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- Created: Thursday, 06 April 2017 17:27
Our rankings and OHL Draft Guide have been released as the time until the 2017 OHL Priority Selection commences ticks away quickly. We wanted to take the opportunity to break down scenarios to watch, draft trends and explain our goal throughout the scouting process.
Below, we will do our best to answer some of the most frequently asked questions that we have received…
How are the rankings compiled at TheScout.ca?
Heading into every season, it’s our aim to locate, observe and analyze players who we feel could play in the Ontario Hockey League. While we are always considering long-term upside and will place value in prospects who could eventually skate in professional hockey, it’s our focus to project players to the major junior level – which is entirely different than projecting pro upside. A player who can enter a lineup and compete in five OHL seasons is often more valuable to a team than a ‘one-and-done’ prospect, who will head to the professional ranks after a short one-season stint in the league. It’s certainly a scenario that teams have to consider as they look out for the long-term health of their franchise.
With draft day only hours away, it’s important to reinforce that our lists will ultimately look much different than OHL Teams simply because they have to weigh factors that we do not.
By quickly scanning our OHL Draft Guide rankings, it is easy to see that there are a lot of highly ranked American skaters – and many of them have NCAA commitments. Unless a team has received information that these committed prospects are considering the OHL route, team personnel will slide them down their lists, or potentially off of them altogether. Here at @TheScoutDotCa, information and direct contact with players’ representation is more difficult to obtain so we operate by simply ranking players based solely on their talents – we do not take commitments into consideration.
Our access to insider information is also limited in terms of prospects who will be requested (by teams) to be added to the master draft list (usually done in the final months of the season) so we will rank players from OHL eligible regions regardless of whether they make it onto their lists.
While most players competing for Ontario AAA minor midget clubs will make the eligible list, there are regions inside the OHL territory with players who require additional requests. For example, inside our rankings names like Carter Tresoor (Kenora), Aidan Edwards and William Foley (Pittsburgh), Mark Meinecke (Maryland), James Rayhill (Gunnery School), among others will appear, but they may not be on the master list. Why do we include these types of players? Simple. It goes back to our previous statement about identifying talent regardless of external factors (commitments, etc). We are operating under the assumption that if these players chose the OHL route, they’d be worthy of a selection in the range where we rank them. We hope that this provides some context to our rankings.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that we are attempting to forecast or predict the draft. Being in the rinks and discussing with OHL scouts allows us to hear about potential scenarios – ‘Player A is going to be selected by Team X” – and, regardless of how credible these rumblings are – we feel it’s important to stick to our instincts and observations, and rank based on our projections, rather than adjusting for how the draft might unfold. That’s why, you won’t hear us quote percentages of how many of our ranked prospects get selected at the conclusion of the draft. It would be a flawed reflection because of how we approach our rankings. It would be a glorious feat if we predicted all 300 players…in the exact order…and all of those players went on to play in the OHL ….finishing their careers in the successive order that we had them ranked originally … but human development does not work that easily.
Now, put us into the seat of an OHL General Manager and our lists would change significantly. It’s the nature of the position that teams are in to do their due diligence and adjust their lists based on additional factors that will influence the value of their team selections.
Are there tiers of talent within TheScout.ca’s OHL Draft rankings?
Absolutely. We can walk through some of the major dividing points and talk about general draft depth throughout.
Tier 1 (The Jack Hughes Tier) -It starts at the very top as Jack Hughes holds the lone spot in the top tier. He’s in a class of his own and would arguably be the best prospect to play in the league since Connor McDavid…had he not decided on the NTDP route.
Tier 2a (The Semi-Elite Tier) - From there, there’s a group of approximately six players (Turcotte, Beecher, Bertuzzi, Suzuki, Vukojevic and Zegras) that we have slotted very tightly together. While Turcotte’s spot is a little more firm, the remaining five could be swapped around with relative ease depending on the type of player one might prefer. Let’s call this group the semi-elite tier.
Tier 2b (The Semi-Elite Project Tier) – Dubbed the ‘Semi-Elite Project Tier’ simply because it is composed of several players (Brandon Coe, Blake Murray, Alex Vlasic, Graeme Clarke, among others) who have tantalizing upside but are not as ‘polished’, ‘consistent’, ‘big’, ‘strong’, etc. as the players in the Tier 2a group.
Tier 3 (Overcrowed Bus Tier) – As the name suggests, the next group is crowded and very deep. It begins around 20th for us and trickles down into the 100th range. It truly is amazing the number of prospects we have slotted in this round as potential late 1st or quality 2nd round players. Of course, teams will have their ‘sub’ groups within this tier (and we do to an extent too), but from a big-picture standpoint, it’s a large group. With over 80 genuinely good players for only 20-25 spots, there is going to be some good talent trickle into the 3rd and 4th rounds as a result. Teams with multiple picks can really do some damage.
Tier 4 (Sleeper and Safety Tier) – Through our 100ish – 200ish slots, we have a number of players who could make a case for being taken in the Top 100 but overall, they are high quality players with the potential to be selected between the 3rd – 10th rounds. It’s typically an area where we slot in our ‘safe’ prospects who can play a number of different roles but also includes some of our favourite ‘sleeper’ picks as well.
Tier 5 (Pick-Your-Adventure Tier) – In all our years of covering the draft, the 2001-age group has been the hardest to finalize when it comes to the backend of our ranking (200-300 range). It was frustrating at times, was re-worked over and over, and in the end we learned that there are potentially 300+ players who could justify selection.
As a result, we’re eager to see how it plays out come draft time because there is a lot of uncertainty – especially in this range. For us, we know that we have players in this tier that are understandably long-shots but they’d be players we’d show passion for if we had a chair at the draft table. Buckle up, it should be fun!
Can you tell us how the 2017 OHL Draft goaltender crop is?
After a ‘down year’ at the goaltender position in 2016, the 2001-age group has excellent depth. Our team is very excited about our top 10 ranked puck stoppers and feel that their upside is worthy of a high selection. That number alone is a reason for teams to get excited. There are some in the industry that feel the position lacks an elite goaltender but there are several puck stoppers who we feel have the potential to become that player.
Outside of our Terrific Ten, there are another dozen goaltenders who offer up loads of promise. We decided to pull out the goaltenders from our Top 300 ranking and give them their own ranking simply because it’s a position that traditionally goes in waves at the draft and it’s easier to work from a separate list rather than forecast when those ‘goaltender runs’ occur. Within our OHL Draft Guide, we list 60 goaltenders who have gave us reason to be considered for draft selection and there are likely another half-dozen who could’ve been included as well.
With the Ontario Hockey League introducing their NEW U18 OHL Priority Selection (Midget Draft), our team is eager to see how that affects the number of goaltenders taken in the minor midget draft. Traditionally, between 25-35 goaltenders are taken on a given year meaning that about half of our goaltenders would go undrafted. The U18 Midget Draft encourages teams to select goaltenders and rewards them by providing them with an additional pick in the final round if they choose to draft one. As a result, it’s anticipated that teams may wait on some goaltenders late in the draft and allow them to develop a year in Midget action rather than using those depth picks on them like in the past. It’s all very fascinating and we look forward to seeing how it works itself out.
As a side note, watch out for the small goaltender influx. The majority of the draft’s top netminders check in at under 6-feet and some are pushing to reach that 5-foot-11 mark. Zach Roy, Matthew Dunsmoor, Ethan Langevin, Jet Greaves, Owen Say and Ryan Dugas are all examples of sub-6-foot goaltenders but each one of them own a tantalizing skill set. Sure, many of them will add some growth as they mature and physically develop but there are a few who may be close to their final heights.
It appears there are more OHL Draft prospects committed this season than in the past, is this correct?
It does seem like a draft class that has seen more players commit – and commit early – to NCAA programs than in the past. Specifically, several high-end Ontario players committed early including our top ranked defenseman Michael Vukojevic (University of Michigan), twin teammates Ty and Dylan Jackson (Northeastern University), and goaltenders Cole Brady (Arizona State University) and Christian Sbaraglia (Penn State).
The top American skaters usually follow similar trends and commit to programs. The 2001 age-group is no different. Alex Turcotte (Wisconsin), Trevor Zegras (Boston U.), Alex Vlasic (Boston U.), Case McCarthy (Boston U.) and Marshall Warren (Harvard) are some of the higher profile American talents committed. Additionally, all eyes will be on American forward Jack Hughes (Toronto Marlboros) as he heads to Plymouth to star on the USA NTDP U17 team beacause he’s currently without a commitment. His older brother Quinton Hughes is slated to join the University of Michigan next season. While there is no shortage of committed players this season, our team is excited about the top players who have not signed letters of intent including John Beecher, Arthur Kayilev, Thomas Harley, Dylan Wendt and Dalton DuHart – all favourites of our scouts.
How are the defensemen in the 2001-age group shaping up?
Teams are always looking for the next stalwart defender and they will have to be tactful in their timing because it is a small pool of top. Vukojevic, McCarthy, Vlasic and Webber are all excellent defensive prospects who would warrant first round selection, however, each one of them are committed to an NCAA program. Losing that group of talent hurts the defensive depth, particularly for teams searching out defenders in the opening round. Thomas Harley, Evan Brand, Nathan Staios, Duncan Penman and Billy Constantinou are three defenders who will likely be plucked off early. There’s a good contingent of second tier defenseman who are anticipated to be targeted in the 2nd round (and after) and depending on where teams needing defensemen select, they could miss the mad rush.
The draft is full of raw defensemen who will require some polishing but their end package will be highly sought after. Furthermore, there are a number of strong puck movers – some of whom are smaller – that will offer strong possession tools and the ability to move pucks into skilled teammates’ hands.
It is our hope that this article helps to explain our approach to the draft and highlight some of the scenarios and trends to watch when the OHL Priority Selection begins on Saturday, April 8th.
Be sure to subscribe and download our expansive 2017 OHL Draft Guide which features: Top 300 skater ranking, Top 60 goaltender ranking, Players to Watch List, Scouts’ Poll, Draft Primer highlighting our scouts’ favourite players in each region and a mock draft.