For the third time in as many years, an underage player has been granted exceptional status in the Ontario Hockey League allowing Sean Day, a standout defenseman from Detroit Compuware, to enter the OHL Priority Selection Draft a year early. Day looks to join a group of exceptional players that include John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Connor McDavid who have all entered the OHL and developed into stars.
The Sean Day exceptional status plot continues to draw national interest as Saturday’s April 6th draft approaches. For the first time in exceptional status history, the player deemed “exceptional” is likely not going to go first overall…or second overall…or possibly even third overall. That’s right, talk around the OHL has many connected people hearing and saying that the first three picks in the draft are planning on passing on this smooth skating defenseman. Why you ask? That question cannot be accurately answered at this time but it is believed that Ottawa, Erie and Peterborough all have their eyes set on three different players, with tremendous talents of their own.
As tradition dictates, the first overall pick will be announced during the OHL Draft media day on Friday but we may not know Sean Day’s final location until Saturday morning when the 2013 OHL Priority Selection Draft officially commences.
In the following script, I have boldly provided my version of the 2013 OHL Mock Draft. Like most mock drafts and especially in major junior hockey where skill is not necessarily the principle dictator of a player’s draft location, there are bound to be mistakes. In all honesty, it’s a matter of when, not if, the following mock draft goes squirrely. Enjoy!
- High profiled Americans have been omitted due to the fact that many of their collegiate commitments usually results in these players sliding down the draft boards.
- The OHL Mock Draft Order is based on the OHL regular season final standings.
- The following is not a ranking but rather just a mock (prediction) draft. Just because Player A is selected ahead of Player B, does not indicate that I feel he is a better prospect.
1st – Ottawa 67’s – Travis Konecny, F (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, ALLIANCE)
Passing on Sean Day may appear irrational but Ottawa has been fairly vocal about their preference for the dynamic Travis Konecny. The highly competitive and offensive Konecny would certainly fill a need on forward as well. Blessed with elite skating skills and a ridiculously quick shot, Konecny is a speedy, creative and aggressive centerman that enjoys engaging in the physical game despite owning below average size. Ottawa is in the envious position of choosing between a skilled centreman and a smooth skating offensive defenseman. The world will find out Friday which route they choose to go.
Offensive Franchise OHL forward.
Personal Ranking: 2nd
2nd – Erie Otters – Dylan Strome, F (Toronto Marlboros, GTHL)
The Otters certainly could use an influx of talented defensemen and it seems crazy that Sherry Bassin would pass on Sean Day, who would become Erie’s second exceptional player in as many years, but it is being heavily reported that the Otters love forward Dylan Strome. The younger brother of 2011 5th overall Islanders selection, Ryan Strome, Dylan plays much bigger than his elder and owns the best vision and hockey sense of any forward in this draft class.
Playmaking Franchise OHL forward.
Personal Ranking: 3rd
3rd – Peterborough Petes – Matthew Spencer, D (Oakville Rangers, OMHA)
Spencer is one of the most complete and OHL-ready players available in the 2013 draft. It is difficult to identify a weakness for this big mobile defenseman that has the ability and physical frame to play in every situation. In two years’ time, I would not be surprised to see Matthew Spencer named as one of the 2015 NHL Draft class’ top prospects.
Two-way Franchise OHL Defenseman
Personal Ranking: 4th
4th – Mississauga Steelheads – Sean Day, D (Detroit Compuware, HPHL)
It will be a tragic day if Hockey Canada’s fourth ever exceptional player falls to the number four slot but it seems like a real possibility. In all of my years of watching minor midget hockey, Sean Day is the best skater hands down. In all areas of skating ability – acceleration, agility, top-end speed, edge work, etc. – Day walks away as the best of the best. His competitiveness and hockey sense are two areas of question but he likely owns the highest upside of any player in this draft class.
Offensive Franchise OHL Defenseman
Personal Ranking: 1st
5th – Kingston Frontenacs – Lawson Crouse, F (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, ALLIANCE)
Crouse was one of the most improved minor-midget players over the course of the draft year. The Frontenacs have the choice between two power forward types in Crouse and Brett McKenzie but my gut says they opt for the 6-foot-3 Crouse. He is a big aggressive winger with soft hands and a much improved heavy shot. His physical presence and strong finishing skills would fit in nicely on a young skilled Kingston squad.
Scoring Power forward
Personal Ranking: 5th
6th – Niagara Ice Dogs – Brett McKenzie, F (Oakville Rangers, OMHA)
The Ice Dogs will need to add some top-six forwards with Strome and Ritchie graduating to professional hockey. Fortunately, Niagara sits in a position where an impact player will surely fall to them and that talent could very well be Brett McKenzie. He is a big bodied forward with good puck skills and is at the top of his game when he is utilizing his size to win battles and gain position. McKenzie has the ability to dominate and his strong two-way game should see him drafted very early.
Two-way Power forward
Personal Ranking: 6th
7th – Sudbury Wolves – Mitchell Stephens, F (Toronto Marlboros, GTHL)
Stephens has received mixed reviews among OHL experts as his lack of consistency leaves many wanting more. However, Stephens has the skill and tools to become a true OHL star when he puts it all together. The speedster is among the draft’s best skaters and his offensive skills are extremely impressive – mainly his deft puck handling and quick shot release.
Speedy Scoring Centreman/Winger
Personal Ranking: 7th
8th – Saginaw Spirit – Kyle Capobianco, D (Oakville Rangers, OMHA)
Selecting offensive defenseman Kyle Capobianco, would surely fill a need for the Spirit but it would also provide the franchise with a rearguard with huge potential. Projected as a high-end puck-rushing defenseman, Capobianco is a treat to watch as he maneuvers around the rink escaping the opposition using his elite skating skills. Saginaw would certainly welcome an impact defender like Capobianco who could step right into the lineup and help the Spirit’s young forward core.
Swift Skating Offensive Defenseman
Personal Ranking: 14th
9th – Sarnia Sting – Nikita Korostelev, F (Toronto Jr. Canadiens, GTHL)
Graduate a star Russian forward. Draft another star Russian. Repeat. That has been the trend in Sarnia in the past few years and it could very well continue if Nikita Korostelev falls to the Sting at ninth overall. Korostelev is a Russian sniper playing out of the GTHL and his scoring ability would certainly be an attractive quality for Sarnia, a team looking to replace the majority of last season’s goals. Korostelev is a big winger who skates well, engages in physical play and has the offensive skills to become an impact top-line player at the OHL level.
Big Scoring forward
Personal Ranking: 8th
10th – North Bay (Brampton Battalion) – Hayden McCool, F (Whitby Wildcats, OMHA)
Rumblings have surfaced that Whitby forward Hayden McCool is being targeted inside the top 10 and it’s quite possible he ends up making his debut as a North Bay Battalion. Besides having the “coolest” name in the draft, Hayden McCool is a sizeable forward with plenty of raw potential. Smart and dedicated at both ends of the rink, McCool displays a good work ethic and willingness to improve. He owns advanced puck skills and has a real knack for unleashing one of his several dangerous shots.
Two-way versatile pivot
Personal Ranking: 17th
11th – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – Blake Speers, F (Soo Thunder, NOHA)
Speed is the name of the game for Blake Speers as this dymanic forward creates his scoring chances using his impressive acceleration and change in pace to fool the opposition. Projecting as more of a playmaker than a scorer, Speers possesses good vision and passes the puck exceptionally well which improves the play of his line-mates greatly. His hockey sense is very high as he picks up his defensive assignments and finds open areas of the ice well in the offensive zone. Speers has all the qualities to become one of the more productive players in this draft class.
Speedy playmaking centreman
Personal Ranking: 10th
12th – Guelph Storm – Troy Henley, D (Oakville Rangers, OMHA)
Looking to fill some voids on the blue line left from likely graduates in Andrey Pedan, Saverio Posa and Brock Beukeboom, Guelph could dip into the deep defensive pool and select Troy Henley, a high potential defenseman. Henley possesses admirable qualities that scouts look for in defensemen – good skating skills, aggressiveness and the ability to play in all situations. He owns fantastic puck skills and his ability to control the pace of the game is extremely impressive. Behind Day and Spencer, Troy Henley may have the next highest all-around upside of any other defensemen.
Raw Offensive and Physical Defenseman
Personal Ranking: 11th
13th – Kitchener Rangers – Mitchell Vande Sompel, D/F (London Jr. Knights Gold, ALLIANCE)
For a team looking for versatility and skill, they should look no further than London Gold’s Mitchell Vande Sompel, a player capable of excelling as a forward or a defenseman. Vande Sompel played the majority of his minor midget season as a defenseman and his skill is off the charts. An effortless skater, Vande Sompel cruises around the rink using great edgework and lateral agility. His ability to walk the line while handling the puck with ease is outstanding and is a true luxury on the powerplay. Vande Sompel is a great selection for a team looking for a skilled versatile player inside the top 20 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have one of the better OHL careers.
Versatile Offensive Defenseman/Forward
Personal Ranking: 9th
14th – Oshawa Generals – Cameron Lizotte, D (Nickel City Sons, NOHA)
Nickel City’s Cam Lizotte is a player who could be selected several spots higher, especially with several Northern teams in the mix at 7th, 10th and 11th. From a personal standpoint, I am extremely high on Cam Lizotte and feel as though he could become one of the OHL’s premiere shutdown defensemen. A physical defenseman that hits to hurt, Lizotte is a difficult player to play against. He excels at maintaining perfect gap control and limiting the time and space of attacking forwards. His ability to skate the puck out of trouble and execute clean crisp first passes projects him as a great puck moving defenseman.
Defensive Physical Defenseman
Personal Ranking: 12th
15th – Barrie Colts – Matthew Kreis, F (Halton Hurricanes, OMHA)
The first of two Kreis brothers, Matthew is the smooth skating forward who possesses high two-way upside. His standout game stems from an incredible compete level and advanced hockey sense. Kreis is always moving his feet pursuing the puck as a tenascious, yet skilled, forward who loves to win. His toolbox of competitive hockey skills includes a collection of dangerous shots, strong puck protection skills and a willingness to drive the net for dirty goals. Kreis is a forward who projects to be a responsible and productive player that can log tough minutes.
Competitive Skilled Pivot
Personal Ranking: 18th
16th – Plymouth Whalers – Ethan Szypula, F (London Jr. Knights Gold, ALLIANCE)
As my personal ranking (13th) of Szypula reflects, I really like his game and feel as though he has the ability and skills to become one of the more dynamic players from this class. Szypula has fantastic on-ice vision that complements his impressive creativity and tricky stickhandling abilities nicely. He was the offensive leader on the London Knights Gold team and his ability to control the pace of the game with poise and confidence will see him selected high.
Creative Dynamic Offensive Forward
Personal Ranking: 13th
17th – Owen Sound Attack – Garrett McFadden, D (Grey Bruce Highlanders, OMHA)
Teams looking for a mobile defenseman capable of leading the offensive attack with strong skating ability should look towards Highlanders’ blue liner Garrett McFadden. He projects as one of the better powerplay quarterback defensemen of this draft class as his puck distribution skills are strong. He is a bit undersized but he shows a willingness to engage physically and does so effectively.
Offensive Puck Moving Defenseman
Personal Ranking: 19th
18th – Belleville Bulls – Michael Davies, F (Southern Tier Admirals, OMHA)
One of the best shooters in the entire draft class, Davies knows how to score goals either by ripping off a quick shot or sneaking into a scoring area unnoticed. He projects as a top-line scoring winger and creates the majority of his scoring chances with his advanced puck skills. Davies will be an interesting player to follow during the 2013 OHL Draft as his skills probably warrant a selection much higher than this eighteenth position.
Scoring Offensive Forward
Personal Ranking: 16th
19th – London Knights – Connor Schlichting, D (York Simcoe Express, OMHA)
Led by the Hunter brothers, the London Knights are always one of the more interesting teams to watch at the draft and that will not change this year. Blessed with great organizational depth at all positions, the Knights can afford to take a homerun swing at a highly ranked American prospect in hopes of him coming North in a few years. There are certainly plenty of names that are appealing with Zach Werenski, Jordan Greenway and Luke Kirwin likely all available (the latter Kirwin would be my guess). However, to keep this mock draft fair, I have the Knights selecting a high potential defenseman in Connor Schlichting. He is a big bodied puck transitioning defenseman with a high panic threshold. His powerful slap shot and accurate puck distribution abilities allow him to be an effective powerplay contributor as well. My gut says London drafts a high-end skilled American but Connor Schlichting’s potential should grab their attention as well.
Personal Ranking: 24th
Other Personal Favourites to Watch:
- Alphabetical Order
- Not an extensive list
- All these players are high on my list
Jesse Barwell, F (Oakville Rangers, OMHA) *15th ranked*
Carson Brookshaw, F (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, ALLIANCE)
Noah Bushnell, F (Sun County Panthers, ALLIANCE)
Adam Craievich, F (Oakville Rangers, OMHA)
Josh Coyle, F (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, ALLIANCE)
Joshua Defarias, D (Toronto Marlboros, GTHL) *25th ranked*
Justin Fazio, G (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, ALLIANCE)
TJ Fergus, D (Toronto Jr. Canadiens, GTHL)
Trent Fox, F (London Jr. Knights Gold, ALLIANCE)
Austin Gerhart, F (Barrie Jr. Colts, OMHA)
Sam Harding, F (York Simcoe Express, OMHA) *24th ranked*
Brendan Johnston, G (Chatham-Kent Cyclones, ALLIANCE)
Justin Lemcke, D (Whitby Wildcats, OMHA)
Tyler MacArthur, D (Barrie Jr. Colts, OMHA)
Mitch Marner, F (Don Mills Flyers, GTHL) *22nd ranked*
Brendan McGlynn, G (Oakville Rangers, OMHA)
Cullen Mercer, F (Huron-Perth Lakers, ALLIANCE)
Kyle Myllari, D (Ottawa Jr. Senators, OEMHL)
Jean Pascal Sabourin, G (Eastern Ontario Wild, OEMHL)
Lucas Smilsky, F (Barrie Jr. Colts, OMHA)
Connor Walters, D (Southern Tier Admirals, OMHA)
Colton White, D (London Jr. Knights Gold, ALLIANCE) *20th ranked*
Zach Wilkie, D (Toronto Jr. Canadiens, OMHA)
Please follow @RossyYoungblood as he breaks down the #OHLDraft and each pick on Saturday, April 6th (9:00 am EST).