Monday, June 19, 2017

2017 NHL Entry Draft Primer

With the 2017 NHL Entry Draft slated for this weekend, here is everything you need to know about the players available from the Ontario Hockey League.

My Rankings:
Honorable Mentions
50-31
30-11
10-1

Media/Scout Poll

Top Draft Re-Entries (second and third year eligible)

2017 Mock Draft 

Best of luck to all the OHL players eligible this year!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Final Media/Scout Poll for the 2017 NHL Draft

The NHL draft is now only a few weeks away, so it's time to conclude our yearly media/scout poll.

For comparison's sake, here are the preliminary (from November) and the midseason (from February) consensus lists.

Preliminary List
Midseason List

It's always interesting to note some of the major changes/trends from the beginning of the year to the end. Matthew Strome is the guy who has really fallen off, going from 4th in November, to 6th in February, to just outside the top 10 in June. Ottawa's Sasha Chmelevski has had a similar slide due to consistency issues. He received 12 votes for the Top 10 in November. Then 7 votes in February. Then zero votes in June. If we look at some of the "risers," Robert Thomas in London stands out. He received a single vote (from NACS's Mark Seidel) in November. But has firmly entrenched himself in the Top 10 since and looks like a potential top 25 pick come the end of the month. With his play in the OHL playoffs and down the stretch, Jason Robertson has really elevated his status in the eyes of scouts too, despite some skating concerns. He got only two votes for the Top 10 in February, but in June he finds himself on the majority of lists and firmly placed inside the top 6 as a potential first round pick.

Similar to last year, there are a lot of faces on this list, which speaks volumes to the high end depth that the OHL has to offer this year. 19 names received consideration for the Top 10. As I've said before, when all is said and done, it wouldn't shocked me at all if the OHL has one third of the players taken inside the first two or three rounds.

As always, these lists wouldn't be possible without the contributions of the voters. This time around we've got:

Corey Pronman - ESPN scout and writer (@coreypronman)
Dominic Tiano - Writer for The OHL Writers (@dominictiano)
Dan Stewart - Director of Scouting for Future Considerations(@StewartFC)
Brendan Ross - Director of Scouting for TheScout.ca(@RossyYoungblood)
Peter Kneulman - Provides OHL coverage at OHL Writer (@PeterKneulman)
Tony Ambrogio - PA Announcer for the Mississauga Steelheads & TSN editor (@Tony_Ambrogio)
Mike Morreale - Staff writer for NHL.com (@mikemorrealeNHL)
Anthony Mauro - Director/Founder of Draft Buzz Hockey(@draftbuzzhockey)
Ryan Kennedy - Associate Senior Writer for The Hockey News(@THNRyanKennedy)

Peter Harling - Managing Editor of Dobber Prospects (@pharling) 
Scott Wheeler - OHL scout with Future Considerations and editor for the The AthleticTO (@scottcwheeler)
Mark Seidel - Scouting Director for NACS Hockey (@MarkSeidel
Reed Duthie - Play by Play voice of the Hamilton Bulldogs (@rcduthie)
Scott Crawford - OHL scout for McKeens Hockey (@Crawford1Scott)  
Steve Kournianos - Founder of The Draft Analyst(@TheDraftAnalyst
Mark Scheig - OHL writer for The Hockey Writers (@THWMark)
Grant McCagg - President of Recrutes Hockey (@grantmccagg

and of course...myself (@BrockOtten

The list is as follows:

1. Gabriel Vilardi - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Total Votes: 18
High/Low Ranking: 1st (14x)/2nd (4x)
Comments:
"While he may “figure it out”, the question remains whether he will ever improve his skating enough to play as a center in the NHL. Windsor’s coaching staff wasn’t comfortable using Vilardi in the middle this season even after Logan Brown was sidelined with several injuries. If Vilardi already has problems playing a defensive role at center in junior, it’s anybody’s guess whether he will ever improve his speed enough to do so at the pro level." - Grant McCagg

"Big powerful kid that can make subtle plays or run right through you, his feet are an issue but he has taken a big jump from the beginning of the year, great Memorial Cup showed that this kid can step up, may not be the best in 3 years but look back after 8 and he will be." - Mark Seidel

"Windsor coach Rocky Thompson told me that when it comes to charting the success of Vilardi, there was one common denominator and that was Vilardi is the engine on the team because whoever plays with him, their Corsi or puck possession numbers go through the roof. Without him, they dropped significantly. That's the type of player Vilardi has become. Yes, he'll need to improve his skating but he's a three-zone player with good size (6-3, 201) and he works hard down low. Has a relentless motor." - Mike Morreale

"A top offensive catalyst for the Memorial Cup Champs this season, early on in the season he had some issues with injury/illness but put those behind him and looked very effective as a big bodied power forward in the Joe Thornton playmaking mold. The vision and puck creativity he has with his playmaking mesh really well with his smart ability to drive the net and protect the puck in possession utilizing his size advantage, buying time for his teammates to get into position. He has top line potential with just some marginal improvement needed in his skating to reach his upside." - Dan Stewart

2. Owen Tippett - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
Total Votes: 18
High/Low Ranking: 1st (4x)/4th (2x)
Comments:
"I'm not sure when Tippett will go, because there is a huge variance in how teams view him. But there are true believers out there and they made a pretty good case to me about how his weakness (defense) can be cured with coaching, while his strengths (speed, shot, goal-scoring) cannot be taught." - Ryan Kennedy

"Was first at midseason and did nothing to change my mind now. He was especially impressive in the OHL Finals against Erie taking over stretches of games by himself showing off his top-end speed and skill. Should be gone in the top-5 come draft night." - Mark Scheig

"People seem to be jumping on the nitpick bandwagon with arguably the 2017 draft’s top goal scoring prospect. Tippett is a bulldozer on skates with excellent speed, a heavy, accurate shot that he shoots off the pass and is tough to knock off the puck. He is deadly off the rush but he’s smart enough to get open and wire it with a quick release. Getting top-six minutes at the highest level is in his future, and the team that drafts him should salivate at the thought of Tippett using his quickness and strength to exploit the shrinking NHL defenseman." - Steve Kournianos

"NHL ready shot right now. Continues to work on other aspects of his game. Had some great games in the OHL final against Erie. If he brought it like he did in those games all the time, scouts would feel more certain with this pick." - Tony Ambrogio

3. Nick Suzuki - Forward - Owen Sound Attack
Total Votes: 18
High/Low Ranking: 2nd (4x)/4th (3x)
Comments:
"The kid that most expected to be a solid 200 foot player has shown incredible offensive instincts, wants to be the best player he can be, smart, sneaky in the offensive end, reminds me of Bryan Little in his year." - Mark Seidel

¨Underestimated OHL star terrorized the league with his dazzling array of jukes and creative exploits with the puck…incredible one-on-one attacker who has a sneaky quality about him where he also finds himself on a lot of breakaways…a pure finisher who is a playmaker in the truest sense of the word…he doesn’t even know how powerful of a shooter he is, but hammers the puck because he lives to score...linear speed is generally good with its highs and lows…strides can refine with strength and become tighter...the beauty of his work is that it’s imperfect and sometimes choppy, but explosive, exciting, and effective...not immune to inconsistency and going MIA because he’s also not a physical player...we may be seeing a recalculation on this type of player league wide at the draft, which means he should be off the board by pick 15." - Anthony Mauro

"Suzuki is a player who has really earned my respect as the season has progressed. He's still a few years from becoming a regular in the NHL, in my opinion, but boy do I like what he has to offer. His coach at Owen Sound, Ryan McGill, told me Suzuki reminds him a lot of Mikael Backlund of the Calgary Flames and he could one day be a second-line center in the NHL. What I like about Suzuki is his ability in the clutch. He scored 14 power-play goals, 6 game winners, 5 shorthanded goals, and 23 of his 45 goals this season gave Owen Sound the lead or tied the game." - Mike Morreale

"Spoke to someone who saw Suzuki play in his bantam days. Says that if I would have told him back then that Suzuki would have been the highest scoring player of this age group a year removed from the priority draft, he would have called me crazy. Bottom line is this. He was one of the most improved players from bantam to minor midget. He's been one of the most improved players in the OHL this year. He just keeps getting better every year. His work ethic is outstanding. And with his hockey sense, you have to wonder just how much more he's going to continue to grow as a player when the physical qualities (size, speed, strength) get better." - Brock Otten

4. Robert Thomas - Forward - London Knights
Total Votes: 17
High/Low Ranking: 2nd (1x)/Outside of the Top 10 (1x)
Comments:
"There is no junior hockey coach more respected than London’s Dale Hunter, so when he uses a draft-eligible center in all important situations, scouts won’t have to dig too deeply into that player’s character or deeply question his hockey sense. By the playoffs Thomas may well have been London’s top forward - certainly in terms of ice time, surpassing Cliff Pu as Hunter’s go-to center on a line with Janne Kuokkanen and Mitchell Stephens." - Grant McCagg

¨Dating back to his York Simcoe minor midget days, Thomas has always impressed me. A gifted player who has a tremendous feel for the game, he is the type of player who processes the game quick and dissects defences with high intelligence level. He's not the flashiest player yet he always impresses with his ability to create from nothing, maximizing the time and/or space afforded to him. Extremely talented in tight quarters, Thomas displays crafty handling control and can deliver difficult passes with precision. He's a very efficient player who elevates the play of his teammates through smart puck management. As he adopts more responsibility in his draft plus one season, look for Thomas to surge up the OHL scoring charts. He was consistently one of London's best forwards on a nightly basis regardless of his ice time Personally, I am higher on Thomas than most and think he should be considered for selection in the 11-15th range.¨ - Brendan Ross

"It's an easy comparison to say he reminds me of Bo Horvat in that he constantly got better and can play up and down the lineup, very high IQ, has learned a lot from Dale Hunter and will be a key player on a winning team." - Mark Seidel

"Thomas is an interesting prospect that comes from a solid program that develops skilled, but smart players, the London Knights. Thomas’s best attribute is his high IQ based on his understanding of reading plays and knowing when to react at the exact moment he can create a competitive advantage for his team on both ends of the ice. With the puck, Thomas does not rush plays he knows will turn the puck over, as an example he will drop the puck back to his defenseman if he is pushed to the boards. Away from the puck Thomas is a great interceptor of the puck as he closes off passing lanes to the point opponents don’t want to play around him. It doesn’t hurt that he is also a fast skater in all three zones and possesses strong puck handling abilities that he uses to move around the offensive zone. Making light of his offense Thomas was one of the best two-way Centre in the OHL, understanding the 411 on back check while also understanding to shift from back checking to defensive zone coverage around his opponents." - Scott Crawford

5. Nic Hague - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads
Total Votes: 16
High/Low Ranking: 3rd (3x)/Outside of the Top 10 (2x)
Comments:
"His strengths include his obvious size and reach but also his powerful shot and willingness to play a physical brand of shutdown defense. Sure he has his deficiencies, but they are all areas that will be addressed and improved upon. I am not sure why people have fallen out of love with this big six-foot-six behemoth who has decent speed and plays a real strong two-way game. He might not have great offensive upside at the NHL level but he has more potential than Windsor's Logan Stanley did and many of the same scouts that have dropped Hague down had Stanley in their top ten rankings." - Dan Stewart

"Great combination of skill and size. Has a better offensive game than some people give him credit for. Once he figures out how to use his size to his advantage, watch out. Still growing into his body." - Tony Ambrogio

"Hague showed himself very well in the OHL Finals against Erie. He played Alex DeBrincat tough at times, while providing a calming influence on the blueline. He should be the first OHL defenseman off the board given what all he brings to the table." - Mark Scheig

"Hague beats all draft-eligible OHL defenseman when it comes to upside and top-pairing potential.  He’s obviously got the size, but his booming shot and an improving defensive game are two more reasons why people need to start taking him seriously as a possible lottery pick. He has a nasty side to his game, and staying within himself is one of only a few areas he could stand to improve upon. Hague is mobile and physical, and his strong one-on-one play in the second half earned him critical late-game responsibilities." - Steve Kournianos

6. Jason Robertson - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs
Total Votes: 17
High/Low Ranking: 4th (3x)/Outside of the Top 10 (1x)
Comments:
"There is no one player on this list who scored more relative to his teammates than Robertson. The Kingston Frontenacs were a wasteland for offensive talent this year and Robertson carried them with 42 goals (16 more than his next closest teammate), 39 assists (tied for the team lead), and 81 points (30 more than his next closest teammate). Most scouts would probably want a winger of Robertson’s size to be more physical, but it's his finesse that distinguishes him. For a player who doesn’t overwhelm as a skater or shooter, Robertson is damn good." - Scott Wheeler

"Hockey IQ and goal scoring will drive Jason Robertson to the NHL, able to adapt and adjust his game to whoever is put on his line, Robertson is a chameleon on ice, able to effortlessly slip defensive coverage and scoring lanes. A contributor on special teams, both PP and PK makes him another very versatile player coming out of the OHL that NHL teams will covet." - Reed Duthie

"Has a great touch around the net and has good hockey sense. He accounted for 45.3 percent of Kingston's offense, scoring 42 goals. I think he might be the most improved player from start to finish in the OHL. He's 6-2, 182 pounds and knows how to protect the puck and has a shoot-first mentality, as evidenced by the fact he finished third in the OHL with 301 shots on goal." - Mike Morreale

"If his average speed wasn’t so obvious, Robertson might have been a lock for the top five. He had an outstanding season for Kingston, leading the Frontenacs in both regular season and playoff scoring. His soft hands and quick release helped him tally 42 goals in 68 games — 29 at even strength — but he is far from a garbage-goal scorer. Robertson is a smart winger who not only knows where to position himself, but how to remain there regardless of the beating he’s taking." - Steve Kournianos

7. Isaac Ratcliffe - Forward - Guelph Storm
Total Votes: 15
High/Low Ranking: 3rd (1x)/Outside of the Top 10 (3x)
Comments:
"Big Ratcliffe has been one of my favorite guys to track this season as he has big upside potential but also a ways to climb to reach his ceiling. His size and eventual strength will be an asset making him hard to handle anywhere close to the net or along the walls at the NHL level and his skating and shot have improved dramatically making him an danger to score off the rush." - Dan Stewart

"This guy just screams off the board pick in the first round. I had him going 17th to Toronto in my mock draft and if he went higher than that, I wouldn't be shocked. Massive kid who's already a strong net presence who possesses one of the better shots in the age group. As he fills out, the potential is quite high. The million dollar question for me is, are the inconsistencies (especially physically) due to a lack of strength, or a lack of sense and desire? Could easily be an Eric Daze type of player if everything falls into place." - Brock Otten

"Ratcliffe is an intriguing big man with a lot of upside to his game. Standing at 6’5 Ratcliffe is a physical specimen that plays a controlled physical game that causes opponents to be weary of what he is going to do in their own end. His big frame allows him to have great puck possession numbers when he is controlling the puck in the offensive zone.  Puck moving abilities are his best skill because his big body and long stick can move at a fast pace that opposing forwards find difficult to take away or challenge. One area of improvement Ratcliffe needs to make is his skating as his edge work is decent, but his strides slow the momentum of his team’s offensive rush. Ratcliffe deserves to be in the first round because it’s often rare to find a big player like him that can move the puck around the ice with his stick so quickly." - Scott Crawford

¨Skinny skyscraper has had a rollercoaster of a development track over the last few years that stabilised right at the start of this past winter…announced his arrival with a package of long legs, quick stick, and fairly strong skating…knows what to do with the puck and is looked upon as an offensive leader in Guelph…his shot is a standout characteristic and just like his skating patterns is not easy to read…can snap top shelf moving, blast it from stand still, take it to the net and beat the goalie – point is he’s not a one trick pony…above average pass reception that extends plays and is a safety blanket for teammates a notch below in talent…nice stickhandler who has room to grow...needs to work on becoming less disconnected and loose defensively…somewhere in between Logan Brown and Riley Tufte as a comparison…massively underdeveloped tower found a way to be a scorer on a bad team and based on data is less of a projection pick than you would think.¨ - Anthony Mauro

8. Conor Timmins - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Total Votes: 15
High/Low Ranking: 5th (4x)/Outside of the Top 10 (3x)
Comments:
"One of the oldest players of this year's draft class (born Sept. 18, 1998), Timmins has high-end hockey sense and is excellent at transitioning the puck out of his zone. He's very poised and can run a power play, has a good shot and earned his role as a top-pair defenseman for the Greyhounds." - Mike Morreale

"Great puck moving defenceman who does a fantastic job of avoiding the forecheck in the defensive zone which gives him extra time to start the breakout. ES beast as he finished 2nd among OHL defensemen in even strength points." - Peter Kneulman

"He is the best two-way defenseman to be taken in the draft and who will make any coach happy to coach him. He listens and is a great teammate for anyone that plays on his line. His skating is unique for a defenseman and allows him to drive more to the net and make good plays up ice. When he is skating up the ice he usually is not a pass first type of defenseman as he will charge down the ice with the puck entering the zone as the F1 either dumping the puck in or taking a quick shot on net. His skating is what makes him a valuable defenseman due to his ability to recover when offense turns to defense and he is mobile on the back pedal when an opposing offensive rush is penetrating his zone and he will always be ready to close the gap. He is on the right track in his development to become a first round draft pick and thanks to his hard work and commitment to being a better player he has branded his own style of play." - Scott Crawford

"Timmins is on the older side of this draft class, which contributed to his success as a draft-eligible, but he remains a top prospect in his own right. Even if you extend scoring among OHL defenders to all under-19 skaters, Timmins finished second with 61 points and a 0.91 points per game clip, ahead of last year’s top prospects, including Mikhail Sergachyov, Olli Juolevi and Victor Mete. He led a strong Sault Ste. Marie team to the top of the division and he did it while driving play and dictating possession in all situations." - Scott Wheeler

9. Michael Dipietro - Goaltender - Windsor Spitfires
Total Votes: 10
High/Low Ranking: 4th (1x)/Outside of the Top 10 (8x)
Comments:
"One can only hope this backstop with cat-like quickness ends this seemingly decades-long trend that goalies need to be a certain height to succeed. Listed at 6 feet tall, DiPietro is a tremendous competitor with impeccable positioning and net awareness, and both were on display as he led the host Spitfires to a perfect record at the Memorial Cup, including a pair of stellar wins against Erie’s powerful offense." - Steve Kournianos

"The best goaltending prospect the OHL has seen in several years (better than Malcolm Subban was for sure and he was a first rounder). If he were 6'3, we'd be talking about him as a potential lottery pick (even as a goalie). We know about the athleticism and his ability to make remarkable saves. But what many people don't know is how amazing this kid is as a human being. Lost his mother at a young age and carries himself like a true professional. Someone who has coached him told me that he's one of the best kids he's ever coached and that his work ethic is second to none. As Toronto Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman has famously stated, "height doesn't measure heart." - Brock Otten

"The best goalie in the draft despite his size limitations, very good feet, tracks pucks well, reads the play, plays big in big games, mentally strong." - Mark Seidel

"The OHL's prized draft eligible goaltender for 2017 and Memorial Cup champion could be even higher on my list here but for the reason I have been fooled before by an OHL goaltender who I thought was a sure thing NHL starter, thanks for that shot to the confidence Thomas McCollum. Regardless of that Dipietro is a battler, a hard working, athletic, butterfly stopper who has NHL starting potential." - Dan Stewart

10. Morgan Frost - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Total Votes: 7
High/Low Ranking: 6th (1x)/Outside of the Top 10 (11x)
Comments:
"Frost confirmed to the scouting world just how fast he was during the Top Prospects skill testing, finishing at the very top in all of the skating drills. However, The main issue with Frost’s game concerns his defensive game, and there are some scouts who wonder if at his size he will be able to handle larger top-two centers in an NHL setting and opine that he may end up being a playmaking winger on an offensive line." - Grant McCagg

"Very underrated 2-way player. Dynamite on the power play. Has shown steady growth at even strength and should see a spike next year as he adds speed and strength in the offseason." - Peter Kneulman

"Frost, like London's Thomas, doesn't get the credit he deserves while being surrounding by a very talented team in Sault Ste. Marie. Coming off his 1st 20 goal OHL season, he is taking a development curve very similar to that of teammate/linemate Zachary Senyshyn. A different player from Senyshyn though, its Frost's passing and vision that will WOW scouts and he should only continue this improve." - Reed Duthie

"Every time I saw him he got better. Really smart player away from the puck. Has an edge to his game you can't teach." - Tony Ambrogio

Honorable Mentions

Matthew Strome - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs (7 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 7th (3x)
Comments:
"Sniper's hands with a coach's mind. Matt Strome is a hockey savant, when you talk to the Bulldogs forward about game plans, opposition tendencies, and how to break down opposition its as if the game is happening right in front of him on a screen. After debuting with 16 goals in 15-16, Strome took his production to the next level in 16-17 with 34 goals and 28 assists while continuing to be a force both on the power play and shorthanded. With the man advantage Strome can use his incredible hand eye coordination infront of the net or his hockey IQ to play the high boards in the umbrella set up making him a threat in multiple locations. Improving his skating stride and top speed will be paramount challenge but with Strome's work ethic he's more then up to the challenge." - Reed Duthie

"This big and strong playmaking winger who also works his tail off has much upside but also some deficiencies that will scare some teams away. His size, strength and vision combo is impressive but if he can not improve his feet and quickness they might all be for not. The good news is that his brothers also had mobility issues but have since made big strides, pun intended." - Dan Stewart

"Admittedly number 11 on my list, but I don't question anyone who has Strome in their top 10 because of how close players ranked 8 through 10 are. These are all guys who have a shot to be top 45 picks come June. Everyone talks about how bad Strome's skating is. And it seems like he's only generated negative press lately (especially after a poor U18's). But he's a solid prospect and deserves respect for the things he does well. His mention in the OHL Coaches Poll as one of the smartest players in the Conference it a testament to his ability to create offensive scoring chances for his linemates. He has terrific vision and patience for a bigger player. The offensive upside is most certainly there. The U18's proved how his skating limits him right now (playing on the big ice). But IMO, the key to his development might be the increased consistency of his physical game. He's never going to be a top notch skater, but he can still be an NHL top 6 player if he can continue to harness the power forward game that he flashes from time to time." - Brock Otten 

Ivan Lodnia - Forward - Erie Otters (5 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 5th (1x)
Comments:
"Although his numbers don't show it, Lodnia is a vastly improved two-way player. With the Otters deep on their top-six, Lodnia played on the third and fourth line in a defensive role and did well with it. When given the opportunity, he's dangerous with the puck on his stick. With all of Erie's departures next season, Lodnia jumps straight to the top line and will have more of a chance to show what he can do." - Mark Scheig

"A personal favourite of mine because of the offensive upside he possesses. Puck skills are among the best available and his skating and hustle improved this year." - Anonymous

"Lodnia managed to net 57 points in 66 games despite suffering the misfortune of playing behind the Otters’ top line that combined for 130 goals. He’s got a wicked shot, and his strength on the puck is evident every time he hits the ice. Two undervalued aspects of his game are his poise and hockey sense – this kid under pressure is as cool as a cucumber and can lure opponents well out of position. Lodnia, who missed 2018 eligibility by two weeks, was deadly for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka, and Erie’s expected exodus of graduating superstars makes him primed for a breakout season in 2018." - Steve Kournianos

"The fact he has been able to take on a shutdown role with the veteran Otters is a big checkmark. We know he can produce offense and next year he'll be back in a plum scoring role, so Lodnia's in a really good situation." - Ryan Kennedy

Alex Formenton - Forward - London Knights (4 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 9th (1x)
Comments:
"Formenton is one of those prospects that impresses scouts a lot more the first time he’s seen live than when they watch him on video or look at the stats sheet, predominantly because it soon becomes apparent just how fast he moves around the rink. His skating skills and size combo alone will likely get him picked in the top 50, and perhaps even in the top 40." - Grant McCagg

¨He made a significant contribution in his first OHL season for the Knights. He's a strong 200-foot player with good size and excellent skating ability. He can execute skilled plays at top speed and generate scoring opportunities off the rush or below the dots.¨ - Mike Morreale

"I've been up and down on Formenton all season. And I wonder if NHL scouts feel the same way. Just like some London Knights from past drafts, his wavering ice time really made it difficult to properly scout him this year. The speed is noticeable every single game, and every time he touches the ice. But the offensive game really is hard to peg. At times, it looks like his feet are moving faster than his brain and he out-skates himself out of scoring chances. And for a player who's so quick, the consistency of his play away from the puck needs to improve IMO. Even with limited ice time, I want to notice him and I didn't the majority of times I saw London in the second half and playoffs. But you also have to trust the London Knights program and the way they develop prospects. If there is a team who can harness his goal scoring potential and ability to utilize his speed as a weapon in all three zones, it's London." - Brock Otten

Jonah Gadjovich - Forward - Owen Sound Attack (4 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 8th (2x)
Comments:
¨The most improved player in the Ontario Hockey League this past season, Gadjovich picked the perfect time to have his coming out party. A late '98 birthdate allowed the Whitby native to develop his confidence and his astonishing 46 goals blew scouts away - more than tripling his sophomore production. He's a strong sturdy player who has a knack for finding his way to the net and a timely ability to cash in on pucks with his quick shooting ability. While he leaves some room for improvement in terms of his speed and natural puck skills, he does display smarts and strong positioning that allow him to be a factor on many plays, and support his line mates well. His work ethic helps him maximize his power forward style of play because he's shows a willingness to get his hands dirty to earn his chances. Come draft day, Gadjovich should start receiving interest anytime near the end of the first round and likely landing in a second round position at the end of the day.¨ - Brendan Ross

¨Young OHL veteran has nearly 200 games played yet has been under the radar as a power forward shooting maniac…most attribute his production to stud 2017 Nick Suzuki, but make no mistake, he is every part the competent half as the quintessential shotgun winger…a simple forward who doesn’t over-complicate the game…if he had a motto it would be play physical and shoot a lot...often gets his way physically and has detail around the crease that some pro’s can’t dream of…has very good straight line speed and an explosive first few strides despite being filled out like a grown man and 200 plus pounds at 18…agility is average and not the most natural puck handler in flight….overall has decent, working class hands that get the job done…will shoot from everywhere and anywhere and can really put his weight into his shots…we all want highlight reel plays and incessant puck dragging, but everything about this minimal kid screams he will be a better pro than junior and he’s already pretty damn good.¨ - Anthony Mauro

"Love this player. He's a real throwback. Loved him in his rookie year, but he did struggle last year. This year, he got better and better every month. The skating concerns are overblown IMO. I think that area really saw improvement as the year went on. He knows his role on the ice is to be a net presence and he's an absolute beast there; an impossible tie up for many OHL defenders. But he's also a very smart two-way player who is a coaches dream. That combination should definitely make him an NHL player IMO." - Brock Otten

Mackenzie Entwistle - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs (3 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)
Comments:
"This big forward is smart and willing to use his strengths to his advantage. He needs to fill out still but you love that he uses what strength he has to play a physical game. He is also an impressive skater, reads the play well, makes smart decisions and contributes in all facets. The one area that keeps him down the list is his lack of offensive upside." - Dan Stewart

"One of my personal favourites, standing 6'3'' MacKenzie Entwistle has ideal NHL size, tremendous speed for his size, excellent hockey IQ, and best of all top notch character. Entwistle is a player who will be trending upwards at a steep angle, playing behind Stephen Harper & Niki Petti/Brandon Saigeon in his rookie season & Petti & Will Bitten/Brandon Saigeon in his sophmore season, it will be the 17-18 where Entwistle will see his biggest opportunity. A staple on the PK since arriving in Hamilton, Entwistle will be moving up the depth chart with the ability to play C or W and will likely be moving into a regular role on the Bulldogs PP. Get ready for a breakout player!" - Reed Duthie

"He will never be an offensive force but he will be on the ice for the final minute of every period, smarter than some coaches in the OHL, phenomenal on the PK, sneaky offense that may come but that will be a bonus." - Mark Seidel

Markus Phillips - Defense - Owen Sound Attack (2 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 7th (1x)
Comments:
"Has the potential to be an all situations, all around type of defender because of his plus skating. Offensive skills aren't the best of any defender in the draft, but he's crafty." - Anonymous

"Phillips is perhaps the most underrated OHL player in this draft. He had a slow start to the season but vastly improved as the season went on. He reduced his turnovers and became a steady force on Owen Sound's blueline. He projects well to the next level and is expected to make noise on Team Canada in the next couple of seasons." - Mark Scheig

Adam Ruzicka - Forward - Sarnia Sting (2 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)
Comments:
"A slow start as a CHL rookie import knocked this towering Slovak center out of draft radar detection, but he responded with an excellent second half statistically.  Ruzicka, who finished with 24 points in his last 28 games, tied for the most 5v5 points by an OHL rookie (34 in 61 games), and his 171 shots ranked second among Ontario League newcomers. He’s got a very good shot and continues to find ways to get open despite being one of the bigger players on the ice. Ruzicka can play in all three zones, and is both physically and mentally capable of taking over games." - Steve Kournianos

"Sarnia’s best puck handler he can make good moves around the ice. He can even play a North-South style of game because he can play the top and bottom halves of the neutral zone good enough to create an open ice play near the zone entry for a teammate. His specialty with his puck handling comes from his passing, as he likes to make quick light passes with his stick on offensive rushes to fool his opponents into thinking he is dumping the puck. Another complimentary passing skill is his saucer passes, he can make long range saucer passes to teammates that turn into break away chances or he can make a fast and smooth cross ice sauce pass to a teammate going directly to the net. When he is unable to convert on a play he is good at recovering the puck using a quick C-cut to draw the opponent to the opposite side and using his quick hands to form a backhand forehand motion to keep the defenders guessing. Ruzicka possesses such raw natural talent, it’s going to be exciting to see what he can do in the pros once he is of age." - Scott Crawford

Eemeli Rasanen - Defense - Kingston Frontenacs (1 Vote)
Highest Ranking: 10th (1x)
Comments:
"Unheralded defender out of Kingston that caught and surpassed the highly touted Paquette, great frame mixed with a healthy dose of nasty, feet are ok, big shot on the PP, Very underrated." - Mark Seidel

"Had to include a bit on the best player no one is talking about. 6'7'' 205lbs, the Finnish rookie was an impact player in every sense of the word for Kingston. The defensive specialist added 39pts in 66gp, thanks to a high level first pass from the defensive zone and a bomb of a shot that would scare some professional goaltenders. Add all that into the fact the 18 year old also knows how use to his massive frame to make life miserable for the opposition's best players and he is a player that NHL scouts should be drooling over! SUPER SLEEPER!" - Reed Duthie

Austen Keating - Forward - Ottawa 67's
Highest Ranking: 9th (1x)
Comments:
"If there’s one player who hasn’t received the buzz he deserves in the overexposed OHL, it’s Keating. He was a low-scoring Ottawa 67’s team’s best centre from start to finish and while he doesn’t possess elite ability in any one area of his game, he does everything at such an efficient, high level that he nonetheless dictates and controls play and tempo. He’s probably the fourth-best passer out of the OHL in this class behind Suzuki, Vilardi and Thomas and yet he hasn’t been given much attention as a legit prospect." - Scott Wheeler