Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2016/17 Season Preview: Award Predictions

The 2016/17 season kicks off tonight. This award segment concludes my season preview. Let the games begin!

Red Tilson Trophy (MVP) - Logan Brown  
At this point, I like Brown as the front runner for this one. He was absolutely dominant in the 2nd half last year and he'll look to continue that trend into this year. The Spitfires should be right up near the top of the Conference as they get ready to host the Memorial Cup. I look for Brown to physically dominate the competition and to be the offensive leader of the Spitfires. Two other guys who I think have an excellent shot also come from the West; Adam Mascherin and Blake Speers. I expect both to be among the top 10 of league scorers and they'll be on teams that will compete for the Western Conference crown. From the East, I look at Michael McLeod as a serious contender. He's going to see all the ice time he can handle in Mississauga and if they succeed this year, it will be because of his ability to control both ends of the ice. Of course, if Mitch Marner, Dylan Strome, and Travis Konecny return to the league, all three will also be in the conversation.

OHL Goaltender of the Year - Michael McNiven
A bit of a bold prediction. But I really like the way this year's Owen Sound team is constructed and McNiven is going to play a TON for Owen Sound. He was a lot better last year than his stats would indicate and I look for him to put it all together (in terms of consistency) this year. Another obvious candidate is Tyler Parsons in London. Such a phenomenal goaltender and the Knights will be up near the top of the Conference yet again. Jeremy Helvig in Kingston is another name I'll throw out there. I expect Kingston to be better than people are suggesting they will and Helvig will be a big reason for that. His breakout last year was no fluke. Matt Mancina and Michael Dipietro are the two other names I'll throw out there as serious preseason contenders.

Max Kaminski Trophy (Top defender) - Jakob Chychrun
Chychrun looked quite good this preseason and I think that he's going to play this season with a serious chip on his shoulder after falling a bit at the NHL draft. He can impact the game at both ends of the ice and I see a huge jump coming for his offensive production this year. Mitchell Vande Sompel is another guy that I expect to have a huge year. He'll be a leader in Oshawa and is fully healthy after last year's quiet year. Of course, the reigning winner will be returning to the league in Mikhail Sergachev, so you can't count him out. He'll be right up there. Ditto for Olli Juolevi in London, assuming he returns. A couple bold mentions would be overagers Thomas Schemitsch and Stephen Desrocher who could have monster offensive seasons this year. Lastly, Cam Dineen in North Bay will have a chance to replicate his offensive success of last year, but with a little less fire power up front, I'm not sure he'll be quite as successful offensively.

Emms Family Award (ROY) - Cedric Schiemenz 
Definitely a bold prediction, but I was so incredibly impressed with him this preseason. Kitchener will have a very solid lineup and he should be a point per game player so long as he plays as well as he did in the preseason. Fellow preseason top performer Linus Nyman should also be up there in rookie scoring and needs to be considered as a serious candidate as well. Guelph has two players I expect to receive consideration, forward Nate Schnarr and defender (and first overall pick) Ryan Merkley. Another 16 year old defender to keep an eye on is Owen Lalonde in Sudbury, who had a very good preseason. Barrie defender Tom Hedberg and Sarnia forward Adam Ruzicka could be two other names to keep an eye on. And a dark horse? What about Jacob McGrath in Sudbury? He's going to get a chance to be the starter on a team hoping to get back to the playoffs.

Leo Lalande Trophy (OA of the Year) - Matt Mancina
Despite a lack of scoring depth, I think you have to consider the Steelheads the front runners for the Eastern Conference and Matt Mancina will be the workhorse in net for them. He'll have a solid defense in front of him and should have a very good year. I look at three defenders being serious contenders as well; Thomas Schemitsch, Stephen Desrocher, and Dylan Di Perna. I expect all three guys to have big offensive seasons on good teams. London's JJ Piccinich should be in for a big offensive season. A real wild card that I'll throw out there is Bobby MacIntyre in Sault Ste. Marie. He has fit in extremely well in that lineup and they'll be able to score a ton of goals this year. He could be an 80+ point player quite easily.

Matt Leyden Trophy (Coach of the Year) - Rocky Thompson
As mentioned in my standings prediction, I expect Windsor to be the cream of the crop this year. And that makes Thompson the front runner for the Matt Leyden IMO. How about first year coach Jay McKee in Kitchener? The Rangers should be a great team this year and he could be a serious candidate. Ditto for Drew Bannister in SSM. An under the radar candidate could be John Gruden in Hamilton. I expect the Bulldogs to be quite good this year and if he can vault them to a division title, he'd deserve a very long look for this honor.

Eddie Powers Trophy (Scoring Champ) - Logan Brown
A tough one to predict this year, especially given the uncertainty surrounding Strome and Marner. So I'm sticking with Brown, given that he's also my Red Tilson prediction. The Spits will be a juggernaut offensively and I really look for Brown to continue his dominance and be a 110+ point player. London's Matthew Tkachuk will still have a very strong supporting cast and should be up near the top of scoring yet again. Kitchener's Adam Mascherin is also an obvious candidate. Alex Debrincat, Blake Speers, Jeremy Bracco are all serious candidates too.

Goal Scoring Leader - Adam Mascherin
Anyone who has seen Mascherin play knows that he has one of the league's best shots and releases. Using that innate ability, I think he's a 50 goal scorer this year. You just know that Alex Debrincat and Matt Tkachuk will also be up near the leader board here too. Ditto for Sault Ste. Marie's Zach Senyshyn, although I am worried about him starting slow due to contracting mono this summer. Another name I'll throw out there is London's JJ Piccinich. He's going to see a ton of ice time in key offensive situations and he could be a 50 goal man.

1st All Star Team: 
C: Logan Brown
LW: Adam Mascherin
RW: Alex Debrincat
D: Jakob Chychrun
D: Mikhail Sergachev
G: Michael McNiven
Coach: Rocky Thompson

2nd All Star Team: 
C: Blake Speers
LW: Matthew Tkachuk
RW: JJ Piccinich
D: Mitchel Vande Sompel
D: Olli Juolevi
G: Tyler Parsons
Coach: John Gruden

3rd All Star Team:
C: Mike McLeod
LW: Bobby MacIntyre
RW: Jeremy Bracco
D: Thomas Schemitsch
D: Stephen Desrocher
G: Matthew Mancina
Coach: Jay McKee

All Rookie Team:
C: Cedric Schiemenz
LW: Alex Formenton
RW: Linus Nyman
D: Ryan Merkley
D: Tom Hedberg
G: Jacob McGrath

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2016/17 Season Preview: Eastern Conference

Part two of my season preview for the 2016/17 season examines the Eastern Conference. As mentioned in the West preview, I'm just not enamored with what the East has to offer at this current time. Even the top teams have some serious holes and just don't have the same quality of depth (especially offensively) that the teams in the West do this year. Someone has to win it though. And that someone will no doubt improve their roster through trade at some point this year. One of these teams will have players step up that we don't expect. In other words, I'm not sure I'm going to want to look back at this prediction at the end of the year. I really don't know what to expect. But here's my best guess.

1. Mississauga Steelheads (Central Division Champions)
While I'm most certainly not crazy about their forward depth (which I think was shown in the preseason), I still think that they need to be considered the front runners right now because of their defense, powerplay, and veteran goaltending presence. With Matt Mancina in net and one of the deepest bluelines in the entire OHL, Mississauga shouldn't have much trouble preventing goals. Once Vili Saarijarvi returns from injury, Mississauga should look to trade from that surplus in order to acquire another forward. Quite frankly, you've got 4 players that I would consider legitimate top 6 OHL players (Mike McLeod, Ryan McLeod, Nathan Bastian, and Owen Tippett). And of those four, two are sophomores who are still improving. Being the go to offensive players for a team with Championship aspirations is a lot to ask of them. To start the season, this team will need Mike McLeod to put them on his back until re-reinforcements arrive.

2. Hamilton Bulldogs (East Division Champions)
I don't get the lack of love this team is receiving right now as a legitimate Eastern Conference contender. Sure, they lack star power. But this team played exceptionally well to close out last season and they're returning all their core pieces. They've got a veteran laden forward group which is also deep. The likes of Matt Luff, Niki Petti, Michael Cramarossa, and Trent Fox are legit talents who should be ready to truly breakout as offensive stars. Perhaps the most underrated part of this team is their defense. All the injuries they incurred last year likely actually helped them heading into this season because their young players got a ton of experience. And between Kaden Fulcher or Connor Hicks, this team should get some decent goaltending too. I definitely believe in the Bulldogs this year.

3. Peterborough Petes
The Petes look to be a solid, but unspectacular team this season. But in the East, that should be good enough to put them in the hunt for a top spot in the Conference. Their defense is anchored by two overagers, Brandon Prophet and Kyle Jenkins, along with defensive stalwart Matt Spencer. They've got a veteran laden forward group that has very strong depth down the middle (Lorentz, Ang, Tammela). I guess the real question is, how well will Dylan Wells play? I was a bit shocked when they dealt Matt Mancina in the offseason. I expected Wells and Mancina to share the load until the Petes were sure Wells could handle being the starter on a contending team. I definitely have faith in Wells as a player and prospect, but it's a risky move considering how lost he looked at times last year. If the Petes do get off to a quick start, I'd definitely look for them to add more veterans through trade.

4. Kingston Frontenacs
I've been seeing the Fronts down near the bottom of the conference in a lot of preseason predictions...and I don't get it. Remember, this is a league driven by stars and front line players. If you've got a handful of top notch players, you can always fill out the rest of your lineup with character players. I expect Lawson Crouse to back. Throw in Warren Foegele, Stephen Desrocher, and Jeremy Helvig, and you have a strong veteran core who make a consistent impact. Then you've also got Import Linus Nyman who looked unstoppable in the preseason. In addition to that, I really like their group of 99's led by Jacob Paquette, Jason Robertson, and Jakob Brahaney. Bottom line, I expect their stars to do their thing, and their young supporting cast to be up for the challenge. And Paul McFarland is one of the best coaches in the league IMO, so that also helps.

5. Oshawa Generals
Kind of similar to the Frontenacs IMO. Not completely enamored with their depth, especially at forward. But they'll be carried by some veteran forwards (Anthony Cirelli, Joe Manchurek, Kenny Huether, Domenic Commisso), and a very strong defense led by Mitchell Vande Sompel, (who I expect to be a contender for the Max Kaminski this year). The big question for me is in net. I'm not at all convinced that Jeremy Brodeur is a front line starter in the OHL. That's why the acquisition of Kyle Keyser was smart, because I do have faith in his ability to one day transform himself into an OHL starter. At the very least, with those two and Logan Gauthier, (and I suppose Nathan Torchia too), they've got depth. Another key for the Generals will be the improvements made by their 99's, like Jack Studnicka, Robbie Burt, Kyle MacLean, and Sullivan Sparkes.

6. North Bay Battalion
The Battalion franchise hasn't missed the playoffs since 2002. That's a pretty damn impressive streak. And I don't expect it to come to an end this year either. North Bay isn't the most flashy team, but they've got some pretty good depth that should allow them compete on a nightly basis. Their overall team defense should be a strong suit yet again. Cam Dineen, Adam Thilander, Brady Lyle, Riley Bruce, and Mark Shoemaker form a very solid blueline, while the team's top forwards like Brett McKenzie, and Zach Poirier are also dedicated two-way players. And the acquisition of Brent Moran should really solidify their goaltending. Scoring could be an issue, but if they can win their share of 2-1 hockey games, they should be right in the mix for a 5-8 spot in the Eastern Conference.

7. Ottawa 67's
Torn about where to place the 67's this year. On one hand, I think that they're going to score a lot of goals this year. I really like the look of their lineup at forward. Sasha Chmelevski and Austen Keating could both be in for massive draft years. I also am not worried about their goaltending as Leo Lazerev is a solid goalie (even if he's a bit unorthodox). But what I am worried about is their defense and their ability to keep the puck out of the net. I look at the 67's like the Saginaw Spirit last year. Lots of young talent at the forward position, but just couldn't keep the puck out of their net. Because their top forwards are also young, team defense and backchecking can be inconsistent, putting even more pressure on an inexperienced blueline. Jacob Middleton (the team's anchor) has twice as much experience as the rest of the defense...combined!

8. Sudbury Wolves
They should be better. Key word is...should. This is the first year (IMO) that will test how well they've drafted in the recent down years. Large group of solid 99's, but they need to really blossom this year in order for Sudbury to have the depth necessary to compete for a playoff spot. David Levin will need to be better and he should be. Ditto for Dmitri Sokolov, who apparently checked into Minnesota prospect camp at just over 200lbs. He could be in for a big offensive season. Kyle Capobianco will finally need to take that next step, especially as a defensive player. Lastly, they seem content to give the reigns to Jacob McGrath as their goaltender of present and the future. From what I saw of him at the Hlinka camp, that seems like a sound decision. Sudbury, IMO, has more depth and better top end talent than Barrie or Niagara, which should give them the edge when it comes to the final playoff spot in the conference.

9. Barrie Colts
Barrie has a decent defense...that might be the only good thing I can say at this point. Tom Hedberg looked legit in the preseason and Cam Lizotte and Justin Murray are at least tough to play against. But every other spot on the roster is a question mark. Cordell James is a solid OHL forward who competes hard at both ends of the ice, but a first line center he is not. And while Barrie does have three OHL goaltenders, I'm just not sure any of them are good enough right now to elevate Barrie to playoff contender. This team will be forced to play a lot in their own zone. Christian Propp certainly had a great preseason, so who knows. That's the challenge of the predicting the OHL. But on paper, this looks like a down year for the Colts.

10. Niagara IceDogs 
Toss up between Barrie and Niagara here. Could go either way. Aaron Haydon and Ryan Mantha anchor a decent defense (just like Barrie). And Stephen Dhillon has flashed an ability to be a starter in this league. But the forward group is super young (outside of Graham Knott) and that's going to really make it hard for Niagara to score goals consistently. The preseason was most definitely pretty ugly for the IceDogs and I think that will be a precursor to how the rest of the season goes. Especially when you consider that a new coaching staff has been put in place. It's going to take some time for them to learn and for players to learn the system they attempt to employ.

Monday, September 19, 2016

2016/17 Season Preview: Western Conference

The 2016/17 OHL season starts up this week and that means it's prediction time. As always, predicting the OHL can be a bit of a crapshoot. NHL teams may choose to keep certain players on their roster and that can negatively impact an OHL team. Erie is a perfect example of that with Dylan Strome. But I'm operating under assumptions with these rankings. Assumptions that certain players will return. Assumptions that certain players will take massive steps forward in their development. And even, assumptions that certain players could be, and will be traded.

Not only do I see the West as completely stacked this year, but I also see it as completely open. I said it on twitter recently, but I truly do believe that "on paper" the top 5/6 teams in the Western Conference are currently better than any team in the Eastern Conference. The Conference should be a dogfight. The divisions should be a dogfight. Heck, teams like Saginaw and Guelph should be much better and I've still got them at the bottom of the conference. Nothing will surprise me when it comes to looking back at this at the end of the year.

1. Windsor Spitfires (West Division Champions)
Like I said, this was a tough call. But this team has a ton of talent already, and with them hosting the Memorial Cup this year, I don't think there's any question as to whether they'll make acquisitions throughout the year to stock up. They're loaded up front, led by the monster Logan Brown and the tenacious Christian Fischer. But they've got lots of depth too and shouldn't have any trouble scoring goals or intimidating opponents. On defense, they return every member from last year's squad, which means a lot when talking about team chemistry. Pairings can be the same and they should get off to a quick start. And in net, Michael Dipietro will be this year's breakout star. This kid is an unbelievable talent in the crease and as London proved last year, you can definitely win with an 18 year old in net if they're good enough.

2. London Knights (Midwest Division Champions)
Tough call, but even with Mitch Marner likely gone (at least I sure as hell think so), this team is so ultra talented. Matthew Tkachuk, Olli Juolevi (I think so anyway), Pu, Jones, Mete. The list goes on. Well actually, IMO the list should start at Tyler Parsons. He was unbelievable for the U.S. in the U20 Summer series and I think he comes in and has an even better year than last. With some fantastic goaltending, this team could really contend again. And there's no doubt that their powerplay will be top notch, which is of course incredibly important in this league. The real wild card here is Jack Roslovic. Hasn't been much noise about him lately, but with NHL training camps not far off, I still wouldn't write him off coming at some point.

3. Kitchener Rangers
I think people are underrating this team right now. They don't have the star power of some of the other teams in the West (only 4 NHL draft picks, which isn't a ton when we're talking about competing teams), but they're a very solid squad up and down. Lots of depth at every position to cover for injuries. The real question mark for them is in net. But I believe in the tandem of Luke Opilka and Dawson Carty. Opilka was excellent last year until he came down with that mysterious illness and was a mess upon returning. But you have to think that he'll return healthy. At forward, the Rangers have some extremely talented newcomers. Cedric Schiemenz might have been the player that impressed me the most this preseason. And Greg Meireles and Eric Guest also looked terrific this preseason. Another guy who I think could have an absolutely monster year is Dylan Di Perna. Is he on the path to a Jake Muzzin style breakout overage season?

4. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
While I do have some questions about their defense and goaltending, I think their offense is absolutely legit. I certainly don't put a ton of stock in preseason performances, but they were downright dominant in the exhibition season. 23 goals in 4 games? That's pretty damn impressive. Easy to see why they did it though. They have at least 10 guys that I would consider top 2 line talents in this league. They'll be able to roll three scoring lines and a fourth line that will be better than many 3rd lines in this league. Get ready to be holed up in your own end for extended periods of time against these guys. Getting the forwards to really buy into a team defense approach will be key to their success, to help cover up for a blueline that lacks star power and inexperienced goaltending (even if Joseph Raaymakers is a talented player).

5. Owen Sound Attack
Don't sleep on this team. They don't have the raw offensive fire power that other teams in the Conference possess, but they've got a great defense, a great goaltender, and a hard working group of forwards that grind you into submission. The Attack won't win a ton of very pretty games this year, but I do expect them to win their fair share. As mentioned, I think Michael McNiven is one of the league's elite goaltenders. I expect him to have a monster year. On defense, they have size, play physical, but can also push the pace of play. One of the keys to their season is the progression of Nick Suzuki IMO. Quite often, a team in the OHL is only as good as their first line center (drives the powerplay too), and Suzuki is that guy. I think he's in for a big year.

6. Sarnia Sting
A little bit worried to have the Sting down this low because of the star power they possess. If there's one thing I've learned about covering this league, it's that if you've got a small collection of star players, they can really help the rest of your lineup to overachieve. Lots of question marks here though. Safe to assume Pavel Zacha is as good as gone. But Travis Konecny? I think it's 50/50. Good news is that both Imports Sarnia brought in this offseason (Ruzicka and Helt) looked very good in the preseason and they should have big offensive seasons. I'm also really looking forward to seeing how Jakub Chychrun deals with the adversity of his draft +1 season. I wonder if he plays with a serious chip on his shoulder this year. I do have concerns about the crease though. Not sure if Justin Fazio is a legitimate number one in this league, and also not sure if Aidan Hughes is ready. But as Kingston proved last year, your star players can take you pretty far.

7. Erie Otters
See Sarnia. Lots of star power still left over from some pretty successful seasons. The question is...will Dylan Strome be in the OHL next year? I don't think so, but stranger things have happened. I tell you what though, Ivan Lodnia is a legit talent and he should be able to give Alex Debrincat a quality running mate. I'm just not sure they've got the depth offensively of some of the other big teams in the West this year. Quite frankly, they might be smart to do what Oshawa did last year and sell off some big assets to accelerate their rebuild (like Debrincat). Defensively, I actually really like this unit. Star power? No. But Raddysh, Fergus, Sambrook, Byrne and a few quality rookies could form a very solid unit. But to go with the scoring depth issues I see, I also wonder about their situation in net. Troy Timpano was brought in, and at one point I really believed in his talent level. But is he ready to be as good as he'll need to be to get this team home ice in the first round? I really don't know.

8. Saginaw Spirit
The preseason certainly didn't go as they would have liked. But, I still believe in this team. They have a very solid young nucleus. In particular, I really like the way that they upgraded their defense this offseason. Bringing in CJ Garcia was a great move (he's a very underrated defender). Also adding Filip Hronek in the Import draft should help too. This is a team that gave up way too many goals last year, so improving from the defense out was smart. But they need to get the young forward group to buy into this concept. They also need Evan Cormier to be consistently better. But, I see a lot of potential in this team. They could start out rough, but really improve as the season goes on. 

9. Guelph Storm
Here's a rebuilding team that should already be significantly better next year thanks to some good drafting. Young players from last year should be better (Givani Smith, Issac Ratcliffe, etc). But they're also injecting some serious talent with the likes of Ryan Merkley, Dmitri Samorukov, Nate Schnarr, and others. I also really liked the acquisition of Liam Herbst in net to help stabilize things. Guelph is certainly on the up and up again. Are they good enough to sneak into the playoffs? I think they very well could be. But I think it's more likely that they're just not quite at that level yet. They did have a very good preseason though, so you never know.

10. Flint Firebirds
Let me say this first. I REALLY liked what this team did in the offseason. Bringing in quality hockey people with lots of OHL experience was the right thing to do. They also drafted extremely well. But it ultimately wasn't enough, as Flint has since lost their best forward (Will Bitten) and their starting goalie (Kyle Keyser) to trades or trade demands. And even if they have a half decent defense led by some solid veterans (Peters, Smereck, Henderson), there just isn't enough offensive talent to compete with the juggernauts of the Western Conference. Flint should compete with Niagara for the 1st overall pick.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sunday Top 10 - Preseason Performers of 2016

The 2016 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.

Here were the preseason standings (ignoring divisions):

Eastern Conference
1. Kingston Frontenacs (3-1, .750%)
2. Barrie Colts (3-3, .500%)
3. Hamilton Bulldogs (2-2, .500%)
4. North Bay Battalion (2-2, .500%)
5. Peterborough Petes (2-2, .500%)
6. Oshawa Generals (2-3, .400%)
7. Ottawa 67's (1-2, .333%)
8. Sudbury Wolves (1-4, .200%)
9. Mississauga Steelheads (1-4, .200%)
10. Niagara IceDogs (0-3-1, .125%)

Western Conference
1. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (4-0, 1.00%)
2. Kitchener Rangers (3-0-1, .875%)
3. Owen Sound Attack (4-1, .800%)
4. Flint Firebirds (3-1, .750%)
5. Guelph Storm (3-2, .600%)
6. Erie Otters (2-2, .500%)
7. Windsor Spitfires (2-2, .500%)
8. London Knights (2-2, .500%)
9. Sarnia Sting (2-2, .500%)
10. Saginaw Spirit (0-4, 0.00%)

Here are your top 10 OHL preseason performers, with several HM's and a team by team breakdown of some other standouts. 

10. Michael McNiven - Owen Sound Attack
The Montreal Canadiens signee was nearly unbeatable this preseason, allowing only 2 goals spread over 3 games (although he split ice time). I think that this is only a sign of things to come. Owen Sound should contend for home ice in the first round and McNiven is most definitely a candidate for the OHL goaltender of the year. A very underrated player and prospect.

9. Ivan Lodnia - Erie Otters
Fresh off a standout performance for the U.S. at the Ivan Hlinka, Lodnia led Erie in scoring this preseason with 4 goals in 4 games. The talented center should form quite the partnership with Alex Debrincat this season, in what is sure to be a breakout year for him in his NHL draft year.

8. Jack Kopacka - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
While Boris Katchouk led the perfect Hounds in preseason scoring, Kopacka's 4 goals and 2 assists serve as evidence of his ability to carry the play this preseason. The Anaheim Ducks 4th rounder appears to be in for a big year playing for a very deep and talented Sault Ste. Marie team.

7. Dylan Di Perna - Kitchener Rangers
While he most certainly did take steps forward last year, Di Perna looks like a totally different player yet again this preseason, showcasing even more improvements made to his game. Appears to be oozing with offensive confidence right now (scored a goal for the NY Rangers Traverse City team recently too).  With 2 goals and 2 assists, could Di Perna be an early favourite for Overager of the Year?

6. Nathan Dunkley - Kingston Frontenacs
There's almost always one 16 year old on this list. The Fronts 17th overall pick in 2016, Dunkley actually led the preseason with 6 goals. While the regular season will, no doubt, prove to be more challenging for him, it's always encouraging to see early returns on your high draft picks (even if it is only the preseason).

5. Christian Propp - Barrie Colts
The front runner for the Barrie starting netminder job? Propp, not even a sure bet to make Barrie's roster this year, came into camp and dazzled. The '99 allowed only 4 goals on 65 shots and helped the rebuilding Colts to a winning record in the preseason. Definitely deserves props (see what I did there) for that.

4. Liam Herbst - Guelph Storm
Loved the acquisition when it happened, and I think Storm fans are also loving the early returns thus far. Guelph needed to go out and get themselves a veteran goaltender to help improve their team and Herbst was that man. While I'm not convinced Guelph can replicate their preseason success in the regular season, Herbst was most definitely sensational during the exhibition schedule, making 104 saves and earning a couple wins. 

3. Mitchell Vande Sompel - Oshawa Generals
Man among boys this preseason. Vande Sompel finished tied for 2nd in preseason scoring with 7 points. The OHL veteran will look to improve upon an injury plagued season that saw him recovering from shoulder surgery. If Oshawa wants to get a top 4 spot in the East, Vande Sompel will need to be a Max Kaminsky candidate.

2. Cedric Schiemenz - Kitchener Rangers
Couldn't have been more impressed with the first year player from Germany (although played in Austria last year). He was an absolute force for the Rangers this preseason (with 7 points). Was the best player on the ice in the game I saw. He's going to be a really good one I think.

1. Linus Nyman - Kingston Frontenacs
The top two players on this list are imports. Certainly interesting. Nyman's 10 preseason points in 4 games was definitely a bit surprising, even if he looked good at the Ivan Hlinka for Finland. The diminutive forward could potentially work very well with Lawson Crouse this year (assuming he returns for his 19 year old season).

Honorable Mentions

Adam Mascherin - Kitchener Rangers
Probably should have been on this list somewhere after putting up 3 goals and 4 assists in the preseason. Mascherin is most definitely a dark horse to lead the league in scoring this year on what should be a very good Kitchener team.

Brent Moran - North Bay Battalion
While his OHL career hasn't exactly gone according to plan thus far, the overager looks refreshed by a new start in North Bay under Stan Butler. He had an excellent preseason (stopping 72 of 75 shots) and will need to be an absolute workhorse this year for the Battalion. He's another guy that probably should have made the top 10 of this list.

Austen Keating - Ottawa 67's
5 goals in 3 games. That's some impressive production for the sophomore forward. I'm most certainly not worried about Ottawa's ability to score goals this year (I am worried about preventing them).

Givani Smith - Guelph Storm
The human wrecking ball was a force in the preseason with 4 goals in 4 games. This young Guelph team will be exciting to watch this year, even if they don't win a ton of games. 

Travis Konecny - Sarnia Sting
I still don't think he's back in the OHL this year (unless Philadelphia is worried about his injury woes), but he most certainly was impressive in the preseason scoring 4 goals and adding 2 assists in only 2 games. 

Boris Katchouk - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Katchouk's 6 assists this preseason helped the Greyhounds to a perfect record. He does so many things well and is the perfect complimentary offensive player. He should be in for a big year on a great team.

Ben Fanjoy - Ottawa 67's
Interesting to see how well Fanjoy performed this preseason after (rumour has it) he had asked for a trade this offseason. But 7 points in 3 games is most certainly good production. Maybe he's turned the corner offensively heading into his 3rd OHL season?

Alex Formenton - London Knights
Great start to his OHL career with 4 goals in 4 games. Saw London play once this preseason and Formenton was excellent. Seems like a great fit for this lineup as an opportunistic scorer who can play a variety of different roles.

Team by Team Breakdowns (other standouts not already listed) 

Barrie Colts
Lucas Chiodo - 1 goal, 4 assists
Kyle Heitzner - 4 goals
Tom Hedberg - 1 goal, 3 assists 

Erie Otters
Shaun Bily - 1 goal, 4 assists
Gera Poddubnyi - 3 goals, 1 assist

Flint Firebirds
Ty Dellandrea - 5 assists
Luke Kirwan - 2 goals, 1 assist

Guelph Storm
James McEwan - 1 goal, 5 assists
Issac Ratcliffe - 1 goal, 5 assists
Nate Schnarr - 3 goals, 2 assists

Hamilton Bulldogs
Cole Candella - 1 goal, 3 assists
Michael Cramarossa - 3 goals 
Connor Hicks (.917 SV%)

Kingston Frontenacs
Jason Robertson - 2 goals, 3 assists
Ryan Cranford - 3 goals, 1 assist 
Jeremy Helvig (.923 SV%)

Kitchener Rangers
Riley Damiani - 2 goals, 3 assists
Eric Guest - 2 goals, 3 assists
Elijah Roberts - 4 assists

London Knights
Kole Sherwood - 3 goals, 2 assists
Janne Kuokkanen - 3 goals, 2 assists
Evan Bouchard - 5 assists

Mississauga Steelheads
Ryan McLeod - 3 goals, 2 assists
Nathan Bastian - 1 goal, 3 assists

Niagara IceDogs
Oliver Castleman - 2 goals, 1 assist 
Pavel Demin - 1 goal, 2 assists

North Bay Battatlion
Adam McMaster - 3 goals, 2 assists
Brady Lyle - 1 goal, 1 assist

Oshawa Generals
Anthony Cirelli - 1 goal, 4 assists
Eric Henderson - 3 goals, 1 assist
Jack Studnicka - 2 goals, 2 assists

Ottawa 67's
Hudson Wilson - 1 goal, 3 assists

Owen Sound Attack
Matt Schmalz - 1 goal, 4 assists
Petrus Palmu - 4 goals

Peterborough Petes
Steve Lorentz - 1 goal, 4 assists
Matthew Timms - 2 goals, 2 assists 
Scott Smith (.963 SV%)

Saginaw Spirit
Mitchell Stephens - 3 goals, 2 assists

Sarnia Sting
Jordan Kyrou - 1 goal, 3 assists
Jakob Chychrun - 1 goal, 3 assists

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Tim Gettinger - 3 goals, 3 assists
Bobby MacIntyre - 3 goals, 2 assists

Sudbury Wolves
Owen Lalonde - 1 goal, 3 assists
Liam Dunda - 1 goal, 3 assists

Windsor Spitfires
Luka Boka - 2 goals, 3 assists
Logan Brown - 1 goal, 4 assists

Monday, August 29, 2016

Preseason Top 30 for the 2017 NHL Draft

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 the 2016 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. Or, conversely, you've got players who look great as 17 year olds but just don't progress in their sophomore seasons. Plus, you've got all the players who haven't yet played in the OHL (at least more than a few games), but who are projected to be impact players in their draft year (Greg Meireles, Dmitri Samorukov, Adam Thilander, etc).

This year's crop looks to be an interesting one. Not as strong as the 2016 crop, but lots of very intriguing prospects who could be scratching the surface of their potential. One interesting thing to note is that I think a lot of very talented freshmen will be entering the OHL this year (either through the import draft, or from Tier 2), maybe more so than in other years. This is especially true from tier 2, where a lot of very talented players will be making their full time debut coming from the OJHL, GOJHL, etc. As such, I could see as many as half of these players as not cracking the top 30 by season's end. Even the difference between this list and my preliminary top 50 (Oct/Nov) will be huge, I think.

Here's my early list:

1. Gabriel Vilardi - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Size and skill down the middle, Vilardi has the ability to dominate the possession game with his puck skill, protection ability, and vision. Last year, his skating looked only average and he seemed to lack a true explosive first few steps, but I thought he looked quicker at the Ivan Hlinka camp. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury at camp and will miss (at the very least) the preseason, perhaps more. It's too bad, because he was one of the best players at the Hlinka camp and would have had a really good tournament IMO. Hopefully he comes back strong and has a great year for the Memorial Cup host Spitfires.

2. Owen Tippett - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
Tippett's game is built around speed and his ability to utilize his terrific shot. Has the potential to be a very explosive player. Tippett also possesses the size you look for in a player of his ilk (6'2, 200lbs). He battled some injury issues last year but he'll be an integral part of Mississauga's top 6 next year. On the negative, I thought he had a very disappointing Hlinka tournament. He'll need to figure out a way to be a more consistent factor when the game slows down, in addition to being more involved without the puck.

3. Nic Hague - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads
Gigantic defender (6'5) who really blossomed in the second half of last season. The late '98 emerged as the top defender on a talented young Mississauga team. He excels at both ends of the ice. With a booming point shot, he's a great weapon to deploy on the powerplay. However, he also has great straight ahead speed and has a lot of potential as a puck rusher. Defensively, he uses his mobility as an asset, especially when coupled with his size. But he also shows the potential to be a physical beast, gaining confidence in playing with a nasty edge. Really excited to see where he's at for 2016/17.

4. Matthew Strome - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs
A different player than Ryan and Dylan, but he'll obviously pique interest because of his last name. Matthew is a budding power winger who could be a dominate player off the rush, as he continues to improve his skating. Strome was fantastic in the second half for Hamilton last year and I look for him to build off that. Was a bit inconsistent at the Hlinka tournament, but those types of ups and downs can be expected as he learns how to use his size to be force in all facets of the game. 

5. Michael Dipietro - Goaltender - Windsor Spitfires
A little bit nervous ranking a goalie this high, this early, but Dipietro deserves it. Was fantastic for Windsor last year. Was great at the U17's, and was absolutely phenomenal at the recent Hlinka tournament. He's not huge (6'0), but he's so athletic and his quickness in the crease allows him to make a ton of acrobatic saves. Unlike a lot of hyper athletic goalies though, he's incredibly composed in his positioning and already does a great job of controlling his rebounds. Not a ton of goaltenders get drafted in the 1st round anymore, but Dipietro is looking like a worthy candidate.

6. Nick Suzuki - Forward - Owen Sound Attack
A bit undersized (pushing 5'11), but brings a lot to the ice. Suzuki plays with a ton of energy at both ends and is a very effective player without the puck. He uses explosive quickness to be a major factor on the forecheck and the backcheck. But he also has great vision as a playmaker and exhibits a lot of poise with the puck in the offensive end. I thought he had a terrific showing at the Hlinka, where he was one of Canada's top players. A lot of offensive potential here.

7. Vanya Lodnia - Forward - Erie Otters
Kind of a similar player to Suzuki. Tons of speed, energy, and skill. Is undersized as well, but has already grown nearly two inches since being drafted into the OHL (from 5'8 to 5'10) and that's going to make him a more attractive asset to NHL teams. Was drafted as a center, but has played wing thus far and will probably stay there (IMO). Had an absolutely tremendous Hlinka tournament where he was dangerous nearly every time on the ice and helped the U.S. win the silver, as one of it's top scorers. Could be in for a big offensive season.

8. Jacob Paquette - Defense - Kingston Frontenacs
Big fan of this steady two-way defender who emerged as a top 4 defender on a 1st place team last year as a 17 year old. That's not a common occurrence. Paquette has great size at almost 6'3, 200lbs, but is extremely mobile. Defensively, he's an incredibly solid positional defender who shows a great head for the game already and is only going to get better. Offensively, he makes a great first pass and I'm intrigued to see how that side of his game develops this year. Would have been a big performer for Canada at the Hlinka but had to be replaced due to an injury (which has not yet been announced). Hopefully it doesn't affect his OHL year.

9. Sasha Chmelevski - Forward - Ottawa 67's
The key to the Travis Konecny deal, Chmelevski broke his collarbone before he could really make a big splash post trade. But the extremely talented center is poised for a big season in Ottawa, where he could come into the year as the club's number one center. Chmelevski is a dynamic offensive player who has blazing speed and dazzling puck skill. He put that well on display at the Hlinka, where he led the US to silver, capturing the tournament's leading scorer award. 

10. Markus Phillips - Defense - Owen Sound Attack
Phillips is a real heart and soul type of player, as evidenced by the fact that he was named captain of Canada's Hlinka entry this year and was one of the few underagers on Canada's U18 team last April. Phillips is a stocky defender (5'11, 200lbs), but he uses strong mobility to make up for his lack of reach, staying ahead of incoming rushers. He has a great stick in the defensive zone and is the type of kid who blocks shots and wins battles in the corners. Offensively, I'm not sure what the ceiling is. I've seen him struggle at times when he tries to force plays, but he's also flashed an ability to lead the rush and QB the powerplay. Looks to be a Travis Dermott type of player.

11. Jason Robertson - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs
Big fan of this explosive winger, who was a major surprise in the OHL this year. A 4th rounder, Robertson not only came out of nowhere to make the Fronts, but established himself as a go to offensive player at times (although did struggle later in the year). Last year was really impressed with his ability to drive wide, using speed to attack the crease. Size, speed, and skill on the wing is a great combo. Disappointed he wasn't included on the U.S. Hlinka team.

12. Jack Studnicka - Forward - Oshawa Generals
I wanted to put Studnicka higher, but just couldn't figure out who deserved to be bumped. A solid crop and Studnicka is part of that. He's already a well rounded center who excels as a playmaker, showcasing a great head for the game. He flashes a physical game and I'd love for him to continue to explore that side of things. Was a member of the Canadian Hlinka team, playing a checking line role. Think of his brother Sam, but more naturally talented offensively.

13. Mackenzie Entwistle - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs
Entwistle is a player who is making quite the name for himself in the 2016 calendar year. I thought he was great in the second half for Hamilton last year, and was terrific for Canada at the Hlinka in an energy role. He's a very well rounded player who looks like a potential power center (6'3) who skates well and plays with physical bravado. If he gets off to a quick start for Hamilton, he's going to gain a lot of steam as a potential first round talent for 2017.

14. Issac Ratcliffe - Forward - Guelph Storm
Very large winger (6'4, 200lbs) who possesses a lot of potential due to his combination of size, skill, and skating ability. Can be a real force when he looks to be aggressive in driving the net and displays some nifty hands while at top speed. Reminds me a lot of Greyhounds forward Tim Gettinger and has the same sort of concerns as he moves into his sophomore season. Ratcliffe needs to use his size more consistently in all areas of the ice, upping his aggression level. If he can prove to be a consistent offensive force this season and really shows improvement in his aggressiveness, he could move up this list quickly.

15. Austen Keating - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Very high skilled player who started the year at center for Ottawa but finished the year on the wing. Keating possesses a lot of skill with the puck and seems to have a high hockey IQ in the offensive end too. But his skating is only average at this point, and when combined with average size, there are bound to be a few red flags. Getting stronger and quicker will be key for him as he moves into his draft season. I was disappointed with his play at the Canadian Hlinka camp, where he wasn't all that noticeable (and failed to make the roster). But he has shown enough skill to warrant this high of ranking at this point, despite some short comings.

16. Ben Jones - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
Jones struggled a fair amount last year as an OHL rookie. The former 7th overall pick had a tough time standing out with limited ice time, on a deep Niagara team. He was asked to play more of a checking line role, but struggled with that (with faceoffs, defensive assignments, play in the corners). But I liked Jones a lot as a midget player and I believe in his long term potential. If he's added some strength this offseason, he has the speed, playmaking ability, and puck skill to be a dynamic offensive center. And he's likely going to get all the ice time he can handle this year (if he shows improvement).

17. Jonah Gadjovich - Forward - Owen Sound Attack
A late '98, Gadjovich is a big power winger (6'2, 200lbs) who saw a lot of time on Owen Sound's top line last year (although with limited power play time). He's a noticeable player because of how well he can open up the ice for his linemates and for how well he works the corners. Gadjovich also flashes an ability to drive the net with effectiveness, using his size and hands to protect the puck. At this point, I think he's being underrated for this draft heading into the year (wasn't on the NHL Central Scouting's futures list). Could be a 25+ goal scorer this year and I think that would be enough for him to warrant a look inside the top 100.

18. Brady Gilmour - Forward - Saginaw Spirit
Slightly undersized playmaking center who struggled at times as an OHL rookie. The 5'10 forward does exhibit some good poise with the puck in the offensive end, but I thought he struggled when playing at a higher tempo (with puck protection because of lack of strength). At the Hlinka camp, I did think that he showed an extra gear that he didn't have last year, but I want to see his offensive performance this year for a Saginaw club that should be a better team, so long as their young players (like Gilmour) improve. 

19. Hayden Davis - Defense - Niagara IceDogs
Davis didn't play a whole lot last year due to the depth of Niagara's blueline. But the once hyped OHL priority selection will have a chance to actually prove himself next year (due to some graduations). With some good size (~6'2, 200lbs), I think he profiles very well as a stay at home defender (at the minimum) because of good mobility and positioning. And he showed this at the recent Hlinka camp. But where he struggled at the Hlinka camp was offensively, specifically with turnovers from trying to do too much. Obviously, the key to his draft status will be his play with the puck, at least if he aims to be a top 3 round selection.

20. Daniil Vertiy - Forward - North Bay Battalion
Thought Vertiy was excellent for North Bay following a trade from Windsor. He plays the game with both energy and skill. He's only average sized, but I liked his aggressiveness in attacking the net, with and without the puck. In a lot of ways, he has some pest like qualities. But I also believe that the skill level has only been flashed to us thus far and that he's capable of more. A late '98, Vertiy will be entering his 3rd OHL season and he should be an impact player for the Battalion.

21. Liam Hawel - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Close battle between Hawel and Morgan Frost for the top Greyhound available (at least right now). I give the slight nod to Hawel because of the size he possesses down the middle. At 6'4, Hawel is still growing into his body and as such, he needs to get stronger. But I think he shows great instincts at both ends of the ice and seems to be a really smart player. Upping the physical intensity (which should come with increased strength) could help to make him a very desirable prospect for this draft.

22. Morgan Frost - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Highly intelligent center who showed great puck control and poise as a rookie, often playing in some key offensive situations for the Hounds. I don't think anything about his skill set could be described as incredibly flashy, but he proved to be very effective. I also liked his effort on the backcheck, even if he sometimes lacked the strength to be incredibly effective. Frost also shows great potential as a strong face-off man. Once he gains confidence, I'm very curious to see what he's capable of offensively.

23. Elijah Roberts - Defense - Kitchener Rangers
Roberts is a very tough player to rank at this point. I absolutely love his game. His ability to start the transition game is electric because of his speed and puck skill. And I think he showed very well defensively as the Hlinka, refusing to back down from any challenge (be it in the corners or in front of the net). The really issue here is his size. Even in today's day and age, 5'8 is small for the blueline, although I'm sure there is hope that he'll grow into the 5'10ish range. I'd like to rank him higher, but I want to see how his OHL season starts first. He'll need to be a dominant factor offensively IMO.

24. Brady Lyle - Defense - North Bay Battalion
Good sized defender who got a late start to his OHL career last year due to a broken collarbone suffered in the preseason. Lyle shows well as a puck mover who can make good decisions with his breakout pass and shows some potential as a powerplay QB. I think he has some maturing to do in his own end (I thought he struggled defensively at the Hlinka camp too), but it's not uncommon for first year defenders to struggle. He'll get more ice time this year and could be a name to watch.

25. Noel Hoefenmayer - Defense - Ottawa 67's
I think there are a lot of things to like about Hoefenmayer's game. I thought he showed a lot of potential at both ends of the ice. I liked his physical intensity at times and his desire to put his body on the line to make a play. And I thought he looked good skating the puck out and jumping up in the play. But he's quite raw and needs to refine his approach at both ends to put his skills to better use. IMO, he showed enough in flashes to make this list though.

26. Robbie Burt - Forward - Oshawa Generals
The offensive contributions weren't there last year (in Kingston or Oshawa), but I was impressed with his energy and physical bravado in Oshawa. He really established himself as a great body checker and forechecker. The question is, just how much offensive potential does he have? As a midget player, he was known as a great goal scorer and that's obviously something that could carry over with his energy and tenacity. If that's the case, he could be a solid prospect for this draft

27. Kirill Maksimov - Forward - Saginaw Spirit
A ton of offensive potential here. Maksimov is a very slick offensive player who can dangle with the best of them and shows some electric offensive abilities off the rush. Can be prone to over handling the puck, and really needs to round out the rest of his game. But because of the individual skill level he possesses, he's worthy of a place on this list (barely over his teammate Cole Coskey).

28. Nick Deakin-Poot - Forward - Guelph Storm
A very intriguing prospect IMO. Might be an aggressive ranking at this point, but I think that there is a lot of potential in his game. He's a 6'4, 200lbs center who flashed great hands, speed, and aggressiveness last year for a very weak Guelph team. He was far from a consistent factor, but if he can harness those abilities, he could be a very good NHL draft prospect.

29. Kyle Keyser - Goaltender - Flint Firebirds
Good sized netminder who showed well in a difficult situation last year. He started the year very well, but then suffered a torn meniscus. Upon returning at the end of the year, he didn't look quite as quick or as confident and struggled. But he's a young netminder, and he appears to be incredibly athletic (so long as the knee is good). We'll see what happens in Flint this year. With Moran's trade to North Bay, he should see the bulk of the starts, which will give him the opportunity to be a part of a potentially strong goaltending crop from the OHL (lots of solid rookies entering the league this year). 

30. Ryan McGregor - Sarnia Sting
Undersized (5'10), but super quick winger who had a terrific first season in Sarnia last year. He is incredibly effective off the rush, where he can exploit defenders by surprising them with his quickness. Need to see him more engaged in other areas, especially given his average (to below average size), but with added strength, his game could most certainly develop multiple faces.

Honorable Mentions

Macauley Carson - Sudbury Wolves

Zach Gallant - Forward - Peterborough Petes

Cole Coskey - Forward - Saginaw Spirit

Kaden Fulcher - Goaltender - Hamilton Bulldogs

Mac Hollowell - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Nick Grima - Defense - Peterborough Petes

Appearing Soon

Greg Meireles - Forward - Kitchener Rangers

Jacob McGrath - Goaltender - Sudbury Wolves

Dmitri Samorukov - Defense - Guelph Storm

Adam Thilander - Defense - North Bay Battalion

Ian Blacker - Defense - London Knights

Adam Ruzicka - Forward - Sarnia Sting

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Top 10 - Unheralded Rookies Who Could Make an Impact in 2016-17

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 1999 (possibly even '98) 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, Nic Hague, Boris Katchouk, etc).

This year, I'm going with more than 10 because there are a lot of talented players who look set to make a larger impact. The list is divided by position.

In addition to my write ups, I've also included brief scouting reports from the guys over at, in addition to a couple other great minds who see the Tier 2 ranks often (Steven Ellis, Mike Mackley and Conor Mulligan). Also have one contributor who wishes to remain anonymous.

Thanks to the following (and give them a follow on twitter)

Andrew Sykes (@ASykes_hockey)   
Matt Grainda (@graindaiv) 
Mike Mackley (@Macker61) 
Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisNHL) 
Conor Mulligan (@ConorMulliganFC)

Here's the list (sorted by position and alphabetical order): 


Brendan Bonello - Saginaw Spirit
Another '99 who struggled in limited OHL action, but the 45th overall pick in 2015 was excellent for the OJHL's Toronto Jr. Canadiens. The 6'2 netminder will enter the 2016/17 season as the back-up to Evan Cormier, but if Cormier continues to battle consistency issues, he could see his playing time increase (if he performs well).
Scouting Report: "Arguably the top goaltender available in the 2015 OHL Draft, Brandon Bonello displays all the attributes one would desire in a high end, OHL starting caliber goaltender. A butterfly style goaltender with intimidating size and strong technical skills, Brandon Bonnello combines a high level of athleticism with his strong physical attributes to become very tough to beat. A goaltender who takes away a large amount of the net, Bonnello displays quick reflexes along with strong lateral movements and an ability to make quality desperation saves. While Bonnello argubably could show better control when moving post to post as he does lose his net at times, he has begun to play his angles much better and has improved in his areas of weakness. An extremely poised young goaltender with exceptional puck handling abilities, Bonnello can act as a third defensemen at times and is noticeably vocal with his teammates, showing a level of maturity some young goaltenders don’t yet possesses." (Mike Mackley)

Aidan Hughes - Sarnia Sting
The 34th overall pick in 2015, Hughes did see some limited time with Sarnia last year (but struggled). He spent the majority of the year with Sarnia of the GOJHL where he posted pretty decent stats for a 17 year old (a barely sub .900 save percentage). Hughes is a hulking goaltender (listed at 6'3, 240lbs by the OHL), and he'll have a chance to earn serious playing time with Sarnia's goaltending situation up in the air.
Scouting Report: "May have been the most impressive young goalie for me in the GOJHL's Western Conference this past season, among a list that included 2016 NHL draftee Tyler Wall. Already possesses huge size but is far more than just a big body in the crease. He moves well enough and has fair athleticism for his size, but its his anticipation, positioning and coolness that makes him the quality prospect he is. Plays deeper in his crease but still seems to always be square to the shooter and always in a position to make saves look easy. Swallows shots to the chest and has an excellent glove hand. Like Wall, I think he'll be an NHL draft pick in 2017 regardless of where he plays and regardless of playing time." (Andrew Sykes)

Olivier Lafreniere - Ottawa 67's
A 2014 3rd rounder, Lafreniere has taken some time to develop, but the 6'2 goaltender is coming off a fantastic season in the OJHL with Wellington (his second year in a row spent there) where he was named to the all 1st prospect team. After moving Liam Herbst to Guelph, the 67's have cleared room for Lafreniere to be the back-up to Leo Lazerev (that is, if Lazerev doesn't make the KHL following his tryout).
Scouting Report: "Olivier Lafreniere is a big bodied, butterfly style goaltender who thrives as a puck blocker, relying on his size and reflexes to be effective. A goaltender who is extremely poised between the pipes, Lafreniere displays excellent rebound control along with strong lateral movements and impressive reflexes. While Lafreniere can get caught sitting back in his net, he has shown a much better job at getting to the top of his crease and challenging shooters. Lafreniere challenges shooters and plays his angles well, which allows him to take up large portions of the net and limit the amount of net opposing forwards see. A goaltender who tracks pucks well, Lafreniere fights through screens, showing impressive compete along with a deceptively strong glove hand and intriguing lower body strength. Lafreniere excelled as the starting netminder with the OJHL’s Wellington Dukes throughout the 2015-2016 season and looks primed to take over the net in Ottawa next season." (Mike Mackley)

Jacob McGrath - Sudbury Wolves
A recent cut from the Canadian Hlinka team, McGrath has to be considered one of the best '99 goaltenders in Canada. He performed well at camp and is coming off a fantastic season in the OJHL with St. Mike's (where he was named to the prestigious all 2nd prospect team). He could be starting in Sudbury before long.
Scouting Report: "It seems like just yesterday that McGrath was putting on a stellar performance at the 2015 OHL Cup final against Don Mills. Now, he’s ready to make his mark in the OHL with the Sudbury Wolves. His OJHL rookie season with a young St. Michael’s Buzzers team had its ups and downs, but he played better than expected for a 16-year-old goalie. McGrath shared the starting duty with overager Mark Manolescu, finishing with a 15-10-0 record. McGrath tends to keep great focus during a game, even after allowing a tough goal. He’s quick and has a very strong glove hand, so there’s no use in shooting towards that hand. It would be great to see him grow a little and learn to use his size a bit more but he’s got the athleticism to make some truly remarkable saves. He’ll act as a solid backup option for the Wolves this year while looking to make a further impact in the years to come." (Steven Ellis)

Anthony Popovich - Guelph Storm
Certainly not a guarantee to be in Guelph this year, but Popovich is coming off a solid season in the OJHL and looks like the favourite to grab a spot in a wide open goaltending battle for the Strom (with the trade of Van Schubert to Owen Sound). Lafreniere's running mate in Wellington last year, Popovich will likely end up as the back-up behind Liam Herbst next year.
Scouting Report: "During the 2014-2015 season Popovich back stopped the Quinte Red Devils to an OMHA championship, sporting a league leading 1.32 goals against average in 34 appearances. He continued his stellar play this season with the Wellington Dukes of the OJHL, where he has toiled in primarily a back up role for the Dukes. Despite the limited appearances, the big, athletic goaltender showed flashes of intriguing netminding talent. A goaltender who moves fairly well in the net and challenges shooters, Popovich plays his angles well boasts a competitive nature. There is much to like about Popovich’s game as the sixteen year old should challenge for a roster spot with the Storm next season." (Mike Mackley)

Luke Richardson - Kitchener Rangers
Richardson, too, saw limited time in the OHL last year but struggled. However, in the GOJHL with Kitchener, Richardson was a stand-out and was ultimately named to the first all star team. On paper, the 6'2 netminder is set as the 3rd string currently, but I'd imagine that the Rangers will deal Dawson Carty (thanks to a massive overager logjam) and he'll end up as Luke Opilka's backup.
Scouting Report: "Luke Richardson transitioned from the minor hockey ranks to junior hockey seamlessly. A goaltender that boasts intriguing physical attributes, Richardson also shows a high end skill set between the pipes. An extremely poised and confident young netminder, Richardson uses strong positioning and technical tools to thrive between the pipes. A goaltender who tracks pucks well and fights through screens, Richardson controls rebounds with effectiveness, limiting second chance opportunities. Richardson moves well in the net, remaining under control when moving laterally, squaring up shooters, while playing his angles well. Last season with North Central, Richardson would often back into his goal, rather than challenging shooters, giving the opposition more room to shoot at. As he’s begun to challenge shooters more, he’s achieved much more success. Covering a large portion of the net, while also displaying athleticism and strong technical tools, Richardson continues to become increasingly harder to beat clean." (Mike Mackley)


Eric Allair - North Bay Battalion
A hometown boy and a late round selection of the Battalion in 2015, Allair had a quietly solid season in the NOJHL last year with Powassan, where he was the only '99 defender to see significant ice time (in the entire league). North Bay will have some openings on the back-end and Allair will be in the hunt for a 3rd pairing spot.
Scouting Report: "A big, physical defensemen with intriguing two-way capabilities, Eric Allair has quickly emerged as one of the Battalion’s better defensive prospects. A strong skater with impressive mobility, Allair possesses both strong edges and an impressive stride that allows him to cover lot of ice i limited amounts of time. A defender who sees the ice well, Allair makes a strong outlet pass along with displaying overall strong decision making abilities in possession. A smart defender, that shows a level of calmness and poise in possession, Allair doesn’t force plays, taking what’s given to him while displaying deceptively good puck skills. An imposing presence in his own zone, Allair shows a willingness to clog shooting lanes along with an active and effective stick and a willingness to engage physically. Allair closes gaps well and shows impressive contain in his own zone." (Mike Mackley)

Ian Blacker - London Knights
Once thought to be headed the NCAA route (like his brother Ben), Ian has since signed with London and will likely be part of the team's 3rd pairing next season. Like Brahaney, Blacker was recently cut from the Ivan Hlinka team, but he does enter the OHL season with a fair amount of hype (even if his stats with Oakville last year at the OJHL level were not fantastic).
Scouting Report: "While the defenseman is very talented, he did have some tough moments during his OJHL rookie season. Whether it be ill-timed penalties or defensive miscues around the net, Blacker had his fair share of moments that made you question him at times. But, with that, Blacker has the raw skills to really make an impact when he jumps to the OHL in 2016-2017, joining the likes of former Oakville Blades AP Evan Bouchard on the blue line. He plays a physical game that can leave opponents wishing they were somewhere else, while using his quick skating to put himself in a position to stop a play from happening. A third-pairing role may be the best option for Blacker as he continues to adapt to the play, but it would be interesting to see how he’d work with a defenseman that is a bit more two-way minded, such as Bouchard or Victor Mete, to allow Blacker to focus more on his own zone. In a year or two, get ready to see him be a big-minute cruncher in the OHL for London." (Steven Ellis)

Jakob Brahaney - Kingston Frontenacs
Brahaney is a lock to be with the Frontenacs full time next year, after splitting time between them and Kingston of the OJHL last year. Brahaney looked good at the Ivan Hlinka camp, but was cut. Regardless, he has a chance to be a top 4 defender on a, somewhat, rebuilding Kingston team.
Scouting Report: "Brahaney is an offensive minded defensemen that skates well and shows intriguing hockey sense, while continuing to develop his skill set at the defensive end of the rink. Possessing strong mobility and impressive foot speed, Brahaney’s skating and vision are arguably his best assets. A defensemen that shows a capability to be an effective puck carrying defensemen, Brahaney also shows an ability to make a strong and crisp outlet pass along with an ability to create offensive from the blue line. A player who can run a power play with effectiveness, Brahaney boasts an impressive point shot along with strong offensive instincts that allow him to make smart an calculated pinches along with strong judgement calls as to when to sneak in from the blue line for an offensive opportunity. A player who transitions up ice well, Brahaney does need to work on his gap control defending the rush along with his awareness in the defensive zone as he can get caught flat footed and puck watching. A trait that was more evident in his time with the Frontenacs, but something that began to improve after joining the OJHL’s Kingston Voyageurs." (Mike Mackley)

Fedor Gordeev - Hamilton Bulldogs
A 3rd round pick of the Bulldogs in 2015, the 6'5 defender could be a factor in Hamilton's lineup next year. Gordeev had an excellent year for Ancaster of the GOJHL, where he displayed some high end potential. Hamilton has a pretty deep blueline though, so there is talk that they intend to utilize him as a forward next year. We'll see how that works out (and if it sticks).
Scouting Report: "A player who boasts intriguing physical attributes, Gordeev shows intriguing two-way capabilities. In his own zone Gordeev can be tough to play against, showing a willingness to engage physically, along strong contain and effective stick on puck defense. A defender who separates player from puck and transitions well, Gordeev shows an ability to be an effective puck carrying defensemen. With strong mobility and impressive foot speed, Gordeev can make himself a threat to create offense from the blue line, making smart and calculated pinches along with and ability to sneak down the the middle, catching his defender off guard at the appropriate times. Boasting a powerful point shot, Gordeev looks to be a trigger man on the Bulldogs power play in the near future." (Mike Mackley)

Liam Ham - Niagara IceDogs
The former captain of the York Simcoe Express, it was once believed that Ham was headed to the NCAA (with a commitment to Clarkson). But he's changed his tune and has signed with Niagara for next year. The slightly undersized blueliner had a terrific season with Aurora of the OJHL last year and figures to be in the mix for a 3rd pairing spot with the IceDogs next year.
Scouting Report: "Ham is a confident, mobile, two-way defender with impressive hockey sense and strong puck skills. A player who is arguably at his best in possession as he shows an ability to dictate the pace of play along with an ability to create offense from the back end. Ham is a defender who shows excellent poise and patience in possession while also showing a calming presence on the blue line and strong decision making abilities. The 5’10 defender shows an ability to be an effective puck carrying defensemen as he possesses excellent foot speed and fluid mobility along with intriguing puck skills that make him shifty and elusive in possession, allowing him to gain entry to the offensive zone with relative ease. With that being said, Ham also moves the puck extremely well, showing impressive vision along with a smooth and accurate outlet pass. Ham transitions up ice well and injects himself into the offensive attack at the appropriate times, making smart and calculated pinches when the opportunity presents itself. Defensively speaking Ham controls the attack well, holding the blue line effectively while also taking away the middle of the ice, forcing the opposition to low percentage areas. A strong positional defender, Ham will engage physically but shows a strength as a stick on puck defender." (Mike Mackley)

Ryan Martin - Erie Otters
Martin, a 5th rounder in 2015, is an average sized defender who looks to be in the mix for a 3rd pairing spot on the 2016/17 Otters (battling some other 98's and 99's for the job). He's coming off a great year in the GOJHL with St. Mary's where he was named to the all rookie team.
Scouting Report: "An intriguing player since his minor hockey days because of his size and effortless, rangy mobility. Made excellent strides from his minor midget season to his first junior season with the St. Mary's Lincolns. Played a safer and more controlled game, playing within himself and letting his natural ability take over. Led his team in scoring among defencemen and finished fourth overall on the club with 28 points in 48 games. Not sure if he'll be a power-play guy at the next level but he did good work quarterbacking the Lincolns power-play by utilizing his length, sharp agility and heady sense of when to get shots to the net. I imagine he'll get a long look and has a good chance to crack the Otters opening night lineup." (Andrew Sykes)

Robert Proner - Saginaw Spirit
A big, physical blueliner, Proner (the 30th overall pick in 2015) seems like a lock to come out of the blueline logjam in Saginaw with a permanent line-up spot. Proner is coming off an excellent season for Cambridge of the GOJHL where he nearly led the team in scoring (as a defender) and also led the team in penalty minutes.
Scouting Report: "A big bodied, physically imposing defensemen that boasts two-way capabilities along with a noticeable mean streak to his game, Robert Proner is a very appealing prospect. Selected to participate in the 2015-2016 GOJHL Top Prospect game, Proner excelled with the Cambridge Winter Hawks last season. While Proner certainly displays hard to miss two-way traits, he is at his best in his own zone where he displays shut down capabilities. Extremely tough to play against, Proner is aggressive and will punish the opposition along the boards in the corners, often coming away with the puck when engaging in battles in the gritty areas. Proner displays an active and effective stick along with impressive contain in his own zone. While he has no problem engaging physically, he can get drawn out of position looking to make a big hit, which can lead to quality scoring chances for the opposition. Proner displays impressive mobility for a player of his size, along with a powerful stride that allows him to generate deceptively good speed. While Proner does boast intriguing puck skills and shows the capability to gain the offensive zone with his skating abilities he is at his best when he keeps his game simple. A player who sees the ice well, Proner can make a strong first pass and displays an uncanny ability to get his powerful shot through from the point. While Proner is tough to beat 1 on 1 in his own zone, he can struggle in transition as he gets caught flat footed at times, which leads to speedy forwards beating him wide before driving the net for a scoring opportunity. Still Proner boasts high end upside and should be a mainstay on the Spirit back end next season. (Mike Mackley)

Matt Stoia - Oshawa Generals
Signed last year out of the USHL, Stoia didn't have much of an opportunity to prove himself late in the season. But the '99, 6'0 defender did play a lot of the season with the heralded Compuware program and will come into this coming season as a potential 3rd pairing guy for the Generals.
Scouting Report: "Matt Stoia is a pretty big right-handed defenseman who plays a smart two-way game and really enjoys using his offensive tools while looking to make an impact. He’s great at rushing the puck and making a smart first pass, and his situational reads are pretty solid with the biscuit on his blade. He manages the point very well and also made some great plays on the power play throughout the season with the U16 Compuware. His defensive game is solid and he has no fear making the physical play when needed. He played some crossover games with the U18 Compuware team along with the USHL Dubuque Fighting Saints, so he does have some higher level experience already.” (Matt Grainda)
Josh Wainman - Erie Otters
Wainman saw over 20 games with Erie last year, but did spend a ton of time with Lindsay of the OJHL where he put up some nice stats (led the team in defensive scoring). As mentioned earlier with Ryan Martin, Wainman will battle it out for a spot on the Otters' 3rd pairing next season.
Scouting Report: "Wainman is a highly intelligent two-way defender with an effectiveness in all three zones. Showing poise beyond his years, Wainman is patient in possession, makes strong reads and rarely commits turnovers. In his own zone Wainman tends to be a strong stick on puck defender, using strong positional play and an active to defender with effectiveness. A defender with strong gap control and a willingness to clog the shooting lanes, Wainman also boasts deceptively good offensive traits. He creates shooting lanes with effectiveness, possesses a strong point shot and see’s the ice well enough to create offense from the back end." (Mike Mackley)


Logan Buchanan - Peterborough Petes
A 10th rounder by the Petes in 2015, Buchanan spent the majority of the year playing midget with Carleton Place. Because of his strong play, he was rewarded with a call-up to the CCHL team for the playoffs and performed very well, helping the Canadiens win the Fred Page Cup, and even playing in the RBC Cup. He definitely has a chance to earn a roster spot as a checking line player for the Petes next year.
Scouting Report: "A bit of a wildcard to find a spot on a deep Petes’ roster, Buchanan had a great season in the U18 league for the Carleton Place Canadians. Due to injuries, he was called up to the Junior A team to join the eventual league champions for a long playoff run. In the post season, Buchanan did not look out of place even scoring a key goal off a faceoff in the Fred Page Cup. Buchanan is a heart and soul breed of forward who is extremely effective away from the puck and is a leader on and off the ice. He’s the type of player that every team wishes they had and could provide some energy in the Petes bottom-6. I was personally surprised last season when he didn’t make the Junior A team last year but he will be expected to be a top player for Carleton Place next season if he doesn’t make the jump to the OHL. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him scooped up by a NCAA team early in the season if he fails to make the Petes roster." (Conor Mulligan)

Shane Bulitka - Sudbury Wolves
The 28th overall pick in 2015, Bulitka spent this past season with Strathroy of the GOJHL where he averaged a point per game and was named to the all rookie team. He'll be a full time member of the Wolves this year, likely in a 3rd/4th line role.
Scouting Report: "A very well-rounded player who I've liked a lot since his Minor Midget season with the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs. Led the Strathroy Rockets in scoring as a rookie and was easily their best and most consistent forward in all facets of the game. Not a flashy player or the quickest skater but combines a very high hockey intellect with efficient skill. Has a nice sense of positioning and anticipation to always be around the puck. Can play down the middle or on the wing with equal success but I think he is a natural center because of how well he reads the ice. His puck-protection ability, play-making vision, versatility, and mental make-up are the reasons why I think he will make a successful jump to the OHL this season with the Wolves." (Andrew Sykes)

Tyler Burnie - Kingston Frontenacs
A 5th rounder by Kingston in 2015, Burnie should be able to step into a top 9 role for the rebuilding Fronts next year. They will need some help scoring and Burnie can do that, coming off a season with Wellington (OJHL) where he finished 4th in goal scoring.
Scouting Report: "Tyler Burnie is an intelligent, two-way forward with budding power forward capabilities and an impressive skill set. Possessing strong physical attributes, Burnie combines those with a strong skating ability, strong work ethic and deceptively strong puck skills to become a high versatile offensive threat. A player who generates above average speed due to a long, smooth and powerful stride, Burnie can cover a lot of ice in just a few strides. Strong in possession, Burnie’s puck handling abilities along with impressive puck protection skills and size allow him to excel in and through traffic. Tough to contain due to his versatile skill set of size, smarts and skill, Burnie can take over a game in the offensive zone, working the cycle with effectiveness, while also showing a deceptive amount of vision an playmaking skills. A player who knows how to create space for himself, Burnie looks to have a bright future ahead of himself." (Mike Mackley)

Nicholas Campoli - Saginaw Spirit
A high scoring forward who nearly averaged a point per game in the OJHL last year (a very respectable feat in the league) with North York. Campoli (if he comes to the OHL) will most certainly have a chance to play a scoring role for Saginaw next year, a team that will look to improve upon a disappointing 2015/16 season.
Scouting Report: "A hard worker, Nicholas Campoli was one of the most impressive rookie forwards in the entire OJHL Southwest Conference. A member of the North York Rangers, Campoli scored 12 goals and 34 points in 37 games, enough to attract the attention of the Saginaw Spirit. While he’s not a big player, he skates well and isn’t afraid to get dirty when needed. He’s a buzzsaw around the net and with a bit more seasoning, could really turn into an offensive threat in the OHL." (Steven Ellis)   

Oliver Castleman - Niagara IceDogs
A bit of a late bloomer, Castleman played in the new CCHL2 last year where he was named the league's top prospect and his team (Casselman) won the league's title. As such, the IceDogs drafted him as a re-entry in the 4th round (was passed over in his initial draft year in 2015) of the recent priority selection. With a lot of forward spots available in Niagara's line-up, Castleman could make the jump in 2016/17.
Scouting Report: "Castleman was a player that I saw a lot of this past season as his team (Casselman Vikings) eventually swept mine in a best-of-seven series. Playing on likely one of the best Junior B teams in the country, Castleman scored at over a point-per-game while moving up and down the line-up throughout the season. Niagara can expect a physically mature skilled forward who isn’t afraid to play with an edge. Likely destined for a middle-6 position, Castleman will be relied on to provide secondary scoring. In one of the final games of the season last year, Castleman pounced on a loose puck on the blueline, raced down the ice on a breakaway and snapped a shot top corner which eventually was the game winner. It’s that game breaking ability which will make Castleman a difference maker in the IceDogs line-up." (Conor Mulligan)

Bradley Chenier - North Bay Battalion
No question, the Battalion have high hopes for the reigning NOJHL Rookie of the year. Chenier was not only the highest scoring 17 year old in the league, but he was also the highest scoring player 19 and under, with 72 points. His 72 points as a 17 year old are the most since Matt Caria scored 70 in 11 years ago (and Caria obviously became a pretty damn good OHL player). As far as I can tell, that's actually the most points put up by a 17 year old (and under) in the last 20 years. Chenier could be one to watch in North Bay next year.
Scouting Report: "An impressive year of development in the NOJHL has made him ready for full-time duty in the OHL. His biggest improvement was in foot speed which now gives him the quickness needed to be aggressive and close down the opposition on the next level. Makes quick smart decision with the puck allowing him to play with higher skill players and translated into an offensive catalyst role with the Canadians. Not an overly creative or dynamic player but strong in puck battles allowing him to do the hard work down low and then quickly move the puck to a teammate in a scoring position. Possesses a heavy shot and a willingness to drive the net which will allow him to score sporadically at the next level. Where he excels is in physical contact and aggression as he is a punishing hitter that is always around the puck ready to make contact. Good two-way ability as he is positionally sound, tracks back and aggressive blocking shots from the point. Doesn't have the highest ceiling but is one of the most prepared prospects to step into a role and make an impact. He will thrive and in a hard hitting bottom six role and chip in sporadically offensively." (Anonymous) "Bradley Chenier is a hard nose, two-way player that brings a deceptive amount of upside to the game. Skating in his first season with the Rayside-Balfour Canadians, Chenier led the NOJHL in rookie scoring. Playing a North/South game, Chenier skates well, possesses good speed and mobility along with strong edges. Chenier is arguably at his best in possession as he displays strong vision and playmaking abilities along with an ability to create space for himself. Strong off the rush, Chenier uses his intriguing puck protection skills and speed to drive the net with authority, while also showing an ability to make plays at high speeds and in tight. A player who works the cycle effectively, Chenier excels below the goal line, grinding it out in the corners and along the half boards. Aggressive on the forecheck, Chenier shows a tenaciousness in puck pursuit and a willingness to engage psychically. Chenier shows strong on ice awareness along with adequate defensive zone play. A player who displays a strong work ethic, Chenier’s compete level is impressive and consistent. Having already appeared in games with the Battalion last season, expect Chenier to be a mainstay with the Troops this season, with an ability to become a complimentary top six winger as a safe projection." (Mike Mackley)

Kody Clark - Ottawa 67's
The son of the great Wendel Clark, Kody skated with St. Andrew's College last year, a team that was champion of the CISAA. Clark posted solid numbers and has signed on with the Ottawa 67's for next year, where he should get an opportunity to get serious ice time.
Scouting Report: "Kody Clark is an intelligent, two-way forward with impressive speed and a quiet but agitating aspect to his game. A player who skates well, Clark possesses an impressive first step, generates above average straight line speed, displays excellent edges and overall mobility. Effective both in possession and away from the puck, Clark shows a high end hockey IQ as he shows strong on ice awareness along with an ability to anticipate the play well. In possession Clark displays impressive puck protection skills which are most notable off the rush and off the cycle as he uses his near explosive first step and strong edges to drive the net with authority. A a player who shows patience in possession, Clark also boasts impressive vision and deceptively good playmaking abilities as his anticipation skills come into play when looking to generate offense. More of a complimentary winger, Clark has an uncanny ability to find soft spots in defensive zone coverage’s which allows him to get off his near lethal shot that comes off a quick release and shows appealing accuracy. A player who shows a willingness to get to the gritty areas off the ice, Clark shows a tenaciousness in puck pursuit and will engage physically, finishing his checks and becoming an agitating presence. A strong positional player, Clark shows an effectiveness in all three zones. As he continues to add strength to a thin frame he will continues to become increasingly more effective." (Mike Mackley) 
Cal Davis - Niagara IceDogs
Davis saw limited action with Niagara last year, spending the majority of the year with Thorold of the GOJHL, where he was an impact player. The 35th overall pick in 2015 will join many other young rookies as they try to earn a permanent spot on the IceDogs this coming season.
Scouting Report: "A highly intelligent, offensive minded winger, Cal Davis possesses high end upside. A deceptively strong skater, Davis shows impressive straight line speed, strong edges and an ability to change pace/direction fluidly. A player who plays with excellent pace, Davis shows a confidence in possession, along with an ability to create offense for both himself and teammates. With excellent on ice awareness and anticipation skills, Davis has a knack for finding soft spots in defensive zone coverage’s. A player that boasts separation speed, Davis has an ability to create space for himself to work offensively. Showing excellent vision and high end playmaking skills, Davis shows strong accuracy on his passes along with a deceptively good shot and a nose for the net. While not overly physical, Davis does shows an excellent compete level and work ethic. A player who very rarely takes a shift off, Davis gets to the gritty areas of the ice and shows a shifty an elusiveness to his game in possession." (Mike Mackley)

Ben Evans - Ottawa 67's
An 8th rounder by Ottawa, Evans has emerged as a fantastic prospect for the 67's. Playing with Fort Erie (GOJHL) last year, Evans was the highest scoring '99 in the entire league. He'll be given every chance to show off his offensive skills in a top 9 role next year in Ottawa.
Scouting Report: "Evans is a highly intelligent, highly competitive, offensive minded forward with intriguing power forward capabilities. A forward blessed with a smooth and powerful stride, Evans generates above average straight line speed and shows an ability play with excellent pace. Offensively speaking Evans is a versatile threat that shows an ability to carry a line, but also an effectiveness as a complimentary winger. In possession Evans shows an impressive amount of offensive creativity and on ice awareness as a pass first centre. For a player who sees the ice extremely well and displays strong playmaking traits, Evans may be a better finisher. The intriguing power forward boasts a high end shot that combines a quick release with strong accuracy and high velocity that often catches goaltenders off guard. A player who is extremely tough to contain in one on one battles and off the rush due to his versatile skill set, Evans shows a willingness to get to the gritty areas of the rink, drives the net with authority and shows a high success rate in the high traffic areas. Overall Evans is a highly appealing offensive threat with the smarts and physical attributes to boot." (Mike Mackley)

Alex Formenton - London Knights
Average sized forward who had a good year with Aurora of the OJHL, establishing himself as one of London's top forward prospect. With a few graduations, Formenton will get a shot to battle (with some other talented youngsters) for a spot on a checking line.
Scouting Report: "A player who boasts strong skating abilities, displaying an explosive first step and high end straight line speed, Formenton works his edges well while showing strong change of pace and direction abilities. In possession Formenton combines his high end skating traits with strong puck skills to become shifty and elusive in possession. Showing quick hands and strong puck control, Formenton shows impressive vision and playmaking skills. Always looking to generate scoring chances in the offensive zone, Formenton works the half boards and cycle well, spinning off checks and driving the net with authority. While his build may be slight and in need of some added muscle, Formenton shows no hesitance to get to the gritty areas of the ice. A player who gets to the high traffic areas and shows an effectiveness in said areas, Formenton plays with with a level of aggressiveness to his game that tends to agitate opponents." (Mike Mackley)   
Grayden Gottschalk - Oshawa Generals
A free agent signing by the Generals, Gottschalk is a '98 born, 6'4 forward who played with North York of the OJHL last year. He was 3rd in team scoring and 2nd in goals and will look to establish himself as a checking line player next year in Oshawa.
Scouting Report: "After originally landing on the Moncton Wildcats protected list, Grayden Gottschalk found himself signing with the Oshawa Generals on July 1st. The power forward played with the North York Rangers of the OJHL last season, putting up an impressive 42 points in 54 games as one of the team’s better players. Gottschalk impressed scouts with his impressive size and his ability to work hard around the net, causing havoc among the opposing defensemen while being an offensive force. While his skating leaves a lot to be desired, he’s gritty, knows where to be and will add to the offensive output. Expect Gottschalk to play most likely on the third line, adding grit and skill to a rising Generals team." (Steven Ellis)

Nicholas Isaacson - Peterborough Petes
Isaacson is a good sized winger who had an excellent year on a young Lindsay (OJHL) team, where he finished 2nd in team scoring (to Cedric Ralph, another player on this list). Peterborough has a deep team heading into next season, but Isaacson should at least play a 3rd/4th line role for them.
Scouting Report: "A rangy two-way forward with strong offensive instincts and a high compete level, Nick Isaacson excelled throughout the 2015-2016 season with the Lindsay Muskies of the OJHL. A player who displays impressive hockey sense, Isaacson shows an awareness in all three zones, that allows him to thrive both in possession and away from the puck. While Isaacson does show a combination of competitiveness, smarts and skill his skating is still a bit of a work in progress. Isaacson boasts and long stride and his able to generate good straight line speed, however he lacks fluidity to his stride along with an explosiveness in his first step. With that being said Isaacson can be tough to contain off the rush once he reaches his top speed as he combines impressive puck protection skills with deceptively quick hands to thrive on net drives and in tight. While not overly physical on a consistent bases, Isaacson does show a tenaciousness in puck pursuit and will finishes his checks. A player who transitions up ice well, Isaacson is arguably at his best in tight around the net where he uses his physical attributes along with quick hands and a nose for the net to excel. A player who shows an impressive confidence in possession, Isaacson consistently produced for a weak Lindsay Muskies team last season." (Mike Mackley)

Owen Lane - Sudbury Wolves
Undersized forward (5'8), Lane was an impact player for Kitchener of the GOJHL last year. Like Bulitka, the early 2015 selection should be a shoe in for a 3rd/4th line role on the Wolves this coming season.
Scouting Report: "Lane is an opportunistic scorer who doesn’t need many chances to impact a game. A heady player in the offensive zone who reads the play well and moves smartly away from the puck. Anticipates the flow of the play and gets into pockets of the ice that will enable him to attempt to unleash his elite shot. Can fire the puck from a standstill or off the rush with a lethal release and impressive accuracy. Skating is adequate as he possesses some good jump in his stride, sound first few steps, and strong balance. Is a patient and efficient skater but will need to continue to improve overall quickness and lateral agility. Does a good job of attacking open ice and attempts to do so with bursts of speed and skilled puck-control. Possesses a smooth pair of hands and won’t overhandle the puck often as he is more of an efficient stick-handler as opposed to a tricky dangler. Can be effective in battles along the wall, engaging with determination and having a knack for winning or freeing the puck. Puts pressure on opposing defencemen with good closing speed, using unexpected bursts of energy to surprise defenders on the forecheck. Does however tend to get a little stagnant away from the puck, not moving his feet and not working hard enough to stay close to the play. Can fall into lulls of being a one-and-done rush opportunity player and not making the overall impact that his skill-set is capable of. Size is not a problem right now but how much growth he has left is a question as he seemed to develop early." (TheScout OHL Draft Guide 2015)

Greg Meireles - Kitchener Rangers
Probably the most hyped player on this list, and with good reason. A 1st rounder of the Rangers in 2015, Meireles opted to play closer to home for a year instead of making the jump to the OHL as a 16/17 year old. He was terrific in the CCHL last year with Ottawa where he was named to the all rookie team, but was also great in a short stint with Kitchener. Even though he didn't play a ton, Meireles also suited up for Canada at the Hlinka. He should be an impact player for the Rangers in 2016/17.
Scouting Report: "Always regarded as a top prospect from the Ottawa area, Meireles surprised many when he decided to suit up for the Ottawa Jr Senators of the CCHL this past season. A top team in the CCHL, Meireles had a productive rookie campaign and was a major contributor on the top line posting 35 points in 48 games. Playing in all situations, he quickly adapted to the speed of junior hockey and excelled on a very systems oriented team. The smooth skating center handles the puck extremely well in traffic and is always dangerous when given time and space around the net. He scores a majority of his goals by using his elite speed to find open areas on the ice and winning races to the puck. In his first stint in the Ontario Hockey League, Meireles didn’t look out of place by scoring at almost a point per game pace. The Rangers are expected to be a top team in the Western Conference and Meireles will be a key part of the forward core." (Conor Mulligan) "A high end prospect, Greg Meireles has the capabilities to become a lethal offensive threat in the Ontario Hockey League. Combining elite skating abilities, with high end vision and strong work ethic, Meireles boasts intriguing upside. Boasting an explosive first step, Meireles skating abilities are is best asset. Generating elite straight line speed, strong change of pace and direction abilities and excellent edges, when combined with high end hockey sense and elite puck skills, Meireles is near impossible to contain. A player who sees the ice extremely well and looks to create offense every time he touches the puck, Meireles boasts excellent vision and high end playmaking skills. With that being said Meireles also displays a deceptively good shot, that comes off a quick release and boasts intriguing accuracy. A player who plays with excellent pace and does everything he does well at top speeds, Meireles is relentless in puck pursuit and aggressive on the forecheck. Using his speed to not only create space offensively but force turnovers defensively, Meireles continues to improve his two-way capabilities. Reliable in his own zone, Meireles has quietly add a physical element to his game, which makes him even more intriguing as a prospect." (Mike Mackley)
Cedric Ralph - Guelph Storm
As previously mentioned, the undersized Ralph led the Lindsay Muskies (OJHL) in scoring last year and as such was named to the all 2nd prospect team. Guelph needs all the scoring help it can get, so he'll have the opportunity to earn a top 6 role at some point next season.
Scouting Report: "Ralph had a highly impressive 2015-2016 season with the lowly Lindsay Muskies. Routinely deployed on the clubs top line, Power Play and Penalty Kill, the exuberant amount of ice time Ralph received did wonders for his development. An undersized, skilled forward, Cedric Ralph combines elite speed and impressive hockey sense to be highly effective despite a lack of size. Boasting an explosive first step, Ralph’s long powerful stride allows him to generate elite speed through the neutral zone that when combined with his puck skills and strong change of pace/direction abilities make him extremely shifty and elusive in possession. A player who uses his edges well, Ralph has the ability to dart in and out of traffic in the offensive zone, making him tough to contain. Despite being undersized, Ralph gets to the gritty areas of the ice and shows little hesitation when entering high traffic areas. Showing impressive vision and strong playmaking skills, Ralph has shown the ability to dictate the pace of the game in the offensive zone. Looking to create every time he gains possession, Ralph has a lethal ability to generate offense. A player who should thrive even more as he’s surrounded with higher skilled players at the next level." (Mike Mackley)

Nate Schnarr - Guelph Storm
Has to be considered one of the top players who didn't play (consistently) in the OHL last year. A 6'3 forward, Schnarr starred for Waterloo of the GOJHL where he was not only the conference's rookie of the year, but made the first all star team too. In limited action in Guelph, he made a big impact and should be a top 6 forward for the Storm this coming season.
Scouting Report: "Schnarr boasts an intriguing package of size, skill and hockey sense, which has allowed him to thrive thus far in his career. An adequate skater for a player of his stature, there is room for improvement in that area, however Schnarr does possess a long, fluid stride, that allows him to get around the ice without little issue, while generating good to above average speed. A wizard with the puck, Schnarr possesses quick hands, strong puck control and impressive puck protections abilities, that when combined with generated speed make Schnarr near impossible to defend off the rush. A smart player who shows poise in possession, Schnarr is a strong decision maker that sees the ice well. However his most lethal weapon is arguably his shot, as it boasts excellent velocity and accuracy and comes off of a quick release. Schnarr uses his size to his advantage, creating space for himself to maneuver in tight. If there is a knock in his game right now its on the defensive side of the puck as the compete level in his own zone tends to be inconsistent at times." (Mike Mackley)  

Dylan Seitz - Kitchener Rangers
A 15th rounder by Kitchener in 2015, Seitz has emerged as a great prospect for the organization. He played for Buffalo (OJHL) last year and had a solid season. He also cracked the U.S. Hlinka team, although saw limited ice time. Seitz will definitely have the opportunity to play a depth role for the Rangers next year, maybe more.
Scouting Report: "A versatile, two-way forward with intriguing offensive upside, Dylan Seitz enjoyed a successful rookie campaign with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the OJHL in 2015-2016. Arguably at his best in possession, Seitz shows an intriguing confidence to his game while also displaying strong vision, deceptively good playmaking skills and a level of offensive creativity that makes him tough to read in possession. Seitz works the cycle and half boards with effectiveness and shows a willingness to get to the gritty and high traffic areas of the ice. While he works those areas with effectiveness, he could be heavier on the puck as he does have somewhat of a tendency to turn pucks over in those areas. Added strength will allow Seitz to thrive in the aforementioned areas as will more of a heaviness on the puck. A player who thinks the game well, Seitz can force plays at times looking to hard to create, although his strong anticipation skills allow him to force more turnovers than he creates. A mobile skater with above average speed, Seitz shows a tenaciousness on the forecheck and will engage physically from time to time." (Mike Mackley)

Danial Singer - Niagara IceDogs
Another re-entry selection by the Dogs in 2016, Singer is a pint sized forward who would appear to have a ton of talent. He was the GOJHL rookie of the year last year, averaging over a point per game. Like Castleman, he'll have a chance of making an impact on a rebuilding IceDogs team.
Scouting Report: "Singer is a clever undersized playmaker with soft hands and a natural feel for the game. Good puck handler, calm in possession, productive in tight quarters. Fast thinker, instantly finds creative solutions, gains an edge from the speed of his decision making. Not a dynamic skater, more quick and crafty than fast, attains decent top speed from a stride that is long, steady, and balanced. Developing muscle mass and filling in a slight frame will be critical to success, can be selectively courageous – at times shy about bravely driving into congested areas. A work in progress away from the puck, scattered, unstructured, swerves out of coverage lanes and can be slow picking up defensive marks. Will need to bulk up a fairly undersized frame." (TheScout OHL Draft Guide 2015)

Jason Willms - Barrie Colts
With Barrie rebuilding next year, they'll have to give an opportunity to young players like Willms to play in critical roles. Willms was a teammate of Owen Lane's in Kitchener (GOJHL) and was equally as effective, suggesting that he could be a candidate for the 2nd or 3rd line center role next year.
Scouting Report: "A smart, well-rounded forward and skilled shooter. A mix of size, competitiveness and aggression. Main weapon is a heavy accurate shot that features a terrific release, generates impressive power with only a minimal windup, aided by a large wingspan. Proficient at shielding checks away and is hard to contain once he gets a bead on goal. Tough to cover 1-on-1 as he spins off checks and is never shy about cutting a path to goal. Tough and honest, plays an honest, hard working game. Effective on the cycle thanks to solid in-close control and a knack for spinning and pivoting off physical pressure. Aggressive forechecker, causes issues when bearing down on opposition defenders. Must continue to bulk up and strive to maximize strength potential, however. Manages the puck well enough, but suffers tunnel vision at times – bulls his way through situations and would benefit from enhancing his vision of the ice. Must also work on making quicker plays. Not an elegant skater, has some inefficiencies in startup and a slushy stride that appears stiff as his feet stay low to the ice. Crossovers could be smoother, more efficient. Top speed is deceptive though, powered by a strong work engine." (TheScout OHL Draft Guide 2015)