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.

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.

The Top 2002-Born OHLers to Watch in 2019-20

The 2020 NHL Draft will be loaded with elite talent, and a great deal of which will come from the Ontario Hockey League. In fact, the 2002-born group of OHL prospects is one of the strongest classes which they league has ever developed. So, which players should you keep an eye on throughout the 2019-20 OHL campaign? Look no further.

The upcoming 2020 NHL Entry Draft — and the first round in particular — will be absolutely¬†loaded¬†with elite talent from the Ontario Hockey League.

In fact, the 2002-born class of OHL prospects is one of the strongest crops which the league has produced in quite some time, as there are prospects at each position of the ice who hold the potential to become star players at the NHL level. Up front stand the likes of Quinton Byfield, Cole Perfetti, Jacob Perreault and Antonio Stranges, while defenders by the names of Jamie Drysdale, Lleyton Moore, and Donovan Sebrango can protect as well as attack. In goal there is Tristan Lennox, a netminder widely regarded as the top Canadian goaltending prospect in decades — although, he is not eligible until the 2021 NHL Draft.

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The 2018 OHL Priority Selection featured one of the deepest draft classes in league history. (Photo Credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

In short, there will be a plethora of young talent on display throughout the OHL this coming season, with a number of top NHL prospects set to display their skill in local barns throughout Ontario and into the U.S. However, are you unsure of which teams to target and which players to watch this coming campaign?

Don’t fret, we’ve got you covered.

Below, you’ll meet the top 2002-born players to watch this coming OHL season and learn about their past success’ and exactly what abilities make them unique. Further, we’ve listed an additional five prospects to monitor throughout the coming season, as these honourable mentions could develop into first round talents come to the end of the 2019-20 OHL season.

The Top-10 2002-Born Players to Watch

Here are, arguably, the top ten 2002-born prospects set to grace OHL ice this coming season.

Below, you’ll find what team each prospect played for in 2018-19, their respective statistics, as well as where each youngster will need to improve — if at all — if they wish to take the next step forward in their personal developments.

Quinton Byfield

2018-19 Team: Sudbury Wolves

2018-19 Statistics: 64GP: 29G, 61PTS

Although Alexis Lafreniere is widely expected to be chosen first overall in the 2020 NHL Draft, Quinton Byfield holds the skill and ability to challenge Lafreniere for the prestigious distinction. A towering centre given his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame, Byfield is blessed with terrific size and knows exactly how to use it at both ends of the ice in order to benefit the Sudbury Wolves. What’s more, however, is the fact that Byfield is a tremendous skater in addition to his size, as the youngster features a smooth stride and explosive acceleration.

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Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves. (Photo Credit: CHL Images)

It is Byfield’s size, skating stride, and natural offensive abilities which will make him a player worth watching throughout the 2019-20 OHL campaign. A ferocious competitor, Byfield displayed the ability to lead his team single-handedly as a rookie and will surely stand substantially improved in his sophomore campaign. In addition to Byfield’s blistering offensive game and of note is the youngster’s two-way play, as the native of Newmarket, Ontario is surprisingly responsible and strong within his defensive end.

Will Cuylle

2018-19 Team: Windsor Spitfires

2018-19 Statistics: 63GP: 26G, 41PTS

In his rookie season with the Windsor Spitfires in 2018-19, Wil Cuylle took significant strides in justifying his trade from the Peterborough Petes. Across his initial 63 regular season games played in the OHL, Cuylle posted 26 goals and 41 points — a total which stood as the sixth highest output on the Spitfires’ roster. Now, with the 2019-20 campaign rapidly approaching, Cuylle will look to further establish himself as one of the top young power-forwards in the league.

Will Cuylle of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Boasting a 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame, Cuylle has the size necessary to command and protect the puck in the offensive zone. Having created separation from his opponents, Cuylle features a deceptive yet crisp shot which has the ability to beat goaltenders cleanly in the blink of an eye. Further, Cuylle is not afraid to go to the net in search of rebounds or loose pucks — a willingness which makes him a versatile and incredibly potent goal-scoring threat on a nightly basis.

Jamie Drysdale

2018-19 Team: Erie Otters

2018-19 Statistics: 63GP: 7G, 40 PTS

As an absolute stud during his tenure with the Toronto Marlboros of the GTHL, the Erie Otters knew exactly what the were getting when they selected Jamie Drysdale fourth-overall in the 2018 OHL Draft. A confident and smooth-skating defender, Drysdale acclimated to the OHL-level with little issue in his rookie season — hammering home seven goals and a whopping 33 assists in the process. The one blemish on Drysdale’s initial OHL campaign? A sour -24 plus/minus rating which stood as the poorest mark on his team.

Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

However, come the 2019-20 season, expect Drysdale to take to the ice as a dramatically improved two-way player. Already one of the best 2002-born defencemen in the nation, greater size and strength accumulated this past offseason should lead Drysdale to improved play at both ends of the ice. Defensively, greater strength and speed will allow Drysdale to seize the puck and fuel his team’s transition game more so than before, while an increased level of confidence alongside experience will see Drysdale become a lethal threat on the opposing blue line.

Jean-Luc Foudy

2018-19 Team: Windsor Spifires

2018-19 Statistics: 63GP: 8G, 49 PTS

Jean-Luc Foudy took the OHL by surprise in 2018-19, as the former tenth-overall selection quickly became a consistent offensive force in his rookie campaign with the Windsor Spitfires. A former standout with the Toronto Titans of the GTHL, Foudy put his playmaking abilities on full display this past season — accumulating 41 assists against eight goals scored. The driving factors behind Foudy’s playmaking prowess are his vision and confidence when in possession of the puck — two traits which allow Foudy to excel with impressive consistency.

Jean-Luc Foudy of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Jean-Luc Foudy of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

As Foudy takes to the ice in his second season with the Spitfires, it goes without saying that these traits will be once again amplified owing to the considerable success which he enjoyed as a rookie. If able to continuously dissect opposing defences and set up his equally skilled teammates in the process, don’t be surprised if Foudy joins his older brother Liam as a first round NHL Draft pick.

Tristan Lennox

2018-19 Team: Saginaw Spirit

2018-19 Statistics: 15GP: 2.79GAA, .907% SVP

The OHL is regularly loaded with elite young talent, however, no goaltender will be more valuable this upcoming season than Tristan Lennox of the Saginaw Spirit. Although he isn’t a towering presence in-goal, Lennox is a sizeable netminder who commands his crease with both confidence and poise. The one aspect of Lennox’s game which truly separates him from his competition is the youngster’s raw athleticism, as the native of Mississauga, Ontario features explosive movements and lightning-quick reflexes.

Tristan Lennox of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Natalie Shaver/OHL Images

In his rookie campaign with the Spirit, Lennox appeared in 15 regular season games as well as seven playoff contests. Although defined as Saginaw’s backup goaltender during the regular season, Lennox was thrust into the starting role in the postseason when Arizona Coyotes prospect Ivan Prosvetov fell victim to an unfortunate suspension. Despite facing an excellent foe in the eventual OHL champion Guelph Storm, Lennox was simply brilliant and single-handedly held the Spirit in their third-round matchup until the bitter end. In short, Lennox will be one of the top goaltenders in the OHL in 2019-20.

The most impressive fact? Lennox isn’t eligible for the NHL Draft until the 2020-21 season.

Logan Morrison

2018-19 Team: Hamilton Bulldogs

2018-19 Statistics: 47GP, 14G, 34PTS

Although he missed a considerable portion of the 2018-19 OHL campaign due to injury, Logan Morrison stands poised to breakout in his sophomore season. Across his 47 games played with the Bulldogs as a rookie, Morrison potted 14 goals and collected a total of 34 points — an output which stood as the ninth-most amongst all OHL rookies. Nabbed by the Bulldogs in the first round of the 2018 OHL Draft, Morrison features a versatile two-way skill set which should allow Hamilton to flourish this upcoming campaign.

Forward #9 Logan Morrison of the Hamilton Bulldogs
(Photo Credit: Brandon Taylor/OHL Images)

What’s more is that given the subtractions from the Bulldogs’ roster ahead of the 2019-20 season, Morrison will surely receive ample playing time in his first year of NHL Draft eligibility. If able to maintain his health while generating chemistry with his pre-existing line mates as well as new teammates, Morrison could rise significantly within respective draft rankings ahead of the NHL’s 2020 event.

Cole Perfetti

2018-19 Team: Saginaw Spirit

2018-19 Statistics: 63GP: 37G, 74PTS

Despite blasting home 37 goals and an OHL-best 74 points as a freshman, Cole Perfetti was unable to capture the Emms Family Award in 2018-19 as the league’s Rookie of the Year. Not only was this decision highly controversial, but it will undoubtedly serve as additional motivation for Perfetti as he embarks upon his sophomore season in the OHL. Come the 2019-20 campaign, expect Perfetti to be as explosive and productive offensively as he was in his initial year of play at the major-junior level.

Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Natalie Shaver/OHL Images
Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Natalie Shaver/OHL Images

Although his supporting cast in Saginaw this coming season will arguably be weaker than it was in 2018-19, Perfetti’s jaw-dropping vision, composure with the puck, and ability to play a complete two-way game should lead to a wealth of success for the native of Whitby, Ontario. Drafted by the Spirit with the fifth-overall selection in the 2018 OHL Draft, it is without question that Perfetti held the talent to be chosen second-overall — technicalities, however, led Perfetti to Saginaw and on the road to an incredible OHL career.

Jacob Perreault

2018-19 Team: Sarnia Sting

2018-19 Statistics: 63GP: 30G, 55PTS

Jacob Perreault’s rookie campaign in the OHL was simply sensational, as the 18th overall selection in the 2018 OHL Draft burst onto the scene in Sarnia and became an instant difference maker. Founded upon his strong frame, skating strength, and natural two-way abilities, Perreault quickly became a staple within the Sting’s attack owing to his owing to his vision and goal scoring prowess. Come to the end of the 2018-10 season, Perreault had hammered home 30 goals alongside 25 assists — an output which afforded him 55 points on the year.

Jacob Perreault of the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Jacob Perreault of the Sarnia Sting. (Photo Credit: Luke Durda/OHL Images)

Come the 2019-20 season, expect Perreault to take yet another substantial step forward in his personal development. Sure to return to Sarnia stronger, faster, and more deadly, Perreault holds the ability to become not only a consistent goal-scorer but an elite centre-man to boot. Not afraid to mix things up physically either, Perreault’s team-oriented approach should bode well for a Sting roster soon to be laden with electrifying young talent.

Antonio Stranges

2018-19 Team: London Knights

2018-19 Statistics: 66GP: 13G, 34PTS

Could Antonio Stranges be the next coming of Mitch Marner in London?

Well, based upon Stranges’ elite puck-handling skills and creativity while in possession, it certainly goes without saying that he has the potential to do so. Although his rookie season with the Knights wasn’t exactly blistering — 13 goals and 34 points in 66 regular season contests — Stranges regularly displayed the jaw-dropping talent requisite of a future star player at the NHL-level. Now, as he enters into his sophomore campaign in the OHL, the question facing Stranges will be whether or not he can elevate his game.

Antonio Stranges of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
(Photo Credit: Luke Durda/OHL Images)

If the past is any evidence in this regard, expect Stranges to explode this upcoming season. Sure to garner greater and more consistent playing time in a variety of situations, Stranges should quickly become a staple within the Knights’ offensive attack capable of creating and scoring goals in the blink of an eye. Although he is widely expected to be chosen in the late-first to early-second round of the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft, Stranges’ elite skill-set could push his stock much higher than initially anticipated.

Tyler Tullio

2018-19 Team: Oshawa Generals

2018-19 Statistics: 60GP: 15G, 42PTS

A former teammate of Perfetti while skating for the Vaughan Kings of the GTHL, Ty Tullio burst onto the OHL scene for the Oshawa Generals in 2018-19 and enjoyed a surprisingly productive campaign. Drafted by the Generals with the 11th overall selection in the 2018 OHL Draft, Tullio jumped into Oshawa’s lineup and immediately became a versatile offensive threat. Come to the end of his rookie season, Tullio had netted 15 goals and 42 points — an output which ranked as the eighth-best within a deep Generals’ roster.

Tyler Tullio of the Oshawa Generals. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Although concerns surrounding his size have long lingered, Tullio has cast aside any and all doubters owing to his impressive play over the past few years. Sure to return to the ice in 2019-20 faster and stronger than in his rookie season, Tullio will have the opportunity to develop into a vastly underrated two-way star alongside his equally talented teammates. If able to take lofty step forward in his personal progression, Tullio will stand as a hidden gem within the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft.

Five Honourable Mentions to Monitor

Although they aren’t as high profile per se as the prospects listed above, these five prospects are glowing with NHL potential. If able to enjoy successful sophomore seasons, these five youngsters could quite easily be considered as first round talent come the 2020 NHL Draft.

Butler quickly became a goal scoring threat in his rookie campaign with the Petes, and could very well score 25+ in his second season in Peterborough.

Although he played sheltered minutes in 2018-19, Hardie still managed to light the lamp with consistency — he should become a fixture offensively in Mississauga this season.

Traded to Oshawa by the Niagara IceDogs last season, Moore is a terrific skater who can process the game at an elite level. Expect him to log major minutes on the Generals’ blue line.

The late first round pick stepped into the Greyhounds’ lineup as a rookie and had an instant impact. Solid in his own zone, expect O’Rouke’s offensive output to grow as a sophomore.

Sebrango was a pleasant surprise for the Rangers as a rookie, providing offence while limiting his opposition. Expect him to flourish alongside increased playing time in 2019-20.

Kingston Frontenacs: 5 Storylines to Follow in 2019-20

Despite a disastrous 2018-19 OHL season, the Kingston Frontenacs stand poised to rebound in a major way. Led by Shane Wright and a number of elite prospects, Kingston will surely be an overwhelming force in little time.

To say that the Kingston Frontenacs struggled mightily during their 2018-19 campaign would be a vast understatement.

In the Frontenacs’ 30th season of play in the Ontario Hockey League, the team skated to its worst team record in franchise history. In posting a dismal 14-52-2 record, Kingston earned a mere 30 points in the OHL standings — a mark which stood as the worst total in the league by a wide margin. Amplifying the Frontenacs’ struggles was the team’s decision to trade a number of its veteran players ahead of the deadline — a painful commitment yet one which was necessary given the trajectory of the team.

Fortunately for Kingston and its fans, this short-term pain should lead to considerable long-term gain in the years ahead. Despite enduring their worst season to date, the Frontenacs now stand loaded with a bounty of elite young talent eager to leave a lasting impression at the OHL-level. In fact, Kingston’s group of prospects is so strong and deep that the team should develop into a legitimate contender in the years ahead — if not in 2019-20.

So, what will need to go right for the Frontenacs if they wish to build a sustainable and competitive roster? And, perhaps more importantly, what aspects of Kingston’s roster will require immediate attention ahead of the upcoming 2019-20 season? Well, let’s examine five key Frontenacs storylines to follow this coming campaign.

Five Storylines to Follow in 2019-20

Team depth, goaltending, and the play of Kingston’s young prospects will determine the level of success which the Frontenacs will enjoy this coming season. If able to receive favourable outcomes in the cases outlined below — a reality which could realistically be unattainable — Kingston could stand as a surprise contender within the OHL’s Eastern Conference.

1. Who Will Tend to the Frontenacs’ Crease?

The Frontenacs’ crease was dominated by Brendan Bonello throughout the 2018-19 season, as the 1999-born netminder appeared in a whopping 48 regular season games for Kingston. In those games played, Bonello earned a 4.28 GAA and .884% SVP — totals impacted greatly by the poor play of the Frontenacs as a whole. However, Bonello’s play, and the play of all three Kingston goaltenders last season, begs the question of who will take the reigns in goal come the 2019-20 season.

Brendan Bonello of the Kingston Frontenacs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Brendan Bonello backstopped the Frontenacs through the vast majority of their 2018-19 campaign. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Given the young age of the Frontenacs’ upcoming roster and the franchise’s rebuilding nature, it could make a great deal of sense to afford both Ryan Dugas and Marshall Frappier with the majority of the starts in goal. Dugas, a 2001-born goaltender, was nabbed by the Frontenacs in the fourth-round of the 2017 OHL Draft and could be ready to assume the starter’s role based upon his size, strength, and success in years passed. The second option to seize the crease is Frappier, a slightly older goaltender given his 2000 birth year yet one who holds a decent amount of experience given his previous tenure with the Sudbury Wolves.

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A lack of consistent goaltending could prove to be the biggest threat to Kingston’s playoff hopes. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

In short, it would make a great deal of sense to entrust Dugas with the majority of the playing time in goal this coming campaign. Given the great deal of young prospects set to be inserted into the Frontenacs’ lineup, it would make sense to play a younger goaltender who can develop alongside the franchise’s top prospects in the years to come.

2. Will Kingston’s 2019 Draft Class Make an Impact?

The Frontenacs enjoyed a wildly successful 2019 OHL Draft, as the franchise was able to secure a number of young players with the potential to impact the outcome of any given game. First and foremost was the selection of Shane Wright, a dynamic centre-man who was granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada based upon his abilities on the ice as well as his maturity off of it. However, it was the selections made after that of Wright which has placed Kingston in excellent form.

Arcuri
Francesco Arcuri will surely prove to be a steal given the fact that he was chosen 27th overall in the 2019 OHL Draft. (Photo: Dan Hickling/OHL Images)

All of Francesco Arcuri — a teammate of Wright with the GTHL’s Don Mills Flyers — Maddox Callens, Braden Hache, and Owen Watson are stable yet game-breaking players who will undoubtedly come to play significant roles for Kingston in the not-so-distant future. Of varying position, these four youngsters were all nabbed within the opening six rounds of the Priority Selection and have the potential to become star players. Although it remains unclear which of those listed above will crack Kingston’s opening night roster, all of which will surely make an impact in the OHL in 2019-20 if able to secure highly valuable playing time.

3. What Can Shane Wright Bring to the Table in 2019-20?

We all know that Shane Wright was granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada, and we know that the Fronteancs were fortunate enough to select the budding phenom with the first overall selection in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. Yet, with this being said, what exactly should we expect from Wright in his rookie OHL campaign? In order to better answer this question, let’s make a quick comparison to Connor McDavid.

Shane Wright
Shane Wright, a former star for the Don Mills Flyers, was granted Exceptional Status by Hockey Canada. (Photo Credit: Max Lewis)

Although they are not necessarily equals, both McDavid and Wright entered the OHL in similar situations. Like Wright, McDavid was also chosen by a bottom-feeding team in the form of the Erie Otters — a club who had struggled considerably prior to selecting him. Despite the weakness of the Otters in his rookie season, McDavid was still able to record 25 goals and 66 points in his 63 regular season contests as an underage player.

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Wright should have an instant impact with the Frontenacs, as his game is far too well-rounded to be contained. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

So, will Wright be able to produce at a similar pace in his rookie season? Well, this is fairly difficult to determine, as Wright’s supporting cast could prove to be far less supportive than that which McDavid enjoyed as a rookie. One pairing which could prove to be extremely effective for Wright and the Frontenacs in 2019-20, however, revolves around the presence of Nicholas Wong. Although he is a natural centre, shifting Wong to the wing alongside Wright could afford Kingston with one of the OHL’s most dynamic young lines.

4. Who Will Anchor the Frontenacs’ Blue Line?

Despite its difficulties throughout the 2018-19 season, the Frontenacs’ blue line should be dramatically improved come the 2019-20 campaign. Although a number of the team’s top defenders were traded at the deadline or have since moved on to professional careers, Kingston’s defence-core remains significantly promising owing to the presence and continued development of its young blue liners. Jacob Murray, Evan Brand, and Anthony Aguanno all took significant steps in the right direction last season and now stand poised to consume major minutes in a variety of situations.

Jacob Murray of the Kingston Frontenacs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Jacob Murray has a whack of potential, and will surely enjoy increased ice time this coming season. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

The most intriguing defender of all, however, is none other than Billy Constantinou. Acquired from the Niagara IceDogs last season, Constantinou is a 2001-born defender who is absolutely dynamic when in possession of the puck. A stellar skater and composed playmaker, Constantinou can lead offensive rushes and is no stranger to quarter-backing his team’s power play. In fact, expect him to do exactly such for the Frontenacs this coming season, as Constantinou’s poise with the puck and creativity will allow him to anchor Kingston’s attacking game. Sure, his defensive game requires refining, yet the fact remains that Constantinou will play a starring role for the Frontenacs in 2019-20.

5. Does Kingston Have the Depth Necessary to Contend?

As we have discussed, Kingston’s future is blindingly bright owing to the presence and impending arrival of the franchise’s elite young talent. However, no OHL team can be truly successful unless it features a solid mixture of young talent¬†alongside veteran players of ample experience, ability and confidence. Unfortunately, it does not appear as though the Frontenacs will feature this critical component this upcoming season — the franchise holds a slim few players of exceptional ability in the 1999-2000 age range.

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Without production from their bottom-six forwards, Kingston could once again find themselves within a lost season. (Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Without this key ingredient, Kingston will likely be forced to place far too much pressure upon its young players rather than relying on veterans familiar with the OHL and what it takes to succeed at the major-junior level. Unless the Frontenacs can supplement their roster in the months ahead and remove pressure and expectation from their young talent, Kingston could very well feature an unproductive mixture of players and one incapable of legitimately contending this coming season.

Hamilton Bulldogs: 5 Storylines to Follow in 2019-20

Despite an early exit in the 2019 OHL Playoffs, the Hamilton Bulldogs stand poised for considerable improvement in the 2019-20 season. Led by elite young prospects, the Bulldogs could be much closer to legitimately competing than widely believed.

The Hamilton Bulldogs are a team in the midst of a significant transition.

After claiming the OHL Championship in 2017-18, the Bulldogs have watched a number of their former overage stars leave town and have traded a number of their most consistent producers of late to boot. This shift from a veteran laden roster to one that is rich with elite young talent was not only necessary but a transition which could very well lead the Bulldogs to significant postseason success in the near future.

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A quality mixture of seasoned players and young prospects could springboard Hamilton to immediate success in 2019-20. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Despite being knocked out of the OHL playoffs in the opening round at the hands of the Ottawa 67’s in 2018-19, Hamilton’s young talent has the team on-track to be far more competitive this upcoming season. Led by Logan Morrison and sure to be supplemented by the likes of Avery Hayes, Michael Renwick, and Ryan Winterton, the Bulldogs should boast a surprisingly deep roster this upcoming season and one flush with the ability to take their opponents by surprise.

Five Storylines to Follow in 2019-20

As mentioned, here are five potentially critical storylines to follow in Hamilton this upcoming season. If able to receive favourable outcomes in the situations listed below, the Bulldogs could return to prominence within the OHL’s Eastern Conference. However, if unable to receive timely contributions from their young talent as well as steady play in goal, Hamilton could very well be bounced from the postseason in 2019-20.

1. Can the Bulldogs Rebound from a Tough Season?

After claiming the OHL Championship in 2017-18, the Bulldogs stumbled to a 29-34-5 record in their 2018-19 campaign. Although they were still able to clinch a place in the postseason, Hamilton was promptly swept in the opening round by a loaded Ottawa 67’s squad. However, this result did not come as a surprise so to speak, as a number of the Bulldogs’ top players either left to embark upon professional careers or were traded at this year’s deadline.

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Despite a losing record, the Bulldogs earned a postseason berth in 2018-19. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Now, the major question facing the Bulldogs is exactly how they will rebound from this past season. Although a number of players will once again move on from the team in 2019-20, a crop of wildly talented youngsters led by the likes of Logan Morrison, Zachary Roy, and Ryan Winterton will look to steer Hamilton in the right direction. If able to receive substantial contributions from their younger players while receiving star play from Arthur Kaliyev and Matt Strome — should he return — the Bulldogs could once again stand as a significant threat in the Eastern Conference.

2. Will Logan Morrison Lead the Way?

Despite missing 21 regular season games due to injury in 2018-19, Logan Morrison showed signs of becoming a consistently impactful player at the OHL-level. In his 47 games played this past season, Morrison potted 14 goals and 34 points — a 0.72 point-per-game pace which stood as the seventh-best mark amongst all 2002-born rookies. In fact, Morrison’s rate of offensive production stood greater than the likes of highly touted prospects such as Will Cuylle, Ty Tullio, and Antonio Stranges.

Forward #9 Logan Morrison of the Hamilton Bulldogs
Although he missed considerable time due to injury last season, Logan Morrison stands as a top prospect eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft. (Photo Credit: Brandon Taylor/OHL Images)

Now, as Morrison heads into his second campaign in the OHL, it goes without saying that the Bulldogs will be expecting a great deal more from the former first round selection. Sure to become a lethal offensive threat on a nightly basis, Hamilton will look for Morrison to play a starring role at both ends of the ice and one that will allow the Bulldogs to become a well-rounded two-way team. If able to add a sprinkling of leadership alongside his natural abilities on the ice, Morrison could rapidly develop into a top prospect eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft.

3. Can Zachary Roy Take the Next Step?

In his first season of play in the OHL, netminder Zachary Roy stepped into the Bulldogs’ lineup and claimed the starting role in goal. At just 18 years-of-age, Roy appeared in a whopping 44 games for Hamilton and earned a 3.59 GAA and .884% SVP in the process — impressive numbers given his he was competing in his rookie campaign. Now, as we head towards the 2019-20 season, there is no question that Roy will retain the starting role and earn the vast majority of starts for the Bulldogs in the process.

Zachary Roy of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Roy appeared in a jaw-dropping 44 games last season as a rookie. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

However, Roy’s sudden ascension to the starting role in Hamilton begs the question of whether or not he can become one of the OHL’s next top netminders. As a former standout with the Toronto Nationals of the GTHL and a fourth-round selection in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, it certainly goes without saying that Roy has the potential to accomplish exactly such. Incredibly athletic and innate in his abilities in the crease, Roy could push the Bulldogs deep into the postseason this coming campaign if able to backstop his team with both poise and confidence.

Side note — could we see Marco Constantini grace the ice in a Bulldogs’ uniform this coming season? Based on Constantini’s stellar play at the Jr. B level this past season, it is safe to say that Roy could feel slight pressure to preform in 2019-20.

4.¬†Will the Bulldogs’ 2019 Draft Class Play a Role?

The Bulldogs enjoyed a tremendous 2019 OHL Priority Selection, as all of their initial five picks — as well as others selected outside of the sixth-round — hold the potential to become quality players at the OHL-level. First and foremost there is Ryan Winterton — a former star with the Whitby Wildcats who is widely expected to jump into Hamilton’s lineup in 2019-20 and make an immediate impact at both ends of the ice.

Sherk, Lawson of the Halton Hurricanes. Photo by Dan Hickling OHL Images
Nabbing Lawson Sherk in the second round of the 2019 OHL Draft will surely prove to have been an absolute steal for the Bulldogs. (Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/OHL Images)

However, perhaps more interestingly, there are the likes of Lawson Sherk, Chandler Romeo, and Owen Simpson — three players of varying positions who should push extremely hard for a place within the Bulldogs’ roster to begin the upcoming season. In Romeo and Simpson, Hamilton holds two former Toronto Red Wings stars capable of creating offence and calm from their posts on the blue line. Further, in Sherk, the Bulldogs boast a natural playmaking centre with size who should be able to transition to the OHL-level with little issue.

If these youngsters can crack Hamilton’s roster and come to contribute, the Bulldogs could hold unprecedented depth and potential within their lineup.

5. Can Ryan Winterton Make an Immediate Impact?

Ryan Winterton was nothing other than dominant as a member of the Whitby Wildcats in 2018-19, blasting home 38 goals and 72 points in just 36 regular season games played. Skating alongside Brenden Sirizzotti and Thomas Johnston, Winterton was a member of what was one of the strongest lines in all of minor midget hockey in 2018-19. It was this incredible play and level of offensive productivity which led to Winterton being chosen by the Bulldogs with the eighth-overall selection in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.

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Expectations will be at an all-time high for Winterton as he takes to the ice in his rookie OHL campaign in 2019-20. (Photo Credit: Tim Cornett/CHL Images)

Set to begin the 2019-20 season at the OHL-level with Hamilton, it will be incredibly interesting to evaluate the impact which Winterton can and will have in his rookie season with the Bulldogs. Based upon his size, strength, and ability to process the game at a rapid rate, Winterton should be able to step into Hamilton’s lineup and playing a growing role in sheltered minutes. However, based upon his stellar shot and playmaking abilities, Winterton will surely see sporadic playing time in a variety of special teams situations — success within which could springboard him higher in the Bulldogs lineup.

OHL Update: The Most Lethal Rookies in 2018-19

The OHL is loaded with elite young talent in 2018-19, and the 2002-born rookie class is proving to be no slouch. Here are five of the hottest OHL rookies this season, as well as three honourable mentions to keep an eye on.

The Ontario Hockey League is loaded with elite young talent this season — a great deal of which coming in the form of the 2002-born rookie class.

Led by 2018 first overall selection Quinton Byfield, the likes of Cole Perfetti, Jean-Luc Foudy, Jacob Perreault, and Marco Rossi have all exploded into starring roles with their respective teams this season. And, in most cases, these players have become offensive catalysts for their new franchises — leading the charge on a nightly basis while standing surprisingly consistent in their abilities to do so.

Danlil Chayka of the Guelph Storm. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Danlil Chayka of the Guelph Storm has quietly enjoyed a strong rookie season. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Outside of these five rookie stars, a secondary class of promising newcomers also exists. Leading this group of rookies are youngsters such as Jamie Drysdale, Will Cuylle, and Vladislav Kolyachonok — three players of varying position who have also been downright dominant in their initial seasons in the OHL.

With this being said, let’s take closer look at five of the OHL’s most prolific rookies thus far in the 2018-19 season. Listed in alphabetical order, you’ll want to know exactly how these former minor midget stars have fared in their first campaigns of major-junior action.

Five Surging OHL Prospects

Quinton Byfield

Team: Sudbury Wolves

Drafted: 1st Overall (2018)

Seeing Quinton Byfield amongst the OHL’s top rookies thus far should come as no surprise, as the first overall choice in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection has picked up where he left off with the York Simcoe Express of the ETA. Founded upon exceptional skating abilities and aided by his immense size, Byfield has quickly become an offensive catalyst for the Sudbury Wolves in his rookie campaign.

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Byfield has continued his dominant ways as a member of the Sudbury Wolves. (Photo Credit: CHL Images)

Through his first 48 games played with the Wolves in 2018-19, Byfield had recorded 19 goals and 46 points — a total which led the team at the mid-way mark of February. Regarded as one of the top prospects eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft, Byfield’s presence in Sudbury has helped to transition the Wolves from a fringe contender into a legitimate force within the Eastern Conference.

Jean-Luc Foudy

Team: Windsor Spitfires

Drafted: 10th Overall (2018)

Jean-Luc Foudy could very well come to be known as the steal of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, as the former Toronto Titans star has had little trouble adjusting to the OHL-level. Thus far in 2018-19, Foudy has become a playmaking force for the Windsor Spitfires — regularly feeding the puck to his fellow teammates while doubling as a possession dynamo.

Jean-Luc Foudy of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Jean-Luc Foudy has been a pleasant surprise thus far for the Windsor Spitfires. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Through his first 50 games played in his rookie campaign, Foudy had recorded a whopping 41 points — 35 of which assists — in helping to drive the Spitfires’ offensive attack. As a tireless skater and puck-hound who buzzes throughout the ice with speed and purpose, Foudy has quickly become a pleasant surprise in Windsor and a prospect who should lead the team in the years ahead.

Cole Perfetti

Team: Saginaw Spirit

Drafted: 5th Overall (2018)

Although he was chosen fifth-overall in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, it goes without saying that Cole Perfetti was amongst the three best prospects eligible for his respective draft. Fortunately for the Saginaw Spirit, Perfetti was willing and able to compete for their team this year and has been absolutely dominant to begin his rookie OHL campaign.

Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Cole Perfetti has quickly become a standout rookie for the Saginaw Spirit. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Through his first 47 contests this season, Perfetti was one of just two rookies to produce offensively at greater than a point per game pace — notching 22 goals and 48 points. A dynamic and versatile threat who can shoot the puck with authority as well as pass it, Perfetti has quickly become a fixture within the Spirit’s attack and has shown no signs of slowing down. Come the 2020 NHL Draft, it would be an incredible shock were Perfetti not chosen within the top-15 overall — he is simply that good.

Jacob Perreault

Team: Sarnia Sting

Drafted: 19th Overall (2018)

The Sarnia Sting knew exactly what they were receiving when they selected Jacob Perreault with their first round choice in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection. A former standout with the HPHL’s Chicago Mission, Perreault is a hard-nosed centre who brings both skill and pace to the ice on a nightly basis.

Jacob Perreault of the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Jacob Perreault has become a goal-scoring dynamo for the Sarnia Sting. (Photo Credit: Luke Durda/OHL Images)

And, thus far in the 2018-19 season, Perreault has done exactly such for the Sting — contributing offensively on a nightly basis while standing as a difficult and highly competitive force for his opponents to compete with. On the scoreboard is where Perreault has shone brightest, as the native of Montreal, Quebec had blasted home an impressive 26 goals and 22 assists through his initial 50 games played with Sarnia.

Marco Rossi

Team:¬†Ottawa 67’s

Drafted: 18th Overall (2018 Import)

Although one of the OHL’s oldest rookie skaters in 2018-19, Marco Rossi has quickly become the league’s most potent. The 19th overall selection in the 2018 CHL Import Draft, Rossi has quickly earned his place within an abundantly strong Ottawa 67’s team owing to his high-end skill as well as poise with the puck.

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Marco Rossi has exploded onto the OHL scene and stands as a premier prospect eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft. (Photo Credit: OHL Images)

Mature beyond his years, Rossi is a stellar playmaker who also boasts the elite skill necessary to also score goals at an outrageous pace. In the opening 39 games of his rookie campaign, Rossi had not only netted 24 goals for the 67’s but he had added a whopping 29 assists for a total of 53 points. Often centring Ottawa’s top line and a fixture on the team’s top power play unit, Rossi’s importance to the 67’s despite his young age is second to none within the OHL.

3 Honourable Mentions

As mentioned above, a dominant¬†secondary class of rookies also exists within the OHL this season — all of whom must be considered elite-level prospects ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft.

With the top-five outlined above, here are three honourable mentions you must keep an eye on as the 2018-19 season winds to a close.

Will Cuylle

Team: Windsor Spitfires

Drafted: 3rd Overall (2018)

The Spitfires paid a substantial price in order to acquire Will Cuylle from the Peterborough Petes, and thus far Cuylle has been exactly as advertised. Although his point totals are slightly behind the top tier of this year’s rookie class, Cuylle has been a force nonetheless — potting 22 goals and 33 points in his opening 50 contests while playing a physical role in the process.

Will Cuylle of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Will Cuylle of the Windsor Spitfires continues to dominate owing to his combination of size, speed, and skill. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

A tireless skater by nature whose game appears effortless at times, Cuylle is a natural goal-scorer who has the skill-set necessary to drive Windsor’s offensive attack. Of solid size given his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame, Cuylle will undoubtedly be an integral piece of the Spitfires’ future and an increasingly potent player as he continues to find his footing at the OHL-level.

Jamie Drysdale

Team: Erie Otters

Drafted: 4th Overall (2018)

Come the 2020 NHL Draft, Jamie Drysdale will undoubtedly stand as one of the top defenceman eligible for selection. Nabbed by the Erie Otters with their fourth-overall choice in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, Drysdale is a calm and composed defender who has had little issue adapting to the OHL-level in his rookie campaign.

Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Jamie Drysdale’s composure and maturity have made him a star on the Erie Otters’ blue line at a young age. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

In fact, through his initial 47 games played, Drysdale had recorded four goals and 24 assists for a total of 28 points. Sure, his -16 plus/minus rating was less than stellar, however, it stood as a mark reflective of the Otters’ play as a team this season rather than Drysdale’s inabilities on the blue line. Ultimately, Drysdale is an endlessly talented defender whose on-ice intelligence and poise have and will continue to make him one of the OHL’s most promising young defenders.

Vladislav Kolyachonok

Team: Flint Firebirds

Drafted: 102nd Overall (2018 Import)

The sole 2019 NHL Draft eligible rookie on this list, Vladislav Kolyachonok has quickly established himself as a prospect to watch after being placed on waivers by the London Knights earlier this season. A sizeable defender yet fluid skater, Kolyachonok has become a reliable presence for the Flint Firebirds this season and one capable of playing a seamless two-way game.

Vladislav Kolyachonok of the Flint Firebirds Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Confidence and fluid skating are the names of the game for Vladislav Kolyachonok of the Flint Firebirds. (Photo Credit: Luke Durda/OHL Images)

Although his natural offensive instincts and drive can pull him out of position at times, Kolyachonok’s flair throughout the ice is simply unquestionable. An excellent skater who can pass the puck extremely well and rush the puck throughout the ice, Kolyachonok’s 25 points in his first 41 games played this season stand as an indication of his potential at the professional-level.

OHL Prospect Profile: Jon-Randall Avon

Jon-Randall Avon is an elite centre with high-end goal scoring potential. A leader by example, Avon has shown the ability to carry his team on his back against some of Ontario’s toughest competition. With consistent production and separation speed, Avon is one of the most potent prospects available for the 2019 NHL Draft.

– Jon-Randall Avon –

Peterborough Petes (ETA) | Centre | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible

Jon-Randall Avon utilized a slew of consistency throughout the 2018-19 season to slowly, but surely, climb the rankings for the 2019 OHL Draft. One of the ETA’s top scorers, finishing fifth in goals with 24 and sixth in points with 49, Avon was the Petes’ leader all year long, pushing the team to the third seed in the East Division.

Related: Check out Prospect Pipeline’s 2019 OHL Draft Rankings

In fact, Avon established an eye-catching 23 point lead over the next highest scorer on the Petes. Avon’s strengths are backed by an elite skating ability and an energy level that is second-to-none. One of the fastest prospects in the draft, he can blow by opponents and has a natural nose for the net, along with high-end puck skills and strong hockey sense.

Strengths:

  • Speed & Agility
  • Compete Level
  • Sense & Puck Skills

Avon’s strengths start with his skating. A mobile centreman with blazing speed, Avon can reach top speeds in a matter of steps and can separate from opponents on the rush. With excellent agility, he move laterally with precision and keeps defenders on their toes as a result. Away from the puck, Avon displays an admirable compete level, backchecking deep into the defensive zone to support his teammates.

Related: Don’t miss out on any of our 2019 OHL Prospect Profiles

Avon also goes hard into battles along the boards for loose pucks, and usually comes away with possession. Perhaps the most promising aspect of Avon’s game is his ability to handle the puck with skill in tight traffic. He shows off creative hands and confidence around the net. Avon also has a lethal shot, with a lightning-quick release and precision accuracy, he is a safe bet to find the back of the net on any given night.

Area of Improvement:

  • Defensive Awareness

If there’s any area of Avon’s game that could use some touching up, it would likely be with his awareness in the defensive zone. While he is responsible in his positioning and consistently backchecks deep in his own zone to force turnovers, Avon can sometimes be caught looking to turn the play up ice before a safe opportunity to do so presents itself.

As a result of these offensive instincts, Avon can sometimes take himself out of position for brief moments. In order to cut down on these minor mistakes, Avon will need to slightly improve his awareness and ability to read a developing play in the defensive zone so as to not miss an assignment at the OHL level. WIth that said, he remains a reliable two-way centre who puts in his full effort in his own zone.

Future Potential:

Jon-Randall Avon is an elite centre with high-end goal scoring potential. A leader by example, Avon has shown the ability to carry his team on his back against some of Ontario’s toughest competition. With consistent production and separation speed, Avon is one of the most potent prospects available for the 2019 NHL Draft.

As one of the top scorer’s in the ETA, Avon’s stock has been consistently rising since the beginning of the year. A complete prospect who checks off all the boxes, Avon will certainly earn his coach’s rust quickly wherever he gets drafted. In all, Avon projects as a mid-second round pick for the 2019 OHL Draft.

2019 NHL Draft: Canada’s Top Early Performers

Although it’s only November, it’s time to check in on the best Canadian prospects eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. In this article, we analyze three players who have impressed this season from each CHL league and check in on the Canadian Jr. A circuit.

Canada has proven time and time again to be a developmental powerhouse in the hockey world.

Consistently pumping out a number of the NHL’s youngest elite players, Canada and the many leagues within it serve as a significant gateway for future stars regardless of their country of origin. And, in 2018-19, exactly such is once again the case — the three leagues which comprise the Canadian Hockey League are saturated with highly skilled talent while the Junior A circuit features a handful of dynamic players as well.

Now, although the 2018-19 season remains young, a slew of players have already begun to separate themselves from their competition. Through consistent and lethal play, these particular prospects — which you will meet below– have enjoyed sensational starts to their first campaigns of NHL Draft eligibility.

Western Hockey League

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Kirby Dach (Saskatoon Blades)

Standing 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds, Kirby Dach is an intimidating force who features an explosive offensive skill set. A tremendous passer with exceptional vision, Dach also boasts an improving shot and innate instincts — a combination which makes him a presence each and every shift.

To begin the 2018-19 campaign, Dach wasted little time applying his versatile skill set. In his first 22 games played with the Saskatoon Blades, Dach had recorded 12 goals and added 23 assists for an impressive total of 35 points — the most of any WHL draft eligible forward.

  • Peyton Krebs (Kootenay ICE)

Although his standing within various NHL Draft rankings has fluctuated, Peyton Krebs remains as a constant attacking force for the Kootenay ICE. Standing slightly less than 6-feet tall, Krebs is a workhorse for the ICE and a tireless puck hound. Agile and creative, Krebs can weave through opposing defences and carve his way to the goal while in possession of the puck.

Despite a slightly slow start, Krebs has ramped up his offensive game. Mid-way through the month of November, Krebs had earned himself 27 points alongside six goals. Although his plus/minus rating of -17 left plenty to be desired, Krebs could develop into a strong attacking forward similar to Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

  • Bowen Byram¬†(Vancouver Giants)

Bowen Byram could very well be the best defenceman eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Extremely mobile and confident, Byram can be utilized in a variety of situations and is a dominant force at even-strength.

At the half way point of the month of November, Byram had already collected six goals and 15 points alongside a respectable plus/minus rating of +3. As a driving force for the Giants, Byram has consistently displayed the ability to lead his team at both ends of the ice while logging major minutes in the process.

Honourable Mention:

  • Brett Leason¬†(Prince Albert Raiders)

Although he is a 1999-born prospect, Brett Leason could be one of the most promising yet overlooked players available for the 2019 NHL Draft. With two average seasons of WHL play in-hand, Leason has exploded out of the gate to begin his 2018-19 season with 18 goals and 42 points in just 20 games played.

With great size given his 6-foot-4 frame and 205-pound weight, Leason could prove to be a hidden gem if drafted by an NHL franchise this coming June. Although he’ll surely need to develop within the professional ranks before being afforded a shot at the NHL-level, the native of Calgary, Alberta clearly boasts the skill-set of a legitimate NHL prospect.

Ontario Hockey League

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Arthur Kaliyev¬†(Hamilton Bulldogs)

Not only is Arthur Kaliyev a smooth skating forward with a wicked shot, but he is also one of the most lethal offensive players in the OHL this season. As a natural goal-scorer, Kaliyev can beat goaltenders in a variety of ways but relies primarily on his heavy and devastating shot to do damage.

Kaliyev is a devastating offensive force who plays with remarkable consistency. (Photo Credit: Bandon Taylor)

With 17 goals and 32 points through his first 21 games played this season, Kaliyev has quickly established himself as a premier offensive player eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Rocketing his way up respective draft rankings and showing no signs of slowing down, Kaliyev could be a hidden gem within this year’s class.

  • Ryan Suzuki¬†(Barrie Colts)

As the first overall choice in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, it should come as no surprise to see Ryan Suzuki as a top performer early on this season. A dynamic playmaker who boasts terrific vision, Suzuki is a consistent threat who makes those around him better on a nightly basis.

Through his first 19 games played with the Colts this season, Suzuki had already accumulated 29 points — eight of which goals. If able to consistently dominate his opposition this season while further strengthening his defensive play, Suzuki could be chosen inside of the top-10 come the 2019 NHL Draft.

  • Thomas Harley¬†(Mississauga Steelheads)

Although he began the 2018-19 OHL season as a relative unknown, Thomas Harley is quickly making a name for himself. A smooth and polished skater with oodles of confidence, Harley is becoming one of the OHL’s best puck-moving defenders despite his young age of just 17-years.

Harley is a smooth-skating defender of significant size who loves to contribute offensively. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Having recorded 18 points through his first 21 games this season, Harley is proving that he can play a responsible two-way game against his opponent’s top attacking lines. Although his defensive game remains a work in progress, there is simply far too much to like with regards to Harley’s game to go unmentioned.

Honourable Mention:

  • Matthew Struthers (North Bay Battalion)

Although he was first eligible to be chosen in the 2018 NHL Draft, Matthew Struthers’ lethal play this season could lead to his selection in the 2019 NHL Draft. Of solid size given his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame, Struthers is an intimidating force who has come to play a significant offensive role for the North Bay Battalion.

Having potted 12 goals and 27 points across his first 18 games played this season, Struthers has been remarkably consistent and endlessly potent. Playing alongside an incredibly dangerous teammate in Justin Brazeau, Struthers has become an offensive catalyst for the Battalion yet one capable of being utilized in a variety of situations. If able to maintain his current level of play, Struthers could very well be chosen in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Nathan Legare¬†(Baie-Comeau Drakkar)

Nathan Legare nearly topped his entire offensive output from his rookie season in October alone to begin the 2018-19 season. Blasting home 16 goals and 35 points in his first 23 games played this campaign, Legare has quickly cemented himself as a prospect to watch within the QMJHL this year.

Although long overlooked due to the presences of Jakob Pelletier and Raphael Lavoie, Legare has shed the shadow cast by his competition through competitive and consistent offensive play. A speedy and purposeful skater, Legare demands puck possession and has proven his ability to create lethal scoring chances in the blink of an eye.

  • Jakob Pelletier (Moncton Wildcats)

As the third-overall selection in the 2017 QMJHL Entry Draft, Jakob Pelletier has long been a prospect of immense potential. Fortunately for Pelletier, he is quickly living up to the expectations placed upon him — the Quebec City, Quebec native netted 11 goals and 30 points in his first 20 games played this season.

Incredibly quick, agile, and decisive, Pelletier is a tireless force who loves to attain both personal and team success. Not one to take a night off, Pelletier has come to drive Moncton’s offensive game and is now relied upon by his coaches and teammates to do exactly such. Although somewhat undersized, the punch which Pelletier packs in unquestionable.

  • Raphael Lavoie¬†(Halifax Mooseheads)

In addition to Dach, Raphael Lavoie could be one of the 2019 NHL Draft class’ best power forwards. Standing 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds, Lavoie is an intimidating threat who also plays a consistent offensive game. In fact, Lavoie recorded 12 goals and 22 points through his first 20 games played this season.

What separates Lavoie from most power forwards, however, is his long yet smooth and efficient stride. Despite his lanky frame, Lavoie is a fantastic skater with breakaway speed and the agility necessary to operate deep within the offensive zone. As a late 2000 birth date, Lavoie is one of the oldest yet most NHL ready players eligible for the upcoming NHL Draft.

Canadian Jr. A

The Top-3 Early Performers:

  • Alex Newhook¬†(Victoria Grizzlies)

Long the primary player to watch within the Canadian Jr. A circuit this season, Alex Newhook has wasted little time in establishing himself as a top NHL prospect early on this season. Skating in his second campaign with the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL, Newhook has already netted 12 goals and a whopping 36 points in his first 24 games played.

Committed to Boston College for the 2019-20 season, Newhook is an explosive and extremely dynamic forward capable of driving his team’s offensive game. As a fluid skater of ample speed and agility, Newhook is endlessly crafty and is most lethal when the puck is on his stick.

  • Harrison Blaisdell¬†(Chilliwack Chiefs)

A second year player with the Chilliwack Chiefs of the BCHL, Harrison Blaisdell is quietly piecing together a strong sophomore season. Committed to the University of North Dakota for the 2020-21 campaign, Blaisdell has been a model of consistency thus far in 2018-19 — recording 15 goals and 27 points across his first 25 games played.

Although of a slightly smaller stature, Blaisdell has become a lethal offensive force for the Chiefs. As a versatile offensive player, Blaisdell can move the puck to his teammates with relative ease or uncork a crisp and accurate shot on goal.

  • Eric Ciccolini (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)

The Toronto Jr. Canadiens are off to a hot start to begin their 2018-19 OJHL season, however, said success would not have been possible without the play of Eric Ciccolini. Headed to Colgate University for the 2020-21 season, Ciccolini has quickly become a devastating attacker for his team.

Having collected 14 goals and 36 points through his team’s first 24 games, Ciccolini led the Jr. Canadiens with absolute authority. As a solid skater with exceptional puck-handling abilities, Ciccolini is a creative skater who can generate quality scoring opportunities off of the rush or via the cycle game.

2019 NHL Draft: 5 Overlooked OHL Prospects

The 2019 NHL Draft features one of the strongest prospect classes in recent history. As a direct result, a great number of young players have been wrongly overlooked and undervalued.

The 2019 NHL Draft will boast one of the strongest prospect classes in recent history — a reality which has overshadowed a number of incredibly promising young players.

In particular, there are a number of prospects playing within the Ontario Hockey League this season whose play has been wrongly overlooked for far too long. Whether it be a lack of stature, inconsistent production, or simply a misinterpretation of an individual’s skill-set, the OHL features an arsenal of talented prospects eager to make an impact at the NHL-level.

If undervalued throughout the course of the 2018-19 season and in the days leading up to the 2019 NHL Draft, these five prospects listed below could come to be known as major draft-day steals in the years to come.

Billy Constantinou

2018-19 Team: Niagara IceDogs

OHL Draft Selection: 2017 (Round 2, 36th Overall)

The Niagara IceDogs are an impressive team within the OHL this season, and are led by an impressive 2019 NHL Draft eligible defenceman in Billy Constantinou. A smooth skating, puck-moving defender, Constantinou plays a stellar two-way game and can be counted upon to influence the outcome of any given game at both ends of the ice.

Billy Constantinou of the Niagara IceDogs. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Constantinou’s versatile yet lethal game is driving his value as a 2019 NHL Draft prospect. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

A second-round choice of the IceDogs in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, Constantinou is quickly establishing himself as a quality NHL prospect this season. Scoring 13 points in his first 18 games played alongside a solid +9 plus/minus rating was an excellent start for Constantinou, who has been projected to be selected in the second-round of the 2019 NHL Draft.

Having already surpassed his previous career-high in points, Constantinou could rise into the first round of the NHL Draft if able to put forth a consistent effort this campaign.

Cole Mackay

2018-19 Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

OHL Draft Selection: 2017 (Round 5, 98th Overall)

The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds nabbed Cole Mackay with the 98th overall choice in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, and it is safe to say that he has already surpassed any and all expectations placed upon him. Following an average rookie campaign with the Greyhounds in which he scored five goals and 14 points, Mackay has exploded out of the gate to begin his 2018-19 campaign.

Cole MacKay of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Mackay has quietly become a driving force within the Greyhounds’ offence this season. (Photo Credit: Luke Durda/OHL Images)

With six goals scored and 20 total points in his opening 20 games, the former fifth-round choice is quickly cementing his status as a prospect to watch ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft. However, Mackay has been widely projected as a potential mid-round selection — a difficult reality to comprehend given his consistent lethality thus far this season.

Cole Schwindt

2018-19 Team: Mississauga Steelheads

OHL Draft Selection: 2017 (Round 4, 69th Overall)

While he isn’t the most lethal offensive player in the OHL this season, Cole Schwindt is quickly becoming one of its most consistent two-way forwards.

Although capable of contributing offensively, Schwindt’s value lays in his ability to defend within his own zone and shut down his opposition’s top attackers. Boasting a solid frame given his 6-foot-3 stature and 180-pound weight, Schwindt can physically dominate his opposition in his defensive zone before dislodging the puck owing to his active and accurate stick.

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While his offensive game continues to grow, Schwindt’s defensive play can not be overstated. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Somewhat similar to former Oshawa Generals star Anthony Cirelli given his sound 200-foot game, Schwindt could prove to be a steal if selected late in the upcoming 2019 NHL Draft. Having scored four goals and nine assists in his first 19 games played with the Mississauga Steelheads this season, Schwindt’s already impressive two-way play alongside his growing lethality could afford the native of Kitchener, Ontario a long and prosperous professional hockey career.

Nathan Staios

2018-19 Team: Windsor Spitfires

OHL Draft Selection: 2017 (Round 1, 17th Overall)

Nathan Staios was selected by the Windsor Spitfires in the first round of the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, yet he has flown largely under the radar to begin his first campaign of NHL Draft eligibility. A fiercely competitive defender, Staios plays a stellar two-way game defined by his pace as well as confidence with the puck. With the poise of a seasoned veteran, Staios sees the ice incredibly well and can navigate within it with relative ease.

Staios_TW_CHL_3167
Staios is a diminutive defender who boasts a whack of skill and potential. (Photo Credit: OHL Images)

Despite this glowing skill-set, Staios has been widely projected as a second-to-third round choice ahead of the 2019 NHL Draft.

While slightly undersized given his 5-foot-9 frame, Staios has the composure of a highly touted prospect and the raw talent to match. Although his start to the 2018-19 OHL season was somewhat slow offensively considering he scored just one goal in 19 games, Staios had already added seven assists — a rate of production much greater than that of his rookie season.

Keean Washkurak

2018-19 Team: Mississauga Steelheads

OHL Draft Selection: 2017 (Round 2, 30th Overall)

The departures of both Mike McLeod and Nic Hague this past offseason staggered the Steelheads, who saw two of their top offensive players ascend to the professional-level. Fortunately, Keean Washkurak — Mississauga’s second round choice from the 2017 OHL Priority Selection — has quickly made the most of the opportunities presented to him this campaign.

Keean Washkurak of the Mississauga Steelheads. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Washkurak’s speed and tenacity combine to make him a persistent two-way force. (Photo Credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

With major minutes available, Washkurak has earned his place within the Steelheads’ top-six through consistent and lethal offensive play this season. Standing 5-foot-10 and 185-pounds, Washkurak’s electrifying style of play has been evident on a nightly basis — the native of Waterloo, Ontario has quickly become a two-way stalwart for the Steelheads.

Having recorded five goals and 17 points in his first 19 games played this season, Washkurak could sneak into the first round of the 2019 NHL Draft if able to maintain and improve upon his current level of play.

Marco Rossi: The OHL’s Amazing Austrian

Marco Rossi is a smooth-skating Austrian forward destined for stardom. A rookie with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, Rossi has quickly established himself as an elite offensive force and top prospect eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft.

He may not be eligible until the 2020 NHL Draft, however, forward Marco Rossi of the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s has been quick to state his case as an elite NHL prospect.

A native of Feldkirch, Austria, the 2018-19 hockey season will mark Rossi’s first campaign in North America. Selected by the 67’s in the first round of the 2018 CHL Import Draft, Rossi had long stood as a dynamic offensive player and was undoubtedly ready to take his talents to the next level along his developmental route.

With professional playing experience in-hand alongside a versatile yet lethal skill-set, Rossi is quickly proving to be an industrious player capable of dominating his older and more physically mature competition with remarkable consistency. As one of the OHL’s unheralded rookie stars, Rossi could force aside Quinton Byfield and Cole Perfetti en route to securing the Emms Family Award as the league’s rookie of the year — Rossi is simply that good.

Rossi’s Road to the Show

As mentioned, Rossi was born in the city of Feldkirch — a relatively small medieval town which lays on the border of Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

As Rossi grew older and his on-ice abilities continued to flourish, the youngster competed for a variety of different Austrian-based minor hockey teams. Although the age and skill-level of his competition varied greatly over the years, one fact remained: regardless of his foes, Rossi was capable of dominating each and every game he competed within.

Outside of his league play and before his arrival in North America, Rossi also represented his country on a number of occasions.

Across two appearances with Austria’s World Junior Championship U18 Team, Rossi totalled 10 goals and 15 points in just 10 games played. Although competing in the Division One, Group B Tournament, Rossi’s offensive output at the ages of 15 and 16-years were simply astonishing. More recently, Rossi starred with Austria’s WJC U20 Team — scoring three goals and recording five points as a 16-year-old.

Given his impressive track record of offensive production and proven ability to produce against mature competition, Ottawa’s selection of Rossi with the 18th overall choice in the CHL Import Draft was more of a technicality than it was a difficult decision.

Rossi’s Scouting Report

If hoping to endure a swift and successful transition to the professional-ranks as a full-time player in the coming years, Rossi will need to rely on the broad skill set which has¬† fuelled his success to date. And, perhaps no element of Rossi’s game is more critical to his daily success than the youngster’s skating ability.

Flashing excellent edge-work and ample agility, Rossi can maneuver throughout the ice with relative ease and keep his opponents on their heels owing to his unpredictability. Although he will need to improve his top speed in the coming years, Rossi remains an impeccable skater who can drive his team’s offensive game through his footwork and puck control alone.

Rossi_BT3
Rossi is an incredibly intelligent player known for his creativity and growing lethality. (Photo Credit: OHL Images)

Amplifying Rossi’s sound attacking game is his seemingly endless creativity with the puck. While he owns a crisp and accurate shot, Rossi’s ability to create and implement plays in the offensive zone forces his defenders to respect both aspects of his game at a high rate of speed. Devastating while attacking off of the rush and a lethal force on the power play, Rossi is a consistent producer who can dismantle opposing teams in variety of ways.

The Years Ahead

Rossi’s road to the show will run through Ottawa and the 67’s, where he will likely play at least two seasons before ascending to a higher level of competition.

Quickly proving to be one of the top prospects available for the 2020 NHL Draft, a dominant rookie year for Rossi with the 67’s will bode incredibly well for his stock as an NHL prospect. If able to out-preform likes of Byfield and Perfetti in the OHL during the 2018-19 season, Rossi could easily be forecast as an early first round choice come his respective NHL Draft.

Related: 2019 NHL Draft Rankings

Although skating for a dominant team in the 67’s, Rossi’s ability to adapt to the North American game while establishing himself as an offensive dynamo speaks volumes with regards to his ultimate potential as an NHL player.

In short, be sure to keep a keen eye trained on Rossi in this season and beyond. Despite his small stature, Rossi is a unrelenting force and potential star at the NHL-level.