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Monday, June 18, 2018

TOP 10 O.H.L. Draft Prospects

Every year Brock Otten who runs a great prospects site does a media/scout O.H.L. Top 10 poll, and I am happy to participate whenever time permits.   DISCLAIMER:  Trust me, I'm not a scout , and as a play by play broadcaster I am looking at the game from a different lens than those guys do.  They are the professionals who look for the tangibles and intangibles and their depth of research is beyond reproach.   Sure, I see a lot of players year to year, but I look at factors such as statistics, prior rankings and whatever I see with the naked eye.  For better of for worse , here are my Top 10 O.H.L. prospects, as submitted to Brock, who collated all of the responses to average out the prospects for a final ranking.   

Brock, by the way runs a great website here :OHL Prospects and his Twitter handle is @BrockOtten


1. Andrei Svechnikov-   I still think that he is going to have the most successful NHL career, and that is saying something given that Rasmus Dahlin is in the draft.   He's big, aggressive, plays on the edge, has terrific instincts on the ice, a heavy shot and a quick release.  Plus, you are drawn to him whenever he is on the ice.  He's that talented.    He'll score over 30 in his first year and would not surprise me if he hits 40. 
2. Evan Bouchard-    One of the biggest risers and the beneficiary of Dale Hunter selling at the deadline because he , along with Alex Formenton became the focal point for London.  He played major minutes, did not miss a beat and if not for Nic Hague pounding over 30 goals wins CHL D man of the year.  Thrived with the max minutes and it showed as scouts rocketed him up the draft 

3. Barrett Hayton- it says something when you standout amidst a stacked team like Sault Ste Marie .    He does everything well, and showed that he could thrive in pressure situations. 

4. Ryan Merkley- Based on talent alone, Merkely moves up on my list from mid-season.  We know the issues with discipline, and the defensive lapses, but I am counting on NHL teams putting him through the grinder when it comes to questions of character.    He's a smaller, dynamic puck moving D man who can QB your power play.  They do not grow on trees.   If he keeps his head on straight, he's worth the investment 

5. Akil Thomas-  Ever try to learn a new position on the fly , and have that new position be centre?   That's what Akil Thomas did with Niagara this year, and he did well.  He held his own in terms of face offs, and became more of a play maker (57 assists) than a goal scorer (24 goals).  He elevated his game in the post season, and meshed well with Pittsburgh FA signing Sam Miletic.  He is on the smaller side, but was fine with playing the physical game.   The skill set and speed is certainly there.  Had one NHL Player Personnel person tell me he has 100 point potential. 

6. Serron Noel-    Noel did not have a great playoff versus Niagara, as he was not able to use his size and strength and took a lot of penalties , though some of those calls were curious to say the least.    The thing is that he is a 6'5 winger with a long , and fluid stride who put up close to 30 goals and is expected to play an even bigger role with Oshawa next year.  

7. Ryan MacLeod-   a similar type player to Akil Thomas, but did not have as good of a year, but then again Mississauga as a team under performed, based on the talent that they have .   MacLeod is a dynamic skater and sees the whole ice well and a deft finisher.  He will be either a centre piece trade acquisition for someone, or will be the leader and likely captain in Mississauga.  He just looks like he has a pro game already.   

8. Rasmus Sandin-     Smooth skating European D man?  Yes please!   Sandin is such a treat to watch.  He has great vision, sees the ice well, can lead a rush, jump into a rush and play his position.  He also adapted very quickly to playing  CHL hockey and stepped into an excellent Sault Ste Marie team seamlessly.      

9. Ty Dellandrea-   Sometimes you have a guy who steps into a great team effortlessly and not look out of place and then you have a guy like Dellandrea was the best player on a rebuilding Flint team that missed the playoffs.  To me the measure of a player is how he plays in adversity and Flint had plenty of it last year.   He's a highly skilled player who likely hits 80 points on a better team.  Plus, he's a top 3 OHL draft pick who lived up to the pressure. 

10. Kevin Bahl- Likely not top 10 talent wise, but I've got a soft spot for Bahl because he's a big , physical, throwback type D man.  He stands 6'6 over 220 lbs and you notice him on the ice with his size and strength.  He will hardily dazzle you with his scoring but his reach and defensive play was very good on a very young and talented Ottawa 67's team that will be among the leagues better teams next year.  Expect Bahl to play a large role with them. 

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