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.


Flint Firebirds: 5 Storylines to Follow in 2018-19

The Flint Firebirds are a team on the rise, as an influx of young talent and top prospects could see the organization push for considerable OHL success in the 2019-20 season and beyond.

The future is blindingly bright in Flint, Michigan, as the Firebirds stand poised to evolve into a true contender in the 2019-20 season. Sure, the past in Flint has been rough and tumultuous, however, a slew of wildly talented young players stand destined to change the Firebirds’ fate in the coming campaigns.

Long led by Dallas Stars prospect Ty Dellandrea in a single-handed fashion, the Firebirds will feature a much broader and deep roster when they take to the ice this coming season. Boasting a number of young players poised to breakout as well as incoming prospects sure to leave a lasting impression, a once remarkably thin Firebirds roster is suddenly beaming with high-end talent eager to do damage on a game-by game basis.

Flint Firebirds Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Depth, consistency, and character could lead to dramatic success for the Firebirds in 2019-20. (Photo Credit: Luke Durda/OHL Images)

Led by head coach Eric Wellwood, the Firebirds will look to quickly cast aside the negative energy which has — at times — consumed Flint’s direction as a team in years past. The key to achieving this positive state will be to receive consistent contributions from throughout the entire Firebirds roster. Sure, the team’s returning players will be looked upon to carry the majority of the load, however, the time has come for a number of the organization’s younger player to take significant steps in the right direction.

Ultimately, if the Firebirds can receive consistent goaltending alongside contributions from their defence core and bottom-six forwards, Flint could quickly evolve into a legitimate contender with justified aspirations of postseason glory.

5 Storylines to Follow

As follows are our five storylines to watch as the Flint Firebirds embark upon their fifth OHL season in franchise history. Having only reached the postseason on one occasion thus far, positive outcomes in the areas below will prove crucial to Flint’s playoff hopes. If the Firebirds can receive optimal outcomes in all of the situations below, the team could become a true contender rather than simply a competitor.

1. Can Ethan Keppen Continue to Ascend?

As the Firebirds’ first round choice in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, greatness has long been expected from Ethan Keppen. Now, following a solid rookie season in the OHL and a breakout campaign in 2018-19, it appears as though Keppen is poised the achieve the greatness which his specific skill-set commands. An imposing physical force given his 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame, Keppen has quickly developed into an overwhelming force at both ends of the ice — all at the age of just 18-years.

Ethan Keppen of the Flint Firebirds. Photo by Terry Wilson - OHL Images.
Based upon his current trajectory, Keppen should lead the Firebirds’ offence. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson – OHL Images)

The key to Keppen’s breakout this past season were improvements to his shot, an increase in overall confidence, and a sense of authority once in possession of the puck. Although long in possession of a deadly shot, Keppen has refined his rocket and now features a quick release, remarkable accuracy, and ample velocity. These improvements resulted in a 30-goal campaign for Keppen in his first season of NHL Draft-eligibility — a major reason why he stands as a highly valuable prospect and one who should continue to improve and lift the Firebirds in the coming seasons.

2. Will Cody Morgan Reach his Potential?

Despite having completed just two seasons of play in the OHL, Cody Morgan has already skated for three different franchises. Initially drafted by the Kingston Frontenacs in the first round of the 2017 OHL Priority Selection, Morgan was dealt to the Windsor Spitfires on New Year’s day of 2018 before being shipped to the Firebirds exactly one year later. Needless to say, Morgan’s on-going movement throughout the OHL has had a direct impact on his development and his ability to find a sense of calm and belonging at the major-junior level.

Cody Morgan of the Flint Firebirds. Photo by Terry Wilson - OHL Images.
The Firebirds hold a gem in Cody Morgan if he can continue his torrent offensive pace. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson – OHL Images)

However, it appears as though Morgan’s latest stop has him poised for significant success. In his 30 games played for Flint in 2018-19, Morgan recorded 13 goals and 30 total points — two marks which stood as career-highs in only half a season of play. Taking to the ice as a more confident player sure of his abilities, Morgan could be set to explode in a major way come the 2019-20 campaign given the current trajectory of his on-ice productivity. Eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft, a surprisingly high-selection in the upcoming event could be all the motivation Morgan needs to lead the Firebirds’ offensive attack this coming season.

3. Is Evan Vierling Primed to Explode?

After battling through a somewhat slow start in his rookie season in the OHL, Evan Vierling rounded out the 2018-19 campaign in fine form — posting six goals and 27 points in his 60 games played. The second overall choice in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, Vierling has the skill set of an elite prospect and the drive necessary to formulate a long and successful career in the professional ranks.

Evan Vierling of the Flint Firebirds. Photo by Terry Wilson - OHL Images.
Former second overall selection Evan Vierling stands poised to impress in his NHL Draft eligible season.

As we head into the 2019-20 season, expect Vierling to improve significantly upon the play which he displayed as a rookie. Alongside a steadily developing Firebirds squad, Vierling should come to play an impactful role at both ends of the ice and one which will see him rewarded with valuable playing time as a direct result. Further, with the breakout play of Keppen, the potential return of Ty Dellandrea, and the arrival of Brennan Othmann, Vierling will skate within what will arguably be the greatest Firebirds roster in franchise history.

4. Can Luke Cavallin Command the Crease?

Luke Cavallin was the first goaltender chosen in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection for a reason — the young netminder is incredibly athletic, technical, and intense. Blessed with great size to boot, Cavallin has all the makings of a star goaltender at the OHL-level and beyond. However, owing to the Firebirds’ lack of team success in recent years, Cavallin’s perception in the eyes of NHL scouts has been significantly hampered — so much so, in fact, that Cavallin is ranked as the 23rd-best North American goaltender according to NHL Central scouting.

Luke Cavallin of the Flint Firebirds. Photo by Terry Wilson - OHL Images.
Cavallin has all the makings of a star goaltender — in 2019-20, he’ll have an opportunity to seize the crease. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson – OHL Images)

With this being said, the team which selects Cavallin in the 2019 NHL Draft will be extremely fortunate. Of immense potential, Cavallin boasts the skill set necessary to become a consistent and effective netminder at the OHL-level and beyond. If Cavallin can seize and dominate Flint’s crease this upcoming season, his presence would not only make the Firebirds an instant contender but increase his stock as an NHL prospect as well. With overage goaltender Emanuel Vella at the end of his OHL career, the door is wide open for Cavallin to assert his presence.

5. Will Eric Wellwood Awaken the Firebirds?

Despite a disastrous 0-16-1 start to the 2018-19 campaign, the Flint Firebirds closed out their most recent season in strong form. In their final 11 games played, the Firebirds recorded five wins and — in doing so — they were able to leapfrog the Kingston Frontenacs who had previously sat in 19th overall in the league standings.

Eric Wellwood of the Flint Firebirds. Photo by Terry Wilson - OHL Images.
Wellwood’s OHL experience will aid in his direction of Flint in his second season with the team. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson – OHL Images)

Although they missed out on the opportunity to draft Shane Wright in the process, it has become clear that Wellwood and the Firebirds are determined to build a winning culture in Flint. Now boasting a wealth of incredibly talented young players, Wellwood will be able to use his breadth of playing experience to drive his team into a successful and potentially dominant future in the OHL. As an individual who has both played and coached in the OHL for a number of years, Wellwood’s familiarity with the league and its requirements for success should bode well for his young core of players steadily growing both on and off of the ice.

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.

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.

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.

NHL Prospect Profile: Vladislav Kolyachonok

Vladislav Kolyachonok of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds is a lethal two-way defenceman eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. A native of Belarus, Kolyachonok could be chosen in the first round owing to his combined natural offensive instincts and impressive size.

– Vladislav Kolyachonok –

Flint Firebirds (OHL) | Defence| 2019 NHL Draft Eligible

Minsk, Belarus| May 26th, 2001 | 6-foot-2, 185-pounds

The 2018-19 OHL campaign was an extremely trying one for the Flint Firebirds, who struggled mightily out of the gate and were never able to turn their season around. However, there were rays of hope throughout the season, as a number of Firebirds players began to establish themselves as capable contributors in spite of the team’s struggles.

Of the lot, perhaps the most impressive of which is 2019 NHL Draft eligible defenceman Vladislav Kolyachonok. A natural two-way defender, Kolyachonok’s speed and offensive instincts shine bright on a game-by-game basis, while his ability to adapt under pressure while remaining confident speaks wonders with regards to his potential at the next-level.

With a stellar rookie OHL campaign in-hand, Kolyachonok will enter the 2019 NHL Draft as a potential first-round selection.


  • Skating Speed and Agility
  • Confidence in Possession
  • Offensive Instincts
  • Play Processing

As mentioned above, Kolyachonok is an impressive skater who utilizes his explosive speed and ample agility in order to rush the puck up ice or smother attackers within his defensive zone. Once in possession of the puck is when Kolyachonok’s skating shines the brightest, as the native of Minsk, Belarus can blow past opposing players and his endlessly confident in his ability to do so.

Related: 2019 NHL Draft Rankings

This confidence while in possession of the puck is one of Kolyachonok’s greatest qualities, as it allows the youngster to secure breakouts and transport the puck with an impressive level of consistency. Amplified by Kolyachonok’s puck confidence is the youngster’s offensive capabilities and instincts, as an unparalleled trust in his abilities allows Kolyachonok to play a devastating role in the attacking zone — whether it be from the blue line or below the goal line.

This ability to dominate the offensive zone has an immense influence on Kolyachonok’s approach defensively. While he is a sturdy defender of ample ability who plays well within his own zone, Kolyachonok loves to possess the puck and will not hesitate to skate the puck out of trouble rather than simply clear it off of the glass — an ability which drives possession and offensive opportunities for his team.

Areas of Improvement:

  • Defensive Positioning
  • Physicality

Although Kolyachonok’s skating abilities and confidence with the puck stand as two of the youngster’s most impressive traits, they can — at times — lead to significant defensive lapses. Owing to his natural offensive instincts and drive, Kolyachonok can be caught out of position at times due to his attempts to single-handedly generate scoring chances.

In the years ahead, Kolyachonok will do well to solidify his own zone before attempting to utilize his unique skill set at the opposite end of the ice. One able to do so effectively and with consistency, Kolyachonok will become a truly lethal two-way defender — the mould of defenceman widely sought after by NHL organizations.

Related: 2019 NHL Draft Profiles

In order to immediately improve his defensive game, Kolyachonok would do well to utilize his physicality on a more regular basis. Standing 6-foot-2 and 185-pounds, Kolyachonok features stellar size yet isn’t always willing to use it in order to separate his opponents from the puck.

Future Potential:

Come the 2019 NHL Draft, Kolyachonok may very well be chosen within the top-31 overall owing to his natural offensive instincts and rangy defensive play.

Sure, there is a great deal of room for improvement within Kolyachonok’s game, however, the youngster’s raw skill set is simply undeniable and will be of immense potential once further polished. Although he will likely prove to be a long-term project not ready for NHL action until at least the 2021-22 campaign, Kolyachonok is an intriguing prospect who could ascend much sooner if able to adapt to the North American professional-level.

OHL Prospect Profile: Brennan Othmann

Brennan Othmann is one of this year’s premier goal scorers. He showcases an electric and powerful shot that can beat goaltenders clean, as well as an underrated sense of vision of the ice. He projects as a mid-to-late first round pick for the 2019 OHL Draft.

– Brennan Othmann –

Don Mills Flyers (GTHL) | Left Wing | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible

Scarborough, Ontario | January 5th, 2003

Brennan Othmann is undeniably mentioned among the top crop of snipers for the 2019 OHL Draft, and for good reason. At the recent Wendy Dufton Memorial Tournament, Othmann piled up an unbelievable 16 goals and 25 points over just eight games, as the Don Mills Flyers cruised to a tournament championship.

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

It is on the back of a powerful, electric release that Othmann is able to find the back of the net so frequently. While playing the wing on Shane Wright‘s line certainly has its benefits, don’t consider Othmann to just be a complimentary player. He consistently generates offence through a lethal combination of vision, puck skills, and that eye-catching release of his snap shot.


  • Shot
  • Puck Skills
  • Vision

Othmann’s top asset is undoubtedly his shot. It’s quick, powerful, and deceptive. He shows unique talent in his pass receptions, taking passes in tight and in his feet with precision to maintain puck possession. Perhaps what makes Othmann so dangerous is his ability to receive a pass and instantly fire a shot on net in the same motion. By doing so, he doesn’t allow goaltenders to get set for his shot, and the accuracy and strength is simply too much to stop.

Related: Take a look at the rest of Prospect Pipeline’s 2019 OHL Prospect Profiles.

He shows strengths in other departments as well, including a pair of quick and creative hands, as well as excellent vision of the ice. Othmann will take the option that presents itself, whether that be a simple chip and chase, or slipping the puck through the opposing defender’s feet. Othmann is slick and shifty with the puck, and always seems to know where his linemates are positioned. This skill allows him to dish precise passes that others may not even recognize to be available.

Area of Improvement:

  • Acceleration

While Othmann displays terrific positioning and ability to set up a cycle down low, he lacks any sort of separation speed on the rush. Othmann displays average top speeds, and can beat defenders wide at times, but it is not considered to be an area of strength for the dynamic sniper.

While he often displays agility and elusiveness, Othmann’s overall game would benefit tremendously from more power behind his first three steps. The extra sense of acceleration and ability to break free would open up even more opportunities for the already lethal winger. While this shouldn’t be an aspect that will hold him back at the OHL level, it remains an area that could use slight adjustments.

Future Potential:

Overall, Othmann is a player to watch each time he takes the ice. He is dangerous is multiple ways, whether that be via a slick saucer pass across the width of the ice, or a classic snipe off of the half wall, Othmann presents consistent scoring chances shift in, shift out.

An intelligent prospect, Othmann’s ability to read and react to developing plays instantaneously may be overlooked at times, but make no mistake, he can burn his opponents with an array of abilities. Othmann currently projects to be a mid-to-late first round pick for the 2019 OHL Draft, and one of it’s premier goal scorers.