OHL Prospect Profile: Dylan Gratton

Dylan Gratton of the T1EHL’s North Jersey Avalanche is one of the top-defenders eligible for the 2019 OHL Draft. Although committed to the NCAA, Gratton could very well be drafted by an OHL franchise come April, 2019.

– Dylan Gratton –

North Jersey Avalanche (T1EHL) | Defence | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible

Pottstown, Pennsylvania | 6-feet, 160-pounds | Feb 25th, 2003

Although a commitment to Penn State University will deter a number of OHL franchises from selecting him, the fact remains that Dylan Gratton of the North Jersey Avalanche is one of the top defencemen available for the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.

Of solid size, Gratton is an exceptional skater who processes the game at an elite-level. A natural two-way defender who loves to join the rush and contribute to his team’s attack, Gratton’s poise and composure while in possession of the puck stand at a remarkable level and help to amplify his tenacious defensive game.

While a future in the OHL could be unlikely, it goes without saying that a franchise will step up and select Gratton with a mid-to-late round pick — were he not committed to the NCAA, Gratton surely would have heard his name called in the opening round of the event.


  • Skating Speed and Acceleration
  • Offensive Instincts
  • Defensive Positioning and Gap Control
  • Poise and Composure

As mentioned above, Gratton is a tremendous skater whose speed and agility stand as the foundation of his overall game. Capable of traversing the ice with ease, Gratton is purposeful and efficient in his movements — an ability which allows him to log major minutes in a variety of situations without tiring.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Rankings

One particular situation in which Gratton excels comes in the offensive zone. Owing to his mobility on the blue line, Gratton can fire crisp and accurate passes to his teammates as well as fire the puck on-goal from his perch. Aware of when to pinch and carry the puck down low, Gratton has a stellar feel for the game and rarely makes mistakes which put his team at a risk defensively.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Prospect Profiles

In fact, it is Gratton’s combined offensive and defensive play which make him a prospect of such immense value. In addition to his flair in the opposing zone, Gratton is routinely the first player back on defence — utilizing consistent gap control and strong positioning in order to limit and squash the plays devised by his opposition. Mix in an incredible level of poise while in possession of the puck, and Gratton stands as a lethal two-way defender of incredible potential.

Areas of Improvement:

  • Defensive Focus
  • Personal Strength

Since Gratton is such a strong and well-rounded defenceman, there aren’t a number of glaring deficiencies within his game at this point in time — we’ll have to nitpick.

One area in which Gratton can improve is his focus defensively. Owing to his innate offensive instincts and skills with the puck, Gratton loves to contribute to his team’s attack. However, Gratton can get overly focused trying to create offence at times and, for a split-second, neglect to place his focus primarily on the defensive zone. Now, this is not say that Gratton routinely neglects his own zone, but rather that he can at times place too great of an emphasis on creating offence.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft – T1EHL Profiles

The other facet of his game which Gratton would do well to improve is his personal strength. Although of good size considering his 6-foot tall stature, Gratton weighs in at just 160-pounds and far from the strongest player on the ice. Once able to add greater strength to his growing frame — like the vast majority of players his age — Gratton will undoubtedly stand as an overwhelming force on the blue line capable of altering the outcome of any given game in the blink of an eye.

Future Potential:

At the end of the day, Gratton has all the makings of a top-pairing defenceman at the professional-level.

While his future remains somewhat uncertain, Gratton would surely be made a first-to-second round choice were he to commit himself to the OHL-level. However, with a slew of options ahead of himself such as the USHL, NTDP, and NCAA, attracting Gratton to a Canadian major-junior team could prove to be too great of a challenge.

In short, if Gratton chooses to forgo the OHL and follow a different developmental route, expect the native of Pottstown, Pennsylvania to be a star regardless of where he plays — the youngster is simply that good.


OHL Prospect Profile: Colby Saganiuk

Colby Saganiuk of the T1EHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins Elite is quickly becoming one of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection’s most potent talents despite his slender 5-foot-6 frame. An explosive skater with an equally devastating shot, Saganiuk could quite easily be made a top-40 pick come draft day.

– Colby Saganiuk –

Pittsburgh Penguins Elite (T1EHL) | Forward | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible

Plainfield, Illinois| Feb. 5th, 2003 | 5-foot-6, 150-pounds

Colby Saganiuk is somewhat of a rarity in today’s game.

Despite being born in the United States and standing as one of his nation’s top 2003-born prospects for some time, Saganiuk has yet to commit himself to an NCAA program. Skating for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite U16 Team of the T1EHL during the 2018-19 campaign, Saganiuk has continued to establish himself as a premier prospect defined by his high-end offensive abilities and consistent production.

Come the 2019-20 season, Saganiuk will have a wealth of opportunities presented to him with regards to his future in the sport. While the USHL and U.S. NTDP will certainly come calling, the native of Plainfield, Illinois could very well opt to play in the OHL if selected by a franchise which appeals to his desires.


  • Skating Strength and Agility
  • Puck Protection
  • Shot Release
  • Energy and Pace

Although his 5-foot-6 frame will be perceived as a negative by many, Saganiuk does not let his meagre frame inhibit his play by any means. In fact, Saganiuk has adapted his size to today’s game — centring his weight and gravity low to the ice in order to evade the checks of his more physically intimidating competition.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Rankings

Tied directly to Saganiuk’s low centre of gravity is his unique skating stride. Featuring explosive strides and breakaway speed, Saganiuk displays fantastic edge-work and can alter his direction and speed with pace and a purpose — allowing the youngster to keep his defenders on their toes alongside due to unpredictable nature. In keeping his centre of gravity low, Saganiuk is also able to shed checks with greater ease while using his wide stance to protect the puck in a variety of situations.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Prospect Profiles

In addition to his excellent shot defined by its quick release, Saganiuk is as energetic and determined as any player eligible for the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. Not one to take a shift off, Saganiuk competes tirelessly on a game-by-game basis and can be looked upon by his coaching staff and teammates alike to drive his team’s offensive game.

Areas of Improvement:

  • Defensive Positioning
  • Energy Efficiency

While the energy which Saganiuk brings to the ice certainly stands as one of his most impressive traits, the youngster will need to learn how to conserve his power in seasons ahead in order to maximize his productivity and potential. Now, this is not to say that Saganiuk skates hard at times without a purpose, but rather that more direct routes to the puck and greater anticipation would reduce his workload while increasing the potency of his play in all three zones of the ice.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft – T1EHL Prospect Profiles

This focus on efficiency relates directly to Saganiuk’s defensive play as well, as a more focused approach and the ability to read the play before it develops will allow Saganiuk to position himself accordingly rather than skate with speed in a sometimes endless pursuit of the puck.

Future Potential:

At the end of the day, Saganiuk is one of the most potent and explosive American-born players eligible for the 2019 OHL Priority Selection — a reality which can not and should not be overshadowed by his 5-foot-6 frame.

Come draft day, Saganiuk could very well be selected in one of the first two rounds of the event — and especially so if he does not commit to an NCAA program. Although the option to play in the USHL or for the U.S. NTDP could lay on the horizon, Saganiuk’s explosive style of play could be a perfect fit for the OHL considering its on-going transition to a speed and skill style of game.

Much like Jeremy Wilmer of the North Jersey Avalanche, Saganiuk’s decision to play in the OHL could be swayed depending on the franchise which selects him. Considering the youngster hails from Illinois, the Saginaw Spirit, Flint Firebirds, or Windsor Spitfires could prove to be highly attractive options.

OHL Prospect Profile: Jeremy Wilmer

Jeremy Wilmer of the North Jersey Avalanche is one of the best T1EHL players eligible for the 2019 OHL Draft. Although is playing future is unclear, Wilmer’s similarities to Johnny Gaudreau are unquestionable.

– Jeremy Wilmer –

North Jersey Avalanche U16 | Forward | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible

Rockville Center, NY | 5-foot-7, 150-pounds | August 16th, 2003

Jeremy Wilmer could become one of the Ontario Hockey League’s most tantalizing players in the coming years — if he choses to make the jump to the major-junior circuit and forgo his NCAA commitment, that is.

Skating for the North Jersey Avalanche U16 Team within the T1EHL in 2018-19, Wilmer will undoubtedly have a handful of options to choose from with regards to the future of his hockey career. Committed to Boston University, Wilmer could opt to play in the USHL next season or skate for the U.S. NTDP — he is simply that good.

However, for hockey fans throughout Canada and the province of Ontario, the hope is that Wilmer will bring his electrifying skill set north of the border for the foreseeable future. Eligible for the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, one OHL franchise could be in for a pleasant surprise of they choose to select Wilmer within the draft.


  • Speed and Agility
  • Offensive Creativity
  • Playmaking Prowess
  • Confidence and Composure

When it comes to Wilmer, envision Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames.

Incredibly shifty and seemingly possible to contain, Wilmer is a crafty yet decisive skater who uses his edges and creativity to his advantage with each passing shift. A threat in the offensive zone owing to his stellar skating, Wilmer can keep his defenders on their toes given his unpredictability and will make his opposition pay dearly if afforded too much time and space to operate.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Rankings

Gelling nicely with Wilmer’s skating abilities is the youngster’s raw creativity when in possession of the puck. Capable of navigating to dangerous areas of the ice in an efficient manner, Wilmer can devise and implement high-percentage scoring plays rarely seen throughout the course of an average game. Fuelling this creativity is Wilmer’s playmaking prowess, as the youngster can distribute the puck with a purpose while rarely turning committing giveaways.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Prospect Profiles

The glue which holds Wilmer’s overall game together is the native of Rockville Center, New York’s unparalleled confidence and composure with the puck. As mentioned above, Wilmer rarely turns the puck over and is resilient in his ability to generate offensive opportunities in one way or another. With maturity beyond his years, it should come as no surprise to learn that Wilmer committed to Boston University at the age of 14-years.

Areas Of Improvement:

  • Personal Strength
  • Defensive Ability

In terms of the areas in which Wilmer can improve, there aren’t many.

In fact, given the strength and consistency of Wilmer’s overall game, we’ll have to nitpick a little in order to provide constructive criticism.

First and foremost there is Wilmer’s physical stature, although this reality is something which Wilmer himself does not have the power to alter. Standing a mere 5-foot-7 tall, Wilmer is regularly one of the smallest players on the ice — however, this perceived deficiency has not held in back to date. Until he grows in height, Wilmer can work to improve his personal strength and in particular his lower-body.

Related: OHL Prospect Profiles – T1EHL Reports

Once stronger, Wilmer will stand as a far more stable player and one capable of playing a greater role defensively. At the moment, Wilmer can struggle to pin and smother attacking forwards within his own zone — a reality which can lead to prolonged zone time for his opposition. Once physically mature, Wilmer should be able to play an influential role in all three zones of the ice.

Future Potential:

At the end of the day, Wilmer possesses the skill-set necessary to become an incredibly potent player at the next-level.

Although his stature will inhibit him to some extent, Wilmer’s personal abilities are simply too strong to be contained. As an incredibly creative player and a consistent one at that, Wilmer’s ability to troubleshoot his opposition and adapt to their defensive tactics should allow for his prolonged production against stern competition as he ages.

In short, should Wilmer make it clear that he intends to play at the OHL-level next season, expect the American to be chosen inside of the first round of the event. However, if his intentions remain unclear, look for an OHL franchise to nab Wilmer with a mid-round pick with the hopes that he jumps north.

In particular, American-based OHL teams such as the Erie Otters and Flint Firebirds could hold a distinct advantage.

OHL Prospect Profile: Luke Hughes

Luke Hughes, a defenceman for Little Caesars within the T1EHL, isa dynamic offensive player known for his smooth skating and puck-moving abilities. In short, he’s one of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection’s top defenders.

– Luke Hughes –

Little Caesars U15 (T1EHL) | Defence | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible

Manchester, NH| Sept. 9th, 2003 | 5-foot-10, 145-pounds

Although the odds that Luke Hughes will play in the Ontario Hockey League aren’t high given his commitment to the University of Michigan, it goes without saying that Hughes is one of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection’s most promising defenders.

A smooth-skating defenceman whose game is remarkably similar to that of older brother Quinn Hughes, the youngest Hughes is a dynamic playmaker who can generate offence while playing a sound role in his defensive zone. Highly regarded for his exceptional two-way play and considerable upside, Hughes could be one of the first defencemen selected in the 2019 OHL Draft should he choose to pursue a major-junior career.


  • Playmaking Ability
  • On-Ice Vision
  • Skating and Agility
  • Positional Awareness

Much like his older brothers, Hughes is a stellar playmaker who can generate offensive opportunities for his team in the blink of an eye. Calm and poised while in possession of the puck and rarely pressured into committing turnovers, Hughes processes the play before him extremely well and can distribute the puck to his teammates with little issue.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Rankings

It is this confidence which allows Hughes to play such an integral role within his team’s offensive attack. As a fluid skater who features impressive edge-work and lateral mobility, Hughes can walk his opponents’ blue line while controlling the puck — maintaining a view of the play and able to pass or shoot the puck once an opportunity arises.

Related: 2019 OHL Prospect Profiles

However, Hughes is much more than a dominant offensive player, as his ability to read and react to developing plays before they transpire allows him to stand one step ahead of his competition. In addition, Hughes utilizes his strong skating abilities in the defensive zone — moving his feet quickly in order to pin and dispossess attacking forwards with relative ease.

Areas of Improvement:

  • Overall Strength
  • Shot Power and Penetration

Although Hughes’ overall game is incredibly strong and indicative of his family’s bloodlines, areas for improvement do exist.

Like the majority of players of his age, Hughes will need to work to add greater strength to his 5-foot-10 frame in the years ahead. While he is strong on the puck and capable of ensuring possession in the face of ferocious fore-checks, greater strength — particularly in his lower body — will allow Hughes to fend off his attackers with greater ease while amplifying his explosive first step in the process.

One other area of improvement which also relates directly to Hughes’ overall physical strength is the youngster’s shot power and its ability to penetrate traffic en route to the net. Once he adds greater muscle to his frame, Hughes shot will surely feature a quicker release as well as greater velocity to boot. Once this day comes, Hughes will stand as a versatile threat given his ability to both pass and shoot the puck from the point.

Future Potential:

Given his lethal two-way abilities, confidence, and maturity while in possession of the puck, it is safe to say that Hughes has all the makings of a top-pairing defenceman at the next-level — wherever that may be.

Related: Jack Hughes – The Next Patrick Kane?

Once of greater size and strength, Hughes will become an even more reliable and versatile force capable of leading his team at both ends of the ice — much like both of his older brothers. So, regardless of whether Hughes plays in the OHL, USHL, or joins the U.S. National Team Development Program next year, it is abundantly clear that the youngest Hughes has a highly promising future ahead of himself.