The Ontario Hockey League draft class for the 2019 National Hockey League Draft was one of the worst ever. On the flip side, 2020 was one of the best classes to come out of the OHL. So, what’s in store for the 2021 Draft? At first glance, it’s a good class with some talented first round potential.
When the 2020-2021 season does begin, and that’s still a question on everyone’s mind because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have produced a list of players that definitely are worth keeping an eye on.
In no particular order:
Brandt Clarke – Defenceman – Barrie Colts
With exceptional mobility and speed, Clarke is almost like a fourth forward when transitioning to offence and jumping up into the play. It should come as no surprise since he models his game after Erik Karlsson. He plays a very poised game, patient with the puck, and rarely turns it over. He has excellent hockey senses and is a superb passer. His defensive game showed marked improvement as the season progressed. He gets back quickly because of his skating, has good gat control and is effective with his stick. And he doesn’t shy away from the physicality and began to be the player who initiated contact rather then the receiver as the season went on. Clarke finished the season with 6 goals and 32 assists in 57 games and was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team.
Mason McTavish – Center – Peterborough Petes
The offensively talented McTavish led all 2003 born players in goals and points despite not always getting the best offensive opportunities with the Petes, moving up and down the lineup. He’s a puck possession beast, seemingly having the puck on a string. He’s not shy about going end-to-end, is patient with the puck and is very adept at creating space. He reads the play extremely well and is able to find soft spots undetected. He is willing to drive the net with or without the puck. McTavish is a pure sniper with a pro caliber shot and release already. He’s already physically strong and yet there is still room for more. He’s also a top player in the faceoff circle. McTavish finished the season with 29 goals and 13 assists in 57 games and was named to the OHL Second All-Rookie Team.
Francesco Pinelli – Left Wing – Kitchener Rangers
At this point, it may not be a reach to say that Pinelli is the best two-way player out of the draft class and that ability coming straight from minor midget earned him the trust of the Rangers coaches. He’s a versatile player who can play both the wing and down the middle. He works hard from shift-to-shift and is not afraid to play a physical game. He has high hockey senses, is positionally sound and creates turnovers almost at will. He’s a strong skater with a unique ability to draw in defenders and make a perfect pass. He has a superb one-timer and can unleash it with accuracy and it is especially dangerous on the pp with space. He finished fourth among rookies with 18 goals and 23 assists in 59 games.
Brennan Othmann – Left Wing – Flint Firebirds
When watching Othmann play, it’s obvious his deadliest asset is his shot. He possesses and excellent one-timer and a snap shot that is deadly accurate with a superb release. Maybe it was a lack of confidence in his abilities, but he just didn’t use that shot enough as he chose to dish off rather then take his shot. That said, he is a very good playmaker as well, so maybe he was reading something else on the ice. One might raise the question if it’s his hockey sense/vision that comes into play. However, I believe it’s just a question of confidence in his ability to beat goaltenders and with a year under his belt, those questions will be answered. Othmann finished the season with 17 goals and 16 assists in 55 games and was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team.
Daniil Chayka – Defenceman – Guelph Storm
With a late 2002 birth date, Chayka will be in his third OHL season come his draft year and the young Russian has already made a name for himself. He is a smooth skater, plays in all situations and eats up huge minutes. Chayka is a pass first defender but is more then willing to jump into the play on offence. He has a good shot from the point but doesn’t try to overpower goaltenders and shoots with a purpose. Defensively his size and skating make him hard to beat one-on-one. Even at a young age, Chayka has shown excellent leadership qualities. Chayka finished the season with 11 goals and 23 assists in 56 games. He was named to the 2018-2019 OHL Second All-Rookie Team.
Brett Harrison – Center – Oshawa Generals
Harrison carries a big body at 6’3” but filling in the frame is a requirement. He’s near impossible to knock off of the puck and uses excellent body and stick position to protect the disc. He is a technically strong skater with good speed and has the ability to change gears and challenge defenders one-on-one. He is dynamite on his edgework which is surprising for a player of his size. Harrison also has an excellent shot that he can release in a split second and he is very deceptive with small positional changes to improve his angle. Harrison finished the year with 21 goals and 16 assists in 58 games.
Chase Stillman – Wing – Sudbury Wolves
While the attention in Sudbury was all on Quinton Byfield, Stillman quietly put up a very good rookie season. The son of former NHL’er Cory Stillman and younger brother of Riley, he comes from a family with hockey blood lines. He is a swift skater he has a high level of hockey smarts. Stillman is a coachable player – not because his father is a coach in Sudbury, he stayed with a billet family, but he took directions well from the older players. Expect Stillman to be one of the go-to guys for offence in Sudbury next season. He finished the year with 13 goals and 21 assists in 58 games. He was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team.
Photos courtesy of OHL Images