Wednesday, April 16, 2014

OHL Playoff Predictions: Conference Finals

Tomorrow night the Conference finals get under way, so let's preview the match-ups. I'm 8-4 through the first two rounds.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Oshawa Generals vs. 2. North Bay Battalion
Season Series: 2-2 (TIE)
My Analysis: Wow, the Battalion just keep on trucking. It ain't pretty but it's working. The veteran leadership core of the team (Goodrow, Thomson, Paul, Blujus, Miller) has been fantastic, as has goaltender Jake Smith. They're going to make this one tough series for Oshawa. Meanwhile, the Generals haven't really been tested thus far and are also riding a big time confidence high. I think the teams are a wash on defense as both teams have terrific veteran leadership on the backend. In net, even though Jake Smith is playing well, I have to give the edge to Daniel Altshuller as the veteran (and he's been fantastic thus far too). At forward, North Bay is stronger than you would think and they are getting the most out of their line-up right now (chemistry is fantastic). However, Oshawa does have more game breakers in their line-up. The one big discrepancy between the two teams is special teams play. Both team's PK units have been terrific in the postseason, however North Bay's powerplay has been pitiful. If they intend to beat an offensive powerhouse like Oshawa, they're going to need to take better advantage, one man up. In the end, I think Oshawa's higher skill level on offense, special teams play, and veteran goaltending edge out North Bay.
Prediction: Oshawa in 6


WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. Guelph Storm vs. 3. Erie Otters
Season Series: 4-2 (Guelph)
My Analysis: Erie's goaltending sure wasn't strong in the first round against Saginaw, but it did a complete 180 thanks to Devin Williams against the Greyhounds. The argument could be made that their goaltending is still a situation that could be exploited by a powerful Guelph offense, however Guelph's goaltending is equally inexperienced when it comes to the playoffs (even if Justin Nichols has been terrific this year). Goaltending is a wash for me. Everything else tips in Guelph's favour though. They're the deeper team at forward and the more difficult team to match up against defensively. Guelph's has 3 hot lines right now who are putting the pressure on opposing defenses, where as Erie really only has two (all be it two fantastic ones). I like Guelph's chances here. They would have been my pick to go all the way at the start of the playoffs so there is no changing that now.
Prediction: Guelph in 6

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings for 2014

NHL Central Scouting has released their final rankings for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Below is a breakdown of how OHL players were ranked.

SKATERS

1. Sam Bennett (1)
2. Aaron Ekblad (2)
3. Michael Dal Colle (5)
4. Nick Ritchie (7)
5. Brendan Perlini (8)
6. Jared McCann (10)
7. Anthony DeAngelo (14)
8. Ryan MacInnis (20)
9. Robby Fabbri (21)
10. Josh Ho-Sang (22)
11. Nikolai Goldobin (24)
12. Eric Cornel (25)
13. Roland McKeown (27)
14. Brendan Lemieux (28)
15. Nick Magyar (32)
16. Dylan Sadowy (33)
17. Hunter Smith (39)
18. Connor Chatham (46)
19. Michael Bunting (49)
20. Aaron Haydon (54)
21. Blake Siebenaler (55)
22. Alex Peters (56)
23. Spencer Watson (59)
24. Darby Llewellyn (64)
25. Mike Amadio (68)
26. Kyle Jenkins (69)
27. Christian Dvorak (71)
28. Josh Sterk (84)
29. Matthew Mistele (88)
30. Ryan Foss (91)
31. Josh Wesley (111)
32. Santino Centorame (113)
33. Kevin Lebanc (115)
34. Stefan Leblanc (123)
35. Stephen Desrochers (125)
36. Yannick Rathjeb (129)
37. Blake Clarke (134)
38. Patrick Sanvido (140)
39. Niki Petti (143)
40. Jacob Busch (152)
41. Chandler Yakimowicz (153)
42. Jaden Lindo (154)
43. Kyle Pettit (161)
44. Cordell James (165)
45. Stephen Harper (166)
46. Jacob Middleton (172)
47. Brandon Prophet (174)
48. Frank Hora (176)
49. Zach Bratina (186)
50. Alex Lintuniemi (187)
51. Kyle Wood (191)
52. Alexander Mikulovich (192)
53. Bryan Moore (195)
54. Phil Baltisberger (197)
55. Daniel De Sousa (204)

GOALIES

1. Brent Moran (3)
2. Alex Nedeljkovic (4)
3. Brandon Halverson (6)
4. Matthew Mancina (12)
5. Devin Williams (15)
6. Jack Flinn (25)
7. Ken Appleby (27)

HERE (Skaters & Goalies) are the links to the complete lists.

General thoughts...

- Comparing it to the midterm, some of the biggest "risers" are Nick Magyar (52-32), Dylan Sadowy (89-33), Darby Llewellyn (113-64), Hunter Smith (140-39), Josh Sterk (195-89), Santino Centorame (AB-113), Stephen Desrochers (AB-125), and Patrick Sanvido (AB-140).

- Some of the "fallers" were Roland McKeown (15-27), Aaron Haydon (28-54), Alex Peters (36-56), Matt Mistele (51-88), Brandon Prophet (76-174), Nikita Yazkov (77-AB), Jacob Middleton (87-172), Blake Clarke (93-134), Jaden Lindo (96-154), Alexander Mikulovich (108-192), Cristiano DiGiacinto (117-AB), and Nikita Serebryakov (17-AB).

- Comparing it to my own list (at the moment), Jacob Middleton is the one that really stands out. I don't have him incredibly high, but I do think that he deserves to be higher than where CSS has him ranked. It's tough being the top defenseman (as a young player) on a bottom of the standings team.

- Interesting call for CSS to have Brent Moran leapfrog Nedeljkovic. It'll be interesting to see how they both do at the Under 18's. I see the reasoning behind it (size and improvement), but I still prefer Nedeljkovic.

- In terms of absences, I think the biggest surprise is Cristiano DiGiacinto. The suspension at the end of the season hurt, but he brings a lot of things to the table that could make him an attractive selection for NHL clubs.

- I don't agree with Zach Bratina falling as significantly as he did. I actually expected him to be a riser considering how well he has played since the trade to North Bay.

- Otherwise, there weren't a ton of MASSIVE surprises, just minor gripes. In particular, I thought they did a pretty good job with the top 15-20ish (save maybe not having Fabbri higher, but we all knew that he wanted be ranked high on CSS due to his size).

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

2014 OHL Playoff Predictions: Round Two

The Conference semi-finals kick off tonight so it's time to preview the second round. I went 6-2 in round one, and was only wrong about the two game sevens (Kingston and Niagara).

Here's the Round Two breakdown:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Oshawa Generals vs. 6. Peterborough Petes
Season Series: 5-3 (Oshawa)
My Analysis: This is a dangerous series for Oshawa. They've been off for a while so they could be a bit rusty. Meanwhile, the Petes are riding a major high after that epic comeback against Kingston. These two teams played each other incredibly tough in the second half of the season so this isn't as cut and dry as some people may think. Ultimately, I think this series comes down to offensive depth and goaltending. The Generals are deeper at the forward position and I think that wins them a hard fought series. I also have more faith in Daniel Altshuller, even if Andrew D'Agostini played his arse off in round one. The Gennies take this by winning the majority of their games on home ice, where they dominated the Petes during the regular season.
Prediction: Oshawa in 6

2. North Bay Battalion vs. 4. Barrie Colts
Season Series: 3-3 (TIE)
My Analysis: Another tough one to predict. North Bay clawed their way through a tough first round match up against the Dogs, while the Colts breezed through theirs against the Wolves. Barrie seems to be hitting their stride at the right time (although they did pick apart a disoriented and slumping Sudbury team). Realistically, the Colts are a team who is stronger on paper than they appeared in the standings this year. But they have a huge veteran core and they know what it takes to win. Goaltending is likely a wash between Blackwood/Gibl and Smith. Defense is a wash. So it'll come down to the offense and I think Barrie's veteran group has to be given the advantage there. I look for guys on their OHL swan song, like Athanasiou, Hall, Theoret, to really step up their game and get the Colts back to the Eastern finals.
Prediction: Barrie in 7

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. Guelph Storm vs. 4. London Knights
Season Series: 3-3 (TIE)
My Analysis: I feel bad for London, I really do. I mean, they've already got a Memorial Cup bid secured (as hosts), but no one wants to go in through the back door. Unfortunately that's how I see things unfolding. The Knights will be without Stolarz, Bell, and Austin this series. Those three form a critical component to the team's defense. Jake Patterson's development hasn't been terrific this year and he's going to have to be fantastic to stop Guelph's potent offense. I felt like Guelph was probably the stronger team even before all of those injuries/suspensions, so the recent news only puts the icing on the cake for me.
Prediction: Guelph in 5

2. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds vs. 3. Erie Otters
Season Series: 1-1 (TIE)
My Analysis: I must admit, I'm a bit worried about Erie's goaltending. Their series against Saginaw proved that neither Devin Williams or Oscar Dansk are at the top of their game. The Soo play an up tempo game with a very balanced attack. You won't escape a series against them without solid goaltending. Meanwhile, the Soo have been getting great goaltending all year from Matt Murray and he should be up to the test in stopping the Otters two line attack. This one is so close to call, but I'm leaning towards the Soo. I've underestimated them throughout the year and I really like how their forwards are engaged at both ends of the ice. They'll get better goaltending and I think they play a better team defense than Erie. It'll be tight, but I'm going with my gut instinct here.
Prediction: Sault Ste. Marie in 7

What do you think?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Top 10: Most Impressive 1997 Born Players


One of the many annual traditions I have on this blog is to rank the new batch of OHL rookies in order of the impression they left on me. Only the "true" OHL rookies have been included, thus why it's labeled the "Most Impressive 1997 born players." However, with the whole exceptional status thing, this means that Connor McDavid will be included on this list (just as Aaron Ekblad was last year). I think it's important to compare these guys to what their age appropriate peers are accomplishing in the league.

I always like to note is that this isn't an early ranking for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. This ranking isn't the order in which I believe these players should be ranked for the draft, but an order of which players impressed me most. It's not a draft prognostication, it's an acknowledgment of the significant impact these players have had on their teams this season.

As mentioned, this is a tradition, so here are the previous year's lists. 1996. 1995's. 1994's. 1993's. 1992's.

10. Justin Lemcke - Belleville Bulls
There weren't a lot of bright spots on the Bulls this season (despite their late push towards the playoffs). Many of the team's younger players just didn't take the necessary steps forward to make them consistently competitive. However one player did stand out and that was their first round pick, Lemcke. He earned a lot of ice time from George Burnett and was arguably one of the team's most consistent defenders. He seems like a good fit for the big ice in Belleville as his skating ability was noticeable. However, he also defended well and seems to be a heady two-way player with some potential to develop even more of a mean streak along the wall and in front of the net. 

9. Graham Knott - Niagara IceDogs
I loved what I saw from Knott this year as a potential power forward prospect. Not too often you see 16 year olds come into the league and be a big factor physically like Knott was. I really like the energy he brings without the puck as he's constantly buzzing on the forecheck and on the backcheck. He's already someone who's relied upon to kill penalties for Marty Williamson. Offensively, he seems to have good instincts and could develop into a quality goal scorer in close with some added strength.

8. Mitchell Vande Sompel - Oshawa Generals
Tired massively in the second half, but still had a very impressive season for a 16 year old defender. Vande Sompel did a great job jumping right into a powerplay role and has a lot of offensive potential in the OHL. And while he's not the biggest or strongest, I felt like he more than held his own in the defensive end, a reason why D.J. Smith was able to rely on him as much as he did. He certainly has the compete level and desire to succeed despite his lack of size (5'10) on the backend. 

7. Lawson Crouse - Kingston Frontenacs
Had a similar impact in Kingston as Knott did in Niagara. Crouse is a budding power forward prospect. In fact, he might be one of the more physical 16 year old forwards I've seen in the league in recent years. He certainly was not intimidated this year. I particularly liked his physicality in the offensive end, as he put pressure on defenses and really cleared room for his linemates. His shot was also noticeable as he has some definite goal scoring potential moving forward. He's the perfect compliment to this Kingston team moving forward, as he can clear space for some of the smaller, skilled forwards on the team.

6. Nikita Korostelev - Sarnia Sting
While it was often difficult to stand out on a very poor Sarnia team, Korostelev did that more times than not. He's definitely got a high skill level with the puck and is great at extending plays in the offensive end. He's also got a great shot and release which will help him score his share of goals in the league. But perhaps what impressed me most was his tenacity. While this seems to be a still developing part of his game (was inconsistent), at times he was quite physically engaged and didn't back down from mixing it up in the corners or fighting hard in front of the net. If he can harness that aspect of his game, it could separate him from a lot of other highly skilled players in next year's draft.

5. Dylan Strome - Erie Otters
Dylan seems to be a very similar (although larger) player to his brother Ryan. His playmaking ability and ability to see the ice is definitely his most valuable at this point. Like Ryan, he has terrific puck skill and is able to read plays exceptionally well in the offensive end. He'll have to continue to develop his shot though, as this was a big part of Ryan's game too. And like Ryan, Dylan seems to have some skating issues, but Ryan improved that aspect of his game a lot over his OHL career. All in all, Dylan was a very impressive rookie who showed that he's likely to be one of the top centers in the league by the time he graduates.

4. Blake Speers - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Man, are the Greyhounds drafting well lately. Speers was exceptional as a rookie this year. He's not the biggest guy, but he's always there in front of the net looking for scoring opportunities. Speers is one of those guys that the puck just seems to find near the crease, likely because of his terrific hockey sense. And when he gets it, he's got a great shot and is able to bury the majority of his chances. I also liked the high level of energy he brought in the offensive end, constantly buzzing around and getting his nose dirty. He'll need to continue to add strength because he's not the biggest guy, but he's certainly a very talented offensive player.

3. Mitchell Marner - London Knights
How could you not be impressed by Marner this year? No matter where he slotted in the line-up, whether he got 15 minutes or 5 minutes of ice time, Marner was always involved and noticeable. His speed and tenacity without the puck definitely endears him to the Hunter's and the type of game they like to play. The thing is, when he's able to get the puck and out hustle opponents, he has such terrific vision and is a fantastic playmaker. Anyone who played with Marner this year benefited from his ability to create offensive scoring chances out of very little. It'll be interesting to see where scouts slot him for the draft next year, considering his lack of size (although he did go through a massive growth spurt this year which should see him get close to 6'0 by draft time next year).

2. Travis Konecny - Ottawa 67's
The real deal. Konecny did not disappoint as the first overall pick this year. There are so many things about his game that are extremely noticeable for all the right reasons. Firstly, he's an absolutely dynamic skater who is able to explode up ice and across the blueline. Secondly, even when he's at top speed, he handles the puck incredibly well. Thirdly, his shot, in particular his release, his fantastic. Lastly, his compete level is incredibly high. When he doesn't have the puck, he's still one of the hardest working players on the ice trying to get it. Regardless of whether the 67's were up 4-3 or losing 10-1, his play and intensity never wavered. He deserves a lot of credit for that.

1. Connor McDavid - Erie Otters
What more is there to say about McDavid that hasn't already been said? He's the face of the league already, and rightfully so. Three things make him the most dangerous player on the ice. His speed, his stickhandling, and his ability to do both at the same time. When you throw in how well he thinks the game, it creates the complete offensive package. I really want to see him put the Otters on his back during this playoff drive and at least make the Western Conference finals.

Honorable Mentions

Brett McKenzie - North Bay Battalion
The perfect Stan Butler player. McKenzie is a good sized pivot that already understands how to play at both ends of the ice. He's got a great shot and will score his share of goals in the league, but will need to continue to work hard to upgrade his skating and positioning in order to get himself more scoring chances.

Matt Spencer - Peterborough Petes
I had really high expectations for Spencer this year after watching him in the OHL Cup last year, but I think it's safe to say that he didn't quite meet them. That said, he was significantly better in the second half of the season and has a ton of potential. I thought that he had become a very sturdy player in his own end by the end of the season, using his skating ability and size to keep players in front of him. And he has an understated physical element to his game that I expect to really grow moving forward. I did expect more offensively though.

Adam Craievich - Guelph Storm 
Doesn't play a whole lot, but he's very noticeable when he does. Accepted his role with Guelph and worked hard as an energy player, but you can tell that he's got the potential to be way more than that. His hands are top notch and he's developed well as a cycle player. He's also got a great shot which he doesn't need a lot of room to use. With added ice time next year, he could really explode if paired with a guy like Fabbri or Dickinson.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

2014 OHL Playoff Predictions: Round One

The 2014 OHL season wraps up today (with the unfortunately delayed Saginaw/Sault Ste. Marie game) and the playoffs begin later this week. That means it's time for my playoff predictions, as is the tradition on this blog.

Last year I went 12-3, so it'd be nice to have that strong of a record again this year.

Here's the Round One Breakdown:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Oshawa Generals vs. 8. Mississauga Steelheads
Season Series: 3-1 (Oshawa)
My Analysis: Unfortunately for the Steelheads, this one is likely to be a cake walk for the Generals. The Steelheads don't have enough offensive firepower to win a playoff series at this point, especially when going up against a terrific goaltender like Daniel Altshuller. The Generals can not only grind it out, but they've got enough skill to carry them pretty far in the playoffs. If he's on his game, I could see Spencer Martin stealing a game at home, but I think Oshawa takes this one easy.
Prediction: Oshawa in 4

2. North Bay Battalion vs. 7. Niagara IceDogs
Season Series: 3-3 (Tie)
My Analysis: This one will be closer than your average 2 vs 7 match up. I can tell you that the Battalion would have much rather seen the Steelheads here. Niagara has played North Bay incredibly tough this year, including taking the last two matchups with relative ease. The Dogs have a young team, so the playoffs are ultimately a different story, but they certainly have the ability to push the Battalion. In order to win this series, Niagara is going to have to get terrific goaltending from Brent Moran (which has been the case a lot lately), and more scoring from lines 2 through 4. I'm not incredibly confident in North Bay's ability to produce offensively either, but they're certainly more experienced. Except for in net, where Jake Smith is facing the same sort of uphill battle as Moran. In the end, I'm taking the upset on this one. I think Moran plays lights out and the Dogs get enough scoring to take this one in a long series.
Prediction: Niagara in 7

3. Kingston Frontenacs vs. 6. Peterborough Petes
Season Series: 5-1 (Kingston)
My Analysis: Kingston dominated this series, this season. But most of those games were played before the Hunter Garlent trade re-invigorated the Petes. Since then, the teams have split games in two closely contested (and high scoring) matches. I expect every game of this series to be high scoring. It'll be fast paced and not kind to goaltenders. In the end, I think the Fronts have the deeper offensive team and I expect that to be the difference. With the return of Ryan Kujawinski, the Fronts offense looks terrific and the team has become more dangerous. I think he could be the difference maker. Of course, Hockey Canada has to be cheering for Peterborough so that they can get Bennett, Watson, and McKeown for the U18's.
Prediction: Kingston in 6

4. Barrie Colts vs. 5. Sudbury Wolves
Season Series: 5-3 (Sudbury)
My Analysis: The battle of two teams sort of trending in different directions. Barrie has been playing much better in the new calendar year. They were a favourite for the East at the start of the season and are only starting to play like it now. Meanwhile, Sudbury has struggled since they went all in for Faksa and Carrick. A playoff loss in round one would certainly be a disaster for the ownership, management, and fans in Sudbury. I do think this will be a very close series. I see one of two things happening. 1. Sudbury wins because they get stellar goaltending from Palazzese and Barrie doesn't from one of Blackwood/Gibl. 2. Barrie wins because Sudbury continues to have chemistry issues and because their star players (Aaron Ekblad, Athanasiou, Hall, etc) come up huge. I have to go with the hotter team. I think Ekblad is motivated to win this series all by himself.
Prediction: Barrie in 6

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1. Guelph Storm vs. 8. Plymouth Whalers
Season Series: 3-1 (Guelph)
My Analysis: No offense to the Plymouth Whalers, but I don't think they stand much of a chance in this series, even if Alex Nedeljkovic stands on his head (which I expect him to). I see the terrific, young, Whalers netminder stealing a game for his team, but outside of that the Storm are just too powerful. Guelph's 3rd line might just be more dangerous than Plymouth's top line. It should be a very entertaining and physical series though. The fans will get their moneys worth, even if it's short.
Prediction: Guelph in 5

2. Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds vs. 7. Owen Sound Attack
Season Series: 2-0 (SSM)
My Analysis: Honestly so happy that Saginaw managed to pull one out against the Hounds on Monday to ensure this meeting. This was the series that I wanted to see. A rematch from last year's hotly contested series. Owen Sound got the better of Sault Ste. Marie last year, and I think the shoe will be on the other foot this year. While the Attack work incredibly hard and get the most out of what they have, I don't think they stack up well against this year's Greyhounds. The Soo has the deeper forward group, the better defense, and the better goaltending (even if Brandon Hope has been a terrific surprise this year for Owen Sound). Knowing the Attack, they'll battle and make it close, but I don't see them having the talent to ultimately succeed.
Prediction: Sault Ste. Marie in 5

3. Erie Otters vs. 6. Saginaw Spirit
Season Series: 3-1 (Erie)
My Analysis: Needless to say, the Spirit are going to be amped up for this year's playoffs as they'll no doubt dedicate their performance to the memory of Terry Trafford. They won't make this an easy series on the powerful Otters. That said, we're looking at an Otters team firing on all cylinders right now. They're coming into the playoffs as the league's hottest team. Realistically, the Spirit are outclassed by a pretty wide margin on talent alone. The key will be goaltending. Which Jake Paterson shows up? The usual playoffs Jake Paterson, or the one who battled consistency during the regular season? Even if Jake is on his game, the man at the other end (Dansk) is no slouch. The Spirit will fight and claw and play with heavy hearts, but in the end the talent of the Otters will get them through to the next round.
Prediction: Erie in 6

4. London Knights vs. 5. Windsor Spitfires
Season Series: 5-1 (London)
My Analysis: This might be one of the most one sided 4 vs 5 match-ups that the league has ever seen. That's what happens when one division has three terrific teams (who are all among the best in the entire CHL). Windsor's goaltending and defense (without Slater Koekkoek) just isn't good enough to stop London's four line attack. Since adding Zadorov and Bell, the Knights have looked pretty damn good and if they can get good goaltending from Stolarz, I think they're the favourite to repeat (again) as OHL champs.
Prediction: London in 4

As always, I would love to hear your predictions in the comments section.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Midseason Media/Scout Top 10 for 2014

Perhaps this article is a tad late this year, but I'm calling it a midseason list none the less. Still lots of hockey to be played this year; important hockey that can really sway the opinion of scouts (playoffs, under 18's). So we'll still have a final list in June.

If you compare this list to the preliminary one (from December), not a ton has changed. Spencer Watson is the big faller (from 7 votes, to zero). And another smaller guy, Robby Fabbri, is the big riser (going from 6 votes last time, to double that this time and a place in the top 10).

As always, it's important to note the contributors, as without them and their terrific insight, this article does not exist. For the midseason list, the following helped out:

Corey Pronman - Hockey Prospectus and ESPN author (@coreypronman)
Dominic Tiano - Writer for The OHL Writers (@dominictiano)
Nathan Fournier - Author of The World of Junior Hockey/Contributor to The Hockey News (@jrhockeywriter)
Ryan Kennedy - Associate senior writer for The Hockey News (@THNRyanKennedy)
Dan Stewart - Director of Scouting for Future Considerations (@StewartFC)
David Burstyn - Director of Scouting for McKeen's Hockey (@DavidBurstyn)
Sean LaFortune - Scout for McKeen's Hockey/Director of TheScout.ca (@SeanLafortune)
Mark Seidel - Scouting Director for NACS Hockey (@MarkSeidel)
Peter Kneulman - Writer for the OHL Writers and In the O Radio (@PeterKneulman)
Brendan Ross - Co-Manager of DobberProspects, scout for TheScout.ca (@RossyYoungblood)
Matt Burnside - Independent OHL scout (@MattBTHG)
John Matisz - National online editor, Sun Media; Contributor to The Hockey News; former London Knights reporter, Metro London (@MatiszJohn)
Carl Maloney - OHL correspondent for TheHockeyWriters (@carlTHW)
Shane Hollinshead - Oshawa Generals Colour Commentator (@InHollinsHead)
Lee Versage - Ottawa 67's Analyst and TSN1200 Host (@LeeVersage)
Stephen Clark - Play by Play Announcer for the Niagara IceDogs (@SteveClarkMedia)
Matt Grainda - Scout for ISS Hockey (@graindaiv)
Manny Paiva - Play by Play voice of the Owen Sound Attack (@paivatheway)

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten)

Here's the Top 10 with several Honorable Mentions

10. Nikolai Goldobin - Forward - Sarnia Sting
Total Votes: 9
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 5th (1x)/Outside the Top 10 (9x)
The Scoop: Playing for a last place team can certainly be draining on a talented offensive player like Goldobin. For the most part, he's soldiered through it and put up some impressive offensive numbers despite lacking a strong supporting cast (top 15 in OHL scoring). His performance at the Top Prospect's Game certainly turned the heads of those who've never seen him play. However, he didn't have a strong second half of the OHL season and had only 7 goals in his last 25 games. Unfortunately, Sunday marked the end of his season, as he won't be playing in the playoffs and he's too old (late birthday) for the Under 18's. 
Comments:
"Along with Josh Ho-Sang and Sam Reinhart was the player who stood out most in the BMO CHL Top Prospects game in Calgary.  Showed the country (and more importantly scouts & GM’s) what he can do under the spotlight.  The high end offense is undeniable, but the Russian concern will always linger.  Pre-draft interviews and his level of commitment and desire to live in North America for the next 20 years will play a large part in how high he is drafted.  Sad to say, but his country of birth will almost surely see him picked later than his skill set would indicate." - Anonymous

"Determined to prove to scouts that his game is better-rounded than critics report, Nikolay Goldobin has shown more willingness to get his nose dirty over the last few months. He’s far from an aggressive player and his defensive commitments remain a weakness but his puck skills and vision are of elite calibre. Within a split second, Goldobin can make opponents pay as he strikes with a quick accurate shot or sends a blind pass to an open teammate for a tap-in goal." - Anonymous

"Thought about flipping him and Fabbri, but the questions with Goldobin are whether he shines on a bad team because he's that much better, or really one of the only guys who can put the puck in the net. The -30 or so does not help his cause, neither does the fact that his team mailed in the latter portion of the season.   Very talented, but a little enigmatic.  Not unlike his countryman and fellow Sarnia alumnus Nail Yakupov." - Anonymous

9. Robby Fabbri - Forward - Guelph Storm
Total Votes: 14
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 5th (1x)/Outside the Top 10 (4x)
The Scoop: Jumps into the top 10 with a strong performance in the second half. The hard working, yet undersized forward has been one of the main reasons that the Guelph Storm are one of the OHL's top teams heading into the playoffs. While his strong ability on the forecheck gets him noticed most, he actually led all draft eligible players with 45 goals this season. He's been the model of consistency and one could certainly argue that he deserves to be higher on this list. Ultimately, it's the concerns over his size that seem to be "weighing" him down.
Comments:
"Impressed how much he's stood out this year on such a stacked Storm team. Has great hands in tight spaces, never gives up on the puck when it's not on his stick, dynamite on the PP. He'll bring fans out of their seat, and scouts love his motor." - Anonymous

"I really like him and think he is an absolute game changer. Some may have some hesitation based on his size but I don't care for that because all I see is an extremely skilled player. Fast and elusive and has the ability to take over a game. One such instance was against the Greyhounds in December when he scored the tying goal with less than a second to play before capping the hattrick with the winner in OT. A former OHL cup champion who I can see taking over come playoff time. I fell there is still some upward mobility in his draft ranking." - Anonymous

"Fabbri went on an absolute tear following a ten game suspension in November essentially missing the entire month of play. In his final 40 games he only went 7 games in which he did not register a point. Fabbri is a high octane player who excels in all areas of the ice. He is always making things happen in the offensive zone due to his skills and highly competitive nature. He never settles on the first option as he always tries to put the puck into a better position. He developed sensational chemistry with Rychel as the two habitually fed off one another. Criticized for being 'under-sized' Fabbri plays a hard-nosed game and does not back down from anybody in the league." - David Burstyn

8. Roland McKeown - Defense - Kingston Frontenacs
Total Votes: 14
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 6th (2x)/Outside the Top 10 (4x)
The Scoop: While the notions of him challenging Aaron Ekblad for the top defender available are now absent, he remains a quality prospect garnering attention at the back of the first round. McKeown's play has been a mirror of the Fronts themselves (a young team battling consistency), but he has a lot great qualities that scouts believe in. His play in this year's playoffs will probably go a long way in determining whether he's a first round selection come June.
Comments:
"Another guy that has been sliding a little on my list due to a lack of development in his overall game this year.  He does have a good strong frame, good fluid feet and plays a heady 2-way game but he still lacks that killer instinct in the offensive zone and is neither consistently physical nor engaged on every shift. Still see him as having top four potential in the NHL one day with all his impressive abilities but he is becoming no sure bet." - Dan Stewart

'He scares me a bit. The skating is high end and he makes good decisions with the puck, but does he have high end offensive upside? I'm not sure I see huge point producer. And while he's got good defensive instincts, he's also not a high intensity player and could struggle in his own end as the players get stronger, faster, and more assertive. Is he being overhyped because of a lack of solid defensive prospects available in this year's draft?" - Anonymous

"Up and down on him and have watched him a lot this season. Love his skating and can move the puck, and his defense has improved a lot. Still don't see a guy who jumps out at you and can take over a game. Probably has moved towards the bottom half of the first round." - Corey Pronman

"Teases with flashes of brilliance but still appears to be a piece missing to his game. Steady puck moving defenseman who can carry the puck up the ice and is relied upon heavily by Coach Gill despite the Fronts having a deep blue line. McKeown has an impressive +38 which is a massive improvement from his -24 in his rookie season however question marks still surface about his true ability to defend and lack of physical assertion. McKeown comes with question marks however NHL teams will need to focus on his strengths.  His liabilities are not unlike Koekkoek’s were in his draft year as Koekoek was criticized for the same defensive short comings in his NHL draft year and has rebounded nicely to become one of the more dominant players in the OHL." - David Burstyn

7. Josh Ho-Sang - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Total Votes: 17
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 5th (3x)/Outside of the Top 10 (1x)
The Scoop: After a disappointing rookie season, Ho-Sang has been one of the league's most improved players this season. Even after the Kerby Rychel trade, the Windsor Spitfires have remained competitive in the Western Conference because of Ho-Sang's offensive consistency and leadership. A highlight waiting to happen, Ho-Sang is trending upward because of the improvements he's made away from the puck and the dedication he's put into improving his overall game.
Comments:
"I doubt this player will go as high as I have him ranked, but with skills as special as his I could not let him drop any lower.  Ho-Sang can adapt and be taught what others around him in the rankings do well.  (The question is will he?)  The others cannot be taught what Josh Ho-Sang does well.    The best puck skills on this list, Ho-Sang has hands that we all dream about.  His ability to handle the puck at high speeds are some of the best in the entire league, let alone draft eligible players.  The questions, however, lie in his defence and his ability to use his teammates and make them better.  I have seen improvements in both in his time in the OHL, though there is still work to do.  Size as well will be a concern for NHL GM’s." - Anonymous

"What a run this kid has been on over the past couple months and most impressively is that he is putting up gaudy numbers all while rounding out his game. He is far from a complete player but his willingness to learn how to play in his own zone, up his physical play and use his teammates effectively is something that has him definitely moving in the right direction on most, if not all draft lists. High end offensive potential at the NHL level but also has significant bust potential even if it is being mitigated with his recently improved game." - Dan Stewart

"At this time last year, Ho-Sang wouldn't have been anywhere near my top 10. But he's completely won me over. He's made great strides without the puck and has developed more poise/patience in the offensive end. Those areas still need more improvement, but the fact that he's clearly working hard to improve them has to count for something. Selfishly hoping that the Spits lose in round one so we can see him at the Under 18's." - Anonymous

"Yep, I'm right on board the Ho Sang train.   Questions of character mean nothing to me.  His skillset is off the chart.  The game comes to effortlessly to him, and has jaw dropping skill.  Any rough character edges will be quietened in the pros." - Anonymous

6. Jared McCann - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Total Votes: 18
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 3rd (1x)/9th (1x)
The Scoop: Fresh off an interview with yours truly (HERE), McCann continues to be an important offensive cog for the West Division winning Soo Greyhounds. His speed and competitive nature at both ends has endeared him to scouts. If it weren't for the maturity shown by many of the club's young players (like McCann), they wouldn't have finished as high in the standings as they did this season.
Comments:
"Always been a big fan of his game. The first time I saw him live he was a callup to the Jr. B team in London. Asked an NHL scout about him following the game and he said McCann, at 15, already had an NHL-calibre shot. He's used that weapon this year." - Anonymous

"Was higher on this list earlier in the year when he was producing well over a point-per-game but recently he has not been as effective, partly due to ice time and partly due to looking a little fatigued during the second half. Still considered one of the safest bets to play in the NHL due to his explosive skill, 2-way game, overall smarts and impressive shot. I would be shocked if he is still on the board halfway through round one." - Dan Stewart

"McCann is a responsible and dependable hockey player who can be a threat offensively and cover defensively. He has the poise and command with the puck to make plays and uses his hockey sense for excellent positioning. His shooting skills are elite along with his agility and mobility in all zones. McCann can also play tough and battle with the best." - Anonymous

"McCann's contributions are not only measured on the score sheet but also his strong two-way game. A regular on both special teams, McCann has developed into a very responsible player whose game translates well at the pro level. His skating, skills and size (more so his height at this point) will allow him to play in a top six role. Strong acceleration and quick pivots allow him to constantly be involved in a developing play. McCann can be a streaky scorer but has arguably one of the better one timers/shot releases in this year's draft. At times he can try to do too much with the puck and will need to simplify his game slightly at the NHL level." - David Burstyn

5. Brendan Perlini - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
Total Votes: 18
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 4th (5x)/9th (1x)
The Scoop: Perlini jumped to the top of a lot of draft lists with his hot start to the OHL season (30 points in the first 15 games) and hasn't looked back. Even if he hasn't maintained that unsustainable pace, he's had a solid year pairing with Maple Leafs prospect Carter Verhaeghe to form the backbone of the Niagara IceDogs. I have to think that he's going to be one of the offensive leaders for the Canadian Under 18 team (if Niagara is eliminated), which will be a big test for him.
Comments:
"One of the biggest risers in the OHL draft-eligible crop. Niagara is young with little depth, but he's been able to be a driving force on offence. Really like his blend of grit and finesse. Heard he is a very good kid off the ice, which should drive his stock higher as the draft nears." - Anonymous

"A player that loves to have the puck on his stick, Perlini plays a strong puck possession game. He’s a pure goal scorer that has dynamic speed and puck skills which makes him deadly off the rush. The knock has been that he’s not overly physical for being 6’3”, 205lbs. If he adds that element to his game, he’ll climb higher in most rankings." - Anonymous

"I'm kind of torn on Perlini. I really like a lot of things about his game. His size and north/south skating ability is terrific (think Jeff Carter). And he's got one hell of a shot. I also think he's made great strides as a two-way player this year. That said, his lack of intensity and his inability to use his size physically (at times) does concern me somewhat. I don't think he's a naturally aggressive player. The size and skill package is enough for me to draft him in the first round, but the lack of physicality in his game keeps me from taking him in the lottery." - Anonymous

"He's obviously cooled off recently, but there's a ton to like about him in terms of his high-end skating ability and great skill level in a big body. Concerns over his consistency are notable, and I may be pulling off him being a clear top 10 guy, but he remains a likely upper half of the first player for me." - Corey Pronman

"The hands are what you notice about Perlini first, then the shot.  He's a natural goal scorer and handles the puck so deftly for a guy 6'3.  Could stand to add a bit more of a mean streak to his game.   Still got 33 goals, despite missing a portion of the season to a shoulder injury.  That injury has not slowed him one bit, and a lot of scouts have been in Niagara to see him this year." - Anonymous

4. Nick Ritchie - Forward - Peterborough Petes
Total Votes: 18
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 3rd (3x)/7th (1x)
The Scoop: The Peterborough Petes did it again. This time their second half surge planted them firmly in the OHL playoffs though. Ritchie's strong play in the 2014 calendar year (23 goals in 30 games) has to be considered one of the main reasons for the team's improvement. As a throwback power forward prospect, Ritchie brings it all, even if it's not quite at a consistent level yet. If he can get the Petes out of the first round, he could really see his draft stock rise even further.
Comments:
"I know scouts are a little concerned about his weight this season, but that's a question he can answer at the draft combine. Otherwise, he's putting up offense on a team that needs it and his snarly, nasty play at the Top Prospects Game was excellent." - Anonymous

"Can be the best Player in the draft, physically dominates at times, disappears far too often, high risk-reward player, hard to handle on the wall." - Anonymous

"So big, powerful and strong but also kills penalties, blocks shots and once given a legitimate center in hunter garlent, has dominated the league.....I question his work ethic and his desire but too many intanglibes and maybe the highest ceiling to me in the draft....terrific release." - Anonymous

"A bit of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scenario for Ritchie. I have been to games this season where he looks like the undisputed top prospect for this draft. A real bull in a china shop who can force his will on anyone physically as well as possessing the offensive skills to singlehandedly dominate the game and carry the Petes to victory, and then some games where he looks disinterested and played like a real dog. Partly due to improved health but lately his contributions and efforts have been more consistent which has his stock rising. Think physical dominance like Milan Lucic but with better offensive abilities (shot, hands, sense)." - Dan Stewart

3. Michael Dale Colle - Forward - Oshawa Generals
Total Votes: 18
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 3rd (14x)/4th (4x)
The Scoop: Similar to Perlini, Dal Colle got off to a hot start and never looked back. The difference? Dal Colle has sustained his offensive production and finished in the top 5 of OHL scoring. He also did all this while playing for the top team in the Eastern Conference, a team many prognosticators pegged for the bottom of the standings. His size and skill package has Dal Colle firmly planted inside the top 10 of the NHL draft.
Comments:
"Kid has an excellent release -- that's the first thing I always think of. Power forward with notable skill. Opponents are always on edge when he's on the ice. Excited to see him run over the East in the playoffs this year." - Anonymous

"Surprising to see Dal Colle drop a bit in some complete draft rankings as of late.  This is still a player that can challenge to be a Top 3 pick in the draft.  The accuracy and velocity on his wrist shot and snap shot are the best to come out of the OHL.  It is an NHL caliber shot already that has had many goalies picking the puck out of the back of the net at the General Motors Centre, and has contributed to his 28 multi point games this season.  Already extremely strong on the puck and hard to knock off, Dal Colle will get even stronger as the muscle catches up to his lanky frame.  (6’ 2”/171LBS)  An added benefit:  who he has learned from.  Playing with Boone Jenner in his rookie season and Scott Laughton this year, learning from two NHL caliber players and the work ethic those two bring to the arena can only help Dal Colle in the maturity department." - Anonymous

"I've got Ritchie higher now. I like Dal Colle, but I don't love him. I just wish he was more physical and impacted the game more than just offensively. His offensive instincts and general skill level is super high, but sometimes it looks like he's coasting to me. Again, I point that to a lack of involvement in his 200ft game. Don't get me wrong, he's a top 10 pick, but if it's between him and Ritchie, I'm swinging for the fences with Ritchie." - Anonymous

2. Sam Bennett - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs
Total Votes: 18
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 1st (3x)/2nd (15x)
The Scoop: Like Dal Colle, Bennett's been a model of consistency this year. His 91 points puts him in the top 10 of OHL scoring and in every full month of the OHL season (Oct-Feb) he's posted at least 15 points. When he's not in the line-up, the Fronts are a noticeably different team. The question is, will he be a contender for the first overall pick?
Comments:
"Scouts love this kid. Obviously the point production doesn't hurt, but it's the intangibles; the fact he plays the game with a little bit of 'pop' that has everyone excited." - Anonymous

"Mr. Consistency, as he is starting to be known around the OHL as, has continued to grow his overall game all season. He is learning to use his teammates better and not skate himself out of options like we did many times last season. His strong efforts, 2-way skill, physical dogged tenacity and improving offensive reads have been on display nightly in Kingston. He has top line 2-way centre potential with the Doug Gilmore comparisons being fairly accurate." - Dan Stewart

"Bennett uses his strong skating ability and gritty play to make an impact at both ends of the ice. He has some explosive speed and elusive skating skills, which he uses to his advantage to display his quick, hard release. Bennett never backs down in tight and can play with a mean edge, which opens up space. His hockey sense and vision are really strong." - Anonymous

"Few prospects can skate like Bennett and marry a strong two-way game like he does. Bennett plays the entire 200 feet of ice and regularly comes back deep to support the play. His commitment to defense is instrumental in him architecting breakouts. Bennett plays a scrappy game as he will get involved. He is not afraid to attack dirty areas and will go hard to the net. He plays the game with terrific poise in that he constantly anticipates plays before they happen allowing him to be in the right place at the right time. Approaches the game like a young Toews and/or Brind Amour; he oozes character." - David Burstyn

1. Aaron Ekblad - Defense - Barrie Colts
Total Votes: 18
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 1st (15x)/2nd (3x)
The Scoop: No one is dethroning Ekblad yet, as he's held this position all season. Even if the Barrie Colts haven't quite had the championship caliber season many predicted at the beginning of the season, Ekblad has had a strong season individually. He finished in the top 5 of defenseman scoring, all the while playing a rough and tumble defensive game. His fantastic performance at the WJC's has to have turned a lot of heads in the scouting community. 
Comments:
"The absolute stud of the draft in my opinion....plays 25 minutes a night against all the best players in the league...physically ready right now....never gets to high or low...showed at world juniors that when paired with, and playing against better players, raises his game...will be a 15 year pro on a top pairing at NHL level in my opinion." - Anonymous

"It seems NHL GM’s these days are scared to take a D-man # 1 overall.  Aaron Ekblad should scare them straight.  6’ 4”, 217LBS, and still room to grow.  This is a player that has controlled the game, no matter which level, despite playing with players older than him  (OHL, WJHC).  Sam Reinhart is one heck of a player out west, and is another player you can’t go wrong with, but the size, strength, abilities and maturity of Aaron Ekblad is a package I would not pass on at # 1.  You’ve heard it all before.  Ekblad has the mind and body of a man 10 years his senior.  But it is all true.  This player is ready to play in the NHL right now." - Anonymous

"The exceptional defenseman has company atop this list as Bennett, Dal Colle and Ritchie have all ramped up their games but the maturity, poise and dominating presence Ekblad emanates on the blueline is unmatched by any other draft eligible defenseman. The Colts’ captain has continued to develop in all aspects of his game and has the potential to change the face of a franchise’s backend." - Anonymous

"The top 3 in the OHL could go in any order, but if I were looking to build a team around one, the edge would have to go to Ekblad. A defenceman with size who can skate, shut down the opposition's top guns, kill penalties and quarterback the powerplay like Ekblad does is hard to come by. For a team rebuilding, you have to start on the blueline." - Anonymous

Others Receiving Consideration (HM's)

Anthony DeAngelo - Defense - Sarnia Sting (8 votes)
Highest Placement: 8th (2x)
Comments:
"The suspension will hurt, we all know that. As for what he can bring to the table: speed, vision, puckhandling. He was a huge bright spot on the Sting as a rookie in 11-12 and has developed steadily since. But he's also a high-risk, high-reward player, which may turn teams off, at least early on in the draft." - Anonymous

"Obviously a lot of trouble off the ice this year but not too many players control a game from the back end like DeAngelo. Swift skater, great vision and a bit of a meanstreak for a slender player...Im not as worried about off ice stuff at next level because that can be contained by NHL clubs and he plays with a lot of passion." - Anonymous

"It’s been a tough few months for DeAngelo after it was publicly reported that he made inappropriate comments to a teammate that eventually resulted in an eight-game suspension. Few people will question DeAngelo’s offensive skills as he’s a truly dynamic defenceman with the puck on his stick but he has yet to convince scouts’ that his behaviour won’t be an issue going forward and that has likely dropped him way down team’s current draft lists. He remains the OHL’s top defensive scorer but his season is coming to a close with Sarnia destined to miss post-season action and that doesn’t give DeAngelo time to show that his character isn’t an issue. The draft combine interviews and testing will be extremely important events in deciding DeAngelo’s ultimate draft fate." - Anonymous

"This kid has always been full of attitude and had red flags popping up with regards to teamwork, following a team plan, getting along with his mates and coaches, body language on and off the ice, being selfish, etc. which has reduced his value as a draft pick from where his skill level would dictate he be ranked. But with the latest incident he has really made me question if I was selecting for an organization could I take the skilled defenseman inside the top 40-50 picks knowing what I know about his attitude and personality and how it could affect the team. Unfortunately I do not think I could and I know I am not alone in this assessment." - Dan Stewart

"DeAngelo is a highly skilled player who seems to make things happen with each shift. He controls the play from the back end and can see the ice better than his opponents. DeAngelo has the vision and hockey sense to create tremendous opportunities and can take quality chances on net. His defensive skills will come around but his offensive qualities are strong." - Anonymous

Alex Nedeljkovic - Goaltender - Plymouth Whalers (5 votes)
Highest Placement: 5th (1x)
Comments:
"The best goaltender to come out of the OHL in a long time in my opinion....great fundamentals, doesnt overplay and never seems to lose his cool....has faced more quality chances against in his young career than almost any other top goalie and that will pay dividends..." - Anonymous

"Just a fantastic goalie who has put up great numbers from the start with Plymouth. What really stands out to me is that with a weaker team this year his save percentage has increased along with the difficulty of the shots he has faced. He averages 30% more shots per 20 minutes than he did last season and has done a fantastic job keeping Plymouth in the playoffs all year." - Anonymous

"I think the reality is that I like him better than NHL scouts do. It's all about elite size at the goaltender position now and Nedeljkovic doesn't have that. But he has everything else. Without him in net this year, the Whalers are with the Sting in the basement. I don't expect him to be the first (or even the 2nd) goaltender taken this year, but I think when all is said and done, he'll have a terrific NHL career." - Anonymous

Eric Cornel - Forward - Peterborough Petes (3 votes)
Highest Placement: 9th (1x)
Comments:
"Body type to play at next level, to go along with brains and vision. Needs to work a bit on his skating and consistency but can put his stamp on a game like few can as 17 year olds in the OHL....can be physical and shoots the puck well...becoming more aware defensively this year and is extremely smart." - Anonymous

"Would not have even had a sniff of my Top 10 if you asked me before the season or even early this season.  But his play since the calendar change has forced his way into my Top 10.  A bad rookie season on a horrible team last year (16pts), for Cornel confidence is key.  Was not put in a position to succeed last season, and that obviously hurt his confidence.  That has changed playing on the Petes top line with Ritchie & Garlent, and the results are noticeable.  As he continues to grow physically, he will be able to use his body to better protect the puck, which will allow his high offensive talent to flourish even more." - Anonymous

"A highly skilled player who found his game once he was moved to the wing following the acquisition of Garlent ( Guelph ). With less responsibility playing up the middle his game was able to flourish. Cornel has all the attributes that make up a successful NHL forward, he has loads of skill can really skate and has good size. Still needs to fill out but has the frame that can support an additional 25-35 pounds. Called out for his lack of physical game, Cornel has done an admirable job of addressing that and even though he won't be a punishing force he has shown a penchant for taking a hit, trying to deliver one and is going to the net with more authority. Cornel's game continues to develop and much like his line mate Ritchie, a deep run will only help bolster his draft stock. However a first round elimination all but guarantees him a spot on Team Canada U18 squad giving him another opportunity to display his game to NHL scouts." - David Burstyn
 
Ryan MacInnis - Forward - Kitchener Rangers (1 vote)
Highest Placement: 9th (1x)
Comments:
"Tremendous frame, will take a few years for his potential to be realized, good skills, nice long stick, little too perimeter at times, will be so hard to handle when he fills out, protects the puck well" - Anonymous

Andrew Mangiapane - Forward - Barrie Colts (1 Vote)
Highest Placement: 10th (1x)
Comments:
"Diamond in the rough, first year in league after playing major midget. On the small side but does play with that chip on his shoulder...great vision and improving skating and shot. Great defensively, very smart player and has the chance to develop to a 3rd line pro." - Anonymous


Thanks to all my contributors. As the draft inches closer, be sure to pick up the draft guides of McKeen's, ISS, and Future Considerations. Visit their websites for information on how to do that.