Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Midseason Top 50 for the 2024 NHL Draft

It's time to update my draft board for the 2024 NHL draft now that we're past the halfway point of the OHL season.

Back in early November (on my preliminary list) I told you that I was having serious difficulty ranking this year's crop outside of Dickinson at #1. I do feel a little better about it all now. I feel pretty good about the players I have ranked in the first three spots. Then I think there's another group at 4 and 5. Then a huge glut of players ranked 6 through about 15 that I truly believe can be ranked in almost any order according to preference. The depth of this group from the OHL is still not amazing. Right now, I'd say the OHL is tracking towards about 30ish players getting selected this year. But we'll see what the second half holds.

A reminder that this list does not include potential re-entry candidates (players already passed over in the draft). Anthony Romani, for example, would easily be on this list and quite high. I do a separate list for them closer to the draft.

Here's my list:

1. Sam Dickinson - Defense - London Knights
Still my number one and I don't see that changing this year. Dickinson has such an easy projection as a pro. While I'm not quite as bullish on his high end upside as some of my scouting peers, I do think that he's a safe bet to be a longtime 20+ minute a night guy who can play in any situation. I've seen names like Noah Dobson and Alex Pietrangelo thrown around a bunch and I just don't think I see that kind of skill and creativity. I think people forget how creative and dominant in transition Pietrangelo was as an OHL defender. Ultimately I see Dickinson more in that Darnell Nurse, Brady Skjej prototype, which holds significant value inside the top 10. Where Dickinson excels for me is in his ability to start the breakout. I love his poise in the face of the forecheck. He trusts his feet and he has great scanning habits. He's just really tough to pin in. The size, mobility, and reach combination will make him a high end defensive player at the NHL level too. Right now he can be too passive at times, especially down low. But as he matures physically, I think he'll eventually become a more than adequate competitor. The point shot is a big offensive weapon for him and his decision making without the puck always stands out as a positive. He picks his spots well to creep up or jump up in the play. Early on in the season, Dickinson was struggling with neutral zone turnovers as he tried to be more of a leader in transition, but he's cut down on those in the last month or so. Although I would argue that he's cut down on those because he has simplified his approach. Whatever NHL team selects Dickinson is going to be very happy adding such a safe and stable presence to their blueline. 

2. Liam Greentree - Wing - Windsor Spitfires
The newly named captain of the Spits as an 18 year old, I don't see myself moving off Greentree at #2. I went very in-depth on Greentree for McKeen's recently, with a ton of video, so check that out if you want more on him (found here). In a nutshell, Greentree reminds me a lot of Jason Robertson at the same age. Big shot. Great puck protection tendencies. High level of skill and creativity. Great awareness and vision for a power winger. But also a need to improve his quickness and a need to improve the consistency of his two-way game. I think a lot of Greentree's skating deficiencies can be fixed with an emphasis on strength training and power skating the way that Robertson's were. I still see a lot of rankings with Greentree outside of the top 20 and I just can't understand it. Players like him; big wingers with skill and offensive upside, do not grow on trees. I really hope Greentree has a fantastic U18's for Canada in April (which seems like an inevitability given Windsor's spot in the standings) and rockets up lists to where he deserves to be placed.

3. Zayne Parekh - Defense - Saginaw Spirit
Oh boy Zayne Parekh. I mean, how can you argue with the way he's producing right now? He could end up having a draft year for the ages. The sad thing is, it wouldn't matter how many points Parekh puts up, I'm going to guess that there are some NHL scouts and executives out there who have already made up their mind about him as a draft prospect. There's going to be a lot of worry that he's more of a Ryan Murphy type who has difficulty defending at the pro level and who has difficulty replicating his offensive success at the NHL level. They're similar kind of skaters too, with elite overall mobility and edgework, but only average quickness for their size. I saw a lot of Ryan Murphy. I think that's where the comparison ends. Parekh is just such a highly intelligent offensive player. He has that "IT" factor. He's so creative; crafty. Rarely do you see him get boxed in...in any zone. He doesn't force plays very often though. While he's certainly a high risk player, more often than not it's high reward. For someone who plays like he does, he does such a good job of limiting his turnovers and his poor pinches. I get the defensive concerns. There are times where he cheats for offense. There are times where he looks disengaged physically. But there are others where he shows a really strong stick and anticipation to shut down plays. He's a unicorn. There haven't been many prospects to come through the CHL like Parekh in recent years and that's why his projection is scary. Saginaw's free flowing system also makes it difficult for scouts to imagine him fitting within their team's system. We heard the same stuff about Pavel Mintyukov in his draft year and I'd say that's working out pretty well for Anaheim right now. Would I draft Parekh in the lottery? Maybe, but there are many other high end defenders this year with more projectable physical tools. But once those players are gone, you just have to bank on Parekh's upside. The reality is that this year's OHL playoffs will make or break Parekh's draft stock...whether that is fair or not. He's going to continue to rip up the regular season. But what will he perform like with all eyes on Saginaw as Memorial Cup hosts? What will he defend like in the playoffs? The pressure on him will be enormous. 

4. Beckett Sennecke - Wing - Oshawa Generals
Another guy that I did I deep dive on for McKeen's recently (found here). I think what people need to realize about Sennecke is that he's experienced a massive growth spurt since entering the OHL. He was drafted by Oshawa at 5'10 and is now listed at 6'3 and still growing (Mom was a Canadian national volleyball player). I think this has had a negative impact on his conditioning and it helps to explain the swings of inconsistency we've seen from him this year. I saw something the other day (apologies to the author whom I can't remember) that stated the majority of great junior players are early maturers, where as the majority of great NHL players are later maturers. NHL teams are on to this and they're targeting athletic guys like Sennecke who are still growing into their frames. As he gets stronger, expect the accurary and release of his heavy shot to improve. As he gets stronger, expect the consistency of his off puck play to improve. As he gets stronger, expect his first step quickness to improve to match his excellent agility, edgework, and top speed. When all that happens, he's going to be better equipped to take advantage of his high IQ and skill. I really like Sennecke as a first round pick because I see a ton of possible outcomes for him and all of them make him a useful NHL player in some capacity. There's upside, but there's also a solid floor that could make him an Alex Killorn type.

5. Jett Luchanko - Center - Guelph Storm
I recently posted the preliminary media/scout poll for 2024 and I was actually quite shocked to see how many of my contemporaries had Luchanko outside of the top ten. This tells me that he's being massively undervalued in the amateur scouting community right now. He's transformed himself from an excellent high energy checker as a rookie to a dynamic playmaker and offensive catalyst as a sophomore. Matt Poitras making the NHL this year had to have been such a blow to the psyche of Guelph players to start the year, but Luchanko was like "hold on, I got you." I love to see that from a younger player, stepping up to put a team on his back. Luchanko's got the speed, the tenacity, the skill, and the IQ to be a top six center at the NHL level. He's also a committed two-way player and has kept up the strong off puck play that he exhibited last year, despite being counted upon to be an offensive play driver. Really the only two things missing from Luchanko's game is a high end shot (it's a weakness) and strength to win battles consistently. He can be easily pushed off the puck/knocked off stride. But what I love is that it doesn't deter him from trying to work between the dots. He's like Thomas the Tank Engine. Once the strength and conditioning improves, he's going to be even more dangerous because we'll see him playing through contact. 

6. Lukas Fischer - Defense - Sarnia Sting
This is all about projection and upside. Right now, there's no question that Fischer is NOT the 6th best player from Ontario in the draft. He might not even be in the top 20 of that list. But, I'm still of the belief that Fischer can be one of the best defenders from this class when all is said and done. The physical tools are just so projectable. You've got a 6'3, 170lbs defender (and still growing since brother and Dad are much larger) who skates really well and flashes upside at both ends. What if Fischer ends up being 6'4, 220lbs with his mobility? That's a potentially elite shutdown defender at the next level. The thing holding him back right now in the OHL is a lack of aggressiveness. He's just too passive currently. He gives up space too easily to attacking forwards. With his reach and mobility, he should be bringing the fight to attackers by stepping up earlier, or by closing off lanes with his body. But instead, he gets beat off the rush, especially in transition. I think it's a mindset that will be fixed with more experience and added strength. Because there are times where that isn't the case and it's damn impressive. There are times where he dominates down low. Playing on a rebuilding Sarnia team means that his flaws are going to be magnified without being surrounded by other high end, experienced players. Offensively, I do see upside. Not Norris winning upside. But he's skilled enough to quarterback a powerplay at this level and he can start the breakout effectively and be a transition leader. Even then, with his pedigree, I'm just really excited to see how the perception of his ceiling shifts as he fills out. Even if it's just one event, I'm really curious to see how Fischer plays in this year's Top Prospect's Game.

7. Henry Mews - Defense - Ottawa 67's
Honestly, I still don't know what to make of Mews and I've talked to several others who are in the same boat (this was evident in my aforementioned media/scout poll). The offensive production has been trending way up. I do think he has offensive upside because of his high end skating ability and penchant for being a difference maker in transition. Yet, I'm just not sure how everything comes together as a pro. The consistency of his decision making scares me. On one shift, he'll make a really intelligent read with the puck to help set up a scoring chance. On another shift, he'll make a poor one that leads to a turnover. The same can be said of his defensive game. On one shift, he'll make a great defensive play in transition, stepping up aggressively to close a gap, or a great read with his stick to force a turnover. On another, he'll completely blow a defensive assignment leading to a goal. The thing is, I know that consistency has kind of been the issue for Mews dating back to his U16 year. I wish there was more growth there. If all these kinks get ironed out, Mews is a potential difference maker in the NHL. If they don't, he likely ends up being more of a tweener. For me, I think his performance in this year's OHL playoffs are going to be critical for my final opinion. Ottawa is going to need him to come up big, even with the addition of Samuel Mayer. 

8. Carter George - Goaltender - Owen Sound Attack
Sometimes stats do tell the story. Carter George - .910%. Corbin Votary - .859%. Now Votary hasn't been great this year, but it also tells you how many prime scoring opportunities the Attack defense is giving up this year. And how often George is making great saves to keep his team in games. I just love George's vision and play reading ability. He's already very technically sound. He fights for sight lines. He controls his rebounds to limit second chance opportunities. He's aggressive in challenging shooters to make his 6'1 frame seem bigger. The mental makeup and compete are really solid. Are NHL teams going to wish George was a little quicker in the crease given his lack of size? Absolutely. But, that can be improved. If it doesn't, it probably limits George's upside and prevents him from being an NHL starter. But in a year that looks extremely weak for goaltenders in the draft, George is unquestionably my top netminder (overall) right now. It looks like NHL Central Scouting agrees with me too.

9. Luke Misa - Center/Wing - Mississauga Steelheads
I get the reservations from some in the scouting community regarding Misa. Conversely, I get those who really, really like him. That's sort of a runaround way of saying that I fall somewhere in the middle. I love the speed. Misa is one of the quickest players in the OHL. He's truly dynamic. What I like about his game this year is that he's become less reliant on it to create offense. He's moving better without the puck, has become more inside focused, and has improved his shot to become more of a dual threat. Of course, Misa is also a competitive forechecker and someone who projects to be a high quality penalty killer at the next level. At times this year, I've actually liked him better on the wing and that could ultimately be where he ends up as a pro, to simplify his game and take advantage of his quickness. I say all this, yet I just have reservations about his overall skill level/creativity and how his offensive game transitions to the NHL level. I've seen Mississauga the most of any team this year. Porter Martone (eligible next year) routinely pops off and passes the eye test as a play driver. Misa I don't think has the same ability to problem solve his way out of traffic when his speed advantage is neutralized. Yet, I still have him 9th because I like his chances of being a longtime NHL pro. At the very least, I think Misa can have a similar career to the one Michael McLeod is having in Jersey. And at the very best, he's probably a solid middle six option like an Andreas Athanasiou.

10. Gabriel Frasca - Center/Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
An offseason shoulder injury forced Frasca to the sidelines to start the year, but he's been quite solid since returning. The numbers aren't going to pop off the page at you. They're lower than some of the other Kingston draft prospects like Thibodeau and Battaglia. Yet, I really like what I've seen from Frasca this year. I think the attention to detail in his game gives him a really solid projection as a pro. Frasca is a highly intelligent player who can be highly effective in all three zones. The skating is solid (easily the best of the Frasca brothers). His bread and butter moving forward might actually be his shot. I think he has one of the best shots in this Ontario draft class. His scoring upside is excellent. Is his game more tailored for the wing where he can be a complementary piece? I think that remains to be seen. I'd like to see him drive the play more with the puck on his stick, especially when he's at center and leading the charge in transition. I'm always inclined to bank on high IQ players and Frasca is no different. No offense meant to Kingston, who want to make a nice run in this year's playoffs, but I'd love to see Frasca at the U18's in April.

11. Sam O'Reilly - Center/Wing - London Knights
I don't think anyone expected O'Reilly to be the top contender for the Emms Family Award as the OHL's rookie of the year this season. He's been playing some tremendous hockey for London the last few months as he has worked himself up the lineup. I really, really like O'Reilly. He's exactly my type of player. He works his butt off without the puck. He brings a consistent physical element. He shoots the puck well. He drives the net. He has enough skill and protects the puck well enough to be a really solid complementary piece at the NHL level. I really wanted to put him higher and there's a chance that I do by the draft, but I'm just a bit hesitant right now because I don't love his skating. I've seen some praising his speed on social media, and I just don't see that. I think his stride is clunky and it lacks power, preventing him from getting clear separation. Luckily, O"Reilly is a smart player and his game is predicated on quick touches in the offensive zone, so it doesn't hurt him right now. But I can find a ton of clips where he just isn't able to evade pressure as a transporter. Once he gets going, he can be tough to stop moving North/South. He'll beat defenders off the rush. But, there's not a lot of variability in those attacks currently. He'll try to switch into a mohawk-esque stride at times to help him protect the puck, often receiving passes at 10-2, but he struggles to explode coming out of those pivots. He's very much in that second round range for me and I'd go to bat for him at the scouting table, but I do have some concerns about his skating ability limiting his upside.

12. Cole Beaudoin - Center/Wing - Barrie Colt
I thought that it was fitting to have O'Reilly and Beaudoin back to back given some skating issues. I think O'Reilly is unquestionably a better mover overall so I give him a slight nod right now, but Beaudoin is a similar kind of player; a guy who projects as a solid pro because he plays a mature game that should translate well. Beaudoin is already a committed defensive player and excellent penalty killer. Not only does he have a great stick, but he's strong on and off the puck and is consistently engaged physically. I'm not going to lie, after his terrific Hlinka/Gretzky, I had higher expectations for him offensively this year. Overall Barrie has been a major disappointment and part of the reason for that (outside of injuries) has been the inconsistent play of their younger players. My live viewings of Beaudoin haven't been terrific this year, as he's been fairly invisible in them. So even if I like him, that does make it tough for me to rank him highly. The reality is that even if the skating has improved already, it still has a ways to go. Simply put, he works best as a complementary piece right now when he's not responsible for being the primary play driver...which is what we saw at the Hlinka/Gretzky too. 

13. Ryerson Leenders - Goaltender - Mississauga Steelheads
Leenders is such an interesting foil compared to Carter George. Two somewhat undersized netminders by today's standards, yet they play such different styles. Leenders is more of a "stopper." By that I mean he relies solely on his athleticism to make saves. And he does just that. He's been one of the better netminders in the OHL this year for a surprising Mississauga team. He routinely makes highlight reel saves look easy with how quickly he covers his posts and with how well he tracks the play at times. But unlike George, the technical components of Leenders' game remain much more unrefined. His rebound control, in particular, can be a real problem. He can struggle to catch pucks cleanly, trap pucks to his chest, or control his pads, kicking out second chance opportunities. Additionally, Leenders can be prone to giving up bad goals by failing to find pucks through traffic. He needs to battle for sight lines and play more aggressively in his crease, especially given his average size. I get why some of my scouting peers prefer Leenders because of his athleticism and upside. But I prefer George. Even still, Leenders is my second ranked goaltender for the entire draft and someone I wouldn't hesitate to draft come June. There is so much to work with.

14. Marek Vanacker - Wing - Brantford Bulldogs
Easily one of the most improved 2006 born players in the OHL this year. He's gone from being a good skater as an OHL rookie (his skating was certainly one of the reasons why Brantford drafted him in the first round), to an elite one as a sophomore. Without question, Vanacker is one of the quicker players in the OHL. I really like his odds of developing into a high end middle six option for an NHL team down the line. He has good habits away from the puck and projects as a strong two-way player at the pro level. He plays a solid North/South game, using his speed to attack the net, with and without the puck. He has a heavy wrist shot and could easily be a strong complementary scorer at the next level. I think of some other players who have had similar profiles from the OHL in recent years (like Alex Formenton, Liam Foudy, etc) and I'd say Vanacker has been more consistently dangerous in his draft year than they were. I could easily see NHL teams valuing Vanacker more than a guy like Cole Beaudoin because the skating is better. I think what I'm looking for the rest of the way is more proof that Vanacker has the skill, playmaking ability, and creativity to play higher up a lineup down the line.

15. Ben Danford - Defense - Oshawa Generals
Danford is just a really solid, potential stay at home defender for the NHL level. I kind of wish the physical tools were just a bit better (he's not a high end skater, nor does he have elite reach), but the defensive mind and compete level are just really solid. Danford is already one of the better shot blockers in the OHL because of how well he reads the play. His gap control is excellent and he has a really active stick in both the neutral zone and defensive zone. He competes below the goal line and takes away space, although I wouldn't classify him as an overtly physical player. Don't confuse him with a throwback stay at home defender like a Derian Hatcher. I think what I like most about Danford is the growth in his play with the puck this year. That's never going to be his role in the NHL, but he's cleaned up some of the turnovers that plagued his game last year and that were visible at the Hlinka/Gretzky Cup. He's worked to simplify his approach by improving his scanning habits and is getting the puck off his stick quicker in the defensive end. Additionally, we're actually seeing him jump up in the play and activate offensively. The shot is designed to strictly generate second chances and is probably an after thought at the pro level, but he holds the blueline well and has enough skill to navigate the neutral zone to help gain the zone. Additionally, he's a right shot guy, which we all know adds value. I think there is a real shot that he could be an Erik Cernak kind of guy at the next level.

16. Jakub Fibigr - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads
Honestly, part of me wanted to rank Fibigr higher. I've been so impressed by the first year defender from Czechia. He's one of the best skating defenders in this class and he does a great job of using his skating ability to bring value at both ends. He's a very active defender who loves to be aggressive by trying to be disruptive in the neutral zone and he will look to be physical high in the defensive zone to help disrupt clean zone entries. Occasionally this does see him get burned, but his quickness often helps him recover quickly. Offensively, he's aggressive in leading the charge out of the defensive zone and will look to push deep into the offensive zone after successfully gaining the line. It's not uncommon to see Fibigr playing below the opposing goal line. He also does a good job of running the powerplay, using his lateral quickness and edges to beat pressure to work inside the dots and collapse the box. His shot is an OK weapon, but he could stand to do a better job of getting pucks on net, especially with his ability to walk the line and be evasive. I guess the concern I have is projecting Fibigr to the NHL level. I'm not really sure what he is. His decision making at both ends is so raw. I'm also not sure that he's skilled enough or creative enough to be a true offensive catalyst at the next level. His skating advantage won't be as much of a weapon once he exits the junior level and that's his biggest weapon right now. I like many components of his game, but I wonder how it all comes together. Still a 75-100 guy for me though. 

17. Luca Testa - Wing/Center - Brantford Bulldogs
Simply put...Testa just has to stay healthy. Started the year late due to injury, then he missed another month and a half before the holidays. This has had a negative impact on his development. He was playing some phenomenal hockey in November before the second injury and I don't think he's been quite as effective since returning at the beginning of the month. But, I really like the offensive upside. I think he's one of the most naturally skilled/gifted forwards in this crop. Every aspect of his offensive game is above average. He skates well. He handles well. He shoots the puck well. He has good offensive instincts and can drive play. I really like shift from being perimeter focused as a rookie (and even as a U16 player, to an extent) to trying to play between the dots as a sophomore. He's using his speed to be a high energy player off the puck and he's trying to earn touches. Much like Jett Luchanko, it's about adding that strength to be more consistent. Testa can be pushed off the puck and since returning from injury, I've noticed more offensive turnovers from him. I think he's pressing a bit. But I just really appreciate the adaptations that he's made this year to help him become a better OHL player and pro prospect. 

18. Jacob Battaglia - Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
I got a ton of questions about Battaglia after the release of the initial media/scout poll and the fact that Battaglia didn't receive a single vote. I think that's an extremely valid point considering how good Battaglia has been this year. Why isn't he getting more attention? The skating is probably the main reason. There is a definitive need to improve his quickness. I think there's a desire to see his physical play become a little more consistent too. While a big body, I'm not sure that I'd classify Battaglia as a power forward. All that said, I have been consistently impressed with Battaglia's play in the offensive zone this year. I think that he's a real high IQ guy. Equal parts goal scorer and playmaker, it's rare to see Battaglia turn the puck over. He's poised and patient, willing to use his size to protect the puck along the wall and work the cycle. Give him room and he could burn you. The skill is there and he consistently finds those soft spots in coverage, especially in that home plate area. 15 years ago, Battaglia would have been a first round pick IMO. Now, he's more of a gamble outside of the first two rounds, in hopes the athletic profile improves. Can an Andrew Brunette type find success in the NHL these days? 

19. Luca Marrelli - Defense - Oshawa Generals
I'm having a bit of a tough time with Marrelli this year. I believe a lot of others are too, based on some conversations that I've had. Some really like him, others are a bit hesitant. That hesitation comes from projecting him to the NHL level. He has a similar profile to the Stuart Percy, Roland McKeown types that have had a bit of a rough time transitioning to the NHL. Yet with a solid frame, good mobility, and good offensive instincts/vision...all from the right side...he's rightfully drawing significant draft attention. Efficiency is the name of the game here. I really like how Marrelli holds the offensive blueline and the poise he shows inside the offensive end. He's definitely a high IQ guy with the puck on his stick and he's a quick thinker who handles pressure well. The same could be said when he has the puck on his stick in the defensive zone. It's all about making quick plays to help start the breakout. No nonsense. Defensively, he's not as effective as his teammate Ben Danford, but he's more than adequate at the junior level. Again, it's those good instincts that help him get his stick in passing lanes and anticipate play well. As mentioned, I guess I just wonder what the projection is? I don't really see him as a powerplay quarterback at the NHL level. I don't really see him as a high end defensive guy either. With a late birthday, there's going to be a little less room to grow too. It's a little more what you see is what you get. You draft him inside the top 100 (which I would still do) and you hope the athletic tools improve a little more to make him just that little more dynamic.

20. Kieron Walton - Wing - Sudbury Wolves
The big man has had quite the breakout for Sudbury this year as a secondary scoring option behind that terrific first unit. When Walton was drafted into the OHL, the consensus was that things would go one of two ways, either Walton would fail to become an OHL player because of major consistency issues or he would become an OHL star. He was the biggest boom/bust pick of that draft and for that reason he fell out of the first round. Well he's certainly proving a lot of doubters wrong at this point. NHL scouts are going to be rightfully interested in Walton's size/skill package. At 6'6, Walton's high end skill makes him a bit of a unicorn. He's such a dangerous North/South attacker because he's actually a good linear skater for someone his size. He can beat defenders wide with speed, but can also play through them and keep the puck in his hip pocket to drive the net. I wouldn't classify his shot as elite, but he's got really good hands in tight and has that ability to work inside checks to get pucks on net. The off puck play remains a big work in progress. The overall skating profile needs to improve. His East/West movement, edgework, agility, balance...all need to improve to truly unlock his upside. However, the reward far outweighs the risk here if you can get Walton in this range. Higher? I think I just have other preferences at this point in the season. 

21. Nathan Villeneuve - Center - Sudbury Wolves
Villeneuve has had to take a bit of a backseat this year, given the strength and the depth of the Wolves' forward group. The former third overall pick has struggled a bit with consistency, but that's to be expected when your ice time fluctuates. As such, I've had a hard time determining my opinion on Villeneuve's high end upside. I love the physicality and the potential to develop into a very good two-way center. He's one of those guys old school scouts would say, "plays the right way." Yet, I think Villeneuve is often most noticeable when he is supporting the offense rather than leading it. He gets himself to the net, he wins those board battles, and he finishes well in tight. I think the skating has improved a lot this year to the point where his speed is a strength. I'd probably say the overall skill level/package is only average. However, he is one of the few guys on this list that I do expect to stick at center as a pro and that will give him higher value to NHL scouts (thus him being ranked higher on lists like NHL Central Scouting). I plan to really get a better look and read on Villeneuve in the second half. Is he Luke Glendening? Erik Haula? JG Pageau?

22. Kevin He - Wing - Niagara IceDogs
Playing on the IceDogs can't be easy. Last place in the entire OHL (as of writing this) and roster turnover has been a staple of the current management group. Yet, I do like the collection of young talent that they have assembled. He is certainly in that group. He's undergone a real interesting transformation this year. He's become quite the pest. I've seen a lot mentioned about He's scoring upside and his speed, but rarely do you hear about his physicality. It's become a huge part of his game. He's like a pitbull in the offensive zone. I'd actually probably consider him one of the most physical forecheckers in the entire OHL. Watching him this year has kind of invoked memories of watching Stefan Legein back in the day with Niagara. Pairing with those pest like tendencies is He's goal scoring ability. He can really fire it. I guess the concern that I have revolves around his vision and playmaking ability. It's by far the most inconsistent component of his game. It brings to light concerns over just how well he sees the ice as he skates himself into trouble or settles for lower percentage shots. I do believe some of that can be attributed to playing in Niagara and having the desire to do things yourself. But, the concerns remain.

23. Christopher Thibodeau - Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
Thibodeau's skating and the energy he brings without the puck are the first two areas that you're bound to notice about his game. He plays at a lightning quick pace and routinely gains the offensive blueline for Kingston to help them establish zone time. I think the shot is a potential weapon for him too, especially after he bulks up a bit and is able to fight through traffic more consistently to get looks from the slot. His release is really quick. Even though he's extremely slight, he is actually fairly slippery in the offensive zone thanks to his skating ability; consistently darting in and out of traffic, altering his speed to evade pressure. The hands and skill are solid too. Consistency has ultimately been an issue this year. Because of his lack of size, he goes through stretches where he is kept to the outside. Given that he's a late born 2005, I just wish the production was a bit better. He's taken great steps forward this year, but when you compare his progress with a guy like Luke Misa, it becomes less impressive. I do like Thibodeau as a mid round gamble though. I think that there's upside here as a middle six option.

24. Anthony Cristoforo - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
It's been quite the fall for Cristoforo, a player who started the season with first round consideration. Seems like the OHL has a defender every year now who fits that description (Cam Allen and Spencer Sova, for example). I do believe that a lot of this is circumstantial. The Spitfires have been a mess defensively this year and it has not helped Cristoforo stand out in a positive way. He's struggled in his own end too and it's been magnified because of the team's struggles overall. I still believe that Cristoforo is a highly intelligent playmaker from the backend. The vision, especially once inside the offensive zone, is top notch. But, the physical tools just haven't improved this year. We haven't seen that jump in skating and physicality that you typically see from sophomore defenders in the CHL. Not calling Cristoforo a poor skater by any means, but when you compare him to last year, it's clear that he hasn't become more explosive to help him be a more consistent difference maker. And the lack of physicality is evident. He's just not winning enough battles down low or near the crease. Ultimately, the U18's are going to be massive for Cristoforo's draft stock. Canada is likely to be missing many of the top defenders in this age group due to deeper runs in the playoffs and that opens the door for Cristoforo to play a much larger role than he did at the Hlinka/Gretzky. I still have belief in him, but I am worried that his skill set screams tweener more than longtime NHL defender, thus the mid round ranking. 

25. Riley Patterson - Center - Barrie Colts
Patterson has recovered well from a slow start. He's been a point per game guy since the holiday break. It's clear that he's starting to adjust finally. Patterson has a well rounded skill set. He's a good skater. He's a competent three zone player who should become a quality two-way guy as he gains strength. He can create in transition with his speed and skill. He finds soft spots in coverage in the offensive zone and shows good vision down low. He's just a well rounded player. Therein lies a bit of the issue. What is Patterson at the next level? I still see him as a player trying to find an identity at this level. Consistency has been an issue, much like the rest of Barrie. He's had problems with offensive zone turnovers as he can get easily pushed off the puck and skates himself into trouble. Kind of like Nathan Villenueve, I think he's been at his best as a support guy, rather than a play driver. That's not necessarily what you like to see from your center. But given that it's his first year in the OHL, I'd have no trouble fighting from him at the table in the mid rounds. There are a lot of different pathways for him to take as he matures physically.

26. Parker Von Richter - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads
I continue to be a big fan of Von Richter's. The offensive game hasn't developed the way that I had hoped it would. I think the skating still needs to be upgraded too. Yet, I'm always impressed by him defensively. I think he's got a great mind for the game in the defensive end. He covers the net front and the slot well, rarely losing a battle for position and consistently getting his stick in passing lanes. He's a physical player who uses his size/strength as leverage to win board battles, suffocating his opponents. NHL scouts are going to wish he were a bit bigger than 6'1, but his right shot gives him value. While I wouldn't rank him nearly as high as I had him early in the year or offseason, I still would look at him late because I think there could be a place in the league for PVR despite some current limitations. I love the young make-up of this Mississauga team and he'll be right there growing with them all. Maybe he tops out as a Zach Bell type and never progresses further. But, maybe just maybe he ends up a Marc Methot type too. In the later rounds, as much as upside is intriguing, so is finding guys who can be possible role players in the future. 

27. Ethan Procyszyn - Center - North Bay Battalion
A lock to be drafted by an NHL team this year because of how he projects as a bottom six, PK anchor down the middle. Procyszyn is a 6'3 center who skates well, has good two-way instincts, is strong without the puck, and who does have some upside as a shoot first pivot because of a heavy shot. The NHL upside is likely fairly limited. But he should develop into a solid junior scorer at some point too, a prerequisite to being even a bottom six NHL contributor. At the very least he could be a solid depth option like Mackenzie Entwistle has turned into in Chicago. At best, maybe he can be a Nick Bjugstad type. There's a solid pro projection here. 

28. AJ Spellacy - Wing/Center - Windsor Spitfires
I was a Spellacy truther to start the year, but he had such a rough start to the year that I just had to move him down my rankings. My last few viewings of Windsor he's been much better and is finally starting to look comfortable again following the knee injury he rehabbed late last year and into the offseason. I think at this point, it's fairly obvious that his offensive upside is fairly limited. He's had some trouble finishing off plays (his shot needs to improve a lot) and the hands are not a huge strong suit at this point in time. He's at his best when he keeps things simple in a physical, North/South game. But I think that he can eventually turn himself into a really solid three zone guy who brings versatility with his power game. Maybe he's eventually a longtime pro like an Austin Watson? I just like the idea of using later round picks on guys like Spellacy who have intriguing athletic tools and who have solid floors.

29. Jack Van Volsen - Center - Mississauga Steelheads
Van Volsen, previously thought to be one of the most talented forwards in this age group, just hasn't developed according to plan at this point. He's strictly a complementary guy currently; he does see the ice well and he does have the skill to make plays under pressure. But the physical tools just need to improve greatly for him to be a true difference maker. The skating hasn't improved since his U16 days and it prevents him from being a dynamic play creator. The strength and desire to physically engage needs to improve. Simply put...on most nights on this very strong, young Mississauga team...he's just there. The problem is that he still has the potential to be so much more than that. At this point, I'm not sure he gets drafted. He probably deserves to be ranked lower than this. However, I also think that at this point of the rankings, he's the one guy who does have that upside to be a huge swing for the fences if he figures things out. 

30. Frankie Marrelli - Defense - Ottawa 67's
I actually do really like Marrelli. He's a tough as nails defensively oriented defender. Really like how he defends pace, even without elite reach and mobility. He just anticipates the play so well and he's aggressive in his approach to take away space early. He has that penchant for the big hit, but times his physicality well. Offensively, Marrelli does have some upside I think, at least at the junior level. He can make a clean exit pass and he looks comfortable at the point in the offensive zone. His shot shows potential once he gains more confidence in it. I guess the concern I have is how few guys Marrelli's size make it as "stay at home" types in the NHL. It's just such a rarity. If he were an elite skater, I'd like his odds better. As is, I'd say that he's probably a long shot to be drafted at this point. However, I'd advocate for him late because I do think that he has some real standout qualities in his own end.

31. Lucas Ellinas - Wing/Center - Kitchener Rangers
Physical, two-way forward who projects as a center down the line (IMO) despite the fact that he's mostly played on the wing this year due to Kitchener's depth. The Rangers have used him a lot in key defensive situations despite his age. He's not as good of an athlete as Ethan Procysyzn, but he projects similarly. I don't see significant upside as a pro, but he could end up being a solid role player down the line.

32. Kaden Pitre - Center - Flint Firebirds
Similar player to his brother Coulson, only he's a natural pivot. He's also just not quite as skilled or as physically dominant. When you take those things away, but add in the "average skating" tag, you do have a player who can be a bit difficult to project as a pro. Kaden is pretty solid across the board, but without any above average qualities, what kind of role does he play at the next level? I think that's why we've seen him so far down many draft rankings (like NHL Central Scouting) despite solid production for a rebuilding Flint team. All that said, he's another guy that I'd advocate for in the later rounds. When his physical maturation is finished, I'd be curious to see if a few of those qualities elevate to above average, making him a high energy bottom six option.

33. Nathan Aspinall - Wing - Flint Firebirds
Massive winger (6'7) who looks a bit like a tree out there. There's a real need to bulk up. When that happens, I'm very curious to see where his game ends up. I don't think he'll ever be the kind of guy who uses his size consistently; he's not a true power forward. But he does have a heavy shot and he can finish in tight. Can the skating improve as he improves his conditioning? A true North/South attacker, teams will be very intrigued by Aspinall's size and scoring combination.

34. Landon Miller - Goaltender - Soo Greyhounds
Big netminder who has been making the most of limited appearances as a back-up this year. He's a great athlete, but as you might expect, consistency has been an issue. Rebound control has been a big culprit of that. Ditto for his positioning and angles. But he's a solid stopper with upside. I think he's an NHL pick, especially if he keeps playing well down the stretch.

35. Bode Stewart - Wing - Barrie Colts
Stewart has the pro size and off puck tendencies to be a solid two-way player. He's done a good job killing penalties for Barrie this year and I'm always impressed by his effort at both ends. I think he does have some skill to play a North/South, net driving game. Firstly, he needs to stay healthy. Injuries have derailed his development a bit this year. Secondly, his skating needs to improve. Once he fills out, he'll be a very solid OHL player IMO, it's just a matter of whether he's more than that.

36. Charlie Hilton - Wing - Ottawa 67's
Hilton has been in and out of the lineup in Ottawa. He hasn't always been very impactful. Pucks have had a tendency to die on his stick, especially in transition. Yet, I find myself so intrigued by the bits and pieces of strong play that he does show. He's got great size, plays a physical game and actually isn't a terrible skater. There's upside here. Big guys can take longer, especially from a coordination perspective. On effectiveness alone this year, he's not in the top 50. But I just think that there might be something there in the long run.

37. Charlie Paquette - Wing - Guelph Storm
After a really strong start to the season, Paquette's offensive game has dropped off a cliff in recent months. He just hasn't been as noticeable. And as a late born 2005, that's probably not going to cut it for NHL scouts. I think he still has great upside as an OHL scorer because of the frame, physical approach, and heavy shot, but he's just not getting to those soft spots consistently enough. His confidence with the puck seems to have fallen off too. 

38. Cole Davis - Wing - Windsor Spitfires
Davis is a true high energy guy. He's all over the ice and is great in puck pursuit. He has been a real nice surprise for Windsor this year in what has been a really disappointing season. Put him beside high skill guys and he's going to standout with how he does the dirty work on his line and works to earn touches. But he's not huge and he's not exceptionally quick (it may seem that way because he never stops moving his feet, but he's not really a speedster). He's also not a high skill guy. I have Davis ranked here out of respect for how he always catches your eye, but in reality, he's probably just a really solid OHL guy and not more. The second coming of Cory Tanaka.

39. Mason Zebeski - Wing - Mississauga Steelheads
A player with a real strong sense of identity. You'd probably expect that given his late 2005 birthday. He knows how to leverage his size/strength advantage to get to the net and to win battles for the puck. He can finish off plays in tight with good enough hands. Skating isn't a weakness either. I know NHL Central Scouting has him ranked much higher, but I'm just not sure I see NHL upside. Really like the player as an OHL player, especially alongside this great, young Steelheads group. He's the perfect complement to guys like Misa, Martone, etc. But I'm not sure I see more.

40. Owen Protz - Defense - Brantford Bulldogs
Really have my eye on Protz in Brantford. He caught my eye a lot in Sudbury with limited ice time, but now he's getting nearly 20 minutes a game in Brantford. I like the size, mobility, and physicality. Now it's time to see what the ceiling is as an offensive player. With continued strong play for the Bulldogs, he'll be much higher on my final list. For now, this is a fairly temperate ranking.  

41. Jack Brauti - Defense - Barrie Colts
A real unsung hero for Barrie this year; one of the few pleasant surprises in what has been a disappointing year. The trade of Connor Punnett has opened up space and more ice time for Brauti. He's been a real steady defensive presence. I'd actually classify him as the most physical defender available from the OHL this year. He blocks shots. He clears the crease. Now it's time to see if he can handle more responsibility with the puck. Putting he and Protz beside each other made sense.

42. Jakub Chromiak - Defense - Kingston Frontenacs
The trade to Kingston hasn't really done much for Chromiak's sinking draft stock. Once thought of as a highly promising prospect, Chromiak just hasn't developed the way many thought he would. I think the best term to describe him would be vanilla. He's a good skater. He's a good puck mover. But he's not innately skilled enough to be a true difference maker offensively or a high end powerplay QB. Additionally, he has struggled defensively since coming to the OHL. The physical engagement level isn't high enough. I say this with disappointment too, as someone who liked his brother. 

43. Alex Kostov - Wing - Flint Firebirds
Another guy I'm watching closely with a new team. A big winger, Kostov had moments with the Greyhounds. I think there's still good offensive upside as a scorer. But he needs to add strength and find a way to the middle of the ice more consistently. Let's see what he does in Flint.

44. Jared Woolley - Defense - London Knights
Firstly, Jared is not the son of former NHL defender Jason Woolley. But he is a potential draft pick because of his size and the faith NHL teams have in the London development model. At 6'4 and well over 200lbs, Woolley has stood out at times as a stay at home type. Mobility and puck skill need to improve, but I'm sure he'll have his fans. After playing much of the year in the GOJHL, I want to see more from him down the stretch.

45. Sam McCue - Wing - Owen Sound Attack
Basically Mason Zebeski. Sam is a late born 2005 who understands how to be a strong support player with his size and ability to work between the dots. He competes hard away from the puck and is a typical Owen Sound type of player. I think Mason's offensive ceiling is just a tad higher, but he could draw NHL interest all the same.

46. Karsen Chartier - Goaltender - Sarnia Sting
It can't be easy to be a goaltender in your draft year on a rebuilding team like Sarnia. Really magnifies your flaws as you face high end scoring chances by the dozen. But Chartier has had some moments of real brilliance this year. Big kid. Good athlete. Shows potential as a play tracker. He's someone to watch in the future even if he doesn't get drafted this year because of consistency and technical issues.

47. Matthew Virgillio - Defense - Soo Greyhounds
Once upon a time ago, Virgillio was considered one of the best defenders in this age group. But his development in Sault Ste. Marie hasn't really gone according to plan. I do think some of that is circumstantial. The Hounds brought in Karki this year and he's essentially stolen the role I thought Virgillio would play this year. With less ice time, his confidence with the puck seems low. Every once in a while you can see the offensive upside he possesses because of his skating ability and creativity. But, at this point he's just not a true draft prospect. Deserves to be ranked IMO, but not highly. Worth noting that the Soo has had several defenders develop into NHL players later in their OHL careers.

48. Josef Eichler - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
Physical, stay at home type who has been eating minutes for the Spits this year as a first year Import. Average size. Average mobility. Below average puck skill. I've seen him ranked highly on some lists...like NHL Central Scouting, but I have many other preferences.  

49. Caden Kelly - Wing - Ottawa 67's
I really thought Kelly would be more of an impact player this year for the 67's. Liked him a lot as a high energy guy as a rookie. This year, he just hasn't been able to earn more ice time and I'd argue that his off puck play and high energy approach hasn't been as consistent this year. A player to watch in the future still.

50. Carson Woodall - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
The offensive production at the beginning of the year has proven to be unsustainable. But the Spitfires have definitely found someone who can be a longtime contributor to their roster through this rebuild. Woodall is just a really smart defender. The athletic tools aren't great (size, mobility, skill), so I'm not sure I see an NHL draft selection in his future, but he's going to be a solid four year OHL guy IMO.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Preliminary Media/Scout Poll for 2024

Time for the first media/scout poll for the 2024 NHL Draft!

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

Views on the quality of this OHL crop vary depending on who you ask. I’ve heard everything from, “this is the worst group from the OHL that I can remember,” to, “it’s on the average side of things.” Where do I stand? I don’t think it’s a strong crop, but I also wouldn’t call it among the worst I’ve seen. Overall, I’m not particularly enamored with this draft class outside of Celebrini, and I think the OHL simply mimics this. But we’re still only half way through the draft season, so let’s see how things finish out.

As always, this list involves contributions from a rather colourful cast of characters. Contributing their rankings and thoughts to this preliminary list for 2024 were:

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_)

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

Joely Stockl – OHL Content for The Hockey News (@joelystockl04)

Josh Bell - Head of Video Scouting for McKeen's Hockey (@JoshuaBell31)

Chase Rochon - OHL Regional Scout for McKeen's Hockey (@chaserochon18)

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten)


Here's the List:

1. Sam Dickinson - Defense - London Knights
Highest Ranking: 1st (12x)
Lowest Ranking: -
Total Votes: 12 
“You just don't find many defenders like Dickinson anymore. He's big, physical and defensively advanced for his age, plus he has some offense to go with it as well. London's development program for him turned out to be perfect and his NHL impact is easy to project. Can't see him needing too much more time to get there, either.” - Ryan Kennedy

“London Knights’ defender Sam Dickinson might just be the top defender available in this draft class. Compared to the other defenders in the OHL (and the first round of the NHL Draft altogether), he’s arguably the best in his own end. His processing under pressure stands out, often making the best decision even when forced to make a choice. He can make some mistakes, but his processing and intelligence are a tier above the rest. His offensive ceiling likely isn’t as high as others available, but his overall impact is very intriguing.” - Josh Bell

“He's a very powerful skater but very elusive, too. He can beat opponents in a lot of ways and he recognizes opportunities. He's going to be a big producer from the back end. It's impressive that he's playing top-pair minutes, top power play on a team that's pretty loaded with drafted players. The other thing is he's really improved his D-zone exits and when that passing opportunity is there, he does it and he does it on the backhand as good as anyone.” - Mike Morreale

“Dickinson is a do-it-all defenseman who hasn’t quite figured out exactly what it is that he wants to be elite at as of yet. In one game, he’s an offensive transition machine, skating the puck up ice and creating off the rush. In another game, he’s reserved and plays steady and stable defense, forcing play to the outside and killing cycles along the wall. In his next game, he will be a creative offensive activator who can make some really impressive things happen in the offensive zone. The issue is that he hasn’t been able to put everything together at once. The potential is there but he needs to bring everything together.” - Tony Ferrari

“Sam Dickinson is not just the top defender coming out of the OHL, but he’s my top defender overall in this draft class that can thrive at the next level. He already has the mobility and smooth skating stride for his size to be a factor in transition and lead an attack. He excels at scanning and identifying lanes to carry the play forward or even make crisp, strong and clean breakout passes. He has a booming one-timer from the point and does a great job of knowing when to activate and engage in the offensive zone. The big thing for him is to continue to find consistency with his production, but he’s already showing progress and becoming more of a factor with the minutes and power play time he’s earning. Even without the puck, the awareness he possesses is strong. He can quickly cut down lanes, showing great gap control and get into the passing lanes and break plays up. Given his size, he knows when to engage physically, overpowering players in the corners and in front of the net. That edge and the smarts on both sides of the puck will generate a lot of interest from teams looking for a defender that can have the foundations of a steady two-way defenseman.” - Peter Baracchini

“I don’t think we’ve seen a more complete defenceman come out of the OHL at the age of seventeen in a long time. Dickinson’s poise and maturity make him easily projectable to the next level.” - Joely Stockl

“It’s the year of the defenceman and Dickinson is the best of the class in my opinion. Great NHL size already, but can move well north-south and east west. Defensively, he just kills plays, stays in position and more than capable of riding opponents out. He is excellent when transitioning with a good pass or skating it himself. He reads the plays extremely well and times his joining the rush perfectly. Others are providing more offence than he is right now, but he’s not getting the prime powerplay time or the prime offensive opportunities.” - Dominic Tiano

“I think that Dickinson is unquestionably the top draft prospect out of the OHL this year. He’s by far the safest bet to be an impact NHL player. I have zero doubts about his defensive ability transitioning. The size, reach, and mobility combination is rare. The physicality and assertiveness are inconsistent, but I also have little doubt that as he matures, this becomes a non issue. I really appreciate how consistently Dickinson starts the breakout effectively. He handles the forecheck so well and trusts his feet to help him escape pressure. His scanning habits are great too. That poise is going to treat him well at the next level. I think what I’m most concerned about is the offensive upside. I’m just not particularly confident that Dickinson is innately creative or skilled enough to be a primetime offensive play creator at the NHL level. He can get boxed in, inside the offensive zone, and he can struggle to navigate the neutral zone; turnovers have been a bit of an issue. I’ve seen comparisons to the likes of Alex Pietrangelo or Noah Dobson thrown around, but I saw more skill from those two as junior aged players. I think Dickinson profiles more as a Darnell Nurse, Brady Skjei type. That’s not a terrible thing at all. But it’s more in line with those #2-3 prototypes, rather than a perennial Norris candidate.” - Brock Otten

2. Zayne Parekh - Defense - Saginaw Spirit
Highest Ranking: 2nd (7x)
Lowest Ranking: 4th (3x)
Total Votes: 12
“Zayne Parekh looks to be slightly polarizing in this draft class but perhaps we forget: putting up points in junior as a defender, more often than not, leads to NHL success. And Parekh knows how to put up points - he’s on pace for 95 points this season. He’s second in the league among defenders in points. He’s just so fun to watch. He can burn teams with his ability to create offense, both with his feet and with his playmaking. His mobility is borderline elite and he can dance along the blue line or zoom down the ice. His decision-making is the big red flag for some, which is valid as he can make some questionable plays and does turn the puck over. That comes with how much he carries the puck though and the freedom he’s been given. The rewards outweigh the risks here.” - Josh Bell

“The confusing case of Zayne Parekh has been one of the more fascinating things to track this year. He scores a boatload of goals and racks up points but the way he does it just isn’t translatable. His game is so predicated on his team giving him the green light to fully activate as a fourth forward. Parekh has a great shot and his skill is solid. He gets plenty of his assists from firing shots on net and rebounds being buried. There isn’t a player in the NHL that plays the way Parekh does. His defensive game is reluctant and timid, avoiding contact and lacking any awareness. Is he Shayne Gostisbehere/Tony DeAngelo or is he TJ Brennan/Ryan Merkley?” - Tony Ferrari

“A lot of times offensive defencemen are very one-dimensional, but Parekh’s improved defensive ability and edge provides some complexity to his game. Players hate playing against him, he has this sort of confidence and swag that gets into other player’s heads, and that has proven to be such a valuable attribute in today’s NHL.” - Joely Stockl

“Started off his career as a high risk/high reward kind of player, but it feels like the "reward" part has really taken over. Parekh is a deadly offensive defenseman who continues to work on the defensive side of things and the fact Saginaw is hosting the Memorial Cup means guaranteed high-pressure experience this spring.” - Ryan Kennedy

“When he's on the ice, everything flows through him. He controls the game.  A real good skater, good edge work that he can use to be very elusive. He's an excellent passer. If a teammate is open, he'll find him with the puck. He's got great hockey sense, elite puck skills, and he can rush it up and pass it up, but it's going the other way pretty quick once it's on his stick.” - Mike Morreale

“I think my contemporaries have done a great job of painting the picture on Parekh. If he hits, he’s going to hit big; he’s a unique player. The creativity is truly elite. I think he’s better defensively than people give him credit for. He has a good stick and defensive instincts. You can see that in the offensive zone and neutral zone when he’s trying to disrupt the breakout (to earn touches). In the defensive zone, it’s been more erratic, but I do think that it has been trending up in recent months. Given Saginaw’s unique structure and the freedoms that they provide defenders, scouts can have a difficult time determining likelihood of translation. We saw this with Pavel Mintyukov to a certain extent. Yet, I don’t see anyone complaining about Mintyukov now that he’s in the NHL with Anaheim and playing extremely well. Maybe the Spirit are onto something from a development perspective; prioritizing and fostering creativity. NHL teams can alter the player’s perception of systems and structure, the way Anaheim has with Mintyukov. But, they need junior programs to develop skill and build confidence the way Saginaw has. I think what ultimately works against Parekh is the fact that there are so many impressively built defensive prospects in this draft with well rounded profiles. It’s easy to see why they would be prioritized because there’s similar upside in terms of true NHL impact (at both ends), but with safer floors.” - Brock Otten

3. Liam Greentree - Wing - Windsor Spitfires
Highest Ranking: 2nd (2x)
Lowest Ranking: 8th (1x)
Total Votes: 12
“I think a lot of parallels can be made between Greentree and Jason Robertson at the same age. Scouts undervalued Robertson at that age because of perceived skating weaknesses, but I don’t think they’ll do the same with Greentree. Do I wish he were a more explosive skater? Absolutely. Do I wish his off puck play and physicality were more consistent? Definitely. But, this is a big winger that oozes skill and creativity. He’s tough to box in and he plays through the middle of the ice. As he builds strength, he’s going to be a load to handle with his hands and finishing ability. Even more importantly, he’s also a highly intelligent offensive player who can play a supporting role when it is called for. Recently named captain of the Spitfires as an 18 year old, I have a ton of time for Greentree as a potential lottery selection.” - Brock Otten

“A big, skilled winger who has insane puck control and a diverse offensive tool set is a valuable player. Greentree plays with power, skill, and his ability to act as a facilitator or goal scorer is impressive, especially on a putrid Windsor Spitfires team. He certainly has a tendency to float a bit defensively which can be an issue but when he’s being relied upon so heavily offensively, it’s not uncommon at the junior level. Greentree is strong along the boards and when he is in a puck battle, he comes out with it or finds a way to get the puck to a teammate with regularity. Greentree can absolutely rip it. If he can do this with a terrible supporting cast, imagine what this guy could do with a better environment.” - Tony Ferrari

“Arguably one of the biggest risers early this season, Liam Greentree has just about matched his 2022-23 output in just half the games this year. What might be the most impressive is that the winger is doing it on the lowly Windsor Spitfires team. He’s been a huge bright spot in a rough season for the team, currently tied for the lead in points. Greentree brings that coveted combination of size and skill that NHL teams drool over. He’s truly found how to use his size to his advantage this season, with his puck protection and strength in puck battles. He seems to always win puck battles and then with the puck on his stick - watch out. He has confidence, vision, and a great shot. His skating needs to improve, but I’ve always said that skating can be worked on. The foundation that Greentree has is worth it.” - Josh Bell

“It’s tough to find a goal-scorer that can utilize their size consistently at a young age. Liam Greentree continues to do just that in his draft year. He led all rookies in scoring last season with 25 goals and he’s once again in the thick of things being one of the more dangerous goal scorers in this class. As mentioned, Greentree uses his size to his advantage, both in puck protection and engaging physically to win puck battles constantly. Although his speed isn’t the best, he does move well for his 6-foot-2, 198-pound frame. He shows a great work ethic consistently and displays good habits when on the attack. The way he reads a situation as it unfolds is evident. He’s quick to take advantage of situations and turnovers, leading him to make himself open and use his quick release when getting to the middle of the ice.” - Peter Baracchini

"Greentree always seems to be well engaged on the forecheck and has excellent north - south speed to get himself into position to apply pressure. When he has the puck on his stick, he does an excellent job of managing pace and incorporates delays as he looks to push play to the interior. Greentree has shown to be dynamic on the rush and mid-cycle. Plus, he's got a cannon of a shot." - Josh Tessler

4. Beckett Sennecke - Wing - Oshawa Generals
Highest Ranking: 3rd (1x)
Lowest Ranking: 8th (2x)
Total Votes: 12
“I might be a little higher on Beckett Sennecke than most, but since his rookie season he continues to take steps with his game. As the Oshawa Generals remain a middle of the pack team this season, he continues to show great value with his skillset and IQ, despite average production. He sees the ice very well and thinks quickly adapting to situations in an instant. He has great hands in tight spaces and can disrupt plays effectively on the defensive side of the puck. He’s strong on the puck to maintain possession, allowing him to scan the ice and start a play. He can make crisp tape-to-tape passes, working quick give-and-go’s along with executing cross ice passes quickly. When he has an opportunity, he isn’t afraid to shoot it as he has great power behind his release. If he can add more speed, he could be extremely valuable as a prospect.” - Peter Barrachini

“Beckett Sennecke hasn’t received much love this season, which is understandable. He hasn’t truly taken a step forward that was hoped for him this season, on pace for a similar total to last year’s results. But the potential is very much here for the young winger. He battles hard in both ends, always diving into fights for the puck. He has some offensive talent, although it may be limited if he doesn’t become a little more consistent in his ability to create offense. There have been times when he drifts into the background, so this would need to improve. It will be interesting to see if he can trend up in the back half of the season. If he just maintains this current trajectory, he may slide down rankings.” - Josh Bell

“With expectations high for Sennecke, he has only met them in flashes. He generally isn’t ever actively making poor plays, he just seemingly finds a way to play even hockey. Every once in a while though, he has the ability to pop off and make a play that has you say “Oh damn, there it is”. Whether it’s a rush up ice where he dekes a defender en route to a scoring chance or a silky pass through traffic to a teammate, he has flashes of intrigue. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many games where he puts it together for a full 60 minutes.” - Tony Ferrari

“There aren’t many that work has hard. Tenacious on the forecheck and in board battles, winning the majority of pucks even when he is on the wrong end of 50-50 battles. He can stick handle in a phone booth with an uncanny ability to draw defenders in and then beat them one-on-one. The offence isn’t where it was expected this season, but I’m not worried.” - Dominic Tiano

“The consistency issues are definitely real. There’s no doubting that. But, what I rarely see mentioned is the huge growth spurt that Sennecke has experienced. Two years ago he was 5’10. Now he’s listed at 6’3. It’s had a negative impact on his strength and conditioning as he grows into this new frame. I think that really helps to explain why he disappears for stretches. You need to project Sennecke a few years from now when he’s playing at 6’3 (or even taller) and 200+. The hands are there. The shot is heavy. He has those power forward tendencies. That length/reach and the high IQ give him a chance of developing into a quality two-way asset. I think he’s scratching the surface of what he’s capable of. Also of note, mom was a national volleyball player for Canada so the pedigree is there too. He’s still a first rounder for me.” - Brock Otten

5. Henry Mews - Defense - Ottawa 67’s
Highest Ranking: 2nd (1x)
Lowest Ranking: 9th (1x)
Total Votes: 12
“He's taken a lot of flak this year, but he's still putting up nearly a point per game from the blueline. There's time to work out the kinks elsewhere.” - Ryan Kennedy

“Mews had a slow start to the season, looking a bit lost and struggling to find his footing but he’s been improving over the last couple of months. While raw strength is certainly an issue that can lead to some struggles in the defensive zone, Mews has learned to work around it and he tries to kill plays on the rush and in space with excellent mobility and a steady stick. His passing on the breakout can be lethal, threading the needle and hitting teammates in stride. Mews’ offensive game has always been a strength but he’s beginning to refine it and take some of the wild habits out of it.” - Tony Ferrari

“Another polarizing prospect this season, Henry Mews’ biggest issue has been his consistency. When he’s on, he looks like a top-15 prospect in this class. He can drive play from his own end out, he pushes the pace, stretches the ice, and can create offense and shut it down in his own end. He can be truly excellent. But there’s another side of him where his timing is off, he loses his coverage, and just seems not confident in his play. This has significantly limited him this season. If he can find some consistency and confidence, he has excellent, high-end potential. But if he continues this up-and-down, unpredictable play, he’s a risky selection. He can go either way on this list before the draft.” - Josh Bell

“Is a great skater who can handle the puck with the best of them (except maybe Parekh). He’s a skilled passer in transition first finding his intended target and then making a tape-to-tape pass. In his own zone he is quick to retrieve pucks and has shown the ability to escape the forecheck and pressure. His defensive game is a work in progress but I have little doubt he will get there.” - Dominic Tiano

“Mews has been heavily overlooked and underrated in this year's class. He hasn't produced the high offensive numbers everyone has expected this season, and being an offensive defenseman, that has turned off some people. This comes from Henry's focus on the defensive side of his game and learning to become more of a dual threat on the backend, which can make him more effective at the pro level. Mews is the best skater in the entire draft and has a great head on his shoulders. The rest of his game can be rounded out, and he has the highest offensive upside of defenders in the class.” - Chase Rochon

“There’s a lot of give-and-take in Mews’ game, and his play can be sporadic as a result, but he’s still a first-round talent for me and has tightened things up and played well when the games matter.” - Anonymous

6. Luke Misa - Center/Wing - Mississauga Steelheads
Highest Ranking: 2nd (2x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (2x)
Total Votes: 10
“Misa has been a driving force for the young Mississauga Steelheads, leading the team in scoring as a draft-eligible. Misa is a shifty forward who has some impressive awareness and an understanding of how to advance the play. He is a steady puck carrier who plays a bit bigger than he is when the puck is on his stick. His passing is excellent, coming from an impressive amount of patience and poise. He baits defenders one way and then passes against the grain or understands how to manipulate space with movement and area passes. Misa can burst into space and weave through defensive structure.” - Tony Ferrari

“Can't mess with results. Misa has been a devastating weapon for the Steelheads and one of the top scorers in the league. Cool to see a talented kid really take the reins in his draft year.” - Ryan Kennedy

“Another early riser this season, Luke Misa easily catches viewers' eyes thanks to his skating ability. He’s also fearless and relentless, making him a very dangerous player. He’s typically the first player on pucks, and if not, he’s going to give it his all to get the puck back. The players that show that competitiveness combines with other high-end traits tend to be fairly safe bets to make it. There are times when he looks to be a bit of a passenger on the rush, leaning on his teammates too much to get into the high-danger areas, but with some additional size, he may be more likely to cut into the middle himself. Still, bet on Misa to continue to work on his shortcomings and continue to impress in his development.” - Josh Bell

“Luke Misa had a lot of potential, but it took a while to develop and he has continued to increase his value as a dynamic playmaking centre with the Mississauga Steelheads. Sitting eighth in OHL scoring with 48 points, his torrid start to his draft year has vaulted him into a top-20 spot and it’s easy to see why. Misa constantly plays with pace, given his swiftness in his skating and foot speed. He can make impossible plays with the puck even when he has nothing to work with. He can open lanes up easily, make accurate cross seam passes, quick passing plays and be in the open ice to receive those pucks with ease. He protects the puck very well and has the edgework to evade pressure in tight spaces. He continues to elevate his value as a prospect and his IQ and puck skills are a big reason why.” - Peter Baracchini

“I think what has really taken Misa’s game to another level this year is the improvement of his shot and the alteration to have more of a shooter’s mentality. It’s made him more of a dual threat in transition and it’s made him a more valuable player off the puck. He’s never going to be able to shoot the puck as well as his brother does (honestly, not many can), but this was a necessary adjustment for Luke. As impressive as he has been this year, I guess my question is, how high is the offensive upside for the NHL level? Ultimately, I see Luke profiling more as a high end bottom six guy, maybe even on the wing (where he has played a lot this season). However, that still has a ton of value inside the top 50, so I’m not sure I get NHL Central Scouting’s low ranking of him.” - Brock Otten

"Misa capitalizes off the rush quite a bit for the Mississauga Steelheads. He will identify and take advantage of tight passing lanes while pushing the puck north. Misa's speed makes him a pain to deal with for his opponents on and off the puck. When off of the puck, he does an excellent job of activating, quickly getting up to full speed and going after the puck carrier. On top of his speed, Misa has an excellent shot with a quick release." - Josh Tessler

7. Jett Luchanko - Center - Guelph Storm
Highest Ranking: 3rd (1x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (3x)
Total Votes: 9
“Quickly becoming one of my favourites in this OHL class. Loved him as a U16 player on that London Jr. Knights team. Loved the energy he brought as an OHL rookie last year. And have loved the progression he has shown this season as a sophomore, filling the shoes of Matt Poitras as Guelph’s go-to offensive guy. He has speed for days. He’s a tireless worker. He has great playmaking instincts. I really like how he plays through traffic with a game predicated on quick touches and consistent movement. It’s easy to see him translating well to the pro level. Only thing missing from his game is a high end shot. Reminds me a lot of watching Vincent Trocheck as an OHL player and I think Luchanko can be a similar kind of impact NHL player. He’s also one of the youngest available in this class, something that is evident with how easy he can be to push off stride/off the puck at times. Lots of physical development left. Luchanko is a first rounder for me currently.” - Brock Otten

“Love his speed, love his skill. Another kid that's probably not getting enough love right now, especially with the points he's putting up.” - Ryan Kennedy

“A bit of a powerplay merchant with just over half of his points coming with the man advantage, Luchanko is a very intriguing player in that he plays the game at a high pace, with decent skill, and some creative passing. He loves to pop up around the net and bury rebounds or send a pass into the slot for a teammate. He shoots at the goalies pads to create a rebound on the rush. He plays with a bit of chaos and it’s fun to watch but he will need to be a bit more organized and structured as he advances levels.” - Tony Ferrari

“If there’s one player that I think is flying under the radar, it’s Jett Luchanko. He possesses a smart two-way game, but is still able to play at a quick pace offensively. He displays a strong IQ with and without the puck as well as a highly competitive nature and work ethic. He isn’t flashy but he’s simple and effective and sometimes that’s always a good thing to have with players that can play a responsible game. He still needs to add more strength, but he’s always engaging and is involved in plays along the boards to battle for the puck and is always driving hard to the middle of the ice. Defensively, he displays great awareness on the backcheck and to be in position to break up plays effectively. He provides great pressure on attacking forwards and support for his teammates down low and on zone exits. There are similarities to Matthew Poitras and if he can reach the same level, watch out.” - Peter Baracchini

“Jett is a player I didn't expect to be my highest OHL forward going into the season, but he has only climbed up my rankings. Low production with minimal opportunity last season has been a turn-off for public scouts as Jett hasn't received even close to enough attention as he deserves. High explosive speed, confidence and skill are what Luchenkos's game is all about. Knowing how to balance safe hockey plays and highlight-reel solo efforts is extremely impressive for a 17-year-old in the OHL. I don't see many other forwards in the class possessing offensive upside like Jett.” - Chase Rochon

8. Cole Beaudoin - Center/Wing - Barrie Colts
Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (4x)
Total Votes: 8
“Sure there are some concerns with his skating, but Beaudoin’s hockey sense and all-round vision are off the charts, and one of the strongest in this group.” - Joely Stockl

“It could be argued that Cole Beaudoin already plays a pro game. He has good size at 6-foot-2, 209 pounds, plays hard, and brings some impressive skill. He was stellar at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and while that didn’t immediately translate into OHL success, he’s since found his offensive touch and after going his first five games without a point is up to 28 points in the 25 games since. His skating looks like the biggest hole in his game but again, this can be worked on and improved as he continues to develop. He’s strong in his own end, is relentless on the forecheck, and has started to show some play-driving success. Keep an eye on him down the stretch.” - Josh Bell

“A strong power forward that shows a great compete level, Cole Beaudoin has been extremely consistent in that regard. From the Hlinka Gretzky Cup to the OHL, he continues to show his strength in the tough areas. It’s hard for players with his size that can utilize that to their advantage and he knows how to do just that. Given his 6-foot-2, 201-pound frame, Beaudoin is always a factor in the tough areas on the ice, showing great confidence and dominance down below the goal line, in the corners or creating havoc in front of the net. He’s always a factor on the forecheck, being the first one in to establish an attack. The way he even pressures players on the defensive side of things and provides support is a great sign for his development. That determination is why he continues to get attention.” - Peter Baracchini

“Beaudoin is one of the most physically advanced players in the draft and his strength and pro frame are complemented by a detail-oriented, well-rounded game that coaches can trust. If he can pick up half a step, he’ll be a useful NHL player.” - Anonymous

9. Ryerson Leenders - Goaltender - Mississauga Steelheads
Highest Ranking: 5th (1x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (6x)
Total Votes: 6
“Helping lead the youngest team in the OHL to one of the best records in the OHL’s Eastern Conference, Leenders has dealt with everything thrown at him. From the pressure of being the lead dog in net as a 17-year-old to knowing that the Steelheads drafted a goalie in the top-10 at the draft last year, Leenders has been simply fantastic to start the season. He is a bit undersized which will give some teams pause but this kid is a gamer. He has shown a good base of athleticism and solid technique in the crease. He has been a fixture near the top of the goalie stats in the OHL all year. Aside from his size, there isn’t much to harp on.” - Tony Ferrari

“The first and only OHL goalie in my top 10, Ryerson Leenders, has been stellar this season. Granted, being on the stellar Mississauga Steelheads team certainly helps, but I’d argue that Leenders has been more of a contributor to that success versus a benefactor of that success. His athleticism is excellent, regularly showing off the ability to stretch out and make a huge save. He can tend to rely on this ability too often, at the expense of his technical game. But in his first season as a starter, he’s been stellar. He’s in the conversation to be the first netminder selected in the draft.” - Josh Bell

“Very rare that you find a goaltender on my list at this point. The fact is, I could have gone with two goaltenders and that could speak to the goaltending this year or the draft class itself. But I went with Leenders here because I love his compete level and “never give up on a puck” mentality. Has it been perfect? No. There are things to clean up but the basics are there and he just needs further coaching. You’ll find him to be a regular on the saves of the week videos. Lot’s of upside here.” - Dominic Tiano

“Provides hope for an increase in the quality of Canadian goaltending prospects, Leenders’ athleticism is incredible, and he has that undeniable ability to make game-changing saves.” - Joely Stockl

“The athleticism gives him a really high upside. I think unquestionably, at this point, he and Carter George are the top two netminders available this year…and that’s not even being biased. Technically, he’s a work in progress (part of the reason why I prefer George). The rebound control, especially, stands out as an area that needs to drastically improve. But it’s hard to ignore what he’s been able to do this year in helping Mississauga push to the top of the standings.” - Brock Otten

"Leenders is a highly-athletic goaltender, who can shut the door quickly when the threat goes from post to post on a dime. He does a great job of timing his pad extension to make the toe pad stop at just the right moment. He does an excellent job of tracking, quickly shifting over and resetting to pressure as the puck goes around the zone." - Josh Tessler

10. Lukas Fischer - Defense - Sarnia Sting
Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)
Lowest Ranking: Outside of the Top 10 (8x)
Total Votes: 4
“Admittedly, he has struggled at times of late on a rebuilding Sarnia team. He started the season so well, but his decision making has left some to be desired at both ends in my last few viewings. Yet, I find myself magnetically drawn to Fischer and the upside he possesses. It’s rare to find big defenders who can skate like he does. He flashes so many different skills too. He can be a physically imposing defender. He can be a puck transporter. He can quarterback the powerplay. His projection has so many different branches depending on his development. But what I love is the bloodlines. I have faith that he will be able to figure it out and I think he’d be standing out a lot more on a stronger team. One of the youngest players in this class, the runway to improve is huge here.” - Brock Otten

“The son of former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer, Lukas’ competitive drive and confidence is what makes me a big fan of his. This season, he’s continuing to thrive with more responsibilities on the Sarnia Sting with his physical, two-way game. He has great mobility for his size, leading breakouts with great confidence and control along with making long stretch passes. When he has an open lane, he’ll walk in and unleash his bullet of a slap shot, but has the mindset to not force anything when there’s nothing there, showing great patience and smarts with the puck. He has great patience to make plays and walk the line and free things up. Defensively, he has strong gap control and doesn’t cheat with his positioning. He excels at keeping players to the outside, defends the rush very well and can disrupt plays with his long reach. He has the size to be physical, but needs to use it more and when he does, he can be an intimidating presence.” - Peter Baracchini

“Has shown marked improvement and that can’t be ignored. Big body who isn’t afraid to use his frame. Has shown to be a solid lock it down defender who will play physically. Moves extremely well for a big body and has a lot of confidence in his abilities to be able to skate the puck in transition.” - Dominic Tiano

“Fischer has a very intriguing pro toolkit with his size and mobility. Offense is a question.” - Anonymous

Honorable Mentions

Carter George - Goaltender - Owen Sound Attack
Highest Ranking: 7th (1x)
Total Votes: 4
“My top goaltender in the class. He’s not as quick or as naturally athletic as Leenders, but I think he tracks the play better and is generally more composed and consistent. As he works to improve his strength and conditioning, he should get quicker and it will really take his game to that next level. I’m going to guess that he ends up as Canada’s starter at the U18’s this year (just as he was at the Hlinka/Gretzky) and he’ll have the opportunity to make a late season push.” - Brock Otten

“Another undersized netminder, George has been the backbone of the Owen Sound Attack. When he hasn’t been in net, the team is almost scheduled for a loss. George moves well in net and does everything he can to keep the Attack in games. He’s been forced to make a boatload of saves and he’s done just that while sitting in the top-five league-wide among most goalie stats. George is a hot name who could rise up the board among OHL draft eligibles.” - Tony Ferrari

“A very positionally and technically sound goaltender, very poised and rarely ever getting himself out of position. Has saved many games for the Attack this season.” - Joely Stockl

Anthony Cristoforo - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
Highest Ranking: 7th (1x)
Total Votes: 3
“Is undersized, but I like his skill set if it can translate to the pro game. He is a good skater with excellent hands and vision. He’s a great passer who has a well-rounded offensive game. His size raises questions about whether he can defend at the next level. One thing is for certain: He sure puts in the effort into defending and that’s all you can ask for.” - Dominic Tiano

“Although he’s just on-pace to surpass his 41 points last season, Anthony Cristoforo still possesses a strong skillset in regards to being an efficient play driver from the backend. He’s constantly having his head up to scan lanes when in transition, displaying great confidence and doing so quickly. His playmaking is always at the forefront, displaying great patience with the puck and putting it in a spot where a teammate can receive or retrieve it. He walks the line effectively to get into a great spot to open things up– making a timely pass or even getting a shot off. While nothing he does stands out, it’s always effective and his creativity to find the open ice is what makes him a great asset on the backend.” - Peter Baracchini

“Cristoforo hasn’t followed a very good 16-year-old season with a step forward as a 17-year-old, but he still does well if he has been downgraded from a second-rounder to more of a mid-round guy. Could see him making it in the Travis Dermott/Sean Walker mold.” - Anonymous

Ben Danford - Defense - Oshawa Generals
Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)
Total Votes: 3
“Maybe I put too much emphasis on the fact that he’s already a leader at 17, but I find that impressive. You can tell that he thinks defence first. He has good size, moves well, has a very active and effective stick and most importantly, keeps his gaps very tight. Despite thinking defence first, he is capable offensively. He keeps his feet moving in the O-zone, makes himself an option and isn’t afraid to shoot the puck, usually with a purpose. He sees the ice extremely well and is an above average passer.” - Dominic Tiano

“A two-way defenseman with good skating and hockey sense. He's got a great work ethic and can pass the puck with authority exiting his own end. Danford is pretty consistent in what he does; might just need to determine better shooting lanes at times. I like his size (6-1, 193) and he's also a right-handed shot.” - Mike Morreale

Kieron Walton - Wing - Sudbury Wolves
Highest Ranking: 7th (2x)
Total Votes: 3
“A big forward with a good shot and some slick passing ability that skates well, Walton may be higher up this list if were in a situation where he had more opportunity. His decision-making can be a bit questionable at times but the tools are all intriguing. He could be a player who really pops off after his draft year. Walton is more of a playmaker than his stat line would indicate and he leverages his size quite well to get some power behind his shot. Walton could be the sleeper of the OHL class.” - Tony Ferrari

“Walton has a very high skill level for a big man. Skating is a concern.” - Anonymous

"Walton does a good job of using delays and cut-backs when pushing the puck up the ice to net separation to the inside. He has lengthy reach and excellent puck security. In transition, It allows him to capture pucks off of stretch passes while enduring pressure at his side and quickly re-distributes them to an open teammate. Walton understands time and spacing quite well and always seems to make the most of whatever little space pops up." - Josh Tessler

Gabriel Frasca - Center - Kingston Frontenacs
Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)
Total Votes: 2
“Flying under the radar right now because he got a late start to the season. I think he’s still trying to find his footing, but I do expect more people will take notice in the second half. Strong skating base. Shoots the puck extremely well. High IQ, two-way player. Very well rounded profile. I think that’s why he could make a really strong pro player.” - Brock Otten

“Maybe I'm buying high on Frasca, but he's definitely got skill and was basically forgotten when he was on the shelf. Comes from a big hockey family, too.” - Ryan Kennedy

Marek Vanacker - Wing - Brantford Bulldogs
Highest Ranking: 6th (1x)
Total Votes: 2
“A 2-way forward who is very strong-willed. He has great speed and intelligence to complement his 200-foot game.” - Mike Morreale

“Vanacker is a highly offensively skilled player who, if used properly can become an elite player at the pro level. Great hands and deception make Vanacker a weapon with the puck, and his tenacity and effort also make him valuable on the defensive side.  Consistency will be something scouts will be looking for in Merek's game to make him a higher pick on draft day.” - Chase Rochon

Jakub Fibigr - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads
Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)
Total Votes: 2
“The complete mobility, defensive stick, and spatial awareness in all three zones is what makes Fibigr special. His defensive stick has to be one of the best in the league, but this combined with his activations offensively make him a very unique prospect.” - Joely Stockl

“Fibigr always finds ways to impress me. A Very intelligent defender who always finds a way to make the best play available. No panic in Jakub's game. He plays a very poised style of defence that makes him a multidimensional tool on the backend for the Steelheads.” - Chase Rochon

Sam O’Reilly - Center/Wing - London Knights
Highest Ranking: 8th (2x)
Total Votes: 2
“O'Reilly is a skilled hard working two way center, developing well on a strong London team. Wish he was a bit faster.” - Anonymous

“Sam's growth in development has been very impressive and should continue under the London staff. Dominant in GOJHL play last season led to Sam transitioning into the OHL smoothly this year. He has slowly worked his way up the lineup and has now earned his spot playing more minutes for the Knights, and the points are coming with him. Sam is a very strong player, and if he finds his identity and can unlock some elite traits, he will be an exciting prospect to watch.” - Chase Rochon

Chris Thibodeau - Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
Highest Ranking: 10th (2x)
Total Votes: 2
“I went back and forth on who to include in this last spot but found myself coming back to Chris Thibodeau. What he’s been doing with the Kingston Frontenacs this season has been very impressive. He’s at a point per game with 33 points and leads the team in assists. He’s likely a late draft pick due to his 5-foot-9, 143-pound frame, but the skill that he brings to the ice is worth it. He consistently pushes play to the high-danger areas of the ice, whether that means carrying it himself or feeding a teammate. He skates well, can control the pace of the game, and shows off some excellent creativity. That size is a little concerning, but the talent is undeniable.” - Josh Bell

"Thibodeau does an excellent job of extending play in order to create high percentage scoring chances. Instead of immediately taking a shot on net when pressure intensifies, he will drop back to extend play and wait for a teammate to enter into an optimal passing lane. When the pressure is extremely tight and Thibodeau is working the boards, he usually manages to shake free with well timed pivots. Quickly nets space and passes the puck to the slot. When the opposition has possession of the puck, Thibodeau is puck hungry and he can be tough to dodge. He can match speed quite often with his edges and activation." - Josh Tessler

Kevin He - Wing - Niagara IceDogs
Highest Ranking: 9th (1x)
Total Votes: 1
“Possibly the most interesting prospect in the OHL this year. A high-end motor with flashes of skill, Kevin He is always a stand-out player at Icedogs games. With his relentless forechecking ability and the stamina of a marathon runner, Kevin has a unique skill set that, if used correctly, can make him a steal on draft day.” - Chase Rochon