Thursday, April 28, 2022

2022 OHL Priority Selection Mock Draft & Preview

The 2022 OHL Priority Selection is set to go this weekend, with rounds 1-3 occurring Friday night. The Saginaw Spirit will select first after winning the inaugural draft lottery and all signs point to them taking exceptional status player Michael Misa. The consensus that I have received on this draft is that it is a very good one, one of the best in recent years. With three compensation selections awarded in the first round, we also have 23 picks going in round one. 
It should be noted that this collaborative mock draft was started over a week ago, before things start to leak out regarding placement. For example, this was started before Michael Hage signed his tender with the Chicago Steel. Even if the mock does not end up being extremely accurate, the true purpose of this piece is to provide you with information on some of the top players available this year. 
This is the fourth year that I have gathered scouts together for this piece. It seems like with each passing year, I am able to see less and less U16 action. This couldn't be more true now that I've taken on the director of scouting role with McKeen's Hockey. Thus, I love putting this together to help me learn too. This piece wouldn't be possible without the contributions of some terrific scouts.
Helping out with this mock draft are:
Steven Ellis – Web Editor & Writer/Digital Content Producer for The Hockey News (@StevenEllisTHN)
Connor WilliamsScout for Recruit Scouting (@cwilliams)
Ethan Wong – Scout for (@EthanW05)
Gavin Chiasson - Owner of Recruit Scouting (@NHLChiasson
Brayden Olafson - Scout for Puck Preps (@olaf1393)
Chase Allen - Scout for Puck Preps (@ChaseAllen03)
Mat Goodwin - Scout for (@Goody_0808)
Ryan Ferizovic - Director of Scouting for (@RFerry27)
Ben Misfeldt - Founder of The Prospect Network (@BBMHockey
Gabe Foley - Head of North American Scouting for Recruit Scouting (@NHLFoley)

If you're hungry for more information on these players, check out the content on the sites of these contributors!

Without further ado, here is our first round mock draft, honorable mentions, and top US potential selections:

1. Saginaw Spirit (Brock Otten) - Michael Misa, C, Mississauga Senators (GTHL)
This one has already been announced by the Spirit, with Saginaw opting for Misa over Malcolm Spence. Generally speaking exceptional status players do go number one since Hockey Canada took over the application process, however Spence is a terrific prospect in his own right and this one was no slam dunk. However, Misa’s performance at the OHL Cup really sealed the deal and helped him earn that exceptional status and the Jack Ferguson. He broke Connor McDavid’s scoring record at the event and was named MVP of the tournament as the Sens took home the title. Misa, the brother of Mississauga Steelheads forward Luke Misa, is a similar kind of player to his brother. His skating ability is electric and his ability to blend quickness and skill makes him dynamic in transition. Misa has the potential to be an immediate impact player for the Spirit, serving as a terrific contrast to import Matyas Sapovaliv down the middle. This is a great spot for Misa too, as the Spirit are a better team than they showed this season.

2. Erie Otters (Brayden Olafson/Chase Allen) - Malcolm Spence, C, Mississauga Senators (GTHL)
Ahead of Michael Misa’s exceptional status exception, Malcolm Spence was pegged in by many as the first overall pick in this years’ OHL draft. Spence has all the tools to be a dominant 200-foot player for whatever team selects him, in this case, the Erie Otters. Erie could use a player such as Spence to build off, as they’re a young squad with some good pieces but lack that elite talent such as Spence. What makes him so dangerous is the pace at which he plays the game. He has great speed, his quick and powerful crossovers aid him in transition, as he can cut up the neutral zone, evading checks by synchronizing his quick feet and soft hands. The next level demands quick decision making along with the physical attributes (i.e., speed, hands, shot power) to go with it; Spence checks all these boxes. He has the size and strength necessary to excel in the OHL, with great lower body strength he can fend off larger opponents while remaining in control of the puck as he cuts his way towards the net with a powerful stride. His vision in the offensive zone is sensational as he is able to recognize the open man and connect on high danger passes This means he’s an elite playmaking forward that helps elevate his teammates performance. His shot is nothing to scoff at either, as he boasts a quick, snappy, release with good power that can beat goalies clean. Spence has the ability to make an immediate impact in the OHL as soon as next season on a young and up and coming Otters squad that has the potential to surprise some people.  

3. Sudbury Wolves (Gavin Chiasson) - Sam Dickinson, D, Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)

With the 3rd overall pick in the draft, I believe Sam Dickinson could easily go in this spot. We often talk about how good Misa and Spence are, but for the blueline, Dickinson is at the top pick for this year. He already has good size, a nice touch of physicality, and responsibility to his game. He could easily go 3rd to Sudbury. My reasoning is that I strongly believe they should keep the young line with chemistry between Goyette - Delic - Konyen for next year. However, they also still have Musty up front, and with a lack of defensive talent, I think Dickinson would fit in nicely. While many might argue that Dickinson won’t be able to make an immediate impact, as rookie defenders usually don’t, I disagree with Dickinson. He’s as OHL ready as they come, and with his physical and mental maturity, he is sure to make an immediate impact with this team and help them out on the blue-line.

4. Niagara IceDogs (Connor Williams) - Michael Hage, C, Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)
Unfortunately, after the recent news of Hage signing a tender agreement with the Chicago Steel of the USHL, it is highly unlikely that we see him being taken at this point in the draft. However, despite this, Hage is an elite top 5 talent who tallied 116 points in 57 games with the Jr. Canadiens this season. An incredibly skilled centre with tons of creativity, he has the ability to make dazzling plays every game. Hage utilizes his strong skating and edges effectively, cutting into space and creating more time and space for him to use his strong shot to score, or use his vision and playmaking to set up his teammates. The centre has a great deal of poise in his game, not panicking under pressure, in fact using his skill to draw in defenders to open up his teammates or use his skating to burst by them for an offensive opportunity. Although we can say with a fair bit of certainty that Hage won’t be selected in this position anymore, we will likely see a team select him in a later round (or later in the first) with the hope of drawing him to the OHL before he commits to an NCAA school.

5. Sarnia Sting (Steven Ellis) - Nathan Villeneuve, C, Navan Grads (HEO U18)

The Ottawa minor hockey scene is a bit unusual in that, unlike most of Ontario, there isn't a proper U-16 league. So Villeneuve, and the rest of the top Ottawa-area players, play against older competition in the HEO U-18 league -- and Villeneuve made everyone look goofy. Villeneuve is a tough, physical presence, leading the Heo with 79 penalty minutes. More importantly, he won the top prospect award after finishing second behind Benjamin Cormier in scoring for the Navan Grads with 67 points in just 30 games. He's an all-around sound talent that can work with just about anyone as a linemate and succeed.

6. Peterborough Petes (Ethan Wong) - Porter Martone, C/RW, Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)
With the 6th pick in the OHL priority draft, the Peterborough Petes select a homegrown talent in Centre/Right Winger Porter Martone from the Toronto Jr Canadiens. With the Petes following a season where they clinched playoffs with a very young team after trading Mason McTavish, Peterborough will be looking to bolster their youthful roster with an young impact player. After the top five players are chosen there are a few options for Peterborough, but it should be in their best interest to go after a big and strong playmaking forward. This could eventually lead up to a replacement for overager Joe Caroll. Martone brings a high level of compete and is willing to use his body to win puck battles. The Petes may have some similar players to Martone like Stillman and Alfano, yet, this seems to be the mold that they like in the end.

7. Ottawa 67’s (Mat Goodwin) - Beckett Sennecke, LW/RW, Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)

Perhaps the most gifted offensive player in the draft class, Sennecke is a very exciting player to watch.  He has the type of skill with the puck that many envy.  His hands are silky smooth and he can seemingly stick-handle out of any situation.  Sennecke has an impressively accurate shot and can pick the corner on the GTHL’s top goaltending talent.  What is also impressive, is his quickness with and without the puck.  Sennecke may not be the fastest skater in the draft, however, he has a very strong first few strides and his edgework is impressive.  This skating ability allows him to beat defenders in the offensive zone, especially if he catches an opposing player standing flat-footed.  Sennecke has the vision to go along with his puck skills and shot.  His 45 assists in 45 games during the regular season highlight the fact that he is more than an extremely effective goal scorer.  He keeps his head up and is always looking to find a teammate for a scoring chance.  This attribute makes him deadly on the power play.  Sennecke began the year as one of the smaller players on his Marlboros team, however, by the end of the year, he had grown significantly and is now listed at 5’11” and 161 lbs, only adding to his high draft stock.

8. Oshawa Generals (Ryan Ferizovic) - Bode Stewart, LW, Mississauga Senators (GTHL)

Any team at the next level is looking to add a winger who can fill the net, jump into the centre position, as well as take full control of the play in the offensive zone, like Bode Stewart on the Mississauga Senators in the GTHL. Even when his team slumped in the playoffs, Stewart was able to produce offensively and persevere with a high compete level and an acute hockey sense. He skates with the puck very well, able to use his size and quick feet together to gain the zone and drive the slot. Strong edges help him weave through traffic and avoid checks once he gains the zone, putting him in positions where he can quickly generate offensive chances with his strong shot or setup passing. You will rarely see him take a lazy route where he’s turning his back to the play. His shooting ability is elite for the age group, able to score goals in a variety of ways. Whether he needs to drive the net to deflect a shot from the point or take a shot on the run, Stewart is able to get off a hard release with precise accuracy. Stewart handles the puck well, using his size and strength to shake off pressuring opponents and bust through traffic. He is comfortable handling the puck in-tight to the net and through congestion, able to make creative passes to set up his line mates. With an acute hockey sense, Stewart is able to take advantage of plays and be proactive instead of reactive. His positional awareness, strong vision of the ice, and ability to anticipate the play gives him a competitive edge over opponents while bolstering his linemates' performance. Stewart had a strong second half of his regular season (despite the COVID-19 break), an excellent personal playoff performance, and an exceptional OHL Cup. His ability to perform at the top level, regardless of how his team is playing, makes him an asset on any team at the major junior level.

9. Kitchener Rangers (Ben Misfeldt) - Henry Mews, RD, Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)
With rumours of Mews considering the NCAA route, there is a possibility he slides in the draft. Kitchener is one of few teams who will be confident in their abilities to convince him to choose the OHL path and should be all over him at pick number nine. They get the BPA here (by quite a margin in my opinion) and add a fundamental piece to their roster moving forward. Mews is a mobile, talented, offensive defenseman who has #1D potential written all over him. He will provide an instant impact for a Rangers team that lacks a stand-out defenseman. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him running Kitchener’s power play by the end of his rookie season. Mews will be a natural fit on a Kitchener team looking to be more competitive next year with Francesco Pinelli, Reid Valade, Joseph Serpa, Roman Schmidt, Mitchell Martin, and Simon Motew all likely returning. Meanwhile, younger players like the LeBlanc twins, Carson Rehkopf, Cameron Mercer, Adam Zidlicky, Jackson Parsons, and Matthew Andonovski will all look to step into bigger roles alongside Mews.

10. Barrie Colts (Brock Otten) - Cole Beaudoin, C, Nepean Raiders (HEO U18)
Firstly, the Colts rarely draft out of the HEO/Eastern Ontario in the opening rounds (or never in the first). So this could be a long shot. However, if Beaudoin is still available here, I think he needs to be the selection regardless of personal scouting region biases. A big, physical, and suffocating two-way center, Beaudoin progressed incredibly well offensively as the season went on. Recently, he obliterated Telus Cup qualifying, setting a record for the most points scored in the event, although Nepean fell short of qualifying (to the GTHL’s Mississauga Reps). He will need to continue to improve his skating and his ability to blend skill with pace to be a top notch offensive player at the OHL level, but he has the potential to be a competitive, all situations center for Barrie.

11. Owen Sound Attack (Brayden Olafson/Chase Allen - Kevin He, LW/C, North York Rangers (GTHL)
The Owen Sound Attack don’t play favorites when it comes to regional drafting, however their first round selection from 2021, Colby Barlow, could give the team some sniff of a recency bias favoring the GTHL with the 11th overall pick. In a range of the draft where most players should be considered above-average skaters, Kevin He is a standout in terms of his overall mobility. He is a long centerman who powers through open ice with full and fluid strides. He possesses the presence of mind to reign in, modulate his pace, and scan the ice for more optimal opportunities as he approaches the depths of the offensive zone. The strength of his inside edges enables him to dominate the perimeter of the ice with possession, and funnel pucks to the center of the ice when holes open up. He uses well-practiced weight-shifting to change direction abruptly, creating space for himself to attack aggressively or thread precise passes to his linemates in positions of opportunity. Although he isn’t widely considered to be in contention quite this early in the draft, I think He could wind up being a valuable addition for Owen Sound.

12. Guelph Storm (Gavin Chiasson) - Ben Cormier, LW, Navan Grads U18 (HEO U18)

The 12th overall pick belongs to Guelph, and it would be a great opportunity to take a highly skilled, high motor player in Cormier. Cormier is a good skater who is able to find soft ice anywhere, is able to make interceptions in open ice, or even apply pressure to the other teams defence, resulting in turnovers. He’s very agile and very strong on the puck, and with Guelph already having some returning young defenders, I think they need to stick with a puck-hungry forward in Cormier. On top of the skilled skating and relentless work ethic, Cormier will also be able to bury a few goals himself next year in the OHL, as his accuracy and ability to shoot pucks quickly will help him achieve that.

13. Mississauga Steelheads (Connor Williams) - Ben Danford, RD, Quinte Red Devils (ETA)
With an abundance of 2002 born players who will be overagers next year and Ole Bjorgvik-Holm likely turning pro, the Steeheads will be looking to bring in a fresh young defenceman to take the helm. With their first pick this year they bring in an elite smooth skating defenceman in the captain of Quinte, Ben Danford. Danford is an elusive skater who is very poised with the puck, having a great deal of confidence in his own end using his skating to consistently escape pressure and start an efficient breakout. While Danford can leave you in awe creating time and space in his own zone, he also developed an aggressiveness offensively, displaying a willingness to activate on offence. His high hockey IQ aids him in this area too. The trout have taken a player from Quinte before in Owen Beck and are likely very pleased with that selection, and should be just as excited about this pick from Quinte too.

14. Oshawa Generals (Steven Ellis) - Lucas Karmiris, F, Bradford 99ers (Alliance)
Karmiris first burst onto the scene after scoring a highlight-reel goal at the age of 12. Since then, Karmiris' creative genes are evident, and his quick release can be deceptive at points, too. Karmiris seems to always be in control of his own game: he's never wandering, continuously seeking his own space and can battle hard along the boards without getting pushed around. He led the Alliance in goals this year with 37 in 27 games, and he'll have no issue putting pucks in the net in the future.

15. London Knights (Ethan Wong) - Frankie Marelli, LD, Markham Waxers (ETA)
The London Knights head into the offseason with a lot of 02’s turning to overagers. Therefore they will likely need to shed a few forwards and well as defenceman. Ultimately, London may look to bolster their back end and create a defensive pairing of a Left Shot in Marelli and Right Shot in Bonk. With Marelli’s stability and two way presence this grants both players an ample opportunity to showcase their offensive talents. Marelli will bring the London Knights a physical defenceman that isn't afraid to lay the body. He plays with a lot of energy and shows that he has the composure of a mature defenceman. He understands when to join the rush with the puck very effectively and can naturally turn a rush into a scoring opportunity.

16. Soo Greyhounds (Mat Goodwin) - Anthony Cristoforo, D, Toronto JRC (GTHL)
The Junior Canadiens were stacked this season with talent up and down the lineup. Sometimes this can lead to a player being lost in the shuffle, other times it can result in someone stepping up and making the most of the high level hockey and the endless eyes on the team throughout the season. Christoforo certainly made the most of the situation.  He is a smooth skating defenceman that has the patience on the back-end that coaches love to see. Cristoforo likes to skate with the puck, combining his smooth stride with his stick handling and exceptional vision. He makes very smart decisions on the breakout, often making crisp, tape-to-tape passes or evading fore checkers with his heads up play. Defensively, he is up to the task. Spending the majority of the year partnered up with high-flying Henry Mews, it’s a must that he is a responsible defenceman. Cristoforo consistently shows his strong positioning in the defensive zone, using his stick and quick feet to keep opponents at bay. Despite being slightly undersized, he does not shy away from the physical side of the game. Cristoforo is an all-around player that can best be described as “cerebral”.  

17. Kingston Frontenacs (Ryan Ferizovic)- Zayne Parekh, D, Markham Majors (GTHL)
Parekh is a dynamic two-way defender with elite hockey IQ. In most regular season contests, he was the best player on the ice, able to contribute points in the offensive zone and prevent them in his own end. He does a good job using his skating ability to defend against the forecheck in the defensive zone, able to secure the puck and make an accurate first pass on the breakout. Additionally, he has great vision down the ice aiding in his ability to make tape-to-tape stretch passes in the transition game to help generate offensive chances from the back end. His strategic positioning always has him in the right place to receive the puck or shut down an opponent. Due to this, he was able to hold the blue line well all season, as he would receive the puck and use strong lateral movement to quickly find open ice. His poise with the puck alone gets the better of opponents, unsure if he will use a quick-accurate wrist shot from the point or make a pass down low to an open linemate in a high-threat scoring area. Parekh is a crafty defender that processes the game quickly to make effective plays, making him largely successful quarterbacking the powerplay on special teams. Finally, he plays physically where he is able to, delivering hard hits along the boards to challenge zone entries as well as open-ice hits to eliminate the rush.

18. Flint Firebirds (Ben Misfeldt) - Jett Luchanko, W, London Jr. Knights (Alliance)

Flint’s pool of potential draftees is always limited by reportability concerns, so they are always looking for a safe pick. With a young defensive group that includes Tristan Bertucci, Flint will likely be looking at a forward. Jett Luchanko fits the bill for them. A hard worker, Luchanko was London’s best player at the OHL Cup and stepped up in important games. Luchanko plays with poise and has no qualms about playing in the interior of the ice. He takes the puck to the net but also plays a heads-up game. He controls the puck very well for a 15 year-old and will be able to withstand the physicality of bigger players in the OHL. Luchanko will work with Gavin Hayes and Coulson Pitre to provide the offense for Flint in the years to come. If Othmann returns and Luchanko translates his game effectively, that could be an intimidating forward group for next season.

19. Saginaw Spirit (Brock Otten) - Kieron Walton, W, North York Rangers (GTHL)
Walton may just be this draft’s most divisive player. His combination of size, speed, and skill almost assuredly gets him drafted earlier than this spot in the real draft. But I also know there are concerns over his sense and engagement, which were evident at the OHL Cup where North York was extremely disappointing. Saginaw, with two firsts this year, would be a great spot for Walton. They can swing for the fences here with some pick insulation, however, they also could use a winger with size like Walton to help support their offensive systems moving forward.

20. North Bay Battalion (Connor Williams) - Jack Van Volsen, C, Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)

With a dad who played in the OHL, Jack will most definitely be doing the same after an incredible season with the Jr. Canadiens that saw Van Volsen score 110 points in 57 games. With North Bay losing overagers Brandon Coe and Mitchell Russell, as well as likely needing to lose a couple 2002 born forwards as overagers, Van Volsen’s high hockey IQ, strong two-way game and goal scoring ability should allow him to join a  young Battalion group and make an impact. Coming four goals away from a 50 goal season, Van Volsen consistently put his strong shot and high-end scoring ability on display this season. With the offensive playmakers the Battalion have, Van Volsen’s ability to find those small soft areas in the offensive zone, making himself available to receive pucks from his linemates, will only help to create more scoring opportunities for the team. The Battalion currently have five Jr. Canadiens alumni on their roster including 2020 1st overall pick Ty Nelson, and could have a chance to make that six come draft day.

21. Ottawa 67’s (Steven Ellis) - Justin Huynh, D, Mississauga Senators (GTHL)
One of the backbones of the Senators' lineup, Huynh is a talented two-way defender that rarely makes a poor decision when dishing the puck and is generally viewed as one of the smartest defenders in the draft. He's positionally sound, can quarterback a power play and he's got good speed to work with. His future looks bright as a minute-muncher on a contender, and he’s got real potential as a project player.

22. Windsor Spitfires (Ryan Ferizovic)- Carter Lowe, C, Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)
Able to step up in big games by adding goals and assists to the score sheet, Lowe possesses a high compete level that drives his ability to produce for his team. In big contests, he was able to generate scoring chances with strong shooting and passing ability, as well as forechecking hard and being relentless in front of the net. He possesses strong vision of the ice and makes precision passes through the neutral zone and in the attacking end. Throughout the season, he was highly successful in the face-off circle which granted his team the puck and rapidly put them on the attack. His size and strength make him a formidable forechecker as well, able to secure the puck in situations where he was outnumbered. His ever-improving skill set matched with his drive to win makes him a very exciting prospect at the major junior level. Even when he is matched up on a line with less talented players, he has the ability to take control of the play and make his teammates step their game up to play with him.

23. Hamilton Bulldogs (Ethan Wong) - Marek Vanacker, LW, Brantford 99ers (Alliance)
At the end of the 1st round, the Hamilton Bulldogs have to make a tough decision following a tremendous season where they traded a lot of youth to push for the OHL championship. Hamilton is in a position to draft either a defenceman or forward in this spot and it makes sense to take the best available forward in their case with Marek Vanacker being available. Vanacker brings in a masterclass of raw skill that many should see throughout his game. He is a very great offensive player, who was an electric goal scorer for the Brantford team this season. He’s a powerful skater that brings a heavy structure to his game making him a strong power forward-esque type of player. He matches up against some of the strongest competitors and is still able to put the puck in the net. Next season at the OHL level expect Vanacker to step up his game with the right coaching staff to assist in refining his raw skills. 

Each Contributor’s Honorable Mentions:

Brock Otten
Justin Bottineau, C, Toronto Marlboros
Ever since I saw the Marlies play in an early season tournament, Bottineau has been a favourite of mine in this draft class. I think he’s a slam dunk to at least become a high end middle six center at this level with his attacking mentality. To me, he should be a first round selection. Quality skater. Skilled in transition. His upside will be dependent on how his vision with the puck develops, but he has a really safe trajectory as an OHL player IMO.

Luca Testa, C, Niagara North
A highly creative offensive player and perhaps one with the highest offensive upside in the draft. His shot is top notch. He’s competitive. He has the potential to be an all situations work horse. He also is a strong skater, which should allow him to transition to the OHL pretty seamlessly. With his aggressive nature, shoot first mentality, and speed, is he better suited as a wing at the OHL level?

Jack Dean, W, Markham Majors
IMO, based on my conversations and what I’ve seen, Dean has to be considered one of the top goal scorers available this year. Not only can he really rip it, but his scoring instincts are terrific too. One of those guys who is just a puck magnet. Not only did he have a good showing at the OHL Cup, but he shredded the OHL Combine too. Lots of room for the physical tools to improve further (skating, strength on and off the puck), but you can’t teach the instincts and awareness he has as a scorer.

Brayden Olafson/Chase Allen aka Puck Preps
Jacob Battaglia, LW, Toronto Jr. Canadiens
The effectiveness of Battaglia’s every move is tethered to his level of pragmatic physicality, and although that may give some concern for how well he’ll be able to maintain his advantage, I think there are several additional elements that make his success projectable. Although he doesn't possess quickness in the 90th percentile of this group, I think his tendency to manipulate his pace throughout transition and in sustained possession is every bit as valuable. Without the puck he is adaptive to his opposition, and goes to where the puck is headed rather than where it has been. He plays a key role in generating offense, using a variety of skilled and tactical tools to deceive his opponents and create opportunities for his linemates.
Gabriel Frasca, LW, Mississauga Senators
Gabriel Frasca, brother of Jordan Frasca, is a speedy and versatile forward from the wing position who can add value all throughout a lineup. He’s a strong skater with the puck, with explosive crossovers he can cut up the neutral zone with relative ease as he attacks open ice and defencemen on 1-on-1 plays. His willingness to work hard in the corners and around the net further add to his value, as he has both the skill and determination necessary to play all sorts of styles. Defensively he does a solid job at blocking passing lanes and forcing turnovers with well-timed aggressive play.
Riley Patterson, C, Mississauga Senators
At the center ice position, Patterson provides reliable defensive support when his team is battling for possession in their own zone, and he uses an explosive stride to clear the zone efficiently after acquiring it. When his team owns possession of the puck, he gives the puck carrier room to breathe while seeking open ice. When the puck comes to him he exhibits a level of instant confidence, handling the puck with good posture and his head up. He has very good separation speed and frequently uses deceptive lateral movement or crosscuts on the attack, giving himself space to release a powerful and accurate wrist shot.

Gavin Chiasson

Mason Wray, C, North Bay Trappers
Masen Wray was someone from the GNML that I had the pleasure of watching this season, not just in regular season action, but also at the OHL Cup. Wray’s point totals, while not exceptionally high, should be much higher. With 15 goals in 23 GNML games and 3 goals in 4 OHL Cup games, Wray brings an elite level of high-pace shooting action to the ice. Wray is quick on his feet and is a very moldable player with an exceptionally high ceiling. This is why I see Wray as the best player from the North this year. He has a ton of potential, and I believe once he joins a junior team, his assists will increase, as Wray was not solely a shooter this season. 

Caden Kelly, W, Mississauga Senators
Caden Kelly is someone I was really only able to watch at the OHL cup, and I am super surprised that he is not ranked higher on most people's lists. At the OHL Combine, he was a standout, but even on the ice, there was no denying that Kelly was extremely visible every shift he played. I noticed Kelly whether he was putting up points or not. He creates offensive scoring opportunities like crazy, has good speed, good shooting, brings flashy skill to the table every shift. He is my sleeper as a potential first round talent. Kelly should definitely be playing in the OHL next season. 

Nolan Newton, C, Sudbury Nickel Capitals
To keep it in the North for my final honourable mention, Nolan Newton was lights out for the Sudbury squad this year. While there are some flaws in his game (needs more intensity and sometimes tries to make too many moves), he still has a good skill set. He has sweet hands, a decent shot that is more accurate than it is powerful, and when playing with intensity, can blow past quite a few defenders. I could see Newton selected in the 3rd or 4th round at this draft. 

Connor Williams

Braedyn Rogers, RD, Quinte Red Devils
With his smooth skating and strong puck moving ability, whichever team drafts Rogers will get an offensive minded defenceman who also uses his feet and a good stick effectively to defend in his own zone. Rogers is a defenceman who has the ability to be the primary puck carrier on the breakout leading the transition up ice, while also being able to quickly move the puck up ice with quick breakout passes. The defender is dangerous at the point with his powerful shot that he consistently gets through to the net thanks to his ability to use his feet to open up lanes from the point.

Liam Greentree, LW, Markham Majors
A vocal and energetic leader for the Majors this season, Greentree has the size, high-end puck skills, and elite shot that will have any team excited to draft him. The big winger works well in small areas using his size to protect pucks effectively while weaving through sticks with his quick hands and poise with the puck. Greentree does really well at working himself into open spots in the offensive zone where he can use his electric shot, which has a quick release with a great deal of speed and accuracy, to beat goalies.

Jacob Therrien, RW, Clarington Toros
While Therrien may be an undersized winger, he plays much bigger than his 5’6 body might lead you to believe. Playing with tons of energy and tenacity, combined with his high-end puck skills, Therrien attacks defenders both on and off the puck, finding ways to leverage his strength to come out of battles against bigger players with the puck. Despite his Toros team losing their OHL Cup Wildcard Play-In Game, Therrien put his offensive capabilities on display, attacking defencemen head on using skill and scoring ability to generate offensive opportunities, almost coming back in the game. Many will underestimate Therrien, but that will just add fuel to his fire.

Steven Ellis

Ethan Toms, C, Quinte Red Devils

Toms was one of the driving forces behind the Red Devils this season. He plays a strong two-way game, can play on the power play and is very strong on the penalty kill. He's not going to blow away the league as a high-number offensive player, but he'll be reliable and do whatever asked of him.

Jaedon Holloway, D, Vaughan Kings
Maybe a bit more of a longshot, but somebody that deserves a bit of of love. Smart on the blueline and aggressive in his own zone, Holloway gives it his all every shift. He's got a good frame, can skate well and while he's not a big offensive threat, he can move the puck well.

Carter Frost, G, Toronto Jr. Canadiens
Goaltending is so hard to project at this level, but he looked great throughout the GTHL playoffs and the OHL Cup, winning the top goaltender award despite not starting the final game. He's an athletic goaltender that moves well, has a strong glove hand and doesn't give up on a play. At this point, he's still a small goaltender, but there's still lots of time to grow and could end up being a nice darkhorse pickup.

Ethan Wong

Parker Forlin, C/LW, Niagara North Stars
Forlin is one of the most skilled forwards from the SCTA and likely one of the top skilled forwards in this draft class. He may be undersized but he knows how to use his hockey IQ and speed to get out of troubling situations. Forlin plays a full 200 ft game and proceeds to give it his best, game in and game out. One of his biggest attributes to his game can be his lightning quick release from his snapshot. His release is very deceiving being able to disguise his shot as a pass.

Christopher Brown, C, North York Rangers
Brown is another forward that brings a strong level of playmaking to his game. His vision of the ice is tremendous, being able to visualize a developing play and execute it to perfection. He utilizes his quick skating to create space for himself and it allows him to open the ice more for his teammates to enter a dangerous scoring area. He’s a player that likes to work hard and it’s tough to find him never competing in a battle or for a loose puck.

Braeden Vis, LD, Sudbury Nickel City Capitals
Vis is a reliable and very mobile defenceman that adds a dynamic puck moving presence in a way that most elite defenders do. He is a large body standing at 6’2” and moves tremendously on his feet. It’s very clear that he is not shy to step up and deliver the big hit but knows through his hockey IQ when to attack and when not to. His defensive play comes down to his gap control and angling ability, as he is reactive to an oncoming player with speed and is quick to neutralize the threat along the outside of the defensive zone.

Mat Goodwin

Ethan Procyszyn, W, North Central Predators
Procyszyn, the ETA’s regular season point’s leader, had a tremendous season for the North Central Predators. He is a big, strong centre that does everything well. He has a very hard and accurate wrist shot, utilizing it to score many of his ETA leading 26 goals. At 6’1” and 176lbs, he is big and hard to handle in the offensive zone. He uses his quick acceleration and strength to drive to open areas with the puck and unleash his deadly shot. Procyszyn, however, is far more than a shoot-first forward; He is excellent in all three zones. His ability to read the play and get his body and stick in the proper lanes is superb. This talent often leads to turnovers and scoring chances the other way. He has a very quick stick and will pick-pocket opposing players all over the ice. This skill set, along with his ability to find the back of the net, make him an offensive threat every shift. He is very responsible in the defensive zone, as well. He helps his defenceman retrieve pucks in the corner and is continuously leading the play in the opposing direction. Procyszyn’s offensive numbers are impressive, but his overall game make him an even better prospect.

Nathan Aspinall, W, Markham Waxers
At 6’3”, Nathan Aspinall is a tall, rangy forward that possesses a very impressive offensive skill set. He has a long-reach and uses it to fool defenders when he has the puck. He seemingly has the puck on a string out there at times, showing off his stick-handling ability, while keeping his head up, spotting open line mates or a chance to shoot. His 17G’s and 22A’s were good enough for 3rd most points in the ETA in the regular season, showing his ability to lead a strong Waxers team to a 2nd place finish. Aspinall stepped his game up even further in the OMHA play downs, Championships and OHL Cup, where he continued to score at a torrid pace and helped lead his team to a quarter final berth. Aspinall has proven he can produce in the big games and can be counted on to score when his team needs a goal. He can bury the puck with the best of them. His patience with the puck, especially when given time and space, is exceptional. He has confidence to hold on to it and ensure that he makes a good play. This ability makes him very effective on the PP. If you are not careful, the puck will be in the back of the net before you know it. Aspinall’s skating has continued to improve throughout the year, and with some added strength, he could become an even greater scoring threat.

Sean Doherty, C, Ajax/Pickering Raiders

Some players seem to plateau as the year goes on, others appear to get stronger. Doherty is of the latter. He is a strong skater that seems to find another gear when he has the puck. He is a threat to score when he’s in possession of the puck, able to close gaps on defenders quickly and blow by them to the net. His shot is hard and accurate and he is eager to use it, especially off the rush. Despite being listed as 5’10” and 157lbs, Doherty plays a strong, physical game. He doesn’t necessarily dish out punishing body checks, but he drives hard to the net and is not easily pushed off the puck. He is willing to go to the dirty areas to get the puck, as he is always hungry for it. He is a dangerous goal scorer and played extremely well down the stretch and into the OMHA Championships, despite an underwhelming performance by the Raiders team. Doherty’s offensive upside is certainly enticing. His progress throughout the year has vaulted him up the rankings list.

Ryan Ferizovic

Antonio Tersigni, C/W, Toronto Jr. Canadiens
Long story short, a player like Tersigni fits on any major junior team’s roster. An insanely fast skater with a deadly shot, he is a constant offensive threat in every contest. Further, he always found a way to score in big games and contribute to key wins for the JRC this season. He forechecks hard and fishes pucks out of traffic with strong positioning and an acute hockey sense. He moves the puck well off the rush if he doesn’t have the shooting lane, setting up linemates in high threat areas or driving the net.

Parker Von Richter, D, Toronto Marlboros
One of the most sound defenders in the age group, Von Richter bolstered the defensive performance of Marlboros all season. He maintains strong positioning to quickly reach loose pucks in the defensive zone, jump into passing and shooting lanes, and defend against the forecheck effectively. He makes hard-accurate passes on the breakout, regroups to push his team up-ice and moves up into the play with his offense. He plays physically where he’s able to, challenging zone entries with strong hits and an active stick, defending against the forecheck, and pinching down on the opposing breakout. He does a good job stripping players of the puck and protecting the front of his net. Offensively, he distributes the puck quickly and accurately to set up linemates on the power play and at even strength. In the second half of the season, he found his shot which he was able to generate prime scoring chances with.

Callum Cheynowski, D, Southern Tier Admirals
Cheynowski is simply a work horse with high-end talent, which enables him to take control of the game and make a big impact. As an extremely mobile defenceman that enjoys driving the rush by either carrying the puck or by using his speed to drive the net, he plays a strong two-way game and demands attention at both ends of the ice. He possesses a strong hockey sense and is able to read the play and adjust quickly to execute his game successfully. His quick reaction time allows him to intercept the opposition by closing the gap and angling the attacker to the boards before delivering a strong hit. In the offensive zone, Cheynowski is a threat with the puck on his stick, as he is a very propensive player at optimizing the space and opening lanes in the defense. He is an elite defensive playmaker, able to see the ice at an advanced level. Although his team did not make the OHL Cup, his performance throughout the season is not one to be ignored.

Ben Misfeldt

Broden McConnell-Barker, D, London Jr. Knights
Broden McConnell-Barker of the London Jr. Knights could join his older brother Bryce as a first-rounder. A sturdy, two-way defenseman, McConell-Barker doesn’t check out as elite in any one category but does a number of things very well. I thought he was one of the most consistent defensemen at the OHL Cup. He only produced 2 points in 5 games there but totalled 30 points in 27 games throughout the Alliance regular season.

Matthew Virgilio, D, St. Andrew’s College
A product of St. Andrews, Matthew Virgilio may be a top-5 player in this draft but looks unlikely to choose the OHL route at this point in time, as he has already signed a tender with Tri-City of the USHL. Despite this, it seems very likely a team like London, Kitchener, or Ottawa will take a flier on Virgilio in round two or three. After all, Carson Rehkopf had signed a USHL tender at this time last year before choosing Kitchener. Virglio had 24 points in 44 games for St. Andrews and projects as a top-pairing two-way defenseman at the junior level.

Sam O’Reilly, F/D, Vaughan Kings

Sam O’Reilly of the Vaughan Kings is one of the draft's top-goal scorers. He finished the OHL Cup with six goals in five games and impressed with his ability to create dangerous chances on the power play. He has arguably the heaviest shot of any player in the draft and could be a potential sleeper for the priority selection. Not the most elite skater, but with some development, it’s easy to see O’Reilly blossoming into a thirty or fourty goal scorer in the OHL.
Potential Top U.S. Based Selections (Gabe Foley)
Cole Longacre, D, Windy City Storm 15U
Cole Longacre has spent his 15U season successfully growing into his large 6’1”, 201 lbs (185cm, 91kg) frame. He’s developed very smooth, extended strides that help him get up the ice with an attractive speed and elegance. He combines this with heads-up puckhandling to become a dangerous force in offensive-transition. Going the other way has been an area of growth for Longacre, though. He has shown improvements in keeping an active stick and using his long reach to drive opponents wide but is still learning how to incorporate a physical presence into all aspects of his defensive game, whether that be in transition, in the corners, or in front of the net. Longacre’s elegant skating, ability to blaze through the neutral zone, and confident passing made him a popular name among U.S. scouts all year. But his looming juniors career will be gauged by how he can continue to learn the strengths his size offers and adapt into a more two-way style.

Drew DellaSalla, W, Mid Fairfield Rangers 15U
Drew DellaSalla is one of the bigger sleepers in the American class. He lacks some of the fundamentals that scouts would like in this age group, showing a need for some refined skating mechanics and better positional awareness. However, he makes up for an unrefined skill set with an unmatched energy. DellaSalla is electric in the offensive zone, showing no fear going into the corners for hard-fought puck battles or fighting in front of the net. When the play doesn’t call for an extra layer of grit, DellaSalla is great at finding open ice, becoming a passing outlet for his teammates, and using a hard and accurate shot to embarrass goalies. These strengths were clearly paid respect to by USA Hockey with his invite to the NTDP U17 Evaluation Camp. His grit and energy make him an incredibly capable forward and should become standout traits if he can continue to develop his mechanics and pace of play… two traits the OHL is great at building up.

Geno Carcone, C, Bishop Kearney Selects 15U
Geno Carcone is… sly. Lucrative. He intricately manipulates play in the offensive zone and knows how to attack into lanes, both with and without the puck on his stick. This great lane awareness made him the quarterback of his 15U team’s powerplay this season, leaning into his ability to read lanes and deliver clean passes incredibly well. And while these traits serve him well in transition, his game inherently relies on an ability to slow down play in the offensive end and wait for opponents to make a mistake – something he’s still working on doing consistently. Carcone combines this visionary offense with fine, positionally-aware defending to create a very nice center package, albeit one with a bit less flash and a bit lower ceiling than some might hope. Still, Carcone is another great name to keep in mind for teams wanting to add a layer of responsibility to their center depth.
Daniel Berehowsky, W, Honeybaked 15U
Daniel Berehowsky, the son of 549-NHL game veteran Drake Berehowsky, does what he does well, just a bit unenthusiastically. He was a favorite outlet option on the breakout and knew how to get the puck through the neutral zone with little fuss. He keeps his hips open entering the zone and finding teammates in the slot. It’s a great trait that works really well when it works. But Berehowsky’s skating is noticeably slower than his peers – not necessarily fundamentally-worse, just slower – which holds back his ability to really catch teams off-guard in transition. His drive in the defensive end or the corners of the offensive zone also lacks a level of enthusiasm. There’s reasons to like Berehowsky’s package and the value he could offer in the later rounds of the draft but he needs to add a spunk to his game if he wants to continue finding success at the next level.
*Should be noted that while Berehowsky was born in Arizona, it is believed that he is OHL draft eligible having played with Florida Alliance previously and in Michigan this year.

Mitch Kneidel, D, Bishop Kearney Selects 15U
Mitch Kneidel’s game is summed up in the word powerful. He sits strong in his hips, allowing him to get considerable weight behind passes and spring into action with quick initial strides. While he plays responsible on the blueline, he’s already showing great instinct on when to dip low into the offensive end, using his great jump to catch opponents off-guard. To see such a young player already showing this instinct is incredibly encouraging. There are some skating mechanics that Kniedel will need to filter out: learning to get onto his edges more and make quick cuts. He will also need to improve on his backwards skating to better match pace when defending the rush. But his powerful style and confidence in the offensive aspects of the game are exciting and deserve a large amount of attention from juniors teams.

Thomas Zocco, W, Long Island Gulls 16U
Thomas Zocco played with Long Island Gulls 16U team this season, which effectively describes a lot of his style. Like many players on that squad, Zocco has a sturdy frame and does a good job using it to protect the puck and force his way through opponents. The heart of Zocco’s game sits in just how big of a presence he has on the ice. He’s a great off-puck option, able to body his way into open ice. When he gets the puck on his stick, Zocco uses a hard shot with a great release to snipe corners. And if the puck doesn’t go in, Zocco can barrel his way into the low-slot to finish things off. This strong presence in the offensive end has helped Zocco excel as a go-to option in both league and tournament play and should continue to help him in juniors. But he’ll need to find other ways to take advantage of his strong shot and quick hands for the moments that his size doesn’t win him chances.

Ryker Lee, F, Shattuck St. Mary's 15U
The Shattuck 16U team had three big stars this season: Brodie Ziemer, Kristian Epperson, and Ryker Lee. The former two confidently made the NTDP’s 2006 roster. And the latter is one of the best Americans available in the OHL Draft. Everything he does is fast: his skating, his hands, his release, his decision making… it’s a great package of electric offensive ability that has earned Lee great scoring totals at every level. But there is one major flaw in his game, Lee is 5’4” (162 cm). And with that comes the usual aspects of small-man play, Lee isn’t scared of stationing himself in front of the net but he can’t dominate battles. And if his quick decision making can’t win him out battles, Lee runs out of options quickly. Now how much the 5’4” size of a 15 year old impacts their draft worthiness is heavily debated among scouts. And Lee’s talent is plain to see. But his stock as a top-end Shattuck talent is undoubtedly hurt by his small size.

Jack Edwards, W, Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 15U
Jack Edwards has all of the makings of a really exciting juniors player. He’s a creative player who isn’t scared to make risky plays both on-and-off the puck and has a great goal-scoring prowess. If there’s ever even a wisp of a scoring chance, Edwards is going to do everything he can to put himself in position to be the one to bury it. His shot is quick and he has nice lateral movement with the puck on his stick, helping him get through the neutral zone in a very mature way. And while he’s clearly shown he has great hockey IQ, he does have a habit of deviating from his position if he thinks it can turn the play on its head. This could either be an incredible trait, or a detrimental one, at the next level, only time will tell. But as it stands, Edwards is one of the best goal-scoring Americans available in this Draft.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Sunday Top 10 - Most Impressive 2005 Born Players

One of the many annual traditions I have on this blog is to rank the new batch of OHL rookies in order of the impression they left on me. Only the "true" OHL rookies have been included, thus why it's labeled the "Most Impressive 2005 born players." 

I always like to note that this isn't an early ranking for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. This ranking isn't the order in which I believe these players should be ranked for the draft, but an order of which players impressed me most. It's not a draft prognostication, it's an acknowledgment of the significant impact these players have had on their teams this season.

As mentioned, this is a tradition, so here are the previous year's lists. 

2003's, 2002's, 2001's, 2000's, 1999's, 1998's1997's1996's1995's1994's1993's1992's.

Here is this year's list:

1. Cam Allen - Defense - Guelph Storm
I am always more impressed when a 16/17 year old defender can come into the league and become an immediate impact player at both ends. That's what Allen did, routinely playing close to 30 minutes a night down the stretch, which was critical with Daniil Chayka out. Allen is the complete package and is a player with very few holes in his game already. He skates well. He moves the puck well. He has a cannon of a shot that works well on the powerplay. He's a confident physical presence already. There is just so much to like about his game and his transition to the OHL was absolutely seamless.

2. Calum Ritchie - Center - Oshawa Generals
Ritchie pretty much came as advertised this season for Oshawa. Maybe the offensive production wasn't quite as consistent as some may have been expected. I think he definitely seemed to hit a rookie wall through the middle part of the year. However, his package of size, skill, and mobility is very impressive. At this point, he would be the top draft prospect available from the OHL for next year's draft. As he gets a little stronger, I think he is going to tear up the league with his ability to create in transition.

3. Colby Barlow - Wing - Owen Sound Attack
How could you not be impressed by the year Barlow had for Owen Sound? Should we be surprised that one of the best goal scoring prospects available at last year's draft came into the league and immediately popped 30? He's only the fifth U17 player to do it in the last decade and his 30 goals obliterated the team record for the Owen Sound franchise (previously held by Bobby Ryan and Daniel Sisca). His shot is already among the best in the OHL. Once he gets stronger and is able to fight through contact a little more consistently, look out. He could easily lead the OHL in goal scoring next year. Pretty close between Ritchie and Barlow for me, but Ritchie's more well rounded profile gives him the slight edge on a list like this.

4. Quentin Musty - Wing - Sudbury Wolves
The first overall pick in the previous draft didn't really have a disappointing season. He absolutely dazzled at times with his creativity and ability to create in transition. He is already pretty tough to stop once he gets going. Injuries got the best of him at times and Musty will definitely need to work to improve his play and effectiveness away from the puck. But on the puck, he is damn exciting to watch. The Wolves are so exciting to watch already and as this team matures in the next few years, look out.

5. Ethan Miedema - Wing - Windsor Spitfires
Miedema was excellent for the Spitfires in a supporting role this year. He's already such a strong complementary offensive player because of his ability to protect the puck through traffic and because of his vision/playmaking abilities. His movement east/west is already pretty decent for a bigger player of his age, but improving his explosiveness and top speed will be the focus this offseason. Additionally, there is a need to add strength so he can use his size and reach a little more effectively off the puck. However, big wingers with skill like Miedema don't grow on trees and he definitely had a great rookie year.

6. Luke Misa - Center - Mississauga Steelheads
Maybe a bit of a surprise to see Misa this high, but I think he deserves it. Thought he struggled a lot early on. Looked to lack the confidence to use his skating ability and seemed afraid to take chances. But as the season went on, he just got better and better. The center depth in Mississauga made it tough for him to get significant playing time, but he was always noticeable when I saw the Steelheads in the second half. I feel confident saying that he's already one of the best skaters in the OHL. With a late birthday, he's not eligible for the NHL draft for another few years. By that time, his skating and quickness could be off the charts good. His ability to create in transition and slither through the neutral zone is a sight to behold. Really excited to see where his game goes next year and beyond.

7. Nick Lardis - Wing - Peterborough Petes
Consistency was an issue, but Lardis definitely progressed over the season. His quickness and skill are very evident. When you give him an inch, he can take a mile. Later in the year he really seemed to gain confidence in his ability to lead the attack. I think he is the complete package as an offensive player. Given his lack of size, I'd really like to see him add a little more physical intensity to his game. He will need to find a way to get through to the middle more consistently to impress NHL scouts and get the best out of his skill set.

8. Matthew Soto - Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
The skating ability came as advertised. Soto has gotten the chance to play with some pretty terrific players this year (like Shane Wright) and there are times where he looked great and others where he looked like a 16/17 year old still trying to find his footing. I think the hands are good and I think he's already pretty coordinated at full speed. Like Lardis and Misa, it will be about adding strength to his frame to be able to play through contact. He looks great using his speed when he has a lane, but lacked the ability to consistently create those lanes out of nothing. But I think he showed great potential this year.

9. Alexis Daviault - Defense - Sarnia Sting
Always seems like there is at least one young defender who comes out of "nowhere" to be a terrific first year player in the OHL. By nowhere, I mean a slightly lower draft pick. This year it was Daviault, who became a fixture in Sarnia's top four this season. His mobility on the back-end is a real asset and he is already confident leading the attack and poised enough to limit his turnovers and pick his spots well. I also really liked how he never seemed to back down from a defensive challenge. He's not always effective due to a lack of size/strength, but he competes for space. Me thinks he should have been taken a little higher in 2021.

10. Carson Rehkopf - Center/Wing - Kitchener Rangers
The Rangers shocked everyone at the OHL Draft last year when they took Rehkopf even though it appeared he had already signed a tender with Muskegon of the USHL. Potential wise, Rehkopf is right up near the top of this list. He's definitely a creative player. His hands may be among the best of anyone in this '05 Ontario class. He's also quick and the type of player who is at his best when he can push the pace. However, consistency was a real issue for him and not just because his ice time was inconsistent. At times he looked frustrated when he wasn't able to use his speed to beat defenders one on one and it resulted in turnovers. Improving his vision and poise, especially if he wants to stick down the middle, is a must. The upside here is massive, though.

Honorable Mentions:

Alex Assadourian - Wing - Sudbury Wolves
I really, really wanted to include Assadourian and almost threw him in at #10. From start to finish this year, he was a spark plug for the Wolves, always noticeable because of his motor. He's like the little engine that could. His speed can be a real problem on the forecheck. I think he's also got the potential to be a pretty solid offensive contributor too.
Angus MacDonell - Wing/Center - Sarnia Sting 
Another guy I really wanted to include and could have probably slotted in at #10.  MacDonell wears his heart on his sleeve. It's cliche, but this guy seems like a future captain. Wouldn't be shocked if he's wearing a letter already next year. His speed is a real asset, but it's his determination and hustle that make him a great player. Offensive confidence really improved in the second half.

Marco Mignosa - Wing - Soo Greyhounds
Slippery offensive player who did well in a supporting role for the Hounds this year. Quick strike winger with a strong shot and scoring instincts. The physical tools will need to improve further, but he was solid.

Luca Pinelli - Wing/Center - Ottawa 67's
The brother of Francesco, Luca struggled the first half of the season. However, second half he was a different player. The skating will need to improve, but his hands and instincts are great. Confidence with the puck later in the year really started to blossom. Consistently extends plays well in the offensive zone despite not being the quickest or strongest.

Carey Terrance - Wing/Center - Erie Otters
Another '05 who got a lot better at the end of the year. One of the best skaters in this '05 class, for Terrance it will be whether the hands can successfully catch up to the feet. Late in the year, we saw glimpses of that as he was able to carve up space effortlessly. Promising for next year.

Juan Copeland - Wing - Niagara IceDogs
Not easy to stand out on a poor team but Copeland did that a fair amount this year when he was healthy. His hands are terrific and despite lacking strength, he manages to do a great job maintaining control through traffic and contact. Have to think that with a strong rookie year, he put himself in strong contention for a spot on the U.S. Hlinka squad this summer (along with a few other OHL players).

Cal Uens - Defense - Owen Sound Attack
What Uens lacks in size, he makes up for in everything else. Already a poised puck mover and someone who always caught my eye when watching Owen Sound with his clean breakouts and ability to handle pressure. The Attack really seem to have had a dynamite draft last year.

Beau Akey - Defense - Barrie Colts
Akey's skating ability really stands out. He might be the best skating '05 defender that I saw this year in the 'O.' How he applies that is currently inconsistent. However, the potential for him to develop into a terrific two-way blueliner, and NHL prospect is significant. 

Denver Barkey - Center/Wing - London Knights
The way Barkey started the year, I thought we'd be talking about him near the top of this list at season's end. However, once London got back to full strength, he really faded with decreased ice time. There were still moments every once in a while that really made you stand up and say "wow." He is a serious breakout candidate next year.

Alex Pharand - Wing - Sudbury Wolves
If you have followed me for a while, you know I'm a sucker for forwards like Pharand. He is a big, potential power forward who already has shifts where he dominates down low. Shift to shift consistency was an issue in both Hamilton and Sudbury, however I think his potential is great. Just my kind of player.

Adam Zidlicky - Wing - Kitchener Rangers
On a lot of nights that I saw Kitchener, I thought Zidlicky did more with his limited ice time than Rehkopf.  Love how he impacts the transition game. Very dangerous on the counter attack. Just seems like a really smart player, on and off the puck. He does have that pedigree (father is longtime powerplay QB Marek Zidlicky).

Matthew Mania - Defense - Sudbury Wolves
Another player I really wanted to include. But I just don't think he played enough. Mania is just a dynamite offensive defender. As he gains confidence in this league, look out. Of note, his birthday is wrong on the OHL site, so he is draft eligible next year. Sudbury got a good one here.

Tristan Bertucci - Defense - Flint Firebirds
As mentioned, coming into the OHL as a 16/17 year old defender is very difficult. Many have positive contributions from an offensive perspective. Few find consistent success in actually defending. Insert Bertucci. He's just rock solid already. Always seems to be in the right position. Uses his mobility to his advantage. Makes quick decisions. Really interested to see how his offensive game grows moving forward.

Friday, April 22, 2022

2022 OHL Coaches Poll Results

This week, the OHL released the results of the 2022 Coaches Poll.

Here are the results

Of course, (as is tradition), I made my own predictions/ballot last week. You can find that here.

For record keeping sake, here are the results of previous years' Coaches Polls.

2013 - East, 2013 - West
2012 - East, 2012 - West
2011 - East, 2011 - West