Friday, December 31, 2021

Preliminary Media/Scout Poll for 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matt Young - OHL broadcaster (@mattyoung71)

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

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten)

Here's the List:

1. Shane Wright - Center - Kingston Frontenacs

Total Votes: 13

Highest Ranking: 1st (13x)

Lowest Ranking: -


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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Ty Nelson - Defense - North Bay Battalion

Total Votes: 13

Highest Ranking: 2nd (8x)

Lowest Ranking: 7th (1x)


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

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

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

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

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

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


3. Pavel Mintyukov - Defense - Saginaw Spirit

Total Votes: 13

Highest Ranking: 2nd (5x)

Lowest Ranking: 7th (2x)


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

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

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

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

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

4. Matthew Poitras - Center - Guelph Storm

Total Votes: 12

Highest Ranking: 3rd (2x)

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


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

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

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

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

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

5. Danny Zhilkin - Center - Guelph Storm

Total Votes: 12

Highest Ranking: 3rd (3x)

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


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

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

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

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

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

6. Paul Ludwinski - Center - Kingston Frontenacs

Total Votes: 11

Highest Ranking: 3rd (1x)

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


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

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

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

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

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

7. David Goyette - Center - Sudbury Wolves

Total Votes: 9

Highest Ranking: 3rd (1x)

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


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

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

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

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

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

8. Owen Beck - Center - Mississauga Steelheads

Total Votes: 9

Highest Ranking: 4th (3x)

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


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

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

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

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

9. Luca DelBelBelluz - Center - Mississauga Steelheads

Total Votes: 9

Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Votes: 8

Highest Ranking: 5th (3x)

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


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

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

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

Hunter Haight - Center - Barrie Colts

Total Votes: 5

Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)


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

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

Ruslan Gazizov - Wing - London Knights

Total Votes: 3

Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)


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

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

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

Pano Fimis - Center - Niagara IceDogs

Total Votes: 3

Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)


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

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

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

Gavin Hayes - Wing - Flint Firebirds

Total Votes: 3

Highest Ranking: 7th (2x)


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

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

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

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

Matyas Sapovaliv - Center - Saginaw Spirit

Total Votes: 2

Highest Ranking: 5th (2x)


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

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

Vinzenz Rohrer - Center/Wing - Ottawa 67’s

Total Votes: 2

Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)


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

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

Spencer Sova - Defense - Erie Otters

Total Votes: 2

Highest Ranking: 10th (2x)


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

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

Beau Jelsma - Center/Wing - Barrie Colts

Total Votes: 1

Highest Ranking: 10th (1x)


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