Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Final Media/Scout Top 10 for 2023

A week before the 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville, the final media/scout poll for 2023 is complete!

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

It's always interesting to note some of the major changes/trends from the beginning of the year to the end. 

It should come as no surprise to see Cam Allen as the biggest faller from the preliminary list in December. He remarkably went from being ranked 4th to receiving only three votes for the final list. Ethan Miedema got several votes the first time around but didn't receive a single one this time. Interestingly enough, Hunter Brzustewicz went from being ranked 5th in December to an HM this time around, despite what I would argue was a better second half than a first.

Nick Lardis was the biggest riser, going from an HM to inside the top five; no surprise there. Andrew Gibson was the other one to move from the HM list to the main list.

As for the strength of this group as a whole? Well, I think the OHL is still playing catch up post pandemic thanks to a lost year. I like the depth of this group a lot. However, we don't have someone who is likely going to be a perennial award winner or even a star player. Lots of great complementary pieces available from the OHL, but the crop lacks star power. While I do expect Colby Barlow to go inside the lottery, it's certainly not a given that we have an OHL player selected in the top 10. 
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 - Creator of The OHL Writers (@dominictiano)

Ryan Kennedy - Editor in Chief for The Hockey News (@THNRyanKennedy)

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

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

Mike Morreale - Staff writer for NHL.com (@mikemorrealeNHL)

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

Victor Findlay - CHL on TSN PxP (@Victor_Findlay)

Tony Ferrari – NHL Draft Content for The Hockey News (@theTonyFerrari)

Joely Stockl – OHL Regional Scout for McKeen's Hockey (@joelystockl04)

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

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

Steve Clark - OHL PxP Announcer for the Niagara IceDogs (@SteveClarkMedia)

Steven Ellis - Associate Editor and Prospect Analyst for DailyFaceoff (@SEllisHockey)

Hadi Kalakeche - Director of North American Scouting for Dobber Prospects (@HadiK_Scouting)

Austin Broad - Head OHL Scout for Future Considerations (@Austin_Broad)

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten)

Here's the List:

1. Colby Barlow - Wing - Owen Sound Attack
Total Votes: 17
Highest Ranking: 1st (12x)
Lowest Ranking: 3rd (2x)
"Barlow has the makings for a long NHL career. He operates as a power forward sniper who brings intensity and high competitiveness to the lineup. He's got an appetite for scoring goals and playing physically. He scores in various ways, one-timer on the PP, quick hands at the net front to score in tight, and an excellent drag release that zings off his blade with tremendous power and velocity. His powerful straight-line skating allows him to be an effective F1 and force turnovers. Barlow is also an excellent leader who lets his play do the talking. I really wouldn't be shocked to see him wear a letter in the NHL." - Jared Brown

"Barlow cements himself as the top OHLer in this class as a result of his consistent goal scoring abilities. After a strong rookie season where he finished with 30 goals, he was just shy of the 50-goal mark this season with 46. He’s already displaying an NHL-like shot as he has excellent power with his release and great accuracy that freezes goaltenders and a one-timer that’s hard to stop. While he can hurt you from far out, he’s very capable of finding his way to the net and bury his chances in tight as he has quick hands to get it past goaltenders. While he’s a threat at even strength and on the power play, he’s an efficient penalty killer, can get into lanes and provide strong one-on-one coverage. Despite developing at a quick pace, he still has a strong skillset to be successful at the next level." - Peter Baracchini

"Barlow has a ton of value because of his projected versatility. It's rare to find solid goal scorers who don't need to have their responsibilities sheltered. I remember saying the same thing about Jack Quinn, in his draft year, and it's why I had him ranked highly too. Barlow could end up developing into the type of guy you want on the ice whether you're up a goal or down a goal late in the game. He is a smart kid, probably wears a letter in the NHL, and has the kind of straight forward game that projects to play well in the NHL playoffs. People seem to focus on the things that he needs to improve on for him to develop into a top six forward (overall mobility, small area skill), but they should be focusing on all the things he does well already that make him one of the most pro ready players available this year." - Brock Otten

"I came away so impressed with the live viewing I had of Colby Barlow.  He's someone who has an NHL ready body, and an NHL ready shot.    Plus, he shows as a mature player beyond his years, given the captaincy he was given this year for Owen Sound.  Like a lot of players, I would have loved to have seen more playoff action ,to see how he would perform when the games got real because with his size, and strength, he's tailor made for a physical game.     Skating fluidity was the only downside I saw, but overall he's well earned his Top 15 ranking. 76 goals in 118 games is true sniper material, and he's added 8 more in 11 playoff games." - Steve Clark

"To me Barlow has all the makings of an elite power forward in the NHL. With his combination of shooting ability, size, and tenacity on the puck, he is a nightmare to defend against. He has drastically improved his off the puck play throughout the year and has a knack for getting himself open in the scoring area. When fully engaged he is unstoppable; very few in this class have his combination of natural scoring ability and size. I think he is easily the best 2023 NHL Draft prospect in this OHL class, and it is not particularly close in my opinion." - Austin Broad

"Obviously a ton to like about his game on this ice, but I don't think you can really understate just how impressive his work in the classroom was this season. Barlow had a stretch from January 20th to 28th where he played 6 games in 9 days (including CHL Top Prospects) and managed to write his mid-term grade 12 exams in that timeframe as well. Barlow never let his on-ice commitments take away from his work in the classroom, and became the first ever Owen Sound Attack player to win the CHL Scholastic Player of the Year award. For a bona-fide NHL prospect to have that kind of commitment in his draft year to excelling in school speaks volumes about the type of person he is." - Victor Findlay

"Barlow is an interesting prospect in that he plays a fairly simple north-south game, driving to the net and overpowering his opponents with his strength. The Owen Sound captain is physically mature which allows him to bully junior-aged players already in front of the net and around the boards. His shot is very good but he has a tendency to take shots from above the faceoff circles and then follow it up and attempt to bang in the rebound. His shot metrics look great because he does follow his initial shot up so frequently. Barlow is a decent play connector and has a nose for the net with the hands to score on those chances in tight. His acceleration and agility are going to need work as they limit his mobility at this stage. He is a safe player if you’re looking for an NHLer but his lack of dynamism and mobility issues could limit just how high in an NHL lineup he could play. " - Tony Ferrari

2. Cal Ritchie - Center/Wing - Oshawa Generals
Total Votes: 17
Highest Ranking: 1st (2x)
Lowest Ranking: 6th (1x)
"A season of struggle that was impacted by a lingering shoulder injury that he will be getting surgery on this offseason. Ritchie has some playmaking ability and a good curl and drag shot but the flashes of skill and offensive creativity were too far apart to ever really get too excited about. He was good at the U-18s when playing with other good players – something he didn’t get to do all too often on an underwhelming Oshawa team. If Ritchie isn’t asked to be the driving force, he’s a capable contributor. A clean bill of health could also be the answer to a lot of the questions that arose this season." - Tony Ferrari

"Ritchie’s draft year definitely didn’t get off to the best start as there was some inconsistencies with his overall game and production. However, he turned on the jets in the second half and started to find his footing and dominance on the ice. He managed to finish a point per game with the Oshawa Generals and stood out with nine points at the World U18 Championship. He has great IQ and awareness to be a highly effective playmaker, finding the seams very well and can execute plays perfectly with tape to tape or long stretch plays. He has soft hands in tight spaces, great control to maintain possession and provides excellent support for his teammates. His strong edgework to weave his way through traffic and his body positioning allows him to gain the inside edge on his opponents. He has a high end compete level and work ethic and does a great job engaging on the forecheck to force turnovers and mindset to prioritize defense." - Peter Baracchini

"Ritchie is a right-handed center and was impressive down the stretch despite dealing with a nagging upper-body injury. He really impressed me at the World Under-18 Championship, leading all OHL players who participated for Canada at the tournament. He worked on his all-around game over the second half of the season. Coach Derek Laxdal did a nice job instilling in Ritchie a pro-style type game that he’ll need at the next level. He's good at finding teammates in open ice, shooting the puck and is hard to play against. He wins his share of face-offs and tracks hard, is aggressive and pretty reliable in the defensive end. Ritchie won 53 percent of his face-offs in the regular season (413-for-779), averaged a point-per game, and had 6 power play goals. He's a top-line player who can move and create space for himself." - Mike Morreale

"I just can't help but wonder if we're all underrating Ritchie this year because of the fact that he clearly wasn't ready to be the go-to guy on a rebuilding OHL team. Many players in this draft class would have struggled with consistency the way that Ritchie did this year in Oshawa. I keep going back to the fact that when he played with other elite players (U17's last year, Hlinka/Gretzky Cup/U18's this year), he looked like one too. He's such an intelligent player. His game is predicated on drawing in pressure to open up lanes for his linemates to exploit...which is why he has looked so good with other high end players. I just want to see him attacking the middle and getting to the net a little more consistently, but I do think that once he fixes his shoulder issue and builds strength, he will become more of a power player." - Brock Otten 

"Carved out to be a middle six forward in the NHL. I love the way he thinks the game, values all three zones and makes his wingers better. Has some untapped offensive potential, and some creative tools that he wasn’t able to exercise as much, due to having so much responsibility with the Generals this season." - Joely Stockl

"I have mixed feelings about Ritchie. On one hand, the skill set is there but on the other hand, consistency on a rebuilding Oshawa team has been an issue. There is the odd occasion where you left the rink and wondered whether he played. He’s a high IQ player who plays a complete 200-foot game and in any situation. He’s a playmaker first and foremost but I also think he has an underrated shot, which he doesn’t use often enough. His top speed is decent, enough that he is willing to challenge defenders. If he can find that consistency, his upside is high." - Dominic Tiano

"What Ritchie lacked in high-end offense this year, he made up for in extra defensive responsibility and more willingness to engage physically. And while he only had a point per game in the OHL, he decimated the Hlinka Gretzky with Canada before the season started before finishing off with a good U-18 World Championship despite dealing with a shoulder injury. He's going to be a dependable two-way center in the NHL." - Steven Ellis

3. Quentin Musty - Wing - Sudbury Wolves
Total Votes: 17
Highest Ranking: 1st (3x)
Lowest Ranking: 6th (1x)
"Musty needs to improve on his play away from the puck, but he has the rest of the tools he needs to be an excellent second-line winger in the NHL, both in terms of his soft skill and his frame." - Anonymous

"If we re going off of skill, talent, and potential offensive impact alone, then Musty would be right there at the top of my list with Barlow and Ritchie. He's been one of the more polarizing prospects that I've scouted as he's got a dynamic skillset and is constantly creating chances. But, defensive play concerns and lack of effort without the puck make me question his drive. At times he can be too individualistic trying to do everything himself. His saving grace is that he can do it all himself at times due to his elite creativity and stickhandling skills. His playmaker-like instincts and deceptive body language allow him to sell the shot on the PP before sliding a slip pass across to set his teammate up. His delay game as a passer is terrific and he also has a pinpoint accurate snapshot that can pick the corners. Musty has the ceiling of a top-line-producing winger." - Jared Brown

"The Sudbury Wolves star was questioned early in the year for his effort and coming off a bout of mononucleosis to start the season certainly didn’t help his case. Musty started feeling like himself just before Christmas this year and you noticed a change in his drive as the season wore on. Musty’s improvement in that department allowed his playmaking and shot creation to truly take a step to another level. Musty needs to use his size a bit more away from the puck but with it, he protects the puck and blends strength and skill to get around defenders. By season’s end, he was my clear-cut number-one player from the OHL and that came despite not using the excellent shot that he has enough. If he uses his shot a bit more over the next few years of his development, his dual-threat ability will tear opponents apart." - Tony Ferrari

"Musty really seems to be building a ton of momentum heading into the draft. But he's more of a late first/mid second round guy for me. Unquestionably the talent is there. Unquestionably, his off puck play, physical engagement level, and decision making improved in the second half. However, I'm still wondering how well his game ends up translating to the pro level. For one, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills by being one of the only people criticizing his skating. His quickness in all directions needs to improve greatly IMO. For two, I just want to see him doing a better job of playing through the hard areas of the ice. He has this fantastic shot, but he's not getting himself consistent looks to use it from in close. He doesn't score the dirty goals like Barlow does. Can he fit in with two other highly skilled players who want to puck on their stick to be more of a complementary piece the way that Cal Ritchie does? I think we saw a bit of that with his struggles at the Hlinka/Gretzky in the summer. I love the skill. I love the passing ability and vision with the puck. I love the progression he showed this year. But, he's one of those guys I'd probably want another team to take because the question marks surrounding his game have held back quite a few other talented players in the last decade." - Brock Otten

"Whichever team takes Musty on draft day, is taking a risk. Very similar to Arthur Kaliyev on draft day, he produces offensively and he will be effective in the offensive zone, but there are huge question marks around his skating and off-puck engagement outside of the offensive zone. If a team can develop his game and help him survive in his own end, he will definitely be a gem in this draft." - Joely Stockl

"It took him a while to develop the needed consistency to earn a mention in my top 15, but boy did he ever. Major steps in his defensive game and physical engagement help as well. He’s got a top 10 skillset in this draft, and if the hockey sense keeps improving, he could be a gem." - Hadi Kalakeche

"When debating Musty, Barlow and the rest of the OHL class, the thing that sets Musty apart from the rest of the class is how well he handles pressure when he has the puck on his stick. He threads the needle in tight passing lanes consistently. But, he's also got a great shot, has excellent reach and is quite mobile. I would without hesitation select Musty with a top 15 pick." - Josh Tessler

4. Nick Lardis - Wing - Hamilton Bulldogs
Total Votes: 16
Highest Ranking: 3rd (2x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (1x)
"The tendencies were always there, intriguing me far before he was traded to Hamilton. The explosion in production once he arrived with the Bulldogs made it impossible to ignore just how good Nick Lardis is. He is a speedy, shifty forward who has a great shot from a number of positions on the ice. Lardis has an outstanding one-timer that makes him a lethal threat on the powerplay. He has a sweet curl and drag wrister off the rush and does an excellent job of settling into pockets of space off the puck to give him a chance to catch and shoot. There are shades of creative playmaking and puck skill as well but they will need to become a bit more consistent to round out his game. Lardis forechecks hard and works hard to get the puck back in the neutral zone but he will need to continue improving his play in his own end. Rounding out his strong set of tools and refining things will give him a chance to be the best OHLer from this draft class." - Tony Ferrari

"Maybe a change of scenery was all that Lardis needed as he went on an offensive tear going from 12 goals with the Peterborough Petes to 25 with the Hamilton Bulldogs. In the process he was given a chance to play a more important role and as a result improved his draft stock tremendously. He’s great at creating space for himself and opening the game up, reading the play very well and maintain that separation from defenders to remain an open outlet for a shot. He has a quick and smooth release and is able to get the puck off his stick in a flash. He displays great patience with the puck and when he finds an opening, he’ll take it as he has a great burst of speed. He can anticipate plays very well to pick them off and quickly go into attack mode." - Peter Baracchini

"Lardis deserves a ton of credit as he saw a jump in production and a rise in the rankings after being acquired by Hamilton from Peterborough in a four-play trade and two draft picks on Jan. 7. He was able to really showcase his strengths with the Bulldogs ... that speed, skating ability and creativity in the offensive zone. I think he definitely put himself in a good spot entering this draft. He scored well at the NHL Scouting Combine, too. He had the most pull-ups (15) and the highest vertical jump (25.49 inches) of the 100 prospects tested." - Mike Morreale

"Lardis is an extremely talented offensive winger who can create in a wide variety of ways. He can create for himself off the rush/through the cycle and he can facilitate for his teammates by delivering accurate high-danger passes from anywhere in the offensive zone. His ability to see the play as it develops and to create while working at his top speed make him a lethal player with the puck on his stick. After the trade his play exploded, and he has quickly become my favourite OHLer in the 2023 class, he has forced his way into the conversation when it comes to best OHL players available for this draft." - Austin Broad

"I'm starting to get the impression that Lardis is going to get drafted later than I think he should and lower than many independent scouting agencies have him (including us at McKeen's). Look, I do understand the trepidation. He's a smaller and slight winger who plays a pretty straight forward North/South game. NHL teams prefer those types to be bigger and stronger because the success rate is higher. I also think that Lardis is still trying to shake the scouting reputation of being too perimeter focused, like he was earlier in the year with Peterborough. I see a lot of similarity between the treatment of Lardis and the treatment of Jordan Kyrou in his draft year. Ultimately, scouts got it wrong there and I think they will make the same error by underrating Lardis. Sure, his game is pretty straight forward. But, his speed is elite. He's going to be able to use it as a weapon at the next level too. Ditto for his shot. And we saw at the NHL combine that Lardis is a young man that takes his strength and conditioning seriously. He's going to be fine physically. Anyone that watches Hamilton a lot will tell you that he's actually still working on ways to harness his skating ability to be a more consistent play driver. He might just be scratching the surface here. Additionally, I really loved the way he stepped up his game in round one against Barrie in the playoffs." - Brock Otten 

5. Oliver Bonk - Defense - London Knights
Total Votes: 15
Highest Ranking: 2nd (1x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (2x)
"Bonk took his time to grow on me this season as I wasn't sold on him early on as one of the top guys coming out of the OHL. But with each viewing, he seemed to have gotten better and better. What he lacks in high-end offensive skills and play-driving qualities, he makes up for with his terrific shutdown ability and defensive intelligence to swallow up attacks. He possesses the hockey sense of a pro and is incredibly consistent at separating his man from the puck and eliminating them from the play. He scans and tracks his man very well in the Dzone. He squashes the cycle with his quick reads and size. There s potential there for Bonk to be a 20-minute-a-night shutdown Dman in the show." - Jared Brown

"Bonk has been my favourite player to watch all season. After playing in the GOJHL last season, he made a seamless transition to the OHL and was very impressive. He plays a simplistic, but effective two-way game as he’s always successful when he’s on the ice. He’s a perfect blend of offense and defense as he’s a great example of a prototypical, two-way defenseman for the NHL. He’s got great defensive awareness and gap control when defending against the rush to keep players to the outside while utilizing an active stick to break up plays. He knows when to jump in to keep plays alive in the offensive zone, while also picking his spot to join a rush. He’s extremely competitive, has great IQ, energy and is always putting forth the effort every shift. Finding smart and efficient defenseman are hard to come by and Bonk has been consistent with his play this season." - Peter Baracchini

" Call me a sucker for the guy with NHL pedigree.  I only saw Bonk live once this year, but tracked his progress and read a bunch about him.   I always give an intangible nod to those who are sons of NHL players because they do have a knowledge of the lifestyle of an NHL player. There is offensive upside and he certainly did not hurt his stock with a lengthy playoff run." - Steve Clark

"He's not going to go end-to-end like Cale Makar, but Bonk does the little things well and does them consistently. He's a solid two-way defenseman, with high hockey IQ, shutdown ability and a good puck mover off the transition. He also doesn't shy from contact or getting under the skin of opposing players." - Mike Morreale

"The vast improvement from Bonk is what I have appreciated the most about his game since September. He has molded into this mature defender who can create lots using his first pass. His defensive stick is fantastic and he has the potential to eat lots of minutes at the next level. He has quickly become one of my favourite defenders in this draft class." - Joely Stockl

"Big body defender that moves well and defends well but doesn't have a high offensive ceiling. Very safe pick that should become a middle pairing defender in the NHL." - Mark Seidel

"Growing up around NHL dressing rooms with his dad Radek clearly had a positive influence on Oliver Bonk as a kid. The habits that made his dad such a well-liked pro for a long time in both North America and Europe have certainly translated to Oliver as well. From the way he prepares for games, to the way he treats people around the game (trainers/teammates/fans, etc.), he has an understanding of what it takes to make himself a positive part of a team's culture. On-ice abilities aside, I think he's one of the most mature players available in this draft class." - Victor Findlay

6. Beau Akey - Defense - Barrie Colts
Total Votes: 15
Highest Ranking: 3rd (1x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (2x)
"An elite skater and plays big minutes and in all situations. Has good hockey sense and an ability to contain with his good positional play. The right-handed shot had 47 points (11 goals, 36 assists) in 66 games with the Colts this season and has good size (6-0, 175)." - Mike Morreale

"The thing that stands out the most with Akey is his skating, arguably the best skating blue liner in the draft class. He’s also probably the best at transitioning. He can gain the opposition blue line with what looks like relative ease for him and then combined with his IQ and vision, can distribute the puck. His defensive game needs some work though. He is prone to losing coverage and battles for pucks." - Dominic Tiano

"Tremendous skating defenseman that saw his role change in Barrie with the return of Brandt Clarke but he accepted it and continued to improve. Ability to go back and retrieve pucks and create clean entries with his feet or a smart pass is impressive. Has the skills to be a PP defenseman in the NHL." - Mark Seidel

"A high-end skater who shows a knack for making great plays at both ends of the ice. Akey’s ability to use his pace to make great offensive and defensive plays make him a potential all situations blue liner at the next level. He is patient, he lets the play develop rather than trying to rush his decisions with the puck, and has a skillset that fits in perfectly with today’s NHL game." - Austin Broad

"I had a hard time seeing why Akey got a high grade from Central Scouting at the start of the year, but near the end of the season, I fell in love with his rush defending. He has average puck skills, but you’ll have a very hard time getting set up in his zone off the rush. I like him as a second-rounder." - Hadi Kalakeche

7. Carson Rehkopf - Center/Wing - Kitchener Rangers
Total Votes: 11
Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (6x)
"The highs were high and the lows were low with Rehkopf this season which isn’t all too shocking considering this is a player who has a bunch of tools but hasn’t figured out the toolbox to put them in though. His shot is very good when he’s firing on all cylinders but he can get in the habit of settling for low danger chances. He will throw his body around at times but it’s not entirely a trait that’s visible in every game. Rehkopf is a good player who could be a solid NHL'er if he can get some sort of consistency and figure out exactly what he’s going to be at the next level." - Tony Ferrari

"I still remain one of Rehkopf’s biggest fans as he can bring a lot to the table. I felt that he took a big step with the Kitchener Rangers this season as he has strong offensive potential with his goal scoring abilities. He’s a highly competitive and energetic, two-way centre that plays with an edge. He has a wicked release and great accuracy with his wrist shot. Even when he may not have a lot to work with, his movement and ability to draw his hands in quickly allows him to get it on net in a flash. As a result, he has great hands and puck skills and with his long reach, he has no problem making moves at a quick pace to get around defenders with such ease. He was a standout at the CHL Top Prospects game, taking home MVP honours, scoring a goal and adding an assist. His competitive style is one that should have teams lining up for him at the draft." - Peter Baracchini

"Okay, I’ll say it: Pound-for-pound Rehkopf may be the most talented player in the OHL draft class. The issue I have is that he doesn’t always appear to be giving 100%. When he puts his mind to it, he can dominate the game in all three zones like no one else. He has size, he’s physical and he can skate and he uses those tools on offence and defence. He can score, he can be a playmaker, he can just impact the game in so many ways. For me, he could be the top player on my list if he just had more consistency and effort. If he puts it altogether, one NHL team is going to be very lucky to get him where they do." - Dominic Tiano

"There is a ton of inherent risk here. I get the wide variation of his rankings because it truly depended on what night you caught him on. But I saw enough good from him this year to believe that his compete level and ability to use his size more consistently can and will improve. If everything goes according to plan, Rehkopf is going to be a very versatile player. He can play multiple positions. He can drive transitional attacks with his quickness. He can work the wall. He can operate as a triggerman off the puck because of his big shot. He CAN play a heavy game and that will entice someone in the second round, which I think is a great spot for him. He's well worth the risk there." - Brock Otten

8. Luca Pinelli - Wing/Center - Ottawa 67's
Total Votes: 10
Highest Ranking: 5th (3x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (7x)
"Pinelli is going to surprise some people. He’s a worker with skill who is going to make the most of what he has." - Anonymous

"A tenacious undersized forward who often gets overlooked as a player benefitting from being on a good team but he was one of the best players on a good team and led them in scoring during the playoffs. Pinelli plays a smart two-way game, using body positioning and getting under opposing players in small-area battles to win the puck for his team. He understands that his size can be an advantage for him if used correctly and forcing his way under defenders rather than trying to joust and physically overpower them. He has a very good shot and gets to high-danger areas. His playmaking comes from his creativity and willingness to make the play to the middle of the ice even if it’s not an obvious one." - Tony Ferrari

"Small, but feisty and competitive.  With a Dave Cameron team, he was never going to provide jaw dropping numbers but he's a smart, tenacious player who plays way bigger than his size.  Offensive skill is certainly on display, and I was disappointed that Ottawa got knocked out of the playoffs earlier than I'm sure they intended.    He had a really good playoff, with 18 points in 11 games which was above his season average." - Steve Clark

"Pinelli is a ball of energy out there. After a solid foundational rookie season with the 67's, he nearly doubled his total output with 29 goals and 63 points. Pinelli was one of the better draft prospects at putting the puck where he wants it to go, but will scouts overlook his 5-foot-9 frame? Does he have enough for the next level? We'll see." - Steven Ellis

"Luca Pinelli has an excellent combination of hands and deception. His stick-handling off of the rush allows him to get to the interior quickly and that leads to a lot of net front scoring chances. When facing pressure on his backside, he'll look to be deceptive and use pivots to shake himself free." - Josh Tessler

9. Denver Barkey - Center - London Knights
Total Votes: 7
Highest Ranking: 4th (2x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (10x)
"I advise everyone to not sleep on Barkey and look at his size and count him out as a prospect they don't want to see their favourite team draft. You want Barkey on your team. I'm not saying he's the next Brayden Point. But, Barkey shows a lot of similarities to the Tampa Lightning centreman. The drive, heart, and determination are all there for an undersized forward who can find success at the pro level. He wins battles in the small areas and will outwork players much bigger than him. He has the ability to play fast by making quick plays and getting pucks behind defenders faster than they can anticipate. If he was a few inches taller then we would be hearing his name a lot more, but don't count out Barkey becoming a high-impact NHLer who brings energy and pace to the lineup." - Jared Brown

"The London Knights relied on their young players more this year than they typically do and it resulted in an OHL final appearance. Barkey led the charge in that regard, using his speed and intelligence to force opponents into making mistakes. He plays a smart, pro-style game that would intrigue teams so much more if he weren’t 5-foot-9. Barley is a battler who does a lot of the work for his line, making the small plays that advance the puck. He’s going to continue getting stronger to ensure that the style of play he has had success with at the next level." - Tony Ferrari

"As the season progressed, I became more of a big fan of Denver Barkey. After a 59-point regular season, he stood out even more for the Knights in the playoffs with 24 points in 20 games. While Central Scouting might have him low at 79th overall among North American skaters, I personally feel that he can be a mid to late second-round pick with his creativity and skillset as a playmaker. He’s a quick and agile skater as he’s got a really strong burst of acceleration and speed. He’s extremely deceptive with the puck as he has great control, can draw opponents in easily, create space for his teammates and find the seams with crisp passes, while also displaying soft hands for dekes at a quick pace. He isn’t afraid to attack the net and use his soft hands in tight to beat goaltenders or be in position for a rebound opportunity." - Peter Baracchini

"There isn’t a more intense player in this OHL class. He’s a headache on both sides of the puck, loves to push the middle, can create pretty well and always seems to pop up in dangerous ice. The lack of size is a bit of a concern, but he’s in my very early second round due to how well he’s adapted to his size." - Hadi Kalakeche

"Shouldered immense responsibility playing on London's top line with Easton Cowan and Ryan Winterton. Often times mixes it up with opposing players much older, and holds his own very well. Not only a productive and scrappy player, but he has a true passion for the game. You'd be hard pressed to find another player in the OHL who follows the league and the NHL like Barkey does. He's a hockey nerd in the best sense. His dedication and knowledge of the game reminds me a lot of Nick Robertson from his time in Peterborough." - Victor Findlay

10. Andrew Gibson - Defense - Soo Greyhounds
Total Votes: 7
Highest Ranking: 5th (1x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (10x)
"Gibson just seems to have the qualities of an NHL Dman doesn't he? He can skate, transport the puck efficiently through his feet or passing, and is physically abrasive with a mean side to him. As a first-year OHL'er, Gibson was thrown out on a weak Greyhounds team but looked like a defender who had been playing in the OHL for multiple years already. At the U18's for Canada, he had to be elevated in the lineup after Quinton Burns suffered an injury. Gibson didn't panic under the new responsibility in the lineup but exceeded my expectations for someone that could've used the excuse of being thrown in a tough spot. He appears to relish when being put in a tough spot and that is a very valuable trait to have for a pro." - Jared Brown

"You want a defenceman with size and can skate? Gibson is your guy. You could make an argument that in his own zone, Gibson is the best in the class. His mobility, size and reach make him difficult to beat. Add in his dedication to defending and you have a true shut down defender. While he has some offensive abilities, I don’t think it jumps out at you and it certainly won’t at the next level. There is enough for Gibson to have a successful NHL career, but it may just be as a shut down guy." - Dominic Tiano

"Just on the verge of my top 10, but I do really like the player. Gibson has the chance to develop into a very good defensive player at the NHL level. The key for him will be improving his puck management in the defensive end, as that likely dictates how high he eventually plays in a lineup. However, this is a young man that takes a ton of pride in his ability to excel in the defensive end. It's cliche, but he's the kind of player who would do anything to help his team win. On a U18 Canadian team with many more hyped prospects, he might have been the best and most consistent at that event. Also, it's worth mentioning how well the Soo develops defenders." - Brock Otten

Honorable Mentions:

Carey Terrance - Center/Wing - Erie Otters
Total Votes: 6
Highest Ranking: 6th (2x)
"So I'm calling this my bias pick because I really like Terrance who shone on a lousy team this team this year.  Thirty goals, including thirteen on the PP this year represented a leap from the 10 he scored last year.     He's just a smart overall player and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he can do with a more experienced Malcolm Spence or with Pano Fimis.   I hope that Stan Butler does not stifle his offensive creativity or acumen though." - Steve Clark

"Like others on this list, the first thing you notice about Terrance is his skating. He has explosive speed that allows him to get in on the forecheck and play the cycle game with excellence. But he’s not the type that goes full speed all the time. If he has the puck, he understands when to slow the game down and uses good vision and passing abilities to set up teammates. When he doesn’t have the puck, he’s good at eluding the opposition and putting himself in position to get off a lethal shot. Terrance is still a little green, even at this level but his development curve has gone quite well. Terrance can impact the game in other ways besides scoring." - Dominic Tiano

"I'm definitely higher on Terrance than the consensus. I'm pretty certain that we, at McKeen's, have Terrance ranked the highest of any independent scouting agency. I just think that people are sleeping on him because of how poorly Erie finished the year in the OHL and not a lot of people bothered to watch him in the second half. This is someone with some really good pro tools. He can play center or the wing. He skates very well. He's already a polished three zone player, on and off the puck. He has a quick release. He proved at the U18's that he can be a great complementary piece and that he doesn't need the puck on his stick consistently to be an effective player. As that Erie team improves over the next few seasons, I think his play improves dramatically. Maybe he's no more than an Erik Haula type...but that has a ton of value outside of the first round." - Brock Otten

Hunter Brzustewicz - Defense - Kitchener Rangers
Total Votes: 6
Highest Ranking: 5th (2x)
"Brzustewicz is an impressive athlete whose solid foundation of tools and skating are complemented by impressive smarts and a know-how out there. I like him to become a No. 4-5 D." - Anonymous

"Brzustewicz s above-average skating ability and puck moving qualities give him the upside as an NHL Dman who can drive results at 5v5. His skating looks effortless and he's got the shifty footwork to escape pressure on breakouts and fluidly walk the line in the Ozone. He constantly has his head up scanning and always seems to have a play in mind before he gets the puck. His transitional value is high as he generates controlled exits at a high rate either by using his feet to carry pucks out or using his vision to make an accurate, smart first pass. Brzustewicz checks off a lot of boxes and I see him as a safe pick in the draft with maybe not the highest ceiling, but a safe floor for the NHL." - Jared Brown

"An elite offensive defender, Brzustewicz can drive play from the backend like no other draft eligible from the OHL. His two-way game needs some work, but his ability to create offense and run Kitchener’s powerplay make him an entertaining player that garners eyes every time he steps on the ice. At the very least he is going to be a specialist and put up points, but if he can improve his defensive game I think he can be a mainstay in the NHL for a long time." - Austin Broad

Tristan Bertucci - Defense - Flint Firebirds
Total Votes: 5
Highest Ranking: 9th (3x)
"Much like Lardis impressing in the second half of the season, Tristan Bertucci has risen among OHL skaters and defensemen in the draft. He possesses a well-rounded skillset with his defensive game being a major standout. He doesn’t panic in any situation and is rarely out of position or gets caught cheating in a play. He can box out attackers effectively and get into the shooting lanes for a block and breakup. Offensively, his game started to come around, as he finished 13th overall in OHL defenders with 50 points. He has become involved even more on the attack with his skating, puck control, and decision making. He isn’t afraid to jump in on the cycle and draw players in and open things up for perfectly timed pass or shot. He shouldn’t be slept on as he could be selected on the second day of the draft." - Peter Baracchini

"Bertucci has a good frame to build some needed bulk on. He’s a very good skater with great mobility. For me, he’s come along fine defensively, controlling his gaps, possessing an active stick and engaging well in puck battles. He transitions to offence very well either by skating, but more often with a good first pass. I’m actually surprised by his offensive production which has caused me and I’m sure many others to move him up in my rankings." - Dominic Tiano

"It took all year for Bertucci to get respect for his overall game and I was shocked that he didn't get a CHL Top Prospects game. A 6'2 defender that was a plus player and had 50 points has a good shot at becoming an NHL regular." - Mark Seidel

"Bertucci is miscast as strictly an offensive defender. His length, aggressiveness, and mobility allows him to be an impactful defensive player. Is his game a bit erratic defensively? Absolutely. But, the tools are there. Offensively, he was the most effective defender on this list in the second half. His point shot is a major weapon. His instincts and vision with the puck are sound. He understands how to start the breakout. I just really liked his progression this year and I think a lot of people are holding his below average U18 performance against him." - Brock Otten

Coulson Pitre - Wing - Flint Firebirds
Total Votes: 5
Highest Ranking: 7th (3x)
"Pitre is one of the hardest workers you will come across. He is a versatile player with great speed and a solid commitment when playing away from the puck. His ability to close in on players and get on the forecheck to create havoc are impressive. He put up good points in the OHL this season but he will have a tougher time at the next level. He has a very high IQ with great vision, traits you don’t often find in a power forward." - Dominic Tiano

"An offensive machine in the OHL, Pitre is easily one of the more underrated forwards in this draft class. He's physical, can play anywhere in a lineup and has an excellent release. But, again, his skating doesn't match his endless energy." - Steven Ellis

"A personal favorite that will do whatever it takes to in. Has an edge to his game and a doggedness that will help him find a way to play in the NHL. Combined with his grit, he will chip in offensively." - Mark Seidel

"One of my favourites in this OHL draft class. He plays a very mature game. His strong performance at the CHL Top Prospect's Game was a great showcase of that. He understands how to play with other great players and knows how to be effective as a complementary piece. In a lot of ways, Pitre is a bit of a unicorn. Rarely do you see wingers with his tenacity and hockey sense together. Usually, young, physical players like Pitre want to play that strict North/South game and can struggle with their decision making as they approach the game like a windup toy car. However, Pitre already has a clear understanding of how to alter pace and attack East/West. He is poised with the puck and is a great playmaker, something you love to see from a high energy guy. I wish he was just a little bit better as a finisher and that could ultimately restrict his upside, but this is a competitive young man I want on my team." - Brock Otten

Easton Cowan - Wing - London Knights
Total Votes: 4
Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)
"In September, Cowan was my biggest sleeper. Now, he is hardly a sleeper after his performance in the second half. His fantastic work ethic and defensive tendencies make him a unique forward at this spot, but most of all, his vision is elite. He finds plays and passing lanes that no one else on the ice can see. With the help of his linemate and “twin” Denver Barkey, the two are unstoppable." - Joely Stockl

"Really came on in the 2nd half and was a huge beneficiary of Dale Hunter and his Staff. Became a genuine offensive threat while exhibiting a fair amount of grit. Is a better player than the sum of his parts." - Mark Seidel

"Usually it's the WHL kids who have the farm-boy reputation. But in this case, that applies to Easton Cowan of Mount Brydges, Ontario. About 27 minutes West of London, Cowan grew up as a farm kid in small-town Ontario, and as a result, he's affectionately nicknamed as 'Cowboy' by his teammates. Much like his linemate Denver Barkey, he loves to stir up the opposition, and shows no fear whatsoever matching up against older competition on London's first line. After a good regular season, Cowan was even better in the playoffs, battling through a case of strep throat to record 21 points in 20 games, including 5 goals in his last 7 postseason games." - Victor Findlay

Quinton Burns - Defense - Kingston Frontenacs
Total Votes: 3
Highest Ranking: 9th (2x)
"The combination of his physicality and passing vision has made me a huge fan of Burns this season. He is intelligent with the puck and he is not a player that you want to go up against in the corners. I think there will be a lot of teams looking at Burns because of how well he can skate, defend, and move the puck, along with being a big physical presence." - Joely Stockl

"Burns has been a reliable rush defender for the Kingston Frontenacs. He stays well-aligned to the rush and looks to trap them prior to the defensive zone blue line. Once the puck is dumped into his own zone, he's equipped with an excellent power stride that allows him to be quick to loose pucks. His power stride also allows him to pick up speed nicely when moving the puck up the ice. Burns will look to drive the puck as far into the neutral zone / offensive zone that he can and then will look to pass. He doesn't force the puck into heavy traffic and thus will look for an open teammate further up in the zone to pass to. Burns projects to be a bottom four defenseman at the NHL level, but one who can be reliable with and without the puck in transition." - Josh Tessler

Matthew Mania - Defense - Sudbury Wolves
Total Votes: 3
Highest Ranking: 7th (1x)
"He has one of the best names in the draft – and might have some of the best upside, too. The term "raw" has been thrown out a few times on this list, and Mania's game is just that. He can blow your mind with some of his moves, but then he'll get caught trying to be too fancy and make costly mistakes. If he can refine his play, there's some top-four potential here." - Steven Ellis

"Plays with pace and intensity, insanely good at making things happen in offensive transitions, and particularly strong on the puck, Mania is another OHL kid who I didn’t appreciate enough at the start of the year. He made my second round, and I feel like he easily could’ve climbed into the first half of it." - Hadi Kalakeche

"I love Mania's play in the offensive zone. He constantly looks to pinch up and find skating lanes to dangerous areas. Once he gets to the slot, he is eager to use his shot. When it comes to his distribution, it is a bit more D to D along the point. Over time I'd love to see Mania elevate his distribution by identifying passing lanes while pinching up." - Josh Tessler

Cam Allen - Defense - Guelph Storm
Total Votes: 3
Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)
"Allen is a strong two-way defender, using his skating ability to cover space in all three zones. He’s extremely agile and has the quickness to maintain solid gap control while defending the rush. Offensively, while he may not be much of a scoring threat, he’s extremely smart and can use his vision and patience to manipulate the defense and open up passing/shooting lanes. The type of player who does a ton of little things that may go unnoticed, but he consistently has a positive impact when he’s on the ice." - Austin Broad

"In most games I watched of Allen’s, he gave me migraines. I’ve never seen a more trigger-happy defender, who yet refuses to change the angle on his shot. On his day, though, the skillset and intensity are off the charts, the defensive engagement is solid, and the hits are bone-crushing." - Hadi Kalakeche

Matthew Soto - Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
Total Votes: 1
Highest Ranking: 9th (1x)
"Soto is a very active and hard-working forward who displays interesting skill and creates offensive chances at a solid rate. He plays with controlled chaos at times but there have been moments in time in which the controlled part of that goes out the window. Soto is a ball of clay that some team is going to get their hands on and try to mold into the player they want. He has some very good puck skill and maneuverability but he will need to tidy up the loose ends of his game that result in mistakes due to careless play." - Tony Ferrari

Brad Gardiner - Center - Ottawa 67's
Total Votes: 1
Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)
"An advanced defensive forward with lots of intelligence, Gardiner may not have a ton of offense to his game yet, but he'll be trusted by his coaches at the next level right away. If he does add more scoring to his game, he'll be a great two-way threat down the middle." - Ryan Kennedy

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