Mason Millman – Saginaw Spirit – Player Profile

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 175 pounds

Date of birth: July 18, 2001

Hometown: London, Ontario

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 7, 124th overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: NR. Mid-term: 173rd NA Skaters

For London Ontario native and Saginaw Spirits’ defender Mason Millman, not being listed on National Hockey League Central Scouting’s Players to Watch List in both the pre-season and November’s lists came as a surprise. But that was corrected on their mid-term list as he was ranked 173rd among North American skaters. Millman climbed 48 spots on Central’s Final Rankings to 125th among North American skaters. That puts him in position as a late 6th early 7th round pick at the NHL Draft in June.

Millman played his Minor Midget AAA hockey with the London Jr Knights during the 2016-2017 season, compiling 5 goals and 14 assists in 33 games. He would add a goal and 8 helpers in 11 playoff matchups, and a goal and 2 assists at 6 OHL Cup games.

Millman would play the 2017-2018 season with the St Thomas Stars of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League and score 6 goals and 16 assists on 46 games. He was voted the GOJHL Most Outstanding First Year Defenceman and (Western) and to the GOJHL Rookie All-Star Team (Western). Millman would get his feet wet in the OHL playing in 6 games for the Spirit but did not register a point.

This season, Millman would play in 66 games for Saginaw and score 3 goals while adding 22 assists and finish with a plus-22. He would add 2 goals and 3 assists in 13 playoff games and finish with a plus-12 as the Spirit lost in 7 games in the Western Conference Finals.

Mason Millman of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Mason Millman of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Millman is a puck move defenceman with very good skating abilities and excellent lateral movement. In the offensive zone he makes quick, decisive decisions with a knack for pinching at the right time to keep plays alive. He sees the ice extremely well and can deliver tape-to-tape passes. He can quarterback the powerplay and shows great abilities there walking the line and playing patiently waiting for lanes to open. However, his shot from the point is weak and doesn’t always get it through. It needs some work and some of that may come as he adds some strength. His low shots on goal total (86) may speak to a lack of confidence in his shot as well. Millman finished seventh among draft eligible players in scoring.

Despite some impressive plus/minus stats in the regular season and playoffs – he was 4th among draft eligible players in the regular season, Millman’s defensive game is a work in progress, but, as basically an OHL Rookie, he did fine.

Millman’s ability to use his hockey smarts defensively is a big help. He understands his first responsibility as a defender is to look after his own zone, and he usually finds himself in the right position to defend. His skating, especially his lateral movement allows him to angle off opponents extremely well. He keeps his gaps close and has a decent reach, but would like to see a more active stick. I would also like to see him take the body more. He has the size, but the frame isn’t quite there yet.

Millman can move the puck out of the d-zone and into transition. He can skate it out of the zone but you are more likely to see him move the puck with stellar passing abilities. He picks his spots on when to jump into the play but has shown to be effective in transition.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

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Zachary Uens – Wellington Dukes – Player Profile

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 180 pounds

Date of birth: May 13, 2001

Hometown: Belleville, Ontario

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 4, 76th overall, 2017 Priority Selection by the Flint Firebirds

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: C Prospect. Mid-term: 138th North America

Belleville, Ontario native and Wellington Dukes defender Zachary Uens is committed to Merrimack College beginning with the 2019-2020 season.

Prior to completing two seasons with the Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Uens played his Minor Midget AAA with the Quinte Red Devils. In 35 games, Uens scored 7 goals and assisted on 22 others during the 2016-2017 season. He would also play in the OHL Cup with the Red Devils and represent Team OMHA at the OHL Gold Cup. He would join the Dukes for two games before joining the club full time the following season.

Zach Uens
Zach Uens of the Wellington Dukes. Photo by Abhinav Nirula / OJHL Images

Uens’ first season in the OJHL is one he will probably always remember. In 54 games he scored 5 goals and assisted on 18 others. He was named to the OJHL’s second all-prospects squad. The Dukes won the OJHL Championship (Buckland Cup) during his rookie season and the squad went on to win the Dudley-Hewitt Cup and represented Central Canada at the RBC Cup to determine Canada’s top Junior A team.

At the RBC Cup, Uens and the Dukes lost a heartbreaker to the Chilliwack Chiefs by a score of 4-2. During the 25-game playoff run Uens scored 2 goals and 4 assists.

This season Uens was named to the OJHL first all-prospect team after scoring 6 goals and 16 assists while appearing in just 34 games. His points per game would put him in the top 5 among OJHL defenders. He would add 2 goals and 8 helpers in 22 playoff games.

Uens isn’t a flashy player that brings fans out of their seats. Instead, he goes quietly about his business and rarely gets caught making a bad decision. Uens is a very smooth skater with some deceptive quickness in his feet. Defensively, he understands the importance of keeping gaps tight and is swiftness moving east-west as well as north-south allows him to do so. He angles people off extremely well and has decent size and doesn’t shy away from physicality.

Uens is quick to retrieve pucks and isn’t shy about skating out of the zone and transitioning to offence. His ability to make long, accurate stretch passes is off the charts and one of the better parts of his game. When in transition Uens is more then willing to jump into the play. But he plays it safe and won’t take many risks.

Offensively, Uens walks the line very well and can “wait it out” for a seam to open up. And with his vision and passing skills, he finds those lanes.

Like fellow OJHL defender a year ago, Dustyn McFaul, Uens is a project that will spend a few years in the NCAA. For an NHL team with a lot of depth on the blue line that can wait the 4 years maximum in the NCAA and then another year in the American Hockey League, Uens could be a good late round find.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

Liam Ross – Sudbury Wolves – Player Profile

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 197 pounds

Date of birth: May 13, 2001

Hometown: Markham, Ontario

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 4, 63rd overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: C Prospect. Mid-term: 183 NA Skaters

Sudbury Wolves blueliner Liam Ross played his Minor Midget AAA hockey with the Mississauga Reps during the 2016-2017 season notching 4 goals and 8 helpers while appearing in 32 games. He added a goal in 8 games at the OHL Cup as the Reps went on to win the Championship. The Wolves would select Ross in the 4th round, 63rd overall at the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Liam Ross of the Sudbury Wolves. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Liam Ross of the Sudbury Wolves. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Ross would enter his rookie season with the Wolves a year ago and play in all but 8 games. He scored 4 goals and assisted on 5 others in those 60 contests. He upped his offensive output this season with 7 goals and 22 assists while appearing in all 68 games. He added a helper in the Playoffs, as the Wolves were eliminated in the second round.

Ross is an intelligent two-way defender whose defensive game is already ahead of the development curve expected at this stage. However, his upside is directly linked to just how high his offensive abilities can take him.

The general consensus is that Ross’ skating is just average. He has a short stride that prevents him from generating a quick first step. That quickness is lacking moving east-west as well.

That said, Ross makes up for any skating deficiencies with high level hockey IQ. Defensively, he keeps his gaps close and uses a long reach and active stick to break up plays. He angles opponents off extremely well but adding more physicality to his game would make him even more effective. He needs to become quicker in his puck retrieval and skating out of his own zone, but he does make a very good pass to transition to offense.

Offensively, Ross will take some chances. He won’t always take risks, but is adept at knowing when to pinch and has some success when doing so. His vision is very good and he identifies them quickly and is able to deliver a perfect pass. He possesses a deceptively heavy shot from the point and is able to get it through traffic and on target more often then not.

I’ve said it before and it is worth repeating when discussing Ross: I’m not worried about skating as I was just a few short years ago. There are so many quality skating coaches out there and the list of players who have improved their skating is a long one.

As long as the player has a willingness to put the work in, it shouldn’t be a problem. There’s nothing seen from Ross that suggests he wouldn’t put in the effort.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

Matvey Guskov – London Knights – Player Profile

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 172 pounds

Date of birth: January 30, 2001

Hometown: Nizhnekamsk, Russia

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 42nd overall, 2018 CHL Import Draft

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: B Prospect. Mid-term: 63rd North America

When it comes to NHL Central Scouting, Matvey (Matvei) Guskov has been a virtual flat line in their rankings. And that’s not a bad thing. He started off the year where he was expected and did nothing to hurt his draft value finishing off pretty much how he started the season as an early to mid third round pick.

Born in Russia, Guskov plied his trade with CSKA Moskva Under-17, Under-18 and Krasnaya of the MHL (Russia’s equivalent to the OHL) during the 2017-2018 season. He came across the pond after the Knights selected him 42nd overall at the 2018 CHL Import Draft with a reputation of being a skilled, offensive forward who was well on his way to developing his two-way game.

Matvey Guskov of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Matvey Guskov of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

Guskov has represented Russia internationally on several occasions: The Under-17, Under-18, The Hlinka-Gretzky where he scored twice in five games.

Guskov finished the season scoring 12 goals (11th among rookies), 18 assists (16th among rookies), and 30 points (12th among rookies) in 59 games (35th among rookies). His 12 goals game on 107 shots for a respectable 11.2% shooting percentage. To break that down by zone, Guskov was 21. 4% from high danger zone areas, 12.5% in the mod danger zone area and 8.2% from the low danger zone areas.

Of Guskov’s 18 helpers on the season, 11 of them were primary assists which speaks to his vision and abilities to make plays.

As stated earlier, Guskov had the reputation of being a solid two-way player. His ability to play the defensive side of the game was only helped by playing on a Dale Hunter coached team. It was evident from the start, but as he got more and more use to the North American ice surface and with top notch coaching, his ability in all zones became more prominent.

At 6’1” Guskov has good size but is a lanky kid. He needs to add a lot of bulk to his frame. But that doesn’t scare him. He’s willing to drive the net, fight through traffic and has a willingness to battle on the walls. He is a good skater with good top end speed and has an ability to turn on the jets when in stride to beat defenders one-on-one.

Guskov has a very good wrist shot with a surprisingly quick release. His accuracy is very good and he can surprise goaltenders. One thing he has to learn is when to be selfish and when to use his teammates. Often times, I see him shooting when he should be passing and others he passes when he should be shooting.

Here’s my thing when it comes to Guskov: He can play all three forward positions. But which one is he best suited for? I think his off wing is not the best option. I like a guy there who possesses an excellent one-timer and I don’t think Guskov is that guy. His two-way game suggests he is best suited down the middle. And while he has shown some intriguing playmaking abilities, I don’t think its at the point of development I would like to see at this stage.

 

Stat page from Elite Prospects

Joe Carroll – Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds – Player Profile

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 200 pounds

Date of birth: February 1, 2001

Hometown: Carp, Ontario

Position: Center

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 4, 78th overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: B Prospect. Mid-term: 51st North America

I’ll be honest. When NHL Central Scouting released its Players to Watch List during the preseason and again in November and they listed Joe Carroll as a B prospect, which is regarded as a second or third round pick, I had no issue with that. But when they released their mid-term rankings and I saw him 51st among North American skaters, I felt that was too high.

Now, you look at the recently released final rankings from Central Scouting, they list Carroll at 101 overall among North American Skaters. That may just be the biggest “over-correction” they have done, putting him in the top handful of fallers from the Ontario Hockey League draft class.

Joe Carroll of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Joe Carroll of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

After posting a league leading 33 goals and 51 points in 29 games for the Ottawa Valley Titans Bantam AAA squad during the 2015-2016 season, Carroll went on to join the CP Canadians Minor Midget AAA squad for the 2016-2017 season. He appeared in 45 games and tallied 18 goals and 21 assists. He would add two goals in four playoff games and two goals and a helper at the OHL Cup.

The following season, Carroll broke onto the Greyhounds roster and played in 53 games scoring 9 goals and assisting on 9 to go along with 26 penalty minutes. During the Greyhounds playing run to the League Finals he would add 1 goal and 3 helpers in 24 games.

Carroll would also represent Canada at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17.

This season Carroll appeared in 65 games scoring 9 goals and 22 assists while adding 2 goals and 1 assist in 8 playoff games. Carroll accumulated 71 minutes in penalties on the season, second only to Navrin Mutter of the Hamilton Bulldogs among draft eligible players.

Carroll’s 9 goals on the season came from firing 147 shots on goal for a 6.1 shooting percentage. He was most dangerous from the high danger zone areas at 12.5%. He shot just 5.7% and 4.8% from the mid and low danger zone areas respectively. On the faceoff dot Carroll was 269 for 605 or 44.5%.

Carroll is an interesting player to watch. He has size, strength and possesses a powerful long skating stride. He has shown that he has the ability to use those assets to be an effective forechecker, dominate the walls and be a force in front of the opposition net. His puck protection skills are above average and he is very effective playing the cycle game. What has been lacking is showing consistency, not just game-to-game but sometimes from shift-to-shift. But he’s raw and that consistency can come as he matures.

As mentioned, Carroll has a long, powerful skating stride. But it is a somewhat awkward stride that prevents him from developing more speed. Skating isn’t the concern to me it was even just a handful of years ago. Coaching has improved and there are more and more excellent skating coaches that Carroll can take advantage of. If he is willing to take on the challenge, the opportunities are there. I wouldn’t bet against him.

Faceoffs are an area that he needs to put more work into if he continues to play down the middle. However, I think his game will better translate at the next level if he were converted to wing, a position he has played.

Carroll also won’t overpower goaltenders with his shot. He has good hands and can be dangerous in tight. But his goal production has disappointed most watchers this season, not what you want in a draft year. That’s said, he did show that he has some intriguing playmaking skills.

In the end, I think Carroll projects as a third line winger at the NHL level that will chip in with some offence at best. The worst-case scenario sees him as a fourth line energy guy who can provide energy and bring a physical component to a team.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

Eric Ciccolini – Toronto Jr Canadiens – Player Profile

Height: 6’

Weight: 170 pounds

Date of birth: January 14, 2001

Hometown: Vaughan, Ontario

Position: Right wing

Shoots: Right

OHL Draft: Round 7, 122nd overall, 2017 Priority Selection / Round 8, 121st overall, 2018 USHL Draft.

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: C Prospect. Mid-term: 95th, North America

Following in the footsteps of former teammate Jack McBain, Toronto Jr Canadiens forward Eric Ciccolini was named the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Top Prospect following the 2018-2019 season and is rightfully ranked by National Hockey League Central Scouting as the top prospect from the OJHL for the 2019 Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia on June 21 and 22.

And like McBain, Ciccolini is committed to playing NCAA hockey for the next four years (or less). But they won’t be teammates this time around as Ciccolini is heading to the University of Michigan.

Eric Ciccolini
Eric Ciccolini of the Toronto Jr Canadiens. Photo by OJHL Images

Ciccolini played his Minor Midget AAA hockey during the 2016-2017 season with the Vaughan Kings. In 27 games, he recorded 7 goals and added 15 assists. In 6 games with the Kings at the OHL Cup, he would add 3 helpers. The Guelph Storm selected him with the 122nd pick at the 2017 Priority Selection but were unable to obtain his commitment.

Ciccolini would begin his Junior A career with the Milton Icehawks a season later. He would appear in 23 games and score 12 goals while adding 7 assists. A mid-season trade sent him to the Jr Canadiens and he would finish the season with 17 goals and 13 assists in 47 games. In 11 playoff games with the Jr Canadiens he would score 2 goals to go along with 6 helpers.

Ciccolini is an offensively gifted player who can play both the wing and center. He has good size at 6’ and very good speed – both in first steps and top speed – with a deceptive separation gear. He’s an extremely good stickhandler and seemingly has the puck on a string whenever he’s in possession. He has the ability to make things happen at top speed.

Ciccolini also has very good vision and hockey sense. He sees plays developing and has an uncanny ability to slow the play down and wait for opportunities to open up. Perhaps his greatest offensive weapon is his shot which borders on elite. He gets the puck off his stick quickly and accurately and often times catches goaltenders by surprise.

If there is anything that might be underrated about Ciccolini it is his defensive game. Coaches trust him in any situation and to go up against the opposition’s top players. He uses the same hockey senses in his own zone as he does in the O-zone. He keeps his gaps tight, gets into passing and shooting lanes quickly and is very good at creating turnovers. He battles for pucks hard and is excellent at retrieving pucks. And his transition game is excellent.

What sometimes causes a player of Ciccolini’s calibre to fall at the NHL Draft is that a lot of teams don’t want to wait four years while he finishes College.

But for those willing to wait, Eric Ciccolini could be quite the find.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

Daniel D’Amico – Windsor Spitfires – Player Profile

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 178 Pounds

Date of birth: January 25, 2001

Hometown: Caledon, Ontario

Position: Center/Left Wing

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 6, 109th overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: Not ranked. Mid-term: 164th North America

One of my favorite things when it comes to National Hockey League Central Scouting’s lists is when a player doesn’t make either of the Players to Watch Lists and all of a sudden appears on the mid-term rankings, especially when it comes to diminutive players like Daniel D’Amico of the Windsor Spitfires.

It’s not as though D’Amico didn’t have a body of work to look at when looking at pre-season players to watch. And the fact that he was a sixth-round pick at the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection should not be taken into consideration.

D’Amico played his minor midget AAA hockey during the 2016-2017 season with the Toronto Marlboros. In 32 games he posted 18 goals and 15 assists and was one of the leaders on the squad. At the OHL Cup he added 2 goals and 3 assists in 5 games.

Daniel D'Amico of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Daniel D’Amico of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Last season, D’Amico made the Spitfires roster out of camp and would play in 59 games, scoring 12 goals and 7 assists. He would also play in 6 playoff games for the Spits scoring once and adding 3 helpers.

D’Amico would make big strides in this his draft season. He appeared in 67 of the 68 regular season games and notched 21 goals and assisting on 25 others. In the 4 games loss at the hands of the London Knights in the opening round of the playoffs, he would add 3 helpers.

Among draft eligible players, his 21 goals were 10th in the league. D’Amico also holds the second longest point streak among draft eligible players, producing 14 points in 20 consecutive games from December 31, 2018 to January 20, 2019.

There are still plenty of folks in the hockey world, and this could be said about NHL Central Scouting as well, that endear themselves to “bigger bodies”, and the fact that D’Amico stands just 5’9”, well, that’s going to cause him to fall into the later rounds of the 2019 Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia come June. I’m not even sure where I will slot D’Amico come June as I finish my rankings.

At that size, you would look to skating as one of the more important things D’Amico needs to have. He doesn’t possess elite speed; his first steps are not explosive and he doesn’t have a separation gear. That said, pure effort, extraordinary work ethic and excellent hockey IQ is what puts him in areas that makes him dangerous.

Once D’Amico gets into those areas, he releases his shot quickly and accurately, something I see as underrated in his game. Overall, he had a 14.9% shooting percentage. He shot 27.3% from the high-danger zone areas, 20% from mid-danger area and 9.4% from low-danger areas.

D’Amico also has good vision. Not only does he anticipate very well which allows him to get into areas for scoring chances, he sees the ice well that he can make a very good pass to set up teammates. On the powerplay, he is more of a shooter then a playmaker with the extra space, finding the open ice to get off his shot.

Defensively, D’Amico’s game is about where you would expect it to be at this level. He understands where to position himself, how to defend with his lack of size, and is pretty good at clearing his zone. He can kill penalties and has shown he can be an offensive threat down a man.

D’Amico can play both center and wing but faceoffs are going to need some work. As he moves forward in his career, I think his game is better suited for the wing, especially with his lack of size.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

Navrin Mutter – Hamilton Bulldogs – Player Profile

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 180 pounds

Date of birth: March 15, 2001

Hometown: Lucan, Ontario

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 5, 83rd overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: NR. Mid-term: 120th North America

Tenacity. Fearless. Reckless. And to quote Brian Burke, truculence.

Those are words that could at one time or another, be used to describe Hamilton Bulldogs left winger Navrin Mutter. While the game has changed, and will continue to change, Mutter has made somewhat of an adjustment. That adjustment is reflected in the National Hockey League Central Scouting’s rankings, going from not even being mentioned as a player to watch, to 120th among North American skaters on their mid-term rankings.

Mutter will make my final list come June. Where Central Scouting ranks him however will be interesting to see.

Mutter played his Minor Midget AAA with Elgin-Middlesex during the 2016-2017 season in which he scored 10 goals and added 12 assists in 29 games while racking up 84 minutes in penalties. He would add 3 goals and 5 assists in 13 playoff games and another 38 minutes in the sin bin.

Last season, the Bulldogs championship season, Mutter appeared in 28 games scoring twice while assisting on another. This season he appeared in 67 games and scored 6 goals and 7 assists while racking up 96 minutes in penalties, the most by a wide margin among draft eligible players.

Mutter is a big body who thrives playing in a physical game whether he is taking a hit or the one delivering it. Ontario Hockey League coaches voted him the second best body checker in the Eastern Conference in this year’s Coaches Poll.

Forward #15 Navrin Mutter of the Hamilton Bulldogs
Navrin Mutter of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Photo by OHL Images.

Once Mutter gets his feet moving, he has some decent speed in his long strides and is surprisingly smooth on his skates. Combined with his physicality, he has opposing defencemen with their head on a swivel as he goes in on the forecheck. Just his presence and knowing a hit is coming forces defenders to move the puck quickly, sometimes making the wrong decision. If he could add a quicker first step, it could only help. There’s nothing more to say about his strength on his blades other then he’s as strong as an Ox.

Perhaps his greatest attributes are that he’s a team-first guy, his work ethic, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to win mentality. Few players put their bodies on the line like Mutter does not only game-to-game, but shift-to-shift.

Mutter will never be known as an offensive threat – he went pointless in his first 21 games of the season. But as the season progressed, he showed that he has some decent vision and that he could distribute the puck. He won’t overpower goaltenders with his shot, although he has a pretty good shot. His bread and butter on offense will come from battling in front of the net, setting up screens and trying to dominate that small area of the ice. And as he gets stronger, cleaning up on those pucks in front of the net.

It’s a rare occurrence that late round picks find a regular home in the NHL. But Mutter is one of those guys that could find a home as a fourth line energy guy who is strong on the forecheck and can create havoc for defences and wearing them down.

Those types of players still have a place in today’s game.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

Kari Piiroinen – Windsor Spitfires – Player Profile

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 176 pounds

Date of birth: July 1, 2001

Hometown: Helsinki, Finland

Position: Goaltender

Catches: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 30th overall, 2018 CHL Import Draft

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season: C Prospect. November: B Prospect. Mid-term: 18 NA goalies

Selected 30th overall at the 2018 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft, Windsor Spitfires netminder Kari Piiroinen is a product of the goaltender producing nation of Finland, well known for producing high-end puck stoppers.

Prior to joining the Spitfires, Piiroinen played Junior B hockey for HIFK Under-18 in his native Finland. In 27 appearances he posted a 2.73 goals-against-average and .912 save-percentage. He was superb in the playoffs with a 1.00 goals-against-average and .957 save-percentage. He would briefly join HIFK Under-20 for 4 Junior A games.

Piiroinen (pronounced Pea-ROY-nin) represented Finland at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17.

Kari Piiroinen of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Kari Piiroinen of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

The Spitfires brought Piiroinen in to be their goaltender of the future. At the start of the season, he was the backup to Michael DiPietro and once DiPietro was traded to the Ottawa 67’s then to Colton Incze. Still, he appeared in 27 games and posted a 4.23 goals-against-average and .875 save-percentage. He took the crease in two playoff contests during the London Knights sweep of the Spitfires in the opening round.

I think the plan was to ease Piiroinen in with DiPietro and once he got his feet wet the Spitfires would find a capable veteran backup and trade DiPietro. And that’s what happened by bringing Incze in. But it was Incze who got the majority of starts.

Piiroinen was the top 2001 goaltender in Finland when the Spitfires selected him and highly touted for the 2019 NHL Draft. But when you are deciding on where to select the netminder, you are going to have to base your thoughts around his potential and the signs of that potential rather then his accomplishments – or lack of – this season.

At 6’1” Piiroinen has some good size but really lacks some bulk to that frame. He has superb athleticism and lightning quick reflexes. He darts out to the top of the paint to challenge shooters quickly. His movement from side to side is very good and he tracks the puck east-west very well. But he has a tendency to over commit at times.

Piiroinen also has a very quick glove. Even when down in the butterfly, he gives shooters the glove side only to take it away with his trapper. He can also absorb pucks and deny second chance opportunities. He plays big in his crease even when down in the butterfly. He knows how to take away the top of the net and his glove hand helps.

That said, there are some issues to work through, most noticeably finding some sort of consistency. He doesn’t get rattled when he allows a soft goal. He can make the spectacular save and then let one in he would like back. But he has shown he can bounce back.

A lot of that comes from adding some muscle and holding his position better. The latter comes with more coaching. How to hold the post, work your angles better, directing rebounds, those type of things.

The strength part will come as he continues his offseason workout regiment and working towards his goal of one day playing in the NHL.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

Louka Henault – Windsor Spitfires – Player Profile

Height: 6’

Weight: 181 pounds

Date of birth: January 31, 2001

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 5, 96th overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: Not Ranked. Mid-term: 163 North America

Born in Montreal Quebec and growing up in Etobicoke Ontario, Windsor Spitfires blueliner Louka Henault played his minor midget AAA hockey with the Toronto Marlboros during the 2016-2017 season. Henault played in 33 games and scored twice while adding 22 assists. The Spitfires would use the 96th overall pick at the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection to draft Henault.

During the 2015-2016 season, Henault also played Minor Midget AAA hockey with the Don Mills Flyers. He would play in 39 games and score once with 5 helpers.

Henault appeared in the OHL Cup in back-to-back seasons, first with the Flyers and then the Marlboros. In 11 combined games he scored once and assisted on 4 others.

Louka Henault of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Louka Henault of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Henault broke onto the Spitfires roster during the 2017-2018 season and played in 42 games and notching 2 assists. This season Henault played in 66 games and scored twice while assisting on 20. In the four game playoff series where the London Knights eliminating the Spitfires, Henault had a goal and an assist.

If Henault is going to hear his name called at the National Hockey League Draft in Vancouver British Columbia on June 21-22, it will most definitely be on day two of the draft – if at all. That said, if an NHL team isn’t willing to use a pick on him on draft day, he is precisely the type of player that will get an invite to a Team’s Development Camp in the summer.

So, what does Henault bring to the table?

Henault is a mobile two-way defender who has his head on a swivel when in possession of the puck, almost always seemingly surveying the ice and looking for the best options available. He’s a good skater that has good mobility both north-south and east-west. He walks the offensive blue line very well and creates lanes by doing so. And he can jump up the wall and make pinches when he needs to.

Henault is known for his shot. While he hasn’t shown that he can overpower goaltenders with it, he usually finds the target and he doesn’t try to score, but to put it in areas where he can create rebounds and second chance opportunities. The fact that he averaged one shot per game and the bulk of his assists were primary assists speaks to that and his passing abilities. That said, that he only averaged one shot per game and his attempted shots were not much better, you know that he has to shoot more often.

Defensively, Henault was steady on the backend for the Spitfires who still have a young and somewhat green blueline. He understands positioning, uses his stick well to defend, and is willing to battle in all the hard areas. And he is effective at moving the puck out of his zone.

Henault is one of those players that doesn’t excel at any one thing, but you get an honest effort and steady performances at both ends of the ice.

Stat page from Elite Prospects