Weight: 185 Pounds
Date of birth: June 18, 2000
Hometown: Clarington, Ontario
Junior Draft: Round 3, 54th overall, 2016 OHL Priority Selection: Round 8, 123rd 2017 USHL Draft
NHL Central Scouting pre-season: C Prospect
NHL Central Scouting mid-term: 185 North American Skaters
NHL Central Scouting final rank: 173 North American Skaters
There is an impressive list of OJHL alumni who, although weren’t drafted out of the OJHL, kicked off their junior careers in the OJHL (or the previously known as OPJHL). The list includes the likes of John Tavares, Brent Burns, Corey Perry, Ryan O’Reilly, Mark Giordano, James Neal, Mike Fisher, Josh Bailey and many more.
The OJHL is a stepping stone to other, higher leagues, usually prior to their draft years. But a few do get drafted right out of the OJHL.
Which brings me to Wellington Dukes’ defenceman Mason Snell.
Snell is committed to play NCAA Hockey with Penn State University for the upcoming 2018-2019 season. As you are all aware, the NCAA considers Major Junior players professionals, so the OHL was not an option for him and his desire to get an education. His only other alternative would have been to play with Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League, who drafted him in 2017.
Snell played his Minor Midget AAA hockey during the 2015-2016 season with his hometown Clarington Toros. He appeared in 28 games and put up impressive numbers with 5 goals and 24 points and 96 penalty minutes. That was impressive enough for the North Bay Battalion to use the 54th overall pick at the 2016 OHL Draft to select him. That’s a high pick in the OHL and for a defenceman on a Stan Butler team.
The following season, Snell made the jump to the OJHL and the Whitby Fury. He appeared in 45 games as a rookie and scored 3 goals while assisting on 13 others. He would add another goal and two helpers in seven playoff games.
This season, Snell scored a goal and 3 assists in 13 games with the Fury before the Dukes, who were poised to make a championship run came calling and made a three-for-one deal to acquire the blueliner.
And the rest as they say, is history.
Snell led the Dukes from the back end and in 30 games scored 5 goals and 13 helpers to go along with 62 penalty minutes. But it was during the Dukes big game playoff runs that Snell stood out the most. In 25 playoff games he scored once while adding twelve assists and finished tied for fifth among blueliners during the playoffs en route to an OHA Buckland Cup Championship.
Next up was the Dudley Hewitt Cup. The three Junior A Champions in Ontario and a host team compete in a tournament to determine the champion with the winner moving on to the RBC Cup and the national Junior A Championship. The Dukes steamrolled their way through to a championship with Snell setting up four goals in six games. He was named to the All Tournament Team.
The Dukes made it to the final, losing 4-2 to the host Chilliwack Chiefs. Snell made quite the impression on watchers with his play. He scored twice in six games at the championship, but it was his all-around game that drew the attention and thus nominated for best defenceman at the RBC Cup.
So, what does Snell bring to the table?
He’s a bit of a project, and with potentially four years at Penn State and a couple more in the American Hockey League, he could be the perfect example of a late-round find for a team who has plenty of time and other options in their system already to allow him to develop at his own pace. It’s just my opinion, but I would rather spend a pick on someone like that then one you hope develops quicker, if at all.
Snell is a smooth skating blueliner who plays the game with a lot of confidence. He doesn’t rattle under the pressure of the opposition forecheck. Instead, he surveys his options and can skate the puck out of danger or deliver the puck with a perfect pass up ice. He’s not afraid to jump up into the play and he picks his opportunities well.
Snell has been an excellent powerplay quarterback at the OJHL level. He possesses a very good shot that is hard and accurate and he delivers with a purpose – putting it in spots for a rebound opportunity or where his teammates can get a stick on it. But he is most dangerous setting up teammates. He finds open lanes and delivers the pass quickly, sometimes without looking.
On the defensive side, Snell positions himself well. His skating allows him to keep players to the outside. He gets his stick into lanes quickly but relies on his skating to get there. At 6’ he’s not small but needs to add some strength for those 50-50 battles along the walls. He boxes out opponents well and gets plenty of PK duty because of his abilities. He can also create offence from the backend on the PK.
When it comes to Snell, NHL teams are going to have to have some patience.