Sunday, June 15, 2014

Final Media/Scout Top 10 for 2014

The 2014 NHL Entry Draft is fast approaching (a few weeks away), so it's time to complete the media/scout list for 2014.

Here are the previous editions:

Preliminary List (from December)

Midseason List (from March)

As always, this list involves contributions from a rather colourful cast of characters. Contributing their rankings and thoughts to this final list for 2014 were:

Ross MacLean - Head scout for ISS Hockey (@rossmaclean)
Corey Pronman - ESPN writer(@coreypronman)
Dominic Tiano - Writer for The OHL Writers (@dominictiano)
Sean LaFortune - Scout for McKeen's Hockey/Director of TheScout.ca (@SeanLafortune)
Nathan Fournier - Author of The World of Junior Hockey/Contributor to The Hockey News (@jrhockeywriter)
Dan Stewart - Director of Scouting for Future Considerations (@StewartFC)
Mark Seidel - Scouting Director for NACS Hockey (@MarkSeidel)
Steve Clark - Play by Play Announcer for the Niagara IceDogs (@SteveClarkMedia)
Brendan Ross - Co-Manager of DobberProspects, scout for TheScout.ca (@RossyYoungblood)
Peter Kneulman - Writer for the OHL Writers and In the O Radio (@PeterKneulman)
Carl Maloney - OHL correspondent for TheHockeyWriters (@carlTHW)
Jeff Marek - Host of Hockey Central on Sportsnet (@JeffMarek)
Scott Campbell - Director of The Scouting Report (@TSRhockey)
Ryan Kennedy - Associate senior writer for The Hockey News (@THNRyanKennedy)

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten)

Here's the Top 10 with several honorable mentions:

10. Roland McKeown - Defense - Kingston Frontenacs
Total Votes: 9
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 7th (3x)/Outside the Top 10 (6x)
The Scoop:
"Very solid defender that can create some offense on the PP, who got worn down a bit. I was surprised at how little he was used in U18's. He's learning to keep game simple, but has excellent feet and mobility, and is good at getting his shot through. He also has strong character." - Mark Seidel

"McKeown is a solid two-way defenseman. He won't be a flashy player at the next level but someone you'll be able to count on to make the right plays in difficult situations." - Anonymous

"McKeown is an enigma of sorts. He typifies the "doesn't excel at any one thing but does everything well" player. In my opinion he's underrated in some circles defensively. Offensively, I think many expected more from him but playing on a team that didn't lack offense or need him to be the offensive catalyst he can be, he was able to concentrate more on taking care of his own end." - Anonymous

"McKeown is a bit of a perplexing prospect. Extremely smooth and agile in transition, McKeown looks like he should be a natural high-scoring defenseman. He shows good patience and poise on the powerplay but doesn’t own a great shot. He lacks the physicality in battles that you want from a top defenseman and he is prone to poor decision making at times, making costly misreads. There’s plenty to like about McKeown’s natural abilities but it’s hard to say where scouts stand on his weaknesses – they could be seen as an opportunity for improvement or as a sign to steer away." - Anonymous

"I like him, but he currently lacks an identity as an NHL prospect. He's not aggressive enough offensively to suggest he could be a premier puck mover. And he's not strong enough off the puck to be a primary shutdown defenseman. He's currently caught in the middle. Sometimes that can be a kiss of death for a defensive prospect." - Anonymous

9. Nikolai Goldobin - Forward - Sarnia Sting
Total Votes: 10
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 7th (1x)/Outside the Top 10 (5x)
The Scoop :
"A pure offensive talent, Goldobin has done nothing but put points up since coming to North America. Has had to shoulder most of the offensive burden on a last place Sarnia team, but has done so admirably. An outstanding stickhandler with excellent passing skills and a wicked wrist shot, there isn’t much he can’t doon the offensive side of the puck. On the defensive side he’s a work in progress and will need to improve his play without the puck." - Anonymous

"Goldboin is a creative and entertaining offensive player who you can never count out.  He sees the ice incredibly well and can stickhandle his way out of trouble consistently.  His ability to produce offense all season and star against higher competition, like in the CHL Top Prospect Game, helps him stand out as one of the best creative offensive players in this draft, yet he is still underrated in this regard." - Anonymous

"I remain one of the few it seems willing to stick my head out for Sarnia’s Nikolay Goldobi ranking him quite high. His offensive skill set is rare and few can control the game as well as this slick and creative forward. He can play all three forward positions well and is a lethal target on the powerplay makingopposing defences look silly. He gets criticized for his compete level but it’s more of a reflection of his style and cerebral calculated attacks than his work ethic. Goldobin is actually quite passionate about the game. His offensive skills are elite and the creativity, deception and dangles he mixes in are all ingredients for highlight reel plays. With few elite offensive talents available in the draft, Goldobin is one skater who could become crack that group if he lands in the right system." - Anonymous

"One of the best pure talents in Ontario, let alone of the draft eligible skaters, Nikolay Goldobin has been an interesting player to watch the past two seasons. A silky smooth winger who entered the league via the import draft, Goldobin led the Sarnia Sting offensively last year, playing with a high pace in possession and showing off some of the best in tight puck skills in the OHL. A slick puckhandler who has a high poise and control in possession. Patient in the offensive zone, he waits out plays, drawing in defenders before using his strong vision to find an open man. More of a distributor versus pure finisher, he can finish plays, yet lacks some zip on an average shot. Adding strength and mass, which is a significant development need for him, should aid that aspect of his game. He doesn't always play with equal passion on the defensive side of the puck, presents a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude, doesn't go full out and commit to his defensive assignments. Will also need to show more willingness to play in traffic and take more direct routes to the net, as it will add another dimension to his game. Expected to head back to Sarnia next year, there is every reason to expect Goldobin to be a legitimate top 30 prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft. Like most prospect, he has his issues, however it’s hard to deny the offensive tool set that he possesses." - Sean LaFortune

"The drafts top enigma when it comes to pro projection as this kid is lights out with the puck on his stick and when given space in prime scoring areas. Creative hands, deadly shot, impressive vision and high end instincts highlight this flashy offensive package. Problem is he lacks any type of intensity or drive in all other aspects of the game. Shy from pphysical contact and loses most puck battles along the wall. Could end up the drafts top offensive talent but will need to add a bunch of intensity and strength to play the North American game or he is bound for a career in the KHL." - Dan Stewart

8. Josh Ho-Sang - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Total Votes: 14
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 3rd (1x)/Outside the Top 10 (1x)
The Scoop:
"Based on pure talent alone, he might be the top of my list.  Jaw dropping speed, and surgeon like hands mask a little immaturity.  The reduction of his baffling suspension in the playoffs will help his overall game as well.   Sky is the limit in terms of potential, IF he matures." - Anonymous

"Pretty safe to say that you’re not going to find a more polarizing prospect in the OHL this year. I really admire Ho-Sang’s talent level and I think he did a nice job this year of rising to the occasion and becoming a legitimate impact player; this coming on the heels of what I thought was an underwhelming rookie season. With that being said, I’m not sure Ho-Sang is a guy I’m really targeting too closely as an NHL team. While his skill level is among the best in this draft, his game has some tangible concerns at the OHL level which will only be exacerbated at the next level in my opinion." - Anonymous

"There's no doubt about it, Joshua Ho-Sang is one of the most individually talented players in the Ontario Hockey League, let alone one of the highest skilled players in the draft. Dating back to his days with the Toronto Marlboros with Sam Bennett, Connor McDavid and Jaden Lindo, he's been counted on to be a leader offensively. Last year in Windsor was a bit of a struggle for him (as it is for most 16 year olds), he has the tools, yet he failed to properly use them. He showed off elite offensive ability and an incredible pace in possession, forcing defenders to back off and yield positive ice. However he becomes somewhat predictable and failed to integrate his teammates and use his impressive passing skills, which stymied a lot of the offensive that he brought to the table. While that sill can be the case this year, he’s certainly grown, showing more poise, control and vision then we have seen at any point in his career. He’s maturing on the ice, using his tools more cerebrally, breaking down plays and making smarter decision in possession. In the past he would draw players in and attempt to walk around them with his elite one on one moves, now he makes a quick decision to fire off a laser tape to tape pass to an open man. He opens ice for teammates due to his possession skills. He still has moments that makes you scratch your head, sometimes falling back into the 'I can do it myself' attitude, however the growth and maturing that his game has shown this year make you wonder just how good he can become. He’s risky, he's got some boom/bust elements to his game, yet in a draft that has so many questions on skaters to begin with, it makes a lot of sense to simply target the most skilled skater in the draft and mold him within your organization once you have him, that’s what strong development teams do, (see Detroit) draft skill and develop internally." - Sean LaFortune

"Considered too selfish a player by some Ho-Sang’s skill is at the upper tier.  Anyone who watches Ho-Sang goes away shaking their head at the unbelievable skills in his arsenal.  Needs to learn how to play more of a team game and not just rely on his solo talents." - Anonymous

7. Jared McCann - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Total Votes: 14
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 4th (1x)/Outside the Top 10 (1x)
The Scoop :
"McCann started the season as one of the more highly touted prospects and despite posting mediocre numbers this season, the young pivot’s high character and two-way competitiveness leaves him high on many teams’ draft boards. He’s got room to grow offensively and as he gains more confidence, I think he will really begin to soar. He’d make a great selection any time after the top 10." - Anonymous

"McCann is easily in the mix as the top two way player available. He's an excellent skater with excellent top end speed. He has the hockey IQ in flashes but rather inconsistent in my opinion. He reads plays well and has a knack for getting into position where he can use his deadly shot. There's some potential there to be a decent second liner in the NHL at best. At worst he's a third liner who could chip in some offense." - Anonymous

"The smart, hardworking and well balanced two-way pivot has impressed in most of my viewings this season, but one really weak effort sticks out to me this season. In that viewing he looked tired, defeated and even disinterested, playing nowhere near the game he can. Overall though he has the skills to make an impact at both ends of the ice and contributes to a team game, his last few regular season games showed that he again wears down late in the season which reflects some physical conditioning or durability questions." - Dan Stewart

"Does EVERYTHING well, excellent faceoff man, plays all 200 feet, quick & accurate shot, makes good offensive decisions, always on the right side of the puck, quick feet." - Mark Seidel

"Two things stick out to me when you mention McCann. His shot/release and his defensive ability. While some people seem to think of him as a solid 3rd line prospect, I do believe he has more potential than that because he can flat out score. He'll need to really improve his playmaking ability and decision making skills with the puck off the rush in order to stay down the middle, even if he's a terrific faceoff man." - Anonymous

6. Robby Fabbri - Forward - Guelph Storm
Total Votes: 15
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 3rd (1x)/9th (3x)
The Scoop:
"Would skate through a wall if it meant giving his team a better shot at winning. His high intensity level without the puck is contagious and he elevates the level of play of his linemates. Sure he's 5'10, but he plays much bigger and that's what is important. Quite often smaller guys fade down the stretch, but Fabbri saved his best for last, winning the MVP of the OHL playoffs. Outside of size, what separates Fabbri from Sam Bennett? Not really a whole lot." - Anonymous

"I’ve always been a big fan of Fabbri’s and his impressive sophomore season only continued to reinforce that notion. This kid plays the game the right way and while it’s cliché, he’s the type of player you want to have on your team if you plan on building a perennial contender. Has no fear on the ice and plays a high tempo game which you love to see from a player with his talent level. I feel like he’s taken some really nice steps forward in the goal scoring department and he seems to be more confident now to take a shot whereas he may have passed up opportunities earlier in his career. He’s going to need to rein himself in a bit at the next level to remain durable, but I really like how his game projects nonetheless." - Anonymous

"It’s been fun to watch Robby Fabbri grow as a player over the course of the past few years. A graduate of the Mississauga Rebels program and OHL Cup Champion, he’s always been a player whose high end compete level and willingness to do what it takes to win makes him stand out. While we always appreciated that aspect of his game, there have always been concerns about his size and strength, as well as how much growth is in his game long term. Last year with the Storm, he had a successful rookie year, showing good instincts, mobility and offensive tools. This year he’s been, in a word, outstanding. He started the season as the Storm’s third line centre, but to his credit, he continued to outperform older players and by the start of 2014, he was the top centre on the best team in the league. Not bad for a draft eligible skater. By the end of the season, he was the team’s top offensive performer and won the Wayne Gretzky trophy as the league’s top playoff performer. As I've mentioned on twitter for weeks, he's reminding me more and more of a 2010 Jeff Skinner, not necessarily based on his skillset, but more so on his rise and upswing. An agile skater, Fabbri brings high end intelligence and compete level. His offensive toolset have grown significantly this year, now more cool and composed in possession. Despite his smaller frame, he takes direct routes to the net, outworks opposition defenders for loose pucks and offers some of the best intelligence in the draft. While it may is surprising to see him ranked this high, the outstanding second half is hard to ignore. By no means should anyone react to the past 4 weeks and bump him up 5-10 spots, but for those of us who felt he was a top 15-20 skater to start the year, the proof is most definitely there. Will range widely based on multiple factors, but hard to imagine him around in the second half of the 1st round." - Sean LaFortune

"Arguably on of the best offensively talented player available. And already an accomplished two way player who is as adept in his own zone as he is in the o-zone. Of course, the determining factor in where Fabbri will go in the draft will be determined by how teams think he'll impact the NHL game with his size, or lack of. He can dominate an OHL game in so many ways. Can he do it in the NHL? He plays much bigger than his 5'10" frame now, but if he were two, maybe three inches taller, I would put him right up there with Ekblad and Bennett." - Anonymous

5. Brendan Perlini - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
Total Votes: 15
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 4th (4x)/7th (2x)
The Scoop:
"A fantastic combination of Size, Speed and Shot that exploded in his first full season with the Icedogs. With players who play in the small ice of the Jack I am always worried that statistically they are the product of their surroundings but with Brendan he really did not show any significant aberrations in his home/road splits." - Anonymous

"Perlini’s speed, skating and puck possession game remain attractive skill setsbut his intensity and lack of a physical game have knocked him down the list a bit. His hot start was impressive but it also set some high expectations for Perlini heading towards the draft. When one takes a look at his season as a whole, there’s a lot to be ecstatic about because Perlini elevated his game to new heights and showed everyone his true potential." - Anonymous

"Perlini came out of no where to start the season and everyone jumped on the bandwagon, as we should have. He has a tremendous shot that many NHL'ers wish they had. He's an excellent skater with very good size - although using that size isn't one of his strengths. His defensive game is also underrated. He made major strides on the defensive side of the puck. If there's a drawback with Perlini, it's consistency, specifically his first half of the season over the last half. On a team that gets the most out of its players on a regular basis, Perlini will excel." - Anonymous

"One of the best shooters in this years crop. A great skater. The knock, however, is he looks timid at times and tends to get pushed around." - Anonymous

"The development that Brendan Perlini has shown in the past 14-16 months has been fun to watch. A graduate of the Detroit Belle Tire program, I've always been a big supporter of Perlini, even when he was struggling to find himself with the Barrie Colts. He has always had the tools, but struggled to pull those tools together in limited minutes in Barrie. After a trade deadline move, the IceDogs picked up Perlini and slid him in a spot beside Brett Ritchie and Ryan Strome, and the rest, as they say, is history. Fast forward to the Ivan Hlinka summer camp, and it looked like Perlini was set to take the next step offensively. He was stronger and more confident, he didn’t rush delivery, and he allowed his footwork and long, dynamic skating stride to create space against the best that Canada had to offer. It was a surprise to all of us that he was among the final cuts; however it acted as a jumping off point for his season. He's been an offensive juggernaut for the IceDogs this season, teaming with Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Carter Verhage to lead the IceDogs offensively. Perlini's tool set is what truly inspires, as I think he’s a player who has yet to really touch his long term potential. An agile winger who possesses excellent four way mobility, he can be either a possession player or a finisher, as he possesses soft hands and some deceptive one on one moves. He will never be confused with a pure set up man, however he can surprise with some sublime skill. The two big issues moving forward with Perlini are tied to his consistency and willingness to play a more aggressive, physical brand of hockey. As he physically matures and adds more size and strength to his frame, you hope that he improves that aspect of his game, because he has the physical attributes to be effective down low. He must strive to add more intensity and aggressiveness; it will make him a much more complete player. Looking long term, you don't often see skaters with the tools that he possesses, which is what makes him a potential top 10 selection come June." - Sean LaFortune

4. Nick Ritchie - Forward - Peterborough Petes
Total Votes: 15
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 3rd (1x)/7th (1x)
The Scoop:
"I prefer him to Michael Dal Colle because I think he has a similar level of skill, yet is someone who uses his size significantly more. While his use of the skill does suffer through bouts of inconsistency, I think much of that is tied to conditioning issues. Like his brother Brett, Nick will continue to get better, and Nick is a much more dynamic player. They just don't make them like this anymore." - Anonymous

"Has a chance to be the best forward in the Draft, great pro size, dominant at times, indifferent play at times, strong enough to dominate physically, heavy shot, when motivated is impossible to move off the puck." - Mark Seidel

"This guy really intrigues me as he has the potential to really be a prime time NHLpower forward, with a nasty disposition similar to Milan Lucic, but with better offensive skills. The problem is he also has the real future potential to be a heavy set used car salesman in ten years as well. A true wildcard, boom or bust prospect that some team will need to takke the gamble on early. My inclination is that he will succeed, but more similar to a Chris Stewart type player not a Cam Neely clone at the NHL level." - Dan Stewart

"Top power forward in the entire draft. Perhaps the onlyforward of this years crop who could step into the NHL next season. His combination of size and skill has scouts drooling. Some talk he may sneak into the top 5 of this years NHL draft." - Anonymous

"Personally, I’ve been juggling Ritchie and Dal Colle all season long and each have supplanted the other at one point or another but Ritchie ends up on top heading to the draft. His rare combination of elite size, skating, and shooting abilities gives him the edge, especially when combined with his knack for getting nasty and physical. He can flat out dominate the competition when he’s on his game and the fact that he flourished when the skillful Hunter Garlent came to town goes to show what he can really do when surrounded with some talented teammates. He’s been stuck on a losing franchise for his OHL career and gets criticized for his inconsistency and wavering production but that is to be expected as the atmosphere can suffocate players. Teams have mixed reviews on Nick Ritchie but put me down for one who believes he has the chance to be one of the draft’s best wingers when all is said is done." - Anonymous

"His ability and willingness to drive the net is something all teams covet.  He’s big, he’s strong and he knows how to score.  He’s the type of player that opposing teams need to plan for and that can open up a lot of possibilities for teams with creative playmakers already on their rosters." - Anonymous

3. Michael Dal Colle - Forward - Oshawa Generals
Total Votes: 15
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 2nd (2x)/5th (1x)
The Scoop:
"Dal Colle has all the tools scouts look for in a top prospect. He has good size witha 6’2” frame, is a powerful skater and isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas. Uses his size well to create space for himself as well as his teammates and has excellent puck skills to go with it. Led the Generals in regular season and playoff scoring." - Anonymous

"For years, Michael Dal Colle was the best player in his age group. Skating with the Vaughan Kings, Dal Colle entered his minor midget year as the top prospect in the 96 age group. In his OHL Draft year in Vaughan, he didn't have a significant amount of help around him; he struggled with his consistency and mobility, which is why he fell to 7th overall and the Oshawa Generals. While At the time, it was felt that Dal Colle would need some time to adjust to the pace of the league, he started the season with on the Generals top line with Boone Jenner and Tyler Biggs and never looked back. He was more agile and mobile then in his minor midget season, and was extremely consistent throughout the season. This year, teamed with Scott Laughton, he's been simply outstanding and was a chief reason for the Generals surprising season. A driven winger who operates effectively in traffic, Dal Colle is a pure finisher who possesses an elite shot and poise and control in finishing areas. Is not overly physical, yet doesn't shy away from contact, bouncing off defenders to put himself into prime scoring areas. A winger who projects as a scorer who operates effectively with a pure set up pivot. At this point, Dal Colle is a slam dunk top 6 selection for June's draft."  - Sean LaFortune

"He may not be the second OHL player off the board - that distinction will probably be either EkBlad or Bennett - but he's my personal favorite from the OHL. He's a guy you want to build your forward core around as he plays in all three zones. It doesn't effect his offensive game as he can put the puck in the net with the best of them from the entire draft class." - Anonymous

"Bennett is widely considered the most consistent player available for the draft, but I would respectfully disagree. Consider this: since October 2012, his first full month in the OHL, he has never gone more than two games without registering a point: a span of 110 games. Dal Colle has made strides in his game, including skating, which still needs some work. If you're looking for an offensive threat, Dal Colle is the guy to nab here. He's an underrated playmaker in my opinion but possesses a great shot with an even better release and isn't afraid to be selfish if he feels that's his best option. His defensive game needs some work, but it can be taught. His offensive abilities can't." - Anonymous

"No slight to Michael Dal Colle that he fell a spot in my final rankings because it was a difficult decision deciding between Bennett, Ritchie and this high scoring winger. On a different day, he could’ve ended up on top of the forward group because he was that good. No OHL eligible skater was as consistent and dangerous as Michael Dal Colle was this season topping all players in scoring. He’s a lethal shooter yet his playmaking abilities are still somewhat understated by the general population. Few players can operate a power play like Dal Colle can as he has a knack for reading plays unfold ahead of the competition. He’s a slick and dangerous passer and his ability towork the cycle game is imposing. As Dal Colle fills out his slender frame, his game should really benefit and he could use that added size to dominate the opposition, an area that he lacks in currently. Dal Colle’s upside is scary good and with room to improve physically and defensively, he’s a prospect worthy of a high investment." - Anonymous

2. Sam Bennett - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs
Total Votes: 15
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 1st (1x)/3rd (2x)
The Scoop:
"Big deal, so he can't do a chin up or pull up, or whatever the heck it was.  What he can do is skate extremely well, has an edge and can distribute and finish.  Does he need to get a little stronger?  Sure, just like 90% of the draft class.  Paging Mr. Gary Roberts, you have a client on Line 1." - Anonymous

"Really tough decision between Bennett and Dal Colle here but the Kingston centre’s versatility and two-way play is the trump card for me. Bennett projects to be a very effective top line centre in the mold of a Jonathan Toews, which is music to any GM’s ear. The big question looming over Bennett’s ability to produce in the NHL right away will be his strength. If a team can afford to be patient with him, another year in the OHL might not be the worst thing in order to ensure he’s completely ready to make the jump in 2015-16 with another year of physical maturation under his belt." - Anonymous

"A smart, competitive pivot who impacts the game in multiple ways. His rise from the 9th Overall pick in the 2012 OHL Draft to the top prospect available has been a memorable one, given that at the time there were multiple players rated ahead of him. Once in Kingston, he was given all the opportunities to grab the top centre position and did so, forming instant chemistry with Spencer Watson and Henri Ikonan. As the months moved on, Bennett got better and better, becoming the Frontenacs top offensive option at just 16. Today, Bennett is one of the top offensive players in Ontario, blending sublime skill and a high competitive nature. A possession player who operates effectively in traffic, he flashes elite in close puck skills and one on one elusiveness. He takes direct routes to the net, drawing in opposition defenders before firing off a soft pass to a teammate or snapping off a sharp wrist shot. While he needs to continue to get stronger and add more mass to his frame, he has the ability to be an offensive leader and future captain at the next level." - Sean LaFortune

"Plays  harder than just about anyone in the league. Work ethic matched with a high skill set and great skating." - Anonymous

"Bennett joins a trio of forwards that are tightly packed, in my opinion, with wingers Nick Ritchie and Michael Dal Colle. An argument can be made for anyof the three in any order but Sam Bennett’s centre position, consistency, impact two-way game and admirable competitiveness gives him the edge. Already loaded with tons of character and intangibles, Bennett’s skill game is among tops in most categories as the kid can skate, handle the puck and shoot with any of his draft peers. Mix in a little fire and passion and Bennett’s in the running for first overall. He hasn’t matured physically so the fact that he’s already at such a high level and still has heaps of room to develop further, makes him an attractive commodity." - Anonymous
 
1. Aaron Ekblad - Defense - Barrie Colts
Total Votes: 15
Highest Placement/Lowest Placement: 1st (14x)/2nd (1x)
The Scoop:
"You just don’t see defensemen with his level of capability that often.  He’s got similar long term appeal as a player like Shea Weber and is already mature enough to step right in and contribute.  He has continued to get better and better and there is no reason to think that will stop any time soon." - Anonymous

"We all know what this mature defenseman brings to the ice in terms of his defensive and offensive ability from the blue line. Okay, now let’s run through the list of other aspects that just cement him atop the 2014 NHL Draft list in my eyes. Is he a coveted defensive right-handed shot? Check. Does he have imposing NHL size? Check. Ishe willing to play it physical? Check. Does he show real leadership qualities? Check. Doeshe show the desire to continue to improve? Check. Can he step into the NHL and make a real impact next season? Check. This complete package is the odds on favorite to eventually become the best NHL product in mmy eyes." - Dan Stewart

"The second ‘exceptional status’ skater in Ontario, following in the footsteps of New York Islanders captain John Tavares. In his third season in the Ontario Hockey League, Ekbald continues to show the tools, and more importantly, the progression that makes him one of the top prospects available for the 2014 NHL Draft. A mean, suffocating defender who thrives when down low, Ekbald has always had the pedigree of a defender who can play significant minutes while limiting chances, but the concerns have always been centered around his mobility and offensive upside. While I still have concerns about his mobility, his pivots and footwork when the play goes down low along the boards and quick transitions need work, his offensive game has taken the next step. More of a leader from the blueline on the powerplay, he has shown more poise and control. He now waits that extra second for plays to develop, no longer rushing delivery and firing the puck into a lane filled with defenders. The long term offensive upside is still in question, as he will be a defence first defender at the next level; however the total package is what intrigues. Despite my ranking of him (2nd), I wouldn't be surprised to see him selected first by the Florida Panthers, assuming that they still own the first overall selection in a few weeks." - Sean LaFortune

"Franchise defender, exceptional hockey IQ, smart decisions, tremendous frame built for a long playoff run, passes like a pro, pigeon-toed, exceptional character." - Anonymous

"He’s the most NHL ready prospect heading into the draft and his personal accomplishments are a mile long capped off by winning the OHL Defensemanof the Year award. Ekblad has exceeded lofty expectations set for him as an exceptional defenseman and only continues to show improvements in all areas. His skating is perhaps his only weakness and it’s improved to acceptable standards for a top draft pick. With few impact defenseman appearing at the top of the draft board, look for Ekblad to be an extremely coveted prospect. He’s the best at his position by a long shot." - Anonymous

Others Receiving Consideration (Honorable Mentions):

Ryan MacInnis - Forward - Kitchener Rangers (4 votes)
Highest Placement: 9th (1x)
Comments:
"Ryan MacInnis is one of the most interesting skaters in the NHL Draft, at least from an Ontario perspective. A raw tools skater who just completed his first season in with the Rangers, MacInnis has always been a player who is less about what he is now and more so about the player that he may one day become. The definition of a projectable player with the size, offensive instincts and developing two way game that NHL scouts drool over, MacInnis had an up and down season, starting out strong before fading down the stretch, which isn't uncommon for players playing their first full time season in the OHL. Possesses quick hands and surprisingly good in close puck skills, his top offensive weapon is an elite snap shot, one that rockets off his stick thanks to a quick, deceptive release. He shows good poise and control in high percentage scoring areas, waits out goalies and finds ways to get the puck on net. Could be more aggressive and physical, play a more assertive style of game, as he can be passive when the opportunity presents itself to make a true physical impact. That should come as his strength fills in. Skating is the biggest issue at this point, as his startups are somewhat slushy and he fails to generate significant separation speed from a gangly stride. Adding more strength, length and frequency will be a difference maker for him. I’m not sure if he ever will be a high end skater, but there are some areas for improvement. The biggest question for MacInnis heading into the draft is how much stock does an NHL team put on his potential? Do they view him as a true top end offensive player? What type of development do they see from him? As is the case with many long term projects, opinions vary, however it’s not out of the question that you should see him drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 NHL Draft." - Sean LaFortune

"No denying the offensive talents of MacInnis but needs to work on skating, specifically his first couple of strides. Does have big upside if he can put it all together in Kitchener next season." - Anonymous

"Great proto-typical lanky centreman, very smart, high hockey IQ, still growing into his body, legs look weak at this point, never going to dominate offensively, will fill out at 210 lbs., makes surprisingly skilled passes." - Mark Seidel

Anthony DeAngelo - Defense - Sarnia Sting (3 votes)
Highest Placement: 7th (1x)
Comments:
"Basing this on talent alone.  He will need strong handling to mask those character flaws that he has and his tendancy to forget the defensive zone.  That said, on Sarnia everyone was forgetting the defensive zone.  Reigned in his talent level is off the charts.  However, if the character flaws continue, he will be a headache for the team on and off the ice.  Is he worth the risk?  Yes!" - Anonymous

"There is no question whatsoever that DeAngelo's talent would put him in the top ten, even top 5. But two incidents have derailed DeAngelo and the question is: Do NHL teams think they can work to resolve any "character issues" and at what point do you take a gamble on him? The DeAngelo watch could possibly turn out to be the most interesting event on draft weekend in Philadelphia." - Anonymous

"As many of my industry counterparts put it this guy is just a bad teammate. Becaause of his intensity, emotion or just flat out hate for loosing, whatever the case he plays selfish and goes through spurts where he plays way to individualistic to succeed at the AHL level let alone the NHL level. The flip side of the package is when he plays a team game, as he did through parts of this past season before the consistent losing got the best of his attitude, he is an elite offensive, puck rushing threat form the backend who skates better than ninety percent of current NHLers could ever hope to. His lack of maturity might railroad his hockey career or he might top out as a bottom pairing, power play specialist at the NHL level similar to an Ian White type but also has Erik Karlsson type offensive potential. Wide open potential." - Dan Stewart

Alex Nedeljkovic - Goaltender - Plymouth Whalers (3 votes)
Highest Placement: 8th (1x)
Comments:
"He's not 6'4 like NHL scouts seem want goaltenders to be now, but he has everything else you'd look for. He's extremely athletic and reads the play well to make up for his lack of height. Because he's so athletic, he could stand to challenge shooters even more and rely on his agility to recover (like a Jonathan Quick). Biggest asset is his mental make-up. few players (skaters or goalies) had as decorated of a year as Nedeljkovic. A top performer at the Ivan Hlinka. OHL goaltender of the Year. U18 Gold medal. Not too shabby. I could see him falling a bit on draft day, but that doesn't change the fact that he could end up being the best goalie to come out of this draft class." - Anonymous

"A smaller goaltender, but a goaltender who competes. That's what teams are looking for in a goaltender. He saw a lot of shots this year on a rebuilding Whalers team. I think his performance at the World Under-18 left a good note with scouts heading into the draft." - Anonymous

"Far and away the top goalie from the O. Carried one of the weaker Plymouth teams in recent memory. While he may not have the size that some covet in a goalie he has elite athleticism and reflexes." - Anonymous

Brendan Lemieux - Forward - Barrie Colts (2 votes)
Highest Placement: 9th (1x)
Comments:
"Pain the ass for both teams, plays balls out, more skill than most think, strong, physical machine, choppy feet, goes to EVERY dirty area, is a winner." - Mark Seidel

"Lemieux is that 3rd line agitator like Brad Marchand, Matt Cooke (when he's not being villified), Steve Ott and yes, good old dad.   The 26 goals were probably a bit of a surprise .  Talent and NHL bloodlines make Lemieux a good potential prospect." - Anonymous

Eric Cornel - Forward - Peterborough Petes (1 vote)
Highest Placement: 7th (1x)
Comments:
"I’ve always been a big Cornel guy despite the fact that he really went through some tough times coming into the league as the 3rd pick from the 2012 Priority Selection. I really liked what he showed this year and felt that he’s starting to scratch the surface of what he can become. Cornel has a really good mind for the game and what he might lack in dynamic talent, he makes up for with great positioning and awareness for the game. I like his versatility at the next level to play with an array of linemates and make them better and I firmly believe that the best is yet to come from Cornel. He’s the most “long-term guy” I have on my list thus far but I think the patience will pay off with him." - Anonymous

Michael Bunting - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (1 vote)
Highest Placement: 10th (1x)
Comments:
"This may be higher than most have him but I am a big big fan of his. After being drafted after his only season of AAA midget hockey all he did was score. From a hat trick in the Hounds rookie camp scrimage to every game at the Hounds main training camp. Michael carried that hot play into the season as his game continued to grow and grow. When I watch him I see a player who is very smart and knows how to get in position in front of the net and put him self in a position of leverage against the opposing defender. Missed 2 months of the season due to an MCL injury but came back and lead the Greyhounds in goals during the playoffs. I look at his growth curve and just feel that he has more upward trajectory than others and is a player who could really develop into something special." - Anonymous

Thanks so much to all of my contributors, not just for this article, but for the entire season. Couldn't put these awesome pieces together without you.

If you're hungry for even more information on the draft, PLEASE be sure to pick up the draft guides of McKeen's, ISS, and Future Considerations. Visit their websites for information on how to do that.



4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Florida--Ekblad
Buffalo-- Reinhart
Edmonton--Draisaitl
Calgary-- Bennett
NYI Dal Colle

Anonymous said...

How come Sam Bennett is not the main penalty killer for the Frontenacs?

http://www.extraskater.com/chl/players?sort=points_all_per60&age=17

Anonymous said...

Ekblad numbers 5 on 5 are not very good for a consensus #1.

juliya venture said...

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