With the 2009 NHL Entry Draft on the horizon (2 weeks away), it is time to take a look at some of the biggest movers and shakers in the Ontario Hockey League this season. So consider this another two part Sunday Top 10. Today, we will examine the biggest draft fallers. The players who made this list, for varying reasons, found themselves tumbling down the NHL Draft list this season, after being held in some regard previously. Next Sunday's Top 10 will examine the biggest draft risers; those players who greatly improved their stock this season with solid performances.
Here are your top 10 Draft Fallers.
10. Vern Cooper - Plymouth Whalers
A little guy with a lot of heart, a lot of people expected Cooper to pick up his offensive game this season and become a legitimate secondary scoring threat behind the likes of Chris Terry. His sandpaper and energy game made some believe he had the chance to be a solid draft prospect, despite being a late 1990. However, this season saw little improvement in his offensive game. Cooper's offensive stats actually declined slightly. This is not the type of progression you like to see in a late 1990 draft eligible forward. For all the intangibles Cooper brings to the ice, it is beginning to look like his chances at a professional hockey career are slim to none. I did not rank Cooper in my top 50 eligible players for the draft.
9. Bjorn Krupp - Belleville Bulls/Barron Smith - Peterborough Petes
OK, I cheated a bit. It's a top 11. But I felt like these two players had a lot in common with each other and their inclusion on the list made sense as a pair. Firstly, they both have NHL bloodlines. Bjorn Krupp's father is longtime and former NHL defender Uwe Krupp. Barron Smith's father is former Edmonton Oilers great Steve Smith. Secondly, both were playing in their first seasons in the OHL with a fair amount of hype after playing previously in the United States. And lastly, both disappointed in their play this season. The two combined for 6 points on the back end this year. While neither was billed as the second coming of Bryan Fogarty, the fact that they were able to make such a small impact on the ice is alarming. Krupp plays a safe game, but his relative lack of puck skills hurts him greatly and his upside is severely limited. For that reason, he took a dive on a lot of lists. Smith was unable to play his way on to a deep London blueline and was eventually traded to Peterborough (as part of the Trevor Cann deal). While their bloodlines may still get them drafted, there is no question that they will go a lot lower than they would have if they had stronger seasons.
8. Michael Latta - Guelph Storm
Probably the most debatable inclusion on this list, Latta is still considered to be a strong bet for a top 60 selection. However, more was expected of him this season and I think he did a lot more harm than good to his draft stock this season. Originally thought to be the leader of the 67's offense this season with Logan Couture, Latta demanded a trade part way into the season and was shipped to Guelph. In Guelph, his offensive production declined in the more defensive system. On top of that, his skating deficiencies really garnered a lot of attention this season. As I said, Latta is still expected to be a top 2 round selection. That being said, it would not surprise me to see him fall into the middle round similar to the way Zack Torquato did in 2007.
7. Daniel Maggio - Sudbury Wolves
The 7th overall selection in the 2007 Priority draft, a lot was expected of Maggio. A package of size, skill and aggression made him an attractive piece to the blueline. However in his time in the OHL, Maggio has not been able to put everything together. His hockey sense has been heavily questioned (by many including myself), and subsequently his ability to improve. He took few steps forward this season, one which was mired with a knee injury. That being said, he has potential should someone be able to bring it out of him.
6. Chris Perugini - Ottawa 67's
Brother of former OHL goaltender Andrew Perugini, Chris was being billed as one of the top goaltenders the OHL had available for this draft. He played very well for Ottawa last season as a rookie and came into this season in a platoon role with Boston prospect Adam Courchaine. He had a solid first two months, outplaying Courchaine and was looking like he was going to steal the starting spot. However, as the season went along, Perugini began to struggle badly. Part of this can be blamed on an inconsistent 67's defense. But a big portion can be blamed on Perugini and the opposing teams beginning to take advantage of his shortcomings. Perugini is athletically sound enough, but he has a tendency to flop around in his crease and has among the worst rebound control in the OHL. Teams begun to take advantage of this and he was getting lit up. I'd be surprised now if he even gets drafted, but if he can improve his mechanics, he has the potential to be a pro goaltender.
5. Michael Fine - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
I think a lot of the reasons Fine saw his stock drop this season were secondary to his play. He put up half decent stats and showcased an ability to be a hard nosed forward prospect with skill. Of course, he needs to be a more consistent offensive threat, but that can be said about a lot of players available for the draft. So why did he fall this year? For one, the Greyhounds were terrible and didn't generate a lot of attention. As always, it is tougher for players (especially secondary players like Fine), to stand out on bad teams in their draft years. Then there was Fine's disappearance from the Under 18 team. Originally named to the team, Fine left for undisclosed personal reasons (replaced with Peter Holland). This tournament could have been huge for Fine, as a chance to play with and against better players. A strong showing at the tournament (like Kyle Clifford had), could have vaulted him back into top three round consideration.
4. Brandon Foote - Guelph Storm
Foote started off the season really well with the Brampton Battalion. He wrestled the starting goaltender position away from NHL draft pick Patrick Killeen and posted one loss in the first three months of the season. He was even named OHL player of the week for October 19th. He was starting to generate a lot of buzz around the scouting community. But things spiraled for the worse as 2008 drew to a close. Eventually Brampton realized they needed an upgrade and shipped Foote to Guelph as part of the Thomas McCollum trade. In Guelph, Foote continued to be wildly inconsistent. Things got even worse for Foote when he failed to place on the NHL's Central Scouting Final Rankings and looks like a real long shot to be drafted, despite such a strong showing to start his OHL career.
3. Marcus Foligno - Sudbury Wolves
With a 70 point season from Nick in his draft year with Sudbury, a lot more was expected of Marcus offensively this season. He finished with only 12 goals on the year and got a lot of flak for his lack of involvement in every game. I think what needs to be remembered is that Marcus is one of the youngest players eligible for the draft. Nick, when he put up 70 points and went in the first round, was almost a full year older than Marcus was in his 2nd OHL season. At the same age, Nick actually put up pretty similar OHL stats. But you can't ignore the plunge Marcus took in most rankings this year, despite perhaps a raw deal. The big test will be next season, where Marcus will show the NHL team who drafts him, how much offensive ability he has.
2. Casey Cizikas - Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
The former 3rd overall selection in the 2007 Priority draft, a lot was expected of Cizikas this year after a very strong rookie season. He followed that up with a solid performance at the 2008 Ivan Hlinka tourney. But this season was a step back for him. Offensively, he failed to match his stats of his rookie season and he was never able to become that consistent offensive threat Mississauga needed. He also received a lot of flak for his play without the puck and his effort level on a consistent basis. Even with a good playoffs this year, I'm not sure he saved his draft stock. Obviously, I'm a big fan of his abilities and have been vocal of that this season. But I appear to be pretty alone, which is a testament to how the inconsistency of his play has effected his draft ranking.
1. Taylor Doherty - Kingston Frontenacs
While Cizikas stock may have seen a more significant drop, Doherty earns first on this list because of where his "drop" lies. This big defenceman received a lot of attention for his play in his first OHL season last year, and went into this season as a guy with the potential to go in the NHL lottery. But Doherty never took that step forward, as was expected. Offensively, he had a disappointing season, failing to match his stats from his rookie year. Defensively, he was exposed as a poor lateral mover and an undisciplined aggressor. In many cases, Doherty took a step backwards this season, rather than forwards. This caused his drop from potential lottery selection to possible third round selection.
Stay tuned, as next Sunday we brighten the mood by looking at the top draft risers!