Sunday, February 12, 2017

Midseason Media/Scout Top 10 for 2017

It's time for an update to our media/scout list. There's still lots of meaningful hockey to be played (rest of the CHL regular season, CHL playoffs, U18's), but it's always great to see how opinions change over the course of a season.

Just so happens that things have changed quite a bit. We've got a switch at the top of the list. The guy who placed 10th (Greg Meireles) last time around didn't even get a vote this time. And a ton of other movement up and down has occurred. The OHL has a few top notch prospects available for this draft (Tippett and Vilardi), and quite a few guys who are emerging as potential first rounders. The depth of the league is looking very strong with the potential to occupy close to 40% of the players drafted in the first two rounds. Because of this, the variance of opinion is quite vast. Not only are the masses split on who the top player is (11 to 6), but twelve different players received votes for the top 5. In addition to that, only four players received votes from all 17 contributors.

As always, it's important to note the contributors, as without them and their terrific insight, this article does not exist. For the midseason list, the following helped out:

Corey Pronman - ESPN scout and writer (@coreypronman)
Dominic Tiano - Writer for The OHL Writers (@dominictiano)
Dan Stewart - Director of Scouting for Future Considerations(@StewartFC)
Brendan Ross - Director of Scouting for
Peter Kneulman - Provides OHL coverage at OHL Writer (@PeterKneulman)
Tony Ambrogio - PA Announcer for the Mississauga Steelheads & TSN editor (@Tony_Ambrogio)
Mike Morreale - Staff writer for (@mikemorrealeNHL)
Anthony Mauro - Director/Founder of Draft Buzz Hockey(@draftbuzzhockey)
Ryan Kennedy - Associate Senior Writer for The Hockey News (@THNRyanKennedy)

Peter Harling - Managing Editor of Dobber Prospects (@pharling) 
Scott Wheeler - OHL scout with Future ConsiderationsSite Manager of Pension Plan Puppets, and editor for the The AthleticTO (@scottcwheeler)
Mark Seidel - Scouting Director for NACS Hockey (@MarkSeidel
Steve Clark - Play by play voice of the Niagara IceDogs (@ClarkPlaybyPlay
Steve Kournianos - Founder of The Draft Analyst (@TheDraftAnalyst
Mark Scheig - OHL writer for The Hockey Writers (@THWMark)
Grant McCagg - President of Recrutes Hockey (@grantmccagg)
and of course...myself (@BrockOtten  

Now here's the list and HM's:

1. Owen Tippett - Forward - Mississauga Steelheads
Total Votes: 17
High/Low Ranking: 1st (11x)/2nd (6x)
"I just like his demeanor and mindset as a shooter. He plays the game hard and knows where to be to get himself in good scoring areas. Tippett, to me, has the best shot of this draft class; it's NHL caliber already. He can fire off a wrist, snap or slap shot very quickly and he gets a low of power behind it." - Morreale

"The unquestioned horse of the Steelheads has played a vital role in their current surge. Scouts are fighting wanting more consistency from him, but beware of having too high expectations - over a quarter of his games on the season have been multi-goal efforts. Size, speed, shot peppering forwards are always in high demand. Doesn't hurt that down the line, he has all the right ingredients to be one of the best players in the draft." - Mauro

"Tippett is one of the best shooters in the 2017 NHL Draft, someone who can cleanly beat goalies with his release. This season, he has unquestionably been Mississauga’s best player and a more dangerous offensive threat than captain and New Jersey Devils first rounder Michael McLeod." - Wheeler

"Tippett's games revolves around his lethal shot and scoring goals. His speed creates separation from defenders and allows him to get open, his size allows him to drive the net. He is able to release the puck with little to no warning as he disguises his shot effectively. While his whole game is in support of one aspect (scoring) it is a pretty sought after commodity in the pro level and I see his game transitioning well in higher levels." - Harling

"With goal scoring in the NHL at a premium snipers will always be coveted for the draft, and even if the Mississauga winger can be lax in his own zone at times or fail to find a linemate for a scoring opportunity far too often, he is going to score goals with his excellent release, accuracy and velocity." - McCagg

"Tippett is the most dynamic draft-eligible player I've seen in the OHL this season, and it's not that close. He has the rare combination of speed and lethal shot that will make him an offensive force at the next level. His defensive game is a work in progress, but there are signs of improvement. The reason he is first over Vilardi for me is higher upside at the next level. You can't teach what Tippett brings to the table." - Scheig

2. Gabriel Vilardi - Forward - Windsor Spitfires
Total Votes: 17
High/Low Ranking: 1st (6x)/2nd (11x)
"Injuries and an appendectomy have cost Vilardi a lot of time this season. Despite that, he still tops the list for me. But you should be intrigued by the big center who can be just as effective playing the wing as he is down the middle. He isn’t the fastest or most elegant skater, but he makes up for any downfall with his hockey smarts, vision and work ethic.Vilardi plays a solid three zone game. He’s at his best when he has the puck on his stick, seemingly always in control. Below the dots, he’s a force and tough to beat. He can create chances for himself or his teammates. Quite simply, he makes everyone on the ice better." - Tiano

"Though there are some minor concerns about his skating, I still have Vilardi up top because he's a big, talented center and that's what the NHL craves. His hockey smarts and great and he can create goals in traffic." - Kennedy

“Impactful on the wing or at center as a goal scorer/playmaker duel threat. Makes skilled plays with his head and his hands. Has the size, skills and smarts that make me believe he will have no problems translating his game to the NHL level." - Stewart

"The thing about Vilardi is that he's very close to being NHL ready. The injury issues have been more a case of bad luck IMO, and not necessarily a concerning trend. If he puts in the work this summer, he could be an NHL player next year IMO (much like Matthew Tkachuk). This is because he controls play below the hashmarks so well and has such a good head for the game at both ends of the ice. He plays a very "pro style" game. His first few steps and top speed will need to improve, but it will. Reminds me so much of Sean Monahan in his draft year." - Otten

"The Kingston native is a bit of a 'safe' pick in the OHL draft class this season because he is such a well-rounded prospect who can chip in across all three zones. His skating is a glaring weakness but his soft hands, vision and ability to use his size and strength deep in the offensive zone are worthy of the praises that he's receiving. He will have an opportunity to showcase his talents deep into the season with the Spitfires acting as Memorial Cup hosts and it will be interesting to see whether he grabs a hold of the reigns and solidifies his top 10 selection. He's a player that's easy to like because of his smarts but you wonder how much offensive upside he owns and whether he can be considered a true top line forward at the next level." - Ross

3. Nic Hague - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads
Total Votes: 17
High/Low Ranking: 3rd (8x)/6th (3x)
"I'm sure many will focus on his size and projection as a shut down type of defender. But I'd rather talk about the interesting progression of his offensive game. He's not your prototypical offensive defender. He's not a particularly dynamic player off the rush and I don't think he's got a natural feel as a puck carrier/distributor. But, he uses his size exceptionally well in the offensive end. Consistently pinches in deep to keep pucks in, and actually plays a lot below the hash marks, using his size to work the cycle. He's smart about it though and doesn't get caught up ice all that much. Then there's the big point shot. He does a great job of finding scoring lanes and he actually does a good job of using different releases to get it through to the net. I don't know how much that will translate to the next level, but the improvements and confidence in his ability to make things happen in the offensive end is worth noting." - Otten

"Started out slowly but his game continues to improve...Has the biggest shot from the point in the Draft." - Seidel

"The size and reach are great, but the scouts I talk to wonder about his next-level projection in terms of offence. Seems like he'll be a shutdown guy if he continues to improve his skating." - Kennedy

"He has the enviable size for a defensemen, but the offensive numbers put up in the OHL are curious.  He wasn't a scorer at all in minor midget, but has double digit goals in both his OHL seasons, and you do not often see that from a D man.   Took a vicious knee on knee from Chandler Yakimowicz, and while that won't affect his draft status, hopefully he will be able to showcase his skills in the post season." - Clark

"Hague should be the first defenceman taken from the OHL, he has a tremendous package of size, skating and offensive ability. His performance this season has not been as dominant as I had predicted but big defencemen sometimes develop a little slower. The point is he has developed this year and his ceiling is very high. To acquire defencemen of his abilities in the NHL you have to draft them so look for Hague to go off the board early in the first round." - Harling

4. Nick Suzuki - Forward - Owen Sound Attack
Total Votes: 17
High/Low Ranking: 3rd (4x)/10th (1x)
“Two-way center who has been a major component for the impressive Attack squad this season. His intelligence and drive are impressive but his size and how his game will translate because of it at the NHL level is still a question in my mind." - Stewart

"Suzuki is the 2017 NHL Draft’s everyman, a player who has quickly emerged as one of the most well-rounded prospects in the class. Were it not for a diminutive stature, Suzuki’s success this season would have made him a lock as a top-10 pick in 2017." - Wheeler

"Growing up in London, Suzuki has been a familiar prospect dating back to his Jr. Knights days and much is the same with this well-rounded, intelligent player. He continues to be one of the smartest and hardest working players in his age group but he's been able to take his production up to a level that wasn't entirely expected. Another safe prospect to become an NHL player given his "complete" game style, Suzuki can easily be slotted into a middle six role and thrive playing special teams. He processes the game intelligently and has great timing, allowing him to arrive on pucks in optimum locations for scoring chances. Suzuki may never be counted on to carry an NHL offence but, much like Bo Horvat, he'll become a great two-way player who produces more than people expect." - Ross

"One of the most likable players in this draft class because of his hustle and consistency. Dating back to last year, he's been one of the most impressive 99's in the OHL (I had him ranked as the 3rd most impressive rookie last year). Does everything for the Attack and projects as a very well rounded NHL player too. I think the scary thing about Suzuki though is that he's still pretty physically immature. He's one of the youngest players available in the draft, with room to grow in his puck protection ability and skating strength. Perhaps there's even a late growth spurt in there too. With a strong performance in the OHL playoffs and/or the Under 18's, Suzuki is a guy who I could see sneaking into the lottery." - Otten

"Exceptional two-way player who was a key part of the Attack’s 16 game winning streak. Among draft eligible players he’s second in points, first in assists, second in plus/minus, third in faceoff percentage, second longest goal scoring streak of the season, fourth in shot attempts and second in shots on goal. Suzuki is a superb skater with exceptional hockey sense. In my opinion, he’s been the most consistent forward from the start until now." - Tiano

5. Robert Thomas - Forward - London Knights
Total Votes: 15
High/Low Ranking: 3rd (1x)/Outside of the Top 10 (2x)
"The Aurora native has always landed high in my rankings even dating back to his OHL draft season with the York Simcoe Express. His emergence may have surprised many but it's been more of a "wait-and-see" approach for me because when a player of his smarts and skill comes along, you just know it's a matter of time before he's going to be turning heads. Thomas' is a cerebral attacker who's at his best with the puck on his stick allowing him to dictate the speed and direction of attack. He processes the game at a high level and can break down defences with quick timely passes or elusive in-control maneuver to create scoring lanes. His game reminds me of Robby Fabbri where he doesn't rely just on speed or pure dangles but rather a slick combination of the two. His size is less than ideal but he's a smart player who reads and reacts accordingly with confidence to leave his mark on every shift. Truthfully, he's right there with Suzuki and Hague on my list." - Ross

"His terrific smarts and speed helped make him a standout in most games...makes a ton of subtle little plays that may not always go noticed but buy him a bit more time or free up someone else for a nice pass.  He seems incapable of playing a poor game due to his work ethic, terrific sense and skating ability." - McCagg

"The kid does it all for London...Has more offense than some think but is smart all over the ice." - Seidel

"Well, he wasn’t on my list in your first poll early in the season, but he’s come up very quietly. One of the smartest players in the draft class who always seems to find himself in the right place at the right time. Thomas is an exceptional skater with blazing speed with or without the puck. His vision is superb and he is so smart. He could very well be the best playmaker available. He’s become a key player for Coach Hunter who uses him in all situations. He’s become a key pk’er and on the pp, if you don’t keep him close and in your vision, you’re going to get burned." - Tiano

6. Matthew Strome - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs
Total Votes: 14
High/Low Ranking: 4th (1x)/Outside of the Top 10 (3x)
"Matthew is more grittier than his two older brothers. He'll move into the corners, make or take a hit and get to the front of the net for loose pucks. He's a prototypical power forward with good finishing ability. The one knock has been his skating but he's been working extremely hard to improve that area of his game." - Morreale

"There's no denying that Strome has next level abilities but I am slightly more hesitant on the Bulldogs forward. He's a very smart player who reads the ice very well but his skating leaves a lot to be desired and while it's an area that can be improved easier than others, it still concerns me heading into the next level. He's a player who excels as a playmaker and can execute highly difficult plays but whenever I watch him, he never has the puck as much as I'd want." - Ross

"The first thing that jumped out to me watching Strome was "Mark Stone"- the ability to score, be a power forward, create havoc out front, and he has a nice edge to his game.  Sure the skating needs work, but he knows that and has already committed to off season training." - Clark

"Strome fell a bit in my rankings, but it is more due to the play of others being elevated. However, the stretch in December when Matt Luff and Niki Petti were injured Strome showed he wasn't ready to carry an offense. Still there are bright spots to his game and signs to be optimistic. He is bigger and more willing to use his size than his brothers and has the versatility and the instincts to be a very solid 2 way player." - Kneulman

7. Isaac Ratcliffe - Forward - Guelph Storm
Total Votes: 11
High/Low Ranking: 3rd (3x)/Outside of the Top 10 (6x)
"Had a very impressive Top Prospects game performance where he stood out for his size, offensive ability and his defensive play. While the NHL is allowing smaller skill players more regularly into the league, there will always be a preference to bigger players if all things are equal. Ratcliffe may not have elite hands for the NHL but he is more than adequate and skating is not a liability either. Already at 6-5 at 18-years-old he should project as an ideal power forward." - Harling

"Towering kid comes from an athletic family and is really progressing well with the Storm. Combination of puck sense, size and physicality is tantalizing." - Kennedy

“Tall and gangly with lots of room to add muscle but his on-ice game is progressing at a very good clip this season. Skates better than you would expect a growing 6-6 kid too and has some real offensive potential. Dangerous anywhere around the crease." - Stewart

"The power forward who can skate and possesses very soft hands has been coming on lately. I think he’s underrated offensively in some circles. He’s a physical beast who can play a very mean game. Almost impossible to knock off the puck and uses his size and strength to maintain possession. Right now, he’s probably the best prospect in front of the goal, battling for space and loose pucks and banging in rebounds. We caught a glimpse of that in the Top Prospects game. The scary thought is he’s still going to grow and get stronger." - Tiano

8. Michael Dipietro - Goaltender - Windsor Spitfires
Total Votes: 12
High/Low Ranking: 4th (2x)/Outside of the Top 10 (5x)
"May be a little high for a goalie but there is no denying that DiPietro may be the best Ontario born goalie at this age in the last 10 years. When he is not setting team records for shutouts in a season or playing the Grinch and preventing children from getting teddy bears for Christmas he is using his size and elite positioning and anticipation skills to keep a Windsor team beset by injuries competitive. Sometimes I feel there is a bias towards Ontario born goalies and really with their minimal success at the next level I cant fault anyone for having that bias. DiPietro however should quell some of those thoughts even if NHL central scouting is slow to realize it." - Kneulman

"Where would Windsor be without DiPietro in net? He has been a workhorse for the Spitfires and has already won 20-plus games. He isn't the biggest goalie of this draft class and, because of that, his athleticism and high-end skills need to be high end and they are. He has an excellent glove hand and is very square to the shooters. He's a player you can't help but root for." - Morreale

"Any goaltender who has a chance of being selected in the first round deserves a lot of attention. DiPietro is the best goaltender I've seen in the league since perhaps Matt Murray. He's not big, but is very athletic and technically sound. He is excellent at anticipating a play and being ready to stop it. The extra time playing for the Memorial Cup hosts will only help him play in pressure situations. He has the upside of a number one in the NHL." - Scheig

"If goaltenders get better with age, it’ s downright scary to think how good Di:ietro will be by the time he reaches his mid-20’s. Poised, quick and cerebral, the Windsor Spitfire leads all OHL netminders in every major statistical category, including a mind-numbing six shutouts in 37 games. Want more? DiPietro has the best high-danger save percentage (.839) of any OHL goalie who has faced over 1000 shots." - Kournianos

9. Alex Formenton - Forward - London Knights
Total Votes: 8
High/Low Ranking: 6th (2x)/Outside of the Top 10 (9x)
" Considering Formenton was ranked 49th on my final OHL Draft ranking in 2015, it's safe to say that this high ranking should come at no surprise. The Knights grabbed the undersized forward with their 216th selection that season and are looking like geniuses less than two years later. He was a top performer at CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game testing and has had a great season with London drawing more minutes in his second season. He's sprouted up eight inches since his pre-OHL days and is now skating at 6-foot-1. His enthusiastic attack mixes good levels of grit and skill and he's a player who always seems to be around the puck. Deceptively slick hands in flight allow him to dance defenders with quick plays and good use of his wingspan. He's not afraid to stick his nose in and get dirty either, taking hits to make plays and driving the net hard for second chance opportunities. There's a lot to like about Formenton's game and I think the best is yet to come." - Ross

"Amazing set of physical skills, he won the on-ice combine at the Top Prospects Game. Also plays physical and has a nice scoring touch." - Kennedy

"Formenton possesses a lot of speed and is a very good skater. I wouldn’t hesitate in saying he’s one of the top ten fastest skaters in the OHL. He drives the puck wide with more confidence, often burning defenders very much like the way Zach Senyshyn does with the Soo Greyhounds. Like all Hunter teams, you must be able to play in all three zones and Formenton has come a long way. He has the same worth ethic in the defensive zone as he does in the offensive zone." - Tiano

"King City native has wheels and length right now after enduring a growth spurt and being one of the youngest in the draft. Boasts a truly unique and exciting development curve that hasn't even begun to take shape, really. Needs to be settle down offensively on the attack, but that will come. It's not often you find a kid with sky high potential who works his ass off and is this defensively aware." - Mauro

10. Ivan Lodnia - Forward - Erie Otters
Total Votes: 7
High/Low Ranking: 3rd (1x)/Outside of the Top 10 (10x)
"In terms of overall skill set, I haven't seen anyone all season bring more to the table than Lodnia. He is a threat every time he touches the puck and can beat you in so many ways. Whether he's driving the net and scoring, or dangling around another defender, Lodnia uses his creativity to get open and make plays. Size and skating seem to be a knock on him. He shot up to 5-foot-11 this season, but appears to have lost a step in his skating. His skating is still good and he's not done growing yet. He's also been buried in the Otters lineup at times, which explains why some of his numbers might be "down". He has the makings of being a day two bargain at the draft with day one talent." - Scheig

"Lodnia has played less of a roll since Erie’s trade deadline acquisitions of Anthony Cirelli and Warren Foegele, but he’s an offensive threat in his own right and a kid who can create as a shooter and as a passer." - Wheeler

"Another short, but not small player at 5-10. Lodnia has plenty of hockey strength and has shown his offensive ability consistently this season. While his offensive production is not at the top of the league, he brings the same compete level every time I see him. Scouts will like that." - Harling

"Lodnia is a very well rounded offensive player. Even though he's on the smaller side, I love his intensity in the offensive end. Makes a lot of plays within 5 feet of the crease. Also think he has high hockey sense and does well moving without the puck. That said, my concern is that he's an undersized scorer who isn't the world's greatest skater. He's not explosive, nor does he possess high end speed. Worth noting that he's hit a growth spurt and as such may be lacking in strength, but I do wonder if he's a Dante Salituro type of player who armchair scouts like a lot more than actual ones." - Otten

Honorable Mentions

Sasha Chmelevski - Forward - Ottawa 67's (7 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)
“A constant threat to score but does not always give a consistent effort. His skills are top 20 in the draft class but he has only displayed them in flashes. This ranking is based off what he can do and a hope that he will realize the kind of effort it will take to get to the NHL." - Stewart

"Inconsistency has been a problem this season for Chmelevski, he was great in a pre-season tournament, cooled off after the season started but was very good at the Top Prospects game. Perhaps he is struggling in Ottawa where he is missing elite level talent to play with. Elite players should not need to depend on teammates so that’s a red flag for me, but there is no denying his skill." - Harling

"Crafty American pivot who is a money player when his team needs a big play. Chmelevski was the critical piece Sarnia shipped to Ottawa in last year’s Travis Konecny trade, and he’s rewarded them with a team-best 10 power-play goals and is their best player at the dot (56%). Chmelevski has a deadly shot and takes high percentage shots, but his even strength production (15 ES points in 39 games) is a tad worrisome." - Kournianos

"Has hit some ruts with the 67s, but the high-end skill is obvious. He's very patience and crafty when the puck is on his stick and he can really wire it." - Kennedy

Conor Timmins - Defense - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (7 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 4th (1x)
"Timmins is a very smart defenseman; he has good vision and good offensive instincts. He can read the play well, and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in the transition game. I like his poise under pressure, something I feel extremely important in a young defenseman." - Morreale

"Has crept into my top 10 and is well deserving of it. With a lot of draft eligible players having up and down spurts this year, Timmins might just be the most consistent of the bunch. From the get go this year, he's been the Greyhounds' best defender (on a team with two 19 year old NHL drafted blueliners). Timmins is just an exceptionally well rounded player who is actually close to being pro ready IMO. Makes a great first pass, brings intensity to the defensive end and skates well." - Otten

"A prototypical new age defender who is an elite puck mover. Timmins was born to play in the system the greyhounds have and has thrived in it. With 2 NHL defenders ahead of him at the start of the season Timmins has seemingly passed them on the depth chart and has been an important offensive cog with the high scoring Greyhounds. Another late birthday who made his OHL debut last season Timmins thrived in protected minutes finishing 3rd among rookies in +/- ( I know it is flawed stat but impressive given his age). This season in more leveraged minutes against high quality competition he hasn't missed a beat and is currently 6th in the league in that category and first among Draft Eligibles. He also leads draft eligibles in assists." - Kneulman

"One of the big risers in my opinion. Timmins plays in any situation for the Greyhounds. Despite being “only” 6’1” he plays with the physical intensity of someone more like 6’5”. He does not shy away from the physical battles in corners, along the boards or in front of his own goal. He can and does throw open ice hits. Offensively, Timmins thinks the game very well and along with his vision makes him dangerous from the point. Whether its finding seams to set up teammates or getting a diversity of shots through to the goal, he is very proficient. He quarterbacks the powerplay exceptionally well. He leads all draft eligible defencemen points and plus/minus. By the time the season is over, he could be challenging Hague." - Tiano

Mackenzie Entwistle - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs (7 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 7th (3x)
"Coming down with Mono this week will likely hurt him as his play has some what flat lined in the new year. Still he is a strong two-way winger with untapped offensive potential. Shows great drive and a willingness to go in the dirty areas but the skill to score outside of them. My only fear with him is a team drafts him and brings up to the NHL too so to cheaply fill a bottom 6 role thus stunting his development by having him play a more physical role similar to Tom Wilson. While I feel he could thrive in that role he has too much offensive potential and if he is given time to develop could be a real treat to watch in the coming years." - Kneulman

"While he may lack high-end puck skills and lateral mobility, he is a strong north-south skater with smarts who works hard at both ends of the ice.  He looks like a safe bet to one day play in the NHL...the question will be on what line?" - McCagg

"The offensive numbers have really declined in recent months and he's dropping like a stone on a lot of draft lists. But I've still got him at the back end of my top 10. The Top Prospect's Game was a great showcase for him. Still think he's got more offensive potential and better hands than people give him credit for. As he fills out, I think he could be a real force at both ends of the ice. If Hamilton falters in the OHL playoffs, I really hope he plays a large role for Canada at the U18's, where I think he could really shine." - Otten

"A big frame that understands the game as well as some coaches...Excellent on the PK and defensively while his offensive game is developing." - Seidel

Morgan Frost - Forward - Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (6 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 7th (1x)
"There seems to be a theme in the OHL with less-heralded players spring boarding into top draft prospect discussions, and Frost is certainly one of them. Not only was he a fourth round pick in the 2015 Priority Selection, but he plays on a roster loaded with NHL draftees. But there he is, second in team scoring with 42 points and centering either of the Soo’s top two lines. Frost is an outstanding set-up man who can thread the needle, but he’s guilty of forcing passes while operation in the Greyhounds’ struggling power play." - Kournianos

"I thought Frost was a nice story last year. The son of a famous PA Announcer playing OHL hockey. I did not think more of him.  Then he showed the work ethic, skill set and a little bit of a jam to really differentiate himself as a player on an outstanding team.  A bit of a sleeper.  I don't think he gets drafted 1st round, but is great value in the 2nd round.  And yes, you can see elements of his dad Andy's voice when he talks!" - Clark

"Frost has been a very pleasant surprise for me. He's always had good hands and is great with puck possession. He's improved his speed and strength this season, allowing him to beat defenders in a variety of ways. He's an underrated play maker who is confident with the puck. If he gets a little more size, he becomes a player with intriguing upside at the next level." - Scheig

"Frost as the ability to score in a multitude of ways and that versatility has allowed him to work his way up the depth chart on a very deep Greyhounds team. His strong play helped the team overcome the loss of Blake Speers early in the season. He has a great shot and an ability to find open spaces on the ice that has allowed him to thrive on the power play. At times he has played the point on the power play for the Hounds this year only to come up with a great defensive play to prevent a short handed opportunity. Can affect the game even when he isn't scoring and has the upside of a 2nd line scoring winger at the next level." - Kneulman

Markus Phillips - Defense - Owen Sound Attack (3 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 8th (1x)
"Phillips has made real strides in his overall game this season. I wanted to see more offense in his game and he has started to bring that. He couples that with a very responsible game in his own end, making smart decisions. He's a little undersized, but strong. He has the kind of game that can translate well to the next level, once he fills out and continues to add offense." - Scheig

"Slightly undersized, but I don't think that hurts Phillips because he's got very good lower body strength and a wide base. While many seem to be touting Phillips as an offensive type of defender, I actually see him being more of a shut down type at the next level. He's one of the OHL's more agile defenders, moving exceptionally well backwards and laterally, and it makes him very difficult to beat one on one. His overall defensive awareness is strong too. And when you add in his great leadership potential and poise, I think you've got the makings of a Marc-Edouard Vlasic type of player." - Otten

Adam Ruzicka - Forward - Sarnia Sting (2 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 5th (1x)
"It’s been a grind-it-out kind of season for this towering Slovakian two-way center, who is putting together a solid rookie season when you consider 26 of his 32 points have come in the last 30 games. It took Ruzicka a few weeks to adapt to North American hockey, and a solid showing at the WJC as one of Slovakia’s younger forwards seems to have spring boarded him into a productive second half. He is prone to make odd decisions with the puck, but we chalk it up to trying to adapt to a new league and zip code." - Kournianos

"His hockey sense and vision allow him to have success playing all three forward positions. He's just as capable setting up plays as he is finishing them and possesses an excellent touch around the net. He moves very well for his size (6-3, 202) and has deceptive speed." - Morreale

Jason Robertson - Forward - Kingston Frontenacs (2 Votes)
Highest Ranking: 6th (2x)
"Despite strong size, Robertson isn’t an overwhelming on-ice presence. Still, he has been the brightest spot on a low-scoring Frontenacs team as its top offensive threat. Robertson has a number of transferable NHL tools — an exciting package." - Wheeler

Thursday, January 19, 2017

2017 NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings

Past the halfway point of the season now, NHL Central Scouting has updated their rankings for 2017.

Here's a look at how the OHL players fared. A total of 68 were ranked. And of course, if you wanted to compare, here's my midseason top 50. Also, see below for my thoughts on the list.

1. Gabe Vilardi (3)
2. Owen Tippett (4)
3. Nic Hague (11)
4. Nick Suzuki (16)
5. Matthew Strome (19)
6. Isaac Ratcliffe (20)
7. Alex Formenton (24)
8. Conor Timmins (26)
9. Adam Ruzicka (27)
10. Robert Thomas (28)
11. Morgan Frost (29)
12. Nate Schnarr (32)
13. Jason Robertson (34)
14. Mackenzie Entwistle (35)
15. Ivan Lodnia (37)
16. Sasha Chmelevski (38)
17. Greg Meireles (39)
18. Noel Hoefenmayer (41)
19. Brady Lyle (53)
20. Eemeli Rasanen (57)
21. Adam Thilander (59)
22. Jonah Gadjovich (60)
23. Markus Phillips (63)
24. Zach Gallant (71)
25. Maksim Sushko (73)
26. Ryan McGrgeor (79)
27. Jack Studnicka (80)
28. Marian Studenic (86)
29. Jacob Paquette (90)
30. Austen Keating (92)
31. Cole Coskey (96)
32. Ben Jones (99)
33. Dylan Seitz (100)
34. Linus Nyman (102)
35. Dmitri Samorukov (122)
36. Shaw Boomhower (123)
37. Nick Deakin-Poot (135)
38. Sean Durzi (139)
39. Jacob Golden (143)
40. Ondrej Machala (147)
41. Kevin Hancock (148)
42. Anthony Demeo (161)
43. Albert Michnac (162)
44. Matyas Svoboda (166)
45. Nick Isaacson (168)
46. Matthew Philip (173)
47. Nick McHugh (176)
48. Zachary Roberts (180)
49. Macauley Carson (183)
50. Kirill Maksimov (185)
51. Fedor Gordeev (188)
52. Oliver Castleman (189)
53. Joseph Garreffa (191)
54. Cole Purboo (194)
55. Tom Hedberg (205)
56. Cole Fraser (206)
57. Elijah Roberts (208)
58. Nick Grima (209)
59. Luka Boka (211)

1. Michael Dipietro (7)
2. Kyle Keyser (10)
3. Kaden Fulcher (12)
4. Matt Villalta (14)
5. Stephen Dhillon (19)
6. Jack McGrath (23)
7. Christian Propp (25)
8. Olivier Lafreniere (27)
9. Aidan Hughes (28)

If you're curious to see the full list, check it out here.

Here are my thoughts:

1. I have mentioned a few times about how much I like the depth of this year's OHL crop, despite lacking in sure fire first round talent. This list supports that. The OHL has only 2 players ranked inside the top 10 of North American players (20%), but they make up one third of the top 100 (roughly 33%). This is especially true when we look at the fact that the OHL has nearly half (44%) of the top 41. 

2. In comparison to my list, here are the biggest discrepancies:
I have higher:
Hayden Davis (+29...he wasn't ranked)
Daniil Vertiy (+21...he wasn't ranked)
Macauley Carson (+21)
Dmitri Samorukov (+16)
Jack Studnicka (+15)
Tom Hedberg (+14)
Nick Grima (+13) 
Liam Hawel (+12...he wasn't ranked) 
Jacob Paquette (+11
Reagan O'Grady (+11...he wasn't ranked)

I have lower:
Marian Studenic (-22...I don't have him ranked)
Noel Hoefenmayer (-17)
Maksim Sushko (-15)
Shaw Boomhower (-14...I don't have him ranked) 
Brady Lyle (-13) 
Nick Deakin-Poot (-13...I don't have him ranked)
Sean Durzi (-12...I don't have him ranked)
Jacob Golden (-11...I don't have him ranked)
Ondrej Machala (-10...I don't have him ranked)  
Conor Timmins (-9)
Alex Formenton (-8)
Nate Schnarr (-8) 

3. Yes...Michael Dipietro is the top ranked goaltender from the OHL (as he should be). But, he's also only ranked 7th among North American netminders. That's ludicrous IMO. Those 6 netminders that are ahead of him must be absolutely unreal because Dipietro is the best goaltending prospect that the OHL has produced since Malcolm Subban IMO (at least in terms of draft year performance and pedigree). They are obviously docking him for his lack of size, but if Alex Nedeljkovic can be a 2nd rounder, then Dipietro deserves to be in consideration for the first and that's not the 7th ranked goaltender available.

4. Kevin Hancock and Stephen Dhillon check in as the highest re-entry guys. Both deserving. Dhillon takes the cake as the top re-entry guy available from the OHL for me right now.

Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 OHL Trade Deadline Report Cards

OHL players can now sleep easy as the 2017 OHL trade deadline has come and gone. Many players have said goodbyes. But with a new team often comes new and rewarding challenges. Many of these players will get the chance to play deeper into the playoffs and perhaps win an OHL championship. While others will receive increased responsibility and ice time in hopes of catching the eye of NHL scouts.

Many of the teams in the league were active in the past month. Several teams (London, Erie, Peterborough, Windsor, etc) loaded up for deep playoff runs. Other teams (Oshawa, Saginaw, Kitchener, etc) made moves to rebuild so that they can be good again in the years to come. The Western Conference, in particular, has become quite the juggernaut. It will be crazy fun to watch these teams battle it out in the playoffs.

For this article, I'm cutting off trades at the beginning of December. So any trades made before December won't be factored into a teams grade. No sense assessing a team's ability to trade over the course of the season (even the last month or so is a bit of a stretch).

Let's do some grading! 

Eastern Conference

Barrie Colts
In: Jason Smith, Robert Proner, Draft picks (2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 10
Out: Cam Lizotte, Cordell James, Matt Brassard, Draft picks (5, 7)
Analysis: Given what they had to work with, I think the Colts did extremely well. No real blockbusters, so that prevents them from being an "A" (simply due to the impact these trades might have), but they did a great job. Dealing Matt Brassard was a bit of a surprise to me, but I think they dealt him at his highest value. Meanwhile, they brought in Robert Proner from Saginaw for a mid round pick, which is a tremendous value addition. Proner is a quality young defender who was holding out from Saginaw (was the 30th overall pick in 2015). He could impact the game at both ends and has a lot of potential. Really interested to see how he blossoms in Barrie, where he could see top 4 ice time. All in all, a very successful deadline for the Colts as they begin their rebuild.
Grade: B

Hamilton Bulldogs
In: Ben Garagan, Dawson Carty, Stephen Templeton, Draft picks (2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6)
Out: Adam Laishram, Trent Fox, Jesse Saban, Draft picks (2, 5, 5, 5, 8, 10)
Analysis: All things considered, I'm a bit disappointed with what the Bulldogs did at the deadline and leading up to it. I thought that dealing guys like Laishram and Fox would lead them to use those picks to pick up another veteran offensive blueliner, the team's biggest need IMO. For a team that has aspirations in winning the Eastern Conference, I'm actually not convinced that they're worse now than they were before the deadline. Bringing in Dawson Carty gives the team a veteran goaltender with playoff experience to push Kaden Fulcher, but is he guaranteed to the the team's playoff starter? And if he isn't, does it really make sense for this team to utilize an OA spot on someone who isn't playing. The kicker here is that the team has battled injuries this year and they're finally healthy. As such, they're playing as well as they did to start the year when they came out gangbusters. Is that enough to win the East? I'm just not sure. I will say that they got good value for Laishram and Fox though.
Grade: C+

Kingston Frontenacs
In: Cal Davis, Brett Neumann Draft picks (3, 4)
Out: Warren Foegele, Zack Dorval, Draft picks (5)
Analysis: Let me preface this by saying that I love with Kingston was able to do with the Foegele deal. Brett Neumann is going to be a very high scoring forward at some point during his OHL career. He's also likely to be the type to play 5 years in the league because of his lack of size. So Kingston gets a high impact player who could be a cornerstone for the next several years, on top of a quality draft pick. Hard to ask for a much better return for an OA. That said, this is a team that is caught in a bit of limbo IMO. Without Foegele, they don't have the offensive firepower to compete in the East. Since the Foegele deal, they're 1-3, and against Conference rivals too. I think this is a trend that will continue to the rest of the year. While I understand that the Fronts wanted to try and stay competitive by keeping their captain, Stephen Desrocher, I don't think it's the best thing for the franchise in the long run. Now, of course, Desrocher might have requested to stay in Kingston since he's had a few lengthy playoff runs in his career. But if he didn't, it was a major boo boo to not deal him IMO. Just the same as it was to not deal one of their 97's before next year. They've got 4 quality 97's who will return as overagers (this counting Jeremy Helvig who I think will most certainly return) and they won't get nearly as much for one of them as an OA, as they could have by dealing one now. Just think that they missed the boat on getting a few more draft picks or another quality young player to help this team be really good again in a few years.
Grade: C+

Mississauga Steelheads
In: Trent Fox, Jacob Cascagnette, Draft picks (7, 14)
Out: Jason Smith, Joseph Murdaca, Draft picks (3, 3, 4, 4, 5)
Analysis: Going into the deadline, I had mentioned on twitter that I had felt Mississauga really needed to go out and get more veteran forwards to round out their depth. While their 3rd and 4th lines bring energy, offensive production they do not. In the playoffs, that's going to be needed. So the additions of Fox and Cascagnette are just what the doctor ordered and they didn't have to give up the farm to get them. Cascagnette is a great penalty killer too and will go a long way to improving that. The Steelheads get to keep their couple of high end 2nds (Guelph's this year and Niagara's next year), which they will need to restock the cupboards after this season and round out the team's depth moving forward. Of course, I'm sure some people would have liked Mississauga to go out and improve their goaltending and/or their defense. But IMO, they can still win the East with what they currently have. Sounds like they did offer up a ton of picks for Michael McNiven, but the Attack wouldn't budge.
Grade: B

Niagara IceDogs
In: Kiril Maksimov, Nate McDonald, Justin Brack, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 5)
Out: Hayden Davis, Chris Paquette, Cal Davis, Draft picks (4, 11)
Analysis: Have to say, really shocked by the Hayden Davis trade. Didn't see that one coming, especially with Davis being a bit of a local boy (Hamilton born/raised). That said, the value that they received was pretty good. Maksimov has a ton of offensive potential and is the same age as Davis, while they also picked up a couple quality picks in that deal too. Then the real coup was grabbing 5 excellent draft picks for Chris Paquette. Of course, he'll be back again next year, at the very least, but with the team rebuilding, they just would have ended up dealing him then anyway. When you get that kind of offer, you take it. All those picks are going really help this team moving forward. Have to imagine that the Dogs look heavily to the blueline at this year's priority selection though (however, if they pick in the top 3, doesn't sound like there is a blueliner worthy of that high of a selection).
Grade: B+

North Bay Battalion
In: Jesse Saban, Draft picks (5, 10)
Out: Stephen Templeton, Maurizio Colella, Draft picks (5, 6, 10)
Analysis: A very quiet trade deadline for the Battalion, as they essentially stand pat, keeping their overagers and their veteran players. North Bay has not been playing great hockey of late, so I think some people half expected them to make a few moves to start a rebuild. But that's just not Stan Butler's style. Quite frankly, of their 96's and 97's, only Brett McKenzie would have brought back a ton. And since he's a candidate to return as an OA (unless Vancouver signs him early, or they have him play in the AHL on a minor league deal), North Bay seemed content to keep him around. This is a team that should be better next year, lead by a veteran defensive unit, so unless a team was willing to give up the moon for McKenzie, it makes sense. The acquisition of Saban is actually quietly a very strong one IMO. He's an underrated defender and is an upgrade over the likes of Bruce and Shoemaker as an OA candidate next year IMO. I suppose, though, if McKenzie ends up playing in the AHL next year, this won't look quite as good.
Grade: C+

Oshawa Generals
In: Mason Kohn, Allan McShane, Ian Blacker, Matt Brassard, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 6, 10)
Out: Anthony Cirelli, Mitchell Vande Sompel, Daniel Robertson, Stephen Templeton, Draft picks (2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3)
Analysis: Easily one of the busiest teams at this year's deadline. They deal their two biggest stars, but also make a few subtle moves to try and improve next year too (Kohn, and Brassard). I do really like what they managed to do though. They got great value out of dealing Cirelli and Vande Sompel. McShane and Blacker are solid young players who will be a part of the Generals core for the next several years. Kohn will be a very valuable overager next year and Brassard provides more depth to a defense. Then there is all the picks, that the Generals will no doubt utilize to improve their club again either next year or the year after (depending on how the Memorial Cup process goes and whether it accelerates their mini rebuild). All in all, the Generals should still be competitive in the East this year (give themselves a chance to win a round), but also make themselves way better for the future.
Grade: A

Ottawa 67´s
In: Zack Dorval, Chris Martenet, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 15)
Out: Dante Salituro, Drake Rymsha, Chase Campbell, Draft picks (4, 8)
Analysis: I think the 67's made the deals that they needed to make at this year's deadline. They got great draft pick value out of Rymsha (holding out), Campbell, and Salituro (who was a surprise return to the league). I think the loss of Rymsha hurts a bit moving forward, but they can replace him with an astute selection (likely to be top 8, maybe even top 5) at this year's priority selection. Martenet was the veteran OA defender I had talked about the 67's needing on twitter. They've got a very talented young blueline, but one who could use some veteran tutelage to close out the season. This team could still win an opening round series in round one IMO, but also improved a ton for the future. A successful deadline, given what they had available.
Grade: B

Peterborough Petes
In: Chris Paquette, Nikita Korostelev, Alex Black, Jake Bricknell, Draft picks (2, 3, 4)
Out: C.J. Clarke, Nick Grima, Nate McDonald, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 6, 15)
Analysis: Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Peterborough finally makes a splash on the trade market and they draw criticism for overpaying. Yet, if they don't pay up, they don't make deals and people accuse them of being complacent like they were last year. Bottom line is that Peterborough is playing very well and with the East being weak, this was the year to go for it and utilize that draft pick surplus to bring in talent. They didn't have to give up Pavel Gogolev. They didn't have to give up Zach Gallant. Grima is a quality young player, but the Petes have a very good young defense, so I don't think they need to be worried there. Peterborugh made themselves better and they did it from positions of strength. The underrated component that people aren't talking about here is that all three of these acquisitions have a great chance of returning next year. Black and Paquette will definitely be back and I think Korostelev is a 50/50 chance too as well (if the Leafs don't sign him). This isn't a one and done team. Peterborough will be just as strong next year, if not stronger. Thanks to these deals and player progression. IMO, this is the team to beat in the Eastern Conference now.
Grade: A-

Sudbury Wolves

In: Patrick Sanvido, Draft picks (5, 5)
Out: Ben Garagan, Draft picks (6, 14)
Analysis: Not much going on for the Wolves at this year's deadline. I think they made the right choice not to sell off their veterans, like Kyle Capobianco. This is a team that needs to make the playoffs this year because of what they've been through in recent years with ownership turmoils, coaching changes, player recruitment issues, etc. What has seemed like a very long rebuild is showing light at the end of the tunnel and it's time to get these young kids some playoff experience. Heck, the Wolves could even make it out of the first round too. Picking up Patrick Sanvido was really smart. He's not massively impactful player on the ice, but his experience will go a really long way to helping out in the locker room and his size will help this team down the stretch and into the playoffs. There's a reason he wore the "C" in Windsor. For the first time in a while, I feel like this team has an identity, so kudos for that. They get a good mark for holding steady and not doing anything rash.
Grade: B

Western Conference

Erie Otters
In: Cam Lizotte, Anthony Cirelli, Warren Foegele, Joseph Murdaca
Out: Allan McShane, Brett Neumann, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14)
Analysis: Once Dylan Strome was returned to Erie, the writing was on the wall for this load up. Erie has been one of the top teams in the OHL the last 4 years, but has no Championships to show for it. When a guy like Strome suddenly returns, you owe it to your veteran players to give it one last kick at the can and that's just what Dave Brown and company did. But, they did it the right way. Cirelli and Foegele are not only fantastic scoring options, but they are also among the best two-way forwards in the entire OHL. These are the types of guys who help you win a playoff series. And Lizotte is an underrated pick up. He's a relentless physical presence who can help to take some pressure off of the young kids in a 3rd pairing role and on the PK. And sure, Erie gave up a ton. The cupboards are bare. BUT, they'll recoup a lot of assets next year when they move Taylor Raddysh, Jordan Sambrook, and Kyle Maksimovich. Such is the OHL cycle. And Otters have made success last longer than most teams in this league do.
Grade: A

Flint Firebirds
In: C.J. Clarke, Maurizio Colella
Out: Draft picks (2, 3, 5)
Analysis: Not much doing for the Firebirds. Instead of moving some of their veteran players (like Alex Peters), they decide to stand pat. Well actually, they brought in a couple forwards to help provide more depth to their team's offensive attack. Clarke is an interesting pick up who could flourish with more ice time. Given everything this team has gone through in the past year the difficulties with player recruitment, I think what they did was the right move. Keeping the leadership group intact so that they can make the playoffs and show growth. Heck, Flint might just be the 6th best team in the Western Conference after Kitchener and Sarnia made a few moves. What's that going to get them? A butt kicking in the first round. But it doesn't matter. Just making it that far has to be considered a win for the franchise. Like Sudbury in the East, this team gets a good grade for being patient and holding steady.
Grade: B-

Guelph Storm
In: Liam Hawel, Draft picks (3, 15)
Out: Noah Carroll, Jake Bricknell, Draft picks (2, 3, 3)
Analysis: Guelph didn't really do much, other than the big Carroll to SSM deal. Even though they had to give up a few extra draft picks, I think they did well in the deal. Liam Hawel is the big center that every team covets. He's definitely raw, but he fits extremely well into that lineup moving forward. I'm sure the Storm explored a few other deals, but with guys like Garrett McFadden and James McEwan returning as OA's next year, they obviously felt like the offers they were getting, just weren't good enough. I respect that, because next year the Storm should be that much better and having talented OA's will help.
Grade: B-

Kitchener Rangers

In: Andrew Burns, Cole Carter, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5)
Out: Mason Kohn, Jeremy Bracco, Jacob Cascagnette, Dawson Carty, Draft picks (8, 13)
Analysis: I applaud the Rangers for doing the right thing. Even though they've played pretty well this year, there's just no chance they could compete in the loaded West this year. Especially given their injury issues on the backend. Now, that said, I'm not sure I'm incredibly enamored with their returns. Sure they loaded up on draft picks, which is going to help them in the future. But I can't help but be disappointed with the return for Jeremy Bracco. Yes...I know about his no movement clause that likely lowered the value he brought back since it handcuffed the organization to a degree. But when you see a guy like Chris Paquette bring back more than Bracco, I think you can't help but feel like Kitchener didn't play the cards as best as they could. Andrew Burns is a solid defender, but do they really need a '97 player? Wouldn't a guy like Tyler Nother been a better option because he'd be with the team for a few more years. And Cole Carter is a solid offensive player, but not getting back a '99 or 2000 player for Bracco has to hurt. Bottom line, I like the approach they took at this year's deadline, but the Bracco deal really has to leave a bit of a sour taste in the mouth.
Grade: C+

London Knights

In: Mitchell Stephens, Mitchell Vande Sompel, Dante Salituro, Draft picks (8)
Out: Ian Blacker, Chris Martenet, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 15)
Analysis: OK, they gave up a lot of draft picks. can you argue with what London was able to do at this year's deadline. Stephens is a great add and the type of kid you win with in the playoffs. Vande Sompel has lots of playoff experience and is an elite defender. And Salituro, there's a stroke of genius with bringing him back from the AHL/ECHL where he was struggling as a first year pro. This team is locked and fully loaded for another run. And what did it cost them? They got to keep their best young players (Foudy, Formenton, Bouchard, etc), which can't be said of some other teams who made deals. With London's ability to draft well and turn surplussed assets into draft picks, they'll give those up all day because they know they can get them back. Well done. 
Grade: A+

Owen Sound Attack
In: Cordell James, Chase Campbell, Draft picks (11)
Out: Justin Brack, Draft picks (3, 4)
Analysis: The Attack made the deal that I predicted they would, jettisoning Justin Brack and bringing in Cordell James. James is a perfect fit for this roster as a top faceoff man, penalty killer and solid two-way player. The Chase Campbell pick up at the beginning of December has proven to be an excellent acquisition too. The Attack are playing some pretty phenomenal hockey of late, and I truly believe that behind Michael McNiven, this team could make some noise in the Western Conference. That's why I'm a bit disappointed that they didn't use a bit of a draft pick surplus to go out and pick up a few more players to make that push. When you've got the best goaltender in the league, and he's playing in his final OHL season, I think you need to make sure you really make a run.
Grade: C+

Saginaw Spirit
In: Hayden Davis, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 5)
Out: Mitchell Stephens, Robert Proner, Kiril Maksimov, Draft picks (2, 3)
Analysis: I feel a little bit bad for the Spirit. It's obvious that they were handcuffed by Stephen's no trade clause. Bottom line is...the team has dealt their best player the last two years and not received a young player back. When you see a team like Oshawa deal their players for quality young assets, it's a hard pill to swallow. And sure, the amount of draft picks they got back was fantastic. But this is also a team whose top two picks (Blade Jenkins and Bode Wilde) aren't playing for them this year and are not guaranteed to suit up for the Spirit. And the team's 2015 draft is now looking pretty weak too thanks to those players failing to take a step forward this year (direct correlation to the team's disappointing performance in 2016/17). Speaking of the 2015 draft, the Spirit turned their 2nd rounder Robert Proner into a measly 5th after he demanded a trade. And while I like the Hayden Davis deal (because I like him as a player), they had to give up a lot to get a player that with the right tutelage, Robert Proner could have turned into anyway. IMO, this is a team in a lot of trouble moving forward unless things change and they have some luck with player commitments. 
Grade: D+

Sarnia Sting
In: Theo Calvas, Drake Rymsha, Nick Grima, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 6)
Out: Alex Black, Nikita Korostelev, Draft picks (2, 2, 3, 4, 7)
Analysis: I absolutely love what Sarnia did at this year's deadline. Think of it this way. The Sting turned Korostelev and Black into Nick Grima, Drake Rymsha, two quality draft picks (2nd and 3rd). That's two quality young players who will be impact OHL players for the next two years and two very good picks. Grima is a quality young offensive defender and Rymsha is an underrated player. His speed and two way play are a perfect fit for this line-up. The Sting have positioned themselves to be solid yet again next year and they did it by only moving a few pieces. And I actually think this Sting team is better without Korostelev in the lineup because they can play a more up-tempo game offensively that suits their offensive stars a little bit more.
Grade: A-

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
In: Noah Carroll, Draft picks (2, 3, 3, 7)
Out: Theo Calvas, Liam Hawel, Draft picks (3)
Analysis: I think that the Hounds did extremely well in picking up Noah Carroll. They dealt from a position of strength and picked up future assets AND got better at the same time. Hard to argue with that. That said, I do think that the Hounds missed the boat on trying to improve. They've got a great roster this year. Offensively, I think they can compete with the other super powers of the West (even post deadline). But defensively and in goal, they could be a step behind, even with the acquisition of Carroll. Not utilizing their final OA spot is a make IMO. But, I know the Hounds have prided themselves on building a consistent winner and they've positioned themselves to be just as good next year, if not better. When do they go for it though and really go all in to win that Championship?
Grade: B-

Windsor Spitfires
In: Jeremy Bracco, Adam Laishram, Daniel Robertson, Draft picks (2, 6 8, 8, 13, 14)
Out: Cole Carter, Andrew Burns, Patrick Sanvido, Draft picks (2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4)
Analysis: The Memorial Cup hosts joined the Otters and Knights to load up for the Western Conference playoff showdown. The reality is though, that the Spitfires have been loading up all year, picking up Addison, Knott, Nattinen, and Day. The Bracco deal was a great one because they didn't have to give up some of their best young talent to make it happen. The Laishram pickup is an excellent under the radar one too. He's a gritty competitor. This team has all the talent in the world. But they need to stay healthy AND they need to get more from their best players like Mikhail Sergachev and Logan Brown. 
Grade: B+

Who do you think were this year´s winners and losers?