Tuesday, January 20, 2015

NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings for 2015

NHL Central Scouting released their midterm rankings today. Here's a look at how they ranked OHL players. And here's my midterm top 50 as a comparison.


1. Connor McDavid (1)
2. Lawson Crouse (4)
3. Dylan Strome (5)
4. Mitchell Marner (7)
5. Pavel Zacha (8)
6. Travis Konecny (26)
7. Mitchell Vande Sompel (33)
8. Nikita Korostelev (41)
9. Blake Speers (41)
10. Travis Dermott (47)
11. Matt Spencer (51)
12. Vince Dunn (53)
13. Graham Knott (54)
14. Zachary Senyshyn (56)
15. Kyle Capobianco (67)
16. Gustaf Bouramman (68)
17. Rasmus Andersson (84)
18. Anthony Cirelli (88)
19. Chris Martenet (92)
20. Matt Luff (95)
21. Ethan Szypula (96)
22. Thomas Schemitsch (98)
23. Roy Radke (111)
24. Mitchell Stephens (113)
25. Pius Suter (116)
26. Hayden McCool (117)
27. Justin Lemcke (119)
28. Brett McKenzie (124)
29. Jeremiah Addison (127)
30. Nick Betz (129)
31. Tyler MacAthur (135)
32. Trent Fox (143)
33. Dante Salituro (145)
34. Andrew Mangiapane (147)
35. Gustaf Franzen (151)
36. Brandon Lindberg (153)
37. Colton White (154)
38. David Miller (158)
39. Artem Artemov (159)
40. Cameron Lizotte (171)
41. Brandon Crawley (173)
42. Petrus Palmu (180)
43. Stephen Desrocher (181)
44. Adam Laishram (186)
45. Garrett McFadden (193)
46. Marcus Crawford (195)
Limited Viewing - Connor Schlichting
Limited Viewing - Jarett Meyer


1. Mackenzie Blackwood (1)
2. Michael McNiven (6)
3. Connor Hicks (10)
4. Liam Herbst (14)
5. Jeremy Helvig (17)
6. Jack Flinn (26)
7. Zack Bowman (27)

To see the full list, GO HERE.

My thoughts…

1. Lots of banter about Lawson Crouse being ranked so high. It's not a surprise. As I've said, he's one of those guys that scouts are going to rank higher than the general opinion (because of his size and how well rounded his game is). That said, I still take Mitchell Marner ahead of him (where as Strome is debatable). Marner's ranking isn't a huge surprise, as Central Scouting has long been the type to value size more than anything.

2. Biggest discrepancies between my list and NHLCS:
Anthony Cirelli (+23)
Chris Martenet (+29)
Ethan Szypula (+18)
Brandon Lindberg (+15)
Sam Harding: (-24)
Jesse Barwell (-17)
Justin Lemcke (-12)
Brett McKenzie (-10)
Colton White (-12)
Marcus Crawford (-17)

3. Of those discrepancies, I'm really surprised about a few of them. Sam Harding not being listed is a bit of a shocker, especially when they've ranked Adam Laishram (another guy I really like), who's a pretty similar player but smaller. I don't get why Justin Lemcke is so low too. He's a really solid prospect IMO and there's no question that I would take him over some of the other guys listed ahead of him. Ditto for Colton White. He deserves to be much higher. Anyone who follows the OHL closely is extremely high on him because of his high potential. In terms of the higher ranked guys, Chris Martenet is an intriguing  project because of his size, but he doesn't deserve to be ranked that high right now.

4. Central Scouting really isn't a fan of what the OHL has to offer this year it seems. Only 16 OHL skaters in the top 80. Compare that to last year where the OHL had 28 players ranked inside the top 80 (at midterm). The drop from Zacha to Konecny is also quite large according to their scouts.

5. Some quality "re-entry" guys on the list this year. And that's deserving. The OHL has some quality second and third year eligible prospects with a shot at getting drafted. A bit shocked to not see Damir Sharipzyanov, Matt Schmalz, and Ken Appleby listed though, as I'd consider them just as strong of candidates as the others listed.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015 OHL Trade Deadline Report Cards

OHL players can now sleep easy as the 2015 OHL trade deadline has come and gone. Many players have said goodbyes. In January alone, 46 OHL players traded places. But with a new team often comes new and rewarding challenges. Many of these players will get the chance to play deeper into the playoffs and perhaps win an OHL championship. While others will receive increased responsibility and ice time in hopes of catching the eye of NHL scouts.

Many of the teams in the league were active in the past month. Several teams (Erie, SSM, Oshawa, North Bay) loaded up for deep playoff runs. Other teams (Kitchener, Owen Sound, Peterborough, etc) made moves to help solidify a playoff spot and give their younger players much needed playoff experience.

For this article, I'm cutting off trades at Christmas. So any trades made before Christmas won't be factored into a teams grade. No sense assessing a team's ability to trade over the course of the season.

Let's do some grading!

Eastern Conference

Barrie Colts
In: Stephen Nosad, Ben Harpur, Chadd Bauman
Out: Draft picks (2, 2, 5, 10, 10), Givani Smith, CJ Garcia
Report: Quite frankly, I'm a bit surprised that the Colts didn't do more. They're playing such good hockey lately, I figured that they'd really go for it in the Eastern Conference. Mackenzie Blackwood is playing as good as any goalie in the league right now and on any given night, they've got a chance to win. They did do a good job of bringing more size to their blue line with Harpur and Bauman (if he sticks on the blue line) and they realize that, that will be necessary to beat the likes of Oshawa and North Bay (who got much bigger up front). That said, I wasn't crazy about the price they paid. Barrie has traded away their first rounder nine times in the last twelve years. In that time frame they've got 2 Eastern Conference titles, but zero OHL Championships to their name. With many of their top players set to move on next year (Blandisi, Laser, Hooey, Harpur, and possibly Lebanc), I thought that they'd do more if they traded away one of, or both of their former firsts (Smith and Kreis)

Belleville Bulls
In: Trent Fox, Jesse Saban, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 6)
Out: Remi Elie, Jake Marchment
Report: The Bulls only made one deal but boy was it a big one. They sent out their former captain (was expected) and their offensive leader and got a massive return. The Bulls are right in the middle of the Eastern Conference right now so I'm sure there are questions as to why they would make this type of move. But I'm sure they realize that they're not going to beat one of the top teams in the East this year and they've got a solid group of '96's and '97's to build on moving forward. For Elie and Marchment, they got back just that. Two quality 97's in Fox and Saban who fit right in with their core. They've got some young players like Laishram, Saigeon, and Luff, who are ready for increased responsibility and should be able to fill in adequately. The Bulls will likely still make the playoffs this year, all the while building for the future. Definitely a WIN.

Kingston Frontenacs
In: Draft picks (2, 2, 3, 4, 5), Cody Caron, Jared Steege, Nathan Billitier
Out: Reagan O'Grady, Draft picks (6, 6), Ryan Kujawinski
Report: Not very often you see a team fighting for the playoffs move their recent first rounder (O'Grady), but he had asked for a trade so Gilmour's hands were tied. They ultimately got a decent return for the former captain of the OHL Cup champion Toronto Marlboros. The quality of the return for Ryan Kujawinski remains a bit of a mystery. Nathan Billitier is the key to this, as the former U.S. Development team member left Notre Dame for the Fronts. He's a '96 and has several years left in the league. If he can develop into a top four defender for Kingston, this trade is a win for the Fronts. Ultimately, I do think that Kingston should have moved Evan McEneny as they're not going to be much a playoff team this year (even if Sam Bennett makes a miraculous recovery) and their roster is built for a run next year and the year after.
Grade: B-

Mississauga Steelheads
In: Jacob Brennan (off waivers from the Q), Draft pick (6)
Out: Lucas Venuto
Report: I don't quite get this one. Earlier this year the Steelheads went all in, giving up a boatload of draft picks (and a quality younger player in Barwell) for Jimmy Lodge and Brandon Devlin. Then they do nothing at the deadline and settle for mediocrity (at best). Sure, it was AWFUL luck losing Spencer Martin. But after you've already dealt prime assets for 1 and done players (in their final year in the league, at least likely in Lodge's case), you can't throw in the towel. I'm sure Jacob Brennan will supply the team with some stability in net and he at least has playoff experience in the Q. But, who is going to play goal next year? The team missed the opportunity to acquire a '95 like Alex Fotinos, who not only could provide decent goaltending this year, but could also tend the net next year as an overager. They could have then used their other overage spot on a quality blue liner like Jeff Corbett from Sudbury, who could help to stabilize a very inconsistent (and somewhat soft) defensive unit? This Steelheads team is no guarantee to make the playoffs this year and even if they do, they're going to set themselves up to face a team they can't beat in the first round. By making some subtle moves, they could have given themselves the edge for the 4th spot in the East and at least had the opportunity to get into the 2nd round.

Niagara IceDogs
In: Draft pick (6)
Out: Cody Caron
Report: The Dogs made most of their moves earlier this year when they acquired Josh Ho-Sang and Brandon Hope. And don't look now but Niagara has 7 wins in their last 10 (including 4 in a row). With the return of Brendan Perlini, the Dogs look much more dangerous and are poised to make a run up the Eastern Conference standings. In fact, I'd be surprised if they don't end up in the top 6 of the Conference by the end of the season. That said, this is a trade deadline review and the Dogs remained relatively silent. The team still lacks the depth and size up front to battle with the big boys of the East right now. I'm surprised that Marty Williamson didn't acquire another top 9 forward with size who could help the team make that playoff push. The team has a defensive surplus and could have used that to improve their team. A guy like Ryan Kujawinski, for example, would have looked great in an IceDogs uniform. The good news is, that the majority of the team will remain intact next year when they'll have another go at taking the East.

North Bay Battalion
In: Ryan Kujawinski, Nick Moutrey, Draft pick (6)
Out: Evan Cormier, Jared Steege, Nathan Billiiter, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4)
Report: The Battalion went into this trade deadline with really only one need. Adding depth and skill to their top 6. And they accomplished that…and then some. Nick Moutrey was one of the most improved players in the league this year. His size, speed, and two way play make him the perfect Stan Butler player. And Kujawinski has that same potential, which he was never really able to fully realize in Kingston. Last year, North Bay was able to capture the East with the same formula that they're employing this year. None of their top 6 forwards are under 6'1 and they're going to battle you to the end. And while the package for Moutrey was insane…the team really didn't give up a ton for Kujawinski. Steege was a role player for the team and Nathan Billitier was an NCAA player with no intent to suit up for North Bay. It was definitely a terrific deadline for Stan Butler and co.

Oshawa Generals
In: Matt Mistele, Jason DaSilva, Michael McCarron, Dakota Mermis, Brent Pedersen
Out: Cliff Pu, Josh Sterk, Chase Pearson, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4 6, 10)
Report: Talk about loading up. Wow. I don't think I've ever seen a team give up so many draft picks in one small time frame. But the talent they brought in is legitimate. All three of Mistele, McCarron, and Pedersen have been better this year and represent massive bodies who can also create offence. I wasn't crazy about the package they gave up for Pedersen, but he's a likely candidate to return as an overager so that will help ease some of the pain. Between the likes of Mistele, McCarron, Dal Colle, and Hunter Smith, the Generals have four massive wingers who will be hard to contain down low. And Mermis definitely helps to solidify the back end, a unit which was talented, but also relatively inexperienced. This team is going to be a monster to battle with in the playoffs. Look out Eastern Conference. On the downside, what are the Generals' scouts going to do in the next 3 years?

Ottawa 67's
In: Curtis Meighan, Draft picks (2, 3), Adam Craievich
Out: Draft picks (8, 8), Erik Bradford, Tyler Hill
Report: Quite frankly, I'm surprised that the 67's moved Bradford. The 67's have been playing some good hockey of late and seem to have the inside track on the 4th spot in the East. That said, I don't mind them doing it. There's no way that the team will be able to beat one of the beasts of the East in the playoffs, so why not pick up some assets for players who won't be around next year, when the team has a chance to capture the East? The acquisition of Craievich is definitely an astute one. He continues to show flashes of developing into a quality OHL player, but his ice time and development in Guelph seemed to have stalled. He could be a big time player down the road if a new team really lights a fire under him (improving skating is the key).

Peterborough Petes
In: Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10, 10), Nathan Pancel, Kyle Jenkins
Out: Nick Ritchie, Anthony Stefano, Connor Boland, Jason DaSilva, Stephen Nosad, Draft pick (2, 2, 3)
Report: I actually kind of like what Peterborough did. Here's the question you have to ask yourself. Did Peterborough really get worse by adding Jenkins and Pancel, while trading all the players they did? I don't think so. Jenkins is a quality OHL defender who'll be around for another year and Pancel replaces the goal scoring ability of Ritchie. Yet, they acquired a boat load of draft picks which they can use to either acquire pieces next year, or draft players in the future (the one 2nd they picked up will likely be one of the first of the round). I was a bit disappointed in the Ritchie return (considering what Nick Moutrey brought back), but that's nitpicking. Bottom line is that the Petes picked up a ton of youth (a couple of seconds), made their team better next year (with Jenkins), and really didn't get much worse this year. They've got a chance to squeak into the playoffs to give their young (but talented) defence some experience.

Sudbury Wolves
In: Charley Graaskamp, Draft picks (2, 3), Reagan O'Grady
Out: Draft picks (2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5), Nathan Pancel
Report: Sort of an odd deadline for the Wolves. As a rebuilding team, they actually traded out draft picks and acquired more players than they sent packing. That said, it's not like they went and picked up overages. They took a chance on a couple of young players looking for a fresh start. Graaskamp has the potential to be a top 6 player eventually and was a good low buy. O'Grady was Kingston's first rounder  and they got him without giving up a really early pick (the 2nd they gave up is Plymouth's in 2017 and isn't likely to be an early one in the round IMO). Considering that the team's weakest area is on defence, it's a solid gamble. And they got those picks back in the Pancel trade. So it's almost like exchanging Pancel for O'Grady. Not bad. I do think that they messed up by not dealing Jeff Corbett, even if it was just for a 3rd (not sure how large the market was for him).

Western Conference

Erie Otters
In: Remi Elie, Jake Marchment, Draft pick (12)
Out: Joel Wigle, Trent Fox, Jesse Saban, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 6)
Report: Really like the forwards that Erie brought in (especially when you consider the Baptiste acquisition earlier in the year). The Otters knew that they had to get bigger and more skilled on the wing and they did that. Guys like Elie, Marchment, and Baptiste are going to help to clear space for McDavid, Strome, Debrincat, etc. In the playoffs, that's going to go a long way to helping Erie get to the Western finals. Their defence is fine and didn't need upgrades, but I know most people were expecting the Otters to go after a goaltender. Devin Williams hasn't been consistently sharp this year, at least not to the level that he played last year. Hopefully he's able to turn his game around by the time March rolls around. Meanwhile, Remi Elie may finally get the respect he deserves as an NHL prospect, while playing with a more talented playmaker (he's lining up beside Dylan Strome right now).

Guelph Storm
In: CJ Garcia, Givani Smith, Tyler Hill, Ryan Foss, Draft pick (2, 2, 5, 8, 10)
Out: Ben Harpur, Chadd Bauman, Adam Craievich, Draft pick (5)
Report: I like what the Storm did this year at the deadline. They saw no reason to jump into the arms race with the other teams in the West, so they capitalized on a sellers market and got great value for Harpur and Bauman. Garcia has improved this year and will be a top 4 defender in the OHL for the next couple of years. And Smith, if he can develop into something similar to his brother, he'll be an incredibly valuable asset for Guelph. Add in Tyler Hill and Ryan Foss, and you help with the team's lack of depth at forward (which I think has been an issue this year). They're still a strong enough team to compete for 3rd in the Western Conference and should still have a good chance of making it into the 2nd round of the OHL playoffs.

Kitchener Rangers
In: Jake Paterson, David Miller, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 8)
Out: Curtis Meighan, Justin Bailey, Brent Pedersen, Draft picks (2, 3)
Report: The Rangers have taken a lot of flak for their moves at the deadline (or non moves) and I don't agree with it. Look at it this way…would you trade Brent Pedersen for Jake Paterson, a 2nd, and conditional 3rd and 4th? I sure as hell would. The 3rd spot in the Western Conference is still completely up for grabs and the Rangers goaltending just has not been getting it done. By bringing in Paterson, the Rangers give themselves a chance to grab that spot and maybe even get themselves into the 2nd round of the playoffs. If you intend to make noise next year (which I'm sure the Rangers intend to do with a solid group of '96's), you want guys like Ryan MacInnis, Nick Magyar, Gus Franzen, Adam Mascherin, etc, to get playoff experience. Was I surprised that the Rangers were the eventual destination of Paterson? Big time. Do I disagree with management's intent? Not at all. The same reason they acquired Paterson is the same reason that they didn't deal Max Iafrate. And not only did the Rangers do amazon in the Pedersen deal, but I thought they did great in the Bailey deal too. I'm a big fan of David Miller and I think he's going to flourish with increased ice time.

London Knights
In: Josh Sterk, Cliff Pu, Joel Wigle, Draft picks (2, 2, 3, 7)
Out: Mike McCarron, Dakota Mermis, Josh DeFarias, Draft pick (12)
Report: The Knights made some small moves surrounded by the big one that sent McCarron and Mermis to Oshawa. If I'm being quite frank, I was slightly disappointed by the return that the Knights received in the deal. That's not saying that Sterk and Pu are bad players. Sterk is a great pick up because he's a likely overage candidate in a few years and will continue to be a top 6 player. And Pu is a former first rounder. But when you look at the amount of picks guys like Bailey and Moutrey brought back (on top of including young players in the deals), I don't think the Knights did quite as well. And while Wigle is a very sound and cheap pick up (to hopefully replicate McCarron's success on a scoring line), I do think that their overage spot would have been better spent on a defenseman who could help shore up their inexperienced blue line. The Knights do have one of the best farm systems in the league right now, but I'm not sure they maximized their ability to rebuild a bit. Meanwhile, they're going to have to really play well to keep home ice advantage, especially since their a worse team after the deadline and others stayed the same or got better. I know that it's not about this year for London (who have already overachieved over what people expected them to), and Sterk and Pu are good players, so maybe it's just nitpicking too.

Owen Sound Attack
In: Erik Bradford, Liam Dunda
Out: Draft picks (2, 3, 3, 4)
Report: Two subtle pick ups by the Attack, but I absolutely love them. Bradford gives the Attack another top 6 forward, especially while Holden Cook heals. He has tons of playoff experience and is a very responsible two-way player. And Dunda, a late '97 (eligible for next year's draft) is a big kid who has a ton of potential. He's a little awkward right now, but could develop into a top 6 power forward given the right nudge. For what they gave up for him, it was a worthy gamble. I think at this point, I expect Owen Sound to surge in the second half, possibly even gaining the 3rd spot in the West. This is a team that has good goaltending, and a lot of size and tenacity up front and on the blue line. In a lot of ways, they remind me of North Bay last year. I wouldn't want to play them in the playoffs.

Plymouth Whalers
In: Ryan Moore, Draft picks (2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 6)
Out: Liam Dunda, Matt Mistele
Report: It's been quite the year for Plymouth…and I mean that in the worst possible way. Just about nothing has gone right for them this year. The season ending injury to Alex Peters. The constant injury problems. The inconsistent play from Alex Nedeljkovic. This was supposed to be one of the best teams in the Western conference and instead they may finish dead last. So what do they do? Sell off prime assets and build for the future? Pick up a few pieces in hopes that when people return to health, the team plays better? Quite the crossroads. The Whalers didn't really do either. I'm underwhelmed by the return on Mistele, who is the same calibre of player as Moutrey and Bailey. He actually has a chance to return as an overager too. And dealing Dunda was a mistake IMO. Now, I do expect Plymouth to play better in the second half. In fact I wouldn't even be surprised if they slipped into the playoffs. But they won't be beating Erie or Sault Ste. Marie in the first round. I think they would have been better off dealing a few other guys like Chatham, Curcuruto, Jones, Campagna, and even Milano (who I could see in the AHL next year ala JT Miller). The only thing I agreed with was not dealing Alex Nedeljkovic, as I think they could get way more for him in the offseason when more teams will need a goaltending upgrade. Just a lost season for Plymouth.

Saginaw Spirit
In: Vladislav Kodola, Evan Cormier, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4)
Out: Jake Paterson, Nick Moutrey, Draft pick (5)
Report: If you're going to rebuild, you should probably do it right. The Saginaw Spirit did that this year. They fully committed to the rebuild, traded all valuable veterans, and set themselves up well for the foreseeable future. The haul for Moutrey was legendary. Evan Cormier is a great young goaltender who should blossom with more responsibility in Saginaw. He definitely has the potential to be the team's future starter. And while I'm not supposed to talk about previous trades, it should be noted that the Spirit did exceptionally well in the Jimmy Lodge deal too. The Spirit may not be very good for the rest of the year, but they've set themselves up to be VERY good in a couple of years. And isn't that what a rebuild is all about. If you're going to do something right, you've got to fully commit to it. The only thing worth mentioning is that I was a bit underwhelmed by the Paterson return. But the market just wasn't huge for him (as an overage goaltender) and they probably did well under the circumstances.

Sarnia Sting
In: Anthony Salinitri, Josh DeFarias, Draft picks (2, 2, 4, 5)
Out: Anthony DeAngelo, Vladislav Kodola, Draft pick (7)
Report: Similar to Guelph, the Sting realized that their young line up just wouldn't be ready to battle the cream of the Conference. They may be a playoff team, but that doesn't mean they are serious contenders to go far in the playoffs. It's the notion of one step back, but two steps forward. Dealing DeAngelo made sense for Sarnia, given that nearly everyone in their line up (save Taylor Dupuis and Josh Chapman) is set to return next year. In return, they get Salinitri, a quality young center who gives the Sting two quality '98 centres to built around (along with Kyrou).

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
In: Anthony DeAngelo, Nick Ritchie, Connor Boland, Justin Bailey, Draft picks (4, 4)
Out: David Miller, Anthony Salinitri, Kyle Jenkins, Charley Graaskamp, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4)
Report: You have to applaud first year GM Kyle Raftis. He showed some serious cajones by going all in, in his first year as GM. Hopefully it goes better than Dubas' first big deal (Jack Campbell). That said, I do love what the Greyhounds did. The biggest weakness of the Hounds was their lack of size up front and Raftis addressed that with Ritchie and Bailey. This will definitely help to clear room for Tolchinsky, Speers, McCann, Guertler, etc. I think both players will fit in extremely well. Their defence was already fantastic, but adding DeAngelo and Boland makes them incredible. DeAngelo gives the Hounds another puck mover to take some of the pressure off of Darnell Nurse and first year player Gustaf Bouramman. And Boland gives them a veteran presence and more leadership. He will continue to help the PK too. All in all, a great deadline on paper for the Hounds. Now that just leaves Hounds management with the challenge of continuing to find diamonds in the rough in the draft.

Windsor Spitfires
In: Chase Pearson, Anthony Stefano, Lucas Venuto, Draft picks (2, 2, 3, 5)
Out: Ryan Moore, Ryan Foss, Draft picks (2, 2, 4, 4, 6, 8)
Report: The draft picks are nearly a wash, so you have to think about it as, would you rather have Anthony Stefano and potentially Chase Pearson, or Ryan Moore and Ryan Foss? Pearson is obviously the big coup here. If the Spits can get him to report (he currently plays for Youngstown of the USHL), he could be a big part of Windsor's future. The big center was a "C" rated prospect in November's Central Scouting rankings and looks like a potential mid round pick in June. The Spits could have went further into the rebuild, but some of the 95's they have (Murphy, Fotinos) figure to play big roles for the team next year as overagers. So I'm fine with the team standing pat in that regard. Let's just see how these new younger players fit into the line up and whether their development goes better than Foss' or Moore's.

How do you think your team did at this year's deadline?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Top 10 - Overagers Worth Signing (2015)

This is a yearly tradition. It's time to take a look at the top overagers in the OHL, available to be signed by NHL teams.

One of the players on this list has already signed an NHL contract, but he is still included because it's meant to be a guide of the top OA free agents this season in the OHL.

Likely half of the players on this list will not end up getting a professional contract and will play in the CIS. It's the nature of the beast. The bottom line is that a few will and many will not (be signed) and those players will take advantage of their education package while continuing to play a high level of hockey at a Canadian University.

Secondly, this list does not include overagers who have yet to sign NHL contracts, despite having their draft rights owned by a team (like Josh Brown). This list is for those players who are (or were) NHL free agents after going through the draft two or three times (depending on birth date).

Here's the list:

10. Gianluca Curcuruto - Defence - Plymouth Whalers
It's been a tough year for the former highly touted Soo Greyhound. Inconsistency has been the name of the game during his OHL career. A fantastic 16-17 year old (rookie) season had him being mentioned as a first round pick. But a brutal sophomore season saw him fall to the 7th round. He followed that up with a fantastic third season, after getting a new start in Plymouth. But last year was not pretty again and the Columbus Blue Jackets chose not to sign him. This year, things got off to a great start for him and he was playing some terrific hockey. Then the big suspension hit (12 games for leveling Travis Konency). And upon returning from that suspension, he injured his shoulder (in November) and hasn't played since. Bottom line is that Curcuruto still has pro potential. Hopefully he's able to return from the shoulder injury and help push the Whalers into the playoffs. As a solid two-way presence, he can impact the game in a lot of ways (as long as he keeps things simple), and he's got the size for the pro game.

9. Max Iafrate - Defence - Kitchener Rangers
The Colorado Avalanche's interest in Iafrate has been no secret. That said, they still haven't signed him (or drafted him previously) after working him out several times. When the year started, I thought Iafrate would be at the top of this list, but his development this year hasn't exactly blown me away. The physical tools are all there. The size (6'2, 220lbs). The skating ability. The ability to play physical. The big shot from the point (he is his father's son). But, the mental lapses still happen, especially with the puck. I think part of the issue has been Kitchener's coaching staff's inability to use him properly (why isn't he on the power play?). If Iafrate attracts pro attention (which he most certainly will), that team would be smart to simplify Iafrate's game, making him more of a stay at home defender. In that role, he could find success.

8. Erik Bradford - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Bradford got off to a slow start this year, but that's to be expected from someone who's rebounding from a broken leg (in the final stretch of last year). Bradford is an accomplished two-way player from his days centering the 3rd line in Barrie. But in Ottawa, he's been allowed to blossom offensively, showcasing his skill set and terrific hockey sense. Over the last few months, he's been one of Ottawa's most consistent forwards and I expect that to continue (and then some) as the season goes on. As a professional, it's a bit unclear as to what type of role he'd play, but given his hockey sense and two-way ability, I'd say there's a chance someone brings him on to figure that out.

7. Matt Rupert - Forward - London Knights
Brother Ryan has enjoyed a lot of success so far at the pro level this season (10 points in 17 games since he was called up to the AHL). So who's to say that Matt isn't capable of being just as effective? Truthfully, their games are modeled very similarly. Work the forecheck and the boards. Create turnovers. Agitate. Finish off plays in close. Size was obviously a big factor as to why Matt was never drafted, but Ryan has done just fine and I expect an NHL team to use that as motivation to sign Matt. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if that NHL team was the Toronto Maple Leafs. #brothersreunited

6. Holden Cook - Forward - Owen Sound Attack
The Attack's leading scorer last year, Cook was off to a great start this year before getting injured. He's been out since October with the dreaded "upper body injury." I'm sure that Cook will return at some point this year and when he does, he'll resume his responsibility as Owen Sound's top center. Cook is a well rounded player who has the potential to be successful as a pro because he could excel in a variety of roles (similar to the way his Owen Sound career has gone). 

5. Bryan Moore - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Moore is a hard nosed scoring winger who has really come into his own the last two years. He fits incredibly well in the Greyhounds attacking style of play, as he's got great speed and a scorer's touch around the net. Moore also plays the game hard, battling in the corners and taking the body. His game hasn't been quite as consistent this year, as it was last year, but he remains a solid pro prospect IMO. He's the type of guy who is built for the NHL game today, with speed and tenacity being his best attributes.
4. Jean Dupuy - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
The only player on this list who has already signed an NHL contract this year (with Buffalo). Dupuy has been excellent for the Greyhounds this year. While his NHL potential is not significant (we're not talking about a future 30 goal scorer), he could definitely develop into a useful role player. Dupuy has evolved his game from being more than just a "scrapper." He's become a very effective forechecker who's able to create turnovers with his size and tenacity. He's also become a very responsible two-way player who can block shots and battle hard to get pucks out. Needless to say, he knows his role and plays it to a tee. 

3. Marcus McIvor - Defence - North Bay Battalion
For the past three seasons, McIvor has been a workhorse for Stan Butler's stingy Battalion defence. McIvor is a defensive monster. His size, in combination with his skating agility and aggressive nature, make him one of the toughest defenseman to get around in the OHL. Last year, coaches voted him the 3rd best defensive defenseman in the East, and he's almost assured a spot on the coaches poll again this year. Perhaps an underrated component of McIvor's game is his ability to move the puck and evade the forecheck. I think (and have always thought) that he has the characteristics of a solid stay at home defender at the pro level.

2. Joseph Blandisi - Forward - Barrie Colts
I wonder if the Colorado Avalanche regret not signing Blandisi now? After letting him go this past offseason, Blandisi has come back to Barrie as a man on a mission. Currently 5th in league scoring, he's been one of the OHL's most consistent offensive players this year. I think one of the biggest reasons for that has simply been increased confidence. Previously, Blandisi was the type to be content playing second fiddle to more "talented" offensive players on a scoring line. The cliched, "secondary" offensive player. The guy who opened up space, fought along the boards, and went to the net. Well he's continuing to do those things, but he's also taking charge offensively and creating his own chances by showing off skill and creativity with the puck that I didn't know he possessed. I think there's still some question marks as to the type of player he'll be at the next level (and that's why he's 2nd and not 1st on this list), but I definitely think he deserves a second chance with an NHL organization.

1. Brenden Miller - Defence - North Bay Battalion
Brenden Miller has slowly blossomed into one of the OHL's best and most well rounded defenders. Each season his game has improved, and this year has been no exception. Two years ago, his offensive game really exploded as he became the premier power play QB for the Battalion. Last year, it was his defensive game that took a step forward. This year, it's both. He currently finds himself 6th in defenseman scoring, but has also improved his defensive consistency. In particular, he's shown marked improvement at being able to handle forwards in front of the net, as he's increased his intensity level. Based on the progression he's shown over the years and his ability to contribute in multiple ways, Miller is my top overage free agent this year.

Honorable Mentions


If you had asked me at the beginning of the year, Ottawa's Brendan Bell would have been on this list. The big, physical winger had a terrific offensive season last year, but just hasn't been able to replicate that. He's still an important part of the 67's, but I'm not sure about his pro potential anymore. Guelph's Chris Marchese has had a tough OHL career, battling injuries. No one has ever questioned his skill level though. Plymouth's Mathew Campagna was supposed to be one of the leading scorers in the league this year, but he's had an incredibly disappointing season (like most of the Whalers). He remains a terrific playmaker, but hasn't performed enough to warrant a contract this year. That leaves us with Sudbury's Nathan Pancel, who has been a 20 goal scorer every year he's been in the league. But I'm just not sure I see his offensive talents translating to the NHL level (which is likely the case from NHL teams too, since they chose to remain uninterested in him despite a 42 goal season last year).


Peterborough captain, Connor Boland is a solid stay at home defender who has the size to play that role at the next level. He's bound to draw some interest similar to the way Kevin Raine did last year. Mississauga's Brandon Devlin is a terrific offensive defender, and his size is alluring, but his defensive game remains a serious drawback. Oshawa's Dakota Mermis has become a very solid OHL defender, but with only average size and an undefined role, he remains an honourable mention.


No goaltender had to be happier to see December come to an end than Niagara's Brandon Hope (Hope gave up 29 goals in 8 December games), but consider that a small blip on the radar. Last year, his first as an OHL starter, Hope was quietly one of the most consistent goaltenders in the league. He continued that strong play into this season and with Niagara following a trade from Owen Sound. If Hope can get the Niagara IceDogs into the playoffs and help them do some damage (this was supposed to be a team fighting for 1st in the East), he could be a hot commodity for pro teams. Sarnia's Taylor Dupuis has been fantastic for them this year, and has been one of the main reasons why the team sits a surprising 2nd in their division. It's his first year really displaying a high level of play, but goaltenders are notorious late bloomers.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Midseason Top 30 for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft

The start of the 2015 calendar year is upon us and that means it is time for me to re-evaluate my rankings for the 2015 Draft. The OHL season is past the half way mark which gives us a great indication of how certain players have developed in their draft season. Many players have stepped up to assume large roles on their club, while others have disappointed and find themselves on the outside looking in.

It's another great year for top end talent in the OHL. We've got 5-6 guys vying for spots in the Top 10, and another handful who look like potential first round picks. Depth wise, however, I don't think it's a tremendous year for the 'O.' There is some solid talent available for the top 90, but I don't see as many mid/later round picks coming from the OHL as there have been recently. Usually, I could make an argument for upwards of 50 players having draft potential. And as such, I find it difficult to limit my list (to 50). This year, I have a hard time hitting the 40 mark, let alone 50. There's still tons of time for players to find their game (or work to increase their ice time), so it will be interesting to see how the bottom part of this list compares to the final one at the end of the year.

A couple things to note before I start the list. Firstly, I've started doing a Top 50 (with 20 HM's) for each this year. Makes for a more compelling read (and reflection at season's end). Secondly, for those unfamiliar with the blog, I don't include second and third year eligibles (re-entries) in my list (like Matt Schmalz, Ken Appleby, or Damir Sharipzyanov).

Here's the list:

1. Connor McDavid - Forward - Erie Otters
What more is there to say at this point? For as good as he is, his game continues to evolve. Everyone knows about his offensive talents (elite speed and vision), but his overall game has really improved too. He makes a concerted effort to break up plays on the back check and he's been way more involved without the puck, especially in the corners. Previously, he's been a guy who forces turnovers in open ice, using his "sense" to intercept passes or strip players of the puck. But he's now very involved on the forecheck and is winning more battles along the boards. His continued improvement as a player is a testament to his work ethic and elite status as a prospect.

2. Mitch Marner - Forward - London Knights
Really rising in my eyes. His play with London has been absolutely exceptional the last few months. Such a high energy player who can affect the game in a variety of ways. In puck pursuit, he's quite relentless and he forces a lot of turnovers on the forecheck. But he's got the vision and hockey sense to find teammates, while playing at a high tempo. He makes such quick decisions and rarely turns the puck over in the offensive end. His skill level is also incredibly high and I think he's the perfect type of player for today's run and gun NHL. With his tenacity, and as he continues to add strength, I don't see his average size being an issue.

3. Dylan Strome - Forward - Erie Otters
Leapfrogged by Marner because of how good Marner has been, not because he's played poorly. If anything, Strome has proven the last few weeks just how good of a prospect he is (without Connor McDavid in Erie). Strome is the prototypical 2015 NHL centerman. Big, strong, and skilled. He's still learning how to use his size to slow down play and dictate pace, but when he masters this art, his skill level with the puck could make him a puck possession beast. Much like his brother Ryan, Dylan also possesses a terrific shot, which he's gaining more and more confidence using. He's not a power forward, and he'll never be a speedster, but his skill set is still rare and incredibly appealing to NHL scouts.

4. Pavel Zacha - Forward - Sarnia Sting
Zacha is such an interesting prospect. Every time I've seen Sarnia this year, he's been one of the better players on the ice. With his size, speed, and desire to involve himself physically, he impacts the game in so many different ways. Zacha is definitely most dangerous off the rush, where his speed and ability to use his size to protect the puck, makes him difficult to contain. As I've mentioned before, I had no idea just how physical of a player he'd be too. He plays the game very hard (see his suspension). That said, his game is less effective when things slow down in the offensive end. He needs to channel his size to be more effective in creating from the cycle. In a lot of ways, this makes me wonder about his high end playmaking potential. BUT, he's a very impressive prospect with a lot going for him.

5. Lawson Crouse - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs
Those who follow the draft, but don't watch the OHL always seem to have the same reaction to Crouse; "how is he rated so high?" Easy question to answer. In fact, it's the same answer as to why he made the Canadian WJC team (over the likes of Marner and Strome). Crouse is a coach's dream. He does almost everything well on the ice. He could probably step on to an NHL 4th line right now and not look out of place. His two-way game is incredibly polished and he makes so many plays (whether it be a good pass, a forced turnover, a check to separate his man from the puck) that don't make it on the score sheet. Crouse also happens to be a very big kid who plays big and has no fear of throwing his weight around. The offensive skill set is definitely still developing. His confidence in using his shot and driving the net is still evolving. He certainly doesn't have the offensive potential of a guy like Strome. But, he's about as sure a bet to play in the NHL as you'll find in this draft.

6. Travis Konecny - Forward - Ottawa 67's
The top 6 of this OHL group is very tight right now. This is definitely thanks to the improved play of Konency the last month or so. After starting the season off slowly, Konecny is back up around the point per game mark. Like Crouse, Konecny's game is a lot more than what you see on the score sheet. As captain of the 67's, his leadership qualities won't go unnoticed by NHL scouts. And he's already a solid two-way forward who competes hard without the puck. Konecny's speed is his best asset, as he's able to transition quickly. He's also not afraid of using his shot off the rush. Really, the only knock against Konecny is his size. At 5'10, will he be able to play the game as hard as he does and remain durable in the NHL?

7. Nikita Korostelev - Forward - Sarnia Sting
Korostelev is a super skilled winger with a lot of potential at the pro level. There are a lot of levels to his game, but the pieces aren't consistently together yet. At times he can be prone to turnovers from doing too much. His physical game and play without the puck has not looked as strong this year as it did last year (perhaps concentrating too much on trying to hit the score sheet?). And his speed and first few steps are only average. But, his skill level with the puck and ability to create time and space for himself is elite. If he were to improve his speed, he could be scary good. He's got a terrific shot and massive goal scoring potential at the next level. He'll need to continue to improve his consistency to secure a spot in the first round this year.

8. Matt Spencer - Defence - Peterborough Petes
It's getting damn close, but Spencer is still the top defender available IMO. Defensively, he's already a very steady player who projects to be an even better defender at the next level because of his size and mobility. He's still learning how to use his size consistently, but he breaks up a lot of passes and is very difficult to get through. An underrated component to his game is his ability to transition from defence to offence. Spencer makes a great first pass and is very calm, and cool while avoiding the forecheck. He doesn't yet have the confidence in his offensive abilities to consistently jump up in the rush, but he's very steady. Spencer will be a high NHL pick because he's still scratching the surface as to how much he could impact the game at both ends.

9. Mitchell Vande Sompel - Defence - Oshawa Generals
Has impressed me so much this year. His defensive game has improved a ton from last year. Vande Sompel's defensive positioning is outstanding and it helps to alleviate the concerns his lack of size may generate. Because he's constantly moving his feet and anticipates the play so well, he's not putting himself in many positions where he's susceptible of being out muscled. And when he's able to make a good play defensively, he uses his great speed to get the puck up ice quickly. Whether it be in transition, or on the power play, Vande Sompel's head for the game in the offensive end is on display. I'm not usually a fan of rating undersized defenseman highly, but Vande Sompel has definitely won me over.

10. Graham Knott - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
Knott is a terrific two-way forward who, like Lawson Crouse, impacts the game in a lot of ways that don't end up on the score sheet. He's Niagara's top penalty killer and he uses his size exceptionally well to separate aggressors from the puck. He also is very effective on the forecheck and along the wall. Offensvely, his speed isn't terrific, but he has very underrated hands and he's able to make the skilled plays in close. As he gets stronger, I think he develops into a very good goal scorer. Size, aggression, and developing skill make Knott the type of player NHL scouts like more than the average fan.

11. Travis Dermott - Defence - Erie Otters
Criminally underrated. Dermott is as solid as it gets. His defensive game is terrific. He has great positioning and competes very hard in his own end, whether it's to tie up a forward in front of the net, or winning a battle in the corners. Dermott also makes a terrific first pass and rarely turns the puck over, exhibiting patience and poise in his own end. He skates well and is mobile, which helps him to jump up in the rush when it's necessary. As a power play QB, he's starting to gain some confidence and I think he'll eventually end up as a big point producer from the back end. Does he have a ton of NHL potential? He's not going to be a first pairing/NHL all star. But because of his well rounded game, he could definitely carve out a long career.

12. Blake Speers - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Speers has been terrific all year for the Hounds, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been getting better and better as the weeks have gone on. Speers possesses terrific speed, but he's starting to look to use that speed to create more in the middle of the ice and is being kept less and less to the perimeter. His rushes and ability to work in transition help to open up space for his line mates and he has the hockey sense to find them. His goal scoring ability is the other highlight of his skill set, as he does a great job of finding open space and rarely hesitates to put the puck on net. His size will be a drawback in terms of NHL draft ranking, but as long as he continues to attack the net, he'll slowly gain respect.

13. Mackenzie Blackwood - Goaltender - Barrie Colts
Finally healthy and confident again, Blackwood is shaking off a slow start and playing some exceptional hockey of late. He's got 10 wins in the month of December and has raised his save percentage over 20 points. Big, and athletic, Blackwood does an exceptional job of taking away the bottom of the net in the butterfly. He moves well post to post and is conscious of staying big in his net and challenging shooters. If he continues to play this well, he could easily be the first North American goaltender off the board this June.

14. Thomas Schemitsch - Defence - Owen Sound Attack
Schemitsch has been consistently excellent this year for Owen Sound at both ends of the ice. Defensively, he's a cog on the Attack's penalty killing unit and he uses his size well to defend the crease and win battles along the boards. Offensively, he has a great understanding of how to get the puck through to the net from the point and he's really developing as a power play QB. Considering all the things he does well, and the fact that he possesses great size, I don't really understand his lack of love and hype for this draft thus far.

15. Justin Lemcke - Defence - Belleville Bulls
I really like Lemcke and I think he definitely deserves to be in the same conversation at the Spencer's, Dermott's, etc for top OHL defender available. He's not putting up a ton of points because he sees limited power play time behind Jordan Subban, but he's a very reliable two-way defender who is only scratching the surface of his potential. For a big kid (6'2, 200lbs), Lemcke skates very well and moves around effortlessly on the big ice in Belleville. He's also really learning to play more aggressively and it's made him a more effective defensive player. He's the type of guy who has the potential to really surprise people and be the type of guy scouts debate about how they missed him.

16. Rasmus Andersson - Defence - Barrie Colts
Andersson continues to perform for the Colts, operating at around the point per game mark (4th among OHL defenders with 33 points). So what's putting him 6th among defenders on my list (admittedly all very close to each other, along with Dunn)? I see Andersson as having a similar skill set to all those listed above him, which is great. But he's also the worst skater of the group and I think that makes him a bit less likely to to develop into an NHL player compared to the others. I do like his ability to run the point on the power play, and he is definitely a very feisty defender. I think it's just a matter of personal preference here (and how much emphasis you put on mobility).

17. Vince Dunn - Defence - Niagara IceDogs
Interestingly enough, Dunn is one of 3 OHL defenders participating in the CHL Top Prospect's Game (over the likes of Dermott and others I have ahead of him). He clearly has his fans. And don't get me wrong, I think he's a solid pro prospect…otherwise I wouldn't have him inside my Top 20. He skates well. He is a creative puck distributor who also has potential to improve his defensive game. That said, I've got him 7th (among OHL defenders) because I've seen him make some very questionable decisions with the puck and in his pinches. In terms of being a complete player, I see him being behind the others I've listed and there's still some rawness to his game. However, I will say that he is one of the few players who shouldn't be criticized for Niagara's extremely skittish start to the year.

18. Brett McKenzie - Forward - North Bay Battalion
McKenzie has been quiet offensively so far this season, but that has a lot to do with the fact that he's not seeing tremendous amounts of ice time in offensive situations. McKenzie centres North Bay's 3rd line, whose job is to grind down the oppositions best. For those that saw him play in midget, we know that there is significant offensive potential in there though. Stan Butler typically eases his young players into high pressure offensive situations after they exhibit an understanding of how to play at both ends. With terrific center depth, the Battalion have been patient with McKenzie. However, he's slowly starting to produce more offensively (has had a good month of December) and could be a massive riser if the offensive output increases in the second half (cough, Nick Paul, Brent Burns, etc).

19. Kyle Capobianco - Defence - Sudbury Wolves
You have to feel for Capobianco. He's one of the few reasons to watch the Wolves this year, yet I wonder how many people are. Sudbury is just horrific (and they'll probably be worse after they move some pieces after the deadline). They've given up nearly double the amount of goals than they've scored. However, Capobianco is in the midst of a breakout season. He's third on his team in points, and he's actually (somewhat remarkably) been a plus player the last two months. He's developed into a quality two way defender who can lead or join the rush with a solid skating stride. He's also a solid positional defender who's improving his confidence in playing with an edge. Admittedly, maybe he deserves to be in consideration with some of the other guys I've listed above him. But I've only seen Sudbury a couple of times this year (see my opening sentence for this paragraph).

20. Zachary Senyshen - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Senyshen is really growing on me the more I watch him play. You have to appreciate a big winger who can drive the net the way he does. He is aggressive in attacking the net and is a great skater for a big guy. He also creates a lot of room on the ice for the other players on his line, as he draws defences in. As he gets stronger, and improves his shot (more so his confidence), he could be a big time scorer in this league. I said on twitter recently that his game reminds me of Josh Leivo's and I see his progression following a similar path.

21. Michael McNiven - Goaltender - Owen Sound Attack
He has only let in more than two goals in a game once this year (his most recent start against Barre), and if he qualified, his save percentage would be almost 20 points higher than the best in the league (.944). I think Blackwood's size advantage gives him the nod over McNiven, but he's making it a damn close race. McNiven squares up to shooters so well and he's got a heck of a glove hand. He gives up a decent amount of rebounds, but he's quite athletic and quick and is terrific at recovering. If he keeps this up, the OHL could have the top two net minders available in North America.

22. Mitchell Stephens - Forward - Saginaw Spirit
It's still early, but I expected more from Stephens this year. He performed so well at the Ivan Hlinka and I expected that to carry over to the OHL this year. But, that hasn't necessarily been the case. Yes, he does have 13 goals. But 10 of those have come in 4 games. The consistency just hasn't been there. A few times I've seen Saginaw this year, Stephens has been completely invisible. And with him being undersized, that can't be a knock against him. His speed, ability to create in transition and overall skill level are too high for him to not be a consistent offensive threat. Hopefully he's able to have a better (at least more consistent) second half.

23. Gustaf Franzen - Forward - Kitchener Rangers
Franzen is really starting to come into his own with Kitchener. He's definitely a hard worker and I've been impressed with his ability to control the boards despite being relatively undersized (5'10). He's got a great/strong center of gravity and he's very strong on the puck. We're starting to see him shoot the puck more, especially on the power play, where he's setting up shop at the dot for the one timer. I'm not sure how much potential he has at the NHL level, and his acceleration and top gear do need some work, but I like the growth he's shown so far this year.

24. Gustaf Bouramman - Defence - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Back to back Gustafs! Bouramman has been a pleasant surprise for the Hounds this year, helping to run their power play. I really like his composure on the backend. He makes smart decisions with the puck in his own end, whether it's a good first pass or a rush up ice. And while he's not going to be confused with Adam Foote any time soon, I've actually been impressed with his defensive awareness and that he's not backing down in the defensive end (criticisms that I had read about prior to his OHL debut).

25. Colton White - Defence - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
White is more than what his numbers suggest. I see an incredibly raw product who has massive potential. He's an absolutely terrific skater and as he gains confidence in his ability to rush the puck, I see that becoming a big part of his game. It's a numbers game and the Hounds have an exceptionally deep defence. Eventually, he's going to be counted on to play a larger role and that's when we'll see his game grow. But with size and mobility, this young defender could be a real diamond in the rough.

26. Dante Salituro - Forward - Ottawa 67's
While Konecny was struggling at the beginning of the year, it was Salituro who kept the 67's afloat. He had 12 goals in October. And while he hasn't exactly maintained that pace, he hasn't been a slouch either. His 23 goals put him 7th in the OHL currently. If he were bigger, there's no question that Salituro would be higher on this list. He plays a lot bigger than his 5'8 frame and is fearless in attacking the net and playing without the puck. But, I do have questions as to how his game would translate to the pro level. Will he be as effective near the crease as he is in the OHL? I take a chance in the mid rounds to find out, even if there aren't many 5'8 forwards getting drafted these days.

27. Sam Harding - Forward - Oshawa Generals
Harding is a solid two-way center who's starting to find confidence in his offensive game. While he's not exactly a physical player, he does battle hard in the corners, in front of the net and on the back check. I wish he were a bit bigger for the type of game he plays (I think he's best suited as a puck possession guy in the offensive end), but I like his hockey sense and dedication to both ends of the ice. Even after the Generals load up at the deadline, I expect his offensive totals to continue to increase.

28. Matt Luff - Forward - Belleville Bulls
I think Luff is a very interesting prospect. Really big kid who is still figuring out what type of player he wants to become. He seems to be most effective near the crease, where he can use his size to gain scoring position. His skating is only adequate, so that will need to improve. And I'd like to see him become more aggressive and noticeable without the puck. But he has offensive skill and he has size, two things that will make him attractive to NHL teams. I'm intrigued to see how his game evolves in the second half (it's only his first season in the OHL and he doesn't have a ton of experience above the midget level).

29. Marcus Crawford - Defence - Saginaw Spirit
Has missed some time due to injury, but Crawford has had an excellent first season in the OHL. He has really helped to elevate the quality of Saginaw's power play, as he moves the puck quickly at the point and has good vision and poise. I've actually been impressed with his play in his own end too. He defends well off the rush and has good positioning and mobility. Adding strength to be more effective in traffic areas is a must, but that will come. Hopefully he can stay healthy in the second half and find a groove.

30. David Miller - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
I'm definitely a fan, but if 5'9 guys with late birthdays ('96) aren't producing offensively, they won't be ranked highly for the draft. He's losing some playing time to the Hounds younger players and he's got to step up his game. Playing with lesser talented players, it's up to Miller to elevate their game. Miller has so much speed to burn, he needs to use it more effectively to create offence at a consistent rate, whether its from driving to the net, or creating turnovers on the forecheck. The Hounds will definitely be loading up at the deadline (IMO) and I think Miller could really explode again in the second half after he gets some better wingers.

Honorable Mention

31. Hayden McCool - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
32. Jeremiah Addison - Forward - Ottawa 67's
33. Roy Radke - Forward - Barrie Colts
34. Jesse Barwell - Forward - Saginaw Spirit
35. Trent Fox - Forward - Erie Otters
36. Tyler MacArthur - Defence - Owen Sound Attack
37. Artem Artemov - Forward - Saginaw Spirit
38. Adam Laishram - Forward - Belleville Bulls
39. Ethan Szypula - Forward - Owen Sound Attack
40. Jesse Saban - Defence - Erie Otters
41. Anthony Cirelli - Forward - Oshawa Generals
42. Garrett McFadden - Defence - Guelph Storm
43. Noah Bushnell - Forward - Sarnia Sting
44. Johnny Corniel - Forward - Niagara IceDogs
45. Adam Craievich - Forward - Guelph Storm
46. Tyler Boston - Forward - Guelph Storm
47. Medric Mercier - Defence - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
48. Chris Martenet - Defence - London Knights
49. Michael Holmes - Defence - Saginaw Spirit
50. Petrus Palmu - Forward - Owen Sound Attack