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- Created: Wednesday, 21 May 2014 14:52
As the Ontario Hockey League season draws to a close and with the Memorial Cup days away, the scouting season has drawn to a close for a significant amount of draft eligible players.
While Robby Fabbri is taking a lead role in the Guelph Storm's run for a Memorial Cup Championship, every other high end skater has seen their season come to an end. While Fabbri has the ability to slightly raise or lower his draft stock based on his performance over the next two weeks, his resume is well known at this point.
With that in mind, I'm happy to release my final look at the NHL Draft from an Ontario perspective. As Director of Scouting for TheScout.ca and area scout for McKeeens Hockey, I've had the unique opportunity to see these players upwards of 5 years, dating back to their bantam seasons in the GTHL, OMHA, OEMHL et all. While some players, such as Michael Dal Colle and Aaron Ekblad have always sat atop of the age group, others have stepped up and established themselves as legitimate draft prospects. This time last year, Jake Walman was skating with the Midget Toronto Jr. Canadiens, this year he’s the top prospect from the OJHL and expected to be a second or third round selection come June. Each player certainly has their own unique development curve, which is what makes the NHL Draft such an interesting date
The following is a list of the top 40 players in Ontario, covering the Ontario Hockey
League, Ontario Junior A Hockey League, CCHL and Ontario Prep School leagues.
-These are not scouting reports, far from it, just a look at the draft eligible players with thoughts and background on those players
-Limited viewings on both Chandler Yakimowicz and Charley Graaskamp make them difficult to rank, thus they have been omitted.
-Rankings are based on the past 5 years of viewings, with significant weight being given to this year
-Re-entry players such as Hunter Smith have been omitted
1. Sam Bennett - Left Centre - Kingston Frontenacs – 6’0” - 178
A smart, competitive pivot who impacts the game in multiple ways. His rise from the 9th Overall pick in the 2012 OHL Draft to the top prospect available has been a memorable one, given that at the time there were multiple players rated ahead of him. Once in Kingston, he was given all the opportunities to grab the top centre position and did so, forming instant chemistry with Spencer Watson and Henri Ikonan. As the months moved on, Bennett got better and better, becoming the Frontenacs top offensive option at just 16. Today, Bennett is one of the top offensive players in Ontario, blending sublime skill and a high competitive nature. A possession player who operates effectively in traffic, he flashes elite in close puck skills and one on one elusiveness. He takes direct routes to the net, drawing in opposition defenders before firing off a soft pass to a teammate or snapping off a sharp wrist shot. While he needs to continue to get stronger and add more mass to his frame, he has the ability to be an offensive leader and future captain at the next level.
2. Aaron Ekbald – Right Defence – Barrie Colts – 6’4” - 216
The second ‘exceptional status’ skater in Ontario, following in the footsteps of New York Islanders captain John Tavares. In his third season in the Ontario Hockey League, Ekbald continues to show the tools, and more importantly, the progression that makes him one of the top prospects available for the 2014 NHL Draft. A mean, suffocating defender who thrives when down low, Ekbald has always had the pedigree of a defender who can play significant minutes while limiting chances, but the concerns have always been centered around his mobility and offensive upside. While I still have concerns about his mobility, his pivots and footwork when the play goes down low along the boards and quick transitions need work, his offensive game has taken the next step. More of a leader from the blueline on the powerplay, he has shown more poise and control. He now waits that extra second for plays to develop, no longer rushing delivery and firing the puck into a lane filled with defenders. The long term offensive upside is still in question, as he will be a defence first defender at the next level; however the total package is what intrigues. Despite my ranking of him, I wouldn't be surprised to see him selected first by the Florida Panthers, assuming that they still own the first overall selection in a month.
3. Michael Dal Colle – Left Wing – Oshawa Generals – 6’2” - 182
For years, Michael Dal Colle was the best player in his age group. Skating with the Vaughan Kings, Dal Colle entered his minor midget year as the top prospect in the 96 age group. In his OHL Draft year in Vaughan, he didn't have a significant amount of help around him; he struggled with his consistency and mobility, which is why he fell to 7th overall and the Oshawa Generals. While At the time, it was felt that Dal Colle would need some time to adjust to the pace of the league, he started the season with on the Generals top line with Boone Jenner and Tyler Biggs and never looked back. He was more agile and mobile then in his minor midget season, and was extremely consistent throughout the season. This year, teamed with Scott Laughton, he's been simply outstanding and was a chief reason for the Generals surprising season. A driven winger who operates effectively in traffic, Dal Colle is a pure finisher who possesses an elite shot and poise and control in finishing areas. Is not overly physical, yet doesn't shy away from contact, bouncing off defenders to put himself into prime scoring areas. A winger who projects as a scorer who operates effectively with a pure set up pivot. At this point, Dal Colle is a slam dunk top 6 selection for June's draft
4. Nicholas Ritchie - Left Wing - Peterborough Petes – 6’2” - 226
From the first time you lay eyes on Nick Ritchie, the potential is evident. He has always been considered one of the top skaters in his draft class, given the combination of size, mobility and puck skills that he possesses. Ritchie is the type of player that teams run to, a big, agile skater with strength and finishing sense, he's a player who has come a long way, but also one that has yet to truly scratch the surface to his long term potential. An elite shot, he’s less of a pure dangler and more of a finisher. When forced to do things himself, he struggles generating offense and gets caught in possession, yet when teamed with a pivot with soft hands and excellent vision, Ritchie can thrive. With a healthy season now behind him and the offensive growth that we needed to see, he is expected to be a top 10 selection this year, and when it’s all said and done, he could very well be the top player in this draft class, he has that type of potential.
5. Robby Fabbri - Left Center - Guelph Storm – 5’10” - 170
It’s been fun to watch Robby Fabbri grow as a player over the course of the past few years. A graduate of the Mississauga Rebels program and OHL Cup Champion, he’s always been a player whose high end compete level and willingness to do what it takes to win makes him stand out. While we always appreciated that aspect of his game, there have always been concerns about his size and strength, as well as how much growth is in his game long term. Last year with the Storm, he had a successful rookie year, showing good instincts, mobility and offensive tools. This year he’s been, in a word, outstanding. He started the season as the Storm’s third line centre, but to his credit, he continued to outperform older players and by the start of 2014, he was the top centre on the best team in the league. Not bad for a draft eligible skater. By the end of the season, he was the team’s top offensive performer and won the Wayne Gretzky trophy as the league’s top playoff performer. As I've mentioned on twitter for weeks, he's reminding me more and more of a 2010 Jeff Skinner, not necessarily based on his skillset, but more so on his rise and upswing. An agile skater, Fabbri brings high end intelligence and compete level. His offensive toolset have grown significantly this year, now more cool and composed in possession. Despite his smaller frame, he takes direct routes to the net, outworks opposition defenders for loose pucks and offers some of the best intelligence in the draft. While it may is surprising to see him ranked this high, the outstanding second half is hard to ignore. By no means should anyone react to the past 4 weeks and bump him up 5-10 spots, but for those of us who felt he was a top 15-20 skater to start the year, the proof is most definitely there. Will range widely based on multiple factors, but hard to imagine him around in the second half of the 1st round.
6. Joshua Ho-Sang - Right Center - Windsor Spitfires – 5’11” -175
There's no doubt about it, Joshua Ho-Sang is one of the most individually talented players in the Ontario Hockey League, let alone one of the highest skilled players in the draft. Dating back to his days with the Toronto Marlboros with Sam Bennett, Connor McDavid and Jaden Lindo, he's been counted on to be a leader offensively. Last year in Windsor was a bit of a struggle for him (as it is for most 16 year olds), he has the tools, yet he failed to properly use them. He showed off elite offensive ability and an incredible pace in possession, forcing defenders to back off and yield positive ice. However he becomes somewhat predictable and failed to integrate his teammates and use his impressive passing skills, which stymied a lot of the offensive that he brought to the table. While that sill can be the case this year, he’s certainly grown, showing more poise, control and vision then we have seen at any point in his career. He’s maturing on the ice, using his tools more cerebrally, breaking down plays and making smarter decision in possession. In the past he would draw players in and attempt to walk around them with his elite one on one moves, now he makes a quick decision to fire off a laser tape to tape pass to an open man. He opens ice for teammates due to his possession skills. He still has moments that makes you scratch your head, sometimes falling back into the 'I can do it myself' attitude, however the growth and maturing that his game has shown this year make you wonder just how good he can become. He’s risky, he's got some boom/bust elements to his game, yet in a draft that has so many questions on skaters to begin with, it makes a lot of sense to simply target the most skilled skater in the draft and mold him within your organization once you have him, that’s what strong development teams do, (see Detroit) draft skill and develop internally.
7. Brendan Perlini - Left Wing - Niagara Ice Dogs – 6’3” - 205
The development that Brendan Perlini has shown in the past 14-16 months has been fun to watch. A graduate of the Detroit Belle Tire program, I've always been a big supporter of Perlini, even when he was struggling to find himself with the Barrie Colts. He has always had the tools, but struggled to pull those tools together in limited minutes in Barrie. After a trade deadline move, the IceDogs picked up Perlini and slid him in a spot beside Brett Ritchie and Ryan Strome, and the rest, as they say, is history. Fast forward to the Ivan Hlinka summer camp, and it looked like Perlini was set to take the next step offensively. He was stronger and more confident, he didn’t rush delivery, and he allowed his footwork and long, dynamic skating stride to create space against the best that Canada had to offer. It was a surprise to all of us that he was among the final cuts; however it acted as a jumping off point for his season. He's been an offensive juggernaut for the IceDogs this season, teaming with Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Carter Verhage to lead the IceDogs offensively. Perlini's tool set is what truly inspires, as I think he’s a player who has yet to really touch his long term potential. An agile winger who possesses excellent four way mobility, he can be either a possession player or a finisher, as he possesses soft hands and some deceptive one on one moves. He will never be confused with a pure set up man, however he can surprise with some sublime skill. The two big issues moving forward with Perlini are tied to his consistency and willingness to play a more aggressive, physical brand of hockey. As he physically matures and adds more size and strength to his frame, you hope that he improves that aspect of his game, because he has the physical attributes to be effective down low. He must strive to add more intensity and aggressiveness; it will make him a much more complete player. Looking long term, you don't often see skaters with the tools that he possesses, which is what makes him a potential top 10 selection come June.
8. Jared McCann – Left Center - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – 6’0” - 179
A smart two way pivot with a good competitive nature, Jared McCann has made the most seamless transition to the league as any draft eligible prospect. Slotted into the Greyhounds top 6 core right off the bat, he’s been counted on to be one of the team’s top scorers for the past two years, and thus far has fared well in that role. Heading into the season, I was extremely high on McCann, given how much his game grew last year, and for the most part he has met my high expectations of him. A cerebral pivot who integrates those around him into the attack, he is equal parts finisher and set up man, mainly due to his high end shot, one that may just be the best in the province among draft eligible skaters. A good skater, he works his edges well and maintains his speed in pivots and turns. He has room to grow with some of his footwork and agility, specifically when in possession; however it’s hardly an issue. One thing that will cause second thoughts among NHL personnel will be his consistency. While most high end scorers have some inconsistencies, McCann struggled with bringing the same energy from game to game, which is something that can be tracked back to his bantam days with the Elgin Middlesex Chiefs. At this point it’s hard to argue with the results, and there are a lot of safe aspects to his game, so don't be shocked to see him within the second half of the first round unless a team truly fell in love with him this year.
9. Ryan MacInnis – Left Center - Kitchener Rangers – 6’3” - 183
Ryan MacInnis is one of the most interesting skaters in the NHL Draft, at least from an Ontario perspective. A raw tools skater who just completed his first season in with the Rangers, MacInnis has always been a player who is less about what he is now and more so about the player that he may one day become. The definition of a projectable player with the size, offensive instincts and developing two way game that NHL scouts drool over, MacInnis had an up and down season, starting out strong before fading down the stretch, which isn't uncommon for players playing their first full time season in the OHL. Possesses quick hands and surprisingly good in close puck skills, his top offensive weapon is an elite snap shot, one that rockets off his stick thanks to a quick, deceptive release. He shows good poise and control in high percentage scoring areas, waits out goalies and finds ways to get the puck on net. Could be more aggressive and physical, play a more assertive style of game, as he can be passive when the opportunity presents itself to make a true physical impact. That should come as his strength fills in. Skating is the biggest issue at this point, as his startups are somewhat slushy and he fails to generate significant separation speed from a gangly stride. Adding more strength, length and frequency will be a difference maker for him. I’m not sure if he ever will be a high end skater, but there are some areas for improvement. The biggest question for MacInnis heading into the draft is how much stock does an NHL team put on his potential? Do they view him as a true top end offensive player? What type of development do they see from him? As is the case with many long term projects, opinions vary, however it’s not out of the question that you should see him drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 NHL Draft.
10. Nikolay Goldobin - Left Wing - Sarnia Sting – 6’0” - 178
One of the best pure talents in Ontario, let alone of the draft eligible skaters, Nikolay Goldobin has been an interesting player to watch the past two seasons. A silky smooth winger who entered the league via the import draft, Goldobin led the Sarnia Sting offensively last year, playing with a high pace in possession and showing off some of the best in tight puck skills in the OHL. A slick puckhandler who has a high poise and control in possession. Patient in the offensive zone, he waits out plays, drawing in defenders before using his strong vision to find an open man. More of a distributor versus pure finisher, he can finish plays, yet lacks some zip on an average shot. Adding strength and mass, which is a significant development need for him, should aid that aspect of his game. He doesn't always play with equal passion on the defensive side of the puck, presents a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude, doesn't go full out and commit to his defensive assignments. Will also need to show more willingness to play in traffic and take more direct routes to the net, as it will add another dimension to his game. Expected to head back to Sarnia next year, there is every reason to expect Goldobin to be a legitimate top 30 prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft. Like most prospect, he has his issues, however it’s hard to deny the offensive tool set that he possesses.
11. Roland McKeown – Right Defence – Kingston Frontenacs – 6’1” - 195
The undisputed leader of the Kingston Frontenacs defence corp, McKeown has already become a big time minute eater for the Frontenacs. Drafted second overall in the 2012 OHL Draft, McKeown blends poise and control with excellent agility, mobility and athleticism in possession. An equal part rusher and puck mover, McKeown can aid the breakout by simply skating the puck out of danger and gaining the neutral zone or reading the play and making a smooth, clean outlet. Has ample experience running the powerplay, as he has been the top option for the Frontenacs almost since the day that he signed his education package with the team. Walks the line well, head up, creating passing lanes and finding passing options. At times can push things a bit too much, doesn't always make the most cerebral decision in the offensive zone and can be guilty of some blatant turnovers in the neutral zone. Still a work in progress defensively, loses his position, gets caught following and leaves his team vulnerable to attacks. Lacks intensity to his game, is somewhat passive in defensive zone situations and struggles to win battles. Will need to be much tougher to play against if he wishes to continue his level of development. He struggled in the second half of the season, however is a player who has the ability to be a smart puck mover who can play significant minutes a night in a team’s top four. At this point he must be considered a fringe first round draft pick.
12. Anthony DeAngelo – Right Defence – Sarnia Sting – 5’11” - 175
The absolute definition of a high risk, high reward draft pick. Drafted out of Cedar Rapids of the USHL as a 15 year old, the last skater to complete a full season in the league as an underage player, DeAngelo may just be the best pure offensive defenceman in the entire draft. When he's on his game, he brings a dynamic element to the ice. Be it on the powerplay, in the neutral zone or jump starting the powerplay, DeAngelo can be lethal. An exceptional offensive defender with game breaking tools, he reads the game intuitively, breaking down his options and displaying an ability to strike at a moment’s notice. Exceptionally quick and agile, he is a pure possession defender, moving the puck effortlessly into the neutral zone and easily gaining the offensive blue line. As good as he is offensively, DeAngelo's defensive games leaves much to be desired. He lacks intensity and focus in the defensive zone, loosing position, chasing pucks and failing to impact the game in a positive manner defensively. Takes aggressive risks, fails to acknowledge opposition skaters gaining positioning on him and lacks the strength to maintain that positioning when he does have it. Adding more strength and mass to his undersized frame will be an immediate need, as he lacks the ability to assert himself in puck battles. Also lacks discipline, which has been an issue for much of his OHL career. Gets frustrated, allows his emotions to get the best of him and allows those frustrations to impact his game. Truthfully, I’m not nearly as high on him as most of my peers given his skill set, and it would not be shocking at all to see him go much higher than the late first, early second projection that I currently have him at. As mentioned at the start, a true high risk, high reward prospect.
13. Eric Cornel – Right Wing – Peterborough Petes – 6’2” - 186
Cornel is a prime example of why you need to have a long term vision of players, be it the OHL Draft or NHL Draft. The fourth overall selection of the Petes in the 2012 OHL Draft, Cornel came to the team with high expectations. Dubbed the future down the middle, he was expected to take a top 9 and perhaps even a top 6 role with the Petes right off the bat. However that didn't happen, and as his rookie year came to a close, there were a lot of people suggesting that the selection was a poor one. In August, Cornel looked much stronger and more engaged at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Camp in August, and much like Brendan Perlini, Cornel looked to have taken the next step. This season has been a much more successful one for Cornel, establishing himself as a top 6 skater with the Petes and showing off all the tools that made him so attractive in 2012. The key to his season was the Petes trade for Hunter Garlent, as it allowed Cornel to slide over to the wing, where he is much more effective. An extremely smart player, Cornel combines strong agility and elusiveness with a well sized frame. An effective north to south skater, he moves well in possession, showing an ability to go wide and use his long stride to his advantage. Lacks some explosiveness in parts, but moves very well given his size. Moves well in traffic, using his body to protect the puck as he finds open ice. Possesses a strong shot, can pull the puck in close and fire off a hard, accurate snap shot with a fairly deceptive release point. Has shown a selective willingness to play an active, physical game, but his lanky upper body limits his effectiveness. Doesn't always play with intensity, fails to inject himself down low or take hard, direct routes to the net. He has improved in that aspect of his game, but more growth is needed. The hope is that as he ads strength and mass to his slight frame, he should show more aggressiveness and intensity. The attractive aspect of his game is his potential. Hardly a finished product, Cornel possesses all the tools that you look for in a top 9 forward at the next level, but still has some ways to go. Expected to be a solid option in the second round.
14. Jake Walman – Left Defence – Toronto Jr. Canadiens – 6’1” - 170
Easily the most interesting draft eligible player in the province of Ontario, Jake Walman's progression this season has been something not often seen. Undrafted in his OHL Draft year as a member of the North York Rangers while playing forward, a position he had only been playing for a year and a half, Walman returned to his natural defence position last year in Midget, playing a fairly standard year. He made the Toronto Jr. Canadiens Tier 2 squad this year and right away looked to be a different player. Still agile and athletic, but much bigger, stronger and more effective. He stood out all year, but made waves at the Junior A World Championship skating for Team Canada East, grabbing eyes and establishing himself as a potential top 90 skater for the NHL Draft. Since then, Walman has turned down multiple OHL teams and committed to Providence for 2015, all while developing all aspects of his game. A dimensional skater, Walman has excellent edgework and natural athleticism with clean footwork and pivots. His first steps are explosive, however his best asset may just be his lateral agility, which is a key to his elusiveness. Pushes the pace of play in possession, he gains the offensive blueline with ease. Works the powerplay, using his footwork to walk the line, displaying excellent poise and control. Not afraid to either fire off a crisp one timer or to simply make an astute touch pass. His positioning continues to be a work in progress, yet improved as the year moved forward. He takes risks, constantly pushing the play, but shows a basic understanding of his role. As he matures, he should realize that less is more and that simplifying his game will allow him to become more effective. More time should allow him to grow in multiple aspects of his game. Drafted in the most recent OHL Draft by the Peterborough Petes, the expectations are that he will join Providence in September and play a depth role with the Friars initially. The extra time to develop within the NCAA system may be more attractive to some teams given how raw many aspects of Walman's game currently are. That said, if the right team drafts him, don't be shocked to see a contract extended and he be assigned to the Petes. Either way, he projects as a top 4 defender at the next level, one who can run a powerplay while playing sufficient defence.
15. Brent Moran – Goaltender – Niagara Ice Dogs – 6’4” - 186
When looking at the definition of a 'projectable' goaltender, Brent Moran may just be that prototype. A big, agile goaltender with untapped potential, Moran has everything that you look for in a potential starting goaltender at the next level. Starting the season as a backup to overage incumbent Chris Festarini, Moran saw more and more as starts as the season moved forward, going neck and neck with Festarini until the overage goaltender walked off the team in January over a dispute over playing time. Since then, Moran has seen the lion share of the work for a young and developing IceDogs squad. From January to game 7 of the North Bay series, Moran has made impressive gains in his consistency, displaying more poise and focus in high leverage situations, allowing plays to come to him. He still can over anticipate, getting drawn out from the centre of the net and overplaying pucks, however those situations are happening less and less. Despite his large frame, his mobility is actually an asset, as he moves freely laterally, both in and out of his butterfly. Quick natural reactions, he allows his reflexes to take over and doesn’t simply rely on his technical ability. An fair puck mover, he understand his playmaking limitations and doesn’t attempt to overplay the puck. Rebound control is adequate, manages shots effectively yet does offer up some strong secondary chances from time to time. Biggest development area to this point may just be his reliance on his butterfly. He often drops down at the first sign of a shot, displaying a lack of patience and can offer up some prime net space above the shoulders if he bites in a fake too early. Learning to be more patient, standing on his feet and allowing plays to develop should eliminate those issues. At this point, his development path is eerily similar to that of Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds graduate Matt Murray, and there are multiple reasons to believe that he has shown enough in the second half to be a strong option for a team looking for a potential NHL goaltender in the second round of the NHL Draft.
16. Blake Siebenaler – Right Defence – Niagara Ice Dogs – 6’1” - 192
Completing his first year with the IceDogs, Siebenaler may just be the most improved player from start to finish this season. Left Indiana of the USHL to join the IceDogs as after being selected in the 15th round of the 2012 OHL Draft, which was more of a statement to his interest in the NCAA program then his actual talent level. Initially a depth defender, Siebenaler found success early and by November had established himself within the top 4 defensive rotation. At his best in possession, Siebenaler has elite level speed that allows him to easily skate the puck out of trouble, be it into open ice or into the neutral zone. Startups are impressive, picks up speed effortlessly and shows a secondary level of speed that is second to none. Pivots and footwork are clean, his agility and natural athleticism sets himself out from most within the draft class. Uses his speed to outwit and outskate opposition forwards. Decisions are still somewhat raw, as can make a smart, cerebral decision in possession, yet does get let down by his play selection. His decision making improved significantly this year, however at times he fails to recognize the safe play and attempts to do too much by himself. Will need to realize that less can indeed be more. Competes well enough, shows a willingness to inject himself into physical battles and although he doesn't always win those battles, the work ethic is there. While he still has a lot of growing to do, the improvement this year has been impressive, which make you wonder just how good he may become, not just in a year, but in 3-4. At this point is a lock for the second round of the NHL Draft given his offensive toolset and impressive long term upside.
17. Brendan Lemieux – Left Wing – Barrie Colts – 6’0” - 206
The son of former NHL Stanley Cup Champion Claude, Brendan's path to the OHL is a unique one. Born in Denver, he spent a significant amount of time in the California hockey scene, skating with various local programs before moving to Ontario and joining the Toronto Red Wings program. He committed to North Dakota in the middle of his minor midget season and eventually gained a roster spot in Green Bay of the USHL. After a few months in the program, Lemieux made a change of direction and opted to sign with the Barrie Colts, the team that owned his CHL rights. In his first season, Lemieux witnessed moderate success. Joining a team that was in the midst of a run to the OHL finals, he saw limited ice but did display enough to earn a spot on the Canadian Ivan Hlinka selection camp, which was a bit of a surprise at the time. That said, he took the invitation and was without doubt one of the top skaters at the camp, earning a spot on the eventual tournament champions. Lemieux took that experience and brought it to Barrie this year, where he has established himself as a key forward within the Colts system. A high compete level winger with finishing abilities, Lemieux is strong on the puck, flashing some impressive bursts of skill, despite the fact that he does not possess elite hands. Can suffer from bouts of tunnel vision, which combines with his impatience, makes him force plays in the offensive zone. Most effective in and around the goal, showing more poise and a drive to finish plays. Competes well in traffic, using this thick frame to protect the puck in possession, shielding it from opposition skaters as he drives the net. Willingness to do what it takes to win, be it deliver a borderline hit or drop down to block a shot. Does need to reel in a very fiery nature, often crosses the line and puts his teammates in position to kill unnecessary penalties, needs to work on picking his spots more effectively. An adequate skater, he moves well in traffic as well as laterally, however will need to work on adding more explosiveness to his game. Startups and north to south mobility is simply average, and he lacks an elite level of separation speed. Looking at where Lemieux was last year, it would be hard to imagine that he would be a lock for the top 60 of the NHL Draft, however he certainly has taken steps in the right direction. There are elements of his game that he needs to continue to work on, but the overall package and development over the last 12 months has been impressive.
18. Nick Magyar – Right Wing – Kitchener Rangers – 6’2” - 194
One of the best rookies in the OHL this year, Magyar was one of the preverbal 'silver linings' for the Kitchener Rangers. A rare OHL skater who graduated from the Cleveland Barons program, Magyar made waves as a hardworking, competitive winger who can finish plays. A tireless worker who thrives on the fore-check, Magyar is quite tenacious down low, using his size and aggressiveness to win battles and gain positive puck possession. Also a fearless fore checker, he is more than willing to act as a torpedo and inject himself into the play. Good finishing skills, he delays delivery and shows patience in high potential scoring areas. Puck protection is effective, he shields the puck well and takes hard, direct routes to the net, be it in possession or driving for rebounds. A grinder, he’s the type of player that you need to keep a constant eye on. While he has shown some improvement, he must strive to continue to work on his agility and footwork. Lacks explosiveness and a high pace in possession, his skating stride has some decent length to it however he lacks frequency, which leaves him vulnerable to opposition skaters when attempting to gain the offensive zone. Working on his footwork and agility as well, adding a more explosive element to his game, will be a key for him. Admittedly, I’m probably higher on him them than most, as I see him having the ability to be a solid top nine skater at the NHL level, however I still feel that it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that he is selected in the second half of the second round.
19.Warren Foegele – Left Wing – St. Andrews Prep School – 6’1” - 182
A late bloomer in every sense of the word, both his game and his physical size has grown leaps and bounds in the past 24 months. A onetime Markham Waxer who currently skates with St. Andrews Prep school and is a 2015 New Hampshire commit. A smooth, methodical player who thinks the game well, Foegele displays good poise and control in possession. Is driven by a clean and effortless skating stride, brings a good pace to his game and is at his best in possession. Persistent and driven, he excels at working along the boards, winning battles and working the puck into open ice. He takes direct routes to the net, both in and out of possession. Has added 4-6 inches to his frame in the past year, which has helped him add strength and mass. Hands are soft, he shows good control in possession and displays an ability to create offense from the half board as well as when driving the net. Sticks with plays, doesn't quit, pushes himself in puck recovery. Could be more poised and controlled in possession, can operate with a 'bull in a china shop' mentality, rushing plays and forcing things. While it’s out of his control, there are some questions about his level of competition, which has made comparisons somewhat difficult. That said, it’s hard to argue the growth that his game has shown this year, and the growth that is yet to come. Has all the tools, but will need more the then most given his limited schedule and lack of showings against higher end competition. Was drafted by the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL Draft this past year; however it would be a surprise to see him take that route. Should gain serious consideration for the second round of the NHL Draft and should see some quality time with New Hampshire next year.
20. Alex Nedeljkovic - Goalie - Plymouth Whalers – 6’0” - 184
One of the most accomplished goaltenders in the OHL despite the fact that he just turned 18 years old, Nedeljkovic's rise to the top of the OHL has been impressive. A Cleveland native drafted out of the Belle Tire program in the 2012 OHL Draft, Nedlejkovic initially wasn't expected to gain a roster spot in his rookie year, however his outstanding play, combined with backup Riley Corbin's struggles, saw Nedelikavic leapfrog Corbin and become one of the youngest goaltender in the OHL early last year. While he had his struggles early (one game in Belleville that yours truly was present for as an example), he showed maturity and composure beyond his years, which is a significant benefit given his position. As last year played out and Matt Mahalak had hiccups, Nedeljokvic continued to see more and more opportunities, and come playoff time, he was starting for a team that saw itself as a legitimate OHL Championship contender. This year there have been struggles, players graduating and a young defence in front of him, but Nedeljkovic continues to display all the tools that made him one of the top goaltenders in the league. A cool, poised goaltender who never looks overwhelmed by his situation, his best asset may just be his competitive nature. Never quits on pucks, competes, gets himself in the way of key secondary shots and looks to be engaged and focus at all times. Agile and mobile within the crease, he moves very well laterally, both on his feet and when in the butterfly. Very strong positionally, he keeps his shoulders and feet square to shooters, getting to the top of the crease and playing his angles aggressively. To this point the biggest detractor against him is his size and net coverage. While its odd to suggest that a 6'0” goaltender's development need is his size, most goaltenders at the next level measure in at over 6'2" or above, which seems to be the way the position is going. He does offer up some prime shooting areas when he’s in the butterfly, but at the end of the day he makes the saves, which is what truly matters. Can he do that at the NHL level is the question that will need to be asked.
21. Spencer Watson – Right Wing – Kingston Frontenacs – 5’10” - 170
One of the most interesting players in the draft, as he has a lot of the tools that you look for in a potential top prospect at the next level, but has had some significant issues prop up in the past few months. A London native who grew up within the Jr. Knights program, Watson does the one thing that is extremely hard to do at the next level, score. An elite finisher, despite the fact that he is younger than many of his peers, he has already established himself as one of the best pure goal scorers in the league. Teaming with fellow draft eligible skater Sam Bennett, Watson has already scored 56 goals in his short OHL career. Not only can he finish at the OHL level, he also has a history of impacting the game at the international level, as he has played lead roles on both the Canada Ivan Hlinka entry last summer (where he was one of the team’s top skaters) and the Team Ontario entry at the 2013 World U17 Challenge. A shooter with poise and control in high percentage scoring areas, he can finish in tight or in the high slot, utilizing an elite snap shot. Despite his smaller frame, he is quite efficient at finding soft spots in coverage. Not an elite skater but does show some good mobility and four way agility. Possesses a good top speed, his skating stride is more comfortable versus explosive, A good possession player, doesn't shy away from the physical game, will operate in traffic and flash some decent in close puck skills. Does struggle at times with his vision and distribution skills. Fails to assess the play, will get caught in possession and be guilty of some obvious puck handling errors. Will also need to continue to maximize his strength potential, as he has a somewhat smaller frame, and some concerns are present regarding his ability to play his style over the course of a full season, as he has struggled to maintain his level of play in the second half of the season two years in a row. At this point Watson isn't the first round selection that he was viewed as by some in August (that was always fairly high to me), but there is no reason to suggest that he can't slip into the mid to late second round or perhaps the early third. He projects as a finisher, a player who can add secondary scoring at the next level, but has a long way to go.
22. Alex Peters – Left Defence – Plymouth Whalers – 6’3” - 207
A pure shutdown defender in all sense of the word, Peters established himself early this year as the go to defender for the Whalers. With the graduation of Connor Carrick, Colin MacDonald, Austin Levi at all, Peters took a leadership role on the Whalers blue line, used in both powerplay and penalty kill situations. The former Huron Perth Lakers skater whose brother Justin is in the Carolina Hurricanes system, Peters has developed himself into a smart, safe, minute eating defender who thrives when the play collapses down low. Understands his size advantages and plays to them, Peters injects himself physically in puck battles, using his strength to eliminate defenders from puck battles while also establishing inside positioning in front of the net and boxing out for his goaltenders. A decent skater with improving north to south speed, he does have decent agility, but can struggle with skaters with strong outside speed. Can get caught in transition, vulnerable when forced to make quick movements down low. Not overly offensive but understand his offensive limitations and plays to them, makes safe outlets and reads of the play, playing a strategic offensive style. Will never be confused with a pure puck mover, yet has been used effectively as a trigger man due to his hard, accurate shot. Has the potential to be a shutdown defender at the next level, and should be a lock to be selected in the 30-50 range of the 2014 NHL draft.
23. Aaron Haydon – Right Defence – Niagara Ice Dogs – 6’3” - 197
A steadying presence on the IceDogs blueline, Haydon has established himself as one of the top defenders on a young but intriguing Niagara defence core. Playing a shutdown, physical style, Haydon struggled a bit last year, which is the expectation for any rookie defender, however has taken his game to a new level this year. Plays with more of a take charge attitude, playing harder minutes and making opposition skater pay a physical price. A smothering defensive defender, he is most effective down low and along the boards, using his thick frame to stifle the rush and eliminate any opportunity to generate offense. Hits with a purpose, injects himself and can be a predator at the blue line. At his best when playing a simplified offensive game, limiting turnovers and focusing on making the safe, secure outlet. Still can be caught in possession at times, hands are somewhat stiff, lacks the ability to stretch the ice. When he does attempt to make pure offensive plays, he can struggle with this game reading abilities and make a poor decision. Also can be forced to make a poor read under an aggressive forecheck, needs to develop more poise and control in possession. Skating is average, possesses a shuffling style, and doesn’t maximize his lower body strength. Adding more depth and frequency to a somewhat truncated skating style will be a key. Assessments has been varied on him thus far, as he has multiple aspects of his game that attracts, however he still has a long way to go to round out his game. He could be a second round selection, however is more realistic to expect him to fall in that 60-90 slot.
24. Michael Bunting – Left Wing – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – 5’11” - 174
A fabulous 'never give up' story, Bunting took the OHL by storm this year, showing strong offensive tools and instincts. A late 95 born skater who was twice passed over in his draft years, Bunting grabbed the Greyhounds attention after winning a GTHL Championship with the 2013 Don Mills Flyers. Selected in the 9th round after being added to the draft list, Bunting came into camp and earned a roster spot. After some early struggles, he grabbed hold of a spot in the Greyhounds top six core and never looked back. A smart, intuitive forward who shows excellent instincts and offensive awareness. Anticipates the game well, reads the play and adjusts. A slick puck mover with understated pucks skills, assertive in possession, can either pull the puck back and fire off a crisp tape to tape pass or simply pull the puck in tight and show off some strong one on one elusiveness. A good skater with room to improve in parts, effective when moving north to south, plays with a good pace and keeps his feet moving both in and out of possession. Will need to continue to work on improving his edgework and startups, adding a more explosive element to his skating while adding that key secondary level of separation speed. Hard working without the puck, tracks back hard, competes for positive positioning and is attentive without the puck, supporting his defence. Doesn't always inject a physical component, however is not physically intimidated, willing to take a hit to make a play or operate in traffic. Adding more strength and mass may allow him to be more active in the dirty pockets of the ice. With late birthdate prospects, the expectations are that they should be a little ahead of his peers with regards to his skills and results, yet in Bunting's case it’s the progression that intrigues. Moving from Midget hockey into a top 6 forward role at the OHL level turns your head and makes you wonder just how good he can get. While there are always varying levels of thoughts on prospects the deeper down you go on lists, Bunting is a player that has is worthy of a mid-round selection, most likely in that 3rd round slot.
25. Darby Llewellyn – Left Wing – Kitchener Rangers – 6’1” - 176
Llewellyn is another Rangers prospect who will be counted upon to be a key part of the teams rebuild moving forward. A well sized, competitive winger who shows good poise and maturity in high potential scoring areas, Llewllyn is a graduate of the HoneyBaked program who had a tough start to his rookie year, but made some significant gains in the second half of his sophomore season. A competitive winger with a high compete level and work ethic, he plays the game with intensity, thriving when the game moves to the harder pockets of the ice. Well sized and strong, he wins his fair share of puck battles and is effective at generating offence below the opposition redline. More of a triggerman versus a pure playmaker, he uses his poise in high percentage scoring areas to finish plays. Takes hard routes to the net, willing to battle for positive net positioning in order to bang in rebounds. Good hand eye coordination, masterful at redirecting shots from the point. Does have good hands in tight spots but yet to show himself as a pure possession player, can be caught when challenged, failing to make quick reads or show improved one on one elusiveness. More of a puck pusher versus a true dangler. Will need to continue to work on his agility and mobility. Is a fair skater for his size, utilizing a fairly long and powerful stride, however his startups are somewhat slushy and inactive, which can leave him behind the play. Lacks explosiveness and lateral agility, which limits his effectiveness when attempting to gain the oppositions blue line. Projects as a bottom six winger who can add depth to a team’s forward core, should be a mid-round draft selection based on his growth this season with the Rangers.
26. Dylan Sadoway - Left Wing – Saginaw Spirit – 6’0” - 183
A work ethic player who gets by on earning every inch of ice he gets. A graduate of the Vaughan Kings program, a team that had both Michael Dal Colle and Sarnia Sting 1st round pick Nikita Korostolev, who was playing a year up. Taken higher than most teams had him rated in the 2012 OHL Draft, yet has proven the Spirit's confidence in him, as he has become one of the teams most consistent two way players. Adding scoring in the team’s top 6 forward core, Sadoway has been the Spirit's most improved skater this year, adding goals to a team that struggled to finish plays all year. Focused and controlled in possession, he is more of a finisher then a pure playmaker. Works hard to gain positive positioning in the net area, outworks opposition defenders to tip in shots and bang home rebounds. Doesn't have a high skill set, gets what he gets out of sheer work ethic and a willingness to pay a physical price. Plays a smart, effective two way style, tracks back in support of his defenders and takes up strong positions without the puck. Does struggle a bit with his skating, he moves well generally speaking, however gets let down by his poor startups and lack of explosiveness. Doesn't produce a high possession speed, which leads to him getting forced to surrender possession and dump the puck into the offensive zone. Will need to continue to add strength and mass to a somewhat undersized frame, as he may not be able to continue to play this style at the next level with his current level of strength. Projects as a depth forward at the next level, one who can chip in the odd goal and add some competiveness to a lineup. I’m probably a bit less enthused about Sadoway then most of my peers, as I fear that his style may not translate as well as others with a higher pure skill level, but I don't doubt that he will be a mid-round selection.
27. Kyle Jenkins – Left Defence – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – 6’0” - 166
A poised, controlled defender who plays a safe yet calculated game. A graduate of the Mississauga Rebels program where he won an OHL Cup Championship with draft eligible teammates Robby Fabbri and Michael Prapavessis. Spent a year with the Oakville Blades as a 16 year old where he led the team in defensive scoring before moving into the OHL and the Greyhounds for his OHL Draft year. Plays a two way game, hardly flashy yet does provide some impressive puck skills. Has the ability to make quick, intuitive assessments, reading the play and displaying an ability to either stretch the ice or make a safe and secure outlet. Patient, waits for plays to develop, does not forcing things. An effective, steady skater who moves well in all four directions, lacks a bit of explosiveness yet compensates with clean footwork and fluid transitions. Doesn't play a hard, physical style, allows plays to develop and uses his positioning and strong stick work to eliminate passing lanes and angle skaters into safe pockets of the zone. Could be more intense in puck battles, but that may come with improved strength. Has all the tools that you look for in a defender at the next level, given his combination of positional play, intelligence and natural poise. Have a feeling that I see more in him than most, but would not be surprised at all to see Jenkins move into the top 60 of the draft. That said, a mid-round selection is probably a more realistic projection for him at this point.
28. Michael Prapavessis - Left Defenceman - Toronto Lakeshore (OJHL) – 6’1” - 175
A graduate of the Mississauga Rebels program, Prapavessis has come a significant way in a short time period. In his time with the Lakeshore Patriots of the OJHL, his game has come a significant way. A defender who kept things simple in Minor Midget, he is more poised and controlled, pushing the play and stretching the ice. He’s developed himself into a power play distributor, one who can read the play and make smart, cerebral assessments in quick time periods. Walks the line, works to get into open passing lanes and either distribute a quick feed or fire off a hard, accurate slapshot. Still has some room to grow with his positional play, can struggle with his defensive reads and get pulled out of position, however does possess a good stick and ample wingspan, which makes it easy for him to angle defenders into soft portions of the ice. Committed to RPI and recently saw his CHL rights acquired by the London Knights, Prapavessis has multiple options at his disposal. That said, expect him to wait until the NHL draft is over to determine his route of choice, as the NHL team that selects him will want to have a say in his future. Projects as a depth defender at the next level, one who has some room to grow in the defensive zone, but has some real potential moving forward. Expected to be selected in the mid to late rounds, however given his development over the past two years, he certainly will be an attractive option.
29. Brandon Halverson - Goalie - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – 6’4” - 176
A big, positional goaltender that plays a calm and posed style. Drafted out of the Little Caesars organization and played his midget hockey with the Oakland Grizzlies U18 team. A projectable frame and cool, calm demeanor, Halverson has all the tools that you look for in a goaltender at the next level. Plays the game at the top of the crease, getting his large frame square to shooters and eliminating shooting angles. Isn't fazed by traffic, uses his size and height to gain sightlines on pucks. Can drop down into his butterfly fairly quickly but has the size to make up for it. Keeps his shoulders upright and back at a 90 degree angle, taking away upper net space. Does have good reaction, however relies more on his positioning and technique to make saves. Hard to beat down low, extends his legs and takes away the lower portion of the net. Can be slow to react, specifically when attempting to move laterally in the butterfly. Can become susceptible to secondary shots and backdoor opportunities. Will need to continue to develop his agility, both at a standstill and while down low. Saw limited, sheltered minutes behind Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Matt Murray this year, but is expected to take hold of the starters job this upcoming season for the Greyhounds, seeing increased playing time for a team that is attempting to push for a Western Conference championship. Has the ability to be an NHL goaltender, but will need more seasoning. Should be a mid-round selection for the upcoming NHL Draft.
30. Jacob Middleton - Defenceman - Ottawa 67s – 6’3” - 200
At this time last year, Jacob Middleton was considered a lock for a top 60 selection for the 2014 NHL Draft. A defender who split time between the Owen Sound Attack and Ottawa 67s last year, Middleton was expected to take the next step this year and capitalize on his high pedigree and interesting long term potential. All did not go according to plan. Middleton struggled mightily in the first half this year. The pace of play and speed of the game was still too much for him, as he struggled with his footwork and transitions. Leading a young and inexperienced defence core took a bit of a toll on him, he looked to be pressing, attempting to do too much on both sides of the puck. I’ll say this, since January, Middleton has been much improved. He plays a much simpler game, allowing things to come to him and focusing on making the safe, simple outlet versus attempting to play over his head. Perhaps we expected a bit too much out of him, perhaps he was expecting too much out of himself, but the tools that we all saw in him are still there, he may just need a bit more time. At this point, it’s not expected that Middleton will be a top half of the draft player. His footwork and agility just are not at that level, and his development hasn't gone as expected. That said, there is no reason not to take a chance on him in the bottom half of the draft, given that he still has a lot of the qualities that you look for in a physical, shut down defender. If he plays the way he did in the past few months next year and improved on his overall mobility, he has a chance to skate at the next level.
31. Christian Dvorak - Left Wing –London Knights – 6’0” - 178
A sneaky, cerebral winger who forgo a commitment to Wisconsin to suit up for the Knights in his NHL Draft season. Showed some strong initial tools before succumbing to a knee injury that took him out for a significant chunk of the season. Now cleared to play in the Memorial Cup, however if he plays, and how much he plays, is still very much in doubt. In the small pocket of games that he did play this year, he displayed interesting offensive awareness. A fluid skater who still needs to add some strength and mass to his frame, he possesses some shifty skill and in close puck skills. Can suffer from a bit of tunnel vision at times but was improving his reads and assessments in every viewing. To this point he is a compete wild card, as scouts have not had time to assess the seriousness of the knee injury and the limited views that they have had of him. They should have had files on him from his time in the USHL, and may be able to see him a bit in the Memorial Cup, but those sample sizes are either extremely small or outdated, and really cannot be used to give a true assessment. I’m admittedly shy on him just because I didn't get a great read on his ability this year, and odds are that he goes ahead of my personal ranking, but it’s hard to take a fair guess what his draft stock is right now. Don't doubt that he will be selected however, as the skill, ability and upside are all there.
32. Michael Amadio – Right Center - North Bay Battalion – 6’1” – 190
A smooth, calculated pivot has made a strong case for himself over the past 24 months. Last year in Brampton, Amadio started off slowly but came on in the playoffs, he had earned himself some extra responsibilities. This year, he continued to move up the Battalion's depth charts, eventually leapfrogging Blake Clarke and seeing significant time within the team’s top 6 forward core. A cerebral puck carrier with poise and control in possession, Amadio has displayed an ability to quickly break down plays, reading the ice and assessing. Can fire off a lethal strike or make a soft tape to take pass. A bigger bodied pivot, he doesn't always inject physicality, but doesn't shy away from it either. Will take the puck into dirty pockets of the ice, using his frame to protect the puck while attempting to get into prime scoring areas. He has some concerns, he lacks explosiveness and first step quickness and needs to improve his defensive zone focus and commitment, but he's on a steady incline, one that has allowed him to become one a skater that should garner interest. Big personal question is what role can he play at the next level? He's a bit of a tweener right now, will have to continue to show more improvement away from the puck, but he’s worthy of a selection.
33. Connor Chatham -Right Wing - Plymouth Whalers – 6’2” - 222
Chatham had an up and down debut season in the Ontario Hockey League. A big, agile winger who skated previously with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL, displayed two different sides of his game this year. At times, he was an energetic forward who combined mobility, aggression and puck skills to play a key role in the Whalers top 6 core. At other times, he looked somewhat lethargic, struggling to get going and not looking as engaged as he had in the past. While that’s not uncommon for OHL rookies, it is a bit of a red flag for me, as Chatham is a late birth 95, which obviously is not your typical rookie. That said, Chatham does have some interesting tools at his disposal. As previously mentioned, he has two very important aspects to his game, both size and speed. His powerful lower body and quick, darting style allows him to move fluidly in all directions. When engaged, he can wreak havoc on defenders, injecting himself into the forecheck like a torpedo, buzzing around and creating turnovers. He has good hands given his size, however does struggle with his one on one elusiveness and vision, which probably make him more of a dump and chase style player at the next level. At this point most of my peers project Chatham as a second round pick, but some concerns about his consistency and long tern role have me a little more shy then others. While I appreciate it’s hard to come upon a player who has the size and overall mobility that he has, I’m not sure his skill set is more desirable versus other skaters in the same general area. Fully expect him to be selected well ahead of my ranking, but still need to rank him based on my own personal opinion
34. Matt Mistele - Left Wing - Plymouth Whalers – 6’2’ - 190
One of the more frustrating plays to watch this year. Not in the fact that you where disappointed in his tools, but because you knew he was capable of much more. A powerful forward who has scored in every situation he has been in up to this year, Mistele struggled mightily this year. He looked slower and stiffer then he did in the past, and struggled with his energy levels at times. He has an interesting tool set, a big, powerful winger who possesses a strong shot and willingness to play in traffic and battle down low. Adding in the offensive tools, the finishing ability and quick, dynamic shot release, he is a player that has attracted eyes over the course of the past few years. With players such as Vince Trocheck, Tom Wilson, Stefan Noesen et all graduating to the next level, the question that needs to be asked is was Mistele's success based on the players around him, or was he left fending for himself and didn't have enough support around him this year? It’s an interesting question that teams will have to ask themselves. While his resume is good enough that he certainly should get looks in the 4th round range, the question is how much value to do put in the two previous years versus this year.
35. Jake Evans - Right Center - St. Michael's Buzzers (OJHL) – 6’0” - 172
Evans joins the long list of OHL Champion Mississauga Rebels skaters who are expected to be selected in June. A smart, two way pivot who shows impressive puck skills, Evans has chosen to take a different route then his peers, as he has committed to Notre Dame University and skating in the OJHL versus playing with the Kitchener Rangers, who have his CHL rights. Has a winning perigee, as previously mentioned he won an OHL cup with the Rebels, but also was a key factor in the St. Michaels Buzzers run to a Buckland Cup Championship last year. A cerebral pivot with good game reading abilities, Evans has sharp offensive instincts. A playmaker that makes smart assessments in possession, he breaks down plays quickly and finds outlets with ease. Poised in possession, can pull the puck back and draw in defenders, allowing for passing lanes to open up, thus giving him more options. Also plays on the point on the powerplay, not due to his high end shot, but more so due to his distributing abilities. Struggled with consistency this year, wasn't great at the World Jr. A challenge, a tournament that should have been a coming out party for him. He doesn't always takes direct routes to the net, opts for the path of least resistance, be it out of a sense of self-preservation or a lack of confidence in his strength. A big key for him moving forward will to add more strength and mass to an under developed frame. A player who you can take your time with, his NCAA commitment should allow teams to take a more long term view on him then others on this list, which is a positive. Projects as a depth centre at the next level, one who can play a smart, effective two way game while adding secondary scoring.
36. Matthew Mancina – Goaltender - Guelph Storm – 6’2” - 178
A goaltender that you need multiple years of viewings to appreciate the player that he is, as well as the long term potential that he possesses. Playing backup behind Justin Nichols this year, Mancina has played limited minutes, coming in for Nichols to give him a rest against lesser teams (outside of a pocket in December when he earned the CHL goalie of the week honours). Mancina is your prototypical butterfly goaltender who relies on positioning and technique to make saves versus pure athletic ability. A cool and focused goaltender, he’s already had some international experience, starting for the 2013 Ontario U17 program in their 4th place finish. Not a pure reflex goaltender, he struggles at times when his technique fails him, which isn't that uncommon for goaltenders of his age group. Still fairly raw and untested, he’s the type of goaltender that you look back on and look and ask ‘why did you pass on him earlier in the draft’. At no point do I expect him to be selected in the top half of the draft, he is unproven versus other goaltenders in the OHL and other parts of the word, but his ability, size and poise under pressure all make him a viable candidate to be selected in the depth rounds and developed within your organization, not unlike former Guelph goaltender Garrett Sparks, who was drafted as a backup at 17 only to turn into the best goaltender in the OHL at 19 and perhaps, an eventual NHL starter.
37. Blake Clarke - Left Wing - Saginaw Spirit – 6’1” - 196
12 months ago, many of my peers felt that Blake Clarke was among the best players in the OHL among the 96 age group. While I won't suggest that I disagreed with them, I had him 9th in the province on my personal pre-season list, and at no point did I feel he would fall out of the top 60 of the draft, let alone to the be a player that may not be drafted at all. In his rookie season in Brampton, the St. Louis native impressed with his work ethic, individual puck skills and effectiveness against older competition. This year, we didn't see that from him, in fact, it could be argued that Clarke had one of the more uninspiring draft years in recent memory. He lacked any jump or compete to his game, he was a player that truly failed to capture our imagination. His skating seemed to have regressed a bit, and the awareness and possession skills were not as prevalent as they were in his rookie season. Even a trade from North Bay to Saginaw didn't really get him going. Players have taken steps back only to recapture the skills in future years, but there are some serious questions as to what Clarke is, and what he will be at the next level. The skills are there, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Clarke has the ability to return to the player that we saw in his initial season in Brampton, but an NHL team can't simply ignore the lackadaisical play that we witnessed this season. You can't forget what he has done in the past, which is why he should be a late round 'flyer', but he’s such a wildcard that it’s hard to invest anything more than that in him.
38. Kelly Summers - Right Defenceman - Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) – 6’2 - 195
One of the most 'out of nowhere' prospects in the draft, Summers has put himself on the radar this year given his improved second half, leading the Canadians to the RBC Cup while developing multiple aspects of this game. A graduate of the Ottawa Valley Titans program who was drafted by the Oshawa Generals, Summers made a very early commitment to Clarkson, and despite opportunities to head to Oshawa, he has kept to that commitment. A safe, simple defender who logs significant time for Carlton's place backend. Not an aggressive physical defender but one who is effective at limiting time and space, managing his gaps effectively and limiting opportunities for high percentage scoring chances, Summers can positively impact the game at both ends of the rink. Makes safe outlets, limits mistakes and keeps things simple. Won't wow you with his ability to stretch the ice, but a player who you can trust in any situation. Best offensive attribute is his hard, accurate one timer. Will need to continue to work on his footwork and agility, specifically his first step quickness and lateral agility, as he can get caught in transition. Limited views will keep him lower on my list then he may deserve. Only had the opportunity to see him live on 3 occasions this year, thus it’s hard for me to invest a higher ranking in him. That said, given his rate of improvement this year, plus the fact that he is headed to the NCAA, which gives teams an extra 2 years to make a decision on him, don't be shocked to see him selected in the 3rd or 4th round, as there has been a lot of talk about him in recent months.
39. Stephen Desrocher - Left Defence - Oshawa Generals – 6’4” – 187
A bit of an NHL Draft sleeper given that he did not see prime minutes on one of the top teams in the East, Desrocher is one of those players that sneaks up on you the more you see him. A player who continued to get better with every viewing, he has impressed with his ability to play an honest, throwback style while displaying some interesting long term offensive upside. At this point he keeps it simple, making the clean outlet, limiting mistakes. He does make the odd poor read, but also will surprise with a flash of skill with an impressive stretch pass or some quick hands in tight. It’s not obvious, but it’s there. An example of an 'investment' player, a skater that you draft and bring into your organization and work with, given the obvious skill set that he possesses. Should take a much more active role with the Generals defence core next year as they initiate a youth movement. To this point it wouldn't surprise me if Desrochuer isn't selected, he’s more raw then a finished product, but he’s shown enough growth this year to make him worthy of a late round pick. He’s the type of player that could make a scout look like a genius if he hits on the long term potential.
40. Brandon Prophet – Left Defence – Saginaw Spirit – 6’2” – 202
Prophet jumped onto the scene quickly last year, establishing himself as one of the top options for the Saginaw defence core, one that was in need of an injection of youth at the time. Heading into this year, the expectation was that Prophet would take that next step in his development while leading the Spirits defence. While that may have been the plan, Prophet didn't have the start of the season that anyone expected, and failed to meet expectations as the season ended. Prophet's fall was one of the issues that many second year players face, attempting to do everything. In their rookie year, they keep things simple and can see results. When they attempt to push the pace and do too much, it hurts them. Prophet's game is a simple one, play hard, tough minutes down low while acting as a trigger man on the powerplay. When he attempts to be a puck rusher or stretch the ice, he makes mistakes. His decision making this year was hit and miss. He made poor reads, aggressively pinched when he should opt to track back. He's an average skater, misses explosiveness and first step quickness but gets by well enough. Needs to elongate his stride, capitalizing on his lower body strength. Pivots and transitions are issues, as he gets caught often by skaters with strong outside speed. At this point, it’s hard to read what Prophet will become. He has the tools to be a depth defender at the next level, but needs to elevate his decision making while working on his agility, footwork and explosiveness. Keeping things simple, limiting his turnovers, simplifying things offensively and committing to being a tough stay at home defender with some powerplay potential should be the goal He's shown enough to be a late round pick given his size, strength and potential, but at this point, he’s a project.