Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Final Top 50 OHL Players for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft - Part 2: 50-31

Here's Part 2 of my Top 50, with players ranked 50 through 31.

50. Sam Pavorozniouk - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs
Following a trade to Kingston, Pavorozniouk (one of the hardest names in the OHL to spell by memory) was a completely different player. In Saginaw, he struggled to get much ice time and didn't really develop an identity. In Kingston, he was given time on a scoring line and with the man advantage. This allowed for his production to significantly increase. He's not a big guy (~ 5'10), but he's a pretty hard worker in the offensive zone. He started to develop a bit of a pesky streak in Kingston, digging in the corners and playing the role of crease disturber. I'm not sure he's particularly skilled in any one facet, but his hockey sense allows him to be a pretty solid complimentary guy with skilled players. I think size is probably an issue moving forward, but he at least seems like he'll develop into a very solid OHL player.

49. Sergey Kuptsov - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Kuptsov is a big Russian forward who I thought would perform much better this season. I liked what I saw from him as a rookie with Mississauga last year, but he failed to progress much this season, with either Belleville or Ottawa. In Ottawa, he managed to see some time with Sean Monahan on the top unit, but consistency remained an issue. He's a pretty good skater for a big guy, and he can carry and move the puck pretty well, but he seems a step behind in the hockey sense department. One of those guys who should be better than he is based on his natural abilities. He seems to have some trouble finding open space on the ice or anticipating the opening of passing lanes. His finishing skills are also suspect and his wrist shot and slapper lack accuracy. He can play physical at times, but is not nearly consistent enough in this area. I think he's still got a lot of potential, but as a late '94, time is running out for him to figure it out.

48. Mike Vlajkov - Defenseman - Ottawa 67's
Vlajkov was just starting to play better when he suffered a season ending upper body injury at the end of February. Vlajkov started the season very poorly and often looked lost through the opening months of the season. His skating still not improved from his rookie season, and he was having a lot of issues with reads in the defensive zone and with turnovers with the puck. But as 2013 came around, he was slowly gaining confidence, especially with the puck. In January and February, he was playing much better, but then he got injured. Moving forward, I think Vlajkov still has a fair amount of potential. He's got good size and has flashed an ability to perform at both ends of the ice. But he's going to need to continue to improve his skating, continue to gain confidence (what 67 player had confidence this season?), and learn to play more physically in his own end.

47. Tyler Ganly - Defenseman - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Ganly was a surprise workhorse for the Hounds this season, playing in his first OHL campaign. He played a bevy of roles for the Soo and was quite dependable for the team, especially during the time of Ryan Sproul and Colin Miller's injuries. He's got good size at 6'2 and he uses it well in the defensive end. He's physical in front of the net and in the corners and will drop the gloves to protect teammates or to try and swing momentum (lead the club with 8 fights). Ganly can also make a pretty good first pass out of the zone and was fairly reliable with the puck in his own end. Moving forward, skating is going to be an area of focus. He can get beat by quicker forwards off the rush and his lack of overall speed and acceleration prevents him from being a big part of the transition game offensively. But he's a safe pick right now and he'll definitely get more ice time next year with Sproul, Miller, and Buonomo gone.

46. Michael Webster - Defenseman - Barrie Colts
I think Webster is a real interesting and intriguing defensive prospect. He's a very raw player who only played his first season above the midget level this year. He's a terrific skater and he can handle the puck, but he's still learning how to play the game at this level. He can be prone to some mistakes and can get caught running around a bit in his own end, but I felt like he got better and better as the season went on. This is especially true for the playoffs, where I felt like he was one of the defenseman who really stepped up his game with Ryan O'Connor out of the line-up. Webster also shows flashes of being an effective physical player in his own end and doesn't show fear against some of the bigger forwards in the league. As he gets more experience, I think he's got a shot to develop into a pretty solid two-way defender. Could surprise some people.

45. Erik Bradford - Forward - Barrie Colts
Bradford is a solid two-way center, who has been an important cog in the Colts' long playoff run this year. He's a late '94, but is only playing in his 2nd full OHL season. Because of the Colts depth, he was asked to play more of a 3rd line checker role this season, but next year he'll have to be one of the remaining forwards who steps up and fills in the shoes of Scheifele, Beyers, Camara, and possibly Theoret. He's got great speed and he's a very valuable player on the backcheck for Barrie. He's not an overly physical player or anything, but he anticipates plays well and has an active stick which disrupts passing lanes, especially in the neutral zone. Offensively, he's a smart player and is the type of guy you can put with any player and he'll be able to make things work. He was actually excellent in the playoffs for Barrie this year too. I really like him as a player, certainly more so than some of the players I have ranked ahead of him. But his ranking is 45th because I'm not sure about his potential at the next level. I wonder if he's got enough offensive ability to play a top 6 role, and whether his lack of size and physical abilities prevent him from fulfilling a checker role at the NHL level. Could be a tweener.

44. Trevor Murphy - Defenseman - Windsor Spitfires
Was significantly better in Windsor after a trade from Peterborough. Murphy is an undersized, offensive defenseman who can run the point on the powerplay and lead the rush. He's got a very heavy shot from the point and is very aggressive in jumping into the rush as the trailer. He really re-invigorated Windsor's powerplay after the trade and he's definitely going to end up near the top of the defenseman scoring race by the time his OHL career is over. Murphy does come with his warts though. Defensively, he can be way too aggressive and is prone to mistakes in his own end. He also gets himself caught up ice a fair amount with some poorly timed pinches, or by trying to lay the body and missing. On a positive note, he is a physical player for a smaller guy and doesn't back down from bigger forwards. He's just still very raw as a defensive player, as he focuses on trying to put points on the board.

43. Dominik Kahun - Forward - Sudbury Wolves
Kahun is a speedy little German forward with a lot of skill. Loves to pick up the pick behind his own blue line and just explode into the offensive zone. As of now, he's not quite strong enough to consistently create using his speed, but he can be hard to contain if defenses are caught standing still. He's a crafty playmaker too and is able to keep plays alive in the offensive zone by keeping his feet moving with the puck. The rest of his game (defensively, in the corners, in traffic) is a work in progress, but he's certainly an exciting player to watch and was a great find by Sudbury in the import draft this year. On top of having a solid season in Sudbury, Kahun was also solid internationally this year. He finished top 10 in scoring at the Under 18's (7 points) and was a contributor for Germany at the Under 20 WJC's too.

42. Alex Fotinos - Goaltender - Barrie Colts 
When you're a back up goaltender, sometimes it can be hard to get noticed in your draft season. It really depends when and how often a team has seen you play. It also causes wild fluctuations in your draft ranking. In the case of Fotinos, he's not currently even ranked by NHL Central Scouting, yet he's ranked as the 8th best goalie in North America by ISS. Talk about a difference of opinion. I fall somewhere in the middle. I've seen Fotinos play great and I've seen him play awful the past couple of years. Inconsistency (especially this season) has definitely been something that has plagued him. But what young goaltender doesn't battle that? When he's on, Fotinos plays calm and collected in net. He's not a big goalie, but he does well to make himself bigger and is aggressive in challenging shooters. I also think he does a pretty decent job of controlling his rebounds for a younger goalie. The one thing that does concern me slightly is the lack of obvious progression from last year to this year. But without an increase in playing time, is it even possible for him to greatly improve? At the very least, we'll see what he's made of next year when he's the Colts' starter.

41. Jordan Maletta - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
A former first rounder by Windsor, Maletta just never progressed with the Spits so they decided to give him a change of scenery (back home to St. Catharines). In Niagara, he was a different player than he was in Windsor, even if the offensive numbers he put up aren't terrific. With the Dogs, he was much more aggressive in using his size and the consistency in his effort level was much better. Offensively, he remained a bit tentative (would love to see him use that size more consistently to take the puck to the net) and even a bit unlucky. But I think he's still got a lot of potential moving forward as a power forward in this league. He just needs to gain some confidence in his ability to handle and shoot the puck and learn to get himself in better scoring position without it. If I was an NHL team, I'd probably use a late round pick on him in hopes that he can develop in an environment he's more familiar with.

40. Dominik Kubalik - Forward - Sudbury Wolves
Kubalik got better and better as the season went on, right up until the playoffs, where I felt like he was one of Sudbury's best players (especially in the series against Brampton). At this moment, he's more of a complimentary offensive player. He gets himself in good position to earn scoring chances and he improved his ability to play the cycle game as the season went along. I particularly enjoyed the chemistry that he and fellow Import Dominik Kahun showed by season's end. Kubalik won't really WOW you in any area on the ice, but he's a smart guy who will certainly put up some points in this league as he gains more confidence. What he needs to do is learn how to make himself more visible without the puck and do more to create his own scoring chances. I'd like to see him more engaged in going to the net (especially if he's playing with a guy like Kahun) and by working harder to play both ends effectively. Right now, he's that guy you only really notice when he hits the score sheet.

39. Hunter Garlent - Forward - Guelph Storm
The 2013 season was filled with many ups and downs for Garlent. I found him to be one of the best 1995's in the league last year; his tenacious playing style and high energy level made him a very exciting player to watch. This year, he had a regression, which has to be a bit concerning. He started off the year pretty well and was even named player of the week at the end of October. But then he suffered an ankle injury and he just wasn't the same in the 2013 calendar year. He wasn't playing with as much fire (at least consistently) as he did last year. I felt like he was trying to do too much with the puck at times, and wasn't as effective or hungry without the puck. Garlent needs to get back to keeping things simple and creating offense from energy and effort. On the plus side, I was happy to see him get the call to the Under 18's. He may have played a bit role, but I thought he played pretty well and was able to get back to doing some of the little things he did well last year in Guelph (being very active on the forecheck, playing physical, working hard on the backcheck). Hopefully he can take that confidence back to Guelph next year. As a little guy (5'9), he's got to be hungrier than the opposition.

38. Anthony DiFruscia - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
I found DiFruscia to be wildly inconsistent this year. When he's at his best, he looks like a quality, pesky goal scorer who can win battles for loose pucks, find openings in the slot/near the crease, and work the cycle. He also has the potential to play a pretty physical game, especially on the forecheck. But he went through disappearing acts, where that aggressive style turned into more of a passive/puck possession approach. And this sort of game just didn't fit him, where he's still somewhat easily pushed off the puck. I think the issue is that his conditioning and strength just isn't at a level yet that allows him to play that attacking winger role with consistency. DiFruscia was only playing in his first OHL season after playing last year with Salisbury Prep. On the plus side, I did feel that he ended the season well and was one of Niagara's best players in the Oshawa series. He definitely has potential to develop into a quality goal scorer in this league.

37. Danny Vanderwiel - Forward - Plymouth Whalers
I haven't really seen Vanderwiel on any scouting lists this season and I'm not particularly sure why. I like him. He reminds me a lot of Cody Payne last year in Plymouth. Not getting a ton of ice time (including in and out of the press box in the playoffs), but making the most of it. He's a big guy who I think has power forward potential. He skates well for a big guy and has the ability to carry the puck. Once he gets going, he can be tough to stop. He just needs to work on his shot to improve his finishing skills. He throws the body around and is pretty active on the forecheck too, although I think he could be even more aggressive in this area (might have to fill the shoes of Tom Wilson next year). Plymouth was so deep at forward this year, it was definitely difficult for Vanderwiel to make a consistent impression. But I saw enough to believe he's a diamond in the rough and possible late round gem for someone.

36. Bradley Latour - Forward - Oshawa Generals
Latour has to be the youngest player available for this year's NHL draft (a Sept.13, 1995 birth date); in just before the cut-off. He's a scrappy winger who was playing in his first OHL season. One thing I really liked about Latour is that he got better and better as the season went on; even saving his best for the playoffs. He's not large (5'10), but he's a real battler in traffic and by season's end, was starting to win more battles for the puck. He's also got a great nose for the net and gets himself in good scoring position. While he's not a physical winger, he does work hard without the puck and has a very active stick. Oshawa had a very deep forward unit this year and I think we're only beginning to see what Latour is capable of. As one of the youngest guys available in this draft, I think he's worth a late round flyer, given how he performed down the stretch.

35. Miles Liberati - Defenseman - London Knights
A very tough player to gauge because of his lack of playing time. Towards the end of the year, he was even seeing time up at forward to keep him in playing shape (where he actually didn't look out of place). London's defensive unit was just so deep this season, it was hard for Liberati to find consistent playing time once everyone was healthy. He's a big part of London's future on the back end though, and he played enough this year to show pro potential. Liberati can be categorized as a puck moving defenseman who possesses great mobility and the poise to create plays off the rush. As a puck rusher, he's still learning and can be prone to getting caught up ice, but his skating was good enough to cover those mistakes most of the time. Defensively, he's definitely still learning, but I think his mobility and intelligence will allow him the opportunity to develop into a solid two-way guy at some point. In terms of the NHL draft, I think it will come down to whether teams saw him enough to feel confident in the fact that he could be a future NHL player.
34. Jordan DeKort - Goaltender - Windsor Spitfires
DeKort is a huge goaltender who remains a work in progress. At 6'4, he's going to get a long look from NHL clubs. He's also one of the younger players available for the draft, with an August birthday (meaning he could still grow some more). He shows a solid ability to drop down into the butterfly and take away the bottom of the net, but he's still learning how to track the play and work his angles. His rebound control is also still a big work in progress, especially when trying to control/swallow higher shots, or directing pad saves away from the slot. Bottom line; DeKort is a big athletic goalie who's still learning his position. He's the type of guy NHL teams take a chance on.

33. Kyle Platzer - Forward - London Knights
Platzer did absolutely everything London's coaching staff asked him to do this year, including seeing some time on the blueline to cover for injuries. That's why he managed to (mostly) avoid the carousel many of London's other younger players had to ride (like Jammes, Liberati, Pawley, etc) in 2013. His numbers don't jump out at you, and they won't with the barely 10 minutes of ice time he saw a game. But you have to assess him based on what he was able to do with that ice time (similar to Remi Elie who's rated higher). Platzer may not be huge (pushing 5'11), but he's a skilled player who also can provide energy and persistence away from the puck. You might notice Platzer outworking opposing defenses along the boards, or beating them to loose pucks, but he's also clearly a very intelligent offensive player who is capable of putting up higher point totals. He did lead his Waterloo GOJHL team in scoring as a 16 year old in 2012. The one thing I admire about London is their ability to make younger players work hard to stay in the line-up. Ice time is earned, not given. And Platzer earned every second of time he received this year.

32. Tyler Bertuzzi - Forward - Guelph Storm
I think Bertuzzi is a very interesting prospect. He missed over two months of action this year with a concussion/neck injury, suffered mid season after a fight with fellow Top 50 recipient Tyler Ganly. Once he returned to action, he actually played pretty well (although tired toward the end of the season). He plays the game similarly to his uncle Todd. He's most effective as a crease crashing winger who works his butt off without the puck. Bertuzzi can be a dangerous forechecker and is still learning how to become a complimentary goal scorer. I think he has the hands to develop into a pretty solid finisher at some point. The other thing to note is that Bertuzzi grew this year. He was about 5'10 entering the league last year, but probably measures in at about 6'1 now. The bigger he gets, the more effective he'll be at playing the role of offensive pest.

31. Ben Harpur - Defenseman - Guelph Storm
Harpur is a hulking defenseman who was much better in the second half of the season than he was the first. That sort of progression has to be encouraging. In the second half, he looked much more comfortable handling the puck (especially in his own end) and really improved his breakout pass. Defensively, he looked more confident using physical force, in addition to his long reach, to break up plays. By the end of the season, he looked more comfortable in his role as a shutdown type of defenseman. He certainly has the size to be a force in his own end. His skating is a bit of an issue, but it's not awful, especially for a defender of his size. He'll just need to work on his lateral and backwards agility in order to become a more reliable defender off the rush. And obviously, he'll also need to continue to get stronger and become more of a physical force, especially in front of his net. But I think he's trending upwards.

1 comment:

Aggressive Skates said...

Wow beautiful post...very interesting..keep on posting such great informations...