A first for the blog (although likely to now become a tradition), this is a list of the top prospects who played in the OHL during the 2015/2016 season. It seems only natural to do this list following the conclusion of my annual '30 teams in 30 days' prospect reviews. I'm going to cap it as a Top 25, with some honorable mentions. I'm also going to keep the write ups slightly short. If you want to read more about these guys, simply click on their NHL in brackets and you'll be taken to the team's '30 in 30" from this summer and you'll get a detailed write up on their skill set and progression.
1. Mitch Marner - London Knights (Toronto Maple Leafs)
A tough call between Marner and Strome at number one. Marner can get too cute with the puck at times and needs to utilize his shot more, where as Strome still needs to work on his skating. But these two are remarkably talented. I think Marner deserves the slight edge right now because of what he was able to do in the OHL playoffs and the Memorial Cup. His vision and creativity is off the charts and I assume he'll be in the NHL this year.
2. Dylan Strome - Erie Otters (Arizona Coyotes)
Nearly a 1B) in this situation with Marner. At the end of the day, you have to give it up to Marner and what he accomplished this year. Strome's size and puck protection ability are vital for today's NHL centerman. Like Marner, I think Strome is in the NHL this year, at least to start the year.
3. Matthew Tkachuk - London Knights (Calgary Flames)
Tkachuk will be the perfect complimentary player on a scoring line because of how effective he works in traffic and because of how smart he is. Just a really solid prospect who brings a lot of different elements to the table.
4. Christian Dvorak - London Knights (Arizona Coyotes)
Criminally underrated prospect because of his draft position. He's a blue chipper. While Marner and Tkachuk are talented, he made that line dominant as their equal, not their coat tail. Terrific two way player with great goal scoring potential. I think he's in the NHL at this year too at some point.
5. Pavel Zacha - Sarnia Sting (New Jersey Devils)
While Zacha can not be identified as a power forward IMO, he is most definitely a powerful presence on the ice. With his size, improved skating ability, and stick skill, he's nearly impossible to separate from the puck in the offensive end. Just a bull.
6. Alex Nylander - Mississauga Steelheads (Buffalo Sabres)
Extremely talented offensive player who has 40/40 potential at the NHL level because of how well he shoots the puck and because of a soft touch in the offensive end. Will be interesting to see where he plays this year.
7. Logan Brown - Windsor Spitfires (Ottawa Senators)
Huge fan of this kid's potential. Tremendous in the second half and with his size and skill level, I think he's finally figured out how to dominate. Now he needs to come into next year and continue to dominate in a year where his team will be playing for the Memorial Cup.
8. Jakob Chychrun - Sarnia Sting (Arizona Coyotes)
Have to stick by Chychrun at this point, given how highly I rated him previous to the NHL Draft. Again, these are my rankings, not according to how they were drafted. I still believe in Chychrun's NHL potential as a two-way defender and I think he's in for a great season.
9. Olli Juolevi - London Knights (Vancouver Canucks)
Won three Championships this year (OHL, Mem Cup, WJC) and that has to be worth something. Such a calm, cool, and collected defender who rarely makes mistakes with the puck. I'm still not sold on him having #1 defender upside, but he deserves to be mentioned in the top 10.
10. Mikhail Sergachev - Windsor Spitfires (Montreal Canadiens)
With his size, mobility, and skill with the puck, Sergachev possesses the highest potential of any defender on this list. Defensive play should become way more consistent this year as the Spits host the Memorial Cup.
11. Travis Konecny - Sarnia Sting (Philadelphia Flyers)
Konecny had such a good season, it's a shame it ended before he could truly help Sarnia in the OHL playoffs. Plays the game with so much energy and is willing to do anything to help his team win. I think he's in the NHL this year.
12. Michael Dal Colle - Kingston Frontenacs (New York Islanders)
Looked a bit disinterested to start the year but dominated following a trade to Kingston. He's still not the flashiest guy on the ice, but he gets the job done. The puck follows him at times and he should develop into a solid complimentary scoring line player.
13. Lawson Crouse - Kingston Frontenacs (Florida Panthers)
Big kid who already plays a pro style game. His NHL coaches will love him because of the intelligence he brings at both ends of the ice. How much NHL upside is there? I think that remains to be seen, but I still believe he can be a consistent 25/30 goal scorer at the NHL level.
14. Christian Fischer - Windsor Spitfires (Arizona Coyotes)
Was incredibly impressed with Fischer in his first OHL season. Plays a great power game and exhibits a ton of skill off the rush. A real underrated prospect IMO. Should really gain press this year with the Spitfires hosting the Memorial Cup.
15. Michael McLeod - Mississauga Steelheads (New Jersey Devils)
McLeod will be out to prove to scouts this year that he has 1st/2nd line upside at the next level. Skating is the name of his game, but as he gains confidence in his abilities, he should begin to demonstrate more poise in the offensive end.
16. Mike Amadio - North Bay Battalion (Los Angeles Kings)
Like Fischer, Amadio is a massively underrated prospect. It's not easy to score 50 in this league and on top of that, Amadio is a great two-way player too. The Los Angeles Kings got a good one here.
17. Josh Ho-Sang - Niagara IceDogs (New York Islanders)
Forget all the off ice incidents or comments to the media, Ho-Sang is an exceptionally talented offensive player. His playmaking skills are off the charts good. Really curious to see how his game translates to the AHL level next year.
18. Zach Senyshyn - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (Boston Bruins)
Senyshyn certainly helped to prove his critics wrong by scoring 45 goals last year. He still has some work to do (in terms of utilizing teammates better and improving his overall game), but he's a legit scoring threat because of his size, speed, and shot.
19. Mackenzie Blackwood - Barrie Colts (New Jersey Devils)
The OHL's top goaltending prospect (by a hair, or should I say, by some inches), Blackwood is just a solid netminder. Athletic, but composed, he's been a rock for the Colts in his OHL career. His positioning will be tested in the AHL next year.
20. Alex Nedeljkovic - Niagara IceDogs (Carolina Hurricanes)
It can be so hard to predict success for undersized goaltenders, but Nedeljkovic has put the finishing touches on a fantastic junior career (including one OHL goaltender of the year award). The next Jonathan Quick?
21. Travis Dermott - Erie Otters (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Dermott is just a solid two-way defender who has very few weaknesses in his game. He plays with jam in his own end, but can also push the pace of play offensively. Was the runner up for the OHL defender of the year award and rightfully so.
22. Max Jones - London Knights (Anaheim Ducks)
I don't think we know what we're going to see as a finished product yet. Jones is a punishing power forward whose game is still developing consistency. With a very strong season next year, he could jump up this list.
23. Vince Dunn - Niagara IceDogs (St. Louis Blues)
Dunn is a slick skating offensive defender who has also worked hard to improve his play in his own end. With a great motor, it'll be interesting to see the kind of success he finds at the AHL level next year.
24. Andrew Mangiapane - Barrie Colts (Calgary Flames)
Another underrated prospect. Mangiapane has everything except for elite size. One of the best skaters in the OHL (after improving in that area), but also one of the smartest players in the offensive end. We're only seeing the beginning of what he's capable of.
25. Brendan Lemieux - Windsor Spitfires (Winnipeg Jets)
His value/hype has been clouded by some on ice antics and suspensions, but people forget that Lemieux can play. His scoring ability below the hash marks is almost at a Matthew Tkachuk like level. So hard to move from the crease. I think he transitions better to the NHL than Kerby Rychel has.
Rasmus Andersson - Barrie Colts (Calgary Flames)
Roland McKeown - Kingston Frontenacs (Carolina Hurricanes)
Mitchell Stephens - Saginaw Spirit (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Alex Debrincat - Erie Otters (Chicago Blackhawks)
Ryan MacInnis - Kitchener Rangers (Arizona Coyotes)
Adam Mascherin - Kitchener Rangers (Florida Panthers)
Jordan Kyrou - Sarnia Sting (St. Louis Blues)
Nathan Bastian - Mississauga Steelheads (New Jersey Devils)