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.


Mississauga Steelheads: 5 Storylines to Follow in 2019-20

Although the Mississauga Steelheads are a team in transition, the ‘Trout’ are loaded with elite young talent eager to take their team to the next level. What are the keys to the Steelheads competing in the OHL’s Eastern Conference in 2019-20? Find out, here.

The Mississauga Steelheads are a team in transition, as the club has taken a significant step backwards since it reached the OHL Final during the 2016-17 season.

However, this step backwards is simply cyclical, as the vast majority of the Steelheads’ former top players have now moved on to professional careers or other organizations in the OHL — a reality which has placed considerable emphasis on Mississauga’s top young prospects. Fortunately for the Steelheads, a number of these young prospects have quickly begun to leave lasting impressions at the major-junior level — with Thomas Harley, Keean Washkurak, and Cole Schwindt being the latest of which.

As a result, it should come as little surprise to learn that the Steelheads will likely fit into the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference this coming season. However, if able to receive stellar goaltending, substantial contributions from their incoming prospects, and consistency from their veteran players, the Steelheads could rather easily give an opponent a run for their money in the opening round of the 2020 OHL Playoffs.

Five Storylines to Follow in 2019-20

If Mississauga wishes to surpass the first round of the playoffs for just the second time in their eight year history, they’ll need to receive overwhelming contributions from a handful of very particular players. If able to draw stellar season’s from the likes of Washkurak, Schwindt, Harley and Ranger, the Steelheads could prove to be somewhat of a surprise in the Eastern Conference in 2019-20.

Let’s dive into more detail.

1. Can Keean Washkurak Take Charge of the Steelheads?

A second round choice of the Steelheads in the 2017 OHL Draft, Keean Washkurak has become a staple within Mississauga’s lineup over the past two OHL seasons. Known for his blistering speed and unrelenting work ethic, Washkurak is the definition of a team player who will do whatever it takes to ensure success for his team on a nightly basis. Whether it is dropping the gloves to stand up for a teammate or scoring a timely goal to seal a win, Washkurak is more than capable.

Keean Washkurak of the Mississauga Steelheads. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Washkurak’s hard-working nature and raw ability could land him the captaincy in the years ahead. (Photo Credit: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

It is this broad skill set and wide range of capabilities which led directly to Washkurak’s selection in the 2019 NHL Draft. Nabbed by the St. Louis Blues in the fifth-round of the event, Washkurak’s speed, adaptability, and hard-working nature proved far too valuable for the reigning Stanley Cup champions to pass upon. Now, as Washkurak prepares to skate in his third OHL campaign for the Steelheads, Head Coach James Richmond will be looking for the youngster to take the next step as an offensive player as well as as a leader. With premium ice time up for grabs in Mississauga, Washkurak has earned the opportunity to seize the role of first line centre-ice man.

Now, can Washkaruk succeed in the role and overcome his opposition’s top talent on a nightly basis? Only time will tell.

2. Can Cole Schwindt the Next Step?

Although widely projected to be chosen in the later rounds of the 2019 NHL Draft, Cole Schwindt heard his name called in the third round — 81st overall — by the Florida Panthers. While this came as somewhat of a surprise to many, the Panthers were clearly smitten with the package which Schwindt brings to the ice on a nightly basis. Standing 6-foot-2 and tipping the scale at 185-pounds, Schwindt is a sturdy winger who can protect the puck with ease and drive possession for his team.

In 2019-20, Schwindt will set out to prove why he was chosen in the third-round of the 2019 NHL Draft. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

What’s more is that in addition to his physicality, Schwindt features soft hands, a deceptive shot, and a high level of on-ice intelligence. These abilities led directly to a 31 point improvement for Schwindt in his sophomore season of play with Mississauga, a trend which proved far to valuable for the Panthers to ignore. However, Schwindt’s selection in the third round of the NHL Draft has also created an air of expectation, as the native Kitchener, Ontario will surely return to the Steelheads in 2019-20 with a great deal to prove. If able to continue his upward offensive trend while strengthening his impressive two-way play, Mississauga could very well feature one of the OHL’s most well-rounded players.

3. Will James Hardie Evolve into an Elite Goal Scorer?

James Hardie has long been regarded as a goal-scoring machine, as the youngster scored 40 goals in his Bantam season and 41 goals in his Minor Midget campaign prior to his selection in the first round of the 2018 OHL Draft by the Steelheads. And, not surprisingly, Hardie’s ability to bulge the twine was on full display in his rookie season, as the native of Innisfil, Ontario netted 15 goals in 62 regular season contests despite being provided with sheltered playing time on his team’s fourth-line.

James Hardie of the Mississauga Steelheads. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
An increase in playing time could see Hardie light the lamp with impressive regularity. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.)

Which other Steelheads player scored 15 goals in his rookie season? Owen Tippett.

Now, this is not to say that Hardie and Tippett are similar players — both play different styles — however, Hardie could certainly become as potent as Tippett given his heavy shot and innate nose for the net. What’s more is that given the lack of depth present within Mississauga’s roster this upcoming season, Hardie could very well earn ample playing time in a variety of different on-ice situations — a reality which could lead to a sharp increase in his offensive productivity ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft.

4. Can Mississauga’s 2019 OHL Draft Class Contribute?

Despite not holding a second round pick in the 2019 OHL Draft, the Steelheads were still able to select a number of promising young prospects — a handful of which could play impactful roles at the OHL-level this coming campaign. The most intriguing of which is none other than Ethan Del Mastro, an intimidating young defender who was the team’s first round selection and the 12th overall choice. Of great size and a smooth skater, Del Mastro plays a quiet yet effective two-way game defined by his poise and composure while in possession of the puck.

Del Mastro, Ethan of the Toronto Marlboros. Photo by Dan Hickling OHL Images
Del Mastro has all the makings of a sturdy shut-down defender at the OHL-level — now, can he diversify his game? (Photo by Dan Hickling OHL Images)

In addition to Del Mastro are Luca Del Bel Belluz and Chas Sharpe — two third-round selections who both hold promising futures in Mississauga. Del Bel Belluz — a native of Woodbridge, Ontario — boasts tantalizing one-on-one skill and the smooth hands necessary to dangle defenders and create highlight-reel offensive opportunities. Sharpe — a towering young defender — plays the game with a sense of purpose and has the ability to contribute offence from the blue line when the situation demands. If able to receive somewhat consistent contributions from the likes of Del Mastro, Del Bel Belluz, and Sharpe, Mississauga’s roster could be much deeper than initially thought.

5. Will Joe Ranger Battle for the Starting Role in Goal?

When the Steelheads traded Jacob Ingham to the Kitchener Rangers this offseason, it opened up a significant void in the team’s crease. As a result, General Manager Richmond nabbed Kai Edmonds from the Barrie Colts — a towering goaltender who had battled for playing time in Barrie over his last two seasons in the OHL. Born in 2000 and with over 50 OHL games played under his belt, Edmonds will surely be handed the reigns to begin the 2019-20 campaign.

Joe Ranger of the Mississauga Steelheads Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Joe Ranger could develop into a dependable goaltender for the Steelheads if able to attain consistency. (Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images)

However, Edmonds’ status as the starting goaltender is far from set in stone, as the Steelheads boast other young netminders ready to battle for playing time like Ingham did upon his arrival. One of which is Joe Ranger, a fourth-round choice of the Steelheads in the 2018 OHL Draft who played surprisingly well in his 15 appearances with the team last season. A natural athlete whose passion for the game is unmatched, Ranger could very well push Edmonds for the starting role if able to attain consistency early in his sophomore campaign — he, and Justin Dilauro, stand as the future of the team’s crease.

London Knights: 5 Storylines to Follow in 2019-20

To no one’s surprise, the London Knights will be a deadly force within the OHL’s Western Conference in 2019-20. However, they are not perfect by any means. Now, can the team’s young prospects take the team to the next level?

To say that the London Knights are a perennial powerhouse in the Ontario Hockey League would be a vast understatement. In fact, the Knights have clinched a postseason berth in each of their last 19 seasons of play — winning four OHL Championships and two Memorial Cups in the process.

And, ahead of the 2019-20 season, it appears as though the Knights are once again destined for an overwhelming amount of success.

Although a number of the team’s top players have departed the OHL in order to embark upon their respective professional careers, a new crop of wildly talented youngsters stand poised to take their places in 2019-20 — a perennial reality which has allowed London to remain not only competitive but downright deadly for the better part of two decades. Sure, question marks do remain within the team’s roster ahead of the upcoming season, however, London’s immeasurable depth will undoubtedly ensure that the team once again pushes deep into the postseason.

Five Storylines to Follow in 2019-20

If you are a die-hard fan of the Knights or just a follower of the Ontario Hockey League in general, here are five crucial storylines to follow which will surely revolve around London this upcoming season. If able to receive optimal outcomes from these storylines, expect the Knights to once again dominate their opposition on a nightly basis.

However, if the Knights fail to receive positive outcomes in a number of the areas of interest detailed below, they could stare down an early exit in the 2020 OHL postseason.

1. Is Kooy Ready for the Spotlight?

Over the past two OHL seasons, the Knights came to rely heavily upon the abilities of Joseph Raaymakers — an incredibly competitive goaltender who appeared in a whopping 93 regular season games for London. However, given his 1998-birth, Raaymakers will now move onto the next stage of his playing career — a reality which will afford Jordan Kooy with the opportunity to prove himself as a legitimate starting goaltender at the major-junior level.

Jordan Kooy of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
The Knights will need consistency and ability from Kooy if they wish to succeed in 2019-20. (Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images)

Fortunately for the Knights, Kooy should enjoy a relatively seamless transition into the starter’s role in 2019-20, as the youngster has already appeared in 50 regular season contests for London on top of 11 postseason appearances as well. As a seventh-round selection of the Vegas Golden Knights dating back to the 2018 NHL Draft, Kooy has the size, confidence, and raw ability to take the OHL by storm this coming campaign. Standing 6-foot-2 in stature, Kooy is an intimidating presence in-goal who has the ability to make highlight-reel saves with ease. If able to play with consistency, Kooy could very well lead a young London squad to considerable playoff success in 2019-20.

2. Will Luke Evangelista Explode?

An injury riddled rookie season limited Luke Evangelista to a mere 27 regular season games played for the Knights in 2018-19, during which he was able to put forth just two assists. However, the former first round choice of the Knights in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection has been widely regarded as a lethal young prospect for quite some time — once healthy and afforded with consistent playing time, the youngster could very well explode offensively for London in his first year of NHL Draft eligibility.

Luke Evangelista of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Luke Evangelista is a prospect beaming with untapped potential. (Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images)

Although he tips the scale at just 165-pounds and stands 5-foot-11 in height, Evangelista’s game carries significant heft on the ice owing to his raw skill set and innate abilities. Blessed with lightning quick hands, Evangelista makes confident plays without hesitation and has the ability to score goals in addition to creating opportunities for his teammates. What’s more is that Evangelista features tremendous on-ice intelligence as well, as the youngster has a natural feel for the game and can navigate the ice surface with both purpose and efficiency. If able to emerge offensively in 2019-20, Evangelista would add another layer of depth to the Knights’ attack.

3. Is Stranges Set for Stardom?

Antonio Stranges has long been known for his absolutely outrageous puck-handling abilities, as the youngster has scored highlight-reel goals, dished out jaw-dropping passes, and sent fans crazy on social media owing to his advanced abilities on the ice. All of this has come through just his first season of play in the OHL — a fact which has fans and scouts alike buzzing with anticipation as Stranges enters into his first season of NHL Draft eligibility.


The main question facing Stranges as he embarks upon his sophomore campaign with the Knights will be just how good can the native of Plymouth, Michigan, become? Owing to his raw skill set, Stranges has drawn considerable comparisons to former London superstar Mitch Marner, and for good reason. Like Marner, Stranges owns devastating on-ice intelligence and the confidence necessary to execute high-percentage scoring plays with apparent ease. However, in his sophomore season with the Knights, Marner scored 44 goals and 126 points — so, only time will tell as to whether or not the Stranges-Marner comparison is accurate.

4. Will the Knights’ 2003-born Rookies Excel?

The Knights drafted a whopping 19 prospects in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, all of which ranging in skill, ability, and position. And, while some will surely take longer to develop than others, it appears as though London’s initial three selections will play a significant role with the team this coming season. Drafted in the first and second rounds, respectively, it appears as though Stuart Rolofs, Logan Mailloux, and Max McCue will all be afforded with considerable opportunities in their rookie OHL campaigns.

With his size, skill, and speed, 2019 first round pick Stuart Rolofs should have little issue adjusting to the pace of the OHL game. (Photo Credit: CHL Images)

In Rolofs, London boasts a young prospect who should have little issue adjusting to the major-junior level. Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing in at 190-pounds, Rolofs has the size necessary to compete with the league’s seasoned veterans and the skating abilities required to become an instant impact player regardless of the playing time which he will receive as a freshman. Further, in Mailloux and McCue, the Knights boast a dynamic defender and a tantalizing playmaker — two prospects who should also adjust relatively easily given their respective sizes and ability to process the pace of play at a high-level.

5. Could London’s Young Blue Line Buckle?

London’s blue line throughout the 2018-19 season was absolutely blistering, as the likes of Adam Boqvist, Evan Bouchard, Matt Timms, Will Lochead, and Joey Keane stood as lethal offensive threats in addition to their incredible defensive abilities within their own zone. However, with all of which surely moving on to the next stages in their respective hockey careers in 2019-20, the Knights will now need to rely on a steadily developing core of blueliners who are not only young but relatively inexperienced as well.

Alec Regula of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Standing 6-foot-4 and 205-pounds, Alec Regula must have a big season in order to lead the Knights’ young blue line. (Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images)

While Alec Regula will return for his third season of play with the Knights, London must come to rely upon the likes of Mailloux, Hunter Skinner, Bryce Montgomery, and others such as Benjamin Roger and Liam Whittaker to afford them with quality minutes at both ends of the ice throughout the upcoming campaign. Although ensuring such will certainly be a major ask of the Knights, the team could falter quite significantly if unable to attain consistent defending this upcoming season. Loaded offensively and in possession of a solid starting goaltender, London will need sturdy defending if it wishes to reach its potential with the Western Conference in 2019-20.

Kitchener Rangers: 5 Storylines to Follow in 2019-20

The Kitchener Rangers are a team saturated with elite talent and remarkable depth. Although a few question marks do remain, expect the Rangers to be as potent and persistent as ever during the 2019-20 OHL season.

The Kitchener Rangers have come to be known as a perennial powerhouse in the Ontario Hockey League’s Western Conference, and for good reason.

Over their past fifteen years of play, the Rangers have fallen short of the postseason on just two occasions — an era of success highlighted by the franchise’s OHL championship during the 2007-08 season. And, fortunately for the Rangers and their passionate fanbase, this fact appears destined to remain unchanged in the years ahead.

Kitchener Rangers. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
The Rangers’ crop of seasoned veterans will play a major role in the team’s potential success this coming season. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.)

Currently defined by their ideal mixture of seasoned veterans and highly skilled young prospects, Kitchener boasts a deep and competent roster which should push deep into the playoffs this coming campaign. Although a number of questions marks do remain — the majority of which we will touch on below — the Rangers are poised for success not only this coming season but long into the future to boot.

However, before the Rangers can attain this almost certain success, they will need to answer a handful of questions specific to their current roster.

Five Storylines to Follow in 2019-20

As mentioned, here are five storylines for fans of Kitchener and the Rangers themselves to follow throughout the upcoming 2019-20 OHL campaign. While it goes without saying that positive outcomes in all of these situations would be ideal, the Rangers stand as a remarkably deep team seemingly capable of overcoming any adversity or shortcomings which it may face.

1. Can Jacob Ingham Stabilize the Rangers’ Crease?

When the Mississauga Steelheads targeted goaltender Kai Edmonds of the Barrie Colts this offseason, it meant that they needed to trade their long-time starting netminder in Jacob Ingham. Long a fan favourite in Mississauga, Ingham has become widely known for his ability to make timely, highlight reel saves with a startling level of consistency. Further, as a prospect of the Los Angeles Kings, Ingham takes to his crease with poise and features the size and raw athleticism necessary to thrive in the OHL-level and beyond.

Jacob Ingham of the Mississauga Steelheads. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Jacob Ingham boasts the ability to raise his game to the next level when the situation demands. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.)

This level of production and effort is exactly what the Rangers coveted when they landed Ingham from the Steelheads, as Kitchener has long lacked a definitive starting goaltender. If able to arrive in Kitchener and put forth a consistent and effective effort on a game-by-game basis, Ingham could very well lead the Rangers upon a deep playoff run despite the perennial strength of the OHL’s Western Conference.

2. Will Valade and Sebrango Take the Next Step?

The Rangers landed two stellar young players in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection.

At 17th overall, Kitchener nabbed Reid Valade — a former standout with the Toronto Marlboros of the GTHL who brought speed, skill, and a total of 20 points to the ice in his rookie OHL campaign. Secondly, the Rangers were able to steal Donovan Sebrango with the 40th overall choice in the event — a selection which paid immediate dividends, as Kitchener received 26 points from the youngster as a freshman.

Reid Valade of the Kitchener Rangers Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
An increase in ice time could lead to a dramatic rise in Valade’s offensive output. (Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images)

Now, with the 2019-20 OHL season upon us, the Rangers will undoubtedly expect to receive a greater level of production from both Valade and Sebrango. Sure to be rewarded with increased playing time this coming season, Kitchener will stand as a much deeper and potent force if both Valade and Sebrango are able to take the next steps within their personal developments. If Valade can dramatically increase his offensive productivity while Sebrango polishes the fine details of his game, the Rangers could rather easily boast a dynamic roster capable of competing with the Western Conference’s power-house teams.

3. Is Pinelli Ready to Dominate?

Signed by the Rangers to round out the month of July, the impending arrival of Francesco Pinelli has Kitchener’s management team and fans alike drooling with anticipation. As a member of the Toronto Red Wings in 2018-19, Pinelli put forth an overwhelming 49 goals and 114 points in just 71 games played — a mark which stood alongside the likes of Shane Wright and Brennan Othmann in the GTHL. Perhaps most impressive of all was the manner in which Pinelli recorded his point total, as the youngster was a natural leader who directed his team with poise in all three zones of the ice.

Nabbed by the Rangers 13th overall in the 2019 OHL Draft, Pinelli will quickly prove to be a tremendous selection. (Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/OHL Images)

So, could Pinelli become a dominant player in his rookie OHL campaign? Absolutely.

The driving force behind Pinelli’s on-ice consistency and lethality at both ends of the ice is the youngster’s impressive level of maturity. Not phased by tough calls or unfortunate plays against his team, Pinelli boasts a level of poise and calm typically reserved for seasoned veterans and has the ability to rally and re-direct his team when necessary. Come his freshman campaign with the Rangers, expect Pinelli to seize increasingly important minutes while playing a surprisingly significant leadership role to boot. In short, Pinelli could very well captain Kitchener in the years ahead.

4. Can Vukojevic Lead Kitchener’s Blue Line?

Despite initially intending to embark upon a career in the NCAA, Michael Vukojevic left the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL for the Rangers in 2017-18 and hasn’t looked back. Since arriving in Kitchener, Vukojevic has developed exactly as expected — dominating both ends of the ice owing to his intimidating size and strength while providing intermittent offence from the blue line.

The result?

Michael Vukojevic of the Kitchener Rangers Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Vukojevic quickly evolved into a minute-munching defender for the Rangers in his sophomore OHL season. (Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images)

Well, Vukojevic heard his name called in the third round of the 2019 NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils and will surely be in contention for a place within Team Canada’s WJC roster in the years to come. Now, the main question facing Vukojevic will be exactly how potent and persistent of a defenceman he can become at the OHL-level. Sure, he has dominated his opposition and caught the attention of scouts in the past, but can Vukojevic take the next step in his personal development and become the go-to blue-liner for the Rangers? Likely to tackle greater playing time once again this coming season, Vukojevic will hold the opportunity to prove himself as a premier major-junior player on the fast track to significant success at the professional-level.

5. Will Jonathan Yantsis Score 50 Goals… Again?

To say that Jonathan Yantsis exploded during the 2018-19 season would be both accurate and underwhelming. After scoring just five goals and 12 points for the Rangers in his first full regular season campaign with the team, Yantsis hammered home a whopping 50 goals and 73 points in his sophomore OHL season. This dramatic increase in offensive production saw the native of Markham, Ontario improve his goal total by 45 and his point total by 61 — marks which stood amongst the best in major junior hockey.

Now, the test facing Yantsis will be his ability to prove that his dynamic offensive season of 2018-19 was not a fluke. Fortunately, Yantsis has a number of factors working in his favour. First and foremost there is Yantsis’ size, as the youngster stands 6-foot-2 and tips the scale at 210 pounds — a reality which makes him difficult to knock off of the puck as well as a force on the Rangers’ forecheck. Secondly there are Yantsis’ smooth hands while in control of the puck, as he boasts the ability to elude defenders, deflect pucks, or fire the puck home with a well-placed shot. Essentially, if Kitchener wishes to stand as a threat in the Western Conference, they’ll need veteran players such as Yantsis to dominate the ice on a regular basis.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

WINTERTON, Ryan IMG_8708 Tim Cornett
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.

2019 OHL Draft: 5 Studs Who Went Un-Drafted

Although the 2019 OHL Draft is in the books, we’ve taken a moment to profile five of the best players who weren’t — for whatever reason — selected on Draft Day. The list is impressive to say the least and might surprise you.

The 2019 OHL Priority Selection is in the rear-view mirror, however, there’s no time like the present to reflect on what was one of the most skilled draft classes in quite some time.

We all know that Shane Wright was nabbed by the Kingston Frontenacs with the first overall selection, and that a number of wildly talented players who will have an instant impact in the OHL next season followed closely behind the latest player to be granted exceptional status. However, very little time has been taken to discuss those who were not chosen in the 2019 OHL Draft — of which there are were a number of substantial omissions.

Related: “2019 OHL Draft – 15 Potential Steals”

So, as we continue to break down and analyze the 2019 OHL Draft, we’ve taken the time to profile and highlight four players and one goaltender who should have been drafted this past April, yet were not. All five of these young men boast incredible skill and the personal drive necessary to become impact players in the immediate future.

Exactly why these five youngsters went un-drafted will forever remain a mystery, however, the fact remains that all of which continue to hold bright futures in the game.

5 Un-Drafted Gems

Here are — listed in alphabetical order — our top-five players who were not chosen in the 2019 OHL Draft who unquestionably should have been. Of the five, four of which skated in the GTHL last season while one put one an impressive performance in the T1EHL.

Joshua Cini

2018-19 Team: Mississauga Rebels (GTHL)

2018-19 Statistics: 7G, 16PTS

Prospect Pipeline Final 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: 212th

Although his offensive production didn’t jump off of the sheet, Joshua Cini is a player who deserved to be drafted in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. A hard-working forward and tireless skater, Cini consistently displayed the ability to generate offensive opportunities for the Mississauga Rebels this past season. With an engine that never quits, Cini displayed his strong skating abilities and work-ethic with each passing game and came to play a vital two-way role for the Rebels.

While his plans for the upcoming 2019-20 season remain unknown thus far, it goes without saying that Cini could very well embark on an OHL career in the immediate future. If he chooses to play his Midget season in the GTHL, there is no question that Cini will be selected by an OHL franchise in the U18 Priority Selection — his skill-set and work-ethic will be simply too valuable to pass upon a second time around.

Anthony Demkiw

2018-19 Team: Toronto Titans (GTHL)

2018-19 Statistics: 56GP: 8G, 20PTS

Prospect Pipeline Final 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: 237th

It’s no secret that the Toronto Titans were amongst the poorest team’s in the GTHL this past season — the club battled to a 3-25-5 record. However, despite the state of the Titans’ season, the club featured more than its fair share of bright spots. Alongside the impressive performances of Amadeus Lombardi and Andras Mihalik was Anthony Demkiw — a skilled centre who represented the Titans at the annual GTHL Top Prospects Game.

Although of a smaller stature, Demkiw battled tirelessly in each passing game and quickly became a fixture for the Titans in a variety of situations. A skilled puck-handler who oozes creativity, Demkiw displayed the ability to generate offensive opportunities for his team in the face of over-whelming competition while providing a physical edge as well. If Demkiw can contribute offensively on a more consistent basis, he should have a long future ahead of himself in the sport.

Ethan Esposito

2018-19 Team: Mississauga Senators (GTHL)

2018-19 Statistics: 11G, 18PTS

Prospect Pipeline Final 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: 209th

After appearing in a handful of games for the Vaughan Kings as a bantam player in the 2017-18 campaign, expectations surrounding Ethan Esposito were at a high as he entered into his minor midget campaign. However, skating as a member of the Mississauga Senators in 2018-19, Esposito battled with horrid puck luck throughout the season and played to deflated offensive totals as a direct result.

As an extremely hard-working winger who never takes a shift off, it came as a massive surprise to see that Esposito was not selected on draft day. All throughout the 2018-19 season, Esposito displayed the ability to single-handedly generate offensive opportunities for his team while playing a physical role to boot. However, as mentioned earlier, tough puck luck hampered the youngster’s offensive output — a reality which surely affected him as the 2019 OHL Draft unwound.

In short, don’t be surprised to see Esposito play a starring role for a team in the immediate future — whether it be at the OHL-level or not.

Samuel Moncada

2018-19 Team: Toronto Nationals (GTHL)

2018-19 Statistics:

Prospect Pipeline Final 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: 3rd (Goaltenders)

All throughout the 2018-19 GTHL season, Samuel Moncada was virtually unbeatable. Playing a style eerily similar to that of Jonathan Quick, Moncada regularly made highlight-reels saves and was a crucial component within a highly successful Toronto Nationals’ team. Moreover, Moncada was named to the GTHL Top Prospects Game and regularly gave the Don Mills Flyers fits in their explosive matchups this past season.

However, come the 2019 OHL Draft, Moncada did not hear his name called. As one of the most electrifying goaltenders competing within Ontario this past campaign, Moncada’s omission came as an absolute shock to the minor midget hockey community. Ranked as the third-best goaltender eligible for the draft in our final goaltender ranking of the season, Moncada was likely inhibited on draft day by his small stature — a ridiculous misconception which continues to be held by the vast majority of OHL franchises.

Sure, he battled injury too, but Moncada’s raw skill-set is simply to impressive to pass upon. In short, a team will be very pleased to have Moncada this coming season.

Dante Palombo

2018-19 Team: North Jersey Avalanche (T1EHL)

2018-19 Statistics: 44GP: 32G, 72PTS (AYHL+T1EHL)

Prospect Pipeline Final 2019 OHL Draft Ranking: 193rd

A shifty skater and natural playmaker, it appeared as though Dante Palombo was destined to be selected by an OHL franchise during the 2019 Priority Selection. Across his 44 games played during the 2018-19 season, Palombo recorded a combined 32 goals and 72 points — an output which established him as an offensive dynamo for the North Jersey Avalanche. However, the 2019 OHL Draft came and went, and Palombo’s name was not called.

Well-known for his ability to generate offensive opportunities while playing with grit and a physical edge, Palombo has the skill-set necessary to thrive at the next-level of competition. And, although he likely wouldn’t have been able to ascend to the major-junior ranks this coming season owing to his improving size and strength, Palombo’s innate skill-set should allow him to become an impactful player at the next-level — whether that comes in the OHL or not. Ultimately, OHL teams may regret passing on Palombo, as he holds the potential to become a dynamic force in the seasons ahead.

2019 OHL Gold Cup: The Top Performers

The 2019 OHL Gold Cup is in the books and GTHL Blue are your champions! With the final tournament of the 2018-19 campaign completed, we’ve highlighted our top performers from the star-studded event.

To cap off the 2018-19 minor midget season, 160 of the top 2003-born players from Ontario recently gathered to participate in the 2019 OHL Gold Cup.

The tournament — which took place over roughly a week’s time — pitted eight regional teams against one another in what is essentially a year-ending best-on-best tournament. Representing the province in the tournament were two teams from both of the GTHL and OMHA, as well as clubs which showcased the top talent from each of Alliance Hockey, HEO, HNO, and the NOHA.

Come the championship game, it was GTHL Red and GTHL Blue who clashed — with the latter of which taking home the OHL Gold Cup owing to an electrifying 5-4 victory. Despite trailing by three goals mid-way through the second-period, GTHL Blue rebounded to tie the game before taking the lead for good with less than five minutes remaining in the third periods. Of note was the play of Pasquale Zito, who picked up two points including the game winning goal to seal GTHL Blue’s championship.

However, plenty of exhilarating hockey took place over the course of the week outside of the championship game, as the very best talent which the province has to offer showcased their elite talents. With this being said, we’ve highlighted five players and one goaltender who stood out significantly over the course of the 2019 OHL Gold Cup.

While others surely could have made this list, the six youngsters below consistently impressed in our tournament viewings.

The Top Performers

Here are our top performers from the 2019 OHL Gold Cup. The players we have identified below are listed in alphabetical order rather than in order of their respective performances.

Marc Boudreau

2018-19 Team: Toronto Marlboros (GTHL)

Drafted: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, 59th Overall

Gold Cup Statistics: 3G, 2A, 5PTS

Although his team came up short in their Gold Medal game against Team GTHL Blue, Marc Boudreau proved to be an unrelenting force throughout the 2019 OHL Gold Cup. Owing to his hard-working nature and determination on the ice, Boudreau played an influential role in all three zones and came to be counted upon by his coaching staff regardless of the situation.

Come to the end of the tournament, Boudreau had tallied three goals and two assists for a four game total of five points. Placed in a tie for fifth-overall in tournament scoring, Boudreau’s ability to impact the outcome of every single game in a variety of different ways spoke to his value as a prospect and bright future within the game. A downright steal by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the third-round of the 2019 OHL Draft, Boudreau’s consistency and raw lethality should allow him to translate to the OHL-level with ease in the year’s ahead.

Ryan Burke

2018-19 Team: Elgin Middlesex Chiefs (Alliance)

Drafted: Sudbury Wolves, 155th Overall

Gold Cup Statistics: 3G, 4A, 7PTS

Despite his smaller stature, Ryan Burke played a crucial role in Team Alliance’s success throughout the 2019 OHL Gold Cup. Although the likes of Brett Harrison, Cayden Faust, and Maddox Callens were expected to lead the way offensively for Team Alliance, it was Burke who instead took the tournament by storm. Once the dust had settled, Burke stood as the tournament’s third-highest scoring player with three goals and seven points in his four games played.

A tireless force on the ice who can overwhelm his opposition with his tenacity and determination, Burke’s endless fore-checking and pursuit of the puck helped to generate countless offensive opportunities for his team. Moreover, Burke was wildly unpredictable once in possession of the puck, as his speed alongside his offensive creativity forced opposing defenders onto their heels with impressive consistency.

Brandt Clarke

2018-19 Team: Don Mills Flyers (GTHL)

Drafted: Barrie Colts, 4th Overall

Gold Cup Statistics: 3G, 5A, 8PTS

Brandt Clarke is — without a doubt — one of the most talented defenders poised to enter the OHL in quite some time. As confident and creative as they come, Clarke can control and dominate the pace of play when in possession of the puck and has the ability to dictate the play at both ends of the ice. It is this skill set which Clarke once again placed on full display in the OHL Gold Cup, driving his team’s success in all three zones while standing as a pillar defensively to boot.

Although his team ultimately fell in the Gold Medal game, Clarke had once again put on an overwhelming display offensively. In fact, despite his position on the ice, Clarke finished in a tie with former Don Mills Flyers teammate Brennan Othmann for the tournament lead in point-scoring with eight total points. Come the 2019-20 OHL campaign, expect Clarke to ascend to the major-junior level with absolute ease.

Braeden Kressler

2018-19 Team: Mississauga Senators (GTHL)

Drafted: Flint Firebirds, 28th Overall

Gold Cup Statistics: 2G, 3A, 5PTS

Braeden Kressler was a vastly underrated player in the months preceding the 2019 OHL Draft — a reason why he wrongfully fell into the second-round and was selected by the Flint Firebirds at 28th overall. In time, expect Kressler to emerge as one of the clear-cut steals of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. Emphasizing this point was again was Kressler and his play at the 2019 OHL Gold Cup, as the youngster put forth an impressive two-way display for tournament champion GTHL Blue.

Although many view his stature as a negative, Kressler once again proved that his speed, strength, and immense skill-set can overcome any obstacle placed in his way. And, such was once again the case in the OHL Gold Cup, as Kressler routinely dissected opposing defences en route to creating devastating offensive opportunities for his squad. What’s more is that when tasked defensively, Kressler had no issue dismantling plays devised by his opposition — an indication of his versatility and well-rounded game.

Patrick Leaver

2018-19 Team: Smiths Falls Bears (HEO)

Drafted: Oshawa Generals, 158th Overall

Gold Cup Statistics: 2W, 1.53 GAA, .929 SVP

Although he only played in two games for Team HEO at the 2019 OHL Gold Cup, goaltender Patrick Leaver was nothing short of stellar when called upon. In his first start of the tournament, Leaver allowed just one goal in his team’s 4-1 victory over Team HNO. Then, when tasked with shutting down a high-powered team in GTHL Blue, Leaver turned aside 26 of 28 shots despite playing to a highly entertaining 3-1 loss.

What separated Leaver from his competition throughout the OHL Gold Cup was the youngster’s composure and raw athleticism in-goal. Calm and poised in his crease, Leaver allowed the play to come to him and didn’t take himself out of position in order to make saves. However, when the situation demanded, Leaver was quick to display the athleticism and focus which made him an eight-round choice of the Oshawa Generals in the 2019 OHL Draft.

Brennan Othmann

2018-19 Team: Don Mills Flyers (GTHL)

Drafted: Flint Firebirds, 2nd Overall

Gold Cup Statistics: 3G, 5A, 8PTS

Winning has a way of following Brennan Othmann, and such was once again the case in the OHL Gold Cup as the youngster helped lead GTHL Blue to a tournament championship. Across his games played in the event, Othmann fired home three goals and added five assists for a tournament-leading eight points. Utilizing his size and skill, Othmann regularly picked apart opposing defences while standing as a versatile presence as well.

Nabbed by the Flint Firebirds with the second overall choice in the 2019 OHL Draft, Othmann showed once again why he should have little trouble adjusting to the pace of major-junior hockey. A fluid skater who can accelerate to full speed in a matter of strides, Othmann’s creativity and shot should see him become a premier OHL talent ahead of his NHL Draft season.

2019 OHL Draft Review: 15 Potential Steals

The 2019 OHL Priority Selection is complete, and there were a number of prospects selected in later rounds who could easily develop into elite players at the OHL-level. Who are these players? Find out here!

The 2019 OHL Priority Selection is officially in the books, and what an event it proved to be.

Although there was no surprise at first-overall, the remainder of the 2019 OHL Draft was anything but certain. Owing to the depth of this year’s class, a number of prospects originally projected to be made early-round picks fell deep into later rounds — a reality which was not reflective of their respective skill-sets on the ice.

DILAURO, Justin IMG_8530 Tim Cornett
Selected in the seventh-round by the Mississauga Steelheads, Justin Dilauro is one of many late-round prospects who have the talent necessary to succeed at the OHL-level. (Photo Credit: Tim Cornett, CHL Images)

However, these late-round steals were not limited to position players alone, as a number of goaltenders also fell — or were not selected at all — as the event wore on. Yet, despite being selected in later rounds of the draft, each and every prospect still holds a great deal of potential and the skill-sets necessary to thrive at the major-junior level.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Profiles

So, who are these late round picks and why could they prove to be draft day steals in a few years’ time? Well, let’s take a closer look below — we’ve highlighted 15 prospects picked lower than originally anticipated who should come to impress in the immediate future.

15 Potential Draft Steals

Here are, listed in alphabetical order, 15 prospects selected in the 2019 OHL Draft who could rather easily develop into late-round steals and full-time major-junior contributors.

Robert Andreakos Jr. – Saginaw Spirit: 161st Overall

  • Position: Goaltender
  • 2018-19 Team: Mississauga Reps (GTHL)
  • Stats: 35 GP; 2.58 GAA

Although the Mississauga Reps didn’t clinch a berth in the GTHL playoffs in the 2018-19 season, goaltender Robert Andreakos Jr. was absolutely outstanding throughout. A highly athletic and incredibly intelligent netminder, Andreakos Jr. is poised in his crease and has the ability to make highlight-reel saves with remarkable consistency. While he likely won’t compete in the OHL next season, Andreakos Jr. has the potential to develop into a starter at the major-junior-level.

Owen Forester – London Knights: 182nd Overall

  • Position: Right Defence
  • 2018-19 Team: Toronto Nationals (GTHL)
  • Stats: 4G, 11A, 15P

A calm and composed defender, Owen Forester has all the makings a supreme puck-mover at the next-level. With solid size and impressive lower-body strength, Forester has the ability to munch major minutes with relative ease while providing his team with stable defending and an offensive edge in the attacking zone. Given the Knights’ lack of depth on the blue line, Forester could prove to be a steal in the years to come.

Ranvir Gill – Ottawa 67’s: 83rd Overall

  • Position: Right Defence
  • 2018-19 Team: Ottawa Jr. Senators (HEO)
  • Stats: 8G, 37A, 35P in 43 games

As a big, strong, and OHL-ready defender, it came as an absolute shock to see Ranvir Gill of the Ottawa Jr. Senators selected 83rd overall. Capable of playing the game with both poise and pace, Gill can dictate the play at both ends of the ice and boasts the energy-level necessary to influence the game with each passing shift. In short, don’t be surprised if Gill pushes for a place on the 67’s roster to begin the 2019-20 season.

Cole Hipkin – Saginaw Spirit: 121st Overall

  • Position: Right Defence
  • 2018-19 Team: Brantford 99ers (Alliance)
  • Stats: 9G, 25A, 34P in 33 games

Despite being widely projected as a top-40 talent over the course of the 2018-19 season, Cole Hipkin of the Brantford 99ers fell to 121st overall in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection. This came as a shock considering the elite skill-set which Hipkin possesses — he is an excellent puck-mover who can rush the puck as well as control the pace of play at both ends of the ice. Although his defensive play remains a work in progress, Hipkin is far too talented to remain outside of the OHL for very long.

Brayden Hislop – Owen Sound Attack: 166th Overall

  • Position: Left Defence
  • 2018-19 Team: Waterloo Wolves (Alliance)
  • Stats: 2G, 10A, 12P in 32 games

The Owen Sound Attack may very well have stolen a dandy with the 166th overall selection in the 2019 OHL Draft. Although he will need to improve his size and strength in the year’s ahead, Brayden Hislop possess a vastly underrated skill set which should translate very well to the OHL-level. A fleet-footed and agile skater, Hislop can skate the puck out of trouble or lead the rush up ice. An excellent passer and playmaker, Hislop’s game is reminiscent of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Jake Gardiner.

Owen Hollingsworth – Sudbury Wolves: 257th Overall

  • Position: Right Wing
  • 2018-19 Team: Navan Grads (HEO)
  • Stats: 23G, 30A, 53P in 45 games

Despite standing as a top-15 scorer in the HEO this past campaign, Owen Hollingsworth was nabbed by the Sudbury Wolves at 257th overall. Although of a smaller stature, Hollingsworth consistently proved himself as an offensive force capable of driving his team’s attack on a game-by-game basis. A tremendous playmaker who also features a potent shot, Hollingsworth could very well become an impact player at the OHL-level once of greater physicality.

Griffin Jurecki – Saginaw Spirit: 221st Overall

  • Position: Centre
  • 2018-19 Team: Little Caesars U15 (T1EHL)
  • Stats: 32G, 37A, 69P in 62 games

While he was a lethal offensive force throughout the 2018-19 campaign as a member of the Little Caesars, Griffin Jurecki turned heads once again owing to his performance at the 2019 OHL Cup. Across his six games played in the annual tournament, Jurecki helped to lead his team on a deep run on the heels of his four goal, ten point performance. Nabbed by the Spirit with the 221st overall selection, Jurecki could become a key contributor in the years ahead if he commits to a major-junior career.

Judd Katz – Peterborough Petes: 133rd Overall

  • Position: Left Defence
  • 2018-19 Team: Mississauga Rebels (GTHL)
  • Stats: 1G, 10A, 11P

Consistency was the name of the game for Judd Katz throughout the 2018-19 season, as the towering young defender improved dramatically over the course of his minor midget campaign. Of great size and strength, Katz skates very well for his size and has the ability to stick with and shutdown the most agile and dynamic of opponents. What’s more is that Katz features an emerging offensive game, as the defender owns a powerful shot and a keen playmaking eye.

Amadeus Lombardi – Flint Firebirds: 245th Overall

  • Position: Centre
  • 2018-19 Team: Toronto Titans (GTHL)
  • Stats: 19G, 29A, 48P in 58 games

The Toronto Titans played to a dismal 3-25-5 record this past season, although their campaign did feature its fair share of bright spots. Alongside William Demkiw there was Amadeus Lombardi — a competitive and hard-working centre who paced his team’s offensive game with impressive consistency. Capable of devising plays in addition to firing the puck into the net, Lombardi’s underrated play for the Titans could propel him to success with the Firebirds.

Edward Moskowitz – Flint Firebirds: 185th Overall

  • Position: Left Wing
  • 2018-19 Team: Don Mills Flyers (GTHL)
  • Stats: 34G, 40A, 74P in 73 games

Despite being overshadowed at times on a historic Don Mills Flyers roster, Edward Moskowitz’s game improved dramatically over the course of the 2018-19 GTHL campaign. A tireless competitor who plays the game with both pace and consistency, Moskowitz has quickly evolved into a capable two-way player who should be able to contribute at both ends of the ice at the OHL-level.

Wil Murphy – Erie Otters: 86th Overall

  • Position: Left Defence
  • 2018-19 Team: Kingston Jr. Frontenacs (ETA)
  • Stats: 12G, 26A, 38P in 36 games

Nabbed by the Erie Otters in the fourth-round of the 2019 OHL Draft, Wil Murphy is a steady and lethal two-way defender. In his own zone, Murphy displays composure while in possession of the puck and has the ability to make accurate and consistent breakout passes to his forwards. What’s more, however, is that Murphy loves to play a role in the offensive zone — the reason behind his 38 points scored in 36 ETA regular season games played. Although he could be one season away from competing in the OHL, Murphy certainly has the skill-set necessary to thrive once he arrives.

Joshua Orrico – Sarnia Sting: 289th Overall

  • Position: Right Defence
  • 2018-19 Team: Toronto Red Wings (GTHL)
  • Stats: 4G, 25A, 29P in 50 games

Despite missing a portion of this past season due to injury, Joshua Orrico returned the Toronto Red Wings lineup and didn’t miss a beat — stepping onto the blue line and making an immediate impact. Although somewhat undersized, Orrico is a very intelligent defender who can read the play extremely well and react accordingly with both poise and consistency. Of a growing offensive and defensive game, Orrico could become a dynamic yet responsible fixture on the Sting’s blue line in the years ahead.

Cole Patey – Peterborough Petes: 113th Overall

  • Position: Right Wing
  • 2018-19 Team: North Central Predators (ETA)
  • Stats: 19G, 24A, 43P in 29 games

Despite finishing the 2018-19 season as the seventh-highest scoring player in the ETA, Cole Patey slipped to the Peterborough Petes at 113th overall. A natural playmaker who has a knack for scoring timely goals, Patey plays the game with pace and a purpose each an every time he takes to the ice and is consistent in doing so. Founded upon his strong skating skills and tireless work ethic, Patey could develop into a premier offensive player for the Petes in the not-so-distant future.

Joshua Rosenzweig – Niagara IceDogs: 119th Overall

  • Position: Goaltender
  • 2018-19 Team: Toronto Red Wings (GTHL)
  • Stats: 7 GP; 2.44 GAA; .883 SV%

Joshua Rosenzweig was one of the GTHL’s top goaltenders this past season, making his selection at 119th overall somewhat of a surprise on draft day. Of solid size and a tremendous athlete to boot, Rosenzweig displayed the ability to make highlight-reel saves with apparent ease while also stealing games for his team over the course of the 2018-19 season. Although he can — at times — overplay shots fired on-goal by his opposition, Rosenzweig boasts the raw skill set necessary to thrive at the OHL-level in the near future.

Devon Savignac – North Bay Battalion: 171st Overall

  • Position: Left Wing
  • 2018-19 Team: Sudbury Minor Midget Wolves (NOHA)
  • Stats: 23G, 15A, 38P in 27 games

Energy, pace, and work-ethic stand as the foundation of Devon Savignac’s game — a winger who competes endlessly and is an offensive force as a direct result. As a strong and stable skater who loves to rush the puck, Savignac can devise and execute devastating scoring chances with relative ease and is no stranger to bulging the twine. An absolute steal by the North Bay Battalion with the 171st overall selection, Savignac could push for a place on North Bay’s roster as soon as next season and become a staple within their lineup in the year’s to come.

OHL Prospect Profile: Nolan Dann

Nolan Dann of the GTHL’s Toronto Red Wings is a highly energetic and well-rounded prospect eligible for the 2019 OHL Draft. As hard-working as they come, Dann has all the makings of an invaluable player at the next-level.

– Nolan Dann –

Toronto Red Wings (GTHL) | Left-Wing | 2019 OHL Draft Eligible

Cambridge, Ontario | 5-foot-10, 176-pounds | May 21, 2003

Despite a somewhat slow start to their 2018-19 GTHL campaign, the Toronto Red Wings rebounded and quickly became one of the league’s most competitive teams. Although led offensively by the likes of Francesco Pinelli and Adam Fantilli, scoring depth proved to be crucial to the Red Wings’ success throughout the season.

One player in particular who developed into a consistent offensive force for the Red Wings was left-winger Nolan Dann — an energetic player whose two-way game allowed Toronto to thrive at both ends of the ice. What’s more is that Dann’s play throughout the year not only improved dramatically but was also incredibly consistent — two qualities which will make him a highly valued prospect come the 2019 OHL Draft.


  • Skating Speed and Strength
  • Offensive Creativity
  • Two-Way Play
  • Work-Ethic

As mentioned above, Dann developed into a consistent offensive producer for the Red Wings as their 2018-19 season progressed. Driving Dann’s offensive output were his stellar skating abilities and strength on his feet — two qualities which allowed him to drive the pace of play for his team. Capable of beating opposing defenders wide while creating space as a result of his speed, Dann devised or scored a number of timely goals throughout the campaign and was consistent in his ability to do so.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Rankings

Another direct benefit of Dann’s speed and skating abilities is the youngster’s willingness and dedication to playing a well-round, two-way game. As a player who prioritizes his own zone first, Dann will use his skating strength to force turnovers and dis-possess opposing players before leading the rush up ice. Boasting an active stick and innate defensive qualities, Dann’s versatility makes him a truly valuable prospect with a substantial amount of upside.

Related: 2019 OHL Draft Prospect Profiles

Rounding out Dann’s impressive skill-set is his unwavering work-ethic on the ice. Regardless of his position at any given time, Dann will work endlessly to put himself in a position to benefit his team whether it be in the offensive or defensive zone. As hard-working and dedicated to team success as any prospect eligible for the 2019 OHL Draft, Dann has the makings of a stellar two-way player who can contribute offensively to boot.

Area of Improvement:

  • Lower-Body Strength
  • Shot Velocity

Like many players of his age, Dann will do well in the years ahead to add greater strength to his lower-body. Although he already stands as a strong skater, adding greater strength will allow Dann to protect the puck far more easily while continuing to improve arguably his best asset on the ice — his electrifying skating abilities.

One other aspect of Dann’s game which he could look to strengthen this coming off-season is his shot velocity. While his shot is accurate, adding greater velocity to his shot and release would allow Dann to stand as a more versatile threat in the offensive zone — one who can beat goaltenders clean from a distance in addition to his natural playmaking abilities.

With this being said, these are simply areas in which Dann could stand to improve — they are not areas of weakness by any means.

Future Potential:

Ultimately, Dann holds the potential to become an extremely valuable player at the next-level. As a strong skater known for his well-rounded play, Dann’s skill-set should allow him to contribute at both ends of the ice long into the future alongside a level of consistency highly sought after by his peers.

Come the 2019 OHL Draft, expect Dann’s name to be called in the fourth-to-sixth round of the event. As an incredibly talented and determined player, Dann will undoubtedly push hard for — and potentially secure — a roster spot with an OHL team to begin the 2019-20 season. After all, his outstanding performance in the 2019 OHL Cup did not go unnoticed.