ryan Kennedy

I was close to having Logan as my #4. Big bodied, aggressive defenders who play a physical and rangy defensive game and can also contribute offensively do not last long at the NHL draft. I really loved watching Mailloux during his time with the London Nationals, excited to watch him on loan in SK Lejon of Sweden’s HockeyEttan and was enamored with him at the PBHH Invitational as well. He has some growth ahead with regards to decision making and defensive positioning, but I just love the raw upside. I would be thinking his name at the beginning of round two. One of my favorites who I could see myself wishing I were even more bullish with his ranking in the coming years.” - Dan Stewart

It's not often that I'm willing to put a player with only four OHL games on this list, but there are a few factors with Mailloux that I simply cannot ignore anymore. Mailloux is a London Knight and is poised to play a prominent role on Dale Hunter's defensive core this upcoming season.  While he could only play four games in 19-20, Mailloux went to Junior B and ripped up the league with 68 points in 48 games as a 16-year-old.  He will only benefit from the coaching and situation he's about to be in with London this year. Mailloux is also 6'3" tall and weighs 215 pounds at this point.  He will only get stronger and fill out more as time goes on, so the package could become potentially more imposing in the future as well. Lastly, Mailloux also found his own opportunity in a lower-level Swedish league this season where he has 15 points in just 19 games. We certainly know he can play offence, and with Hunter, he's in a great spot to develop the defensive side of his game.  The defensive side absolutely needs work but that can be taught where you cannot teach the other intangibles Mailloux seems to possess at this point.  It's crazy to think he makes the list with just four OHL games of experience, but something tells me Mailloux is going to be a solid player in a few years.” - Matt Young

Ty Voit – Forward – Sarnia Sting

Total Votes: 3

Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)


A shifty offensively gifted winger. He's incredible with the puck on his stick and can do a lot with very little space. He intelligently draws opponents into his space and is able to dish passes to teammates in open ice. Even though he's a bit smaller in stature, Voit can get to the dirty areas of the ice and be very effective in the centre lanes. He will be great at creating offence off the rush in the bottom 9 in the NHL.” - Dylan Galloway

Ty Voit drives hard to the net and creates high danger scoring chances with ease even if he is facing tight pressure from the opposition. He will widen his stance down low to throw off defenders, adjust his stance and stick-handle around defenders.” - Josh Tessler

Bryce Montgomery – Defense – London Knights

Total Votes: 2

Highest Ranking: 9th (2x)


Bryce Montgomery uses his frame extremely well at putting pressure on puck carriers and forces the attack to drift over into vulnerable areas. He is a deceptive puck mover as he will lure attackers over to one side with his puck manipulation.” - Josh Tessler

Tristan Lennox – Goaltender – Saginaw Spirit

Total Votes: 1

Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)


The only gameplay that he has had since the abrupt ending of the 2019-2020 OHL season has been two appearances in net at the Canada World Junior camp in Red Deer. But, in his limited gameplay, he showed that his post security is still pretty strong. Lennox possesses quality speed when shifting from left to right in the butterfly. He has outstanding vision and spots the attack from the point even with an attacker in front shielding. In addition, he has a solid glove and has no difficulty capturing pucks from any distance. Last year against Sarnia, he had an outstanding glove save with pressure at net front. While he hasn’t played much this year, there is plenty to like about Lennox.” - Josh Tessler

Ethan Cardwell – Forward – Barrie Colts

Total Votes: 1

Highest Ranking: 9th (1x)


Cardwell is not in my own personal Top 10, but I definitely think he gets drafted this year. He should have been drafted last year, but that is besides the point. This year, he showed extremely well playing in Sweden against men. His pace of play, confidence with the puck, and the dynamic qualities of his skating all looked much improved and you can't argue against the production. He is definitely starting to look like more of a potential middle six forward and for that reason, I'm guessing he slots somewhere in that 75-130 range of the draft next week.” - Brock Otten

Joe Vrbetic – Goaltender – North Bay Battalion

Total Votes: 1

Highest Ranking: 10th (1x)


Unheralded goaltender that has the potential to be an NHL starter...Moves effortlessly...Quick hands...Very quiet in the net...Takes up a lot of net.” - Mark Seidel

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