Created: Monday, 21 September 2015 02:56
Originally published by Brock Otten at OHL Prospects Blog on Sunday, September 19, 2015
The 2015 preseason is over and the regular season is just around the corner. It's time to take a look at some of the top performances of this year's exhibition action.
As always, this list is populated by players without NHL affiliations (first or second year players, and undrafted veterans), because they get into more games.
Read more: OHL Prospects - Top 10 Preseason Performers
Created: Tuesday, 08 September 2015 03:19
Originally published by Brock Otten on Sunday, September 6th at OHL Prospects
By Brock Otten
One of the great things about the OHL is the improvement that players show from one season to the next. Whether it's strength, confidence, increased playing time, or a combination of all three, there are several players in the league who "breakout," each season. The list below aims to highlight 10 players from each age group who could have very good years in 2015/16.
Jonathan Ang - Peterborough Petes
Not worried about Peterborough's goaltending or defence, but they'll need a couple of players to step up as offensive stars. Ang looks like he could be that guy, with a dynamic offensive skill set and added strength.
Jakob Chychrun - Sarnia Sting
Maybe a bit of a stretch putting him on this list, but the reality is…if he's healthy, I expect him to establish himself as a best defenseman in the entire OHL and the likely winner of the Defenseman of the Year award.
Cam Dineen - North Bay Battalion
A first year player transferring from the EHL, where he lead all defenseman in scoring and was rookie of the year. This is not an easy league for young players to star in. With some graduations, North Bay will need someone to step up as a puck mover and power play QB and I expect that to be Dineen.
Tye Felhaber - Saginaw Spirit
Looked very impressive at the Hlinka camp and I think he's in for a big season as part of an underrated Saginaw club that could surprise with speed, skill, and tenacity.
Jonah Gadjovich - Owen Sound Attack
Really liked this player last year and I think he's got a lot of potential as a power forward in this league. The Attack could struggle to score a bit, but I think Gadjovich has a solid season and establishes himself as a top 3 round candidate for 2017 (late birthday).
Tim Gettinger - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Hulking winger who is coming off a solid showing at the Ivan Hlinka. Tons of skill in Sault Set. Marie's lineup, even with graduations, and they'll need a big guy to finish in close. Gettinger could be in for a big draft season.
Jordan Kyrou - Sarnia Sting
Tremendous young playmaker with feet that never stop moving, Kyrou should see a significant spike in his production this year on a much improved Sarnia team.
Michael McLeod - Mississauga Steelheads
I think McLeod is poised to emerge as one of the league's serious breakout stars this year. His speed and strength coming down the wing and off the wall, makes him a serious scoring threat. Combine that with an improved offensive supporting cast and I could see McLeod as a 40 goal scorer.
Victor Mete - London Knights
London is going to have some serious firepower up front this year. Someone has to get them the puck and run that power play. Look for Mete to be in the top 5 of defensive scoring this year.
Dylan Wells - Peterborough Petes
Back stopped Canada to a gold at the Hlinka and I see him coming into camp with the Petes and grabbing hold of the starting job within the first month of the season (no offence meant to Matthew Mancina).
HM's: Givani Smith (GUE) & Christopher Paquette (NIA)
Noah Carroll - Guelph Storm
I don't think the Storm are going to be a great team this year (with, or without Fabbri), but Carroll should emerge as the team's top defender and a possible top 3 round candidate in 2016.
Anthony Cirelli - Oshawa Generals
Last year Cirelli emerged as one of the biggest surprises in the league (a free agent signing by OSH), and I expect him to take that next step this coming year. From complimentary offensive piece to standout offensive catalyst. Should be a 70+ point player.
Luke Kirwan - Windsor Spitfires
We've seen it time, and time again. Players transferring from the USHL (or NTDP) tend to struggle in their first year in the OHL. Kirwan needs a big bounce back year to put himself back in conversation for the first round in 2016 and I think we'll see that.
Mason Kohn - Kitchener Rangers
I thought he was under utilized by Kitchener's management last year, as shown by his strong performance in the playoffs when he saw more ice time. Kitchener has a veteran laden team, but it's Kohn that I expect to really see a jump in production from.
Travis Konecny - Ottawa 67's
Already an established point per game player, I expect Konecny to really take that next step offensively to break into the top 10 of scoring in the league (which makes him a 90 point player).
Brett McKenzie - North Bay Battalion
Stan Butler often brings his forwards along slowly and I was shocked to see McKenzie not drafted in 2015. But I think he's a very talented player who is going to get his chance to center a scoring line now (with power play time).
Tyler Parsons - London Knights
At this point, I think we all expect London to be quite the powerhouse this year. And Parsons should be the goaltender along for this ride. He's more than just a pawn though. Parsons is a quality goaltending prospect who should gain a lot of confidence from playing behind a strong team.
Zach Senyshyn - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The surprise of the 2015 draft (for most people), Senyshyn is a legit prospect who's going to get lots of ice time (and power play time) in the Soo this year. Look for a big time breakout from the goal scorer (35+ goals).
Mitchell Stephens - Saginaw Spirit
Was terrific in the 2nd half of last year and sensational at the U18's, parlaying that into a 2nd round draft selection. Confidence should be high heading into the season and I think he'll have a great year with a strong supporting cast (think 80+ points).
Colton White - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Loved this player last year and I think he's poised for a big time breakout. With all the graduations in the Soo, White could potentially be a first pairing defender this year and see tons of power play time. One of the league's breakout defensive stars.
HM's: Evan Cormier (SAG), Liam Dunda (OS), Nikita Korostelev (SAR), & Cam Lizotte (PTB)
Zach Bratina - North Bay Battalion
Struggled to stay on the ice last year, but he was effective when he played. I look for him to emerge as North Bay's top offensive weapon on the wing, on a team with some solid depth down the middle. A Stan Butler type of player who I think scores 30 this year.
Blake Clarke - Saginaw Spirit
Have to feel for Clarke after the last two seasons have not gone according to plan. Not ready to give up on him yet though. Finally healthy, I think he puts himself back on the map with a 25 goal season.
Stephen Desrocher - Oshawa Generals
Loved what I saw from Desrocher in the playoffs and the Memorial Cup, when he was seeing top 4 ice time. He'll get even more this year and should be poised for a big time breakout. I expect him to be in the top 10 of defensive scoring.
C.J. Garcia - Guelph Storm
Along with Carroll, Garcia should emerge as a top defender on Guelph. I didn't like the Harpur deal for Barrie at the time and still don't like it. Garcia is criminally underrated and I think he's a 35+ point player this year.
Josh Ho-Sang - Niagara IceDogs
With back to back 80+ point seasons, it may seem odd to see Ho-Sang's name on this list. However, I think this year becomes his true breakout, where he cracks the top 10 of OHL scoring and hits that 100 point mark.
Ryan MacInnis - Kitchener Rangers
The most important player in Kitchener's lineup this year. They really need him to step up and lead this club offensively. With his skill set, I do think he steps up to the challenge in his final year in the league.
Jacob Middleton - Ottawa 67's
Has established himself as a very solid player in his own end at this point, but the offensive game had yet to really come around…until this season. I think Middleton really breakouts out as a two-way star on one of the East's top teams.
Roland McKeown - Kingston Frontenacs
Like Chris Bigras last year, I expect McKeown to find his offensive confidence in his final OHL season. He focused on the defensive side of things last year which should allow him to take more chances offensively this year.
Alex Peters - Flint Firebirds
The forgotten man after a season ending injury last year, Peters will be poised and ready to establish himself as a top 10 defender in the league this year. He'll lead a Firebirds team that will look to start off their new surroundings in a positive way.
Spencer Watson - Kingston Frontenacs
Easily one of the most offensively talented players in the league, but his numbers have yet to match his skill set. I just can't see him disappointing yet again this year and based on how strong he looked in those team Canada exhibition games, I think this is finally going to be the year where we see him near the top of the scoring race.
HM's: David Miller (KIT), Blake Siebenaler (NIA), Brent Moran (NIA), Roy Radke (BAR), & Keigan Goetz (SSM)
Greg Betzold - Peterborough Petes
Blessed with great size and hustle coming down the wing, I think this is the year that Betzold finally breaks out offensively. The Petes will need their veteran forwards to really step up and I see Betzold as a 30+ goal scorer and point per game player.
Josh Burnside - Mississauga Steelheads
Has been hovering around the 40 point mark for the last few years, but this OHL veteran should be in for an offensive spike this year. A few more playmakers in the lineup and Burnside is good enough near the crease to put up 25-30 goals this year.
Stephen Harper - Hamilton Bulldogs
Following the move back to forward half way through last year, Harper looked like a different player and as such, I see him having a pretty big year as Hamilton's go to offensive guy. For the first time in his OHL career, he's going to be a point per game player.
Tyler Hore - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Has proved to be a great acquisition for the Hounds, emerging as one of their top defensive players. However, in his OA year, I expect the offensive side of things to really come around. Confidence is the name of the game and I say that leads him to a 35+ point season.
Jake Marchment - Erie Otters
I would be downright shocked if he's not back in the OHL for his overage season. And that means I think he's going to have a very big year. Erie still has tons of talent on the wing and if he's back in the OHL, I see him as a 30/30 player.
Brent Pedersen - Oshawa Generals
One of those guys who still hasn't put it all together in his OHL career. His lack of offensive development was the main reason Carolina chose not to sign him. But, having one NHL door slammed in your face can often serve as great motivation (ask Joseph Blandisi, Jake Muzzin, etc). I think he bounces back and finally hits that 30 goal mark in his OA year
Will Petschenig - Saginaw Spirit
Very underrated acquisition by Saginaw this offseason, I've long been a fan. Just a solid all around defender. In Saginaw I think he'll take on a little more offensive responsibility and I see him closing out his career with a 30 point campaign.
Mathew Santos - North Bay Battalion
Hard working veteran winger who is an integral part of the leadership group in North Bay. He's the type of player who breaks out in his OA season. I think he's a 25/25 guy and the potential captain for the Battalion.
Sam Studnicka - Ottawa 67's
Already had a mini break out last year and I expect his numbers to jump yet again in his final year. He's going to have a talented center to play with (Konecny or Salituro) and he'll be the guy responsible for opening up space and banging home garbage. Another jump in the 25/30 goal range is possible.
Michael Webster - Barrie Colts
Webster has slowly improved every year he's been in the league. Next year he'll be counted on as a top 4 defender on one of the best team's in the conference. Moves the puck well and I think the offensive confidence grows to the point where he's a 35+ point player.
HM's: Jordan Maletta (NIA), Jacob Harris (SUD), & Bradley Latour (WIN)
Created: Thursday, 27 August 2015 16:53
Originally published by Brock Otten at OHL Prospects on August 27, 2015
With the Ivan Hlinka tournament completed and OHL preseason action around the corner, it's time for the first draft list of the season. I only started doing a preseason list a few years ago, but I enjoy it because it gives you a great perspective on where players have come from (for fun, here's 2015's preseason list).
This is obviously a very difficult list to make. The progression for draft eligible players can often be a tad unpredictable. The player you see in a sophomore season isn't often the same player you see in a freshman year. Growth spurts occur. Strength is added. Confidence grows. Timid perimeter players can become physical beasts, etc. Plus, you've got all the players who haven't yet played in the OHL, but who are projected to be impact players in their draft year (Max Jones, Matt Tkachuk, etc).
Face value, I think this looks like a solid group for the OHL, which is only going to get better when you add in a ton of draft eligible talent that's entering the league this year. Once again, the league will provide a challenger for first overall, in addition to several other top 10 candidates.
I will also add that this looks like it could be the best draft crop of goaltenders that the OHL has produced in years.
Here's a look at my early list:
30. Connor Bunnaman - Forward - Kitchener Rangers
Excellent in a checking line role with the Rangers last year, as he demonstrated an ability to be very strong without the puck. Looks like he could develop into an excellent puck possession type of center who can control the wall and make plays behind the net. Also a hard worker who is active on the forecheck and not afraid to mix things up. Showed a pretty decent shot last year and could have even more scoring potential. He should get more ice time this year and could be an important piece of Kitchener's veteran laden lineup.
29. Drake Rymsha - Forward - London Knights
High energy, well rounded center who did everything asked of him in a limited role with London last year. He skates quite well and plays the game with little fear, involving himself on the forecheck, back check, and crashing the net. Also showed well as a penalty killer when called upon. While he doesn't possess ideal size for the role, he looks like he could develop into an excellent two-way forward. Just remains to be seen how much offensive potential he has.
28. Noah Carroll - Defence - Guelph Storm
Reminds me a bit of Travis Dermott after his first OHL season, but not quite as naturally talented offensively. A late '97, Carroll made himself a valued member of Guelph's blue line in his first OHL season, improving nearly every month as he slowly gained more ice time and responsibility. Intense and intelligent in his own end, Carroll could develop into a real shutdown defender at the OHL level. His first pass continues to improve and he even flashed an ability to jump up in the rush late in the season. Should see even more ice time this year and perhaps that will give us a better read of his offensive potential.
27. Tyler Parsons - Goaltender - London Knights
A free agent signing by the Knights last year, Parsons proved himself to be a very capable OHL net minder and a great find. Not blessed with ideal size at the position, but Parsons is very athletic and makes a lot of second, third saves using his quickness and reflexes. Will need to learn to make himself bigger in the net and continue to work on his positioning, but he looks like a starter in the OHL. As of right now, he'll be the starter for London in his draft year and if he plays well, he could really draw attention to himself in a positive way.
26. Anthony Salinitri - Forward - Sarnia Sting
Ultra quick forward who was the main component to the Anthony DeAngelo last year. He went from playing sparingly with the Greyhounds to seeing all the action he could handle in Sarnia. Salinitri is great at using his speed to gain entry to the zone, and once his hands catch up to his feet and he gets a bit stronger, he could be a beast to handle off the rush. He also doesn't shy away from contact and is a competent two-way player for his age. Because of his speed and intelligence, he profiles as an above average penalty killer. Should definitely see a spike in production this year on a good team.
25. Zach Poirier - Forward - North Bay Battalion
Poirier is sort of your typical Battalion forward. Hard nosed, loves to attack the net, works well off the wall. Poirier has a terrific shot which deftly profiles him as a goal scorer. At this point, he just needs to add quickness, especially in his first few steps, to get himself those scoring chances consistently. Played a depth role for his coach at the Ivan Hlinka tournament.
24. Christopher Paquette - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
Has proven to be a great find by the IceDogs in the 2nd round thus far, after a solid first season in the league. Highly skilled forward who works very well in traffic, using his puck skill to create time and space for himself to unleash a great shot. Works very well off the rush, even though he could upgrade his skating a tad bit. Will need to round out his game, becoming more active away from the puck, but his ceiling is very high offensively and he could be a big time breakout star in the league this year with added strength to an already big frame.
23. Troy Timpano - Goaltender - Sudbury Wolves
It's certainly not easy being the starting goaltender on a last place team. The Wolves were bad, but the important thing is that they weren't bad because of Timpano. Any time the team put up a fight against a better team, it was because Timpano was exceptional between the pipes. He's your typical butterfly goaltender in the sense that he's quick, agile, and athletic. Can tend to drop down in the butterfly a bit early, and will need to do a better job of fighting through traffic to make saves, but he's a quality goaltending prospect trapped on a rebuilding club. Already in his 3rd season (a late '97), if Timpano continues to improve, the Wolves could compete for a playoff spot this upcoming season.
22. Adam Mascherin - Forward - Kitchener Rangers
Super stocky, competitive, yet highly skilled forward. Mascherin had a solid rookie season with Kitchener, however struggled with consistency like most of the other Rangers forwards. Is only 5'9, but is incredibly strong along the wall and shows great poise and patience in the possession game. Needs to continue to improve his play away from the puck, and should develop into a beast in the dump and chase because of his ability to gain positioning using his skill and strong lower body. With his lack of size, he'll need to put up some offensive numbers to be heavily considered come June 2016
21. Joseph Raaymakers - Goaltender - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
At times, Raaymakers was absolutely fantastic for the Hounds in his rookie season. If Halverson was struggling or needed a night off, the team felt confident going to the Chatham native for a start. Inconsistency was an issue, but he has all the tools in the toolbox to develop into a quality starting net minder. Whether that's this season or not depends on whether the Hounds end up dealing Brandon Halverson in what could be a bit of a retooling season.
20. Keaton Middleton - Defence - Saginaw Spirit
Absolutely behemoth defender who I like a lot (despite some short comings). Is already a very difficult player to match up against defensively. Is physically intimidating, does a great job of winning one on one battles, and has a great stick. Skating is average, but he has good enough instincts to over come that. Does occasionally get caught flat footed off the rush though. The real key will be the development of his puck skills. Can struggle with the forecheck and needs to make a better first pass. But once he's out of his own zone, his offensive game shows some potential. If he can clean things up a bit, and add an offensive element, he could be a first round candidate. Really excited to see his development this year.
19. Jonathan Ang - Forward - Peterborough Petes
Super speedy and skilled forward who recently looked very good at the Ivan Hlinka camp (but was ultimately cut). Ang is very dangerous in transition as he controls the puck very well at high speed and has dynamic puck skills which he can use to make defenders look silly. Strength is the key for him as last year he was too easily pushed off the puck and wasn't given the opportunity to extend plays. But he looked stronger at the Hlinka camp. Also needs to be better away from the puck and learn to use his speed as a weapon defensively, which was another thing I noticed positively from the Hlinka camp. Could be in for a big year offensively.
18. Evan Cormier - Goaltender - Saginaw Spirit
The Spirit definitely look to have their next goaltending star in Cormier, taking the reigns from the terrific Jake Paterson. Cormier looks poised and confident in the crease and does a very good job of tracking the play and shoring up to shooters. Just needs to make sure he doesn't drop to the butterfly too early and will need to continue to work on his post to post movement. But he was recently the 2nd youngest net minder at Hockey Canada's U20 camp and he has a bright future ahead of him.
17. Dylan Wells - Goaltender - Peterborough Petes
Right now the top net minder available from the OHL and I don't expect that to change this season. Wells has the size and athleticism in the crease that NHL scouts crave. Moves exceptionally well in his crease and does a good job of tracking the play for a young net minder. Needs to develop his rebound control though, as he has a tendency to put juicy ones back into play. Was terrific at the Ivan Hlinka tournament for Canada and I expect him to take control of the starter's job in Peterborough pretty quickly into the 2015/2016 season.
16. Nathan Bastian - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
Big, powerful forward who has grown a lot in the last two years and is still learning to utilize his size to his advantage. The late '97 forward had a very solid first OHL season last year, playing a secondary scoring role for the Steelheads. He protects the puck well with his body and is starting to develop into someone who can be very dangerous driving the net. Bastian might be at his best near the crease where he has great hands and finishing ability. Hopefully he continues to get quicker, and continues to learn to use his size away from the puck (especially physically), but he's an intriguing player.
15. Givani Smith - Forward - Guelph Storm
Power winger who enjoyed a lot of success with the Storm after the trade from Barrie (Harpur deal). Plays a solid North/South game and he might be the most physical forward on this list right now. Attacks the offensive end with vigour and shows a great ability to protect the puck off the rush and create by driving the net wide. Skating will need to continue to get better, but if his play late last year is any indication, he's a prospect on the rise.
14. Luke Kirwan - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
This upcoming season is a huge one for Kirwan. The late '97 was a massive disappointment last year for Windsor after transferring from the USDP. At one time, was considered a possible top 5 pick for the 2016 draft, but after last year his stock has plummeted. But not so fast. We all know how much USHL transfers tend to improve in their second year in the league. Kirwan dominated the U17's not too long ago and I'm not ready to give up on him. Kirwan is a potential power forward who can control the game in a variety of different ways. He's a potential 30 goal scorer this year and will probably need to be to regain his first round status.
13. Travis Barron - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Barron is a character forward who likes to play at a high tempo. A solid complimentary piece on a scoring line because he's a good finisher and is intelligent away from the puck. Already a solid two-way player, Barron loves to mix things up and should develop into a very physical forechecker. As he gets quicker, I expect him to be more of a factor off the rush, which would add a lot of value to him as a player. Perhaps not mentioned enough, he's a potential captain at this level and the next and should be a rock for the 67's moving forward.
12. Will Bitten - Forward - Flint Firebirds
Undersized, but extremely talented, Bitten is a center who loves playing the game at top speed. He's got the slippery quality to him because his puck skill is so good and it creates time and space for himself to operate in the middle of the ice. Bitten also plays bigger than his size, and is eager to engage without the puck and should eventually develop into a terrific penalty killer. The one thing I did notice last year was that he had a tendency to over handle the puck and as such was a bit turnover prone. Needs to learn to use his teammates better. But he was great at the Ivan Hlinka, playing within Stan Butler's system which bodes well for the type of season he's going to have.
11. Alex Debrincat - Forward - Erie Otters
How the times have changed. A few years ago, despite being exceptionally talented, a kid like Debrincat wouldn't have drawn any attention from the NHL. But small players have found a ton of success in the league today and as such, a pint sized forward like Debrincat (5'7, perhaps a few inches taller going into this season) will be given a chance. Credit has to be given to him though. For as small as he is, he's absolutely fearless. Would he have scored over 100 points without McDavid by his side? I don't think so. But he also made McDavid a better player because of the things he does on the ice. Is incredibly elusive, constantly slipping behind defences for scoring chances. Keeps plays alive along the wall despite being undersized, and is great at driving the net. If he were 6'2, we'd be talking about him as a potential top 10 pick.
10. Tim Gettinger - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Could be a big time riser this year if he puts everything together. 6'5, 200lbs, but skates very well for a big man. As such, he can be an absolute load to handle off the rush. Without the puck, he loves to drive the net and has great hands in close, for deflections and tap ins. As he gets stronger, I expect the rest of his game to really develop. In particular, I'd love to see him use his size to play a physical game and really disrupt on the forecheck (especially with his speed). The U.S. didn't have the best Ivan Hlinka tournament, but he was one of their best and most productive players which bodes well for the upcoming season when he's going to get more ice time and responsibility in the Soo.
9. Victor Mete - Defence - London Knights
Undersized defender who has the potential to be one of the OHL's elite offensive playmakers. Struggled mightily at the beginning of last year, but got better each month in the league and was probably London's best defender by the time the playoffs rolled around. Mete is an elite skater, and as good as he is at creating offence using his speed, he's learning to use his mobility as an asset defensively, closing out on forwards off the rush. There's no question that he's a high risk player though and still makes his share of mistakes. He'll need to iron those out this year as London will need him to be a top 3 defender on a potential Memorial Cup contending squad. Was a member of Canada's Ivan Hlinka team this year, seeing pretty significant ice time.
8. Taylor Raddysh - Forward - Erie Otters
A pure finisher who had a great rookie year in Erie, leading all '98 born players in goal scoring with 21. Is a very smart player in the offensive end who has that innate ability to find holes in the defence and get himself in scoring position. Is not afraid of doing the little things that need to be done to attain or maintain possession and is the perfect complimentary scoring line player. Will be interesting to see if his play with the puck becomes a little more dynamic, or is it more of a case of, what we see, is what we get?
7. Brandon Saigeon - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs
Cut from the same cloth as the Scott Laughton, Mike Richards types. Saigeon is a competitive two-way center who should be a cornerstone of the new Bulldogs franchise. I expect that as he gets stronger, he'll become a force along the wall and working the cycle, and that he'll become quite a physical player. Offensively, he sees the ice well and makes things happen when the game slows down a bit. Last year, his skating was a bit of a weakness, but he looked quicker at the Ivan Hlinka camp and should be in for a big draft season.
6. Jordan Kyrou - Forward - Sarnia Sting
A great find by the Sting at the back of the 2nd round, Kyrou has emerged as one of the top 98's in the country, let alone Ontario. He was the 3rd highest scoring '98 in the OHL last year and was consistently one of Sarnia's best players in the 2nd half. Kyrou plays the game with a ton of energy, constantly buzzing around, with and without the puck. When it's on his stick, his creativity and vision make him a terrific playmaker. When it's not on his stick, he's battling hard to get it back and can be relentless in puck pursuit. Overall, just a terrific playmaking center who makes those around him better. Was great for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament and as of right now, he looks like a first round pick.
5. Tye Felhaber - Forward - Saginaw Spirit
Felhaber is an elite offensive player who could one day be the scoring leader of the OHL. Felhaber plays and excels at a high tempo, using his speed to drive the center of the ice. He has great skill with the puck in transition and creates space to unleash a nasty wrist shot off the rush. Last year he struggled with the size of some defenders, but he was an offensive force at the Ivan Hlinka camp (and a massively surprising cut IMO) who looked considerably stronger on the puck. He also looked more dedicated to playing without the puck, a key to his development moving forward. He just might be the most gifted offensive player on this list and he's poised for a big year.
4. Sean Day - Defence - Mississauga Steelheads
Perhaps the most talked about player on this list because of his exceptional status with Hockey Canada. While his development hasn't gone completely according to plan, he remains a solid prospect because of his size and skill set. The most obvious component to that is his effortless skating ability, which he uses to his advantage at both ends of the ice. Then there's the 6'2, 230lbs frame and the potential to develop into a dominating force in his own end. But…there's also the lack of intensity that can be frustrating. Just seems to be lacking that killer instinct. With his skill set, he should be jumping up in the play and pacing the action, but instead seems hesitant to do so. Then there's the cut at the Ivan Hlinka camp where he failed to stand out (and apparently had some conditioning issues). This is a huge year for him. There's no guarantee he's even a first round pick at this point, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt until the season starts. If he doesn't put things together, he'll drop heavily on my preliminary list in November.
3. Logan Brown - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Gigantic center (6'5) who is coming off a terrific rookie season in the OHL where he led all '98's in scoring. Has the ability to dominate in the offensive end because of the way he can maintain possession and work the wall. But he also has great speed, especially for his size, and could dominate off the rush, if he learns to be more aggressive in attacking the net and the middle of the ice. With good hands in close, and vision, Brown is the type of center NHL teams drool over now. The only negative is that he's not necessarily a physical player and his overall intensity without the puck needs to improve. This was noticeable at the Ivan Hlinka camp, where he was cut (all be it, Canada was loaded down the middle). If he can turn up the dial on the aggressive meter and continue to put up points, he'll be highly coveted by the NHL.
2. Michael McLeod - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
Had him at number 4 on my list until the Ivan Hlinka tournament. At the camp and at the tournament itself, he was one of Canada's top players and seems to have really taken that next step in his development. McLeod is an explosive skater who is fearless in driving the net and who is great working off the rush, or coming off the wall. He's got a great scorer's touch in close too. It seems like he's really added strength this offseason and he's going to be a very difficult player to stop in the offensive end. I also really like how physical he played at the Ivan Hlinka and I hope that continues into the OHL. The Steelheads have long needed a game breaking offensive star to kickstart their offence and McLeod could be that guy.
1. Jakub Chychrun - Defence - Sarnia Sting
Just stay healthy. That's all I've got to say. At the same age, I actually think Chychrun is ahead of where Aaron Ekblad was. As a rookie, he was a top 5 defender in the league IMO and he can heavily influence the game at either end. Solid defensively, physical, mobile, intelligent. Aggressive offensively with a fantastic point shot, and great vision. Most complete defender I've seen in the league since Drew Doughty (and that includes Ekblad). But, as I said, only obstacle in his way is his health, in particular a wonky shoulder. Missed the OHL Cup with a shoulder injury. Then missed time this year with a shoulder injury. Then had shoulder surgery that prevented him from playing at the Hlinka. Hopefully this surgery has cleaned things up and he can now focus on staying on the ice where he is a candidate for OHL defenseman of the year…and the first overall pick.
Cliff Pu - Forward - London Knights
Cole Candella - Defence - Hamilton Bulldogs
Ben Gleason - Defence - London Knights
Ben Hawerchuk - Forward - Barrie Colts
Logan Stanley - Defence - Windsor Spitfires
Michael Pezzetta - Forward - Sudbury Wolves
Appearing Soon (Have yet to play in the OHL):
Matthew Tkachuk - Forward - London Knights
Max Jones - Forward - London Knights
Dmitri Sokolov - Forward - Sudbury Wolves
Mikhail Sergachev - Defence - Windsor Spitfires
Markus Niemelainen - Defence - Saginaw Spirit
Olli Juolevi - Defence - London Knights
Created: Sunday, 23 August 2015 21:37
Originally published on August 23rd, 2015 at OHL Prospects by Brock Otten
I mention this every time that I write this piece, but it truly is one of my favourites to write and look back on. This annual article looks at some of the rookies who could make an impact in the OHL next year. And by that I mean players not selected in the Import Draft or the recent priority draft. I'm talking about 1998 (possibly even '97) born players who should finally crack their respective teams this year. The list of successful players of this ilk is long (see Mark Scheifele, Remi Elie, Matt Clark, Trevor Carrick, Travis Dermott, Zach Senyshyn, etc).
Listed are 10 guys (in alphabetical order) that you should keep an eye on, plus some honorable mentions.
In addition to my write ups, I've also included brief scouting reports from the guys over at TheScout.ca, in addition to a couple other great minds who see the Tier 2 ranks often (Steven Ellis and Conor Mulligan).
Thanks to the following (and give them a follow on twitter)
Andrew Sykes (@ASykes_hockey)
Matt Grainda (@graindaiv)
Nathan Didone (@NathanDidone)
Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisNHL)
Conor Mulligan (@ConorMulliganFC)
Here's the list:
Blake Coffey - Defence - Windsor Spitfires
The son of the great Paul Coffey, Blake spent this past year with Pickering of the OJHL. He lead the Panthers in defenseman scoring with 25 points. The Spits 5th rounder is still not guaranteed to report to Windsor, but I'd be surprised if he's not in the OHL next year. In Windsor, Coffey could definitely help Trevor Murphy with the creation of offence from the blue line and run the team's 2nd power play unit. But there are several other young defenders who will be vying for more playing time next year (Burns, Stanley, Murray, etc), so he'll have to bring his 'A' game.
"The son of legendary defenseman Paul Coffey, Blake also a plays a smart, two-way game that results in a lot of assists during the year. A draft pick of the Windsor Spitfires, Coffey really improved his game as the season went on for the less-than-stellar Pickering Panthers, even leading his team in points for a defenseman despite being a rookie in the league. Coffey's one-timer is destructive from anywhere on the ice, and his ability to run a power-play was better than almost everyone else in the OJHL last season. He doesn't have the ideal size for a defenseman, standing at just 5'11 and 185 lbs, but he does have some solid speed and has gained around 15 pounds since his OHL Draft year in 2014." (Steven Ellis)
Logan DeNoble - Forward - Peterborough Petes
DeNoble is an undersized scoring forward who already spent a good chunk of time with the Petes last year. When he wasn't in Peterborough, he was leading Lindsay of the OJHL in scoring and was named to the OJHL's First Team All Prospect. Last year, Peterborough struggled offensively and they desperately need players who can be dynamic in the offensive end. Perhaps that's DeNoble next year (as a late '97, he'll be draft eligible for the first time).
"DeNoble played a decent amount with Peterborough last year in a depth role, but with added strength this offseason, he should be able to make more of an offensive contribution this year. He's undersized, but he's a hard working player who attacks the offensive zone and wants the puck. Also seems to be a smart player who understands how to read defenses to create scoring chances. Adding that strength going into this year is essential for him to be able to maintain puck possession and show us what he's capable of." (Brock Otten)
Owen Guy - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Last year the Hounds got great production from a first year player coming off a great season in the CCHL (Zach Senyshyn). This year, they hope the same can be said about Guy, the league's reigning Rookie of the Year. The CCHL All Rookie team has some pretty impressive alumni (Senyshyn, Kelly Summers, Mackenzie Weegar) in recent years. Like Senyshyn, Guy will have to work his way on to, and then up, the Hounds line up, but he looks like he could be a contributor.
"I remember his first game he played for Kemptville against Nepean as a 15 year old and you could tell that he was going to be a very good player. He's very skilled offensively and makes plays at a high speed. Has a tendency to look hesitant and not engage in the play. Without the puck he can be hard to find on the ice and you wish he played a more complete game. That said he was one of (if not) the best 16 year olds in the CCHL last year. His brother was a late bloomer as well but he's shown more promise at a younger age." (Conor Mulligan)
Nicolas Hague - Defence - Mississauga Steelheads
Loved what I saw at the Ivan Hlinka camp, where I thought he was a surprising cut. An absolutely mammoth defenceman (already 6'6) and not eligible until 2017, Hague played last year with Kitchener of the GOJHL and was the rookie of the year. With his potential to contribute at both ends of the ice, there's no question he'll make an immediate impact in Mississauga. His recent signing by the Steelheads was a major coup.
"Hague is a very large defender who seems to have made great strides in using his size to his advantage defensively. He's not afraid to step up on players at the blueline and he'll play aggressively in the corners and when protecting his crease. Biggest asset though appears to be his strong skating ability for a big man, as he's able to stay with defenders off the rush, and when coupled with his good reach, allows him to be a very difficult player to beat one on one. He's also intelligent with the puck in his own end and his confidence in using his skating ability to lead the rush is slowly growing. Hague could certainly impact the game at both ends of the ice and looks like a serious draft prospect for 2017." (Brock Otten)
Boris Katchouk - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
A 2nd rounder by the Hounds in 2014, Katchouk saw limited time with the club last year. The rest of his year was spent with the Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL, where he was one of the better players on a Championship winning team. The Greyhounds have set themselves up for continued success, year after year, because of how well they've drafted recently. Even though they're losing the likes of Tolchinsky, Ritchie, Bailey, Moore, etc, they should still be fine because of all the talented forwards they're adding (3 on this list).
"Boris became one of the most threatening players in the NOJHL by the end of the year. Hungry for the puck he used his foot speed and size to get in on pucks quickly and cause havoc. Dynamic on the rush he attacks with speed, strength and has the puck skills to finish in tight. He will be ready to push for a top 9 role this year starting off as a high energy checker and showing more offence as the season progresses." (Nathan Didone)
Nicolas Mattinen - Defence - London Knights
Another member of the CCHL all rookie team (with the aforementioned Owen Guy), Mattinen played for Cumberland last year. London will have a very crowded blue line next year (which likely means some moves are in order), but the 6'3, 220lbs stay at home defender looks to be a serious contender for a roster spot and key minutes.
"I never realized he was only 16-years old last season until a few months into the season. Every time I watched Cumberland play he looked like a veteran. He's very composed with the puck and has the ability to slow the game down. Cumberland was not a very good team last year so he played a lot of minutes in a top-4 role. He's got a very heavy shot and he's not afraid to lead the rush. He has excellent gap control and uses his long reach to take away shooting lanes from opponents." (Conor Mulligan)
Kyle Moore - Forward - North Bay Battalion
Kyle appears to be cut from the same cloth as his older brother Bryan, who was an impact player in the league. Slightly undersized at 5'11, but he plays with his heart on his sleeve, which should endear him to Coach Stan Butler. Last year, Moore saw limited time with North Bay, but was one of the better players in the NOJHL with Powassan. Could see top 9 minutes this year.
"Moore plays a hard, competitive game and mixes in a nice amount of high-end skill. He has some strong, quick hands and protects the puck well with his body. His vision and hockey sense are solid even with pressure bearing down on him. He can finish a player into the boards hard and follow that up by setting-up a quality chance on net. Moore’s compete level is tough to match and his thick, powerful frame makes it difficult to move him around. Moore also made it to the USA Select U17 Development Camp and was among the final cuts for the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial team after making the All-Star Game." (Matt Grainda)
David Sherman - Forward - North Bay Battalion
Played in 30 games with the Battalion last year, splitting the year between the OHL and the NOJHL (also with Powassan). In the NOJHL, Sherman was well over a point per game and the 6'3 forward will be looking to replicate that success with North Bay next year. Despite losing the likes of Nick Paul, Nick Moutrey, and Ryan Kujawinski, the Battalion seem to have a fair amount of young talent in the pipeline to remain competitive.
"A big forward with soft and deceiving mobility. Smooth and skilled in possession, knows how to protect the puck, aided by his long reach. An adept shooter, boasts a quick, efficient release and a flair for opening up better lanes by drawing the puck laterally into his body. Misses a natural mean streak, yet still thrives as a create crasher, willing to drive the net and take up residence. Subtle and stealth like in the offensive zone, positioning himself intelligently an is quick to identify opportunities to execute. Unique skater, appears gangly and awkward yet generates deceiving speed and dexterity in diagonal cuts and crossovers, aided by long limns. Must improve his footwork and getting stronger on his edges while further developing his overall agility and quickness." (TheScout Draft Guide, 2014)
Riley Stillman - Defence - Oshawa Generals
This 4th rounder by Oshawa in 2014 played sparingly for the Generals last year but seems poised to take on a much larger role this upcoming season (especially with the Generals defence taking a big hit from graduations). Last year Stillman was named to the OJHL all second prospect team after a great season with Cobourg. Of course, Riley is the son of former NHL'er Cory Stillman.
"Ability to move the puck and read the play and defend and I thought as the season went on, his ability to defend got much better.”(Jeff Twohey, from this article)
Emanuel Vella - Goaltender - London Knights
This Knights goaltending prospect won an OJHL Championship with Toronto Lakeshore last year, and like Stillman, was named to the all second prospect team. He saw a bit of action in the OHL last year too, and struggled, but that's not all that uncommon for 16/17 year old netminders. He'll be competing for the backup job behind Tyler Parsons this year and seems to be the likely candidate to land it, considering I doubt London goes into the year using an overage spot on a backup netminder (Giuogovaz).
"A year after Jeremy Helvig made the jump from the Toronto Patriots to the OHL, Emanuel Vella is looking to do the same. A big goalie that can stretch to cover pretty much any angle, Vella doesn't offer up a lot of rebuild opportunities, and if he does, he doesn't waste a lot of energy trying to cover up his flaws. This allows him to be very competitive at the end of games, and if his 2014 OHL Cup effort with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens was any bit of proof, he's good when the going gets tough. Playing behind Peterbourgh Petes prospect Mat Robson with the Patriots last year should be beneficial to his OHL playing time, as he wasn't overworked yet still looked very good whenever he was called upon." (Steven Ellis)
Luke Kutkevicius - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
2nd highest drafted player (behind Max Jones) from 2014 to not play a game in the OHL. Kutkevicius will suit up for the Steelheads next year though, after playing with North York (OJHL) last year. Offensive output wasn't terrific, but he's a high energy guy who could bring value in depth.
"Kutkevicius fits the energetic forward stereotype rather well. Not a big time scorer, Kutkevicius has proven himself to very useful at top speed, something he's able to achieve in just seconds. He's not the biggest guy on the ice, but Kutkevicius isn't afraid to mix it up and defend himself or his teammates. He could work on his overall defensive game a bit more, and at 6'1, 154 lbs, he could fill out his frame a bit more to pair up his speed with the ability to check harder." (Steven Ellis)
Jake Lawr - Goaltender - Erie Otters
3rd highest goaltender taken in 2014, Lawr saw limited action with the Otters last year, instead playing with Brampton of the GOJHL. Stats weren't pretty, but there's more to the story. Brampton was one of the worst teams in the league. Lawr's save percentage of .892 was significantly better than that of his platoon mate (.856). Not sure what Erie's plan is this year, but my guess is he beats out Daniel Dekoning for the backup role.
"Big, positional goaltender who takes up significant net space. Plays a good, calm, poised style with a clean butterfly technique. An economical goaltender with strong fundamentals and good reflexes. Key to his game is staying up and being patient with shooters. Intimidates with his smothering lower net coverage, his quick, fluid pads flashing out instantly. Good positional sense, keeps his shoulders square while at the top of the crease, eliminating shooting angles. Calm and cool, never looks phased by a goal against or a poor play by his defenders, maintains neutral body language. Can overcommit at times and gets pulled away from the middle of the net on his pads. Not as quick moving laterally from his pads and can be vulnerable backdoor when he drops down prematurely. Projects as a starting goaltender at the next level, one who has the ability to make key saves while managing his body language and staying efficient." (TheScout Draft Guide, 2014)
Stephon Dhillon - Goaltender - Niagara IceDogs
Played very little as the 3rd string goalie in Niagara last year, but Dhillon appears ready to secure the backup position behind Brent Moran for this upcoming year. He's fresh off backstopping the U.S. to a 5th place finish at the Ivan Hlinka.
"Dhillon is a tall goaltender who absolutely uses his size to his advantage. He plays more of a positional or technical style as he controls his movements around the crease very well. His lower net coverage is strong and allows him take away the bottom portion of the net. Dhillon really does a good job staying large when in the butterfly position and reacts to shots quickly from all angles. He’s got really good poise in net and a strong glove-hand. Dhillon participated in the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament for Team USA after making the squad out of the USA Select U17 Development Camp." (Matt Grainda)
Eric Henderson - Forward - London Knights
There's no denying that the Knights have a logjam at forward heading into next year. Never a bad thing to have, but a guy like Henderson will be knocking down the door for a roster spot. He saw action in 4 games last year (and scored), and had a highly successful season in the GOJHL with Leamington (top 5 scorer on team, and a member of the rookie all star team).
"Ever since he concluded his Minor Midget season with the Sun County Panthers, Henderson has proven that he is an OHL calibre player. The Kingsville native excelled in parts of two seasons with the Leamington Flyers where he was a key figure during the team's back-to-back GOJHL Western Conference Championships. A third round pick in 2014, Henderson was called up for four games with the Knights this past season and had a memorable debut, picking up a goal and an assist in his first OHL game. On top of having the size and strength to protect the puck and play a possession game, he has a well-rounded offensive repertoire which includes smart ice awareness and vision, a skillful passing ability, and a goal-scoring touch around the net. The big question for him now becomes whether or not he will get enough ice time in what projects to be a loaded Knights forward group." (Andrew Sykes)
Nicholas Sicoly - Forward - Guelph Storm
Undersized scorer who had an absolutely terrific year in the NOJHL where he won a championship with the Soo Thunderbirds (he was the team's 3rd leading scorer, Boris Katchouk was 5th). There's no question he'll be a member of the Storm next year, just remains to be seen in what capacity.
"Sicoly had his moments but size and lack of explosiveness stopped him from gaining any separation. Showed some creative play-making ability but largely from the outside and passed up too many shots. Consistency would wavier throughout the game going to have to be more consistent to make an impact at the OHL level." (Nathan Didone)
Domenic Commisso - Forward - Oshawa Generals
The Gennies are losing a lot of talent up front heading into next year, which opens up a spot for a guy like Commisso to come in an earn ice time. He's not the biggest kid, but he's coming off a solid season with the Mississauga Chargers (OJHL) where he scored 25 points in 43 games.
"Commisso was a member of the poor Mississauga Chargers club, a team that struggled to have any real success throughout the season. Despite that, the team did find the net quite a few times, and Commisso was one of the bright spots. A small kid with the ability to jet end-to-end effortlessly, Commisso can be the best player on the ice in more cases than not. Commisso made the most out of playing for a weak team last year, and it wouldn't be unrealistic to peg him as a third liner with the Oshawa Generals this season. He's got the skill, he's got the speed, and as long as he doesn't get roughed up or pushed around, he could be a pleasant surprise at the OHL level." (Steven Ellis)
Jack Kopacka - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Got into 4 games with the Greyhounds last year, spending the majority of the year with the Compuware Major Midget team. He was the 2nd leading scorer on the team and seems poised to at least play a 4th line role for the Soo this year. Fell in the 2014 draft to the 8th round over signability concerns, but he's a legit prospect.
"Kopacka is a very competitive, all-around player who works his tail off in every opportunity. He plays a fast, high paced game and can skillfully drive the net or battle hard to create a turnover. He utilizes a powerful skating stride to get up the ice and makes smart decisions with the puck on his stick. Kopacka can shoot with accuracy and loves to get chances on the net at every opportunity. He’s got a slick set of hands and is an underrated set-up man. Kopacka made it to the USA Select U17 Development Camp and was among the final cuts for the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial team after making the All-Star Game." (Matt Grainda)
Brett Primeau - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs
A '97 forward and 2013 priority selection, Primeau finally seems poised to crack the Frontenacs lineup full time this year. He spent last year with Lasalle (GOJHL) and was the Vipers' 3rd leading scorer. Kingston's going to need scoring depth and that opens up an opportunity for a guy like Primeau.
"Coming off a successful first junior season with the LaSalle Vipers where he was one of the top rookie scorers in the GOJHL, Primeau will head into the 2015-16 season with the confidence that he will again see some OHL action. The Belle River native was called up for three games with the Frontenacs last year, and as long as he continues to be a top producer with LaSalle in the early going, he will be a candidate for further call-ups should he not make the team out of training camp. An eighth-round selection in 2013, the 18-year-old is an offensive threat who does his best work inside the attacking zone. While not the quickest of skaters, he makes up for it through smart positioning and ice awareness, and then follows with good vision, sharp passing instincts, and accurate shooting. Primeau is not someone you look at for his two-way ability, but he is someone who has a knack for producing offense and could be an option on the wing on one of the Fronts lines." (Andrew Sykes)
Kevin Hancock - Forward - Owen Sound Attack
The Attack are another team who will have some voids to fill in a scoring role, and they're hoping a guy like Hancock can come in and provide that. Last year he had a solid season with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens (of the OJHL), where he had 30 points in 44 games.
"Hancock is a two-way centre that likes to pass first, but still isn't afraid to put up some solid scoring numbers. Hancock was a standout at the Owen Sound Attack training camp a year ago, even earning himself a nine game stint during the season that saw him find the net for the first time. His OJHL rookie season proved to have a bit of learning curve, but after playing with some of the best sharpshooters in the league, Hancock really made himself known by the time the season was over. He continuously works to get much better all the time, and it really showed once the season came to a close." (Steven Ellis)
Brendan Harrogate - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
A 7th rounder by the Steelheads in 2014 out of the Chatham-Kent area, Harrogate is coming off a terrific season with Lasalle of the GOJHL. He averaged over a point per game and was the team's leading scorer in a long playoff run. The Steelheads are always searching for offensive contributors and they may have that in Harrogate next year.
"Having recently signed with the Mississauga Steelheads, Harrogate will look to build off a stellar first junior season and continue to trend towards success in the OHL. In his rookie season with the LaSalle Vipers in the GOJHL, the Chatham native turned in one of the most impressive first-year junior eligible performances among those playing outside the OHL in Ontario in helping the Vipers reach the Sutherland Cup Finals. What Steelheads management were sure to like most is the fact that Harrogate was an impact player in the playoffs against some of the top junior B teams in the province. He scored eight goals in 16 Western Conference playoff games and further caught fire in the Sutherland Cup playoffs where he tallied nine goals in 13 games against league champions Elmira and Caledonia. The 17-year-old has the smarts, skill and intangibles to play well as a rookie in the OHL, and while he doesn't wow with any one attribute, he is someone who does everything well and brings confidence and competitiveness to every shift. He skates with a purpose, is a smooth and deceptive puck-carrier in motion, and uses his body well to protect in the corners and along the wall. Evidenced by the clip he scored at with LaSalle, Harrogate has a real knack for scoring goals as he intelligently reads the ice and his linemates to put himself in positions to finish off plays." (Andrew Sykes)
Jacob Drobczyk - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs
A '97 drafted by the Frontenacs in the most recent Priority selection, Drobczyk appears to be a bit of a late bloomer. Was among the leading scorers of the Canadian high school hockey scene last year, attending the prestigious Hill Academy (alumni includes Brenden Miller, Devin Shore). The Fronts struggled getting scoring from multiple lines so if Drobczyk can add some scoring depth to the lineup, he'll be a valuable addition.
"“Jacob is a power forward with great size, skill, and exceptional skating,” said Gilmour. “We’re thrilled to have Jacob. We’re continuously looking to add size and skating to the team, and he possesses those attributes.” (Doug Gilmour, from this article)
Likely NCAA Bound
Cameron Morrison - Forward - North Bay Battalion
Would be an immediate, high impact player for the Battalion, but the Notre Dame commit seems set on the NCAA route. The reigning OJHL rookie of the year would be a perfect fit with Coach Stan Butler, but the 2016 eligible forward is likely to suit up for Aurora again, or Youngstown of the USHL next year.
Jack LaFontaine - Goaltender - Kitchener Rangers
Even though the Rangers hope they've found their goalie of the foreseeable future in Luke Opilka, there's no doubt that they'd still love to see LaFontaine report. Was senational for Georgetown (OJHL) last year and was a member of the first all prospect team. Hasn't committed anywhere yet, but he seems headed to the NCAA.
Matthew Cairns - Defence - Peterborough Petes
A 3rd rounder by Peterborough in 2014, Cairns won an OJHL Championship with Toronto Lakeshore last year, where he was an integral part of their defense. He'd be a valued member of the Petes' blueline, adding size and toughness, but he has also yet to commit and seems likely destined for the NCAA.
Created: Thursday, 20 August 2015 22:37
Originally published on July 10th, 2015 at OHL Prospects
On Tuesday, June 30, the Canadian Hockey League held its annual Import Draft. It is here, CHL teams get the opportunity to add import talent to their roster. There are two rounds of the draft, and a team can pass on their pick at any time. Import picks can not be traded. Goalies are also no longer allowed to be selected.
Just to remind you, CHL clubs are permitted to carry only two import players on their team or protected list every year. However, if a CHL team has an Import who was an NHL first round pick (such as Sarnia with Pavel Zacha), they receive the opportunity to add another player to their protected list to cover should that first round import (like Zacha) make the NHL.
While the Import Draft can be a bit of a crap shoot, many of the players drafted do come over and can have an impact. Let's breakdown the results of previous five Import Drafts.
26 of 26 players selected came to the Ontario Hockey League (100%)
21 of 26 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (81%)
10 (open for debate) of 26 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (38%)
17 of 20 players selected came to the OHL (85%)
17 of 20 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (85%)
10 (open for debate) of 20 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (50%)
22 of 27 players selected came to the OHL (81%)
17 of 27 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (63%)
9 (open for debate) of the 20 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (33%)
22 of 25 players selected came to the OHL (88%)
20 of 25 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (80%)
7 (open for debate) of the 25 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (28%)
19 of 25 players selected came to the OHL (76%)
18 of 25 players selected lasted the entire OHL season with their clubs (72%)
11 (open for debate) of the 25 players had a significant impact on their OHL teams (44%)
This article will provide you with some information and scouting reports on those selected.
Of course this article wouldn't have been possible without the help of these experts:
Matt Grainda is currently a US Scout for thescout.ca, and is a former USHL scout for ISS Hockey. He can be followed on twitter too (@graindaiv)
Dan Stewart is the head scout for Future Considerations. He and the staff there were able to help out and I'm grateful for that. Others from FC that helped include: Daniel Deschenes, Colin Mayberry, Niklas Adolfsson, Mikael Kreutz, Marco Bambino.
Anthony Mauro of Draft Buzz Hockey is a terrific source for information about NHL prospects. Be sure to follow him on twitter (@draftbuzzhockey).
Chapin Landvogt is also a writer for HockeysFuture, in addition to being a scout for Future Considerations. Give him a follow on twitter (@Csomichapin).
And of course our anonymous European scout (who chooses to remain that way for various reasons). Without his help, these articles wouldn't be possible year after year.
3. Sudbury Wolves - Dmitry Sokolov - Forward
The Wolves start off the draft with a bang, selecting a Russian forward who is currently considered a Top 10 selection for the 2016 NHL Draft (FC has him 8th, HP has him 10th). He had quite the year in 2014/2015, finishing 3rd in scoring at the U17's, and then finishing 3rd in scoring on Team Russia as an underager at the U18's. Needless to say, if he reports, he's a great get for the Wolves.
Scouting Report: Dan Stewart of Future Considerations says,“A big, thickly built forward with some impressive ‘get-your-butt-out -of-your-seat’ offensive skills. Plays a heavy yet light game in that he is hard to move or knock off stride but also has the ability to really dangle through defenders. A powerful stride and cannon shot are his best assets but his underrated playmaking ability rounds out his offensive arsenal. This kid has huge upside and will be one of the top picks in the 2016 NHL draft.” Daniel Deschenes of Future Considerations says, "“The smooth skating winger has a nice mix of speed, size, and puck skills. Uses his large frame to his advantage as he is hard on the puck and protects it exceptionally well. Uses his size to create some space with and without the puck. Possesses a heavy slap shot and a decently quick wrist shot - mixing them with good shot selection based on the time he has to work with. Puck hungry and shows a determination to have it on his stick as he pushes the pace and move the puck up ice. Books it back hard and fast on the backcheck to help defend; moves very well and reads and reacts even better.” Our anonymous European scout says, "First round prospect. Excellent scoring touch and has good size/strength. Uses size to protect the puck. Excellent shot, has quick release, good finishing touch and good hands-eyes coordination. Hard wrister, good hands in tight, instinctive in offensive zone. Very dangerous on PP. Sees passing lanes in offensive zone and has a bit of creativity too. Not hardworker, little effort without the puck, doesn´t use his size to get the puck in battles and doesn´t finish many checks. First steps needs improvement as well as foot speed. Hard to knock off his skates."
6. Windsor Spitfires - Mikhail Sergachev - Defence
Windsor aims to rebuild their defence with the selection of Sergachev, a talented and defensive oriented blueliner who is also currently garnering attention as a potential first round pick in 2016 (HP has him 17th). The big, physical defender who likely really help a Spitfires defence that struggled last year.
Scouting Report: Daniel Deschenes of Future Considerations says, “Makes very good passes and plays under pressure, not seeming hesitant or scared when forced to make a decision quicker than expected, showing good awareness and the ability to make a good pass up the wall to his man. Has a heavy shot loaded with power as he lets it go from the point. His slap shot possesses a high amount of velocity while looking to be somewhat pedestrian as he winds up. I would like to see him be more physical in his own zone - he has the size to do so - as he looked very hesitant to engage physically and use his body in my views. Good defensive awareness and does a very good job of pushing his man to the outside and limiting the space he gives the puck carrier to work with.” Our anonymous European scout says, "First round prospect, plays mature game, doesn´t make mistakes at both sides. Very good at both sides of rink, reads the play really well, plays with poise and patience. Excels in moving the puck out of zone. Good size/strength, thick body, strong on skates. Goes on pinching, forces the play at the blue line and stands up and makes the play at the blueline. Rubs opposing player at the board and plays physical and aggressive game, doesn´t back down, stands his ground. Plays the point on the PP very well, accurate in moving the puck, moves well laterally to create lanes for passing and shooting and has hard shot which he keeps low and gets on net through traffic consistently. Highly confident with the puck, fakes shot, slides around defending forwards and moves into better position. Has nice instinct, jumps into the play at right time, joins rushes. Can make surprising, creative passes through traffic. Has very good footwork." Matt Grainda says, "Mikhail Sergachev was one of my favorite 1998-born defensemen I saw all of last season. I really like his balanced two-way style along with his toughness. His size and strength are immediately noticeable along with his physicality. He plays an aggressive, mean style and balances it well with lots of skill. He’s more of a pass and move player and can create space very well while accelerating up the ice. His skating stride is powerful and smooth. He is highly poised in possession and uses his vision to make quality decisions on both ends of the ice. His game management skills are impressive. He’s got a very hard shot from the point and solid command for when to use it. Sergachev projects as a first round selection in the 2016 NHL Draft due to his complete overall game and physical nature. He’s a fantastic, young player."
9. Flint Firebirds - Vili Saarijarvi - Defence
Flint rolls the dice selecting Detroit's 3rd rounder (73rd OV) in the most recent NHL draft. Saarijarvi is an undersized offensive defender who rose up the draft charts after an explosive U18's, where he was named the Top Defenseman. With Gianluca Curcuruto graduating, Flint really needed a powerplay QB and puck moving replacement. Problem is that Saarijarvi just signed a deal to play for Karpat back home in Finland. Maybe the Red Wings can help get him to Flint.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations says, "The tiny puck-moving blueliner has a heavy shot from the point and moves with some strong elusiveness and quickness. He can be a bit too much of a scrambled mess in his own zone and obviously gets pushed off the puck or loses one-on-one battles too easily. But, he still plays an aggressive style of game from the blue line. He gets up the ice with regularity and also is keen on starting the transition game with a nice pass." Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "He’s a small but decently filled out [23.8 BMI] D who can flex as both a speedy puck rusher and a tactical puck mover. His skating is visually pleasing displaying all of the ingredients of a great skater. His legs pop off the ice with sharp movement and response, and he looks very fluid in reverse. He may lack some strength and power to his stride, but that will come with age. He has a very good shot that he wasn’t able to actualize much with a shooting percentage of less than 6%. Though a good passer in control, he did have some difficulty hitting tape under pressure or in quick action sequences."Our anonymous European scout says, "Very impressive at international stage but (I was told) struggled a bit in USHL. Smallish D is dynamic and smart with the puck. Great skater, leads offensive attacks all the time, jumps into the play, excellent decision making, can either go through neutral zone and gain the zone or skate the puck out of zone and make perfect cross passes into the full speed. Impossible to contain, very tricky leading the puck, always skates with head up and goes into open spots, excellent timing on his passes. Rarely rushed into bad decision, excellent reading, has poise. Agility, quickness and puck control enables him to gain space and time to make play. Has enough speed to get back from his rushes into offensive zone. Passes are crisp and accurate, excellent vision. Runs PP well, moves his feet creating passing and shooting lines, knows when to shoot and when pass. Good shot, keeps it low and gets it to the net through traffic. Fast enough to get back from his rushes. Love his passion and competitiveness." Matt Grainda says, "Vili Saarijarvi is a very quick, highly-skilled offensive defenseman. Right away you notice his fast footworkand efficient skating stride. He can really explode up the ice while in possession of the puck. He gets the rush started from the defensive zone and makes smart decisions with his passes. He can quarterback a power-play very well from the point. You really notice his great puck control and mobility when the puck is on his stick. His shot is quick, accurate and hard for his smaller sized frame. The only thing really holding his defensive game back is his smaller size. He’s not the most physical player and he’s not very strong. Detroit took him in the third round of the 2015 NHL Draft and I don’t believe NHL Central Scouting had him on their midterm or final rankings. That should tell you something."
12. Mississauga Steelheads - Alexander Nylander - Forward
They struck out with William last year, but that doesn't deter the Steelheads from selecting his brother Alex this year. Honestly, it's not a terrible strategy. His brother will be playing in Toronto, so playing for Mississauga would give Alex a chance to be near (or even live with) his brother. The younger Nylander is very highly regarded for the 2016 NHL Draft (currently ranked 14th by FC and 22nd by HP). He'd give the Steelheads another potential first rounder for 2016 (with Day and McLeod). And also give them a much needed injection of offensive ability.
Scouting Report: Colin Mayberry of Future Considerations says, "“Nylander is a pretty special player. He is primarily a finesse player, relying heavily on his high skill level. It seems to me that he rides and dies with his feet as he is a fantastic skater. His feet allow him to get away from or elude defenders, both in open space and along the boards. I also love his ability to stop on a dime, making defenders go right past him and give himself an extra second or two to survey his options. His vision is on point and his passing is precise. He hits players cross ice, through the smallest of holes, tape to tape. Nylander is a high upside guy for Sweden in 2016.” Niklas Adolfsson of Future Considerations says, “His skill level and reading of the game seemed simply a fair amount above the rest. He is very much a copy of his older brother William, with a few differences. But just like his brother his has some weaknesses in his game. Very agile and moves well in all directions. He can make quick turn with ease. He skates a lot like his brother William but a little less explosive. Really soft hands. Almost as good as William, but he doesn’t dangle or try to beat his defender 1 - on -1 as much as William does. He can make jaw dropping passes and seems to have some accuracy in his wrist shot but is more of a playmaker than William. He is not very physically mature and needs to get stronger.”
15. Peterborough Petes - Jonne Tammela - Forward
The Petes go for Tampa Bay 4th rounder (118 OV) Tammela in hopes of adding depth to their top 6 for next season. Tammela was a standout for a Finland U18 team that won the Silver at this year's event. Problem is, like Saarijarvi, he has a contract to play in Finland next year with KalPa (where he played against men this past year). The Lightning love their OHL content though, so something tells me that they'll be pushing hard to get Tammela here, especially with Masin and Spencer already in Peterborough.
Scouting Report: Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "Blessed with high-end skating ability, he can take off with insane acceleration and blow the pants off defenders. A constant threat, even if he isn’t outright beating his opponents, he is the type of speedy forward who can cause them to take last resort penalties in the process of attempting to stop him. The type of direction changes he’s able to make at top speed are remarkable. He’s not a puck possessive forward in a good way IE he has the skill to make plays, but only does as much as he needs to stickhandling wise expertly splitting energy between speed and handle. He’s small, no doubt about it, but the way he positions his arms and adjusts his body to contact while still keeping his stick on the puck shows he will be able to get it done in the bigs. He will hit and is competitive in the right way. A natural playmaker, Tammela is just a super player who will break out soon." Future Considerations says, "A solid two-way prospect who is just starting to show what he can become. Possesses good separation speed and he can break away from his check and split to a lane for a pass. Often loses the puck when under pressure as he tries to gain speed and work his way up ice; will need to get stronger on the puck in order to maintain possession at top speed. Makes crisp passes to the most solid options in all three zones. Applies immense pressure on the forecheck and makes good use of his stick and body; finishes his checks as he gets low and drives his man into the wall. Has a bomb of a shot. Tammela is strong in the face-off circle, winning draws cleanly to the perfect spot; setting his team up for success. We
like what he brings to the game; a character, hard-working player." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Very good skater with speed, quick burst of speed. Not big, but solidly built, low point of gravity, decent balance. Soft and quick hands, has flash in his game, can dangle a bit and beat D with finesse moves. Good vision and passing touch. Goes to the net with and without the puck and plays bigger than his size, feisty, has some grit. Finishes some checks, takes hit to make play and goes through checks. Never stops moving his feet trying to get away of attention of opposing D, difficult to cover. Shifty, hard to contain, tough to knock off the puck. Decent shot and can finish off his chances. Plays with nice passion and energy, good effort every shift, competes. Plays up-tempo game. Smooth passing and receiving in full stride. Uses his speed to gain control of the puck. Hockey sense is above average but still needs to work on decision making."
18. Saginaw Spirit - Markus Niemelainen - Defence
The Spirit go for a young Finnish defender (a '98) who is a highly regarded prospect for the 2016 NHL draft. At 6'4, Niemelainen would join forces with the likes of Keaton Middleton, to give Saginaw a dynamic and large duo. Niemelainen played for the Finnish U18 as an underager (that won Silver), which has to point to his ability being strong.
Scouting Report: Colin Mayberry of Future Considerations says, “Niemeläinen got kind of lost in such a deep U17 Finnish team at the World U17 Challenge in Sarnia, but he did have some flashes of brilliance out there. For a bigger kid, I loved his agility and ability to quickly get to the line to keep the puck in as well as pinch in from the point. He is smart in the offensive zone, knowing how to move effectively with the puck to open up space for himself. He has an absolute bomb from the point and can really rip the puck on net.” Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Big, strong, mobile, can play physical game. Quick feet for big guy. Can skate the puck out of danger. Strong in battles. Fairly solid and steady defensively, contains well and has solid awareness. Move the puck simply but quite efficially. Hockey sense above average."
21. Hamilton Bulldogs - Ondrej Kachyna - Defence
One of two defenders selected by Hamilton as they try to reshape a defense that struggled last year. Kachyna is a '98 who would be eligible for the 2016 NHL draft. In terms of hype, there doesn't appear to be a lot surrounding him, so here's hoping that the Bulldogs found a diamond in the rough.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Regarding Ondrej Kachyna, I saw him only once in Czech junior Extraleague. He was rather bad but frankly the whole team looked terrible. Missed that U17 series with Finland where I saw plenty of 98´born players. Report on Kachyna from forementioned game: " Tall but a bit lanky. Moves fairly well for his size. Decent lateral mobility and footwork but stopped moving his feet off the rush and beaten wide on several occasion. Doesn´t use his size enough to play physical game. Made some positional mistakes and not very quick in reading developing play. Limited puck skills and very average hockey sense. However he probably isn´t that bad, there were scouts who told me that he was okay when they saw him."
24. Sarnia Sting - Patrik Laine - Forward
After lucking out with Zacha last year, the Sting go big again this year. Laine is considered a potential lottery pick for 2016 (8th by HP, 15th by FC). At the U18's this year, where he played as an underager, he tied with Austin Matthews for the goal scoring lead (8 goals in 7 games). He's got a contract with Tappara in Finland, so who knows what to expect. If he comes, that strong Sarnia team just got even better.
Scouting Report: Mikael Kreutz of Future Considerations says, “Stands out from the rest of the team with his huge frame. Heard about some skating deficiencies but in my opinion he moved relatively smoothly for his size and age, see no issues with his skating in the future. Played limited minutes but he did the most he could with it in the offensive zone, flashes of brilliance with the puck, great passing game and not afraid to take shots when the opportunity presented itself. Hard to believe he's only 16 when you see him out on the ice playing against men, he looks bigger and better built then most adult players out there, but he was clearly not comfortable with using his size as he was cautious along the boards and avoided plays where there was risk of physical play. Impossible to get a good read of a players game based on a handful of shifts, but it is clear that Laine is a big talent that will be interesting to follow for the 2016 draft.” Daniel Deschenes of Future Considerations says, “(At the U18’s in April) Laine is a massive winger who has all the confidence in the world. He shows poise in his ability to deke his way up ice and gain the offensive zone with speed and control. He displays a desire to finish in tight and doesn’t back down easily. Possesses all kinds of speed and quick feet on the rush, not limiting his decision making despite the speed as he makes quick decisions to deliver a centering pass or drive the net and get a shot off.”
27. Kingston Frontenacs - Konstantin Chernyuk - Defence
The Fronts take Chernyuk, a big Russian defender who has been playing in North America for a few years now. Last year he split time between a Wilkes Barre U18 team and Wichita Falls in the NAHL. In 2014 he committed to the University of Maine (a prestigious program). Seems like Chernyuk has some options after being selected last year in the USHL draft. Could suit up there or the OHL next year. Depends how serious he is about this Maine commitment.
Scouting Report: Matt Grainda says, "Konstantin Chernyuk is a really, really tall defensive defenseman. His big, lanky frame is probably his most notable characteristic. Physically he looks really tall, but also somewhat skinny. He has good smarts and plays his position very well. He knows how to take away space by using his defensive angles and his extremely long reach. It can be tough breaking into the offensive zone due to his smart stick defense. He can play the body but sometimes relies on his stick to do the work. His skating stride is a little awkward but he moves pretty quickly north-to-south. He’s smart while in control of the puck and he likes to look for the long stretch pass. His shot is good but he’s not one to use it often. His size alone might make him a NHL pick for next season but he needs to add weight and improve his footwork."
33. Niagara IceDogs - David Kase - Forward
It's not often that a player gets selected twice in the Import Draft, but that's the case with Kase (see what I did there?). He went to Blainville-Boisbriand last year in the 1st and never showed. This year what's different? A couple of things that may sway him to North America. Firstly, he was taken in the 5th round by Philadelphia at the NHL Draft. Maybe they influence him. Secondly, his brother Ondrej will be crossing the pond next year to play in the AHL. Kase would be a great add by the Dogs, as he's a legit offensive talent and prospect. He played on the Czech WJC team (U20) this year and served as the captain of their U18 team (and Silver medal winning Hlinka team).
Scouting Report: The Hockey News says, "A solid all around talent who is great on draws and protects the puck well." Future Considerations says, "Kase is a diminutive and high-impact offensive player with the ability to drive the pace of a game. Plays at high speed and always is in the hunt to attack. Exceptional acceleration, agility and separation speed. Kase is very confident player who is a high-end stick handler. He knows where to find space in the offensive zone and can elude coverage with quickness and skill. Has a quick release on his shot with some sneaky fast zip to it.
He loves to play the possession game, even though he can be easily outmatched if caught. He tends to over complicate passes at times, trying to make high level plays when easy routes are to be had. He sometimes fumbles the execution and doesn’t always deliver flat, accurate passes in the open lane. He is weak and easily outmatched physically. Despite deficiencies, Kase does see some penalty kill time and exhibits patience, defensive awareness and quickness with his stick." Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "He has made a name for himself with a chameleon like ability to take different roles in different environments. With older competition, he relies on his work ethic, well-rounded game, and fire to help in any way possible IE not focused on points. With his own age group, he has captained teams and been one of the go to offensive guys as seen in his 5PTS in 4GP this past U18. He’s fast because he keeps his cadence high, but his strides can look uncontrolled. He can be flippant with the puck and not have the smoothest handle/passes come off it, but can orchestrate top line dekes when things click. A little fierce dynamo." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "Love his character, competitiveness, effort, heart, smart player. Plays bigger than his size, great passion and determination, does everything to win the game. Skates hard both ways, always first forward on backcheck, keeps moving his feet. Anticipates well, first on the puck on many occasion despite of lack of speed, always around the puck. Slick with the puck and controls the puck well along the boards but still just above average hands for small guy. Good playmaking skills and vision. Protects the puck well and fairly strong on puck along the boards. Neither quick and shifty nor great change of pace, lacks more effective stride and his feet are not very quick for his size. |Not afraid to take hit and gets involved in high traffic areas regularly but lacks dynamic stick skills. Good hands in close but shot is nothing special. Actually think that he will be very good player on European rinks in the future however his NHL upside is questionable due to combination of lack of size, average skating ability and lack of top end puck skills. Could be excellent junior player if he decides to come over though."
39. Guelph Storm - Timo Haussener - Forward
The Storm have some big shoes to fill with two import selections this year. Pius Suter and Phil Baltisberger have been great for that organization. Haussener is a huge forward (6'4) who was eligible for this year's NHL draft and went undrafted (was ranked 94th by NHL Central Scouting). At the very least, he looks like he could play a physical role on the team's 3rd line.
Scouting Report: Daniel Deschenes of Future Considerations says, “Haussener is a strong power forward type who has a slick set of hands. He has a long reach and is active with his stick in the defensive zone. Displayed confidence to take a little in the offensive zone by deking around his opponent and driving into the offensive zone.”
42. Ottawa 67's - Stepan Falkovsky - Defence
Holy crap. I thought there was a typo when I saw the size of Falkovsky. 6'9, 231lbs. That's one big defender. He was eligible for this year's NHL Draft but went undrafted (was ranked 44th by NHL Central Scouting). The Belarus native suited up for the Belarus U20 team this year (in the 2nd division) and helped them earn a chance to get back to the main group next year. Seems like a potentially big add (pun intended).
Scouting Report: Haven't gotten anything back from my scouts yet on Falkovsky, so in the meantime, here's a great write up on him (with scouting) from Alex Quevillon. Link is here.
45. London Knights - Olli Juolevi - Defence
London's had some good luck with defenders named Olli, so this looks like a good pick. All joking aside, Juolevi is a very highly regarded young defender. HP has him 14th currently for 2016, while FC has him 16th. He played as an underager this past year at the Hlinka for Finland and has been wearing an "A" for Finland internationally. If he comes, this gives London 4 potential first rounders for next year (with Jones, Tkachuk, and Mete).
Scouting Report: Marco Bambino of Future Considerations says, “Juolevi is such a talented and strong player at both ends of the ice that if I you didn't know, you would think he's a 20-year-old player. First of all, his puck management and reliability are one of his strengths. He did make two quite bad passes that went for icings, which is unusual for him. However, overall his playing with the puck and ability make that strong first pass, whether it be a long or short one, are clearly above a 16-year-old. Juolevi skates well with a long stride, smooth at turning pivots and with his clever positioning he's very tough to get around. He reads the game very well and thus his hockey sense is great. He can also contribute offensively. He got the puck once at the offensive blueline, showed quick hands and moves to get by the forward. His pass to the slot area wasn't the best, but again, this just shows how well he reads the play. He can really shoot the puck as well and almost score in the game after taking a shot on a rolling puck. The shot went a bit wide. This player has a ton of talent.“ Daniel Deschenes of Future Considerations says, “He runs the power play with strong passes and good offensive instincts. Receives passes like an egg, doing so with ease. Makes smart, crisp D to D passes that help the transition game. Has an array of dekes and can get creative offensively as seen by his slick heel to toe pull around the defender to open some space and get a shot off.” Our anonymous European scout says, "Excellent defensive prospect, should be first round draft pick next June. Highly mobile in all four directions, strong footwork, almost impossible to beat him off the rush, smooth pivots. Excellent wheels with the puck, fluid, long stride, can skate the puck out of zone, creates separation easily. Plays strong gap and forces forward to the outside off the rush. Sees the ice very well and strong moving the puck out of zone, excellent creative first pass giving puck away on the fly. Passes are crisp and accurate and likes to join rush. Rarely makes bad decision both with and without the puck. Aggressive in battles, ties forwards up at the board, uses active stick off the rush, tough to beat, contains well in tight areas. Forces the play at the blueline. Has ability to play the point on PP but needs to work on shot, some trouble to get the puck through traffic and hit the net, too many shots misses the net."
48. North Bay Battalion - Max Kislinger - Forward
Kislinger certainly hasn't taken the conventional hockey journey. The young German forward came to play for the Peterborough Petes minor midget team last year and played in the OHL Cup. He was one of the team's leading scorers. This past year he returned to Europe and played in Austria. The '98 forward has good size and will likely try to fill one of Henriksson or Olsson's spots on a checking line.
Scouting Report: Chapin Landvogt says, "Max Kislinger is already a tall player who is more likely 195-200 lbs. as opposed to the 172 or so that some sites state. He is coming off a season where he was in anything but a prominent role. Before that, he got a good taste of North American play in the Peterborough area and shouldn't have any problem adjusting to life in North America should he play in the CHL. Likely to be used as more of a hard-working banger heading in, he's quick to pick up what's being taught and tends to be very well liked by coaches and teammates alike." Also, here's a great article on his year in Minor Midget (with a scouting report) from the Peterborough Examiner. Link is here.
51. Barrie Colts - Julius Nattinen - Forward
At the Import Draft, sometimes you just have to shoot for the stars. The Colts have done that in selecting Nattinen, a 2nd rounder by Anaheim at the 2015 Draft. Nattinen played against men this year in the Finnish league and was one of the top players on a Finland U18 team that won Silver. The two-way center would be a fantastic addition if he comes over, especially considering Barrie's losses down the middle (Blandisi and Hooey).
Scouting Report: The Hockey News says, "creative producer who has added a much needed physical element to his game." Future Considerations says, "Nattinen is a two-way center who plays a solid playmaking game. He has good skating mechanics and is solid in his skates but doesn’t really have an extra gear that will drop jaws. He can generate speed on the rush but works best when he flows with the play and uses his smarts to find the openings. He shines when given time and space like on the powerplay. Has a cool head and is efficient under pressure. Spots teammates well and can open up space with quick and accurate passes. Has some soft mitts and a big frame to support some power forward characteristics when in the offensive zone and in transition. Strong positioning in the defensive zone and plays a highly efficient center’s role. Supports the puck well and goes to work when called upon." Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "He is a focused two way forward whose puck ability allows him to be just as good defensively as he is offensively. Over the year, he has been the type of forward to make extremely nice passes and dekes that actually materialize into goals [longer traveled plays]. He is hard to knock off the puck though his skating could improve. He’s a smooth, long legged skater, but his agility isn’t great and acceleration lags. His overall pace can be slow though it doesn’t really affect him much as he has great vision, and ability to cut back and utilize quick hands." Our anonymous European scout says, "More skilled and creative, much higher offensive upside than his older brother, thrives on PP. Deceptive skater, not dynamic skater and first steps a bit slow but actually has some acceleration and top end speed, just doesn´t use it much. Needs to shoot the puck more, he can shoot the puck but rarely uses it. Excellent vision and playmaking skills and elite passer. Very patient with the puck on stick, great timing on his passes, makes terrific sets-up through traffic, very soft touch no his passes. Highly intelligent in all three zones, very imaginative. Doesn´t play tough, physical game but good positionally on d-side and goes deep for puck in transition. Controls the puck well, very good hands. Not aggressive at all, it´s simply not his game, lacks aggressive mentality. Needs to get stronger on puck, protect it better."
54. Erie Otters - Erik Cernak - Defence
There were rumours suggesting that Cernak would definitely be picked at the Import Draft and those came to fruition. The 43rd overall pick in 2015 (by Los Angeles) has been a much hyped prospect coming out of Slovakia for quite some time. He's played at the last two U20's as an underager. Physically mature, Cernak would help to counter some of the significant OA losses to Erie's blueline. A fantastic pick here.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations says, "Cernak is a physically imposing defender who can wreak havoc on the wall with his size and pure strength. He brings strong play at both ends of the ice. He is aware and has very fluid movements to go with his solid mobility. Makes good decisions with the puck and sees lots of options in front of him as he scopes out the ice and decides what to do with the puck. Cernak makes crisp, effortless passes through the neutral zone. His strong, crisp passes normally lead his man, but can also be inconsistent at times; a challenge for those who try to receive them. Protects and shields the puck with his large frame but has moments where he can give it up with questionable decision on when to move it. Has the defensive smarts to pick up missed assignments and uses his stick to swat pucks away or poke them off of sticks. Strong gaps when the opposition tries to enter the zone. Plays his man hard and will drive him into, or even through, the boards to show that he is a physical force and should not be messed with. Not as tight to the man around the crease as he should be. A solid defense-first prospect with underrated
offensive tools." Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "A huge on ice presence, he loves laying into opponents and is the type of defender who can unexpectedly destroy opponents with little to no acceleration/speed. A surprise point man for his size and reach on the line, he uses good mobility to seek the right pass and/or move into his hard shot. Defensively, he is a strong force on the puck who can stand a play up on his own and win battles to move the puck safely. His skating is a point of contention, as he needs to improve in a few areas, which are his straight line and crossover power. Too often it looks like he isn’t generating enough speed forward, and is just weakly shuffling his feet on cross. This puts him at a disadvantage against forwards with speed, as he does have a problem letting forwards slip behind him in lapses." Our anonymous Euro scout says, "I´m not a big fan, overrated as NHL prospect in my eyes. Improved decision making with the puck as the season progressed, became more efficient moving the puck out of zone. Plays it mostly simply, often making only D to D passes. Never will be puck moving D but has some ability to skate the puck and make first pass into the stride. Not smart and poised under pressure though. Passes are crisp but accuracy is often lacking. Lacks hands for soft passes. Very average skater for his size, stride is short, not very athletic, pivots are not smooth and quick, feet a bit slow. Forwards are often able to get behind him, unable to contain them. Needs to play better gap. His thought process and reading in own zone is slow, he often looks lost in d-zone coverage, lacks awareness. Doesn´t play with the edge, not consistently aggressive in 1 on 1 battles, lacks mean streak. Not afraid to join rush occasionally, slides into the cycle down low in offensive zone and has solid shot but very little creativity."
56. Oshawa Generals - Lukas Lofquist - Forward
An interesting pick here by Oshawa. Lofquist is a '96 born forward who has gone through two NHL drafts. He has good size and has put up some decent numbers in the Swedish junior leagues. He recently signed a contract with Djurgarden next year, where he'll try to make the main club. Or he comes over for a year in Oshawa to get some ice time. Who knows.
Scouting Report: Still waiting on a report from a contact on Lofquist. Until then, I was able to translate an interview with Lofquist (from here) where he describes himself as being a terrific skater with a great shot who works hard on the ice, but needs to use his size more physically.
58. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Makar Tokarev - Forward
I tend to trust the Soo scouts in situations like this. Tokarev is not a guy who's received a lot of attention thus far. He only played a handful of games in the MHL this year (the Russian junior league) and had some success there. But he didn't play for the Russian U17 team at the World Hockey Challenge. The '98 forward must have done something right to catch the eye of the Greyhounds.
Scouting Report: Waiting on a report on Tokarev from a scout. Until then, check out what GM Kyle Raftis had to say about him from a Sault Star article (here)
66. Windsor Spitfries - Christof Kromp - Forward
The Spitfires make their second pick a talented offensive forward from Austria. Kromp was passed over at this year's NHL Draft, but looks to have some talent. He led the second division at the U18's in scoring and got Austria back to the main group for next year. His father Wolfgang was a longtime member of the Austrian National and Olympic team.
Scouting Report: Waiting on a scouting report on Kromp. Until then, I've found a scouting report in German on Kromp following the completion of the U18's (here). The report is very complimentary and states that "Kromp was one of the best players in the tournament. He's a sniper with a terrific wrister who has great hands and speed. He's a tad inconsistent and his play away from the puck needs improvement."
69. Flint Firebirds - Matyas Kantner - Forward
With their second pick, the Firebirds take a '98 Czech forward who seems to have a fair amount of offensive talent. He averaged over a point per game internationally this year and could be a nice under the radar selection. Flint's going to need some help scoring next year so he's worth a look.
Scouting Report: Our Anonymous Euro scout says, " I only saw him twice playing for Czech U17 team against Finns in December. Short report from these games: "Tall and lanky, decent competitor, gets some pucks along the boards but not overly physical. Drives the net a bit and goes through checks occasionally. Stiff skater, no stride, no speed and acceleration, often behind the play. A bit of stone hands, not smooth with the puck and lacks skills to beat D 1 on 1. Looks like character kid with heart but can´t skate and below average hands."
72. Mississauga Steelheads - Daniel Muzito-Bagenda - Forward
This Swedish forward is an older selection ('96) who has gone through two NHL Drafts, but does seem to have some talent. He's played for Sweden at the U17's and U18's throughout his career and he did see some limited action for Modo at the men's league level this year. The Steelheads need help scoring, so let's see what he's made of.
Scouting Report: Still waiting on a report from a contact. In the meantime, Mike Mackley posted his scouting report of Muzito-Bagenda on twitter (check it out here). Basically sounds like he's a hard nosed winger who could chip in offensively too.
81. Hamilton Bulldogs - Christian Mieritz - Defence
The second defender taken by Hamilton on the day, Mieritz is an offensive blueliner from Denmark. He was passed over at this year's NHL Draft, but he played professionally in Denmark against men in 2015. He's also played at the U18's for Denmark the past two years, captaining their team this year.
Scouting Report: Still waiting on a report from a scout. Here are a couple of links to give you an idea of the type of player Mieritz is. First is an audio recording from Dogs Radio, which speaks to Mieritz (found here). Second is a Hamilton Spectator article where George Burnett describes Mieritz as a good skating puck mover with an edge. Article is here.
84. Sarnia Sting - Louis Latta - Forward
The name should be pretty familiar. Louis is the brother of former Sting captain Nick. The '98 forward would obviously be eager to come over and play for Sarnia. The issue is that Sarnia has 3 Imports (because Zacha was an NHL first rounder). If Zacha is sent back, one of Laine (if he reports) or Latta has to go. It'll be interesting to see how this situation unfolds.
Scouting Report: Chapin Landvogt says, "Latta may have a better developmental trajectory than his older brother, a former captain for Sarnia, and is already quite big for a 17 year old. He was rookie of the year for a pro team in the third league and was fairly dominant when he did play in the junior team. His brother Nick had a fine career for Sarnia after having coming straight over from the DNL, never having seen the type of pro play Louis has already gotten a taste of. He may even be excluded from his foreign player status at some point since his father Ken, who coaches here, is originally from Canada. A good hustler who can handle the rough stuff. Definitely a guy to watch out for."
99. Guelph Storm - Vladislav Barulin - Forward
Barulin is an older Import selection ('96) who has been playing in the MHL B League (2nd tier junior division). He's been a leading scorer there, but the competition isn't incredibly strong. He's never suited up internationally for Russia and has gone through a couple of NHL Drafts. Not sure I'm expecting much out of this pick, but you never know.
Scouting Report: Still waiting on a report on Barulin. Until then, here's a Tony Saxon article which has some info from Mike Kelly on Barulin. Link is here.
105. London Knights - Daniel Bernhardt - Forward
A 4th rounder by the New York Rangers in 2015, Bernhardt is a '96 who was chosen as a re-entry in the NHL. The 6'2 forward has a good year in the Swedish U20 league, where he led the league in scoring. He's signed on with Djurgarden for next year, but perhaps the Rangers try to get him to North America in 2015/16.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations says, "This big, skilled winger creates a lot of offense by entering the offensive zone with good speed and protecting the puck with his long reach. He keeps the puck away from the defenders with pretty skilled hands and a decent wrist shot. Good top speed but just average acceleration. He is quite shifty and can change directions pretty quickly, often throwing off defenders. He is not a physically punishing player, but is pretty strong on his feet in regards to fending off defenders along the wall. He is no softie, but it would be nice to see him bring more bite and be able to use his impressive frame more effectively. Average defensive player, but has shown improved hustling and back checking from last season’s many lackadaisical efforts. If you like puck possession hockey, Daniel is a very good fit. He needs to improve his slapshot and his first step, which isn’t horrible but not really an asset either. Top speed is good though."
108. North Bay Battalion - Robin Kovacs - Forward
Another New York Rangers pick from 2015 (3rd round), Kovacs is also a '96 born forward. He had a ton of success playing against men in Sweden this past year (with AIK), but I don't believe he has a contract to play over there for next year. He'd be an absolutely fantastic add for the Battalion next year if he comes over.
Scouting Report: Future Considerations says, "Kovacs is a high skill offensive type of player with good hands and skating. He has top-notch skating ability, as his acceleration, speed and mobility are excellent. He proves successful handling the puck and on zone entries as he is very slippery between the defenders, making him hard to stop. He is more of a scorer with a sharp, quick release than a playmaker trying to set up his teammates. His determination makes his efforts strong; although, he needs to work on his defensive positioning. Offensively, he needs to get a little bit stronger in front of the net. Even though he is willing to play that feisty type of game, he needs to bulk up. His hockey sense is very good as he makes quick and smart decisions with the puck. He supports his defenders in the defensive zone when needed and he tries to verbally build up his teammates as much as possible, showing strong leadership qualities." Anthony Mauro (of Draft Buzz Hockey) says, "With team adjusted numbers that match top 5-15 picks [Marner, Strome, Crouse] in %GF  and %PTS  that match 2nd rounders [Roy, Bittner, Stephens, Korostelev], it is amazing he factored in these equivalencies at men’s league play. Seen in his SuperElit play, he came to play as top dog and looked a very confident top liner. Dictating play, he took his HA experience and became an all around threat actually leaning more towards setting his teammates up with technical bullets of passes. He is a very good skater who uses full body quickness to swivel and position himself as a target in all 3 zones. He has an inclination to play very physical making it no surprise he did well in HA. Kovacs plays hard, can skate, and has goal scoring instincts, what’s not to like?"
114. Erie Otters - Jakob Mayenschein -Forward
A German forward who has suited up for Germany at the U18's the past two years. He was eligible for this year's NHL Draft but was passed over. He saw some time in the German second league against men this past year (on the same team as former OHL'er Patrick Jarrett). Can't be any worse than Erie's 2nd rounder at the Import Draft last year.
Scouting Report: Chapin Landvogt says, "Mayenschein had some injuries and then played 3rd/4th line minutes on a pro team in the second league and was asked to be a defensive player. What his real offensive upside is has yet to be seen. Could help Erie surely as a responsible 3rd liner. I suspect he'll go over. He has some stuff to prove."
116. Oshawa Generals - Mischa Moor - Defence
The final OHL pick of the Import Draft, Moor is a Swiss defender with good size who played in the Swiss U20 league this past year. He was eligible for the NHL Draft but was not selected. Could be a good depth option similar to Hertzberg this past year.
Scouting Report: Our anonymous European scout says, "Tall and lanky D is raw but there are a few aspects in his game to like. Mobile for his size, has good lateral agility and footwork, plays good gap, uses stick to break plays, long reach. Pushes forwards on outside and hard to beat off the rush. Lacks strength to be more effective in battles, simply overpowered a lot but not afraid to get involved physically and competes in battles down low. Just okay skills/hands but decent vision and a bit of ability to move the puck out of zone. Lacks balance and knocked off the puck in battles. Needs to work a lot on his shot. A bit of sleeper, could turn into better player than some of much higher selected players"