I took a stab at ranking the Top 10 OHL prospects for the upcoming NHL Draft as I was contacted by Brock Otten, who runs a comprehensive site looking at draft prospects. I have written for Brock before because he is well respected and likes to take opinions from a wide variety of respected sources.
His full list can be found here:
My opinions are found here:
1. Sean Monahan- Ottawa: Sometimes you really need to see the character of a player when he faces adversity. His team is last in the OHL and he was cut from Team Canada, but Monahan continues to produce with 67 points in 48 games. He is strong in all facets of his game, and he might not realize it, but the substandard year for the 67's likely has made him a better all around player.
2. Darnell Nurse- Sault Ste Marie: I do not know what I like more- the imposing 6'5 frame the 34 points from the back end or the fact that he has 104 PIM this year. He's the complete defenseman who just needs to add some subtleties to his offensive game. Great athletic bloodlines with Dad being a former CFL receiver, and many, many members of the Nurse family excelling at NCAA schools.
3. Max Domi- London : Love his game. He's got speed to burn, quick hands and a quick release. He plays with a bit of an edge, but nothing like his father Tie. He could hit 40 goals this year on a deep London squad. Plus he knows the feeling of being a winner, having gone to the Memorial Cup final last year with London.
4. Kerby Rychel- Windsor: Coming from a small sample size personally, but there is no denying the excellent stats of Rychel. He was a 40 goal marksman last year on a mediocre Windsor squad and has 33 in 57 games this year. Father Warren was known for being a scrapper, but Kerby has a lot of offensive finesse.
5. Bo Horvat- London: Solid, solid player. He was all over the ice when I saw him live versus Niagara. Like Domi, he is an important part of a very, very good team. I rank him slightly below Rychel only because Rychel has better statistics.
6. Nikita Zadorov- London: London could have three 1st round NHL draft picks this year, and it would not surprise me to see Zadorov drafted ahead of both Horvat and Domi. He's 6'5 228, but his skating stride is smooth, and he is very composed in his own end, as evidenced by his +31 plus/minus ranking. Offensive stats are modest, but at this point that's not his game. Could be a shutdown type defender.
7. Justin Bailey- Kitchener: Stands 6'3 194 and with room to grow. When I saw him earlier in the year his stats were modest, but there is nothing wrong with 17 goals on a team that does not light the lamp with regularity. At that size has the potential to develop into a true power forward.
8. Jason Dickinson-Guelph: The time I saw him live this year, was on the wrong end of a thrashing by Niagara, so I did not get to see his true potential. Stats are modest, but sometimes it is the intangibles that elevate the draft status.
9. Spencer Martin- Mississauga- When you draft a goalie in the first round of the OHL draft, like the Steelheads did with Martin, there are high hopes. Martin has met all of them. He has been a workhorse with 40 games and at 6'2 190 pounds has good mobility. One thing when I saw him play is that he sometimes reacts unfavorably when goals go in. That's going to happen, and might need to calm the emotions down a bit.
10. Chris Bigras -Owen Sound. I really liked what I saw of Bigras. While one element of his game does not stand out, he does everything well and he logs a fair amount of minutes on a team expected to make a deep playoff run. Very poised, and has a good shot.
A Couple of Deep Sleepers
Stephen Harper- Erie- He was ranked very highly in earlier draft boards, but has had a very inconsistent year with the Otters and has really dropped off the map. He should not be overlooked as he is 6'2 200lbs and is very adept at driving the net. His goals have slipped from 24 to 15, but there is a lot of potential. Could benefit from a change of scenery.
Thomas Welsh- Mississauga- Pretty sure he has two years of draft eligibility. If you look at his stats, they are very, very modest but he did not join Mississauga until the midway point of the year after decomitting from Penn State. You could make a highlight video of some of the thunderous body checks he has thrown this year and with Stuart Percy and Dylan DeMelo expected to move up, he could be a top 2 D Man next year.
Anthony DiFruscia-Niagara- Another guy earmarked for the NCAA and then turned to the OHL. Offensive stats have been spotty and he has had his druthers, but he does a goal scorer's touch and is a very, very solid body checker. The offense will come, but scouts should not overlook his gritty all around game.