Wednesday, July 27, 2016

30 Teams in 30 Days - Minnesota Wild

Minnesota is up next. Strangely enough, all three of their OHL prospects are Imports.

1. Dmitri Sokolov - Sudbury Wolves
While I didn't have Sokolov ranked as high as a guy like Corey Pronman, I definitely don't think he should have been a 7th rounder. It's hard to stand out on a team as bad as Sudbury was this year, but at the beginning of the year, Sokolov just wasn't very good. However, he proved to be an extremely committed individual by losing weight and playing through a bum shoulder (that required offseason surgery) and got better and better as the season went on. Scoring 30 goals with not a ton of help around you is no easy feat. His conditioning needs to continue to get better (ditto for his skating). He needs to become more committed to playing without the puck. But his skill with the puck, puck protection ability, and shot are all above average. He's already stated that he'll be back in Sudbury next year and I expect him to have an even better season (finally healthy and hopefully in even better shape). Sudbury will finally look to take that next step forward as a young team and make the playoffs and Sokolov will be possibly their most important player. They need him to be a 35+ goal scorer and point per game player who leads by example on the ice.

2. Gustav Bouramman - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
At face value, it looks like Bouramman had a pretty stagnant season compared to his draft year (and freshmen OHL campaign). But you need to dig deeper. Through the first half of the year, I felt that yes, Bouramman largely looked like the same player he was the year before. But in the second half, he absolutely exploded and put forward one of the more underrated dominant performances in the OHL this year. In the final 29 games of the regular season, he had 28 points, and then he followed that up with 9 points in 12 playoff games. That's the same type of production that Calgary Flames top prospect and OHL leading scorer among defenders, Rasmus Andersson, put up. He looked way more confident in using his strong mobility to lead the rush deeper into the offensive zone, and was willing to take more chances offensively as the 3rd/4th man in. Defensively, there are still some holes, but he took some big steps forward offensively late in the year. The key will be keeping that up going into next year where he'll be counted on to be one of the go to defenders on a team with Championship aspirations in the Soo. I would expect him to be top 10 in defensive scoring next year and he should be able to crack the 50 point mark.

3. Pavel Jenys - Niagara IceDogs
Was better this year than the numbers would indicate. Once he got to Niagara (away from a struggling Sudbury team), his play really picked up even if the stats don't show it. He was relatively snake bitten during the regular season. Was working hard to be an all around complete player in the offensive zone, digging in the corners, crashing the net, and creating scoring chances on drives to the net. In the playoffs, the snake bite curse seemed to lift from him and his chances began to be converted. Outside of Josh Ho-Sang, I would actually say Jenys was Niagara's best forward in their playoff run to the OHL Championship. Moving forward, Jenys will be in the AHL next year. As he showed this year, he can play a multitude of roles and I think that bodes well for him staying in the lineup consistently. Probably will need a couple of years in the AHL before a true assessment of his offensive potential can be made.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

30 Teams in 30 Days - Los Angeles Kings

Hollywood here we come!

1. Mike Amadio - North Bay Battalion
Easily one of my favourite prospects in the OHL this past year. The growth he has shown since being drafted in 2014 is enormous. To be a 50 goal scorer in the league, on top of one of it's better two-way players is an incredible feat. First player in Battalion franchise history to score 50 (and they've had some pretty good offensive players over the years). And no teammate even scored 30. If I had a vote, he would have been my vote for the Red Tilson (MVP). His goal scoring instincts had always been there, but this past year his shot and strength really improved allowing him to be so much more dangerous in close. Skates well, but again, the added strength allowed him to be very difficult to separate from the puck off the rush. Had a decent debut with Ontario in the AHL playoffs, and I expect him to continue to build off of that next year. I think he'll be an immediate top 6 player and should be a 40+ point player. I think he'll only need one year in the AHL and then he'll be ready to take on a (at least to start) 3rd or 4th line center role in LA.

2. Erik Cernak - Erie Otters
Certainly not a flashy player, but a very efficient one. Was super impressed with his defensive intelligence and vigor in his first (and likely last) OHL season. Already has pro size and his confidence with the puck in his own end really improved over the course of the season. At the beginning, he had some issues with turnovers (from the forecheck), but he eventually worked out the kinks and was making a great first pass by the end of the season. There isn't much offensive upside, but he has the potential to be a very solid second pairing defensive stopper for the Kings (the next Mattias Norstrom?). Moving forward, his lateral and backwards mobility needs to continue to improve, but I think he's ready for the pro game. Of course, as a '97, the Kings could send Cernak back to Erie for his sophomore season, but I don't think that's in the cards.

3. Spencer Watson - Kingston Frontenacs
After a disastrous 2014/2015, Watson was significantly better this past year, taking some massive steps forward (and subsequently putting himself back on the prospect map). Kingston was one of the top teams in the league and a lot of that was due to the fact that Watson put the team on his back on most nights. Skill level has never been an issue. He has it all offensively (save for maybe elite acceleration). But he had such a hard time playing through traffic previously that he just wasn't able to be a consistent factor. This year, the energy level was MUCH higher. He was fully engaged, with and without the puck. Getting his nose dirty in all areas of the ice. As such, he finally exploded offensively. If he had played that way in his draft year, there's absolutely no chance he would have slid to the 7th round. That said, he still has some work ahead of him. He's got to continue to get quicker to excel at the next level, especially as an undersized guy who had difficulty adjusting to the physicality of the OHL game, let alone the AHL/NHL level. And he has to keep his intensity level up and show that the motivated Watson we saw this past year wasn't an anomaly. I expect him to struggle initially in the AHL next year. But I do have faith that by the season's end he'll have adjusted and be a quality offensive contributor for Ontario.

4. Damir Sharipzyanov - Owen Sound Attack
Definitely a little disappointed in Sharipzyanov's development this past year. Granted, he missed a good chunk of time due to a broken wrist (beginning of the year) and the WJC's (with Russia). But his game just never really found a consistent groove. I know the coaching staff worked really hard with him to reign in his offensive game a bit in favor of a more defensive approach, but the results weren't always there. He still falls victim to some bad turnovers, as he tries to force plays up ice, whether it be a bad pass or a bad rush/pinch. And while he does have size, plays physically, and has good mobility, the sum of all those parts has yet to come together to make a quality two-way defender. Quite frankly, I don't think he's ready for the pro game. LA has sent defenders back to junior for their overage seasons before and it's worked out pretty well for them. Another year in Owen Sound would do wonders for him (especially considering how good the team should be). That said, there's also no guarantee Owen Sound would want him back (they would have to utilize an OA spot and a Euro spot on him). But I'm sure an OHL team out there would take him. It's all probably moot anyway, as everything I've read suggests he'll be playing pro (despite what I would suggest). I think he'll probably spend the majority of the year in the ECHL, adjusting to the speed of the pro game.

5. Jacob Friend - Owen Sound Attack
Absolutely loved this pick up by LA at the draft this year. Friend is a real interesting prospect. He was an FA signing by the Attack, playing in his first OHL season as a 19 year old. As the year went on, his game really improved and he was able to establish himself as one of Owen Sound's top 4 defenders and arguably their best defender in their own zone. He's not huge (6'2), but he plays like he's 6'6. In only one season, he's established himself as one of the league's most feared defenders and open ice hitters. He absolutely relishes in the physical side of the game. He makes a good first pass and is generally pretty decent with the puck too. By season's end, we were seeing him take some chances offensively, suggesting a new found comfort level. I'm very, very intrigued to see how his game develops next year and beyond. As mentioned, Owen Sound should be one of the better teams in the West next year and Friend will look to be a huge contributor. I'm hopeful he can improve his offensive numbers, at least into the 30 point range.

6. Matt Schmalz - Sudbury Wolves
Major drop off in production for Schmalz, and quite frankly, he just wasn't very good last year for Sudbury. Yes, Sudbury was bad. But Schmalz and some of his teammates (who also regressed or failed to take steps forward) have to take blame for that. He remains a big time project. The size and skating combination will always be alluring, and he has big time goal scoring potential because of a big shot. But he remains a one trick pony who has yet to develop both the vision/playmaking ability to be a big factor off the rush, and the consistency in his play away from the puck to be a dominant player in the cycle. At this point, I don't think there is any doubt that he'll be back in the OHL next year for his overage season. Sudbury "may" finally be able to take that next step forward as a young team and be a playoff contender again. And if they do, they'll need Schmalz to be a 30 goal scorer and a consistent offensive leader on a young team.

*Jacob Moverare - Mississauga Steelheads
The Steelheads took Moverare in the Import draft and it remains to be seen whether he'll play for them next year. Because Alex Nylander may be playing in Europe or in the AHL, Mississauga needed an insurance plan (as they also have Detroit prospect Saarijarvi) as they intend to be one of the top teams in the OHL next year. If he ends up playing in Mississauga, Moverare has a chance to be a part of the top 4 on a Championship contending team and could play a role similar to what Erik Cernak did in Erie this past year. Him signing with the Kings recently is definitely a step in the right direction towards seeing him in the OHL next year.

Monday, July 25, 2016

30 Teams in 30 Days - Florida Panthers

The Florida Panthers are next and they've got a large OHL prospect group as they continue to draft heavily from the league. Definitely one of the best prospect groups in the league when it comes to OHL players.

1. Lawson Crouse - Kingston Frontenacs
I think you have to look at Crouse's development last year in two ways. Firstly, the Frontenacs emerged as the best team in the Eastern Conference and it was largely in part to players like Crouse. He's such a complete player and the Frontenacs rely on him in a variety of different situations (penalty kill, powerplay, protecting the lead in the last minute, etc). While the value he brings to the team offensively is evident, it was his strong two-way game and defensive prowess that may have been most important to Kingston, who had the best goals against in the Conference. Secondly though, I'm not really sure his offensive game developed a whole lot. He still isn't the type of take over a game offensively, and I'm not sure he'll ever possess that ability. Does that mean that he can't develop into a top 6 player at the NHL level? Absolutely not. He does so many things well and does possess good hands and good vision as a playmaker along the wall. But he's going to be more of a complimentary player at the next level. That is unless he can continue to improve his ability to handle the puck in transition, improve his shot, and improve his ability to find scoring lanes. The question is, what does Florida do with Crouse next year? I think he's definitely ready to play in the NHL on a checking line. So does Florida keep him (they definitely have some room for him in the bottom 6), or do they send him back to Kingston for his final junior season in hopes that his offensive game really takes that next step forward towards dominance? If I bet on it, I'd say he's in Florida.

2. Adam Mascherin - Kitchener Rangers
Definitely one of the more underrated 2016 draft picks from the OHL, Mascherin was one of the best goal scorers available in the draft. His shot and release is already NHL quality. But other parts to his game (skating, intensity away from the puck, defensive awareness) continue to need improvement. As I've said a bunch, he reminds me a lot of current King Tyler Toffoli. Mascherin will head back to Kitchener next year. The Rangers are definitely losing some key pieces, but they should still be a competitive team and Mascherin has a good chance to at least replicate his offensive success of the previous year (35 goals). I'd actually be very surprised if he doesn't crack 40 next year.

3. Juho Lammikko - Kingston Frontenacs
Over the course of his two year OHL career, Lammikko was able to progress to the point of being one of the league's top two-way players. Like Crouse, Lammikko was key to the success of Kingston because of the stringent, hard-nosed game he plays. With size, skating ability, terrific work along the boards, and a true understanding of his two-way responsibilities, Lammikko is the perfect fit to be a 3rd line center in today's NHL game. He could very easily develop into a shut down defensive center and penalty killing expert (think of a guy like Paul Gaustad, or a Troy Brouwer). As he starts his pro career this year in the AHL, I'd expect Lammikko to put up modest numbers (15/15), but his strong overall game shouldn't go unnoticed by the coaching staff.

4. Thomas Schemitsch - Owen Sound Attack
Started the 2015/16 season on the shelf after fracturing his wrist at last year's Panthers' rookie camp. But I don't necessarily think that contributed to him having somewhat of a "so-so" season. Even pro-rated to 68, his offensive numbers were down from where they were in his NHL draft season. I still like Schemitsch as an NHL prospect, but I don't necessarily feel like he improved in any particular area. Offensively, he possesses great instincts and a good shot, but he hasn't taken that next step as a dominant puck rusher and the majority of his offensive contributions come from being the 3rd or 4th man in, or from the powerplay. But even as a powerplay QB, I'd like to see him play with more confidence, taking true control over the point and looking to utilize his shot more. Defensively, he still needs to use his size more efficiently, especially in the corners and in front of the net. Currently without an NHL contract (doesn't have to be signed until next June because of a late birthday), I think Florida would be wise to send Schemitsch back to Owen Sound for his overage season. Let him continue to build up his confidence at both ends of the ice. Owen Sound has a chance to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference and he'd be a huge part of it. If in the OHL, I think he cracks the 55 point mark and is one of the leading scoring defenders in the league.

5. Riley Stillman - Oshawa Generals
Tremendous pick up by Florida at this year's draft. Stillman is a very raw prospect, but he's a really good young kid who's already improved so much and has such a good attitude. He started off this year as a rookie trying to crack the roster and finished the year with an 'A' on his chest and was arguably Oshawa's top defender. He can play in all situations and is just scratching the surface of what he's capable of offensively (because of his hockey IQ, mobility, and excellent point shot). I honestly expect him to have a breakout season. I think he's got a chance to double his point production and crack the 40 point mark, playing for an upstart Oshawa team looking to improve after a rebuild.

6. Jonathan Ang - Peterborough Petes
Another pick I really liked by Florida. Ang is another kid that has improved a ton already over his OHL career. Speed is the most noticeable trait of Ang's, as he does everything at a high tempo. A late season shift to the wing really helped him, as it allowed him to simplify things offensively, using his speed to drive the wing and push the pace of play. His game without the puck has also come a long way and I think he has the skill set to develop into a terrific penalty killer and energy player. Peterborough should be one of the top team's in the Eastern Conference next year and Ang will be a top 6 player on that team (just as he was this year). Look for him to him be above the point per game mark next year and a 70 point player at the very least.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

30 Teams in 30 Days - Edmonton Oilers

For my pal Allan Mitchell (aka Lowetide), the Oilers are up next. While many of Edmonton's top young players have graduated from the OHL, right now, they've only got a few recent draft picks playing in the league.

1. Markus Niemelainen - Saginaw Spirit
I didn't like him as a top two round prospect as some scouting services were pushing, but I do like the value that Edmonton got by selecting him in the 3rd round. He's a long term project, but there is potential there as a solid two-way defender. The size and skating combination is very good. But once you get past that, it's a work in progress. He was very turnover prone in Saginaw this year (although pretty much every defender on that team had a tough time starting the breakout) and he needs to be more composed with the puck. At times, it looked like he really struggled with the smaller rink and having less time. He also needs to use his size to be more aggressive defensively. For a big guy, he loses too many battles in the corners and in front of the net. So what's the next step? He was on loan to Saginaw this year from HIFK, so there are some rumours that he'll be returning to Finland this year. I don't think that would be best for his development, and I see Edmonton having a lot of say in where he plays, despite the rumours. Being back in the OHL on an improved Saginaw team (they only took one player in the Import draft, so it's obvious that they still want him back), continuing to improve his decision making and play on the smaller ice, would be best for him moving forward IMO. I wouldn't necessarily be focused on his statistical output. He could very well put up around 30 points again next year, but if he cuts down on the turnovers and improves in his own end, that would be a successful season.

2. Dylan Wells - Peterborough Petes
This past year got off to a strong start for Wells as he backstopped Canada to Ivan Hlinka gold in the summer. But it went downhill from there. In Peterborough, he struggled all year long. He consistently fought the puck and had some problems with weak goals and being able to bounce back from that. His confidence really seemed to be shaken. But, there could still be light at the end of the tunnel. Wells has all the pieces you look for in a netminder. He has size. He is extremely athletic. And he has proven to be a quality netminder in the past (he had some fantastic performances as a 16 year old and looked great at the top prospect's game). Getting his confidence back, and refining his positional approach will be key. First order of business is earning the starter's job. Peterborough currently still has Wells and Matthew Mancina (last year's starter). If Wells can prove that he's ready to be a starter, Peterborough would likely deal Mancina. But if he continues to struggle, they'll likely ride Mancina again and give Wells the reigns the year after (as Peterborough intends to be a contender for the Eastern Conference title this year). Be patient Oilers fans, he could be a good one, but it may take time.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

30 Teams in 30 Days - Detroit Red Wings

Motown is reviewed next!

1. Vili Saarijarvi - Flint Firebirds (now with the Mississauga Steelheads)
There were some very impressive components to Saarijarvi's game this year, but there were also some very unimpressive ones. Saarijarvi is an absolute offensive wizard. His skating ability gives him fantastic separation ability off the rush and allows him to gain entry into the offensive zone with ease. He also runs the powerplay very well, showcasing a great point shot and vision when moving the puck. Defensively though, he's a major work in progress. Flint struggled as a team defensively, but Saarijarvi was definitely one of the guys at the root of that. He needs to play with more jam in his own end, as he can tend to get pushed around and his defensive awareness (tends to chase the puck) also needs seasoning. Saarijarvi can also take unnecessary liberties with the puck and can be turnover prone. He needs to pick his spots better. But the potential is very, very high. After an offseason trade, Saarijarvi will be playing for Mississauga next year. The Steelheads should have a fantastic team next year and they've got some quality defenders to insulate him. I expect big things. A 60 point season (which would put him near the top of defensive scoring) is possible.

2. Givani Smith - Guelph Storm
Really, really liked this selection by the Wings in the 2nd round this year. Smith is a throwback power forward and pest. He's one of the OHL's most physical players and I can only imagine how physically dominant he could be in the league as he gets stronger the next couple of years. Guelph was absolutely horrible this past year, but Smith consistently stood out with his ability to be a one man wrecking crew on the forecheck and the cycle. As he gets a bit quicker (could improve his first few steps), as he gains confidence in his offensive abilities (like his shot), and as he is given a better supporting cast, Smith could really breakout. Guelph should be better next year, but likely not by much. I would definitely expect a jump in his production, but I'm not sure if he'll be a point per game player just yet.

3. Dylan Sadowy - Barrie Colts
The Wings gave up a 3rd rounder to acquire the rights to Sadowy, a San Jose draft pick. Sadowy is a back to back 40 goal man in the OHL, scoring 45 this year between Saginaw and Barrie. Sadowy is also a solid two-way player who excels on the penalty kill. Outside of having a good shot and release, Sadowy's best attribute is his hockey sense and ability to anticipate the play. My concern with Sadowy is likely the same as San Jose had before dealing his rights (helping to explain why they chose not to sign him). I'm just not sure where he fits in as a player at the pro level. While he has a good offensive skill set, I'm not sure it's good enough for him to be a top 6 player. And I'm also not sure I see him being an ideal 3rd/4th liner as he's not exactly a physical guy, or the most dominant along the wall, or the quickest. Good at everything, but not great can be a kiss of death and can often label guys as tweeners. Next year Sadowy will begin his pro career with Grand Rapids. I would expect him to start slowly (although probably not as slowly as Zach Nastasiuk has).

4. Jordan Sambrook - Erie Otters
Another great pick up by the Wings at this year's draft, Sambrook is a guy who flew under the radar a bit for Erie due to the depth they had on the backend. When he was called upon to play more (injuries, WJC's), he was an incredibly noticeable player. Just what the Wings have on their hands remains to be seen IMO. Sambrook flashes strong two-way potential, as he can play physical (much bigger than his size), as well as move and shoot the puck. Could he be a powerplay QB? Will his defensive game continue to develop? The questions will likely begin to be answered next year when he receives more ice time. Travis Dermott and Erik Cernak will be gone and Sambrook will have an opportunity to play in Erie's top 4. He should also receive powerplay time (likely on the 2nd unit). He had 27 points this year with inconsistent ice time. As such, I think he could definitely crack the 35, maybe even the 40 point mark next year.

*Filip Hronek - Saginaw Spirit
2016 Red Wings pick Hronek was recently signed by the Wings and selected by the Saginaw Spirit in the Import Draft. Seems like a lock at this point that he'll be playing in the OHL next year. Saginaw has a young, up and coming team. The addition of Hronek is a big one for them as it shores up their weakest area (defense) and potentially gives them an elite puck mover (something else they've been lacking). I expect him to have a very good first season (although I'm sure there will be hiccups). A 40+ point year is a very realistic expectation. Excited to see him play.

Friday, July 22, 2016

30 Teams in 30 Days - Dallas Stars

Dallas is next. The Stars gave up the rights to four OHL players from the 2014 draft, but they've still got a few OHL players in the system.

1. Chris Martenet - London Knights
Behemoth defender who was a key component to the Knights run to the Memorial Cup, even if the stats wouldn't suggest it. First the positives. Martenet really took a step forward this year in using his size to be tougher to play against in his own end. He really seems to enjoy giving it to forwards in front of the net now and is a tough guy to get away from near the crease. Now the negatives. His offensive game regressed this year, which I think may have been planned. In his rookie year, Martenet explored his offensive skills, occasionally leading or jumping up into the play. But this year, he played a very refined and conservative game, choosing to let his d-partner Victor Mete do the majority of the heavy lifting. His puck skills will need to continue to improve though as he moves to the pros, as he can still be prone to turnovers from the forecheck. Martenet's skating is also still a work in progress, as he works to improve his lateral and backwards mobility. His adjustment to the pro level will likely have some growing pains and Dallas will have to be patient with the 6'7 defender.

2. Nicholas Caamano - Flint Firebirds
A very solid pick-up by the Stars in the 5th round this year. The Flint organization had a tough year (on the ice and off the ice), but Caamano was one of their most consistent players. He does a great job of creating offense with quick feet and a lot of energy. I also like how he works in close to the crease and has potential as a pesky two-way winger. At different times this year, he saw time with Will Bitten on the 1st line and I thought the two showed great chemistry. I really like what Flint has done this offseason, not only bringing credibility back to the franchise with smart hires, but also improving the team with smart trades and good drafting. Caamano will have a chance to play on Flint's first line and top powerplay unit next year and I expect a nice jump in his production. A 30 goal season is definitely possible.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

30 Teams in 30 Days - Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets are next. Strangely enough, only one of Columbus' OHL prospects have been drafted. The rest signed.

1. Blake Siebenaler - Niagara IceDogs
Without question, I think it's fair to say that Siebenaler's offensive game never really developed the way that people thought it might (myself included). Don't get me wrong, he moves the puck well, but with his fantastic skating stride, I thought he would eventually develop the confidence and the ability to be a fantastic puck mover. That's not the case and I don't think it ever will be. But what Siebenaler is, is a terrific two-way defender who makes smart decisions in his own end, is a fantastic positional defender, and can make a great first pass. In that sense, he's built for the way the game is played in the NHL today and I'm sure that's why Columbus signed him despite the perception that his development "might" have stalled. At this point, I think all he needs is to get stronger, but even then, he relies on his mobility to defend mostly. He won't be anything flashy, but I could definitely see Siebenaler as a solid third pairing guy and it will start next year when he turns pro.

2. Dante Salituro - Ottawa 67's
Happy for him that he was able to earn that contract after going undrafted through two NHL drafts, despite posting some pretty terrific offensive numbers. Yes, he's undersized, but given his talent level, he deserved a look at pro hockey. Do I have my doubts as to whether his game will adapt? Yes. And I'm sure that's exactly why he's slipped through two drafts. Salituro, despite being undersized, does the majority of his damage offensively in the middle of the ice and near the net, and I'm not sure he's an explosive enough skater to play that role effectively at the NHL level. BUT, that doesn't mean he can't continue to improve. The Blue Jackets will have a decision to make with Salituro next year. Send him back for his overage year in Ottawa? Or let him start his pro career? Quite frankly, I think that as long as he performs adequately at camp, he'll be in the AHL. He's ready for a new challenge and he needs to start adjusting to the speed and size of the players playing pro. As mentioned, I think it will be a tough adjustment, but it needs to happen some time.

3. Jordan Maletta - Niagara IceDogs
Not many players in the OHL were more deserving of a contract this year than Maletta. Here's a kid who completely revamped his game from when he broke into the league, making the necessary adjustments and working hard to improve every year. He started out as a big, soft, forward who lacked consistency in his effort. But his game slowly transformed into becoming a dominant two-way center who can do everything pretty damn well. He's one of the OHL's better faceoff guys. He's extremely hard to play against because of how well he uses his size on the backcheck and in the corners. And he's got a great wrist shot that makes him a threat to score when he barrels down the ice. He won't be a big time scorer at the next level, but he could definitely become a valuable role player at the NHL level who can be a consistent contributor on the PK and in taking key faceoffs.

4. Justin Scott - Barrie Colts
Scott had a great final two seasons in the OHL, establishing himself as a consistent scoring line player. But there's no doubt that he earned his NHL contract with his 17 goal playoff performance this past year where he was a near unstoppable force. Scott's skill set doesn't really jump out at you. But he has great hockey sense and he possesses a great wrist shot and release and that's allowed him to be a fantastic complimentary offensive weapon for the Colts. Honestly, I don't know what to expect of him at the next level. I do imagine that he'll struggle initially because he'll need to adjust to the speed of things, but he's a hard worker and could eventually develop into a nice piece if the Jackets are patient with him. He's also the type of guy I could see developing into a checking line player at the next level, improving upon his play away from the puck and doing anything he can do help the team win.

5. Kole Sherwood - London Knights
Started out the year very well and I often came away incredibly impressed when I saw London early on. But as the year went on and London accumulated big assets, he slipped down the line up (and even out of it at times) and as such, his game really declined. I think it came down to Sherwood lacking the strength to excel in the role London wanted him to play this year (checking line energy guy). There's still a lot of potential here. The skating is great. Ability to handle the puck and create off the rush shows great flashes. His shot and finishing ability also shows well. And there's some pest like, physical capabilities hidden in there too. He needs to come into London next year and really show them that he's ready for a larger role, because there is one available for him. I actually am insanely intrigued to see how his game develops next year because I think he could really explode. I won't make a prediction here, but I will say that I think he really steps up next year.

6. Jacob Graves - London Knights
A little surprised that Graves earned an NHL deal, but you'd be hard pressed to find a harder worker in the OHL, so ultimately it's not a bad decision by any means. Graves was excellent for London this year after being acquired from Oshawa. He was especially great in the playoffs and the Memorial Cup, where his in your face defensive style and his willingness to give up his body to make a play, obviously endeared him to Columbus' scouts. He's not going to put up offensive numbers at the next level. That's not his game. But he will work hard to stay in the AHL lineup next year, and could definitely develop into a quality third pairing defender who can play the PK (potential d-partner for Blake Siebenaler?).