Prospect Watch: Kitchener Rangers

One of the teams that is in the midst of a rebuild, the Rangers have one of the healthiest prospect pools in the OHL, in part because they are one of the one of the league's most aggressive teams at the draft table.

They draft high end Ontario skaters, as we see in their prospect pool, however they also don't shy away from drafting high end, college bound prospect in an attempt to have them eventually change their mind, or simply wait for NHL teams to sign them and assign them to the CHL. Its a wise strategy that more teams should employ.

1. Jeremy Bracco - Right Centre - United States National Development Program U17 - 5'9" - 154 - Mar. 17th, 1997
GP: 54 G: 16 A: 58 P: 74 PIM: 20
Acquired: 2013 OHL draft, 5th Round, 84th Overall
Dynamic offensive forward who is the offensive leader of the US-NTDP. Set offensive records and was a difference maker every time he hit the ice. Small, speedy forward packs a quick release on a heavy, accurate snap shot. Game is driven by speed. An urgent skater who is quick off the mark, he takes dramatic 180-degree cuts at full speed. Driven by short yet powerful legs and a smooth, efficient skating stride. Smooth and decisive in possession, he makes key decisions at top speed. Excels at drawing in checkers and quickly identifying prime distribution options. Excellent in close puck control and soft hands in tight. He's gradually increasing defensive involvement and gaining confidence in traffic as he fills in his frame. Adding defensive awareness will be key, as he struggles with his defensive conscious while learning to support his teammates in defensive situations. Must continue to bulk up his lean frame, adding muscle mass to aid him in puck battles. If he everywhere to commit to the program, he would instantly become the team’s top offensive player, and one of the top skaters in the OHL. Will skate with the US-NTDP this year and has committed to Boston College for the 2015 season.

2. Adam Mascherin - Left Centre - Vaughan Kings - 5'9" - 192 - Jun. 6th, 1998
GP: 33 G: 40 A: 30 P: 70
Acquired: 2014 OHL Draft, 1st Round, 2nd Overall
A high skilled forward who is one of the best finishers in the 98 age group.. A powerful, skilled pivot with great vision and in close puck skills. A clever, finely skilled playmaker, not an outwardly flashy skater, yet sneak fast thanks to protracted stride and deceptive physical strength. Superior playmaking abilities, a magician with the puck, masterful at disguising intentions and inventing passing lanes for himself. Makes the best playing decision in possession, patiently holding the puck, awaiting for things to happen. Short, stocky and powerful for his size, understands how to maximize his stick and body strength in traffic. Shifts well laterally to open up lanes and is dangerous driving the net and unleashing his heavy shot. Can come up short in the defensive size of the game, needs to operate at full passion on both sides of the puck. Can stop moving his feet, observing and not injecting himself into the defensive system. Can go silent from time to time, must strive to be a difference maker every time he steps on the ice. Projects as a top line centre at the OHL level, one who has the ability to be a top scorer and offensive leader. Could be the most impactful 98 in the OHL next year.

3. Griffin Luce - Left Defence - Salisbuy School - 6'2" - 201 - Mar. 10th, 1998
GP: 26 G: 5 A: 4 P: 9
Acquired: 2014 OHL draft, 5th Round, 82nd Overall
Steady, instinctive blueliner with great size and poise. Textbook hitter and defender backed by solid positional sense. Diffuses forechecking pressure and makes a clean outlet pass. A stabilizing influence as he plays a conservative game, relying on safe and patient positioning. Can either unload a menacing open ice hit or grind on defenders down low. Thrives in the dirty pockets of the ice, using his size and strength advantages to win battles and gain possession. Excellent one on one defender, keeps an active stick, extremely efficient at getting sticks on pucks. Difficult to drive the net or gain an outside lane on, manages gaps efficiently and takes advantage of his massive wingspan. Lacks elite vision but can be impactful on the powerplay, using his powerful, multi-dimensional slapshot. Good, stable skater in all directions, however must continue to work on his agility and first step quickness. Commits his share of puck moving errors, could be more elusive in term of creating outlet lanes for himself, especially off the backend. Projects as a tough, physical, stay at home defender who can contribute at both ends of the ice. Has signed on to the US-NTDP and committed to Michigan. Would be a top paring defender if he ever comes to the league.

4. Gustaf Franzen - Right Wing - HV71 J20 ( SuperElit) - 5'11" - 165 - Sept. 22nd, 1996
GP: 36 G: 8 A: 10 P: 18 PIM: 20
Acquired: 2014 CHL Import Draft, 1st Round, 5th Overall
Kitchener has a ripe history of success with dipping into Sweden and bringing in impactful players. This appears to be the case this year, as the Rangers are poised to bring in Vademarsvik native Gustaf Franzen. A tough, skilled and methodical playmaker, Franzen is exactly what the Rangers don't have enough of, skilled forward who can be impactful at the OHL level. Franzen plays a competitive, two way style, often taking up sound defensive routes while showing a high aptitude for the defensive side of the game. He also brings an elevated offensive presence, as he is a dangerous possession player, creating lanes to the net and finishing plays with a hard, heavy wrist shot. Misses some explosiveness in parts, but the tools are there. Projected to be a top 45 skater for the 2015 NHL Draft, Franzen will have every opportunity to lead a young Rangers squad to a Western Conference championship.

5. Luke Opilka - Goaltender - United States National Development Program U17 - 6'0" - 187 - Feb 27th, 1997
GP: 30 GAA: 3.54 SV: .864
Acquired: 2013 OHL Draft, 3rd Round, 102nd Overall
A large bodied goaltender who has already witnessed international success. Quick and graceful on a tall, lanky frame. Focuses on keeping his body square and relying on his superb timing and positional sense. Stays poised, anticipates the game effortlessly, aided by exceptional post to post agility. Continues to expand his repertoire, learning to be more aggressive in certain situations. Smooth and agile, moves easily, powered by his natural athleticism. Strong down low thanks to soft and quick pads. Can get caught too deep in the crease, notably when he is slow to read plays that originate from behind the net. Projects out as a potential starting goaltender at the next level, however one that will need to see a lot of action over the next few years. Has the tools to be a true top OHL level goaltender, but has committed to Wisconsin and will tend net for the US-NTDP again next year.


6. Connor Bunnaman - Left Centre - Guelph Gryphons - 6'0" - 183 - Apr. 16th, 1998
GP: 37 G: 18 A: 17 P: 35 PIM: 39
Acquired: 2014 OHL Draft, 2nd Round, 31st Overall
Rugged, strong, hardworking winger with excellent finishing abilities. Moves well north to south, thanks to a long, slashing stride. Loses balance and momentum in turns however, must continue to update his agility and edgework. Like a bull in a china shop, does not anticipate the game all that intuitively, yet will surprise with his passing vision and in closer puck skills. Good with the puck, has some skill moves and a wide stickhandling range. Needs to elevate his playing tempo however, tends to slow down in possession. Prime asset is a heavy, accurate wristshot powered by forearms. Very determined one he gets into a laneway to goal. Effective and comfortable in traffic, even inviting contact in order to show off a strong, tank like build. Will be better at the next level as he adapts and learns to play a more defined role. Projects as a top 6 forward at the next level, one who will bring an elevated compete level and an ability to finish plays. Will play an initial depth role for the Rangers, but has the tools to be one of the team’s best offensive skaters in a few years.

7. Adam Fox - Right Defence - Long Island Gulls - 5'9" - 152 - Feb. 17th, 1997
GP: 22 G: 14 A: 37 P: 51 PIM: 38
Acquired: 2014 OHL Draft, 8th Round, 142nd Overall
Innovative compact puck mover who has a dynamic set of skills. Puck control is exemplary, able to dangle and fire off bullets in all gears. Deceptively quick and agile due to steady and efficient mechanics, and should continue to get faster as he fills in his lower body strength. Passionate and aggressive offensively, savvy at leading the rush, displaying a keen sense for when and when not to attack. Makes excellent outlets, can either fire off a long tape to tape stretch pass or make a simple, safe outlet. Knows how to use his footwork and agility to skate the puck out of danger areas and into safer pockets of the ice. Takes undue risks at times, needs to continue to learn to better pick his spots and better manage his risk. Takes aggressive pinches at the opposition blue line, playing a river boat gambling style. Will need to add significant weight to a somewhat undersized and thin frame. Not a factor in puck battles, gets out muscled by bigger and stronger forwards. Projects as an offensive minded defender, one who has the ability to be a game changer offensively. Committed to Harvard for 2016 and will skate for the US-NTDP next year.

8. Sean Allen - Left Defence - Guelph Gryphons - 6'2" - 171 - Apr. 21st, 1998
GP: 37 G: 5 A: 13 P: 18 PIM: 52
Acquired: 2014 OHL Draft, 3rd Round, 41st Overall
A big, strong defensive mined workhorse. Mobile skater, fairly nimble for his size. Pivots and transitions are fluid and efficient. Could use better quickness in parts, lacks elite recovery speed. Must keep increasing foot speed and overall quickness. Steadily developing a nastier physical edge to complement a strong complete level. Does not like to get beat and is proficient at using his strength and large frame to protect lanes to the net. Unselfish player, patient in one on one battles. Sustains solid gaps and does a good job of angling defender to the outside. Not a pure puck handler, yet is aware of his limitations and makes safe, simple plays. Hands are stiff and rigid, which limits his ability to stretch the ice from the defensive zone. More of a trigger man on the powerplay versus a pure puck distributor. Projects as a top four defender at the next level, one who can play a strong, physical game while managing things in his own zone. Offensive growth will be key to his long term potential. May need a year in a tier 2 program before moving forward.

9. Jack Lafontaine - Goaltender - Don Mills Flyers - 6'0" - 181 - Jan 6th, 1998
Stats Not Avalaible
Acquired: 2014 OHL draft, 3rd Round, 42nd Overall
A poised, hybrid goaltender with sharp anticipation and body control. Moves post to post fluidly into his butterfly, quick on reset, gets to his feet for secondary shots. Stays balanced and composed, keeps his well sized frame tall and square to shooters. Displays smooth overall mechanics and nice legs and pads. Vertical movement is swift and fluid for a big goaltender. Still struggles with his rebound control occasionally, loses track of rebounds and gets frantic. Must continue to upgrade his lower body strength and fill in an under developed frame. Can stray out of position and over pursue shots, calming down and playing with more poise and control will be a key. Can be prone to letting soft goals in early. Projects as a franchise goaltender at the OHL level, but also has visited NCAA programs in the past. If he commits to the program, he could be slotted in as a backup and theoretically play 20/25 games.

10. Connor Hall - Left Defence - Cambridge Hawks - 6'3" - 181 - Feb. 21st, 1998
GP: 30 G: 6 A: 10 P: 16 PIM: 91
Acquired: 2014 OHL Draft, 3rd Round, 56 Overall
A two way defence with excellent long term potential. Smart, poised blueliner brings a solid all around skill set. Solid on his feet, stride is wide and firm. Powered by a strong controlled stride and an explosive change of pace, which actuates without warning. Smooth and calm puckmover, makes a safe first pass. Packs a strong, accurate slapshot, one that arrives with surprising power given his almost effortless mechanics. Anticipates the game intelligently while playing a mature, responsable game. Stays patient when defending one on one, attends to details, manages gaps well. Adept at positioning and using his body and stick to tie up threats around the net. Overly relies on his stick and positioning to win battles, needs to inject a more aggressive and physical edge in puck battles. Can be reluctant to impost his will physically. Capable defender when keeping his feet moving, but often gets caught flat footed. Can lack consistency, results can come and go. Improving his decision making and intensity is the key to his long term potential. Will skate for Elmira next year before playing a more prime role with the Rangers in 2105.

Raphael Lecours - Left Wing - Kapuskasing Flyers - 6'3" - 205 - Jun. 9th, 1998
GP: 16 G: 6 A: 5 P: 11 PIM: 24
Acquired: 2014 OHL Draft, 9th Round, 162nd Overall
A physical, energetic and hardworking winger who shows unique long term potential. Prime weapon is a quick, heavy snapshot which he can unload in full flight. Drives to scoring areas with a purpose, willing to take physical pounding in order to get into high percentage scoring areas. At times can play like a wild, raw forward, roaring around but not accomplishing as much as he could. Being more strategic, both in and out of possession, will be a key. Must focus on keeping his feet moving away from the puck, supporting his defenders and taking more prime routes on the backcheck. Lacks elite hand skills, however those should continue to evolve as he plays at higher levels. Will need time in a high end Jr. A program, refining aspects of his game while adjusting to the game at a higher pace. Projects out as a top nine forward at the next level, however does possess some untapped potential given his rare combination of size and mobility.


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