The final edition (part III) of Inside the Scout’s Notebook: 2013 OHL Cup will break down the standout players from the remaining seven teams of the OHL Cup featuring the always-powerful Toronto Marlboros, competitive York Simcoe Express, OHL Commissioner David Branch’s Whitby Wildcats and eventually, the 2013 OHL Cup Champions, Oakville Rangers. Each one of these players, among countless others across Ontario, has competed hard all season long in a lengthy minor-midget schedule to reach their goal of being drafted into the Ontario Hockey League. The OHL Cup is the final tournament of the season to showcase to scouts their talents, hoping that all of the sweat and battle wounds they have endured this season helps to solidify themselves as top prospects for the OHL draft. The file of players highlighted below is not an exhaustive list but rather a short list of players I walked away impressed with after four days of observations. Good luck to each and every entry into the Ontario Hockey League’s 2013 Priority Selection Draft. For those who do not get drafted, remember that there are hundreds of examples of players who have succeeded despite never being drafted. Hard work and determination are two of the most important qualities that determine your ultimate fate. Good luck!
To view the previous two editions of Inside the Scout’s Notebook: 2013 OHL Cup please follow the links.
Dylan Strome, C (Toronto Marlboros), 6-2, 165
OHL Cup Statistics: 7GP-5G-4A-9P
The Marlboros’ leading scorer at the OHL Cup, Strome had an impressive showing solidifying him as a top three player for the upcoming OHL Priority Selection Draft. The younger brother of Islanders’ prospect Ryan Strome, Dylan is a big-bodied playmaking centerman with elite level vision and passing ability. His knack for finding seams in the offensive zone, hitting streaking teammates on the rush and identifying a back door attack goes unmatched in this draft class. Improvements in his skating will need to be made to become an elite player at the OHL level but he should have no issues making those adjustments. Look for Dylan Strome to join one of the first three teams selecting at the 2013 OHL draft (Ottawa, Erie, or Peterborough).
Mitchell Stephens, C (Toronto Marlboros), 5-11, 170
OHL Cup Statistics: 7GP-4G-3A-7P
An elite level skater, Mitchell Stephens had the advantage of playing for the Marlboros at last year’s OHL Cup as an underage forward. The Marlboros’ captain has the ability to hit top speeds quickly and once he is there, he unleashes his tremendous shot in mid-stride scoring more often than not. Stephens is prone to taking shifts or even entire games off but his elite speed, shot and overall attacking skills are among the best in this draft class and that will make him a guaranteed first round selection.
Josh DeFarias, D (Toronto Marlboros), 6-0, 175
OHL Cup Statistics: 7GP-0G-4A-4P
DeFarias had an up and down showing at the OHL Cup and while he was more good than he was bad, there were some areas for improvement. He is a very good skater with four-way agility and his puck handling abilities are very impressive, but there are times he overhandled the puck. DeFarias is a confident offensive defenseman but there were situations when a simple pass was the best option yet he chose to attempt a risky pass or dangle. In saying that, DeFarias showed good gap control and he made several excellent shot blocks in the defensive zone, indicating that his defensive abilities are quite sound. It is expected that Josh DeFarias will be a top 50 selection at the OHL draft.
Jesse Saban, D (Toronto Red Wings), 6-3, 205
OHL Cup Statistics: 4GP-0G-1A-1P
Playing on an underdog Toronto Red Wings team at the OHL Cup, Saban and his squad were unable to make much noise. The big framed defender showed well despite his team’s struggles as he was leaned on heavily to play big minutes, both offensively and defensively. Saban showed good defensive positioning, gap control and physicality as he attempted to contain the opposition’s attack – all qualities that will make him a top 75 selection at the OHL Draft.
Garrett Forrest, G (TPH Thunder), 5-10, 155
OHL Cup Statistics: 4GP, 2-2-0-1, 3.00 GAA
Highlighted by a perfect semi-final game versus the undefeated Barrie Colts, Garrett Forrest picked up a shutout and player of the game honours propelling his TPH Thunder into the Semi-Finals to face the Toronto Marlboros. Forrest fought hard throughout the tournament and pushed the mighty Marlboros to the brink as he stood his ground while his teammates mounted a comeback that fell just short.
Tristan Liggett, D (Waterloo Wolves), 6-4, 175
OHL Cup Statistics: 4GP-0G-1A-1P
Liggett and his teammates brought high-end energy every game fulfilling their role as “underdogs” perfectly as they challenged each team they faced. Liggett is a tall lanky defenseman that logged a ton of minutes during the OHL Cup. He possesses a strong point shot and good mobility which are two skills that an OHL team could be interested in. He moves the puck up the ice nicely and defends his zone equally as well. Likely a late round selection but there is certainly some potential in this raw defenseman.
Tayler Trachsel, D (Waterloo Wolves), 6-2, 180
OHL Cup Statistics: 4GP-0G-1A-1P
In my observations of Tayler Trachsel, I noted his booming point shot and ability to read the ice well as his standout skills. He is a smart defenseman that positions himself perfectly in both the defensive and offensive zones, either to contain an opponent or make himself available as a passing option. Trachsel owns good size at 6-foot-2 and has room to fill out his solid frame. A middle to late round selection is likely his best chance at becoming a drafted OHL player but his strong showing at the OHL Cup was certainly promising.
Hayden McCool, C (Whitby Wildcats), 6-3, 185
OHL Cup Statistics: 4GP-1G-0A-1P
Besides having the coolest name in the draft class, McCool offers a tantalizing package of size, skill and versatility. Skating at 6-foot-3, McCool moves well for a big kid with good top-end speed, despite owning slower first few steps. He thrives in areas where he can use his slick hands as he dangles well in tight spaces. McCool appears to have above-average defensive awareness and that projects well for him developing into a valuable top-six forward at the OHL level. Offensively, McCool wasn’t very productive during the OHL Cup but he did show well despite not finding the scoresheet. There were times he made questionable decisions with the puck inside the offensive skill and unless he was moving at top speed, he struggled to showcase his above-average one-one-one skills. McCool’s weaknesses can be addressed with ease so do not be surprised if he is off the draft board early with his huge potential and projectable game.
Justin Lemcke, D (Whitby Wildcats), 6-1, 180
OHL Cup Statistics: 4GP-0G-2A-2P
Serving as the Wildcats’ captain, Lemcke had a good OHL Cup. He owns good size and his mobility will allow him to succeed at the next level. Lemcke is a slick puck handler and is most noticeable when he is in possession of the puck. He owns a great arsenal of shooting tools and that should get him some looks on the powerplay in his future as an OHLer. There are times he struggles defensively as he has difficulty transitioning from forwards to backwards skating which leaves him scrambling in the defensive zones at time. With improved defensive awareness and skating transitions, Lemcke will become a valuable top 90 pick at the OHL draft.
Ryan Sarris, D (Whitby Wildcats), 6-0, 175
OHL Cup Statistics: 4GP-0G-1A-1P
Sarris is a smooth skating defenseman with good puck transition skills, making crisp accurate passes up the ice. He enjoys the physical element of hockey and protects the net well in the defensive zone. His intensity can at times get the best of him so he will need to learn to control his emotions. In saying that, Sarris’ competitiveness and will to win are great qualities to have in a defenseman. Look for Ryan Sarris to receive consideration through the middle rounds of the OHL Draft (3rd-5th).
Connor Schlichting, D (York Simcoe Express), 6-2, 180
OHL Cup Statistics: 6GP-1G-1A-2P
Mentioned as a potential first round selection in the upcoming OHL draft, Schlichting is a two-way puck moving defenseman. He is an intelligent rearguard that makes quick, smart and risk-free decisions with the puck as he quickly transitions to his teammates. His game does not own a “flashy” component but he possesses underrated offensive abilities, specifically on the powerplay where his poised demeanor slows down the game perfectly. He owns a heavy point shot that he can get off quickly with good accuracy. Schlichting has a “raw” element to his game and a team could like him enough to select him inside the opening round, hoping to cash in on his untapped potential.
Sam Harding, F (York Simcoe Express), 6-0, 160
OHL Cup Statistics: 6GP-3G-3A-6P
York Simcoe’s most noticeable offensive forward, Sam Harding’s game features great skating skills highlighted by impressive acceleration and lateral agility. Hard to contain due to his advanced feet, Harding possesses excellent puck control and confidence which allows him extra time to assess his attacking options. Look for this offensive forward to be snatched up quickly in the second round as a team selects him as a future top-six option.
Graham Knott, F (York Simcoe Express), 6-1, 165
OHL Cup Statistics: 6GP-3G-2A-5P
It was an interesting OHL Cup for Graham Knott as his production was very impressive but my notes have several examples of his questionable decision making. Knott is a great competitor and owns inspiring work ethic but I do question his overall hockey sense. His future in the OHL will be as a complementary winger but I don’t see much upside in Knott so he may be limited to a third or fourth line forward, which is nothing to be ashamed of. My viewings were limited but I walked away noting his compete effort as his best quality so he could prove me wrong if he keeps his work ethic up.
Adam Craievich, RW (Oakville Rangers), 6-1, 188
OHL Cup Statistics: 6GP-5G-2A-7P
The slew of great prospects from the Championship Oakville Rangers’ team starts with OHL Cup MVP Adam Craievich, the team’s leading scorer (tied with Petawabano). Hobbled by a lower body injury all tournament long, Craievich fought through pain and discomfort to lift his team to the championship via five tournament goals, including two in the championship final. Craievich’s value comes from his blazing shot that tricks opposing goaltenders as he shoots from unexpected angles. His puck handling skills are advanced and most noticeable in and around the scoring areas of the ice. With all the qualities of a scorer, Adam Craievich is slated to become one of the next snipers in the OHL and should be taken early (top 30).
Cody Petawabano, LW (Oakville Rangers), 6-3, 225
OHL Cup Statistics: 7GP-2G-5A-7P
Tied for the team scoring lead with Craievich, Petawabano was probably the most imposing forward in the OHL Cup tournament. He is a tank on the offensive attack with his 6-foot-3 and 225-pound frame making him impossible to contain for most defenders his same age. Petawabano is actually eligible for the QMJHL draft (not the OHL) due to his Quebec roots. Look for this massive power forward to be a top selection in the Q’s upcoming draft.
Kyle Capobianco, D (Oakville Rangers), 6-0, 155
OHL Cup Statistics: 7GP-2G-4A-6P
Capobianco is one of the top defensemen available for the 2013 OHL Priority Selection Draft and is almost assured an opening round selection. Blessed with elite level skating skills characterized by great acceleration, agility and elusiveness, Capobianco projects as an offensive defenseman at the OHL level. He thrives in possession of the puck and is often seen rushing it from end to end, a task he has no trouble doing. As with many offensive puck rushing defensemen, Capobianco is prone to making bad pinches and can often over handle the puck, leading to turnovers. He is a great puck distributor, especially with the man advantage, and there is no doubt that a team will fancy his offensive skills and upside enough to select him inside the top 20.
Brett McKenzie, C (Oakville Rangers), 6-1, 175
OHL Cup Statistics: 7GP-2G-3A-5P
Entering the OHL Cup, Brett McKenzie was a player I was excited to watch as my viewings of him have been limited. I come away with mixed feelings from McKenzie’s OHL Cup workload. There is no question he has all the skills to become a dominant major junior player as his size (6-1), possession skills, puck handling abilities and defensive awareness were all evident during parts of games. However, there were shifts and even games during the OHL Cup that he was virtually invisible. In saying that, when McKenzie was on top of his game, he looked like a true superstar as he banged his body around, won endless board battles and controlled the pace of the game using his impressive puck skills and body positioning. The latter observations certainly hold more value to me as these skills are rare and high end but as he develops, it would be great to see him rev up his physicality and compete level to dominate like he should be able to.
Matthew Spencer, D (Oakville Rangers), 6-2, 190
OHL Cup Statistics: 6GP-0G-4A-4P
Easily my favourite defenseman at the OHL Cup, Matthew Spencer shouts “stud” defenseman. Already a poised, confident and extremely intelligent defenseman, Spencer looks like a seasoned OHL veteran now. If I could hazard a guess, I would declare Matt Spencer an early favourite as a top five pick for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. His skating is elite, his gap control and defensive positioning is unmatched, and his first pass is flawless. Oakville’s captain logged top minutes in all situations and a team is going to get an absolute workhorse and franchise defenseman in Matthew Spencer come April 6th.
Troy Henley, D (Oakville Rangers), 6-1, 200
OHL Cup Statistics: 7GP-1G-4A-5P
If Matthew Spencer was my OHL Cup top defenseman then teammate Troy Henley is a defenseman with arguably the highest upside. Originally a product of Comcast Hockey from the United States, Henley joined Oakville this season and immediately improved their blue line. He has massive amounts of potential as his game offers so many different facets that are important in hockey – skill, aggression, physical strength and leadership. Henley owns great feet that offer quick acceleration and lateral agility. He is a confident puck handler and distributes it very well. On the other side of the puck, Henley loves to engage himself physically and when he hits, he hits hard. Henley received an invite to the USNTP (U16) program but it appears he is committed to the Ontario Hockey League, making him a potential first round selection.
Jesse Barwell, RW (Oakville Rangers), 5-11, 175
OHL Cup Statistics: 7GP-2G-2A-4P
Jesse Barwell was the one player I made certain to put asterisks next to his name in my scouting notebook as he is a player I absolutely loved throughout the entirety of the showcase tournament. From conversations with people at the rink, it appears Barwell is slated as a potential mid-second round selection but I would be willing to select him much higher. On a stacked Oakville Rangers’ team, Barwell received secondary ice time behind bigger names like McKenzie, Craievich, and Petawabano but he was the team’s most consistent player from shift to shift, in my opinion. His puckhandling abilities are very impressive as he can dangle exceptionally well in tight spaces. Barwell’s ability to change pace quickly allows him to open up space to unleash a snapshot that features a quick release and pinpoint accuracy. To me, Barwell has all the elements to develop into a top scorer at the OHL level and his qualities are dynamic. For future references, be sure to mark these words – in a few years, I think we will see Barwell competing with some of the top names of this age group for scoring OHL titles.
Other Standout OHL Cup Performers:
Noah Robinson (F, Toronto Marlboros), Jack Webb (F, Toronto Marlboros), Ryan Hunt (F, Toronto Marlboros), Joshua Gagne (D, Toronto Marlboros), Justin Shoycet-McCully (F, Toronto Red Wings), Jeremy Helvig (G, Toronto Red Wings), Aaron O’Neill (F, TPH Thunder), Austin Alger (F, TPH Thunder), Scott Pedersen, (D, Waterloo Wolves), Gary Mantz, (F, Waterloo Wolves), Bryce Yetman (F, Whitby Wildcats), Tyler Boston (F, York Simcoe Express), Christian Dedonato (D, York Simcoe Express), Mark Bzowey (C, Oakville Rangers), Sean Kohler (LW, Oakville Rangers), Andrew Burns (D, Oakville Rangers), Adrian Clark (G, Oakville Rangers), Brendan McGlynn (G, Oakville Rangers)
Thanks for following the “Inside the Scout’s Notebook: 2013 OHL Cup” series as we conclude the spectacular 2013 OHL Showcase Cup tournament and look towards the upcoming OHL Priority Selection Draft, where many of these talented players will realize their dreams and take the next step in joining the Ontario Hockey League.
Please follow @RossyYoungblood for your #OHLDraft news.