OHL Prospect Profile: Henry Mews

Henry Mews is one of the top 2006-born defencemen eligible for the 2022 OHL Draft. With speed, flair, confidence and versatility, Mews projects to be a game-breaking player at the OHL-level and beyond.

– Henry Mews –

Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL) | Defence | 2022 OHL Draft Eligible

Nepean, ON | 6′, 180lbs | May 9th, 2006

The Toronto Jr. Canadiens are, to no one’s surprise, a powerhouse in the GTHL once again this season. The club made this fact abundantly clear in their International Silver Stick Championship victory over the equally capable Mississauga Senators in a clash between what could very well be the top two teams in Ontario. One major influence in the Jr. Canadiens’ run to the Championship — and in their success throughout the current season as a whole — has been defenceman Henry Mews. The native of Nepean, Ontario is a superb two-way defenceman who can impact the game in all three zones of the ice. Eerily reminiscent to former high-end GTHL defenders such as Ty Nelson and Jamie Drysdale, Mews is an impressive young player who boasts immense potential at the OHL-level and beyond.

Strengths:

  • Skating Speed and Agility
  • Edge-Work
  • Hockey Sense and Offensive Instincts
  • Two-Way Ability
  • Playmaking Capabilities
  • Shot Release and Penetration
  • Competitiveness
  • Defensive Prowess

The foundation of Mews’ game is his speed and agility on the ice. The youngster can fly throughout the ice with absolute ease regardless of whether the puck is on his stick or not. In his defensive end, Mews can track down and smother opposing forwards before moving the puck to his teammates or breaking the puck out on his own. Owing to his high-end offensive instincts, Mews loves to join the rush when it is safe to do so and is downright dangerous when the puck is on his stick. He has the ability to carry the puck end-to-end before unleashing a shot on goal or devising a lethal play with his fellow teammates. As a prospect who has played significant stretches of his career at various forward positions, Mews has a well-rounded understanding of the game in all three zones of the ice and owns an innate sense of confidence with regards to when it is safe for his to act as an offensive threat rather than a shutdown defenceman. In fact, Mews led the HEO in scoring in his U14 season — collecting 25 goals and 62 point in 29 contests — all while playing multiple positions on the ice.

Some might classify Mews as somewhat of a rover, but fact is Mews is a defenceman first and an offensive threat second — however, his ability to play both roles in a seamless fashion can lead to mixed opinions of his future at the next level. However, we feel there is no question that Mews will develop into a sensational player at the OHL-level. Not only does Mews already boast solid size and strength, but he owns intangible abilities that are downright difficult for many high-level players to adapt. Mews’ ability to feel the game and its ebbs and flows is something to behold, as the youngster has an impressive feel for the game and regularly makes accurate and confident decisions with the well-being of his team being at the forefront of his thought process.

Future Potential:

At the end of the day, Henry Mews will be a game changer at the OHL-level and beyond. Despite playing against many of the best players in Ontario in the GTHL this season, Mews has made the game look easy on countless occasions owing to his innate sense for the game and high-end skill set. Much like Ty Nelson at the end of his GTHL career, Mews is a step above his competition and is ready for the challenges which the major-junior level will present. Come the 2022 OHL Draft, expect Mews to be one of the first defencemen selected — if not the first.

Related: 2022 OHL Draft Ranking – December’s Top-50

OHL Prospect Profile: Benjamin Cormier

Benjamin Cormier of the HEO’s Navan Grads U18 is a highly skilled and versatile forward who is downright lethal with the puck on his stick — the reason why he is one of the 2022 OHL Draft’s top prospects.

– Benjamin Cormier –

Orleans, ON | 6′, 180lbs | July 20th, 2006

The Navan Grads are one of the top teams in the HEO U18 this season, and for good reason. In addition to Nathan Villeneuve, the Grads also boast Benjamin Cormier — a lethal and versatile forward whose immense work ethic and raw competitiveness combine to make him one of the top players eligible for the upcoming 2022 OHL Draft.

Strengths:

  • Skating Speed and Strength
  • Acceleration and Edge-Work
  • Shot Release
  • Playmaking and Vision
  • Hockey Sense
  • Two-way Abilities
  • Competitiveness and Work Ethic

The basis of Cormier’s game is his skating, as the native of Orleans, Ontario can traverse the ice with not only high end speed but elite-level agility. This ability allows Cormier to stand as an involved and over-whelming player in all three zones of the ice, as not only can he slide through opposing defenders like a hot knife through butter, but Cormier will regularly catch and strip opponents on the back-check or smother them in his own zone. Boasting a strong first step, great acceleration and refined edge-work, containing Cormier is no simple task.

What’s more is that Cormier can handle the puck and exhibit his high-end skill all while playing the game at a high rate of speed. Firstly, there is Cormier’s shot. He has the ability to release the puck extremely quickly and can place his shot on-goal with remarkable accuracy and consistency. Owing to his high-end shot, Cormier has also developed excellent hockey sense and playmaking abilities — for those occasions when his opponents place too much emphasis on defending his shot. Cormier can move the puck with ease and authority, and has the confidence in his game necessary to execute high-risk, high-reward passes with little hesitation.

Rounding out Cormier’s strengths are his two-way abilities on the ice and his innate, intangible abilities. As mentioned earlier, Cormier is not just and offensive dynamo — he plays a structured and responsible two-way game. He loves to pressure opposing forwards on the back-check and is no stranger to picking his opponent’s pockets when the chance presents itself. Moreover, Cormier is a relentlessly hard-working player who brings his best to the ice on a game-by-game basis. Even when he isn’t able to make his mark on the scoresheet, Cormier is working hard in the other two-zones of the ice to help ensure success for his team.

Areas for Improvement:

  • Personal Strength

When it comes to a player of Cormier’s calibre, there often aren’t many areas in need of drastic improvement. When it comes to Cormier, he — like every other player of his potential — would do well to add additional strength to his frame. Now, this is not to say that Cormier is under-sized in any way, but rather that continuing to add greater strength will assist in his transition to the OHL-level and beyond. And, with greater strength comes additional shot and passing power, as well as improved acceleration and top speed.

Future Potential:

Ultimately, Cormier holds the potential necessary to develop into an elite player at the OHL-level and far beyond. His skating abilities are incredibly advanced for a player of his age, and so too are his abilities when the puck is on his stick at a high rate of speed. And, as a player who is incredibly successful at operating in traffic and who has the confidence necessary to drive the puck to the net, transitioning to the OHL should be a relatively easy task.

OHL Prospect Profile: Michael Hage

Michael Hage of the GTHL’s Toronto Jr. Canadiens is a well-rounded centre and one of the most complete prospects eligible for the 2022 OHL Draft. Learn about his game, here.

– Michael Hage –

Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL) | Centre | 2022 OHL Draft Eligible

Oakville, ON | 6′, 175lbs | April 14th, 2006

The Toronto Jr. Canadiens are a perennial powerhouse in the GTHL, and this year’s club is no different.

Leading the charge for the Jr. Canadiens in 2021-22 is none other than Michael Hage — an incredibly well-rounded centre who plays an excellent two-way game defined by its attention to detail and potency. In fact, not only is Hage able to devise and capitalize on high-percentage scoring chances in the offensive zone, but he is also capable of shutting down his opposition’s top players in his defensive zone — a skill set which combines to make him one of the top prospects eligible for the 2022 OHL Draft.

Strengths:

  • Edge-work and Balance
  • Acceleration
  • Shot Strength and Release
  • Playmaking Abilities
  • Hockey Sense
  • Two-Way Ability
  • Face-offs
  • Defensive Aptitude

The list of Hage’s strengths is long, and for good reason. Hage can seemingly do it all on the ice, whether he takes to it at even-strength, on the power-play or on the penalty-kill. Driving Hage’s play are his excellent skating abilities, as the youngster boats excellent edge-work, balance and acceleration on his blades. These capabilities allow Hage to create space from his opposition in the offensive zone, track them down in the defensive zone and protect the puck with ease when it is on his stick.

This ability to create time and space for himself affords Hage with ample time to create scoring chances or unleash his stellar shot on goal. Owing to his impressive vision and hockey sense, Hage can execute high-risk passes with relative ease and improve the play and productivity of his fellow teammates in the process. When Hage does decide to uncork his wicked wrister on net, it is remarkably accurate and has the velocity necessary to overwhelm opposing goaltenders before they have the time to react. Hage’s combined playmaking and goal-scoring abilities allow him to stand as a multi-faceted and therefore unpredictable player in the offensive zone.

Rounding out Hage’s game are the abilities he possesses which separate him from his the majority of his peers. As a centre, Hage is strong in the face-off circle — he wins the bulk of his draws and, therefore, helps to bolster his team’s time with possession. Moreover, as we touched on above, Hage is a detail-oriented two-way player. Sure, he is a lethal offensive player, but he is also a centre who doesn’t take unnecessary risks or neglect his defensive zone. He is aware of his defensive responsibilities and positions himself well in order to support his defencemen and facilitate efficient breakouts.

Areas for Improvement:

  • Personal Strength

When it comes to Hage and areas in which he would do well to improve, there are few. As we’ve stated on multiple occasions, Hage is a very well-rounded player, meaning there are very few holes in his game. Like most players of his age, Hage would do well to bolster his personal strength in the years ahead — progress which will come naturally as he matures. If able to add extra strength to his growing frame, Hage will be able to transition to the OHL-level with ease and become even more difficult to knock off of the puck in the process.

Future Potential:

At the end of the day, Hage has the skill and ability necessary to develop into an elite player at the OHL-level and beyond. His lethal offensive instincts, leadership, innate two-way play and natural ability to improve the productivity of those around him combine to make him a player worth watching for years to come. In fact, Hage’s game is eerily reminiscent of former Toronto Jr. Canadiens star forward Pano Fimis, who was chosen second-overall in the 2020 OHL Draft by the Niagara IceDogs. If Hage can follow a similar developmental path to that of Fimis, he will be well on his way to becoming a household name.

OHL Prospect Profile: Nathan Villeneuve

Nathan Villeneuve is one of the top prospects eligible for the 2022 OHL Draft. Learn about the Navan Grads U18 star’s game and why he is so exceptional, here!

– Nathan Villeneuve –

Ottawa, ON | 6′, 180lbs | April 13th, 2006

If you’re searching for a competitive, highly skilled and detail-oriented two-way centre, look no further than Nathan Villeneuve of the Navan Grads U18. As one of the top prospects eligible for the 2022 OHL Draft, Villeneuve has consistently maintained a 2.0+ points per game pace despite playing against opponents as much as two years older than him in the HEO. A lethal force on the rush and in the offensive zone, as well as a centre committed to securing his defensive end in the process, Villeneuve is unquestionably a highly talented OHL prospect of immense potential.

Strengths:

  • Acceleration
  • High-End Speed
  • Puck Protection
  • Shot Release and Accuracy
  • Hockey Sense and Awareness
  • Two-Way Game
  • Physicality

The strengths present within Villeneuve’s game are seemingly endless, as the youngster is capable of flourishing regardless of the situation he finds himself in on the ice.

First and foremost there is Villeneuve’s impressive skating ability — the skill set which serves as the foundation of his game. Capable of accelerating to top speed in a few short and explosive strides, Villeneuve is impossible to catch when his feet are moving. This elite separation speed allows Villeneuve to create time and space for himself in the offensive zone, whether it be on the rush or in the midst of the cycle. Further, Villeneuve combines his exceptional edge-work with his raw strength while in possession of the puck, an ability which allows him to shield and protect possession for his team on a regular basis.

Villeneuve is undoubtedly at his most dangerous when at top speed on the rush. Owing to his short and quick shot release, Villeneuve can easily overpower opposing netminders and has the ability to pick corners with remarkable consistency. And, don’t be surprised to see Villeneuve unleash the occasional slap shot — he owns a heavy one which he enjoys to hammer on goal from distance. Rounding out Villeneuve’s impressive game are his hockey sense, commitment to playing a two-way game, ability to kill penalties and quarter-back the power-play, and his willingness to mix things up physically. A determined back-checker committed to defending his own zone, Villeneuve will regularly strip opposing players of the puck or block shots for his team when needed. And, given his strength, don’t be surprised to see Villeneuve throw a massive hit from time to time.

Areas for Improvement:

  • Strength

When it comes to Villeneuve, there aren’t any major areas of his game which would do well to be improved. As it stands, Villeneuve brings an exceptionally well-rounded game to the ice each and every night — the reason why he could very well be selected first overall in the 2022 OHL Draft. As Villeneuve continues to develop his game, adding additional strength to his frame will only bode well for him in the long-run, and especially so as he transitions to the major-junior level. Although already a strong and solid player, adding greater strength should allow Villeneuve to become an immediate impact player in the OHL in his rookie campaign.

Future Potential:

The sky truly is the limit for Villeneuve, whose game is already incredibly calculated and detail oriented. One current NHL star who comes to mind when watching Villeneuve play is Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche. Like MacKinnon, Villeneuve is an incredibly competitive centre who thrives off of his lower-body strength and excellent skating abilities. And, like MacKinnon, Villeneuve boasts a quick and deadly shot and the innate ability to make his fellow teammates better with each passing shift.

2022 OHL Draft Ranking: December’s Top-50

The 2006-born prospect class eligible for the 2022 OHL Draft is an incredibly deep and talented one, which made it woefully difficult to compile our first 2022 OHL Draft Ranking of the season. Nonetheless, here it is!

Normalcy.

It has been terrific to see a return to it this year, as the best and brightest players in minor hockey have returned to their second homes — the rink. After missing all of the 2020-21 season due to the ongoing pandemic, players with aspirations of one day playing in the N.H.L. have returned to the ice, and with them parents, family, fans and scouts to the seats to watch. And to say that the 2021-22 minor hockey season to date as failed to disappoint would be a massive understatement. Games are being played with a renewed sense of purpose and passion, a reality which has made this campaign to date and incredibly exciting one to watch.

One other factor which has contributed to the excitement we have all witnessed on the ice this year is the immense quality of competition which we are fortunate to witness. This year’s draft class, those born in 2006 and eligible for the 2022 OHL Priority Selection, are as talented and unique as they are in position and region. There are a breadth of incredibly skilled players set to hear their names called in the 2022 OHL Draft, so much so that this — our initial ranking of the season — was woefully difficult to assemble. For example, the likes of Nathan Villeneuve, Michael Hage, Benjamin Cormier, Henry Mews and Malcolm Spence all stand atop this year’s crop… good luck determining which of those players is superior to the others!

Moreover, there are a handful of prospects who hold first-round talent who we have ranked outside of the top-20 for the time being. This class is simply that deeply skilled. With this all being said, jump into our first 2022 OHL Draft ranking of the 2021-22 season. Due to the depth of this year’s class, we’ve also included 25 honourable mentions. These 25 youngsters just missed cracking the top-50 overall, and should be watched closely in the weeks and months ahead as their respective games continue to develop.

Keep in mind that this ranking, coming relatively close to halfway point the season, is still a very early one. We expect this ranking to change dramatically and for new players to be added in the near future.

Have a happy and healthy holidays, everyone!

The Top-50 Prospects

Rank:Player:Team:Position:
1Nathan VilleneuveNavan Grads (HEO)C
2Michael HageToronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)C
3Benjamin CormierNavan Grads (HEO)C
4Henry MewsToronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)D
5Malcolm SpenceMississauga Senators (GTHL)C
6Jack Van Volsen Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)LW
7Beckett SenneckeToronto Marlboros (GTHL)C
8Luca Testa Niagara North Stars (SCTA)W
9Cole Beaudoin Nepean Raiders (HEO)C
10Bode StewartMississauga Senators (GTHL)W
11Liam GreentreeMarkham Majors (GTHL)C
12Riley Patterson Mississauga Senators (GTHL)RW
13Leo SerlinToronto Marlboros (GTHL)F
14Ethan ProcyszynNorth Central Predators (ETA)C
15Caden KellyMississauga Senators (GTHL)RW
16Justin HuynhMississauga Senators (GTHL)D
17Lucas Karmiris Brantford 99ers (Alliance)C
18Parker ForlinNiagara North Stars (SCTA)F
19Frankie MarrelliMarkham Waxers (ETA)D
20Marek VanackerBrantford 99ers (Alliance)F
21Nathan Aspinall Markham Waxers (ETA)F
22Broden McConnell-BarkerLondon Jr. Knights (Alliance)D
23Andrew Vermeulen Niagara North Stars (SCTA)F
24Jay FeldbergToronto Marlboros (GTHL)F
25Braedyn RogersQuinte Red Devils (ETA)D
26Jett LuchankoLondon Jr. Knights (Alliance)F
27William EggletonMississauga Senators (GTHL)F
28Philip RobertoMississauga Senators (GTHL)D
29Xavier BeauchampPembroke Lumber Kings (HEO)D
30Gabriel Frasca Mississauga Senators (GTHL)F
31Christopher SoaresHalton Hurricanes (SCTA)F
32Beckett EwartQuinte Red Devils (ETA) F
33Antonio TersigniToronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)F
34Zayne ParekhMarkham Majors (GTHL)D
35Porter MartoneToronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)F
36Sam O’ReillyVaughan Kings (GTHL)F
37Anthony CristoforoToronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)D
38Caton Ryan Carlton Place Canadians (HEO)F
39Kieron WaltonNorth York Rangers (GTHL)C
40Antonio CerqueMarkham Majors (GTHL)W
41Ethan MacDonaldAjax-Pickering Raiders (ETA)F
42Jacob TherrienClarington Toros (ETA)F
43Jack GoodMarkham Waxers (ETA)F
44Tate VaderHuron-Perth Lakers (Alliance)F
45Danny ThomakosRichmond Hill Coyotes (ETA)F
46Hudson GillBurlington Eagles (SCTA)D
47Roarke GilmourKemptville 73’s (HEO)D
48Tyler O’TooleMississauga Rebels (GTHL)D
49Ryserson LeendersToronto Young Nationals (GTHLG
50Justin BottineauToronto Marlboros (GTHL)F

25 Honourable Mentions

These 25 honourable mentions are listed in alphabetical order.

Rank:Player:Team:Position:
HMNate BrentnellRichmond Hill Coyotes (ETA)F
HMJacob Brunton Nichols School (16U)F
HMKarsen ChartierNorth York Rangers (GTHL)G
HMJack DeanMarkham Majors (GTHL)F
HMNolan DonnellyQuinte Red Devils (ETA)F
HMHayden DuncanLambton Jr. Sting (Alliance)G
HMClark DunfordHamilton Jr. Bulldogs (SCTA)RW
HMLucas EllinasNorth York Rangers (GTHL)F
HMAndrew GaultonMarkham Majors (GTHL)G
HMAnthony GiacaloneMarkham Majors (GTHL)C
HMNate GravelleNorth Bay Trappers (GNML)F
HMCarson HallMarkham Majors (GTHL)F
HMOwen KingBrantford 99ers (Alliance)F
HMDean LetourneauRenfrew Wolves (HEO)F
HMEvan MailletMississauga Senators (GTHL)G
HMEthan MorrisSudbury Nickel Capitals (GNML)F
HMVincent OuelletOHA U18 (HEOG
HMLogan SawyerVaughan Kings (GTHL)F
HMNathan SchaapNorth Central Predators (ETA)D
HMAidan ScheererGuelph Jr. Gryphons (SCTA)G
HMLandon SimecBarrie Colts (ETA)G
HMJustin Tavares Vaughan Kings (GTHL)F
HMEthan TomsQuinte Red Devils (ETA)F
HMLuke TuinNiagara North Stars (SCTA)D
HMMasen WrayNorth Bay Trappers (GNML)F

2022 NHL Draft Ranking: November’s Top-32

Our first 2022 NHL Draft Ranking of the 2021-22 season is now live! In our initial ranking of the campaign, we’ve listed our top-32 prospects as well as eight honourable mentions.

Well folks, hockey is back.

Unlike in 2020-21, every developmental hockey league has returned to action this season, and with it a number of the game’s most talented young prospects. In Canada, top prospects such as Shane Wright and Ty Nelson once again have a league to call home, while on the east and west coasts the WHL and QMJHL have returned to a full schedule — a reality which led to Matt Savoie’s return to the Winnipeg Ice.

Meanwhile, south of the border in the United States, the U.S. National Team Development Program stands poised to produce yet another wave of incredibly skilled young players. Leading the pack is Logan Cooley, a determined centreman who plays with both poise and purpose. Rounding out the latest wave of high-end American prospects are names such as Rutger McGroarty, Isaac Howard and Ryan Chesley — a trio of excellent young players destined for futures in the NHL.

David Goyette of the Sudbury Wolves will be an intriguing prospect to follow in the OHL this season. (Robert Lefebvre /OHL Images)

Across the pond, Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Russia are once again producing high-end NHL prospects. From Finland, the most notable of which is Brad Lambert — a lethal forward with Canadian roots who has to be considered a top-five prospect within this draft class. From Sweden and the Czech Republic are youngsters by the names of Jonathan Lekkermaki and David Jiricek — two prospects playing in their respective countries top leagues and already finding considerable success. Ivam Mrioshnichenko is Russia’s latest gem — a hard-hitting forward with elite skating abilities and one of the classes best releases.

The Top-32 Prospects

Here are our top-32 prospects as we enter into the month of November. Keep in mind that this list is a very early projection, however, expect to see many of the players listed below to be chosen in the first round of the 2022 NHL Draft next June. Feel free to comment on our first ranking of the season below!

Beneath this ranking you’ll also find our list of honourable mentions. This month’s edition features eight highly skilled prospects who fell just short of our top-32 overall.

RankPlayerPosition2021-22 TeamHeightWeight
1Shane WrightCKingston Frontenacs (OHL)6’1”190lbs
2Brad LambertC/WJYP (Liiga)6’180lbs
3Matthew SavoieCWinnipeg Ice (WHL)5’9”180lbs
4Logan CooleyCUSNTDP (USDP/USHL)5’10”175lbs
5Ivan MiroshnichenkoLWOmskie Krylia (VHL)6’1”185lbs
6Joakim KemellRWJYP (Liiga)5’11”180lbs
7Conor GeekieCWinnipeg Ice (WHL)6’4”205lbs
8Simon NemecDHK Nitra (Slovakia) 6’1”190lbs
9Juraj SlafkovskyLWTPS (Liiga)6’4”225lbs
10David JiricekDHC Plzen (Czech)6’3”190lbs
11Danila YurovRWMetallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)6’1”180lbs
12Ty NelsonDNorth Bay Battalion (OHL)5’10”195lbs
13Jonathan LekkerimakiCDjurgardens IF (SHL)5’11”175lbs
14Matthew PoitrasCGuelph Storm (OHL)5’11”175lbs
15Rutger McGroarty CUSNTDP (USDP/USHL)6’205lbs
16Ryan ChesleyDUSNTDP (USDP/USHL)6’195lbs
17Nathan GaucherCQuebec Remparts (QMJHL)6’3”205lbs
18Isaac HowardLWUSNTDP (USDP/USHL)5’10”185lbs
19Tristan LuneauDGatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)6’2”175lbs
20Kevin KorchinskiDSeattle Thunderbirds (WHL)6’2”185lbs
21Elias SalomonssonDSkelleftea AIK (J20 Nationell)6’1”175lbs
22Frank Nazar RWUSNTDP (USDP/USHL)5’10”175lbs
23Filip MesarC/WHK Poprad (Slovakia)5’10”175lbs
24David GoyetteCSudbury Wolves (OHL)5’11”175lbs
25Denton MateychukDMoose Jaw Warriors (WHL)5’11”185lbs
26Jordan GustafsonCSeattle Thunderbirds (WHL)5’11”180lbs
27Liam Arnsby CNorth Bay Battalion (OHL)5’11”185lbs
28Paul LudwinskiCKingston Frontenacs (OHL)5’11”175lbs
29Marco KasperCRogle BK (SHL)6’1”185lbs
30Jordan DumaisRWHalifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)5’9”165lbs
31Bryce McConnell-BarkerCSault Ste Marie Greyhounds (OHL)6’1”190lbs
32Cutter GauthierLWUSNTDP (USDP/USHL)6’2”190lbs

Honourable Mentions

  • Seamus Casey (USNTDP)

The US National Under-18 Team is loaded with elite talent this season, as evidenced by the six players who cracked the top-32 overall in this month’s ranking. Just missing our top-32 for November was Seamus Casey — an excellent puck-moving defenceman widely known for his elite offensive skill-set. Although many pundits view Casey as under-sized, his stellar edge-work and high-end on-ice instincts allow him to play a key role at both ends of the ice. Expect this University of Michigan commit to soar up draft rankings this season.

  • Pano Fimis (Niagara IceDogs)

The second-overall selection in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection, Pano Fimis is a talented offensive player who can do it all on the ice. Whether he be skating on the power-play, helping to kill a penalty, winning a key face-off or delivering a timely hit, Fimis can be counted upon by his coaches and teammates to bring his best on a nightly basis.

  • Jack Hughes (Northeastern University)

A late 2003-born prospect, Jack Hughes has taken his talents to Northeastern University this season following two terrific years of development with the USNTDP. Known for his playmaking abilities, Hughes is a pass-first player who makes his line-mates better on a nightly basis. Although he would do well to add strength to his frame, Hughes’ innate skill-set on the ice will make him an intriguing prospect for many NHL teams.

  • Lane Hutson (USNTDP)

Yet another standout USNTDP prospect, Lane Hutson is a fleet-footed offensive defenceman who can leave opposing players disoriented and guessing. In addition to his ability to quarter-back a powerplay, Hutson fires crisp breakout passes to his forwards and helps to facilitate a smooth transition game between his defensive and offensive zones when on the ice. At 5’8″ and 150lbs, Hutson’s size is the biggest obstacle in the path of his development.

  • Maveric Lamoureux (Drummondville Voltigeurs)

A first-round pick of the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the 2020 QMJHL Draft, Lamoureux is a towering defender who plays a detailed defensive game with growing offensive upside. The 6’7″, 200-pound defender recorded seven points in his 24 games as a rookie a season ago, and will surely log more significant minutes with the Voltigeurs ahead of his selection in the 2022 NHL Draft.

  • Liam Ohgren (Djurgardens IF)

After shredding the Swedish Under-20 league last season as a 16-year-old, Liam Ohgren has made the impressive jump to the SHL this campaign as a member of Djurgardens IF — a reality which speaks to his maturity and lethal skill-set on the ice. Boasting great strength for his age and a lightning quick-release, Ohgren is a natural goal-scorer of significant intrigue.

  • Antonin Verreault (Gatineau Olympiques)

The second-overall selection in the 2020 QMJHL Draft, Antonin Verreault is a formidable offensive player who can score goals as well as create them. Owing to his ability to bulge the twine as well as make plays, Verreault is a truly unpredictable player whose speed and creativity forces his opponents onto their heels with great regularity.

  • Danny Zhilkin (Guelph Storm)

Drafted in the first-round of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection by the Guelph Storm, Dany Zhilkin is a wildly talented offensive player whose game is fuelled by his skating. Capable of blowing past opposing defenders and driving hard to the net, Zhilkin is a determined player who also boasts high-end puck-handling and shooting skills. If able to produce offence at a consistent pace this season, Zhilkin should be able to push himself up draft boards.

10 OHL Rookies to Watch in 2021-22

The OHL is back, and the 2021-22 season will introduce two rookie classes to the league — but which players will make the biggest impact with their new team’s?

The OHL is set to return on October 7th, 2021 — marking the official end of a long and painful layoff enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the 2020-21 OHL campaign was unfortunately cancelled, there is a wealth of storylines to follow as we enter the regular season. Perhaps the most notable storyline of all will be the immense influx of young talent into the league this campaign. Since last season was lost, it means that two rookie classes are set to enter the OHL this season — those born in 2004 and 2005 (with the exception of Shane Wright, of course).

With this being said, there will be an incredible number of youngsters eager to make their mark at the OHL-level this campaign. At the top of the list is none other than Ty Nelson, the first-overall choice in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection who has waited more than a year to take to the ice with the North Bay Battalion. Then there is the 2021 OHL Priority Selection’s first overall choice, Quentin Musty — a power-forward poised to follow in the footsteps of another stellar Quinton who leap-frogged through Sudbury on his way to the Los Angeles Kings in 2020-21.

Ty Nelson has waited more than a year to hit the ice with the North Bay Battalion after being selected first overall in the 2020 OHL Draft. (Photo: Tim Cornett)

So, while we all know that Nelson and Musty will make an immediate impact this season, what other prospects chosen within the past two OHL Drafts could make the biggest splash in their rookie campaigns? Here are ten young players who we expect to explode as they step onto the OHL stage this season, listed in alphabetical order:

10 Rookies to Watch This Season

Colby Barlow

2021-22 Team: Owen Sound Attack

As one of the most talented 2005-born prospects around, it came as a surprise to see Colby Barlow fall to the Owen Sound Attack at eighth-overall in the 2021 OHL Priority Selection. Barlow owns impeccable hockey sense, refined puck skills and the ability to be a force at both ends of the ice on a nightly basis. What’s more is that Barlow has great size and strength for a player of his age — a fact which should allow him to step directly in the Attack’s top-six come opening night.

Jorian Donovan

2021-22 Team: Hamilton Bulldogs

The second defenceman chosen in the 2020 OHL Draft, Jorian Donovan will be counted upon to play major minutes for the Hamilton Bulldogs in his rookie season in the OHL. Fortunately for Donovan, he boasts all of the skills and abilities necessary to allow for a smooth and easy transition. As a tremendous skater with great size, Donovan will be able to showcase his premier shut down abilities in his defensive end this coming campaign and will surely come to playing an impactful offensive role as well. While he likely won’t see considerable time on the Bulldogs’ first power play unit to begin the season, expect Donovan to have a firm grasp on the role come the end of the season.

David Goyette

2021-22 Team: Sudbury Wolves

After dominating the HEO and setting the minor hockey circuit in the U.S. ablaze as a member of Selects Academy, David Goyette will make his long awaited return to Canada this season with the Sudbury Wolves. Although there was a fair deal of uncertainty revolving his selection in the 2020 OHL Draft, Goyette was nabbed by the Wolves and now stands poised to be one of their best players this coming season. Boasting blazing speed, ample agility and the innate hockey sense necessary to keep opposing defenders on their toes, Goyette could very well prove to be one of the best players chosen in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection — if not the best in a few years’ time.

Zakary Lavoie

2021-22 Team: Mississauga Steelheads

Despite being neglected by Hockey Canada in recent international events, Zakary Lavoie stands poised to enjoy a terrific rookie campaign with the Mississauga Steelheads this coming season. Lavoie is a strong and stable skater known for his tactile edge work who can make an impact at both ends of the ice. However, where is most deadly comes in the offensive zone, as Lavoie owns a lethal shot and the vision necessary to create high-percentage scoring chances for his team. Don’t be surprised if Lavoie sees regular time within the Steelheads’ top-six this season as well as on their first powerplay unit this season.

Paul Ludwinski

2021-22 Team: Kingston Frontenacs

If you’re looking for a strong two-way player who excels in each and every facet of the game, look no further than Paul Ludwinski. The fifth-overall selection in the 2020 OHL Draft, Ludwinski plays a refined and highly detailed 200-foot game — an ability which allows him to thrive in all situations on the ice. Whether he is killing a penalty or contributing to a power play, Ludwinski finds ways in which to be productive while helping to improve the play of his fellow teammates in the process. A natural leader and deadly offensive player, Ludwinski’s game is eerily similar to that of another star centre which the Frontenacs are fortunate to ice.

Bryce McConnell-Barker

2021-22 Team: Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds

The 2019-20 Alliance Player of the Year, Bryce McConnell-Barker stands poised to play a major role within the Greyhounds’ top-six this season. With great size and strength, McConnell-Barker is a difficult player to shutdown who is seemingly impossible to knock off of the puck. Moreover, he owns a stellar shot and the ability to score goals in a variety of ways — hence why he was able to score 29 goals in his 33 regular season games played with the London Jr. Knights in his U16 season. As a well-rounded centre who oozes consistency and the makings of a professional player, expect steady production from McConnell-Barker in his rookie OHL campaign.

Max Namestnikov

2021-22 Team: Sarnia Sting

Although the Sarnia Sting will boast a young team this coming season, it will be one that is not only highly skilled but incredibly competitive. Set to lead the way for the new-look Sting is none other than Max Namestnikov — the club’s third overall selection in the 2020 OHL Draft. Well known for his refined skill-set and lethality when the puck is on his stick, Namestnikov is a raw and dangerous offensive player who can fill the score sheet with startling regularity when he is at his best. The main knock on Namestnikov has long been his lack of size and strength, however, the youngster now stands a whopping 25-pounds heavier than he did one year ago — a transition which should allow him to stand as a formidable force in his upcoming rookie season.

Sasha Pastujov

2021-22 Team: Guelph Storm

Despite being drafted by the Guelph Storm in the 2019 OHL Draft, Sasha Pastujov headed south of the border and competed with the U.S. Development Program for the past two seasons. In those two campaigns, Pastujov further established himself as a premier offensive player — totalling 65 points in 41 games played this past season alongside an impressive 26 points in 18 USHL contests. With great size, strength, playmaking skills and the ability to score timely goals, Pastujov — a third-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in the 2021 NHL Draft — should enjoy a seamless transition to the OHL-level with Guelph.

Carson Rehkopf

2021-22 Team: Kitchener Rangers

During the 2021 OHL Draft, many organizations were unsure of whether or not Carson Rehkopf would opt for the major-junior route if selected. As a result, he fell outside of the top-ten despite being one of the most talented forwards eligible for selection. However, the Kitchener Rangers decided to take a chance on Rehkopf, and it was a gamble which paid immediate dividends. Now committed to the Rangers for the 2021-22 season, Rehkopf will join a highly skilled Rangers roster laden with NHL prospects and depth at every position on the ice. If afforded with ample playing time as well as opportunities in different situations, Rehkopf should be able to total a significant offensive output while quickly becoming one of Kitchener’s top players in the process.

Calum Ritchie

2021-22 Team: Oshawa Generals

Did the Oshawa Generals select the best player available in the 2021 OHL Draft with the second overall selection? Well, although time will tell, there is no question that the Generals added an elite two-way centre to their roster. A deadly offensive player, Ritchie can score goals as well as create them and boasts an innate level of hockey sense typically reserved for high-end NHL prospects. What’s more is that Ritchie often plays an important role in his own zone as well, using his size and strength to assist his defenders in stealing the puck from his opposition before transitioning possession up ice to his fellow forwards. In short, expect Ritchie to have an instant and substantial impact with the Generals this season alongside Ty Tullio and Brett Harrison — we could be talking about the 2021-22 Rookie of the Year in a few months’ time.

Five Honourable Mentions

Sam Alfano

2021-22 Team: Peterborough Petes

Don’t be surprised if Alfano jumps directly into the Petes’ top-six to begin his rookie season. The 6-foot-3 winger and former SCTA Player of the Year is a deadly offensive player who played at a two point-per-game pace in his most recent season with the Southern Tier Admirals.

Pano Fimis

2021-22 Team: Niagara IceDogs

The second-overall choice in the 2020 OHL Draft will be given every opportunity to succeed with the Niagara IceDogs this season. A blue-collar, hard-working player who plays a full 200-foot game, Fimis will surely enjoy ample power-play time considerable even-strength ice time as he acclimates himself to the OHL-level.

Isaiah George

2021-22 Team: London Knights

The London Knights did what the London Knights do in the 2020 OHL Draft, nabbing Isaiah George in the fourth-round at 68th overall. The former Toronto Marlboros star was projected to be chosen in the first-round with ease, but a lack of clarity regarding the direction of his playing future allowed the Knights to secure his rights. Expect the strong and steady George to play a major role with the Knights this season.

Cedric Guindon

2021-22 Team: Owen Sound Attack

The HEO Player of the Year in 2019-20, Cedric Guindon is a formidable offensive force who can be relied upon to play a responsible and disciplined game at both ends of the ice. An equally talented playmaker and goal-scorer, expect Guindon to quickly develop into a jack of all trades for the Attack.

Hunter Haight

2021-22 Team: Barrie Colts

As one of the 2020 OHL Draft’s most lethal goal scorers, expect Haight to pick up right where he left off as a member of the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs this season. Haight is a natural goal-scorer who can pot the puck in a variety of ways — moreover, he can act as a playmaker when opposing defenders place too much emphasis on his ability to shoot the puck.

2022 OHL Draft: 15 Top Prospects to Watch

Although the 2022 OHL Draft is months away, we’ve compiled a list of 15 top 2006-born prospects you’ll want to watch this season.

Although the 2022 OHL Priority Selection remains months away, we’ve been itching to discuss this year’s class of draft-eligible players. And why is that, you ask? Well, the 2006-born class of OHL prospects appears to be an incredibly strong and deep one, as there are players of elite-level talent to be found at virtually every position on the ice. In addition, because of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, the hockey world has been deprived of its normalcy and routines for far too long. However, with minor hockey and its leagues ramping up to restart in just a few short months, there truly is no time like the present to begin highlighting some of the best young players which the 2006-born draft class has to offer!

With that being said, let’s take a look at 15 of the top 2006-born prospects eligible for the 2022 OHL Priority Selection. Although this list has been compiled at quite an early date as mentioned above, we feel as though the bulk of players mentioned below will be made first or second-round selections in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection, if not household names in due time.

15 Prospects To Watch

Jacob Brunton – C

2019-20 Team: Southern Tier Admirals (SCTA)

Recent Stats: 6GP: 3G, 7Pts (WYC U14) || 32GP: 10G, 20Pts (SCTA, 19′-20′)

The first player on our list is none other than Jacob Brunton, a highly technical centre-man who played most recently for the Southern Tier Admirals of the SCTA. Already boasting good size and strength, Brunton boasts a clear vision on the ice when the puck is on his stick and has the ability to create plays as well as finish them. Known for his quick hands and strong work-ethic, Brunton plays a detailed two-way game and doesn’t hesitate to attack his opponents one-on-one when he has both speed and determination on his side.

Nolan Donnelly – LW

2019-20 Team: Quinte Red Devils (ETA)

Recent Stats: 6GP: 5G, 8Pts (WYC U14)

The Quinte Red Devils have come to be known for their ability to develop highly skilled power-forwards, and Nolan Donnelly appears to be the next line. Standing 6-foot-2, Donnelly is a highly skilled winger who boasts blazing speed and the willingness to drive hard to the next with the puck on his stick or in search of rebounds. As a natural goal-scorer, Donnelly isn’t afraid to unleash his heavy shot on goal — in addition, his tendency to shoot the puck also allows him to create plays if his opposition consistently challenges his shot.

Parker Forlin – C

2019-20 Team: Southern Tier Admirals (SCTA)

Recent Stats: 32GP: 34G, 56Pts

Parker Forlin is one of the most dangerous offensive players skating in the SCTA — a reality which could make him one of if not the first player selected from the SCTA come the 2022 OHL Draft. Although slightly under-sized, Forlin is a dynamic offensive machine. Not only does Forlin feature terrific speed and agility, but the youngster pairs a crisp, accurate shot with innate play-making abilities. As a multi-faceted centre, Forlin keeps his opposition on their toes due to his unpredictable nature when the puck is on his stick. In short, there are many reasons why Forlin scored at greater than a goal-per-game pace in his most recent season — expect him to continue this trend in 2021-22 as he ramps up for the 2022 OHL Draft.

Michael Hage – C

2019-20 Team: Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)

Although somewhat under-sized compared to the majority of his competition, Michael Hage stands as a lethal two-way player capable of influencing the outcome of any given game. As a terrific skater, Hage uses his speed, acceleration and stellar edge-work to fly about the ice and create ample distance from his opposition.

Capable of devising plays or shooting the puck, Hage can do it all in the offensive zone owing to his strong work-ethic and relentless pursuit of the puck. In addition, Hage is routinely one of the smartest and most calculated players on the ice — he doesn’t take unnecessary risks and has the innate ability to predict the outcome of plays before they develop.

Justin Huynh – D

2019-20 Team: Mississauga Senators (GTHL)

Recent Stats: 7GP: 4G, 11Pts (WYC U14)

If you’re curious as to who could be the top defenceman selected in the 2022 OHL Draft, look no further than Justin Huynh. With great size and strength heading into his Minor Midget season, the parallels between Huynh and 2020 OHL Draft first-overall selection Ty Nelson are seemingly endless. Like Nelson, Huynh is a terrific two-way defenceman who can be relied upon at even-strength, on the power-play, and on the penalty-kill. Capable of driving his team’s offensive game from the back-end, Huynh is as aggressive as they come when the puck is on his stick and can quarterback his team’s power-play with absolute ease. Consistently a point-per-game player and incredibly difficult to play against within his own zone, don’t be surprised if Hunyh is one of the first players selected come the 2022 OHL Draft.

Owen King – F

2019-20 Team: Don Mills Flyers (GTHL)

When the GTHL resumes play, expect Owen King to be at the top of the goal-scoring leaderboard. What makes King such a deadly offensive player is his ability to operate with the puck on his stick at a high-level of speed. Not many players can do it, but those that can handle the puck as they intend to while blazing down the ice like King can boast the ability to create over-whelming scoring opportunities for their teams. Known for his great shot and ability to score goals in a wide variety of ways, look for King to fill the net en route to the 2022 OHL Draft.

Evan Maillet – G

2019-20 Team: Mississauga Senators (GTHL)

Recent Stats: 3GP: 2.25GAA, .905%SVP (WYC U14)

Although it’s early, expect Evan Maillet to stand as one of the top goaltenders eligible for the 2022 OHL Draft in a few months’ time. Following in the footsteps of former Mississauga Senators star goaltender Charles-Edward Gravel, Maillet is a highly technical goaltender who boats laser-sharp focus and the innate ability to come up with timely saves for his team. In addition, Maillet positions himself well within his crease, has a great feel for his angles and doesn’t hesitate to challenge shooters in order to reduce their shooting angles. While he is still growing in stature, Maillet has all of the tools necessary to develop into a stellar goaltender at the next level.

Henry Mews – F/D

2019-20 Team: Ottawa Senators U14 (HEO)

Recent Stats: 29GP: 25G, 62Pts

Henry Mews led the HEO in scoring at the U14 level in the 2019-20 season. Across his 29 games played, he collected 25 goals and 62 points — a mark which topped fellow top prospect Nathan Villeneuve by six points. However, the most impressive aspect of this performance was that Mews did so while alternating between playing centre and defence.

Although he is a natural defenceman, Mews’ lethal skill set and abilities allowed him to play centre when called upon by his team, and to say that he did well would be a massive understatement. If he chooses to become a full-time forward, don’t be surprised if his offensive totals sky-rocket this coming season. However, if he chooses to man the blue-line full time, he’ll remind you of former Ottawa Senators star Erik Karlsson.

Riley Patterson – C

2019-20 Team: Burlington Eagles (SCTA)

Recent Stats: 32GP: 35G, 48Pts

When you score at greater than a goal-per-game pace, scouts are going to take notice. And that is exactly what Riley Patterson did in his most recent season with the Burlington Eagles of the SCTA, as the youngster potted 35 goals in just 32 games played. Simply put, Patterson is a natural goal-scorer — his shot is hard and accurate and he owns a wicked release which he can snap on goal in the blink of an eye. Moreover, Patterson can deflect pucks well and finish rebounds despite being in-tight to the goal. Look for him to establish himself as one of the 2022 OHL Draft’s best goal scorers this coming campaign.

Beckett Sennecke – C

2019-20 Team: Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)

Recent Stats: 4GP: 2G, 3Pts (WYC U14)

What would the OHL Draft be without a handful of incredibly talented Toronto Marlboros prospects? Beckett Sennecke checks all of the boxes when it comes to being incredibly talented, as the youngster has lightning-quick hands, significant on-ice intelligence and the innate hockey sense necessary to succeed at the next-level. While he is no stranger to scoring goals, Sennecke’s true strength lies in his play-making abilities. Whether on the rush or in tight to the goal, Sennecke has the ability to feather passes to his teammates or draw opposing defenders in in order to create time and space to devise a lethal scoring chance.

Malcolm Spence – W

2019-20 Team: Mississauga Senators (GTHL)

Recent Stats: 8GP: 9G, 19Pts (WYC U14)

Malcolm Spence could be a top-five selection in the 2022 OHL Draft — his game is simply that strong and well-rounded. The foundation of Spence’s game is his skating, as the youngster boasts a stable stride and one which affords him with great speed and agility on the ice. In addition to his deceptive skating Spence features a blistering and accurate shot which he can put on net from a variety of angles.

Moreover, he can change his shooting angle with ease based on the traffic in front of him and has the ability to deceive opposing goaltenders as a direct result. However, this is just one facet of his game, as Spence is also a calculated playmaker who loves to setup his teammates and devise high-percentage scoring plays. As an incredibly hard-working and team oriented player, you’ll want to keep an eye on Spence this season.

Luke Tuin – D

2019-20 Team: Niagara North Stars (SCTA)

Recent Stats: 29GP: 6G, 14Pts

If you’re looking for a steady, minute-munching two-way defender, then Luke Tuin is your man. Unlike most defencemen these days who are particularly offensively minded, Tuin places a strong focus on his own one before thinking offence. Tuin boasts an active and accurate stick which he uses to break up scoring chances, as well as the size and strength necessary to punish opposing forwards below the goal line. Tuin’s ability to play a physical game is well complimented by his skating, as he can chase down and smother opposing players before jostling the puck loose and transitioning possession to his forwards shortly after.

Nathan Villeneuve – C

2019-20 Team: Ottawa Jr. 67’s (HEO)

Recent Stats: 29GP: 33G, 56Pts

The HEO is loaded with elite 2006-born talent, and Nathan Villeneuve of the Ottawa Jr. 67’s could very well be the best of them all. As an impressive physical specimen, Villenueve boasts terrific strength and has come to be known as almost impossible to knock off of the puck when it is on his stick. Featuring a relentless compete level and work-ethic, Villeneuve strives to create offence with each passing shift and is successful in doing so at an alarming rate. Not only does he possess an OHL-calibre shot, but Villeneuve is a tactful and deadly playmaker who makes those who he plays alongside better each and every night. Moreover, Villeneuve is developing into the type of leader which all teams and players hope for — in short, he is a complete prospect who should easily command a top-five overall come the 2022 OHL Draft.

Matthew Virgilio D

2019-20 Team: Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)

For scouts and fans alike, Matthew Virgilio is going to remind you of a former Toronto Marlboros star by the name of Jamie Drysdale. Now, that is not to say that Virgilio plays the same game as Drysdale, as Virgilio’s play is different in a number of ways — however, the comparisons in a number of regards are rather shocking. Like Drysdale, Virgilio skates incredibly well and loves to push the pace of the play.

And, like Drysdale, Virgilio is incredibly intelligent on the ice and has the ability to read react to the play before it develops. Further, Virgilio is an elite two-way defenceman, as he can shut down opposing players owing to his active stick and firm gap control before transitioning the puck up the ice alongside his teammates. In this year’s draft class, expect to see Virgilio, Mews and Hunyh as three of the top defenders available.

Thomas Zocco – F

2019-20 Team: North Jersey Avalanche (AYHL)

Recent Stats: 16GP: 16G, 40Pts

Although he isn’t a lock to play in the OHL in 2022-23 given the fact that he is a native of New York, Thomas Zocco would surely be a highly sought after prospect in the 2022 OHL Draft were he to announce his intention to play in the league. In 2019-20, Zocco played up a year against older competition and was able to record 27 points in 20 games played. Then, in 2020-21 against competition the same age as him, Zocco scored 16 goals and recorded 40 points in just 16 games played with the North Jersey Avalanche of the AYHL. A stout two-way player with great size and natural offensive instincts, Zocco’s terrific shot and consistent level of play would make him a first-round talent should he decide to opt for the OHL.

2021 NHL Draft Review: 5 Undervalued OHL Prospects

With the 2021 NHL Draft in the books, we look at five OHL players who were woefully undervalued by every NHL organization.

With the 2021 NHL Draft officially in the books, the time has come to review the prospects who were — and weren’t — selected within the event. Once again, the Ontario Hockey League was well represented, with 30 of the 224 players chosen in the Draft hailing from prominent organizations with the League. The most notable of these 30 players were Mason McTavish and Brandt Clarke — two incredibly skilled youngsters whose play and prominence led to their selections within the top-ten overall.

While a handful of other talented OHL prospects were also chosen inside of the first round of the 2021 NHL Draft, it was those who were chosen later — or not at all — which garnered a great deal of attention come the conclusion of the event. It is no secret that the OHL did not play during the 2020-21 season due to the Coronavirus pandemic — a reality which had a detrimental impact on the progression of hundreds of players who suddenly found themselves without a place to play during the campaign. This inability to showcase their personal skill-sets undoubtedly impacted their respective draft stocks, as a number of wildly talented OHL players were selected shockingly late within the 2021 NHL Draft, or not at all.

While it goes without saying that being selected by an NHL franchise regardless of the round is nothing less than an honour and incredible accomplishment, here are five youngsters who we believe were woefully undervalued by all 32 franchises over the course of the 2021 NHL Draft.

Benjamin Gaudreau

2020-21 Statistics: 5-0-0, .919%, 2.20GAA (WJC-U18)

2021-22 Team: Sarnia Sting

NHL Draft Status: Round Three, 81st Overall (San Jose Sharks)

Widely regarded as one of Canada’s top young goaltending prospects, Benjamin Gaudreau burst onto the scene with the Sarnia Sting in 2019-20 as a rookie. Although his statistics weren’t sparkling, they were quite impressive given the Sting’s struggles on the ice — Gaudreau earned a save percentage of .890% despite being shelled by high quality scoring chances on a nightly basis. Had he been able to play during the 2020-21 OHL campaign, Gaudreau undoubtedly would have taken a significant step forward in his personal development and have helped the Sting to a fairly successful season in the process.

Despite being held off of the ice this past season with the exception of the U18 World Junior Championship where he was stellar, Gaudreau was still expected to be chosen in the late-first to early-second round of the 2021 NHL Draft. Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 180-pounds, Gaudreau’s highly athletic nature and innate abilities in the crease commanded nothing less. However, come the event, Gaudreau was forced to wait until the middle of the third-round before he heard his name called by the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks, who likely stole one of the best goaltending prospects available, were surely shocked to see Gaudreau still available when they stepped up to make their selection.

Braeden Kressler

2020-21 Statistics: Did Not Play

2021-22 Team: Flint Firebirds

NHL Draft Status: Undrafted

Being under-valued is nothing new to Braeden Kressler, as the youngster who oozes elite hockey sense and ability was also over-looked in the first round of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. Eventually, Kressler was nabbed by the Flint Firebirds in the second-round, 28th overall — a somewhat shocking fall given his refined skill set and innate offensive abilities. Come the 2021 NHL Draft, the case was unfortunately no different for Kressler, as all seven rounds came and went without Kressler hearing his name called.

Kressler, a second-round selection of the Flint Firebirds, recorded 18 points in his rookie OHL campaign. (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

However, rather than be disappointed, Kressler will surely use this setback as fuel to improve throughout the coming 2021-22 OHL campaign. After posting 18 points in 46 regular season contests as a rookie, Kressler will take to the ice determined to prove his doubters wrong. Although he has always been somewhat under-sized, Kressler compensates for this perceived deficiency through his incredible work ethic tireless engine. Dogged in his pursuit of the puck, Kressler has shown the ability to play a detailed two-way game — now, the time has come for his relentless hard work to pay off on the scoreboard.

Connor Lockhart

2020-21 Statistics: Did Not Play

2021-22 Team: Erie Otters

NHL Draft Status: Round Six, 178th Overall (Vancouver Canucks)

Despite seeing inconsistent ice time on an Erie Otters team flush with depth at their offensive positions, Connor Lockhart still managed to collect 27 points in his 57 regular season contests in 2019-20 — a level of output commensurate with that of a third-overall selection in the OHL Priority Selection. Laden with high-end offensive skills and terrific skating abilities, Lockhart stood poised to erupt in his sophomore season in the OHL. However, when the 2020-21 season was cancelled, it robbed Lockhart of the ability to showcase his true potential at the next level.

As a result, Lockhart didn’t hear his name called until the sixth-round of the 2021 NHL Draft. While time will tell, at first glance it appears as though the Vancouver Canucks stole a player of first-round caliber at 178th overall. With plenty of room to grow and loads of experience to attain, Lockhart should become a prominent offensive player within the Otters’ lineup this coming season — he’ll no doubt prove those who overlooked him wrong in the process.

Francesco Pinelli

2020-21 Statistics: 13GP: 5G, 11Pts (HDD Jesenice, AlpsHL)

2021-22 Team: Kitchener Rangers

NHL Draft Status: Round Two, 42nd Overall (LA Kings)

As a first-round selection of the Kitchener Rangers in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection and the third-highest scoring rookie in his inaugural campaign, it came as no surprise to see Francesco Pinelli projected by many as a first round talent ahead of the 2021 NHL Draft. A player who can score goals, create plays, provide leadership and play a sound 200-foot game, Pinelli has all the makings of a top-six forward at the next level — a reality which should have made him a highly sought after player in the NHL Draft.

Pinelli’s 41 points as a rookie stood as the third-highest total amongst all freshmen in the 2019-20 OHL campaign. (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

However, come Draft Day, Pinelli did not hear his name called. In fact, Pinelli would have to wait until Saturday and the second-round before he discovered where his future in the game lay. Eventually nabbed by the Los Angeles Kings with the 42nd overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft, to say that many were shocked to see Pinelli fall into the second-round would be an understatement. Long viewed as a consensus first-round pick, Pinelli shockingly fell to the Kings in the second-round — a team which now boasts a wealth of high-end OHL talent in Quinton Byfield, Brandt Clarke and Pinelli. Although Pinelli was surely thrilled to be selected in the Draft regardless of the position, the fact remains that his skill-set and potential should have commanded a first-round selection.

Brenden Sirizzotti

2020-21 Statistics: Did Not Play

2021-22 Team: Ottawa 67’s

NHL Draft Status: Undrafted

Despite putting on a clinic for the Pickering Panthers of the OJHL in the 2019-20 season and being ranked as the 143rd best North American skater as a direct result, Brenden Sirizzotti failed to hear his name called during the 2021 NHL Draft. A second-round pick of the Ottawa 67’s in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, Sirizzotti skated in nine OHL contests as a rookie, but was largely held out of the team’s lineup due to its incredible depth at every position on the ice. As a result, Sirizzotti was able to shred the OJHL instead, amassing 17 goals and 57 points in just 41 games played — a total which led all 2003-born skaters by a wide margin.

Come the 2021-22 OHL campaign, expect Sirizzotti to make a substantial impact with the 67’s. Boasting blazing speed, terrific hands and the ability to execute highly technical plays at a high rate of speed, Sirizzotti should quickly establish himself as a top-six forward and player who should not have been overlooked in the 2021 NHL Draft. There is a reason why Sirizzotti was named as the OMHA’s ETA Player of the Year in 2018-19, after all — he blasted home 32 goals and 93 points in his 36 league games played as a member of the Whitby Wildcats.

2020 NHL Draft Ranking: Final Top-62 Prospects

With the 2020 NHL Draft around the corner, we’ve released our final draft ranking of the 2019-20 season. Included inside are our top-62 prospects available, ten honourable mentions and player profiles.

The 2020 NHL Draft will go down in history as one of the strongest prospect classes of all-time — if not the strongest when analyzed in a few years’ time.

Not only does this year’s class feature a bonafide star in the making in Alexis LafreniΓ¨re, but it also boasts a bounty of equally talented players set for NHL stardom in the very near future. In fact, an elite goaltender, two franchise defencemen and a quadruple of future first-line centres stand poised to be selected within the top-ten of the 2020 NHL Draft alone — not to mention the 21 other players poised to comprise the first round of the event. With this being said, depth is the name of the game ahead of this year’s Draft, as all 31 NHL franchises hold the ability to land a future star player — whether it come in the first round or beyond.

Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s is a lock to be selected within the top-10 of the 2020 NHL Draft. (Photo Credit: OHL Images)

As a result of this impressive depth, draft picks held by NHL teams in the second and third rounds will be of immense value — and will be incredibly difficult to attain for franchises without a selection in the top-31. As you will see below, there are many players who feature first-round talent who will undoubtedly fall into the second or third-rounds of the Draft owing to the sheer depth of this year’s class. Of note are the likes of Lukas Reichel, Roni Hirovonen and Jacob Perreault — three explosive young forwards who could rather easily come to be defined as draft-day steals if selected later than 45th overall.

With this being said, let’s jump into our final 2020 NHL Draft ranking of what has been an extremely prolonged 2019-20 NHL season. One benefit of COVID-19, however, is the fact that never has more time or attention been paid to an incoming class of prospects — as each NHL franchise is put on the clock on draft night, odds are every organization will know exactly who they want to select.

The First Round

RankPlayerPosition2019-20 TeamHeightWeight
1Alexis LafreniΓ¨reLWRimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)6’1”192lbs
2Quinton ByfieldCSudbury Wolves (OHL)6’4”215lbs
3Tim StutzleCAdler Mannheim (DEL)5’11”165lbs
4Jamie DrysdaleDErie Otters (OHL)5’11”165lbs
5Alexander HoltzRW/LWDjurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)6’183lbs
6Marco RossiCOttawa 67’s (OHL)5’9”179lbs
7Cole PerfettiCSaginaw Spirit (OHL)5’10”185lbs
8Lucas RaymondRWFrolunda HC J20 (SuperElit)5’10”165lbs
9Jake SandersonDU.S. U18 Team (US NTDP)6’1”170lbs
10Yaroslav AskarovGSKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)6’3”163lbs
11Jack Quinn RWOttawa 67’s (OHL)5’11”176lbs
12Anton LundellC/LWHIFK (Liiga)6’1”183lbs
13Justin BarronHalifax Mooseheads6’2”187lbs
14Dawson MercerRWDrummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)6’172lbs
15Kaiden GuhleDPrince Albert Raiders (WHL)6’3”187lbs
16Connor ZaryCKamloops Blazers (WHL)6’174lbs
17Noel GunlerRW/LWLulea HF (SHL)6’1” 176lbs
18Mavrik BourqueCShawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)5’10”165lbs
19Dylan HollowayCUniversity of Wisconsin (NCAA)6’192lbs
20Helge GransDMalmo Redhawks J20 (SuperElit)6’3”192lbs
21John-Jason PeterkaRWEHC Munchen (DEL)5’11”192lbs
22Seth JarvisRWPortland Winterhawks (WHL)5’10”172lbs
23Jeremie PoirierDSaint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)6’195lbs
24Tyson Foerster CBarrie Colts (OHL)5’11”175lbs
25Ryan O’RourkeDSault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)6’2”180lbs
26Hendrix LapierreCChicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)5’11”175lbs
27Jan MysakLWHamilton Bulldogs (OHL)6’176lbs
28Brendan BrissonCChicago Steel (USHL)5’11”180lbs
29Jake NeighboursLWEdmonton Oil Kings (WHL)5’11”201lbs
30Martin ChromiakLWKingston Frontenacs (OHL)6’179lbs
31Braden SchneiderDBrandon Wheat Kings (WHL)6’2”210lbs

The Second Round

As mentioned above, the 31 players projected to be chosen within the second-round of the 2020 NHL Draft are of incredible talent and potential. In a normal year, many if not most of these players would have been selected in the opening round of the event — however, this year’s prospect class is a strong as ever before. With this in mind, don’t be surprised if a number of these prospects rise and are selected within the top-31 of the event come draft night.

RankPlayerPosition2019-20 TeamHeightWeight
32Lukas ReichelFEisbaren Berlin (DEL)6’0”170lbs
33Lukas CormierDCharlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)5’10”175lbs
34Roni HirvovenCAssat (Liiga)5’9”165lbs
35Emil AndraeDHV71 J20 (SuperElit)5’9”183lbs
36Jacob PerreaultCSarnia Sting (OHL)5’11”198lbs
37Rodion AmirovLWTolpar Ufa (MHL)6’170lbs
38Michael BenningDSherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)5’9”170lbs
39Veeti MiettinenRWKiekko-Espoo U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)5’9”160lbs
40Ridly GreigLWBrandon Wheat Kings (WHL)5’11”160lbs
41Justin SourdifCVancouver Giants (WHL)5’11” 165lbs
42Ozzy Wiesblatt RWPrince Albert Raiders (WHL)5’10”195lbs
43Thomas BordeleauCU.S. U18 Team (US NTDP)5’9”179lbs
44Kasper SimontaivalRWTappara (Liiga)5’9”172lbs
45William WallinderDMODO J20 (SuperElit)6’4”192bs
46Daniil GushchinRWMuskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)5’8”161lbs
47Carter SavoieLWSherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)5’9”170lbs
48Luke EvangelistaRWLondon Knights (OHL)5’11”165lbs
49Zion NybeckRWHV71 J20 (SuperElit)5’8”176lbs
50Tyler Tullio COshawa Generals (OHL)5’9”165lbs
51Ty SmilanicLWU.S U18 Team (US NTDP)6’1”178lbs
52Topi NiemelaDKarpat (Liiga)6’165lbs
53Shakir MukhamadullinDSalavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)6’4”180lbs
54Jaromir Pytlik CSault Ste Marie Greyhounds (OHL)6’3”196lbs
55Will Cuylle LWWindsor Spitfires (OHL)6’2”201lbs
56Luke Tuch LWU.S. U18 Team (US NTDP)6’2”205lbs
57Dylan PetersonCU.S. U18 Team (US NTDP)6’4”185lbs
58Tyler Kleven DU.S. U18 Team (US NTDP)6’4”201lbs
59Hayden FowlerCErie Otters (OHL)5’10”180lbs
60Daniel TorgerssonLWFrolunda HC (SHL)6’3”205lbs
61James Hardie LWMississauga Steelheads (OHL)5’11”165lbs
62Rory KerinsCSault Ste Marie Greyhounds (OHL)5’11”172lbs

Ten Honourable Mentions

No NHL Draft Ranking would be complete without an additional list of honourable mentions. These ten players listed below just failed to crack the top-62 overall — however, don’t be surprised if a number of these youngsters rise significantly on draft day. While opinions of these prospects varied wildly over the course of the 2019-20 campaign, the fact remains that are boast immense skill and potential.

  • Brock Faber — D, U.S. U18 Team (US NTDP)
  • Jean-Luc Foudy — C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
  • Ryan Francis — RW, Cape Breton Eagles (QMJHL)
  • Daemon Hunt — D, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
  • Marat Khusnutdinov — C, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
  • Logan Morrison – C, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
  • Theodor Niederbach — C, Frolunda HC J20 (SuperElit)
  • Alexander Pashin — W, Toplar Ufa (MHL)
  • Vasili Ponomaryov — C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
  • Antonio Stranges — C/LW, London Knights (OHL)