Smith and Veleno named Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Captains

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with Sherwin-Williams today announced the captains and alternate captains for the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game which takes place on Thursday January 25 hosted by the Guelph Storm.

Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs and Joe Veleno of the Drummondville Voltigeurs have both been named captains for the 23rd annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL Draft eligible players as selected by NHL teams.  Smith will lead Team Orr along with alternate captains Jared McIsaac of the Halifax Mooseheads and Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts.  Veleno will lead Team Cherry with alternates Evan Bouchard of the London Knights, and Ryan Merkley of the Storm.

Top Prospects Game

“It’s an honour to be selected to be the captain of Team Orr,” Smith said. “I’ve watched the Top Prospects Game on TV for years now and have watched friends and teammates participate. It was a goal of mine at the beginning of the season to make the roster and to be named captain makes it all that much more special. I’m looking forward to competing against and with many of my buddies from across the CHL as well as meeting some new players.”

A 17-year-old from Lloydminster, Alberta, Smith is playing in his second full season with the Chiefs after being selected by the club first overall in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft.  The defenceman has already established career-highs in all offensive categories this season with six goals and 37 assists for 43 points in 44 games.  Internationally, Smith captained Team Canada to a silver medal finish at the 2016 Youth Winter Olympic games, and also served as captain for Team Canada Black at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge earning a silver medal and tournament all-star honours.  Most recently he was an alternate captain at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial helping Canada capture gold.

“Just to be there with all the other prospects means a lot to me and, to be captain, is something very special for myself,” Veleno said. “I think it’s a very special event for players like us who will probably end up getting drafted this summer. It’ll be fun, I’m super excited and proud to be named captain!”

An 18-year-old from Kirkland, Quebec, Veleno is playing in his third QMJHL season after becoming the league’s first player granted exceptional status in 2015 prior to being selected first overall by the Saint John Sea Dogs.  Before joining the Voltigeurs in December, Veleno served as captain for the defending QMJHL champion Sea Dogs where he tallied 114 points in 138 games.  The forward has 10 assists in his first eight games in Drummondville helping the Voltigeurs put together a seven-game win-streak.  Earlier this season Veleno competed for Team QMJHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series, and in August served as Canada’s captain at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial winning gold.

Over the past 22 years, 13 Chiefs and eight Voltigeurs have competed in this event.  Smith is the first from his club to be named captain, while Veleno follows Sean Couturier who captained Team Cherry at the 2011 event in Toronto.

Team Orr leaders McIsaac and Svechnikov have also represented their countries on the international stage in recent months.  McIsaac, a 17-year-old defenceman from Truro, Nova Scotia, played in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series and was a member of Canada’s gold medal winning Ivan Hlinka team.  Svechnikov, a 17-year-old from Barnaul, Russia, competed at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.  McIsaac is playing in his second QMJHL season after being the second overall pick in 2016 and currently has 26 points through 42 games.  This is Svechnikov’s rookie season in Barrie after being chosen first overall by the Colts in the 2017 CHL Import Draft.  In 21 games the forward has 16 goals and 10 assists for 26 points.

Team Cherry leaders Bouchard and Merkley are two of the OHL’s top offensive defencemen and are currently tied for most points at the position with 50.  Bouchard, an 18-year-old from Oakville, Ontario, was recently named Knights captain playing in his third season since being chosen in the first round of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.  He competed in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series and has a career-high 15 goals and 35 assists through 43 games.  Merkley, a 17-year-old from Mississauga, Ontario, was the first overall pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection and earned OHL Rookie of the Year honours last season.  He helped Canada win gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial and so far this season has scored 11 goals with 39 assists through 42 games.

Since 2010, Team Cherry captains have included Nolan Patrick, Jakob Chychrun, Anthony Beauvillier, Sam Reinhart, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Murray, Sean Couturier, and Taylor Hall, while recent Team Orr captains include Nico Hischier, Matthew Tkachuk, Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Seth Jones, Colton Sissons, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Tyler Seguin.

Click here to see full Team Cherry and Team Orr rosters for the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

The 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner Sherwin-Williams, and CHL associate sponsors CIBC and Cooper Tires.  The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports. Tickets are still available through the box office at 1-519-837-9690 or visit Ticketmaster to purchase online. For more information please visit http://sherwin-williamstopprospects.ca.   Ask Sherwin-Williams™ For 150 years, Sherwin-Williams has been an industry leader in the development of technologically advanced paint and coatings. As North America’s largest specialty retailer of paint and painting supplies, Sherwin-Williams is dedicated to supporting both do-it-yourselfers and painting professionals with exceptional and exclusive products, resources to make confident colour selections and expert, personalized service at its more than 4,000 neighbourhood stores. For more information, visit sherwin-williams.ca. Join Sherwin-Williams on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tumblr.

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Cherry and Lindros to Coach Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with Sherwin-Williams today announced the coaching staffs for the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game set for Thursday January 25, 2018, hosted by the Ontario Hockey League’s Guelph Storm.

Top Prospects Game

CHL alumni including Canadian hockey icon Don Cherry and 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Eric Lindros will serve as head coaches for the 23rd annual showcase that features 40 of the top CHL prospects eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft.  Team Cherry will also include the legendary Ottawa 67’s coaching pair of Brian Kilrea and Bert O’Brien along with Mississauga Steelheads head coach and general manager James Richmond.  Lindros, who will lead Team Orr, is joined behind the bench by members of the Storm coaching staff that include head coach and general manager George Burnett, associate coach Jake Grimes, and assistant coach Luca Caputi.

“The CHL is honoured to have Don Cherry and Eric Lindros part of the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game,” said CHL President David Branch.  “Don is one of the key architects of this event from the inaugural game in 1996 to building the showcase it is today, and Eric is one of our league’s all-time greatest players whose contributions to the game are evidenced by his Hockey Hall of Fame induction last season.  Their participation in Guelph will certainly make this a very special experience for the players and for the fans.”

Before establishing his legacy as the star of Hockey Night in Canada, Cherry was a Memorial Cup champion as a member of the 1953 Barrie Flyers.  Earlier this season the Kingston, Ont., native was named Honourary Chairman of the CHL’s 100th Mastercard Memorial Cup Celebration large in part for his longstanding and unwavering support of Canadians in uniform which has earned him Honourary Lifetime Membership into the Royal Canadian Legion and the appointment as an Honourary Patricia by the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.  Recognized with Bobby Orr as a builder of the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, Cherry will be participating in this event for the 17th time since 1996.  The 1976 Jack Adams Trophy winner holds an all-time record of 5-11 which includes four head-to-head wins against Orr (1996, 1998, 2003, 2010) in 13 games between 1996 and 2016, a win over John Davidson in 2005, plus losses opposite Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark in 2011, and Mike McPhee in 2013.  Since 2006, the winning team has been presented with the Don Cherry and Bobby Orr CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Trophy engraved with the names of every player to ever participate in this prestigious event.

Lindros earned his prestigious Hockey Hall of Fame induction for achieving success at all levels of the game.  The London, Ont., native hoisted the Memorial Cup as a member of the 1990 Oshawa Generals, received CHL Player of the Year honours in 1991 with 149 points including 71 goals and 78 assists in 57 games, and was chosen first overall in the 1991 NHL Draft.  Over the course of his distinguished NHL career, Lindros accumulated career totals of 372 goals and 493 assists for 865 points. The 6-time NHL All-star was the recipient of both the Lester B. Pearson award and the Hart Trophy.  He represented Canada on multiple occasions including the World Junior tournaments winning gold in both 1990 and 1991.  He was also a member of the championship team in the 1991 Canada Cup, played in the World Cup in 1996, and represented Canada in three separate Olympic games winning both silver and gold medals.  As the Honorary Chair for the annual See the Line symposium, Lindros continues to make a difference with his support as an advocate of world-class sport concussion research, care and awareness. In 2016, he was appointed to the Rowan’s Law Advisory committee tasked with implementing Canada’s first concussion related legislation, and in 2017 received the Meritorious Service Medal, one of the highest civil decorations within the Canadian system of honours.  His number 88 jersey was retired by the Generals in 2008 and will soon hang from the rafters in Philadelphia following a ceremony scheduled by the Flyers for January 18 when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Team Cherry will feature members of the host Storm including forward Cam Hillis and defenceman Ryan Merkley, while Lindros’ Team Orr fittingly includes Generals Allan McShane and Serron Noel.  Captains and alternates for both teams will be announced at a later date.

2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Staff:

TEAM CHERRY :

Head Coach – Don Cherry

Assistant Coach – Brian Kilrea

Assistant Coach – Bert O’Brien

Assistant Coach – James Richmond (Mississauga Steelheads)

Athletic Therapist – Amy Mausser (Sarnia Sting)

Equipment Manager – Russ Hammond (Guelph Storm)

TEAM ORR :

Head Coach – Eric Lindros

Assistant Coach – George Burnett (Guelph Storm)

Assistant Coach – Jake Grimes (Guelph Storm)

Assistant Coach – Luca Caputi (Guelph Storm)

Athletic Therapist – Andy Brown (Owen Sound Attack)

Equipment Manager – J.R. Grant (Windsor Spitfires)

All 14 CHL players chosen in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft competed in last year’s game played in Quebec including first overall pick Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads who captained Team Orr opposite Team Cherry who was led by captain Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings selected second overall in June.  In 22 years, a total of 307 CHL players from this event have been chosen by NHL clubs in the first round of the NHL Draft representing close to 47% of all players selected.  Since the event was first introduced in 1996 the game has featured 14 players selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft including Hischier, Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, Marc-Andre Fleury, Rick Nash, Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Thornton, and Chris Phillips.

The 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner Sherwin-Williams, and CHL associate sponsors CIBC and Cooper Tires.  The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports. Tickets are still available through the box office at 1-519-837-9690 or visit Ticketmaster to purchase online. For more information please visit http://sherwin-williamstopprospects.ca.   Ask Sherwin-Williams™ For 150 years, Sherwin-Williams has been an industry leader in the development of technologically advanced paint and coatings. As North America’s largest specialty retailer of paint and painting supplies, Sherwin-Williams is dedicated to supporting both do-it-yourselfers and painting professionals with exceptional and exclusive products, resources to make confident colour selections and expert, personalized service at its more than 4,000 neighbourhood stores. For more information, visit sherwin-williams.ca. Join Sherwin-Williams on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tumblr.

Rasmus Sandin – Soo Greyhounds – Player Profile

Height: 5’11”

Weight:  190 pounds

Date of birth: March 7, 2000

Hometown: Uppsala, Sweden

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 52nd overall, 2017 CHL Import Draft

Much of the 2018 National Hockey League Draft chatter, when talking about Ontario Hockey League defencemen, has been centered around the Guelph Storm’s Ryan Merkley and the London Knights’ Evan Bouchard.

Don’t look now, but here comes Rasmus Sandin of the Soo Greyhounds.

While Sandin isn’t considered in some circles to be in the same class as Merkley or Bouchard, there is a compelling case to be made that he could very well be the second defenceman taking from the OHL. Yours truly is firmly on that bandwagon.

Sandin, Rasmus (1)
Rasmus Sandin. Photo courtesy of the Ontario Hockey League.

If one wasn’t convinced earlier in the season, then the admirable job Sandin has done in the absence of the Greyhounds’ top defenceman Conor Timmins, who is representing Canada at the World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York should be drawing your attention. In recognition of his performance, he was named OHL Rookie of the Month for December.

Sandin wasn’t an unknown. Coming into this season, he was ranked as a B Prospect by NHL Central Scouting on their Players to Watch List.  On their updated list in November, Sandin was among 139 Canadian Hockey League players listed, this time as an A Prospect.  (B prospects are considered a second or third round pick while an A prospect is considered a first-round pick.)

Sandin was the 52nd overall pick at the CHL Import Draft in 2017. But Sandin was under a contractual obligation with Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League for this season. He appeared in five games in Sweden’s top league (one assist) before Greyhounds General Manage Kyle Raftis could secure his services. Raftis worked diligently for some time to make it come to fruition.

What exactly have the Greyhounds done since his arrival? Well, he helped solidify their blue line for one thing. And the Greyhounds have gone on to win 23 of the 24 games he’s been in the lineup – 23 straight and 2 shy of the OHL record held by the Kitchener Rangers.

I’m not about to suggest that is all due to Rasmus Sandin. However, for a team to go on such an amazing run, you need 20 players all pulling in the same direction and playing almost flawlessly on any given night. And Sandin gives you that.

Last season, Sandin played in Sweden’s top junior league, Super Elite League, with Brynas and in 36 games scored 3 goals and added 18 assists. He also captained Sweden’s entry at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 where he had 2 assists in 6 games and captured Gold with Sweden.

Sandin’s excellent leadership qualities were at the forefront again in August as he was named Sweden’s captain for their squad at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial. The Swede’s would capture a Bronze at the tournament that begins the year for draft eligible players. He would register 3 assists in 5 games.

Internationally, Sandin has also represented Sweden at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 tournaments.

As with most sub-six-foot defencemen, questions arise about size. But at 190 pounds, he has the bulk most of his peers are still trying to add on. He has the upper body strength to engage physically while battling along the wall or in front of his goal. While he isn’t a “physical defenceman” he can separate players from the puck and uses his strength to protect the puck. He shows no signs of playing timid and will absorb the hit to make a play.

While there are also questions about a lack of high end speed or an explosive first step, it’s not something that gets him into trouble. He’s not a slow skater by any means and it is something he can continue to work on to improve.

But he’s also a very smart skater, skating smartly to conserve his energy which allows him to eat up valuable minutes. He controls his edges very well, has very good lateral movement, pivots and turns very well and skates backwards with relative ease.

Smart is an adjective you will hear a lot about Sandin. Any disadvantage he has, he overcomes because of it. In the defensive zone he possesses excellent gap control with near flawless positioning with his body or very active stick. He is very adept at angling players out and keeping them to the outside, although he can sometimes be beaten on the outside by a speedy forward.

Sandin is excellent at retrieving pucks. He plays a calm, unrushed game. He can clear the zone with an excellent, crisp, tape-to-tape first pass enabling him to elude the forecheck effectively. He stretches the ice extremely well and can “lead” teammates with a perfect pass. But he can also skate out of danger with an uncanny knack to slow the pace down, and then reads and reacts patiently. He is also an effective penalty killer and gets quality PK time with the Greyhounds.

Offensively, Sandin isn’t as flashy as Merkley or Bouchard. But at the time of writing this, he leads all OHL rookies in scoring and is third only to Bouchard and Merkley in offense from the blue line among draft eligible players, just shy of a point-per-game pace. He’s tenth among all draft eligible players in assists, while playing fewer games.

Again, he uses his hockey smarts and knows when to jump into the play to create offense. He knows when to pinch in and go down low and rarely gets beaten. He can quarterback the powerplay and makes excellent passes. He doesn’t possess an overpowering or heavy shot, but he can get it off with a purpose, whether looking for a deflection or to create a rebound.

You can certainly make an argument that he is the best two-way defender available from the OHL and you wouldn’t get much of an argument.

I had the opportunity to have a lengthy chat with Rasmus’ father Patric Sandin about Rasmus the hockey player and Rasmus the person.

The elder Sandin told us that Rasmus is self taught in a lot of ways.

“When he was three years old he used to borrow his moms inline size 8 skates and skate all over the house with absolute full control. He learned to ride a bicycle when he was turning 5 without any help.” He added, “first time I saw him on a bicycle he was riding his moms bicycle downhill in full speed and he was only 5!! Crazy kid.”

Rasmus is also very family oriented and close with his family. His older brother Linus, who is four years older and plays for Rogle of the Swedish Hockey League has had a major influence on him. Patric told us “Linus has always let Rasmus to be with him and play with the older guys.”

It speaks volumes to Rasmus’ competitiveness and willingness to be the best he can be:

“When Linus was going to a training camp at 11 years old, Rasmus also wanted to go even though he was only 7. We told him ‘if he could tie his own skates properly he could go and if the camp was willing to have a boy who was several years younger to sleep over and compete with the older guys’. Rasmus directly started to practice tying his own skates and after two days hard work he managed to do that. He went to the camp with the much older boys and after that he has always been independent and competed with older kids.”

That independence would come in handy and in very short order for Rasmus.

“‘He is the most mature boy I ever met’ is something I hear from people who meet Rasmus. He has been living by himself since he was 14 years old when he played for Modo and after that he moved to Brynas when he was 15. At 17 he got a contract and moved to Rogle with his brother. After five games with Rogle in SHL he decided to move to SSM because he was absolutely confident that it would make him a better hockey player.”

But how does a “child” survive without mom’s home cooking? “He is an excellent cook, loves to make a nice steak with belongings and crossed asparagus and a good sauce. He always takes a picture of it and sends me that picture. There is nothing he can’t do if you ask Rasmus himself.” Said Patric.

“He really loves his family and is very close with his brother. Rasmus is the whole package – not just hockey – I think. He always stands up for those who need help whatever it is. He is a good friend I think. We are really proud of our two boys. Not just of the hockey… especially that they are really nice and good to other people.”

And proud parents they should be.

OHL Writers Draft Eligible Player of the Month December

It seems like the easiest thing to do would be to take November’s write-up, change a couple of names, and use it for December.

But how much fun would that be?

Barrie Colts superstar and consensus top-two pick for the 2018 National Hockey League Draft Andrei Svechnikov returned from injury and appeared in 6 games scoring 4 goals and 3 assists before leaving to represent Russia at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo where he has 5 assists to date.

Adam Liska of the Kitchener Rangers posted 4 goals and 4 assists in just 6 games before he departed for Buffalo to represent his native Slovakia.

I wanted to specifically recognize those two players, but I also wanted to take the whole month into consideration without taking into consideration what was happening at the World Juniors.

Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

There are a few players that deserve recognition. Akil Thomas of the Niagara IceDogs posted 4 goals and 8 assists in 10 games and is currently riding a 6-game point streak. Barrett Hayton has been huge in helping the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds stretch their winning streak to 23 games in the absence of Boris Katchouk. Hayton registered 5 goals and 8 assists in 11 games.

Like November there are also two dynamic defencemen in the picture: Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm and Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Merkley has 3 goals and 10 assists in 11 games and leads the Storm in scoring. He also had a 6-game point streak where he scored 3 goals and 8 assists.

Bouchard notched 5 goals and added 11 assists in 11 games and is tied for his team lead in points. Bouchard has an active point streak of 6 games heading into January with 3goals and 7 assists and now leads all draft eligible players in points as well as a large lead in shots on goal.

Like November however, I must go with one of the two defencemen who run their team’s offence. But like November, it’s not just about the offence and I have to once again go with Bouchard.

Bouchard finished December with a plus-7. He averaged over 30 minutes per game playing in all situations with some very clutch offence. He notched 3 game winning goals, two if them coming in overtime while setting up 2 game winning goals, one in overtime.

Bouchard was named the game’s first star once, second star once and third star twice in December.

Player of the Month

Evan Bouchard – London Knights (November)

Brady Hinz – Sarnia Sting (October)

Matthew Struthers – Owen Sound Attack (September)

OHL Draft Eligible Statistical Leaders: December

Welcome to 2018!

Now that we’ve entered the new year, let’s look at the leaders among the Ontario Hockey League players eligible for the 2018 National Hockey League Draft.

With Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts missing time first due to injury and then the World Junior Championships, it’s left a wide-open race for the leaderboard in several categories.

Andrei Svechnikovof the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

As was the case in December, the two players who benefited most by Svechnikov’s absence were a pair of highly touted defencemen, Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm and Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. It’s been a see-saw, back and forth battle between the pair with Bouchard barely coming out on top at the end of December with 46 points, two more than Merkley. The latter held a one-point advantage at the end of November.

The absence of Svechnikov has also left the goal scoring department in a tight race, that is until he returns to action. Aidan Dudas of the Owen Sound Attack leads with 16 goals in 36 games. That’s just three more goals than Nathan Dunkley of the Kingston Frontenacs who comes in tenth with 13 goals.

Not to be lost in that group is Svechnikov’s 14 goals in 16 games. And no one comes close to his .88 goals-per-game. Serron Noel of the Oshawa Generals follows up in goals-per-game with 15 goals in 31 games, or .48 goals per game.

Here is the list of leaders in a variety of categories. Only players eligible for the NHL Draft for the first time are listed. We take great care in compiling the stats, but as is always the case, refer to the OHL website for official stats.

Points Leaders
Player Team GP G A Pts
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 13 33 46
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 36 10 34 44
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 35 10 28 38
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 37 10 28 38
Aiden Dudas Owen Sound Attack 35 16 21 37
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 36 15 19 34
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 13 20 33
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 36 10 23 33
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 36 14 18 32
Damien Giroux Saginaw Spirit 35 14 16 30
Goal Scoring Leaders
Player Team GP G GPG
Aiden Dudas Owen Sound Attack 36 16 0.44
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 36 15 0.42
Serron Noel Oshawa Generals 31 15 0.48
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 36 14 0.39
Damien Giroux Saginaw Spirit 35 14 0.40
Kody Clark Ottawa 67’s 32 14 0.44
Pavel Gogolev Peterborough Petes 34 14 0.41
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 16 14 0.88
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 13 0.36
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 13 0.42
Assist Leaders
Player Team GP A APG
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 36 34 0.94
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 33 0.92
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 35 28 0.80
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 37 28 0.76
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 36 23 0.64
Aiden Dudas Owen Sound Attack 35 21 0.60
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 20 0.65
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 36 19 0.53
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 36 18 0.50
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 24 17 0.71
Defencemen Point Leaders
Player Team GP G A Pts
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 13 33 46
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 36 10 34 44
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 24 4 17 21
Caleb Everett Saginaw Spirit 26 4 12 16
Giovanni Vallati Kitchener Rangers 34 3 12 15
Declan Chisholm Peterborough Petes 29 2 12 14
Peter Stratis Ottawa 67’s 37 4 8 12
Kevin Bahl Ottawa 67’s 37 1 11 12
Plus/Minus Leaders
Player Team GP +/-
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 24 +19
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 +17
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 36 +15
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 +14
Ryan Roth Soo Greyhounds 37 +13
William Sirman Windsor Spitfires 34 +12
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 16 +10
Tyler Tucker Barrie Colts 28 +10
Alec Regula London Knights 36 +9
Brett Jacklin Soo Greyhounds 28 +8
Penalty Minutes Leaders
Player Team GP PIM M/G
Kevin Bahl Ottawa 67’s 37 54 1.46
Tyler Tucker Barrie Colts 28 53 1.89
Daylon Groulx Owen Sound Attack 28 52 1.86
Curtis Douglas Windsor Spitfires 33 41 1.24
Max Grondin Saginaw Spirit 33 41 1.24
Dawson Baker Sudbury Wolves 36 40 1.11
Merrick Rippon Mississauga Steelheads 37 39 1.05
Faceoff Leaders – minimum 150 faceoffs
Player Team GP FOA FOW %
David Levin Sudbury Wolves 19 187 105 56.1
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 412 223 54.1
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 36 565 302 53.5
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 37 808 431 53.3
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 35 555 293 52.8
Aiden Dudas Owen Sound Attack 35 509 261 51.3
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 36 730 374 51.2
Mitchell Hoelscher Ottawa 67’s 36 213 108 50.7
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 36 598 301 50.3
Matthew Struthers Owen Sound Attack 32 404 202 50.0
Barret Kirwin Guelph Storm 36 526 262 49.8
Longest Goal Scoring Streak
Player Team From To Gms Goals
Brady Hinz Sarnia Sting 10/9 10/19 5 7
Kody Clark Ottawa 67’s 10/12 10/21 5 6
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 11/26 12/3 4 5
Blade Jenkins Saginaw Spirit 10/29 11/4 4 6
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 12/8 12/15 3 3
Longest Assist Streak
Player Team From To Gms Assts
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 10/22 11/16 9 13
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 9/30 10/19 8 10
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 10/27 11/5 6 9
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 12/7 12/31 6 6
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 11/24 12/6 6 8
Longest Point Streak
Player Team From To Gms Pts
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 10/6 11/10 14 20
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 11/19 12/15 10 16
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 10/22 11/16 9 17
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 9/29 10/19 9 15
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 11/19 12/3 7 14
Shooting Percentage
Player Team GP G S %
Serron Noel Oshawa Generals 31 15 53 28.3
Brady Hinz Sarnia Sting 36 13 55 23.6
Nathan Dunkley Kingston Frontenacs 31 13 55 23.6
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 36 14 62 22.6
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 16 14 64 21.9
Shots On Goal Leaders
Player Team GP SOG
Evan Bouchard London Knights 36 155
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 35 129
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 36 125
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 36 113
Riley Damiani Kitchener Rangers 36 97
Goaltenders Leaders – Goals Against Average
Player Team GP Min GA Avg
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 9 461 24 3.12
Jordan Kooy London Knights 10 456 25 3.29
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 7 362 20 3.31
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 25 1382 89 3.86
x x
Goaltending Leaders – Save Percentage
Player Team GP SH  SVS SV%
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 9 225 201 0.893
Jordan Kooy London Knights 10 229 204 0.891
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 7 181 161 0.890
Mario Peccia Oshawa Generals 7 183 160 0.874
Marshall Frappier Sudbury Wolves 10 302 264 0.874
Goaltending Leaders – Wins
Player Team GP W L OL
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 25 7 14 1
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 9 5 1 1
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 7 5 1 1
Cameron Lamour Saginaw Spirit 7 3 2 0
Mario Peccia Oshawa Generals 7 2 4 0
Goaltending Leaders – Shutouts
Player Team GP SO
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 9 1
Mario Peccia Oshawa Generals 7 1

Allan McShane – Oshawa Generals – Player Profile

Height:  5’11”

Weight:  187 pounds

Date of birth: February 14, 2000

Hometown: Collingwood, Ontario

Position: C/LW

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 19th overall, 2016 Priority Selection (Erie Otters)

Oshawa Generals’ forward Allan McShane played his minor midget hockey with the Toronto Marlboros during the 2015-2016 season where he put up very good offensive numbers with 30 goals and 28 assists in 55 games. That offensive output led the Erie Otters to select McShane in the first round of the 2016 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection, using their 19th overall pick.

The following season, McShane would make the Otters’ roster right out of camp. He would appear in 33 games for Erie and notched 7 goals and 16 assists for 23 points.

Allan McShane of the Oshawa Generals. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Allan McShane of the Oshawa Generals. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

A mid season trade would send McShane to the Oshawa Generals. McShane was the focal point in a deal that sent Anthony Cirelli to the Otters in their quest for an OHL and Memorial Cup Championship.

McShane would go on to appear in 29 games for the Generals scoring 10 goals and adding another 11 assists. His 16 goals on the campaign ranked him 6th among rookies, while his 27 assists left him tied for 3rd and his 44 points 5th. He would be named to the OHL First All-Rookie squad.

Internationally, McShane has represented Canada at the Under-16 (4 goals, 6 assists in 6 games) and the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 (3 goals, 2 assists in 6 games). He was also an offensive force at the OHL Cup scoring 5 goals and 8 assists in 13 games. He helped his team capture silver in all 3 events.

Coming into this season, McShane would find himself on the National Hockey League Central Scouting’s players to watch list as a B prospect – typically a second or third round pick. On Central’s updated list where 139 Canadian Hockey League players made the cut in November, some were surprised to still find him as a B prospect and expected a rise in the rankings like teammate Serron Noel received.

McShane may just be the second-best playmaker out of the OHL draft group behind only top-2 consensus pick Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts.

While McShane lacks an explosive first step and high-end speed, he navigates around the offensive zone because of his shiftiness, the ability to go undetected and excellent hockey IQ and anticipation. Once he receives the puck, he has excellent possession skills and excellent patience which allows time for the play to develop. He also has underrated strength despite being a “smaller” forward. Fear of battling along the walls or driving to the net with or without the puck does not exist in McShane.

Despite the excellent playmaking abilities, McShane can sometimes be seen as having a shoot-first mentality. Being selfish in certain situations can only lead to good things. He possesses a deceptively good shot that he can get off in stride or on his back skate which can cause trouble for netminders.

Defensively, McShane is no slouch either. He puts in a strong effort on the backcheck despite the explosive speed, never giving up on it. He understands his role and where he should be in behind his own blueline. He gets into lanes with either his body or his stick, creates turnovers and he effectively clears the zone.

Size can sometimes unfairly come into play for a sub-6-foot player. But there is no questioning McShane’s talent.

Allan McShane

Eliteprospects.com Stat page of Allan McShane

 

Showdown 2018: Merkley Versus Bouchard

In 2017 it was Nicolas Hague (Mississauga Steelheads) versus Conor Timmins (Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds). In 2016 it was Olli Juolevi (London Knights) versus Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires) versus Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting).

But when the debate arises between Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm or Evan Bouchard of the London Knights as to who should be the first defenceman selected from the Ontario Hockey League at the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft, I flash back to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

During that 2010-2011 OHL season, it was  long debated among draft geeks on whether it should be Dougie Hamilton (Niagara Ice Dogs) or Ryan Murphy (Kitchener Rangers) that should be selected first. In a lot of ways, there are similarities between the Hamilton – Murphy debate and the Merkley – Bouchard debate.

Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Evan Bouchard of the London Knights and Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

At the time of his draft, Murphy was 5’11” and 170 pounds, Merkley is 5’11” and 163 pounds. Hamilton was drafted at 6’5” and 193 pounds while Bouchard, not as tall as Hamilton, measures in at 6’3” and 191 pounds.

Murphy was labeled an elite skater with a howitzer of a shot who used his skating advantage to succeed offensively. He was a dominant force on the powerplay through his OHL time. There were questions about his defensive game, although sometimes unwarranted. And of course, the size questions and whether the smaller statured defender could succeed at the NHL level never ended. But it was a pair of severe concussions in the OHL that may just affected Murphy’s development.

Six years later, some of the same things are now being repeated. Merkley is also an elite skater who uses it to his advantage offensively. As with Murphy, there are some significant questions being asked about his defensive game. And while they are identical in size, to date Merkley has avoided severe injury.

Let’s compare the pairs’ offensive output in their first two OHL seasons (the second season being their draft year). In Merkley’s case, it’s been less than half a season so we’ll look at his current stats and the pace he is on for the season.

SEASON GP G A PTS
Ryan Murphy 2009-2010 62 6 33 39
Ryan Merkley 2016-2017 62 12 43 55
Ryan Murphy 2010-2011* 63 26 53 79
Ryan Merkley 2017-2018* 33 10 32 42
On pace for 68 21 66 87

 

Merkley clearly out-produced Murphy during their respective rookie seasons. However, their draft years are virtually identical in terms of offensive output when translating Merkley’s current pact over a 68-game schedule.

Hamilton was considered one of a growing breed of big defencemen with excellent mobility with the ability to translate from defence to offence in many ways. While there is a minimal size difference between Hamilton and Bouchard, the same is being attributed to Bouchard as was to Hamilton.

In 2011, Hamilton was considered the better all-around player. The same is being said about Bouchard in the current debate. Hamilton was a force on the Ice Dogs powerplay and his offensive game underrated compared to Murphy’s. Ditto for Bouchard. If there is one key difference between Bouchard and Hamilton, it’s that Bouchard is more willing to use his size. Of course, that is my own opinion.

When comparing Hamilton’s stats to Bouchard’s stats, it must be noted that because of a late birthdate, Bouchard started his OHL career as a 15-year-old. Therefore, Bouchard’s draft year is his third season while Hamilton was drafted in his second season (* denotes draft year). Ultimately, you are comparing Bouchard’s draft year to Hamilton’s draft year plus one.

SEASON GP G A PTS
Dougie Hamilton 2009-2010 64 3 13 16
Evan Bouchard 2015-2016 43 2 15 17
Dougie Hamilton 2010-2011* 67 12 46 58
Evan Bouchard 2016-2017 68 11 33 44
Dougie Hamilton 2011-2012 50 17 55 77
Evan Bouchard 2017-2018* 34 12 30 42
On pace for 68 24 60 84

 

Hamilton’s and Bouchard’s rookie seasons are about as identical as they come, although Hamilton was older and played in 19 more games. But if you jump to their respective draft years and the pace Bouchard is currently on, then it becomes lopsided in Bouchard’s favor.

The Boston Bruins decided that the size and the better all-around player was the best choice and selected Hamilton with the ninth overall pick. Murphy was selected three picks later by the Carolina Hurricanes.

The question is: will NHL teams see it the same way in 2018?

Bouchard was not getting the attention he truly deserved with many of the independent, public scouting services having him ranked in the second-round while Merkley was ranked in the first. But that’s changing as of late. It is after all, a what have you done for me lately business.

I do wonder though, what were they watching for the past three seasons?

2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Rosters Announced

40 top NHL Draft eligible CHL players will compete January 25, 2018, in Guelph

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with the host Guelph Storm Hockey Club, and title partner Sherwin-Williams, today announced the 40 players that will compete in the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Sleeman Centre on Thursday January 25, 2018.

Top Prospects Game

40 players from across the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Western Hockey League will compete in the 23rd annual showcase of the CHL’s top prospects eligible for the NHL Draft.  The 40 CHL players competing in the game were chosen by all 31 NHL clubs and were divided into teams by NHL Central Scouting.

“One of the highlights of the hockey season undoubtedly is the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game which has been a fixture on the CHL event calendar since 1996,” said CHL President David Branch. “It’s a truly special experience for the players assembled from across the CHL who have the opportunity to showcase their skills before hundreds of NHL scouts and general managers in attendance in addition to the passionate hockey fans in Guelph and for a nationwide audience watching live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.”

The rosters include all 16 CHL players who received ‘A’ ratings by NHL Central Scouting in their November ‘Players to Watch’ list which features eight projected first round forwards and eight top ranked defencemen.  The forwards include the likes of Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts, Joe Veleno of the Saint John Sea Dogs, Barrett Hayton of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Ryan McLeod of the Mississauga Steelheads, Serron Noel of the Oshawa Generals, Akil Thomas of the Niagara IceDogs, plus Filip Zadina and Benoit-Olivier Groulx of the Halifax Mooseheads.  Ryan Merkley of the host Storm headlines the defence that also includes Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs, Noah Dobson of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Evan Bouchard of the London Knights, Alexander Alexeyev of the Red Deer Rebels, Jett Woo of the Moose Jaw Warriors, plus the Mooseheads’ Jared McIsaac and the Greyhounds’ Rasmus Sandin.

“As the Official Paint of the CHL, Sherwin-Williams is proud to sponsor the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game,” said Lee Diamond, President and General Manager, Sherwin-Williams. “We take great pride in making a difference in the communities we serve and we look forward to celebrating this exciting event alongside these talented players, their families and the fans across Canada.”

28 of the CHL’s 60 member clubs are represented on the rosters led by 16 OHL players from 10 different teams, 15 QMJHL players from 10 teams, and nine WHL players from eight different teams.  Halifax leads the way with four players selected followed by Oshawa with three, host Guelph has two along with Mississauga, Moose Jaw, Sault Ste. Marie, the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, and Ottawa 67’s.

“Best-on-best competition is a valuable way to evaluate talent and that’s exactly what the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game provides,” said NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr. “NHL scouts and general managers will have the unique opportunity to see many of the top CHL players for the 2018 NHL Draft showcase their abilities in a competitive environment.”

All 14 CHL players chosen in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft competed in last year’s game played in Quebec including first overall pick Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads who captained Team Orr opposite Team Cherry who was led by captain Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings selected second overall in June.  In 22 years, a total of 307 CHL players from this event have been chosen by NHL clubs in the first round of the NHL Draft representing close to 47% of all players selected.  Since the event was first introduced in 1996 the game has featured 14 players selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft including Hischier, Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, Marc-Andre Fleury, Rick Nash, Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Thornton, and Chris Phillips.

Team Cherry and Team Orr will be assigned at a later date with coaching staffs along with captains and alternates still to be announced.

The 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner Sherwin-Williams, and CHL associate sponsors CIBC and Cooper Tires.  The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports. Tickets are still available through the box office at 1-519-837-9690 or visit Ticketmaster to purchase online. 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Rosters:

 Team 1:

Goaltenders:

Alexis Gravel (Halifax Moosheads)

Kevin Mandolese (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)

Defencemen:

Calen Addison (Lethbridge Hurricanes)

Kevin Bahl (Ottawa 67’s)

Noah Dobson (Acadie-Bathurst Titan)

Jared McIsaac (Halifax Mooseheads)

Ty Smith (Spokane Chiefs)

Jett Woo (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Forwards:

Luka Burzan (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Cole Fonstad (Prince Albert Raiders)

Benoit-Olivier Groulx (Halifax Mooseheads)

Anderson MacDonald (Moncton Wildcats)

Ryan McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads)

Allan McShane (Oshawa Generals)

Kirill Nizhnikov (Sudbury Wolves)

Serron Noel (Oshawa Generals)

Milos Roman (Vancouver Giants)

Riley Sutter (Everett Silvertips)

Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie Colts)

Dmitry Zavgorodniy (Rimouski Oceanic)

Team 2:

Goaltenders:

Jacob Ingham (Mississauga Steelheads)

Olivier Rodrigue (Drummondville Voltigeurs)

Defencemen:

Alexander Alexeyev (Red Deer Rebels)

Evan Bouchard (London Knights)

Xavier Bouchard (Baie-Comeau Drakkar)

Nico Gross (Oshawa Generals)

Ryan Merkley (Guelph Storm)

Rasmus Sandin (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Forwards:

Kody Clark (Ottawa 67’s)

Ty Dellandrea (Flint Firebirds)

Eric Florchuk (Victoria Royals)

Gabriel Fortier (Baie-Comeau Drakkar)

Barrett Hayton (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Cam Hillis (Guelph Storm)

Vladislav Kotkov (Chicoutimi Sagueneens)

Philipp Kurashev (Quebec Remparts)

Egor Sokolov (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)

Akil Thomas (Niagara IceDogs)

Joe Veleno (Saint John Sea Dogs)

Filip Zadina (Halifax Mooseheads)

For more information please visit http://sherwin-williamstopprospects.ca.   Ask Sherwin-Williams™ For 150 years, Sherwin-Williams has been an industry leader in the development of technologically advanced paint and coatings. As North America’s largest specialty retailer of paint and painting supplies, Sherwin-Williams is dedicated to supporting both do-it-yourselfers and painting professionals with exceptional and exclusive products, resources to make confident colour selections and expert, personalized service at its more than 4,000 neighbourhood stores. For more information, visit sherwin-williams.ca. Join Sherwin-Williams on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Tumblr.

 

Ryan Merkley – Guelph Storm – Player Profile

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 163 pounds

Date of birth: August 14, 2000

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

Position: Defence

Shoots: Right

OHL Draft: First overall pick, 2016 Priority Selection

Dynamic.

In one word, that is Guelph Storm defenceman Ryan Merkley. When NHL Central Scouting released its preseason players to watch list, and its updated list in November, Merkley and the London Knights’ Evan Bouchard were the only two defenders you’d find rated as an A Prospect – typically a first-round pick.

Their styles are on the opposite end of the spectrum, and yet there are some similarities between the pair. When it comes down to decision time, it may just boil down to projection when choosing between the two. You can find my thoughts on Bouchard here.

Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Merkley played his Minor Midget hockey for the Toronto Junior Canadiens during the 2015-2016 season. He notched 7 goals and 37 assists in 33 games as the leader for the Canadiens. He would add one goal and three assists in 6 games for the Canadiens at the OHL Cup.

Merkley would also represent Team GTHL at the OHL Gold Cup helping them capture gold. In 5 games, he scored once and added seven assists. He was named the GTHL player of the year and the Storm would make him the first overall pick at the 2016 Priority Draft.

Merkley burst onto the OHL scene a season ago and he didn’t disappoint. In 62 games, he scored 12 goals and 43 assists. He would be named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team, finished first among rookies in assists (43) and points (55) and captured the Emms Family Award as Rookie of the Year.

Merkley would also represent Canada at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 with Canada Red. He would score twice for Canada in five games.

This season began with Merkley representing Canada once more, this time capturing gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial. In the five games the Canadians played, Merkley finished up with six assists and doing his part in helping Canada win gold.

This OHL season, Merkley has picked up right where he left off. At the time of writing this, Merkley sits tied for second among all OHL defenders in scoring with 8 goals and 28 assists in 29 games, behind only Sean Durzi of the Owen Sound Attack (14 goals, 26 assists) and tied with Bouchard (10 goals, 26 assists).

So where do we stand with Merkley?

To begin with, Merkley is a phenomenal skater with excellent speed. He’s strong on his edges with an excellent ability to change direction in a split second. He can beat most players north-south and east-west. He’s also an excellent passer who excels at making quick, accurate short passes or long stretch passes out of his zone.

This makes Merkley very good at clearing the d-zone, but it is not always picture perfect. He’s sometimes caught forcing the play, one that is not always there. He is still prone to turning over the puck, but there have been improvements in that area. A season ago, you could attribute it to playing on the Western Conference’s last place team and trying to do it all himself. He’s a very smart hockey player so he should be able to get that out of his game.

There will always be the size question when it comes to Merkley. The Storm list him at a generous 5’11” and 163 pounds. Adding strength and mass will be critical for him. While his superb skating allows him some good defensive coverage, he can be outmuscled. When he does turn over the puck, the lack of strength causes  him to sometimes take needless and foolish penalties. Yet, his defensive positioning is solid, and he has an active stick which he uses extremely well. It’s fair to have concerns about his minus-14 on a squad that is minus-2 overall.

Offensively, Merkley’s talents are bordering on elite. As mentioned, he’s an excellent passer. His skating allows him to walk the line with ease and create and find lanes to setup teammates. He possesses an excellent shot from the point that he can get off quickly, accurately and with purpose. It can only get heavier as he adds strength. And he’s perfected the slap-pass.

Merkley is an elite powerplay quarterback. He’s an intelligent player who is able to read the play easily and react quickly. With the extra space, he’s able to find the open man. His skating allows him to get into the open space to receive a pass and use his shot. Just how effective is he on the powerplay?  Well, two of his eight goals have come with the extra man while twenty of his twenty-eight assists have been on the man advantage.

I don’t want to make it sound as though all Merkley is, is a powerplay specialist. He has the tools and mindset to be much more than that. The question NHL teams will be asking themselves is “how likely is it that he achieves that, and are there other defencemen more likely to achieve their potential?”

This is the problem with the inexact science known as drafting. Trying to project potential. Time is the only real answer to the question general managers will be asking their scouts in draft meetings come June.

At least its fun trying.

Ryan Merkley

Eliteprospects.com hockey stat of Ryan Merkley

Jack McBain – Toronto Jr Canadiens – Player Profile

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 196 pounds

Date of birth: January 6, 2000

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Position: Center

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 20th overall (Barrie Colts) 2016 Priority Selection; Round 7, 107th overall (Lincoln Stars) USHL Futures Draft.

Coming into the season, Jack McBain was considered one of the top prospects playing in Ontario for the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft, and rightfully so. While listed on NHL Central Scouting’s players to watch list as a B prospect (2nd or 3rd round candidate) to start the year, and again on their updated list in November, one can’t imagine him not moving up. He’s already ranked in the first round on most independent scouting services and has been for some time.

Jack McBain
Jack McBain, Toronto Jr Canadiens. Photo courtesy of OJHL Images

McBain is the son of former NHL’er Andrew McBain, who was a former first round pick, 8th overall, by the Winnipeg Jets in 1983. The elder McBain played in 608 NHL games scoring 129 goals and 172 assists with the Jets, Canucks, Penguins and Senators.

McBain has always had his eye on playing in the NCAA. In this article with the Barrie Examiner, McBain spoke openly about considering the Ontario Hockey League and the Barrie Colts. But if the NCAA was going to be his route to the NHL, then the OHL was out of the question. (The NCAA considers Major Junior players professionals and therefore, ineligible).

To keep his NCAA eligibility, McBain had two realistic choices: The Ontario Junior Hockey League or the United States Hockey League – where he was drafted by the Lincoln Stars. He chose the OJHL and his hometown Toronto Jr Canadiens.

In March of this year, McBain stayed true to his heart and committed to Boston College for 2018. Thus, McBain was left with another decision to make coming into this season: return to the Jr Canadiens and the OJHL or jump to the Stars and the USHL. Once again, he chose Toronto.

During the 2015 – 2016 season, McBain played his Minor Midget hockey for the Don Mills Flyers where he was captain of his squad and his father was an assistant coach. He would appear in 45 games and score 25 goals while adding 48 assists. In 6 games for the Flyers at the OHL Cup, he would add 8 assists. He would also represent Team GTHL Red at the OHL Gold Cup where he scored 5 goals and 3 assists in 5 games.

Last season McBain broke onto the OJHL scene and appeared in 42 games notching 13 goals and 28 assists in 42 games. He would add 4 goals and 8 assists in 11 playoff games and was named OJHL First Team All-Prospect. He also got a taste of international hockey with Canada at the World Junior A Challenge Under-19.

This season began in August for McBain by representing Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial. In helping Canada capture gold, he scored 3 goals and added 2 assists. He saved his best performance for the gold medal game as he scored once and set up two others in a 4-1 victory over the defending champion Czech Republic.

This season, McBain is well on his way to surpassing his totals from a year ago. He has 12 goals and 26 assists through 31 games. His 38 points puts him second among the Jr Canadiens as does his goals while he leads his squad in assists.

McBain has got size and he has strength. Just imagine how much stronger he can be once he fills out his 6’3” frame. He’s already tough to play against and even harder to control. Speed is not an asset he possesses, or more accurately, explosiveness on his first steps. Improving on his first few strides can be crucial to him and by all accounts, he knows this and continues to work on it. Once he gets going however, his speed is more than adequate.

McBain has a lot of assets that benefit a hockey player, but it’s hard to pick out which may be his best asset. Perhaps it is his work ethic and his will to be the best he can be every time he’s on the ice. And he puts that devotion in at both ends of the ice.

Maybe it’s McBain’s vision. He sees the ice extremely well and can read and react quickly. He has an uncanny ability to slow the pace down and the patience to let the play develop and then strike with either a crisp tape-to-tape pass or fire a deceptive, accurate and hard shot with a purpose. And he’s willing to drive the net with or without the puck.

Or could it be McBain’s impressive two-way game? We are already aware of his offensive prowess, but his defensive game is somewhat underrated in some circles. He uses his smarts defensively as he does on the offense. His stick is almost always on the ice and in passing lanes. He reads and anticipates so well that he outthinks the opposition. He uses his big frame to take opponents out along the wall and to win one-on-one battles.

If that isn’t enough, then it might be McBain’s elite puck skills. He handles the puck extremely well even at top speed. He strong at keeping possession, can dangle one-on-one or find open areas or lanes to move into with possession.

McBain is currently at Team Canada East’s camp along with 39 other prospects vying for a spot at the World Junior A Challenge.

Jack McBain

Eliteprospects.com stat page profile of Jack McBain