Monday, June 20, 2022

Final Media/Scout Top 10 for 2022

It was great to have the Ontario Hockey League back up and running again this year. A full season and playoffs was played, allowing the scouting community a more normal look at Ontario based draft eligible players. The long standing effect of the year off won’t be measurable for a few years, but scouts do seem to believe that this is an average to weaker draft crop, both overall and from the OHL.

Like last year, for the annual media/scout poll, we only did two lists. The first one was from late December and the final one now.

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

Preliminary List

It's always interesting to note some of the major changes/trends from the beginning of the year to the end. Ty Nelson (from 2nd to 6th), Matthew Poitras (from 4th to 10th), Ruslan Gazizov (from an HM to zero votes), and Pano Fimis (from an HM to zero votes) were the biggest fallers from the consensus scouting community. Matyas Sapovaliv (from HM to 8th), Owen Beck (from 8th to 3rd), Luca DelBelBelluz (from 10th to 5th), Isaiah George (from no votes to HM), and Michael Buchinger (from no votes to HM) were the biggest risers.

How does this group fare in the draft? Good question. Shane Wright is going to go inside the top three. Mintyukov could be a sneaky top ten candidate. After that, there isn’t a player guaranteed to go in the first round…even if it’s likely one or two more do.

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

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

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

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

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

Will ScouchFounder of Scouching Draft Analytics & Contributor to McKeen's Hockey (@Scouching)

Peter Baracchini - Head of Draft Content at The Hockey Writers (@PBaracchini)

Mike Morreale - Staff writer for (@mikemorrealeNHL)

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

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

Paul Zuk -  OHL Regional Scout for Smaht Scouting (@paulzuk_81)

Matt Young - OHL broadcaster (@mattyoung71)

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

Grant McCagg - President of Recrutes Hockey (@grantmccagg)

Mark Seidel - Scouting Director for NACS Hockey (@MarkSeidel)

Olivia Carter - OHL Regional Scout for Future Considerations (@oliviamcarter)

Jared Brown - Head Scout for Drafts Prospects Hockey (@JaredBrownn97)

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten)

Here's the List:

1. Shane Wright - Center - Kingston Frontenacs
Total Votes: 16
Highest Ranking: 1st (16x)
Lowest Ranking: -
“The top prospect wire-to-wire, Wright has all the tools to be an effective two-way center in the NHL and I believe there isn't much projection needed with him: Wright will be the type of NHLer who gets you 70-75 points and Selke consideration down the line. Who wouldn't want a player like that on their team?” - Ryan Kennedy

“Wire to wire my number 1 OHL player on the board. What I love about Shane Wright is his ability to read and adapt to the flow of play at a variety of levels of pace. He’s a gifted shooter but has a great natural sense of timing with the puck that just continuously drives results. My concern is how much he’ll be able to generate strong production against the world’s best as he relies on adapting rather than dictating with the puck, and there are certainly intensity and strength issues that can expose him defensively that can improve over time.” - Will Scouch

“This is pretty much self-explanatory at this point. Shane Wright was the top player in this class from the OHL in 2019-20, at the beginning of this season and even at this point when final rankings are starting to be released. The highly talented two-way centreman displays a great sense of vision, skill, work ethic and maturity every time he steps on the ice. He reads the game extremely well, has great puck skills, shifty play making abilities, a powerful shot and he’s just as effective defensively as he is in the offensive zone. Despite the struggles to find consistency early on with his production or ability to take charge, Wright managed to go on a tear and finish the season with 94 points and the top point per game average among draft eligible OHLers. Even if he isn’t going to be a generational talent like Connor McDavid, Wright is going to be a highly effective player in the NHL, with decent production as a top line, all-situation centreman.” - Peter Baracchini

"At the beginning of the year, a lot of individuals were concerned about Shane Wright and his 5v5 production. It was rather low, but after the first couple of months, Wright started to show scouts exactly what he could bring to the table at the NHL level. A quality north-south skater, who can be the backbone of his line's transitional play and who can create plenty of open ice for himself at net-front. Wright does extremely well at creating quality passing lanes for his teammates to exploit and Wright delivers with a very accurate shot. Wright does well at pin-pointing exactly where he wants the puck to go. From a playmaking perspective, Wright can deliver quality feeds on the rush and can complete feeds over the triangle (attacker's stick) when he doesn't have a true open lane to use. Wright's game is incredibly well-rounded and will be a top six producer at the NHL level." - Josh Tessler

“I said it on the previous list and I'll say it again this time.  Wright's "disappointing" season offensively was by design as he continued to ready himself to be a professional player, as soon as next season, in the NHL.  While Wright carried the puck a lot more two years ago, this year he carried it less and focussed on moving the puck and getting into position from there.  We know he can carry the puck and we know he can score but this year he spent refining the rest of his game to become a pro.  He also rebounded in the second half of the season as well offensively to calm the waters a bit about his offence.  The reality is people have seemingly gained ground on Wright as they do in most exceptional player draft seasons (exception being McDavid).  He's still the number one pick for me and it's not as close as a lot of others have it.” - Matt Young

“Always makes great decisions…Puts pucks into the right areas..Where is the offense from the U18's?...His defensive awareness isn't as good as people think…Got hot after Xmas…Started to make plays..Played with good linemates to beat up on some bad teams...No real physical aspect...Great passer of the puck...Does he have a pulse?...Hockey IQ is off the charts...Disappeared for stretches which scare me...Doesn't create a lot of excitement...Really invisible in Series against North Bay..If you ignore the name factor, just based on Evaluation he would sit 5th overall...Safe but probably 2C is his ceiling.” - Mark Seidel

“Shane Wright is the top prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft and while the gap between him and the next best prospect has tightened, his elite two-way play, phenomenal leadership, habits, and attention to detail still set him apart. Wright owns many tools to be a future #1 center in the NHL. His hockey sense is among the best in his draft class and his ability to read and react to plays provides impact on and off the puck. He’s a defensive stalwart down the middle with mature positioning and impressive timing to intercept plays and quickly transition the puck up ice. He’s got a terrific quick stick to steal pucks. His skating is above average, not elite, but offers a quick change of pace and stop and starts on a dime to separate himself from defenders. His shot is a weapon, especially on the PP. The accuracy, velocity, and speed he can deliver on his wrist and snap shots is incredible. He does lack a “wow” factor which marks him as someone who won’t potentially be at the top of scoring charts year by year. Though, the rest of his game is NHL ready for top six minutes.” - Jared Brown

“I’ve said this a few times this year but I think one of the problems with Wright this year was that he was being asked to do too much for the Frontenacs. Without a strong puck moving on the back-end, it was often Wright leading the breakout. This led him to be the trailer on a lot of plays, or it zapped his energy by the time he hit the offensive zone, which led him to slow the pace to a crawl. I’m not worried about his pace. We said the same things about Nick Suzuki and he turned out fine. Wright is a strong skater and he will find his confidence in his ability to push pace again at the NHL level. What I am more worried about is a lack of physical intensity at times. To truly be a strong two-way player in the NHL, this is necessary. The good news is that I’ve heard Wright acknowledge that this is a big weakness for him and I know he is a highly motivated young man with a great work ethic.” - Brock Otten

2. Pavel Mintyukov - Defense - Saginaw Spirit
Total Votes: 16
Highest Ranking: 2nd (14x)
Lowest Ranking: 3rd (2x)
“Honestly, I feel the gap between Mintyukov and number 3 on the list is almost as wide as the gap between Wright and Mintyukov. What he was able to accomplish on a poor team in Saginaw, to control the offense from the blueline and lead his team in scoring was an amazing accomplishment. He’ll have to round out his defensive game going forward and I think he can do that in quick time – it’s not that he lacks in his own zone, just needs some fine tuning. If he returns to the OHL next season he will be in a better situation with Saginaw. When you combine his skating, hockey sense, skill level, anticipation, size, vision and determination Mintyukov possesses, you have an NHL defenceman.” - Dominic Tiano

“I expected Pavel Mintyukov to make some noise this season, but he really stood out and shot up my board in terms of his overall impact offensively and improvement to his game. He can do everything when he has control of the puck. He was in the top-five in goals scored among defenseman in the league with 17 and is a dynamic playmaker. I always like steady two-way defenders, but Mintyukov takes a lot more risks. He plays with that aggressive mindset and he excels in that regard as he likes to take charge of an attack with his speed and mobility, but he’s always in control when doing so. He’s so confident as he processes and executes plays very well. While he could work on his defensive game, the promise is there as he’s great at closing gaps and getting into lanes. The steps that he has taken this season shows that he’s always willing to go that extra mile and improve his game.” - Peter Baracchini

“Pavel Mintyukov is one of the most intriguing defenders from an offensive creativity perspective. The Saginaw defensemen will pinch up and look for lanes to exploit with a well-timed pass to a teammate in medium or high danger. When Mintyukov is trying to get the puck away from an attacker who is implementing tight pressure at the blue line, he can deliver quality no-look feeds from the point to teammates in the low slot. He delivers well-timed soft passes. Mintyukov is constantly in pursuit of open ice when he doesn’t have possession of the puck and does a good job at staying well-aligned to his puck carrying teammates. From a defensive perspective, Mintyukov needs a bit more refinement. He struggles to take away time and space for his opponents. Opponents will move the puck around him with ease. The NHL club who drafts him needs to prioritize defensive refinement for Mintyukov’s development, but they also need to encourage him to continue to be creative in the offensive zone with his ability to create quality scoring chances.” - Josh Tessler

“Before the beginning of the OHL season, Mintyukov was not someone who was on my radar. After watching him for the first time, it was hard not to think of the potential he possesses. He had an unbelievable start to the season, and it seemed like no one could stop him. While that hot start eventually came to an end, Mintyukov has been slowly climbing up draft boards all season long. He is an agile skater, using his strong four-way mobility to activate with the puck in the offensive zone. He has a strong shot and does a good job at getting it through traffic. Mintyukov does well to maintain his gap on opponents and can close them out physically when needed. What concerns me though at times, and other scouts have mentioned it as well, is his situational awareness. Mintyukov’s decision-making process can cause him to be out of position and puts his team at risk. That is something that he will need to work on as NHL players will make him pay for that.” - Mat Sheridan

“Arguably one of the most polarizing prospects in the 2022 Draft, Pavel Mintyukov is the epitome of an offensively driven defenceman. He possesses incredible skills in the attacking third of the ice, being able to pass, stickhandle and shoot just as well or better than most OHL forwards. Mintyukov is a risk taker, but even when the riskier plays don’t turn out, he’s able to utilize his quick foot speed and strong, powerful stride to close the gap quite fast. He’s come a long way this season with being more patient and selective when executing zone exits, and it’s helped improve his overall defensive game tenfold.” - Paul Zuk

“Strong offensive defenseman that has quick snap around passes and very good, steady control of the puck. He excels on the power play and tends to be dominant when in the offensive zone with his quick movements and playmaking abilities.” - Olivia Carter

“Wouldn’t shock me at all if Mintyukov is the top ranked defender for this draft on more than a couple NHL lists. The upside is just too high because of his puck skill and athletic tools. His defensive approach needs major refinement, but you also have to take into account that he was playing for a last place team that needed him to play a ridiculous amount of minutes. The thing that I really like is that he defends pace very well, which will help him at the NHL level. His positioning and reads in zone coverage can be improved with coaching and experience.” - Brock Otten

3. Owen Beck - Center - Mississauga Steelheads

Total Votes: 16
Highest Ranking: 3rd (3x)
Lowest Ranking: 10th (1x)
“Beck has many tools in the tool box but his skating is at the top of the list. Quite possibly the best skater on this list, Beck generates tremendous speed and he can gain the offensive blue line with possession as well as anyone. More importantly, create scoring opportunities at full flight. Beck plays in any situation for the Steelheads and takes many of their important draws as he is one of the best in the OHL – OHL Coaches recognized that, easily naming him best on faceoffs in the Eastern Conference in their annual Coaches Poll. Beck has an NHL shot and release and his game translates well to the NHL as he continues to round it out. It is not unfair to say he could be the best offensive player on this list in the NHL.” - Dominic Tiano

“His hockey IQ is very good and Beck also brings a high level of compete every night to the rink.  Much like the rest of the Steelheads, Beck's numbers dipped a bit in the second half of the season but the one area he remained consistent as a rookie is in the circle, winning nearly 61% of all draws throughout the season.  He was at 60% the last time we submitted our top ten and that number remained consistent throughout the season. Owen certainly looks like a guy that will be able to make it because he can play anywhere in your lineup which is valuable at the next level.  Need a faceoff won?  Need a momentum-changing shift?  Beck is your guy and that's why he still makes my top ten over Haight or Poitras because he's a safer prospect to play at this juncture for me.  Even if his offence doesn't take a significant step forward, he can play in the lineup because he does so many other things well.  I could see an NHL team with a second first-round pick taking him late in the round because you know what you are going to get and he will only continue to improve in those areas the next two years under James Richmond.” - Matt Young

“Best two-way center among draft-eligible CHLers.  Strong skater, high hockey IQ, great motor.” - Grant McCagg

“I'd take him in 1st...Will be a captain in the League..Does everything right...Great use of feet...Sneaky dirty...Warrior...I LOVE him…Best young player on faceoffs since Ryan O'Reilly…Uses his feet.” - Mark Seidel

“Owen Beck made a very strong case for being third on my list over Ty Nelson. Essentially they are a tie for me, and most ties will go to the defenceman if they are in the conversation due to the importance of their position. I didn’t really have him on my radar at the start of the season, but his play at both ends of the rink made it hard not to notice him on a nightly basis. Beck is intelligent and showcases excellent off-puck positioning to play effectively into spaces. He’s constantly back checking hard and staying in between the dots to take away the middle of the ice. He can drive play starting from his own end and initiating the rush. I love his ability to attack on angles utilizing his quick linear crossovers to throw defenders off. His ability to consistently win faceoffs is a valuable asset that I’m sure NHL teams are going to look at. There aren’t many flaws in his game and his style of play is easily translatable to a top nine forward role.” - Jared Brown

“I love Beck because I think he is a lock to be an NHL player in some capacity. There are too many pro level attributes to overlook - his speed, his tenacity, his shot, his faceoff prowess, his two-way awareness. The big thing for him moving forward is the application of his quickness as an offensive player. I think he’s actually a more dangerous player when the game slows down for him and he can take up position deep in the zone (like on the powerplay). As his hands and brain catch up to his feet, we will get a better understanding of his true offensive upside as a pro. At the top end, he’s a quality second line center who can play in any situation. At the bottom end, he’s an effective fourth line center and penalty killer. Either way, he’s a long time NHL player IMO.” - Brock Otten

4. David Goyette - Center/Wing - Sudbury Wolves
Total Votes: 16
Highest Ranking: 2nd (1x)
Lowest Ranking: 10th (1x)
“Goyette’s ability to make plays at speed is unique in this year’s OHL class and really only challenged by Danny Zhilkin. I expect him to have the kind of breakout next year that someone like Philip Tomasino did in his post-draft season. His upside is real.” - Anonymous

“ He has great speed; is that modern-day kind of player that really gets you excited for what's to come. He competes and works hard for a player of his size. I think he's got top 6-ability at the next level. He led all OHL rookies in goals and points in the regular season, which is very notable.” - Mike Morreale

“A strong playmaker, David Goyette is extremely creative when the puck is on his stick. He’s a smooth skater with great speed, has soft hands and is shifty and quick with his movement and body positioning in the offensive zone. He’s able to always make plays at a quick pace and maintain good control of the puck. He excels at drawing in opponents and using his shifty play style to his advantage and locate his teammates with a perfectly timed pass. When he’s on top of his game, he’s able to get out of tough situations and evade that kind of sustained pressure. However, that could be the downside to his game. There are times when I watch him where he puts himself into tough situations, driving into high traffic areas to pull off a move and eventually turns the puck over. I would like to see him attack the middle of the ice more, to make him a real threat on the ice in all areas of the offensive zone.” - Peter Baracchini

“Goyette has elite skating, high-end puck skills and creativity. He’s very slippery and difficult for defenders to contain, having the confidence to drive play himself if needed. He is both an effective goal scorer and playmaker, while still remaining defensively responsible. Goyette’s potential is as high as a number 2 center who has the ability to play on the power play, but he still has room to grow physically to reach his potential. Teams looking for a play driving center with high-end creativity should consider Goyette in the late first round.” - Dylan Krill

“33 goals and 70 points in his first OHL season had Wolves fans excited about the future of their franchise with Goyette leading the way.  The calling card of Goyette's game is his skating and as the season went on, you could see the other aspects of his game really take off.  His coming-out party may have been on TSN"s first CHL broadcast against the Kingston Frontenacs where everyone tuned in to see Wright but left watching the Goyette show as he had a hat trick.  I could see a team that likes him jump up to take him based on what we've seen so far and I feel like we haven't seen close to the best of Goyette yet due to the talent around him on this year's ever-evolving Wolves roster.” - Matt Young

“He will be higher on some lists because of his skill but his play away from the puck given his size is problematic.  He will have to adapt his game to play at the next level.” - Grant McCagg

“I still think he is shy but he played great...Really dynamic with the puck...Dangerous all the time...Still cheats a lot...Deceptive release...You have to go at him physically early in the game and he hides…Got better as the year progressed…Very quiet at U18's...Positive: He put up those points primarily against every Opponents top line & pairing...Negative: He put up those points because he was given every opportunity and PP1 for 90 seconds whereas others in Draft Class had way less opportunities.” - Mark Seidel

5. Luca DelBelBelluz - Center - Mississauga Steelheads

Total Votes: 16
Highest Ranking: 2nd (1x)
Lowest Ranking: 10th (1x)
“Del Bel Belluz is a very skilled center with decent size.  He can beat defenders one on one, and he can run a power play. He lacks footspeed for the higher levels, but he works hard enough and provides some two-way value down the middle.” - Anonymous

“ I love Del Bel Belluz's two-way play and his ability to line-match against tough competition. I know scouts are divided on his offense and whether his numbers match the eye test, but I choose to believe in the kid.” - Ryan Kennedy

“A highly skilled player, very intelligent, with great offensive instincts. His creativity is as high-end as almost anyone in the draft. He can make plays at speed, attacking, and is a threat in multiple ways, as a playmaker, or shooter.” - Mike Morreale

“Luca Del Bel Belluz really shines in the offensive zone. He can complete quality trajectory / route passes to his teammates who are skating hard towards the slot when he is stuck in low danger. Even without a clear passing lane, he makes do and can fire accurate saucers. On the forecheck, he takes more of a passive role and waits for the puck to come to him. Del Bel Belluz needs to develop a power stride. That is what is truly missing in his game. Without it, he has to rely too heavily on his crossovers. His speed limitations explain why he looks to be slightly less assertive on the forecheck. Yet, he still puts up good pressure. He still positions himself well along the boards and can trap attackers who are looking to use the boards when skating out of their own zone. If Del Bel Belluz can add a speed element, he could be a solid middle six forward.” - Josh Tessler

“There are many aspects to Del Bel Belluz’ offensive game that makes him dangerous with the puck on his stick. Not only can he pick the smallest windows on goal to exploit with above average success, but he’s also arguably an even better puck distributor. There aren’t many passes that Del Bel Belluz won’t attempt to make and is often successful at them. He can enter the offensive zone with pace and hit a teammate breaking towards the net, or he can cross the blue-line, wait for his line-mates to set up, and deliver a clean pass on the tape. One aspect of his game that is due for some credit, is how excellent of a forechecker he is. Del Bel Belluz can put a large amount of pressure on defenders, forcing them to make turnovers in the defensive zone multiple times per game.” - Paul Zuk

“One of the best stickhandlers and passers in this draft class.  He'll need to dedicate himself off ice to gain the requisite strength he'll need to improve his skating and his ability to battle.” - Grant McCagg

6. Ty Nelson - Defense - North Bay Battalion
Total Votes: 14
Highest Ranking: 3rd (2x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (2x)
“Nelson is one of the strangest cases I’ve come across in a while. At times you absolutely see the mobile, creative, and daring offensive defenseman you’d expect for an undersized defender, but Nelson leads my dataset for defenders in incomplete offensive transitions, largely through risky stretch passes which absolutely does not feel like his brand of play. He’s trigger-happy from the point far too often, but I just can’t shake that there’s a more dynamic and productive quarterback there somewhere.” - Will Scouch

“Ty Nelson has everything that you want in an offensive, puck moving defenseman that can be a factor in a top-four role. He does a great job to read the play and knows when to take advantage of a rush opportunity and attack with his speed and puck handling abilities. Nelson is a fantastic skater, an accurate passer and possesses great agility and edges. He has a quick release and powerful shot that can literally break a puck in half. Despite being 5-foot-10, Ty Nelson doesn't let his size put him at a disadvantage as he has great upper body strength and power to go up against opponents in one-on-one situations. His decision making has come into question quite a bit this season, whether it’s with the puck or making untimely pinches or jumps up into the rush. A work in progress, but teams are going to love his high-octane offensive game.” - Peter Baracchini

“Ty Nelson has a lot of offensive potential. He has the tools to be very successful in the offensive zone production-wise, but he ends up taking a lot of shots from the point that are easy for his opposing net-minder to stop. Nelson needs to use his mobility and speed to drive inside. He has quality mobility and a shiftiness factor that will allow him to buy open ice for himself. Nelson just needs to use it. Defensively, he needs to work on taking up more space to shut down the rush. When defending the cycle, he can rely on his speed to get into position to make the optimal check. There is a lot of potential with Nelson and he could be a solid second pairing defender.” - Josh Tessler

“I was high on Nelson at the beginning of the season. Behind Shane Weight, he was the second highest OHL player on my list. What has been an issue with Nelson is his decision-making and awareness. With the puck on his stick, he sometimes struggles with making the simple play and turns the puck over. He is a great skater who walks the line well and exploits seams to find teammates in the offensive zone. If he can clean up his decision making at times, he is going to be making myself look silly with where I ranked him. With those improvements I have no doubt Nelson will be an important contributor for the Battalion and whichever team selects him in a few years’ time.” - Mat Sheridan

“Ty Nelson is an agile skating, offensive-minded defenceman. His skating is more quick and shifty than fast and explosive due to his plus-level edgework. He’s highly effective at transporting the puck on breakouts either using his feet to carry it out or using his vision and crisp passing to outlet the puck. He plays with a fast pace mentality as he looks to create quick transitions out of his end or quick offensive plays in the Ozone. He has a powerful shot from the point. Great technique which allows him to apply strong downforce while releasing his knee to deliver the puck off his blade with speed and power. He’s a solid offensive defenceman with the instincts and IQ to quarterback the PP. I give more credit to his defensive game than I think others do. Nelson is very strong in man-on-man battles and knocking players off the puck. He protects the slot area well, blocking shots and intercepting east-west passes. He does still leave lengthy gaps defending the rush which needs to be corrected. But he is a high character, athletic, offensive rearguard that most likely churns out as a solid second pairing guy.” - Jared Brown

“Has all the attributes of a modern pro defenseman and defends better than a lot of folks gave him credit coming into the season. With his offensive ability, he'll be a coveted asset.” - Ryan Kennedy

7. Danny Zhilkin - Center - Guelph Storm
Total Votes: 15
Highest Ranking: 5th (3x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (1x)
“He plays a mature game and is a top line player who plays all situations for Guelph, so he's a big part of his team. I'd like to see him push through in those tough games; it might make or break him in the eyes of scouts in terms of being a first or second-round candidate.” - Mike Morreale

“For most of the season, Zhilkin was overshadowed my Matthew Poitras on many rankings (including my own), but when NHL Central Scouting released its final rankings, I was happy to see Zhilkin ahead as I feel from start to finish, he has made the most improvement. Yet, he is still not the top ranked Guelph Storm player (that’s a story for another day). His tool set is high end and that alone puts him higher than some of the players I have ahead of him. And he has become a complete 200-foot player. My only issue is that sometimes he makes decisions with the puck that have me scratching my head. He is a high ceiling player that if he can rectify some of those questionable decisions he makes, will find success at the NHL level.” - Dominic Tiano

“One aspect of Zhilkin’s offensive game is he has a knack for perfectly executing no-look plays. It seems as if he’s able to get a shot on net, or a pass directly on his teammate’s tape without looking several times a game. It’s clear that teams respect his offensive skill as he’s able to draw defenders on to himself by simply directing his head towards goal. Zhilkin uses this to his advantage as he can attract as many defenders as possible, then dish a beautiful pass to a teammate for a chance on goal. In transition, Zhilkin is just ridiculously talented and just a pleasure to watch, as his deceptiveness and nifty hands make it extremely hard for defenders to anticipate what he’s going to do with the puck. This keeps many defenders on their toes as they’re unsure of his next move.” - Paul Zuk

“I just could never fall in love with the Player…Has some high end ability but WAY too inconsistent…Got better on Draws as season progressed…Didn't fight through checks at times…Cheats…I'd let someone else take him & let them take the risk unless he really fell.” - Mark Seidel

“Danny Zhilkin would be higher on my list if it wasn’t for his lack of offensive consistency. He’s got the transitional speed and puck skills/control to make plays in motion. He’s elusive carrying the puck once he gets going and was a controlled zone entry machine on the PP for the Storm. His strength is playing a north-south game and attacking open pockets with speed to create offence. I find that his play inside the Ozone slows down and he’s not always actively looking to have the puck and drive possession. He’s got a skillful touch and is an above average stickhandler in tight spaces, but I find that he doesn’t always skill stack these two strengths together. On the PP he’s very noticeable and has production value. I also think his defensive play has improved a lot this season and was trusted in more defensive situations by his coaches. Zhilkin is another case of how I like the foundation and tools to his game already, he just needs to piece it all together before reaching his potential of a top nine NHL center.” - Jared Brown

8. Matyas Sapovaliv - Center - Saginaw Spirit
Total Votes: 12
Highest Ranking: 5th (2x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (4x)
“Sapovaliv’s length in puck protection already makes him a difficult player to contain in junior and he’s got clear room for growth as he fills out and adds some more power/pace.” - Anonymous

“He's got the frame, he just needs more strength. Otherwise, Sapovaliv is a smart player with great hockey sense and creativity. He can also kill penalties, so you're getting a player no matter how he turns out in the end.” - Ryan Kennedy

“Sapovaliv is one of the more exciting prospects in the OHL this year. Being a 6’3” center who can skate well and also both produce points and play a strong defensive game. Sapovaliv has great vision, especially at high pace as he is able to find holes in traffic consistently to make high danger passes. Sapovaliv also possesses a dangerous shot that he can release from good range, making him a dual threat. The best part of his game in my opinion is his defensive ability. Having the reach and awareness to defend against top players, he’s also very effective on the penalty kill. Teams should consider Sapovaliv in the second round.” - Dylan Krill

“I’ve been on the Sapovaliv hype train all season long. I don’t love how he finished the year, but I still really like the raw package of size, skill, and sense. He has the potential to be a very effective two-way center who can play through the middle of an NHL lineup. Two things are key to his development IMO. The first is his continued improvement as a mover. A bit Bambi-like at times, his four way agility has improved already, but further growth is required there and in his first step quickness. The second is his physical intensity level. He’s a big kid, but he’s slight. He needs to be more than just a stick on puck defender in his own end. His reach is really impressive, but he’d be even more effective if he engaged with his body. Additionally, he can be kept to the perimeter too often and he needs to find his way to the net with more consistency; he needs to be ready to battle and take a hit to make a play. Urgency is a word I would use. But I think he’s a top 40 pick this year.” - Brock Otten

9. Paul Ludwinski - Center/Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
Total Votes: 9
Highest Ranking: 3rd (1x)
Lowest Ranking: - Outside of the Top 10 (7x)
“I’m really bullish on Ludwinski. He’s got an excellent intensity level constantly. A major source of offensive transition efficiency with plenty of carries and completed passes with skill. Ludwinski seems to have a ton of really interesting traits, but lacks a projectable finishing ability that led to limited production. A player I believe has a strong NHL floor with some development, Ludwinski is an energetic workhorse that I think any NHL team would be interested in.” - Will Scouch

“Every time I see Paul Ludwinski play, he always plays with a high level of pace and energy. Especially during the OHL playoffs. He doesn’t have an off switch as he never takes a shift off, is competing hard and displays a strong work ethic. He always displays great situational awareness and is always ruthless on the attack. There is absolutely no quit to his game. He has great speed and is extremely mobile, either on a zone entry and when he’s engaged in the offensive zone or cycle game. He’s able to get by defenders with such ease as he displays excellent puck control, quick hands which makes him extremely dangerous. He displays great off the puck awareness and is reliable in his own end with his positioning. That kind of play style will always go a long way in the NHL.” - Peter Baracchini

“When you watch Paul Ludwinski you will notice quickly that he has an excellent compete level. Every shift he is engaged in the defensive zone. He looks to lower and widen his body to take away space at centered ice. Ludwinski is quick to pucks behind the red line. When in transition, he makes excellent reads and passes up to open teammates at the blue line. Ludwinski has also proven to be reliable against the rush in the neutral zone and will utilize his straight line speed to get himself in position to put pressure on the rush when he isn’t necessarily close to the attacker. In the offensive zone, Ludwinski didn’t have the finishing ability earlier on in the season. He would struggle to navigate the puck around the last defender on his way to the net. But, in the late season and in the playoffs, he was excellent at driving the puck into the slot, navigating the puck around defenders and putting up quality high danger shots on net. Ludwinski also did a good job at teeing up quality backdoor passing lanes at net-front and that led to a few playoff goals. The hope is that next season he continues to improve his offensive game. But, you're looking at a player with second line upside, who has a very well-rounded game.” - Josh Tessler

“His strong finish to the year really impressed me. It was if he finally figured out how to use his speed to be a consistent offensive player. Additionally, it seemed like he was more relaxed in the offensive end and was finishing on more of the chances he was afforded. Ludwinski was my favourite player in this ‘04 group coming into the OHL, but throughout most of the year, I found myself questioning the high end upside. He’s made me rethink that. Like Owen Beck, there are a lot of pro qualities like speed, tenaciousness, defensive awareness. I think he’ll play in the NHL. Really curious to see how his game comes together next year. He could be a huge home run swing for someone in the second round.” - Brock Otten

10. Matthew Poitras - Center/Wing - Guelph Storm
Total Votes: 7
Highest Ranking: 5th (1x)
Lowest Ranking: - Outside of the Top 10 (9x)
“Smart and skilled pivot who doesn't have a lot of bulk, but won't be deterred in the current NHL. Guelph was young this season and Poitras was put in a position to succeed by coach George Burnett.” - Ryan Kennedy

“An intelligent, hard-working center with limited offensive skills and mobility.” - Grant McCagg
“Strong offensive player who is patient but shows good urgency and sets his linemates up really well. He has strong awareness of his surroundings and is a great skater, capable of making quick cuts and can stop on a dime.” - Olivia Carter

“Matthew Poitras I’d classify as having an inconsistent offensive year, but I really like some of the tools he plays with that I think will help him translate to the NHL in a middle six role. His hockey IQ and edgework synchronize wonderfully along the boards and when gaining entry into the zone. He’s effective at buying himself more time and space with the puck by utilizing these abilities. A terrific slot passer and in every viewing he exhibited a great habit of shoulder checking and pre-scanning with the puck. I love his puck distribution and intelligent puck management to rarely make ill-advised passes. He’s strong on puck retrievals but his lackluster first step acceleration can have him arrive late on the forecheck, which is a possible issue moving forward. I like his strong stick play and ability to read plays and pick off passes, but can he be fast enough to consistently pressure defenders is a question I have. Though the foundation of tools outweighs a lot of my worries.” - Jared Brown

“Poitras may not have as much offensive flash as some other draft-eligible OHL players but he has many tools that I think will allow him to translate to the pro level. His ability to win the puck back and make the proper reads on the ice stand out. He plays with a quick active stick which allows him to disrupt cycles and break up lanes whenever he is on the ice. Poitras has the ability to draw defenders in and find teammates in the slot, creating high danger scoring chances for his team. While he has some aspects to work on in his game, most notably his skating, I think he'll make an NHL team happy in the middle rounds of the draft." - Mat Sheridan
"The Guelph Storm centerman’s rookie season in the OHL saw him rack up 50 points in 68 games, not too shabby considering he missed a crucial development season in 20/21. Poitras spent the off year bulking up, adding over 20 pounds, and didn’t lose a step of his speed. He’s a talented skater with strong edgework, but his straight line speed could use some work to really emphasize his transitional game. Poitras’ has a fairly accurate and quick shot, but it tends to lack a little power. What he lacks in above, he makes up for it with his vision on the ice and his hockey IQ, both of which are impressive traits he possesses. If you’re a team looking for a center in the middle rounds who can think the game quite well, Matthew Poitras is your man.” - Paul Zuk

Honorable Mentions

Bryce McConnell-Barker - Center/Wing - Soo Greyhounds

Total Votes: 6
Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)
“McConell Barker is a talented offensive player. He shows strong puck skills and overall creativity as a playmaker. He lacks speed for the NHL, but he works hard enough off the puck.” - Anonymous

“Ask around about BMB and it doesn’t take long before you realize he hasn’t scratched the surface yet. Expect him to take a big step next season and become a catalyst offensively in the Soo.” - Anonymous

“I like McConnell-Barker. A lot. I believe that his role on the deep and older Soo Greyhounds squad doesn’t always put him in the best offensive situations and that his offensive numbers take a hit because of that. He is a well-rounded 200-foot player who is good on draws, you can trust in the defensive zone, is a very good skater and has an excellent shot. Here’s the thing: We’ve seen it a few times now where former Greyhounds produce playing a lesser role for the Greyhounds only to go on and have a hard time making it to the NHL. But as a mid to late second round pick, McConnell-Barker might be worth it.” - Dominic Tiano

“Bryce McConnell-Barker is someone that doesn’t get as much attention as he should. He was further down the depth chart on the Greyhounds, but when the opportunity came for him to join the top-six, he showed his true potential and upside. He’s not someone that’s going to wow you in this draft class, but he plays a very strong two-way game that possesses a scorer’s touch with his accuracy and release. He’s not flashy, but he’s extremely effective with his positioning without the puck and provides excellent support for his teammates in plays along the boards. He does a great job to open himself up and sneak in behind defenders undetected. I’m a big fan of two-way centres and McConnell-Barker has a great foundation to be one.” - Peter Baracchini

Isaiah George - Defense - London Knights
Total Votes: 4
Highest Ranking: 9th (1x)
“Excellent skater who makes a great first pass and can bring the puck up the ice. I'm not sure about the offensive upside and sometimes it can be a little hard to project what he'll be at the next level.” - Ryan Kennedy

“Isaiah George is a lot of fun to watch as he has the trades of a modern day two-way/puck moving defenceman that can be heavily relied upon. He made himself a reliable and steady force for the Knights this season when going in to start the year, it seemed like his role for the team was a question mark. I don’t see a ton of flash and flair to his game or high-end offensive traits, but he doesn’t need that stuff to be extremely effective. He’s a plus-level puck mover in transition that rarely makes a bad pass. His decision making on breakouts is excellent and assists in clean zone exits. Defensively I think he has shutdown upside. He’s got excellent four-way mobility that he utilizes to defend the rush and stifle zone entries. He defends with a great tight gap and is very strong at angling out his opponents. I feel he’s got safe projectable NHL qualities to him that is worthy of a second round pick and forming him into a middle pairing defender.” - Jared Brown

“Just barely missed my top ten, but I do like the player. The athletic tools may be the best of any player in this class (look at his combine performances at the NHL Combine and the Top Prospect’s Game). The skating is an incredible trait. His four way mobility is so effortless. He shows potential at both ends too, even if his performance at either end is best described as inconsistent. It’s all tied to how he applies his skill as a decision maker. When he keeps things simple, he is highly effective. When he does not, turnovers or poor reads occur. NHL teams have a lot of faith in Dale Hunter’s ability to develop defenders. Don’t be surprised if an NHL team uses an early second on him. There’s a lot of TJ Brodie at the same age in George.” - Brock Otten

Michael Buchinger - Defense - Guelph Storm

Total Votes: 3
Highest Ranking: 5th (1x)
“An excellent skater who is as consistent as they come. Just goes out and gets it done every night and doesn't force the issue. He's focused on his own game and tough to play against; a real good competitor who battles in every area of the ice. He's a fantastic passer and can play power play or penalty killer. A utility knife-type of player.” - Mike Morreale

“ I don't think Buchinger made a lot of lists to start the year but he will certainly be on a lot of lists to finish the year.  His 44 points in 63 games were nice but it was really just the icing on the cake.  One will immediately notice Buchinger has great mobility and uses that to get himself back into position should he get caught while trying to create offense.  He has a great ability to read the play and is good at finding his target while getting the puck out of the defensive end as well.  When you add in Buchinger has a high level and desire to compete in his game, there is a lot to like with what I think is a bit of a sleeper in this draft.  He doesn't boast the flash of Nelson or Mintyukov but the Storm have a solid defender and so will a team at the next level.  He's not a top pairing guy at the NHL level but he could become a really good second pair guy if his development goes right.” - Matt Young

“Makes plays…Very heady…Sneaky passes…Got better defensively…Actually reminds of Mark Giordano when we had him in Owen Sound…Good PP decisions.” - Mark Seidel

“Strong two-way defensemen who performs well under pressure. He has a great compete level and is a very strong skater who quite often is able to beat opponents to the puck and is great on his edges.” - Olivia Carter

Hunter Haight - Center - Barrie Colts
Total Votes: 3
Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)
“Haight has a ton of attractive tools including his great shot, quick and agile skating, his ability to make passes through traffic and his slick puck skills. Haight’s high-end skating allows him to consistently create space for himself whether that be to get open for a passing option or to get into a high-danger scoring area. Haight is a player that has an intriguing package with good potential. Teams should start to consider Haight in the second round.” - Dylan Krill

“So very smart...Great offensively but knows when to be patient...Tricky stick...Head on a swivel...Can really skate...Attacks defenders off the rush…Started off VERY slowly…Got much better after Xmas…Was soft in first 3 months but that changed…By end of year he developed a physical aspect...Went into traffic..Good kid & hard worker in practise...Marty compares him to Cody Hodgson that is a better skater but less touch...Has a 2nd line ceiling but is smart enough to be a bottom 6 guy..” - Mark Seidel

Gavin Hayes - Wing - Flint Firebirds
Total Votes: 3
Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)
“Hayes is an intriguing prospect because he's a 6-foot-2 forward with legit skill. He is a very creative offensive player. I don't see much pace or speed in his game and he can be too perimeter as well. His skill and size gives him a chance if he can round out his game.” - Anonymous

“Hayes’ style of play is attractive to NHL teams because it’s not often when prospects have a combination of skill and physicality, something that will come very useful in the playoffs. I believe Hayes’ will be an effective middle-six winger that can handle a top-six role if needed to complement a line. I think with the package that Hayes brings should have teams targeting him in the late first or early second round.” - Dylan Krill

“Reminds me a lot of watching Dustin Brown at the same age. We questioned the consistency of his physicality. We questioned his playmaking ability as he drove the net. We questioned how consistently he worked his way into the middle to get looks. Maybe not to the level of Hayes, but Brown was far from the consistent player that he eventually developed into. The reality is that power forwards take longer to develop because playing with consistently high intensity requires great conditioning. There are so many things I really like in regards to Hayes. The shot is terrific. He can hit and have a positive impact with his physicality. He’s a better skater than you typically see in these types of players. As he learns the type of way that he needs to play consistently to be productive, I think he has great potential as a top six complementary scorer…not unlike Brown.” - Brock Otten

Christian Kyrou - Defense - Erie Otters
Total Votes: 3
Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)
“I say to people that Christian Kyrou is so clearly related to his brother Jordan. The skill, creativity, shot, and fun factor are all there. Kyrou is really only limited by his skating and mobility to me. He’s not particularly strong closing defensive gaps and winning races to errant passes, and I have issues projecting his ability to transport pucks based on a lack of speed, but he’s clearly one of the more daring and confident “rover-style” defenders in the draft this year. He’ll step up from the blueline to make plays, attempt wrap-arounds, and there’s a shot that landed him 3rd in OHL goal scoring for defensemen. There’s a huge upside with Kyrou’s mind, skill and confidence, but I believe there’s a way to go in key areas. He isn’t too far behind names like Beck, Goyette or even Nelson on my list, but I would love to see him work out.” - Will Scouch

“I’ve been impressed with Kyrou for almost the entire season and I realize he probably isn’t a top-10 out of the OHL in most people’s opinions, but he is really close. For me, the hardest decision wasn’t should I put him at number 10, but who to leave off. He came on like gangbusters in the second half to lead draft eligible defencemen in goals and was right there with Mintyukov in points among blueliners. He has an elite level shot that finds the target more often than not, he shoots with a purpose, but he can also shoot to score. In the annual OHL Coaches poll he was voted most underrated player (first), Most Improved Player (third), and best offensive defenceman (second) in the Western Conference. I can definitely get behind those.” - Dominic Tiano

“18 goals and 60 points in 68 games this season after zero points in 21 contests during his rookie season in Erie.  The scary part for me?  Imagine how those numbers would have looked had Jamie Drysdale been back and quarterbacking the powerplay with him this year in Erie?  The goal total may have been even higher without being the focal point with the extra man.  While only 5'10" tall, I didn't really notice size being an issue at all in my viewings of Jordan's younger brother.  His skating is not a strength but it could stand to improve a bit in order to maximize on his overall talent at the professional level.  He reads the play very well and has jumped significantly on scouting lists since the start of the year.  He just missed the 2021 NHL Draft last season so some could potentially rank him lower as a result of being one of the oldest eligible players in 2022.  I like Kyrou a lot and was very dominant in games I saw him in this season, especially in those against the Niagara IceDogs which can also make it tough to judge given the IceDogs' struggles this season.” - Matt Young

Jake Karabela - Wing/Center - Guelph Storm

Total Votes: 1
Highest Ranking: 9th (1x)
“Effective on both the PK & the PP…Pretty slick at times...Got beaten badly on way too many draws..Good release...High IQ…Became much more aware defensively…Reminds me of Tyler Bozak.” - Mark Seidel


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

My Final Top 50 OHL Players for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft - Part 4: 10-1

 We have reached the end and it is time to conclude my Top 10 for the 2022 NHL Draft.
1. Shane Wright - Center - Kingston Frontenacs
Whether you're someone who has Wright at first overall or not, there's absolutely no questioning that he's the top prospect from the OHL this year. It hasn't been the easiest year for Wright, but I still have faith that he will become a quality NHL player who has a long career. Did he truly take a step forward this year in his progression? I don't believe so. Stagnation is never a great thing to see from a prospect, but when you're already a terrific player, I don't think it's the end of the world. The criticisms of Wright this year are one hundred percent warranted. Yes, his pace of play needs to increase. He became too predictable to cover this year with his habit of altering pace to a crawl. This was not always an approach he used. He used to attack the offensive zone and his ability to quickly alter pace (either way) was a standout quality and allowed him to keep defenders off balance. But since altering his approach, team defensive approaches have been able to take away his space early inside the blueline and make him less effective. Yes, his physical intensity level needs to increase. His defensive instincts are fantastic. But he will never be a standout defensive player at the pro level without becoming more difficult to play against. He doesn't need to be Mike Peca. But even Patrice Bergeron can suffocate and is more than just a positional, stick oriented defender. Yes, he had a disappointing playoffs and under-performed from a statistical perspective all season. I think part of that had to do with the construction of the Frontenacs and how much he was asked to do (without a high end puck mover, Wright was responsible for starting the breakout himself on many occasions, which leaves him the trailer on a lot of occasions, or zapped his energy). All that said, Wright is still an incredibly intelligent playmaking center. His game is tailored to the pro level with how quick he makes decisions with the puck, operating a step ahead of the opposition (and unfortunately ahead of his own teammates). His shot is elite. His skating ability is great (even if he doesn't always use it to his advantage). How quickly we forget how he dominated the U18's in Texas one summer ago. Do I think Wright will be a generational level talent? No. Do I think that Wright will be a fixture as a first or second line center, consistent 60+ point guy, future team captain, and one of the better defensive forwards in the NHL? Yes, I believe that he has that potential.
2. Pavel Mintyukov - Defense - Saginaw Spirit
I've said this several times this year but I truly believe that Mintyukov has the highest upside of any defender available this year (including Nemec and Jiricek). Is he a safe pick? No, I don't believe so. But the upside is massive. You simply do not see many defenders who possess the hands and creativity that Mintyukov does. He consistently makes something out of nothing, blending strong four way mobility with a soft touch - you just can't box him in. I've seen some criticism of his vision and decision making with the puck, but I would not agree with that. His passing ability is a highlight. Yes, he can turn the puck over, but look at the situation he was in with Saginaw this year. He was given the green light and he took it and ran, playing about as aggressive as an offensive defender as you can get (it's not uncommon to see Mintyukov as the F1 on the forecheck). When you are constantly activating and asked to take chances, turnovers will happen. More often than not, he escapes pressure and is able to create scoring chances or keep plays alive. Defensively, that's where things get a little murkier. The profile is good. Size. Mobility. Reach. Physicality. He has that in spades. He looks great defending transitional attacks and he is at his best when he can play aggressive to shutdown attackers early, then flip the script and start the offensive attack. When asked to defend in zone coverage, that's when things get dicey. He can cheat to leave the zone early (a big no-no for a defender), he can miss assignments near the net, and he can chase the puck. He will require a lot of coaching. But let us not forget that Mintyukov did not play last year. Doesn't matter that he's a late 2003. He's behind the learning curve. The athletic tools are there, it's a matter of how they are developed. There's a very real chance that he becomes Ryan Sproul. There's a chance that he is asked to refine his game so much that he becomes Dmitri Kulikov. But IMO, the greatest odds are that he becomes a top flight top three defender who can impact the game in a lot of different ways. IMO, he's a top ten pick. 
3. David Goyette - Center/Wing - Sudbury Wolves
One of the most misunderstood players in this draft class IMO. Early on, it was all offense for Goyette and he struggled as a three zone player. But his defensive play and engagement away from the puck improved dramatically over the course of the year. So did his consistency, but perhaps too many people stopped watching Sudbury down the stretch with them out of the playoff picture. Don't get me wrong, his play off the puck still needs to improve. But, to call him a one dimensional player is wrong. The best part of Goyette's game is his skating ability. Wouldn't call him the fastest player in the class, but his skating habits and his understanding of how to alter pace are among the best in the class. His edgework is a masterclass and he is very explosive out of cuts, with or without the puck. This makes him very elusive and unpredictable. As he matures physically, I think he can get even quicker and be better at sustaining his speed. Jordan Kyrou level skating ability is attainable for Goyette. Goyette is also highly skilled and does not need to alter his speed to make plays. He can play at a feverish pace. Improving his strength on the puck is a must because his effectiveness at playing through traffic is inconsistent, but the hands are top notch. His vision with the puck and passing touch are also top notch and this should help him stay down the middle at the pro level. To a certain extent, Goyette falls through the cracks because of how many similar average sized, quick, and skilled forwards there are available this year, but he has as much offensive upside as any of them.
4. Owen Beck - Center - Mississauga Steelheads
I saw some folks mention how surprised they were to see Beck ranked just outside the first round (33rd) at McKeen's given they know how much I like Beck and how much influence I have over those rankings. The reality is, as much as I love Beck, I don't see him as a future first line player at the next level. I think he settles in as a reliable middle six center who can bring a lot of versatility to his future coaches. There are just so many home run swings available (especially on the back-end) in that late first round range, that I have no problem with Beck being ranked a little lower because I perceive his upside to be somewhat limited. However, I have a hard time finding things that I don't like about Beck's game. The skating ability is among the best in this class. His use of linear crossovers makes him so difficult to cover as he leads the attack because he is constantly deceiving his intentions while also gaining speed. Beck is also a complete player who competes hard in all three zones; his work on the penalty kill is extremely impressive. On the powerplay, Beck's vision and IQ are on full display as he shifts around the offensive zone, working down low and in the middle of the ice. If I am nitpicking (and it's what I think limits Beck's potential), his decision making with the puck in transition leaves some to be desired. He has these impressive rushes to gain the zone, but often they fail to produce high end scoring chances. Part of that is confidence and strength related, as he gains the zone and dumps it down low. But, turnovers can occur as he tries to force his way through defenders. There isn't a real ability for him to alter pace while maintaining possession at this current time. When he's working down low in the cycle, the vision shows well. But when the pace increases, there seems to be a lull. Again though, I have a ton of time for this player in the late first, early second range. He's a slam dunk NHL player for me.
5. Matyas Sapovaliv - Center - Saginaw Spirit 
I don't think Sapovaliv had a terrific finish to the year, but how many Saginaw players did given the injuries the team was going through? More concerning for me was his play at the U18's, where he looked a little sluggish in transition. However, if you follow my work, I've been on the Sapovaliv hype train all year and that continues to this day. I think he has a solid upside as a second line center, and a nice floor as a bottom six checking line player. The athletic tools are just so intriguing. His reach and massive frame gives him such high upside as a defensive forward once he fills out and is better at engaging physically. He closes down passing lanes to the slot and defends coming off the wall about as well as any forward in this draft class. Offensively, the key for him will be continuing to improve his agility and edgework. He has already improved his quickness and balance from a year ago, but there is still work to be done in this area for him to be a truly consistent playmaker. Too often can he be angled to the perimeter. The offensive profile is really nice, though. He has good hands. He has good instincts. His shot can be a weapon when he learns to use it more and get himself in scoring position more consistently. He sees the ice well coming off the wall and from down low. I don't see how you can't see his profile as a rangy, two-way pivot and not rank him fairly high.
6. Luca DelBelBelluz - Center - Mississauga Steelheads
DelBelBelluz is a tough call for me. I'm kind of torn on him to this day and I've seen him play a ton this year. I can relate with those who really like him and have him ranked as a first rounder. I can relate with those that do not. I see both sides of the equation and I'm truthfully still not sure where I stand. Here's what I love. I think the hands are fantastic. He is terrific at manipulating the space around him with his just don't see him turning the puck over much when he plays through the middle of the ice. His linear quickness is not good, but his agility, puck control, and ability to build speed out of cuts is impressive. This is why he is so dangerous working the half wall area on the powerplay. I also think DelBelBelluz shows potential as a strong two-way center given his size and awareness. This is an inconsistent part of his game currently, but as he adds strength, my hope is that it becomes a standout quality. LDBB's shot is also impressive. He will score at the next level. OK, so here's what I don't love. The skating mechanics are not great. An awkward stride prevents him from truly building or sustaining speed. At the OHL level this does not affect him much because of how good he is at protecting the puck through the neutral zone, but it will affect him at the NHL level. I also think that he goes through stretches of not being very noticeable. Even when he's not hitting the score sheet, teammate Owen Beck is noticeable for his speed and tenacity. But LDBB goes through stretches where he is just kind of there and fails to make an impact at even strength. What if the skating does not improve? What if the two-way engagement does not become more consistent? Is he an NHL player? I wouldn't hesitate to select him in the second round somewhere, but the questions I have about him would make me hesitate in the first. 
7. Paul Ludwinski - Center/Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
Ludwinski was not in my top ten as of around late March. However, late in the year I think we saw him take massive strides forward that I believe can carry into the future. Ludwinski has a really solid floor as an NHL role player. He skates really well. He brings it physically. He is a solid three zone player. Easy to see him becoming a Paul Byron type. However, there are so many flashes of higher offensive upside that you have to jump on him earlier if you really like him and believe that he's just scratching the surface of what he is capable of. Early on in the year, the hands just had not caught up to his feet and a lot of plays died on his stick as he tried to gain the offensive zone. However, as the year went on, his transportation skills really improved and he became a real asset in transition offensively. The hands and finishing ability were equally difficult to truly assess. At times this year, he struggled to finish off chances in the slot, despite earning many great looks. However, later in the year, he was finishing on more of those and showed that his release had improved and that his confidence was growing. Ludwinski was my favourite player in the 2004 OHL Priority Selection Draft class. I thought he had the package to become an elite and complete NHL center. Thanks to a strong finish to the year, I'm ever closer to believing that again...even if I'm not convinced that he is a center moving forward.
8. Ty Nelson - Defense - North Bay Battalion
Tale of three seasons for Nelson. He started the year extremely well and I believed that he had a chance of being a first round pick. Then he really struggled in the second half of the OHL regular season and seemed to lose all confidence in his offensive abilities. This was followed up by a very strong performance in this year's OHL playoffs, where he helped North Bay reach the East finals. So what do we make of all of this? Honestly, much like LDBB, I'm a little flummoxed. The four way mobility is a major positive. The shot is one of the best in this draft class. His breakout pass is excellent and he has great scanning habits with the puck. His physical intensity level is extremely admirable given his lack of height (but not width; Nelson is built like a brick **** house). He has the makings of being a very good two-way defender. There are just a lot of application issues that I see that I think could limit his potential if not corrected. He has some bad habits when defending in transition. He gets caught flat footed a lot, way more than he should given his strong mobility. This leads to a lot of blow-byes and penalties against. His footwork inside the offensive zone isn't terrific either. He has this booming shot, but he does not clear space for himself well enough by using his edges. He's just too stagnant running the point right now and he needs to do a better job of using space inside the offensive zone. This is something that all elite powerplay QB's do to help break down coverage and he does not have those habits yet at a consistent level. Late in the year, when Nelson seemed to lose his confidence, he wasn't even taking chances offensively either. Lots of dump ins and low percentage plays, even though he has the skill to try to make plays. Given how many puck moving defenders eligible this year had terrific second half performances (Korchinski, Havelid, Rinzel, etc), it's going to be tough for Nelson to find a spot inside the Top 45 or so IMO.
9. Gavin Hayes - Wing - Flint Firebirds
The 2021/22 season didn’t exactly start off according to plan for Hayes. A former first round pick of Flint, Hayes started off the year playing a fourth line role and was even scratched, thus obviously limiting his production and ability to stand out. Slowly, but surely, he worked his way into the favour of the coaching staff and finished the season extremely strong as a top six contributor and special teams regular. Once Hayes’ ice time increased, the points started to come consistently, putting up 49 points in the remaining 54 games of the regular season. He also had a very strong playoff performance. Hayes' shot is a real standout quality. Much like teammate Brennan Othmann, he can absolutely rifle the puck; possessing both a strong wrist shot and one timer. Hayes also can be a real intimidating physical presence, even if that part of his game is wildly inconsistent. The skating stride is good and he generates good power and speed for the type of North/South game he plays. He will never be the world's most creative player and his vision with the puck and overall decision making will need to improve. But power wingers with a goal scoring touch do not grow on trees anymore. In a lot of ways, watching Hayes this year reminded me a lot of watching Dustin Brown as a draft eligible player. A lot of the same concerns and strengths.

10. Danny Zhilkin - Center - Guelph Storm 
I find it kind of weird that I've got Zhilkin rated this high even though I don't love him as much as other scouts do. To an extent, I think that points to how this draft class from the OHL has shaped up to be a bit below average. I'm not convinced that Zhilkin has a high upside as an NHL player. I don't love how he sees the ice with the puck, especially when he is attacking with pace. I think his IQ without the puck is also slightly concerning as he does not always find himself in strong scoring position, despite having elite level physical/athletic tools. This helps to explain his production inconsistency this year, despite being one of the oldest first time eligibles. All that said, those same athletic tools give him the opportunity to develop into a very good third line center. His play in the defensive end has improved greatly since his time in the GTHL and he really can suffocate opposing players along the wall to stymie creativity and eliminate space. With his quickness and explosiveness, he can really start the counter attack too. By altering his approach to become more work-man like in the offensive zone (chip and chases, give and go's, pivots to invite contact inside the blueline), Zhilkin could become a more than adequate playmaker to go with his potential impact in the defensive and neutral zones. The skill level is certainly there too. Think of Lars Eller in a best case scenario from a two-way perspective.