Monday, May 31, 2010

Ryan Yessie's Top 50 for 2010: Part 2 - 11 to 30

Part two of Ryan's Top 50 for 2010.

11 - Alexander Burmistrov - Center - Barrie Colts
Oct-21-1991 - 5’11.25” - 157 lbs.
Scouting Report: If you’re talking pure talent Burmistrov can be mentioned in the same breath as Hall and Seguin. Burmistrov has outstanding speed, great acceleration and is very shifty when rushing with the puck, and was surprisingly active in his own zone. With all these talents, Burmistrov drops due to his selfish play with the puck, and constantly turning away scoring chances in favor of controlling the puck a little longer and trying to do too much himself. Burmistrov has developed a bit of a reputation in disappearing in games when the action has got too physical, and I myself have witnessed this. Also he has been seen noticeably diving over the course of the season. Finally his size at 157 raises other concerns. Burmistrov will be a boom or bust prospect who will either overcome the flaws in his game to be an excellent top 6 forward, or will be unable to reach the highest level due to those same flaws.

12 - Stephen Silas
- Defenceman - Belleville Bulls
Jun-26-1992 - 6’0.5” - 183 lbs.
Scouting Report: Silas is an excellent puck moving defenceman with a smooth stride and can move the puck either up the ice, or around effectively on the power play. Silas has an underrated defensive game, and does well in his own zone in 1 on 1 battles. Silas will need to add a little muscle to his frame and become a little more willing to play physical, also his upside isn’t that of the 2 defencemen in front of him, but Silas could very likely turn into a solid puck moving defenceman on the lower end of the top 4 on an NHL blue line.

13 - Ivan Telegin
- Left Wing - Saginaw Spirit
Feb-28-1992 - 6’2.25” - 194 lbs.
Scouting Report: Telegin is able to play both Center and Left Wing. Telegin has great puck handling, and is able to create offense for himself as well as having an excellent shot to go with a big frame. He isn’t intentionally aggressive, but he is a decent hitter when he does play physical. Telegin will need to improve his defensive play, as well as puck movement to maximize his potential.

14 - Brock Beukeboom
- Defenceman - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Apr-1-1992 - 6’1” - 202lbs.
Scouting Report: Beukeboom is a physically intimidating opponent, who is smart positionally. Beukeboom has the ability to deliver punishing checks, without sacrificing position to do so. Beukeboom’s game seems designed around protecting his own net, and he does so well. He has some limited offensive potential, but Beukeboom’s gift lies in his already capable positional play combined with the fact he can potentially grow to 6’3” - 215 lbs. Beukeboom could afford to improve his skating, however like Silas two spots ahead, Beukeboom will likely be a lower end top 4 defenceman on an NHL blue line.

15 - Jared Knight
- Center - London Knights
Jan-16-1992 - 5’10.5” - 186 lbs.
Scouting Report: Knight and Shugg have exchanged spots on my list all second half. Knight gets the edge due to his ability to create offense on a regular basis. Knight had a roller coaster year which included being diagnosed with diabetes. Once he got that in check he exploded in the second half showing off his true potential. Knight has pulled off a couple highlight reel goals and despite his size he protects the puck well, and has a very good release to go with his excellent puck handling abilities. Knight will need to improve on his skating, and get a little better in his own zone before reaching his potential which I believe could be contributing on someone‘s 2nd line.

16 - Justin Shugg
- Right Wing - Windsor Spitfires
Dec-24-1991 - 5’10” - 184 lbs.
Scouting Report: Shugg is the lesser known of the 3 eligible Windsor skaters. Shugg plays an energy type game, however with an excellent release and is dangerous whenever letting the puck go. Shugg’s NHL projections are a little difficult to make at this point. He’s like a top 9 player, however at his size he will need to improve on his skating, which is not a glaring weakness, but does need to be better considering his size. His defensive coverage has been very inconsistent, and needs to be improved as well. Shugg does have the offensive tools to compete for a 2nd line role at the peak of his career if he can improve these areas enough.

17 - Greg McKegg
- Center - Erie Otters
Jun-17-1992 - 5’11.75” - 191 lbs.
Scouting Report: McKegg has an excellent shot, and appears to carry the puck with confidence, which has helped his stats inflate greatly in the second half of this season. His consistency is an issue, and he still is a bit of a mystery, but there’s no question in looking at his skills and his potential he’s a legitimately skilled prospect.

18 - Devante Smith-Pelly
- Left Wing - Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
Jun-14-1992 - 5’11.5” - 211 lbs.
Scouting Report: Smith-Pelly is the last of this group of smallish forwards in the top 20. This is likely due to the combination of not seeing Smith-Pelly in person this season , and the fact the other 3 are in the upper 30’s in goals where Smith-Pelly has 29. Either way Smith-Pelly has got a tenacious attitude while on the ice. If he is able to grow a little bit, he could become a power forward type player. Currently at under 6ft. He still appears to be a player who could play an energy role being able to both throw his weight around, play sound defensively while contributing his share offensively.

19 - Brandon Archibald
- Defenceman - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Mar-31-1992 - 6’3.5” - 200 lbs.
Scouting Report: Archibald appears to be a very effective two-way defenceman. He has shown good offensive instincts, and patience with the puck. Archibald is willing to play hard in all 3 zones. Archibald has the potential to be a very effective defenceman, but he needs to add a little muscle to his large frame and be more willing to utilize his size, as well as improving his speed.

20 - Ryan Spooner
- Center - Peterborough Petes
Jan-30-1992 - 5’10.25” - 172 lbs.
Scouting Report: Spooner is one of the best pure playmakers in the draft. Despite his size he carries the puck effectively with good balance and is hard to stop once he starts moving with the puck. He appears to have outstanding playmaking abilities, and his stats would be much higher if he spent the entire season with Austin Watson on his wing. Spooner has excellent speed. Despite all the positives Spooner appears to wander defensively, and could really improve his play without the puck. Spooner will also have to overcome his small size to make it to the next level.

21 - Andrew Yogan
- Center - Erie Otters
Dec-4-1991 - 6’2.75” - 205 lbs.
Scouting Report: Yogan has got great size and appears willing to use it. He protects the puck well and has a decent shot. Yogan is solid along the boards. His potential is somewhere in the lower half of the top 9, but he needs to improve on his skating and effort on a shift by shift basis before he can play at a higher level.

22 - Freddie Hamilton
- Left Wing - Niagara Ice Dogs
Jan-1-1992 - 6’0.75” - 187 lbs.
Scouting Report: Hamilton is a sound two-way player who has shown the ability to put the puck in the net. Hamilton is a player who I believe is a safe pick for any NHL team entering the 3rd or 4th round, but at the same time he could work on several things such as improving his skating, and becoming more of a physical presence. Hamilton will likely not be a scorer in the NHL and will need to have more of an edge, and be a stronger skater to go with his defensive game to be an effective NHLer.

23 - Christian Thomas
- Right Wing - Oshawa Generals
May-26-1992 - 5’8.5” - 162 lbs.
Scouting Report: Thomas is arguably the smallest of the OHLers expected to be drafted this year. What gives him a legitimate shot at being picked in the first half of the draft is his outstanding speed especially on the outside. When open he can unleash a very quick and accurate shot. Thomas will need to work hard to overcome his size disadvantage. But he is very hard to knock off the puck, and will need to add muscle to withstand the size and strength difference.

24 - Joey Hishon
- Center - Owen Sound Attack
Oct-20-1991 - 5’9.75” - 170 lbs.
Scouting Report: Hishon was once very highly regarded out of the OHL for this draft. He has outstanding speed, and his puck control is excellent. If he was born 36 days earlier he would have likely gone higher in 2009 than he will this year. A series of injuries and lack of substantial growth combined cut Hishon’s season in half and raises big questions on Hishon’s future potential. If Hishon can overcome the odds he could become a secondary threat offensively. However a combination of injuries, questionable size, and the depth of OHL talent in this year’s draft knocks Hishon down the list.

25 - Ryan O’Connor
- Defenceman - Saginaw Spirit
Jan-12-1992 - 5’9” - 179 lbs.
Scouting Report: Despite going unranked Ryan O’Connor winds up at a mid-round level on my rankings. He plays a lot like Ryan Ellis. His skating is excellent although his acceleration could use some work. The key to his game is his offensive zone play. He moves the puck well and has a surprisingly hard point shot. O’Connor; despite his size has shown the willingness to play very physical. His defensive zone coverage as well as his consistency both need to be improved for him to make his NHL potential a reality.

26 - Geoffrey Schemitsch
- Defenceman - Owen Sound Attack
Apr-1-1992 - 6’1” - 180 lbs.
Scouting Report: Schemitsch has seemingly come from nowhere much like Calvin De Haan did last year. Schemitsch when given time has excellent puck movement, he’s useful on the power play as a guy who can move the puck around, but also has a decent shot that he could add to as he adds muscle. Defensively Schemitsch seems to handle 1 on 1 situations well. Schemitsch has had issues around turning the puck over when being pressured. Also he doesn’t seem to have top end potential, but could turn into a solid puck moving defenceman at the NHL level if he can add muscle to his frame, as well as improve his positioning a touch.

27 - Dalton Smith
- Left Wing - Ottawa 67’s
Jun-30-1992 - 6’2” - 202 lbs.
Scouting Report: Smith plays with a never quit energy. He’s solid along the boards and along the corners, while possessing a solid shot at the net. His NHL projection is unlikely to see him land in the top 6, however at the same time he appears that he could be a very effective 3rd line player not only working hard in the corners, but also chipping in with some goals as well. He’ll need to improve on his skating before he expects to play at the pro level.

28 - Josh Shalla
- Left Wing - Saginaw Spirit
Sep-25-1991 - 6’1” - 194 lbs.
Scouting Report: Shalla has an outstanding release and has one of the better shots of all OHL eligible players when in the goal scoring area. Shalla’s release as well as the quickness in which he releases the puck are both dangerous. Shalla also does an active job along the boards and seems to win the majority of battles for the puck. On the other side Shalla’s skating is horrendous, and really limits his effectiveness in joining the rush, or arriving to the puck in time to battle for the puck. Shalla has some solid goal scoring potential but addressing his skating is an absolute must if he wants to play at the highest level.

29 - Austin Levi
- Defenceman - Plymouth Whalers
Feb-16-1992 - 6’3” - 192 lbs.
Scouting Report: Levi is a physically devastating defenceman, who has matured nicely over this past season. At first viewings he had an issue going out of position to deliver the big hit, but as the season progressed he became comfortable throwing hits as the opportunities came and maintained his positioning. He makes a decent first pass most of the time, and doesn’t appear to have too much in terms of offensive potential, but his positioning is respectable and he has shown more than enough capability in terms of throwing the devastating hit to make him a legitimate fan favorite, 3rd pairing defenceman that should get a regular shift at the highest level.

30 - Nathan Chiarlitti
- Defenceman - Sarnia Sting
Feb-4-1992 - 6’0” - 185 lbs.
Scouting Report: Chiarlitti has shown steady improvement as the seasons went on. He has an excellent work ethic, and works hard every shift start to finish. He’s been solid defensively 1 on 1 very rarely ever getting beat despite constantly facing some of the most devastating scorers in the OHL. He is defence first, but has recently shown he very well may have some untapped offensive skill, and surprised a few teams down the stretch by jumping in on the offensive rush. He has a long reputation of being his team’s leader. Chiarlitti would greatly benefit from growing two to three inches into an ideal size for a his style of defence. Since that is very unlikely, Chiarlitti needs to improve on his skating, as well as adding a little more physicality in his play.

Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ryan Yessie's Top 50 for 2010: Part 1 - 31 to 50

Blog contributor Ryan Yessie has finalized his top 50 OHL players for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft...and he's sharing it with us. It's obviously going to be a little bit different than mine, but it's interesting to compare the two.

One thing to mention is that Ryan has not included goalies in his top 50, choosing to rate them separately as a Top 10. This is similar to the way a scouting publication like ISS does things.

This is the first installment of his list; players ranked 31 to 50.


31 - Brandon Alderson - Right Wing - Sarnia Sting
Jan-22-1992 - 6’3.75” - 190 lbs.
Scouting Report: Alderson likely will be at 6’4” by the time he is drafted, Alderson has great patience and a decent shot in the goal area. His instincts around scoring goals seems to be strong. Along with his shot his top speed is impressive at his size however he will need to improve on his first few steps. His biggest knock at the start of the year was that he wouldn’t hit, that all changed midway through the season and Alderson became a much more willing participant. Alderson will likely be a project as he appeared to run out of gas with about 20 games left in the season, and needs to add about 15-20 lbs. in muscle along with becoming a disturbing presence in front of the goal for goaltenders.

32 - Sam Carrick
- Center - Brampton Battalion
Feb-4-1992 - 6’0” - 188 lbs.
Scouting Report: Carrick plays with an edge and really looks like a grinder/agitator in the making. What gives his some good NHL potential is his ability to shoot the puck as well as win battles along the boards for the puck. His effort is relentless and although he seems to fall in the background a lot in games, he puts forward a strong effort and goes into the dirty areas while appearing to be able to constantly agitate the opposition.

33 - Michael Sgarbossa
- Center - Saginaw Spirit
Jul-25-1992 - 5’10.25” - 171 lbs.
Scouting Report: Sgarbossa has good puck control ability, and his skating is decent. He’s also done fairly well in the face-off circle. Sgarbossa’s size will be a factor in where he’s drafted, and his lack of elite skating ability will likely have some effect on that. He has shown flashes of potential, but nothing that convinces me to move him any higher than he is right now.

34 - Joe Rogalski
- Defenceman - Sarnia Sting
Nov-29-1991 - 6’1.25” - 195 lbs.
Scouting Report: Rogalski has some decent skills along with good puck movement, excellent speed, and is capable of playing a solid physical game. He scored a couple nice goals over the course of the season. However Rogalski’s horrible consistency, occasional mental errors with the puck, and the need to improve in his own zone knocks him down the list compared to where he was earlier. The fact fellow potential draftee Chiarlitti scored more goals, and nearly caught Rogalski in points considering Chiarlitti’s defense first play, and Rogalski being his teams top offensive defenceman is not encouraging. Rogalski has all the skills to still be a solid offensive defenceman prospect, but needs to improve on his consistency and shift by shift effort.

35 - Phillip Lane
- Right Wing - Brampton Battalion
May-29-1992 - 6’2.25” - 194 lbs.
Scouting Report: Lane is excellent at driving to the net, and works hard in the corners. Lane can also deliver some very solid hits. Lane has a good shot in the goal area, and has been successful using it in close. Lane appears he may be limited in terms of potential, and his consistency appears to be an issue, but he will likely be able to secure a role player position at the highest level.

36 - Reid McNeill
- Defenceman - London Knights
Apr-29-1992 - 6’2” - 191 lbs.
Scouting Report: McNeill plays a simple game. He uses his size to play a smart positional game against oncoming forwards, as well as showing a willingness to throw the body around intelligently. McNeill’s NHL potential is in the bottom pairing as a safe defensive defenceman with good size, but will need to improve on his skating as well as becoming more comfortable with moving the puck up the ice.

37 - Adam Sedlak
- Defenceman - Peterborough Petes
Sep-21-1992 - 6’1.25” - 205 lbs.
Scouting Report: Sedlak has two sides to him. On the one side he has some solid puck movement, a willingness to play physical and a decent shot from the point. On the other side, Sedlak can be very inconsistent, and make the occasional horrible play with the puck. His defensive play needs to improve as does his willingness to hit considering his size.

38 - Cameron Wind
- Defenceman - Brampton Battalion
Jan-25-1992 - 6’1” - 200 lbs.
Scouting Report: Wind is an intelligent puck mover and helps his team transitioning the puck up the ice, and at times on the power play. He has good vision. Wind has a lot of frustrating parts about him. These include his unwillingness to impose his size onto his opponents enough, and not engaging offensively. Wind has all the elements to become a diamond in the rough as a physical two-way defenceman, but he needs to be more confident in his abilities and utilize them on a regular basis.

39 - Mike Schwindt
- Defenceman - Niagara Ice Dogs
Oct-17-1991 - 6’3.75” - 212 lbs.
Scouting Report: If you’re looking for offensive input you won’t find much of it from Schwindt. Schwindt is a big bodied physical defensive defenceman who has flown under the radar all year. He likely won’t play much more than a depth role at the top level, but he has size and presence to force his way onto an NHL roster to some extent.

40 - Greg Sutch
- Right Wing - Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
Feb-9-1992 - 6’2” - 193 lbs.
Scouting Report: Sutch is an inspirational story, however this year injuries and the inability to get the ball rolling made this one a disappointing season, however he had a decent playoff. Sutch is legally deaf so the only way he’s able to play at this level is his outstanding hockey sense and anticipation. He’s a physically imposing opponent who can punish the opposition with his hitting as well as his willingness to fight. He drives to the net hard, and has a decent shot. He will have a long path and will have several obstacles to overcome but he has the hockey sense and the ability to do so. He is very likely to get drafted, but besides his disability, he will need to improve on his skating over the summer and he will need to try to stay healthy and put up some respectable numbers before being considered a legitimate prospect.

41 - Michael Kantor
- Right Wing - Saginaw Spirit
Feb-2-1992 - 6’1” - 190 lbs.
Scouting Report: Kantor was a late addition to the Saginaw line-up but he made an impact. Although ice time was limited he was able to display a very physical attitude towards his opposition and played a prototypical power forward game and was willing to fight without hesitation. Next year will give a much better insight into him. Due to limited viewing it’s hard to predict his true potential, but Kantor does bring a physical presence while displaying a decent shot.

42 - Corey Durocher
- Left Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
May-30-1992 - 6’1.75” - 173 lbs.
Scouting Report: What makes Durocher an NHL prospect is his speed for someone his size (who looks much bigger than his listing). He is able to skate up and down the ice and plays with energy, willing to hit, and just kept improving all season. He showed he has a bit of a scoring touch. Although his potential is as a bottom 6 forward, he does already have the skating and the attitude to play this role. He will need to add a fair amount of size, approximately 30-35 lbs. over the next couple years.

43 - Matt Petgrave
- Defenceman - Niagara Ice Dogs
Jan-29-1992 - 6’0” - 180lbs.
Scouting Report: Petgrave has some NHL potential in him being a two-way depth defenceman. He is decent moving the puck in the offensive zone, and has decent defensive abilities. On top of that he is a willing participant in the physical game. Petgrave could maximize his potential by gaining about 15 lbs. in muscle while improving his skating, also improving his decision making in the defensive zone. This cannot be done overnight, and Petgrave will need some time to develop, but could turn into an NHL defenceman one day.

44 - Kyle Flemington
- Defenceman - Sarnia Sting
Mar-26-1992 - 6’7” - 227 lbs.
Scouting Report: As we’re nearing the end of the list a wild card defenceman Kyle Flemington checks in. He makes this list due to his absolutely massive 6’7” - 227 lb. frame. He’s the biggest guy available out of the OHL and since being traded to Sarnia he seems to have been given an open green light to fight; much to the dismay of the opposition. Flemington has absolutely destroyed some opponents and may become the most feared fighter in the league before his time is done. His play defensively is noticeably safe, he makes a decent first pass, and makes the safest play possible when in possession with it. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He doesn’t have a lot if any offensive potential. He would be expected to be a 7 to 10 min per game defenceman in the NHL while racking up near the league high in penalty minutes at the highest level.

45 - Andrew Crescenzi
- Center - Kitchener Rangers
Jul-29-1992 - 6’4.5” - 200 lbs.
Scouting Report: Crescenzi is a large center who has solid two-way ability for the OHL, and could gain a role playing job in the NHL. He protects the puck decently, he throws his body around, and has a decent game along the boards and in the corner. At his size it’s surprising he does not have a larger amount of penalty minutes, especially since his high end talent isn’t high enough to make him anything more than a bottom 6 NHLer. Crescenzi will need to improve on skating, and will need to add a little more offensive contribution to truly solidify him as a true two-way prospect.

46 - Colin McDonald
- Defenceman - Plymouth Whalers
Apr-16-1992 - 6’3” - 184 lbs.
Scouting Report: MacDonald is a shot blocking machine. MacDonald prides himself, and enters a prospect status level due to his willing to help his team, which includes constantly throwing himself in front of shots. Although he has limited upside MacDonald has decent skating and plays a safe game. MacDonald would benefit from adding about 20 lbs. to his frame and becoming a more physical player.

47 - Alex Aleardi
- Center - Belleville Bulls
Jul-30-1992 - 5’9” - 165 lbs.
Scouting Report: Offensive potential isn’t the issue with Aleardi, it’s more so his size. Aleardi is expected to eventually become a solid offensive contributor at the OHL level, however the question is not only could he translate that to a higher level, but can he overcome his size concerns. His skating is very solid, but will need to add some muscle and become a more lethal point producer before entering legitimate prospect status.

48 - R.J. Mahalak
- Left Wing - Plymouth Whalers
Dec-23-1991 - 6’2” - 205
Scouting Report: Mahalak is a prototypical power forward. Mahalak is a physical player who throws the body around at will. He has shown some flashes of offensive potential but after a number of injuries and not enough offensive production it’s expected he’d land as a lower end role player if he does make the NHL.

49 - Derek Froats
- Left Wing - Kingston Frontenacs
May-21-1992 - 5’11” - 173 lbs.
Scouting Report: Froats plays an energetic game with decent skating ability and a willingness to battle for the puck. Froats has also shown flashes of goal scoring ability. Likely a role player at the next level Forats will need to get stronger and add muscle to his frame to play his game.

50 - Jeff Braithwaite - Defenceman - Peterborough Petes
Mar-2-1992 - 6’0” - 180 lbs.
Scouting Report: Braithwaite is a decent skating two-way defenceman who can also play a physical role. His NHL potential is limited but he will need to become better with his decision making if he wants that to become a reality.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Q & A with Niagara's Mark Visentin

Recently, Niagara goaltender Mark Visentin took time out of his incredibly hectic schedule to answer some of my questions. He's in Toronto this week for the NHL combine testing thanks in part to being rated as the 4th best goaltender available in North America for the 2010 Draft by NHL Central Scouting. Few draft eligible players worked as hard as Visentin to improve this season and his passion for the game comes through in the interview.

Also be sure to check out the companion piece I have written for School Your Pool.

Visentin the Workhorse.


Brock Otten - You played minor midget with Stephen Silas and Michael Sgarbossa on the Halton Hurricanes. Do you still keep in touch with them?

Mark Visentin - It has been very neat seeing both Stephen and Michael become such great hockey players. We still keep in touch every so often throughout the season, but fortunately, all three of us workout at the same facility in the summer which allows us to keep up to date with each other. Both have had great OHL careers thus far and I wish them both the best in the near future.

BO - What was it like to be the 3rd goalie taken in the 2008 Priority Draft? Were you expecting to go that high?

MV - My goal at the beginning of the year was to be the first goalie taken and obviously that didn’t happen. I wouldn’t say I was upset going third as a goaltender. But, it was a goal that I set, and I failed. I used it as a motivation tool to work even harder to improve my game in all aspects. Once I was drafted, I didn’t really pay attention to who went ahead of me. My main focus was to attend training camp in August and make the Niagara IceDogs roster.

BO - Obviously it was a huge accomplishment to make the IceDogs for the 2008-09 season, as not many goaltenders make the jump right from minor midget, but would you agree that you had a bit of a tough time adjusting to the OHL game? What were the biggest adjustments? Rigorous schedule? Faster play? Harder and more accurate shooters?

MV - I will admit that I struggled my first year playing in junior. I think the mental part of the game caught up to me. Adjusting to three, twenty minute periods took time, but the pace of play just seemed ridiculously faster. During the first half of the season, I was given the chance to play and take the starting position. I wasn’t able to take over the starting role mainly because I was inconsistent. It was tough and very frustrating since I have high expectations for myself. Fortunately, I have a great goalie coach (Ben Vanderklok) who pushed my limits every day in practice. That is where I really made strides during the year.

BO - What did you do to train for the upcoming season, knowing that the starting goaltender position was yours for the taking?

MV - I took my off season very seriously. My focus was to become a lot stronger and improve my technique. Like most hockey players, I trained Monday to Friday and skated four times a week to achieve my goals. I really tried to change my attitude going into training camp as well. I knew that veteran goalie Jeremy Smith wouldn’t be back and I truly believed that I could take the starting position. Once training camp came, I took it day by day and my goal was to outwork, and out perform whoever I faced in the other end. I only thought about succeeding personally, rather then getting distracted by my opposition.

BO - This season went considerably better for you and your game has improved by leaps and bounds, what was been the biggest reason for that? Was it the offseason training, or just increased confidence in your second season?

MV - I think there were a lot of factors that helped my game improve throughout the year. The new coaching staff that the team brought in at training camp really believed in my abilities which helped build my confidence. Having a couple strong exhibition games helped me to have a strong start to the regular season. It was still tough though, our team went through a lot of ups and downs during the first half of the season. We lost a lot of one goal games that in my mind, we should have won. I take a lot of responsibility for my actions and during the beginning of the season, a lot of the games I let in weak, or average goals that I would normally save. The way I look at it, those goals against turned out to cost our team losing two points every game. I didn’t let it get to me, the off season training improved my strength and endurance which allowed me to recover quicker after each game and still be energized to play the next night. I worked hard in practice to get rid of bad habits and improve my consistency. The coaches stressed intensity and hard work in practice and all the players bought in to the system being presented. They also created a positive atmosphere that really helped us succeed during the second half of the season.

BO - You're known around the league for having among the best work ethic of any goaltender in the OHL? Do you take pride in how hard you work on improving your game, and how well you prepare for each game?

MV - Yes, I take great pride in having a good work ethic. In order for one to improve, hard work is necessary and it’s sad when you see talent slip away because someone isn’t committed. My goalie coach stresses that if you can’t go one hundred percent every day in practice, then you don’t deserve to play the game. I use hard work not only to improve my skills, but to cope with things such as getting out of a slump. When preparing for each game, I like to do my usual routine which consists of doing a thorough warm up and hand eye coordination work. I do my routine before every game and every practice to be consistent.

BO - Can you take me through your pre-game ritual? Any crazy superstitions?

MV - I wouldn’t say I have any crazy superstitions. I put on all my equipment right to left, that’s about it. In my opinion, playing consistent is very important and I do things the same every time to maintain that. When I get to the rink, I will change, tape my sticks, and then go right into my warm up before we have our team meeting. Our coaches always schedule our team meetings at the same time before every game to help the players create an adequate routine that won’t be interrupted. There will always be the road trips where something will happen and we arrive late. That is where a player needs to be mentally tough and accept that his or her normal routine will be altered for that game. If you let your pre game routine effect your game, then you need to improve mental toughness!

BO - You were fortunate enough to get an invite to play in the Top Prospects Game, what was that whole experience like? Was it nerve racking? Fun?

MV - It was a fun week but very nerve racking at times. The skills competition was a lot of fun the day before the actual game which I think got rid of most of my nerves. My goal was to prove that I can match, if not beat the higher ranked goalies and I thought I did a good job. The whole week went by quick. After the game, it was right into the car and time to prepare for a big game versus Mississauga the next evening. Our team ended up having a great weekend going 2-1 and we played a solid game against Windsor despite losing.

BO - In my opinion, you were the best goaltender in the game, and considering you were playing with a guy like Calvin Pickard (who is slated to go as high as the first round in June), that's a big
accomplishment. Were you happy with your performance?

MV - Like I said, my goal was to go into the event and be the best goalie there. In my opinion, I thought all the goalies played well and considering the calibre of players, the score was rather low. The score speaks for how well the goalies performed. It was healthy competition the entire week and I thought all goalies did their job. Unfortunately we lost, hopefully Bobby can comeback and win next year!

BO - What are some of the things that you need to continue to work on moving forward? What would you say your strengths are currently?

MV - I need to work on improving my overall strength and speed. As a player progresses and jumps to a higher league, the play is a lot quicker and players are a lot stronger. Another skill I would like to improve is the ability to read and anticipate the play. If a goalie is aware of where everyone is on the ice, then there won’t be any “surprise” plays. Thus, the goalie will be ready to make a move quicker when the puck is moved.

BO - It seems more and more likely you could be one of the top North American goaltenders taken. Do you have a goal of where to be drafted, or are you going to be satisfied with being taken in any of the rounds?

MV - I don’t have a goal as of where to be taken. I just hope I go as high as possible. If I get drafted, then my immediate goal is to work as hard as I can and make the roster as soon as possible.

BO - Who would be the toughest to stop on a breakaway or in the shootout?

MV - Definitely Cody Hodgson. I only had to face him once in a shootout this year and I stopped him, but he lost control of the puck which helped out a bit. He's a tough player to defend.

BO - Last question, do you have a favourite netminder in the NHL, a guy you look up to?

MV - I like the way Tuukka Rask plays the game. He is a very athletic goaltender and he is patient on his feet. He’s also very young and the way he carried his team throughout the regular season and playoffs was very impressive.

BO - Thanks a lot for this Mark. I wish you great success moving forward to the Draft in June!

Definitely a well spoken young man and someone who has earned the success he's achieved so far. My guess are the interviews at the combine only increase his draft ranking.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Q & A with David Burstyn about 2010 Draft - Part DEUX!

A couple of months ago, I arranged for a Q & A with David Burstyn (the Director of Scouting for Mckeen's Hockey). It was very informative and interesting, so I decided to go back for another round. The NHL Draft is about a month away now and the McKeen's Draft Guide (order information here) is ready for distribution. What better time to ask David some questions as the draft draws near.

Brock Otten - David, thanks for doing this again. Last time we talked, you felt comfortable saying you preferred Taylor Hall to Tyler Seguin as the number one pick. Do you still feel that way? Have the OHL playoffs widened the gap between them?

David Burstyn - I have always maintained that Hall is the #1 pick however there was some discussion with staff members about this, much like there will be with NHL teams that are fortunate (or unfortante for that matter) to be in a position where both may be available. In terms of the playoffs I think scouts saw what they needed to see throughout the season. It certainly did not hurt Hall's stock that he swept the Whalers and is going to be playing in the finals of the Mem Cup for a second consecutive season (and has since won).

BO - Speaking of the OHL playoffs, just how impressive was the performance of Kitchener's Jeff Skinner? Did he give himself a chance for the first half of the first round?

DB - We always had Skinner as a first round talent. Any 17 year old who scores 50 goals in the CHL, especially in the OHL Western conference, (one of the toughest in the CHL ranks), deserves recognition. Having said that when he netted 20 goals in the playoffs and became the highest scorer in the CHL (regular/playoff season combined) it helped to vault him to #12 on our list.

BO - Outside of Skinner, were there any other draft prospects whom you felt elevated their draft stock with strong playoff performances?

DB - I will keep it strictly to the OHL. I felt that Knight did a great job in the playoffs and was the best forward besides Kadri. Smith-Pelly also helped (his cause), however he still suffered from bouts of inconsistency, nonetheless he did take his team to the Conference finals.

BO - Also in the last time we talked, you felt Cam Fowler was the third best prospect from the OHL. Meanwhile, a lot of scouting services seem to think Erik Gudbranson has passed him? Is Fowler still number three in your mind?

DB - We would be in agreement and have Gundbranson ahead of Fowler in our end of season rankings. We always had them close to one another however we gave the nod to Gunbranson simply because he possesses a few more attributes than Fowler. In particular, size and physical aggression. At worst, Gundbransson can play within your top four because of those traits. Fowler is a great prospect as well but his game needs some work, in particular his shot and playing with more grit.

BO - Alexander Burmistrov seems to be a bit of a wildcard for this draft. Yes he's playing in the OHL...but he's still a Russian player. Does the "Russian factor" cause him to slide in the draft, or does the fact that he was committed to North America this season ease those concerns?

DB - It will help to erase some concerns, however there is speculation that he may return to Russia to play for Kazan, which would have an obvious barring on an NHL team's decision to select him. Since he is drafted out of the CHL, he will not be eligible to play in the AHL next year as has been the case with several European drafted players. We actually lowered him slightly in our final rankings however this was not so much to do with the 'Russian Factor' or his play rather the improvement of players ranked ahead of him.

BO - I want to shift to goaltenders. Philip Grubauer has been sensational for Windsor in the OHL playoffs. Has he done enough to pass Mark Visentin as the top rated goalie from the OHL?

DB - Grubauer's ride to the Memorial Cup with eight straight wins against Kitchener and Barrie was a tremendous feat. He has always been a marquee goalie dating back to when I first watched him at the U17's where he was named player-of-the-game for every game Team Germany played. In having said that, NHL teams tend to lean towards bigger goalies and Visentin is still ranked higher on our lists due to his mechanics and net presence.

BO - What about Jack Campbell? I know he's not in the OHL yet, but he will be next year. What can Windsor fans expect out of him next year and just how high could he go in the draft?

DB - He is our top ranked goalie and is listed at #3 on our lists. While he may not go as high as third overall; we as a scouting organization view him as the best prospect outside of Hall and Seguin. He continually stepped up his game when it mattered most and has three international gold medals to his credit, most notably gold at the WJC. Windsor will lean on him heavily and he should play a bulk of the games next year. He should be an elite goalie in the OHL and a lock to make the U20 team in Buffalo. He has the mechanics and the mental composure to be a legitimate starter in the NHL.

BO - There were some high profile players who had serious injury problems this season. I'm thinking mainly of Andrew Yogan, Joey Hishon, and Gregg Sutch. Did their injuries and subsequent inconsistencies really hurt their draft status as much as it seems? I mean Yogan and Hishon were guys expected to receive first round consideration at this time last year.

DB - Injuries sadly are part of the game and all of these players may have lost the lime light as a result of them being out of the line-up. Hishon has the most promise out of this group as he has great offensive tools and plays both ends of the ice. Yogan has ability but is not consistent enough away from the puck. His injury was sustained in the last month of the season so he did not miss considerable amount of time (with the exception of the playoffs). I don't think anyone was talking about him being a first round selection, especially not at McKeen's. As for Sutch, he did an OK job of salvaging his regular season with a modest playoff. His stock dropped as he was unable to adjust to Coach Cameron's systems.

BO - I recently did an article on some players who could potentially be playing in the OHL next season. What are your thoughts on Stephan Johns and Jarred Tinordi? Any chance these guys leave their NCAA commitments for the OHL?

DB - I think Tinordi stands a good chance to come to London. The Knights like the Mounties always seem to get their man. His addition would certainly help by adding a layer of toughness that they desperately need. Johns seems determined to go the College route but much will be decided by the NHL team that drafts these two players and where they wish for them to play for the betterment of their development.

BO - A question I get or see a lot is, who is the best power forward available from the OHL this year? Fans seem to be fanatical about finding that throwback power forward from the days of Brendan Shanahan, Cam Neely, etc. Anyone who fits the bill?

DB - Out of the OHL, McFarland and Smith-Pelly have the best chances to fit that mold. Both players are a little under sized to be power forwards standing at only 6'0 but are built like mack trucks and are thick. McFarland is not the smartest player but has the brute strength to impose his will. Smith-Pelly loves to play the body but needs to play with more consistency as noted earlier.

BO - If you had to give me one sleeper from the OHL you felt could go WAY earlier in the draft than people are expecting, who would it be? Last the selection of Jamie Devane had people scratching their heads. Any sleepers out there we should know about?

DB - Austin Levi may surprise just because of his sheer size and natural skating ability. He needs to learn a lot about the game but he does have natural raw talents.

BO - One question that I found myself asking when compiling my own draft list for this year was Brock Beukeboom or Brandon Archibald? Which do you prefer?

DB - I prefer Beukeboom however our final lists indicates otherwise, but every scout is entitled to their opinion. Personally I think both players will get a crack in the pro's. Archibald has good size (6'4) and will get thicker/stronger. He did improve his game throughout the year but had a lack luster playoff. Beukeboom has the innate ability to change the complexion of a game with a timely placed hit. We witnessed it in the Top Prospects game when he laid out Seguin in the third and he did not return the same player. Beukeboom is a throwback player that will be a viable option, able to adapt to any situation, he will be low maintenence much like his father Jeff was but a player you can win with.

BO - Christian Thomas; so many accolades in the OHL coaches poll, but so little respect from the scouting community. Why (other than the obvious he's undersized excuse)?

DB - That's exactly the reason. There are plenty of players that are terrific junior players however that does not always translate to NHL success. He has got one of the better releases in the draft and can score goals but you have to get into those positions to take the shots. In saying that, his father Steve was very determined to prove others wrong, going un-drafted before enjoying a successful NHL career. Much of the success of these prospects will be in the work they do away from the ice.

BO - Just want to conclude with a few questions about the McKeen's Draft Guide. Give me three reasons why my readers should buy this guide over say...a cheaper The Hockey News Draft Guide.

DB - McKeens has always provided readers with more in-depth scouting reports than our competitors. I challenge a reader to go to the newsstands this August and read our write-ups in our annual Yearbook and that of our competitors and then ask themselves who painted a more accurate picture of that particular player. The same applies for the Draft Guide as we at McKeens have alot of pride in our work. WE ACTUALLY ATTEND GAMES! I was at over 200 junior games including the OHL, USHL, Tier II, Jr.B and my travles to Bratislava for the Ivan Hlinka and the U17's in Timmins to see the next crop of up and comers. This message is not lost by our loyal base of suscribers and followers who know we are the industry leader in the world of scouting. Aside from our expansive content, our graphic arts team did an excellent job in terms of laying out the information making it in my humble estimation the 'sexiest' guide on the market. Our feature length stories are also something that neither Redline or ISS offer, so we give more to our readers. We also have a rich tradition as we have been producing our Yearbook for 15 years and this will be our fifth year for the Draft Guide.

BO - Finally, where and how can we purchase the draft guide?

DB - The guide can be purchased online at by following the draft guide link. The guides are modestly priced at $30, which is the cheapest of all the guides available. You can also purchase a copy if you are in LA, as I will be promoting the guide during the draft festivities. I hope consumers enjoy reading the guide as much as we as a team enjoyed producing it!

BO - Thanks so much David.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Final Top 50 OHL Players for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft - Part 3: 10-1

The final installment of my Top 50 eligible OHL prospects for the 2010 NHL entry draft.

Here is the top 10...

10. Stephen Silas - Defense - Belleville Bulls
Silas is another guy I seem to be a lot higher on than most. I think a lot of that has to do with the poor team he played on in Belleville this year. As a defenseman, it's always hard to stand out when you're team is giving up 4-5 goals every game. But make no mistake about it, Silas is an excellent two way defenseman. He's a good skater and can carry the puck into the offensive end. He runs the powerplay well and has an underrated stretch pass (which he uses to his advantage on the big ice in Belleville). Heck, Silas nearly finished in the top 10 of defenseman scoring this year and had more assists than Columbus first rounder John Moore this year (among others). Defensively, I think he's a rock. He took steps forward in being more physical this year, but he's definitely more of a positional defender who likes to use his stick to break up plays. Go back to the CHL Top Prospects Game and I thought Silas did a tremendous job in the game against Taylor Hall and some of the other great talent the league had to offer. He may not be flashy, but he's incredibly effective. I have a lot of confidence in his potential moving forward.

9. Ryan Spooner - Forward - Peterborough Petes
I think the tough thing with Spooner is that the last memories we have of his season were the post injury comeback in the playoffs and the under 18's where he was largely ineffective and rusty, and the January before his injury when he was going through a bit of a slump. How soon we forget how good Spooner was through the first part of the season when Peterborough was rolling and tops in their division. He's undersized for sure, but he's very quick. That shiftyness gives him time to operate in the offensive zone. He's also very aggressive with the puck and seems to excel at driving to the net with the puck on his stick. His play away from the puck is inconsistent, but when he's on, he's like a litter waterbug out there and can be ferocious on the forecheck. On top of the above average skating and puck skill, Spooner also has very good vision on the ice and behind Alex Burmistrov, he may even be the second best playmaker on this list (even ahead of Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin). Once he gets stronger and plays with more consistency without the puck, he'll be a threat for the scoring title in this league.

8. Tyler Toffoli - Forward - Ottawa 67's
I'm not sure a player on this list grew on me as much as Toffoli did this year. From 13 at the beginning of the year, to 8th now. That may not seem like a huge jump, but the talent in that range is pretty high, so I think it shows progress. I was particularly impressed with Toffoli in this year's playoffs where I think he took his game to another level. Sure, he's not a strong skater. We've all heard that before. His speed and acceleration really need to improve for the next level. But he's easily one of the smartest players on this list and seems to always make the right play in the offensive end or find himself in good position for a scoring opportunity. The thing I really liked about his play towards the end of the season was how aggressive he had become. He was taking the puck to the net with authority and developed some pesky habits. Good habits. Like finishing his checks, showing aggression after the whistle and being a general pain in the butt to play against. If he can continue to harness some of these qualities moving forward and make this a consistent part of his game, he'll develop into a quality NHL player.

7. Austin Watson - Forward - Peterborough Petes
While he's ranked 7th by me, I think Watson, Burmistrov and Skinner are all pretty interchangeable. Realistically these three could go in any order and even as high as the top 10. Watson is your classic case of projection moving forward. He's got great size, can skate, is aggressive and finishes his checks, and is already a determined two way player. But how far do his offensive skills develop? If his play with Peterborough to close out the season is any indication, he'll do just fine. Worst case scenario, Watson develops into a potential Selke candidate who uses his size, skating and drive to be a very useful NHL third liner. Best case scenario, his offensive game and confidence develop to the point where you've got one heck of a complete player and a potentially dominant force around the crease.

6. Alexander Burmistrov - Forward - Barrie Colts
Burmistrov is without a doubt one electrifying player. Every time he's on the ice, he has the ability to bring the crowd to its feet. He's a dynamic skater. His agility is top notch and he can handle the puck at high speeds, which gives him the ability to weave in and out of high traffic situations. But for the most part, he doesn't try to rush the play and is patient and poised. His passing ability is the best among any forward available from the OHL. I also like his compete level and the fact that he's already an excellent two way forward and penalty killer. The only real downfall that people can bring up is the so called "Russian factor." Does the KHL (and the actions of some other Russian players) pose a threat to the draft status of all Russians; even those who traveled to North America this season? Here's a tremendous article on Burmistrov's positive experience in North America this year (including some great quotes).

5. Jeff Skinner - Forward - Kitchener Rangers
Let me tell you right now. I'm a Jeff Skinner fan. Watching this guy play this year, he's going to be a fan favourite wherever he plays. Anybody who watches him play instantly falls in love with his ability to battle and put the puck in the net. The skating concerns? HUGELY overrated in my opinion. His acceleration could use some improvement to give him better separation off the rush and make him more explosive as he takes the puck to the net. But his agility and balance are outstanding. He's very slippery (at least that'd be the term I'd use). I have no qualms about whether his lack of size effects him negatively at the NHL level. He's built like former Barrie Colt Bryan Little, from the legs up. He's already very strong and has no trouble battling against bigger defenders. And if he does, you wouldn't know it because his compete level is so high. Moving forward, he's going to need to improve his play away from the puck and transfer that compete level to both ends of the ice, but there isn't a better pure goal scorer available than Skinner. Just ask those who played him in this year's playoffs. By the way, here's an article I wrote on Skinner for School Your Pool.

4. Cam Fowler - Defense - Windsor Spitfires
At the beginning of the year, I was enamored with the way Fowler moved the puck fluidly up ice. The way he calmly ran the point on the powerplay and defended off the rush. But the more I saw him, the more his faults became obvious. And as the scouting report got out on him, he went through some rough patches as teams began to zero in on them, taking away his time and space and limiting his effectiveness in rushing the puck. He can be very prone to turnovers in his own end, especially against teams with a solid forecheck. He'll try to force the play if he's not able to skate his way out of the problem using his way above average mobility. But you take the opportunity to skate away from him, and he has problems. While his shot does need to improve if he intends to run an NHL powerplay, I think some of these concerns were overrated simply by the fact that he rarely shoots because he's the triggerman for Ryan Ellis. Hard to evaluate something that is rarely seen. Defensively, I think he's actually further along than he is offensively (even if the point totals say otherwise). His mobility make him an asset. In combination with his size and reach, he's tough to beat off the rush. He's not physical and definitely needs to improve his play in the corners and in front of the net, but he covers a lot of ground and is good at breaking up passes to the center of the ice. I'm not as sold on his ability to become a high end offensive defenseman at the next level, but if he can become an elite two way guy like a Ryan Suter, whatever team selects him will be happy.

3. Erik Gudbranson - Defense - Kingston Frontenacs
The battle between Fowler and Gudbranson is incredibly close for me. Even if Gudbranson struggled at times this year, I like his high end potential and mental make up more than I like Fowler's. Gudbranson is a future NHL captain and is mature beyond his years for an 18 year old. He took huge steps forwards in using his size to become a physical force this season, and with added strength, it will become increasingly tougher to play against him. He skates very similarly to former Battalion Brent Burns in that he's very fluid despite being such a big guy. Offensively, I think this year made his potential at the other end a tough read. Just when it looked like he was going to start gaining confidence in rushing the puck, he got injured or sick. One thing is for sure though, he's got a cannon from the point and has the potential to be quite a valuable powerplay piece in the future. On the downside, I thought the Under 18's were a disaster for him (and most of team Canada). He looked like he was trying to do too much and was playing outside his limits. But it's one tournament in a year that was so tumultuous for him. Bottom line is this. If the offensive game never develops, you've got a top three defenseman in the mold of the Flyers Braydon Coburn. If it does, you're looking at a guy who can control the pace at both ends of the ice.

2. Tyler Seguin - Forward - Plymouth Whalers
There really isn't anything to dislike about Tyler Seguin, and that's what makes him a contender for first overall in this year's draft. He can skate. He can score. He can thread the needle with a pass. He can take the puck to the net hard or deke around a defender. And he's a valuable two way centerman who has leadership characteristics. The battle between he and Taylor Hall has been fierce all season. They shared the scoring title and they split the opinion of many scouts. So why do I have Seguin second? Let me explain that with Hall's write up.

1. Taylor Hall - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
While I agree that Hall and Seguin are close, if I'm picking first overall, I take Hall 100/100 times. Look no further than his performance at this year's Memorial Cup. This guy is a winner and he's determined to make an impact every time he's on the ice. Dude get's absolutely laid out by Travis Hamonic in the opening minutes of the game against Brandon. What separates a superstar from just a good offensive player is what Hall did after that. He came back, scored two goals and was a force all game long. When you hit him or try to stop him, it only causes him to elevate his game even higher. I've also been so impressed by the quality of his play without the puck in this year's playoffs. He's blocking shots, fighting in the corners and backchecking as hard as any of Windsor's top defensive forwards. When you have a player so committed to winning, especially one who is as dynamic as Hall, you've found yourself a franchise player.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Final Top 50 OHL Players for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft - Part 2: 30-11

The second part of the unveiling of my Top 50 eligible OHL prospects for the 2010 NHL entry draft.

Here are prospects 30 through 11:

30. Freddie Hamilton - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
Hamilton had a much improved second season in the league. That being said, there is room for more improvement. Like many young players in this league, Hamilton needs to be more consistent. Offensively he goes through stretches, week to week, where he can be both a stand out and invisible. At this point though, Hamilton is more of a complimentary weapon. He'll create off the forecheck and can work the cycle, but he's not a threat to be creative with the puck or to take it hard to the net. He works hard in the offensive end and capitalizes off his scoring opportunities. Hamilton went back and forth between center and the wing this year, and I actually like him better on the wing. Either way, he's responsible defensively and is working on his play without the puck. I'd love to see him add a more physical element to his game though. Another thing to add is that Hamilton actually had a pretty decent Under 18's (one of the few Canadians able to say that) and I think he showcased himself as a pretty safe selection inside the top 100 of the draft. A guy who could develop into a quality two way forward down the line.

29. Austin Levi - Defense - Plymouth Whalers
Levi is a very raw prospect, but one that has definitely caught the eye of NHL scouts. He's got plus size, and potential at both ends of the ice. In really his first OHL season, Levi made some big improvements over the course of the season. Defensively, Levi is solid off the rush thanks to his good mobility (a big plus for a large, physical defenseman), however he still needs to work on his zone coverage as he can get caught running around a bit too much (whether he's looking for the hit, or just plain loses his man). Offensively, the skating can be a really big asset in puck carrying, but he doesn't have the confidence or comfort to do it consistently. But he's fully capable. Earlier in the season Levi landed himself on the plays of the week for an end to end rush and a goal. But he continues to struggle with an active forecheck and can be prone to turnovers when he panics to a charging forward. I think with added strength, a larger role and greater experience, some of these problems will iron themselves out. My guess is there's an NHL team out there who likes Levi enough to take him in the first three rounds.

28. Philip Lane - Forward - Brampton Battalion
I think Lane is one of the safest prospects among this year's draft class. With good size, speed, physicality, and a developing offensive ability, he at least profiles as an NHL checking line player in the future. The question is, do you think Lane has enough offensive potential to develop into something more than that? I think it's a toss up. His goal production was very fluky this year, but he did end up 3rd on the Battalion in goals with 18. Whether it be a lack of strength or confidence, Lane can struggle to handle the puck at full speed and it limits him to more of an energy charged opportunist, rather than a take charge offensive player. I like him as a player and prospect, but I'm split as to whether the hands ever develop enough to make him a scoring line option at the next level.

27. Philip Grubauer - Goaltender - Windsor Spitfires
His play in the OHL playoffs and the Memorial Cup has definitely elevated his stock, at least to the point of being the second best goaltending option from the league behind Niagara's Mark Visentin. In some ways, Grubauer is a lot like Ottawa's Petr Mrazek. He's definitely one of your traditional "floppers." He spends a lot of his time on the ice, trying to take away the bottom of the net with his plus agility. He's very athletic and has a very quick reaction time. He also anticipates the play really well and comes up with a lot of jaw dropping saves as a result. In the face of adversity this playoffs...with a ton of pressure on him, he's come up with some tremendous performances and that shows a lot about his character. He can be prone to letting up a bad goal here and there, and because of his unorthodox style, he can be susceptible to shots to the upper part of the net. Has definitely put himself into contention for a spot in the top 100.

26. Geoffrey Schemitsch - Defense - Owen Sound Attack
No player on this list raised his stock as much as Schemitsch. From the major midget land of draft obscurity to the Under 18's and the potential to be selected in the top 100 of the NHL draft. Schemitsch had a very strong rookie season in the OHL for a very disappointing team. In a way, he was one of the few bright spots for the Attack. Schemitsch has OK size, but he's already a very capable two way defender. He played in all situations for the Attack this year and has the mobility to defend off the rush, as well as the intelligence to read and react to situation in the defensive zone. Offensively he runs the point really well and can make a strong first pass. He has good vision on the ice and does a good job of finding his teammates in transition. A few negatives I want to mention though. Whether it was a conditioning thing or something else, Schemitsch's play really slipped towards the end of the season and he was a lot better in the first half of the year in comparison to the second. Also, for a more offensive defenseman, he can be somewhat timid in rushing the puck up ice. At the World Under 18's, I felt like he struggled with this in particular. Teams with a strong forecheck, who don't give him the time to bring the puck up, can often force him into turnovers. But you have to think that Schemitsch will improve and will gain the confidence necessary to take his game to that next level.

25. Andrew Yogan - Forward - Erie Otters
The past two seasons have been rough for Yogan in the injury department. First there was the concussion suffered late last season from the Zac Rinaldo hit from behind. Now this year he broke his leg blocking a shot. I think these injuries really prevented him from developing and producing the way he could have. As a late 1991, a lot bigger things were expected of Yogan. There is a lot to like about Yogan. As a power forward prospect, he's probably got some of the biggest boom or bust potential in the draft. Great size, not afraid to throw the body around and work hard without the puck. He's also got tremendous hands and has very strong puck control skills. That being said, his skating is only average and he can tend to take some shifts off. I also think he needs to use his linemates better, and can be prone to turnovers by trying to be too creative. Not often a criticism that is associated with power forwards, but he's a bit of an interesting breed.

24. Joey Hishon - Forward - Owen Sound Attack
While some would probably argue that John McFarland took the biggest fall among prospects available this year, I'd probably hasten to say Hishon did. After his performance at last year's Under 18's, many were putting Hishon on the fast track for the first round. But this year was a bit of a disaster. Owen Sound struggled and Hishon spent a large portion of the year injured with a broken foot. Similar to Yogan, as a late 1991, much more was expected of Hishon, considering his offensive production was better last year. While he is undersized (around the 5'10-5'11 mark), he's an absolutely terrific skater. His acceleration in particular makes him an explosive player. To an extent, I think his skating also can be his downfall. Offensively he can be predictable, and as long as the defenseman can keep pace with him, they can force him into a turnover. In this regard, he needs to use his linemates better, even if he is a quality playmaker when he does pass the puck. I think his play away from the puck did improve some this year though and he's more active along the boards and defensively. But I'm still not as convinced that he'll carry his offensive production over to the NHL.

23. Steven Shipley - Forward - Owen Sound Attack
Seems only natural to have the Attack boys beside each other. Shipley, however, is about as drastic an opposite as you can find. A few things impressed me with Shipley this season in particular. For one, when Hishon went down to injury and this team was really struggling, he put the Attack on his back and played some inspired hockey. Secondly, I felt like he had a solid Under 18's and really showed that he CAN play without the puck as part of a hardworking scoring line with Christian Thomas and Greg McKegg (even if his performance at the CHL Top Prospects Game was very forgettable). He has his faults. For one, he really needs to improve his first few steps. He's very capable of taking the puck to the net and once he gets going, he's pretty hard to stop. But that lack of explosiveness in his stride prevents him from being as dangerous as he could be. He also needs to work improving the consistency with which he battles hard, as he can tend to float a bit. But with good size, smarts and offensive skill, I think he can make some NHL team happy some day with the determination to improve.

22. Christian Thomas - Forward - Oshawa Generals
Heck, when a player is honored by league coaches as much as Christian Thomas was in the Coaches Poll, you deserve to get noticed. And when you're father is Steve "Stumpy" Thomas, there's even more reason. Thomas is undersized. Yes we know. But he possesses so many strong qualities that he's impossible to overlook. For one, he has one of the most lethal shots in the OHL. By the end of his time in this league, he could easily win a goal scoring title. He skates well and hard, he's not afraid to take the puck to the net or go to the net hard looking for a pass. He works hard without the puck and is developing and comfort level with throwing his body around. It's the old adage, "well if he was 3 inches taller..." Well the times have changed. Players Thomas' size can have success in the NHL.

21. Justin Shugg - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
The perfect example as to how a third year of junior can help a late birthday 1991. Shugg made great strides this season and has developed into a very complete forward prospect. He works very hard without the puck and is a lethal forechecker. His speed, acceleration, and balance would all be just average, but his intelligence without the puck and work ethic help him to get a lot of scoring opportunities. He's also got a very strong shot and can really bury the puck if given the opportunity. As the year went on, I felt like he got better and better. I think Shugg is also the type of prospect who requires a few viewings to really appreciate. On top of it all, I think Shugg is having an excellent Memorial Cup so far, which has to have some NHL scouts taking notice and putting his name down as a potential second round pick.

20. Devante Smith-Pelly - Forward - Mississauga St. Michael's Majors
Smith-Pelly wasn't getting a lot of attention early on for the draft, but as the season has progressed, he seems to have cemented himself within the top 100. Smith-Pelly was the co-chief of the Majors offense this year (along with Casey Cizikas). He loves to take the puck to the net, and even though he isn't tall, he's very strong and is already tough to knock off the puck. He's got a good shot and can score from pretty much anywhere on the ice. He also generates scoring chances for his linemates, in particular on the forecheck and through hard work along the boards. I think that if he were a more physical player, he'd be ranked a little bit higher. While he's an aggressive player, he's not really the type to throw his weight around and lay you out with a big hit (if that makes sense). I think he really impressed scouts with his performance at the CHL Top Prospects game.

19. Dalton Smith - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Smith is a rare breed in today's game. He's a real throwback to the power forwards of yester years. While Smith's skating does need improvement (in particular his speed, acceleration and agility), everything else he does is a plus. He is a tenacious physical competitor who really loves to throw the body. He also doesn't hesitate to drop the gloves and loves to mix it up. On top of that, he's got good hands and a good wrist shot. He's one of those guys who can find the puck in traffic and put it to the back of the net. As he gets stronger (tough to imagine), he's going to be a real load to contend with near the crease and he could easily score 30 goals in the OHL next season. Lastly, he's actually a quality two way player and is a staple on the 67's penalty kill. Outside of the skating issues, there really isn't much to dislike about Smith's game.

18. Ryan Martindale - Forward - Ottawa 67's
For Martindale, it's all about consistency. He has the ability to do great damage offensively, but it doesn't happen every game, nor every shift. As a late 1991, even with his past injury/sickness problems, you have to expect a greater output than Martindale put out (just less than a point per game). Yes he has some very likable qualities from an NHL stand point. He has great size, and he is skilled. He knows how to use his size to protect the puck and is actually a pretty good playmaker too. But I really don't like his play away from the puck. His skating (in particular his high end speed and agility) is only average and it prevents him from being able to use his size to take the puck to the net on a consistent basis. While skating can be improved, I'm not entirely sure he knows how to find space on the ice. He doesn't do a tremendous job of putting himself in scoring opportunities (how else can you explain only 19 goals for an 18-19 year old player at his size), and he's a fairly easy cover for teams with big enough defenseman to handle him. Maybe I'm just not drinking the Martindale Kool-Aid. I see the NHL appeal though.

17. Ivan Telegin - Forward - Saginaw Spirit
What the heck happened to this guy at the World Junior Championships? Before the tournament, Telegin was among the league leaders in rookie scoring. But he returned a different player, and then hit the injury big, suffering a concussion and missing a slew of games. Then it got even worse for Telegin as he was mysteriously cut from the Russian Under 18 team with Kiril Kabanov. Sounds like politics to me, but it still has to raise some questions. When he was playing well at the beginning of the year, Telegin looked like the complete package. Great size, really difficult to deal with down low. He was scoring a lot of goals near the blue paint. But he's also a very good skater for his size and is capable of creating offense off the rush. But will the real Telegin please stand up? Are we looking at the goal scoring bull who looked unstoppable in the first few months, or the invisible, sheepish forward who took over his body in the second half?

16. Mark Visentin - Goaltender - Niagara IceDogs
Few players in this draft year improved more than Visentin did this year in my eyes. A lot of that has to do with the hard work he put in this offseason. Visentin's strong work ethic has been documented and he takes his work seriously. It shows in the on ice product. Visentin is your classic butterfly goaltender who challenges shooters, takes away the bottom of the net and successfully anticipates the action in front of him. At the top prospects game, he was absolutely fantastic and went save for save with Calvin Pickard, who is widely considered to be a potential first round draft pick. Visentin can give up the odd really bad goal, and whether that's due in part to momentary lapses in concentration, I'm not sure. However with how much he improved this year and the dedication Visentin shows to his craft, you have to believe he's going to continue to get better and better. He's no question the top goaltender available from the OHL in my opinion.

15. Brock Beukeboom - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Bloodlines are important for the NHL draft, and Beukeboom surely has strong ones thanks to his father, former Oiler and Ranger Jeff Beukeboom. Brock doesn't quite have his father's size, nor is he as mean, but there are similarities. In the first part of the season, Beukeboom was playing very well at both ends of the ice and was being mentioned as a possible late first rounder. But he became wildly inconsistent in the second half. At times he looks like a strong two way defenseman who takes the body, can handle forwards off the rush and make a good first pass. But at other times he struggles to find his positioning (especially against quicker forwards) and looks unsure of whether he should try to use the body or make the safer stick check. Maybe we're looking at a defenseman who's trying to live in the shadow of his father (one of the meanest defenseman of the last twenty years) and isn't comfortable playing that type of game? I like the potential and I think Beukeboom develops into a quality NHL defender, but I've liked his teammate Brandon Archibald better all season long.

14. Brandon Archibald - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
As mentioned, I've preferred Archibald to Beukeboom all season long. I think he profiles better as an NHL defenseman and has a higher end potential. He's got really good size and could be 6'4, +200lbs by the time he hits the NHL. For such a big defender, I think his backward and lateral mobility is excellent. He stays with rushing forwards very well and is tough to beat to the outside. That being said, he needs to learn to use his size more, but he did make great strides in that area this season. I think he'll get more physical as he matures and becomes more comfortable. Offensively, it's all about confidence. He has the capability to skate the puck up ice, but will often elect to pass or chip the puck out of his zone. This lack of confidence can lead to some turnovers in his own end at times. But he did a pretty good job on the Hounds second powerplay unit this season and actually had a pretty good shot. I think his offensive game will only get better and he profiles as a top quality two way defender in the NHL.

13. Jared Knight - Forward - London Knights
So happy to see that Knight has finally gotten respect from the scouting community he deserves. Yes he had a disappointing start to the season. But we know why; his much publicized battle with diabetes. Living with diabetes is quite the lifestyle changer, so the fact he was able to score 46 goals this year (between the regular season and playoffs) is quite astounding to me. Knight definitely deserves notice for his play in the playoffs. He was fantastic for London and had 10 goals in 12 games; quite often their second best forward on the ice behind Nazem Kadri. While his top end speed is only average, I think his acceleration and agility is quite good. He can be very explosive in taking the puck to the net, an activity which he regularly seeks out. With added strength, and increased comfort with his diabetes, I bet Knight is top 5 in goals next season. The curious thing for me is if he regains the chippyness to his game that he displayed as a rookie. I didn't think he was nearly as physical or pesky this season. Moving forward, I think this will be a key to his development.

12. Greg McKegg - Forward - Erie Otters
Playing in Erie this year for a mediocre team, McKegg became a bit of a hidden treasure. He's perhaps the best player nobody ever talks about. Through the second half of the season, his offensive production put him right up there with the likes of Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin (and Tyler Toffoli for that matter). McKegg is just a solid all around offensive player. Adequate skater, but really good instincts. He makes his linemates better and as skilled as he is offensively, he's not afraid to work for the puck. I think he showcased this best of all at the Under 18's where I felt he was maybe Canada's best and most consistent forward. Because he's not flashy and because he's not playing in a big OHL market, he's become kind of a forgotten man this entire season. I truly doubt NHL team have forgotten about him though.

11. John McFarland - Forward - Sudbury Wolves
I'm sure McFarland's ranking might come as a shock to some people. Outside the top 10 among his peer group is definitely something many lists won't go to. I realize McFarland probably goes higher than my ranking...heck I still haven't seen a scouting agency with him outside the first round. But I just can't put him any higher based on the year he had. The Under 18's was his last chance to shine and he blew it in my eyes. He's got the wheels, the shot and is actually a pretty complete offensive player when he's on. He's also aggressive and a willing combatant. But for all the skill he possesses, he just can't seem to produce. A lot of that stems from the fact that he just doesn't put himself in good scoring opportunities. And yes, I realize Sudbury had a really bad season, but we can't blame everything on that. For as much people talk about his upside being through the roof, I think there's also the chance he ends up as one of those guys who never really develops and becomes an NHL grinder. Heck Aaron Asham was a dynamite scorer in the WHL back in the day (only one example I know, but you get my point). Because he's already physically mature enough and has the puck skill and shot to play in the NHL now, I think an NHL team rushes him to try and change his approach to the game.

Alright folks, one part to go. Look for Part 3: 10-1 sometime by the end of this week. Anybody care to guess my Top 10?