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

Advertisements

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

 

Arthur Kaliyev – Hamilton Bulldogs – Player Profile

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 185 pounds

Date of birth: June 26, 2001

Hometown: Staten Island, NY

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 2, 26th overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: A Prospect. Mid-term: 11 North America

Coming into this season, it was widely expected that it would be a two-way race between Hamilton’s Arthur Kaliyev and Barrie’s Ryan Suzuki as the first player selected from the Ontario Hockey League for the 2019 National Hockey League Draft in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Then in January, much to the surprise of many onlookers, NHL Central Scouting released its mid-term rankings and by scouring the list you would find Mississauga’s Thomas Harley at number 9, followed Suzuki at 10 and Kaliyev at 11 among North American skaters.

My belief coming into this season was the same in January and remains the same today: If you’re looking for a playmaker that borders on elite, Suzuki is the name you call on the draft floor. If it’s the pure sniper your dreaming of then you call on the kid born in Tashkent, Usbekistan.

Arthur Kaliyev of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Arthur Kaliyev of the Hamilton Bulldogs Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

The Kaliyev family moved to the United States when Arthur was just 11 months old. He came up playing through the Little Caesars hockey program, eventually playing for the Compuware Under-16 squad in his OHL Draft year. He appeared in 19 games that season scoring 13 goals while adding 5 assists and won an Under-16 Championship. The Bulldogs would use the 26th overall pick at the 2017 Priority Selection to nab Kaliyev.

OHL Central Scouting had this to say:

Arthur is a big, skilled power forward that isn’t afraid to get involved physically. He is a powerful player that has a good stride and is deceptively faster than most defencemen think. He shoots the puck like a junior already as his shot is very hard and he gets it off extremely quick. Arthur finds open ice very well and has the ability to hit the open holes just as the puck is getting there. He has great offensive instincts which are very hard to teach.

Kaliyev broke into the OHL a season ago on a star-studded Bulldogs’ roster that went on to win an OHL Championship and a birth in the Memorial Cup and playing mostly 4th line minutes. Yet he still managed to pot 31 goals and 17 assists while playing in all 68 games. He would add 3 more goals and 8 helpers in 21 playoff games. He was the first underage rookie to hit 30 goals since Alex Galchenyuk had 31 during the 2010-2011 season.

This season began with Kaliyev representing the United States at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup where he scored 3 goals and 3 assists in 5 games. He finished the season appearing in all but 1 games and scoring 51 goals and 51 assists and leading all draft eligible players in most offensive stats. At OHL Writers, we voted Kaliyev our Draft Eligible Player of the Year.

So, what do we have in Kaliyev?

Well, I had the chance to talk to Troy Izlakar, the analyst for Bulldogs’ games on Cable 14 in Hamilton. The first thing that caught my attention in talking to Troy was when he said, “Let’s face it, Arthur Kaliyev is a great hockey player. There, I said it! My broadcast partner Reed Duthie would be proud of me, despite the fact we still disagree on where he may get selected this June.  In fact, we even have a fun side bet as to where he’ll be selected in the upcoming NHL draft.”

And that in a nutshell is the consensus. Or lack of it. Ask two people their opinions and they will likely differ. Here’s the thing: Kaliyev’s offensive abilities are no secret to anyone. They are as pure and lethal as anyone in the draft class. The question one must ask is “has there been an improvement from year to year, and has there been ongoing improvement throughout his draft year?” If you answered no, then you haven’t been paying attention.

Kaliyev possesses an elite level shot, an NHL caliber shot. OHL coaches voted him as having the best shot in the Eastern Conference. Troy said “On the power play from his sweet spot on the right side, there is likely nobody better at the one timer in the OHL than the left shot Kaliyev.” His numbers suggest that he can beat a goaltender from anywhere on the ice. Kaliyev shot 31.6% from high danger zone shots, 11.9% from mid danger zone areas and 14.2% from low danger zone areas.

Kaliyev has very good size at 6’2” and moves well. What is lacking is his willingness to take the puck hard to the net. Troy agreed, saying “Kaliyev is a better then average skater and really impressed scouts at the recent CHL Prospects game. However, he will often prefer to glide into the offensive zone looking for or giving a pass rather than attempting a straight power move to the net. He possesses that ability, I’ve see it, would just like to see it more.” I don’t think Troy is being overly critical here, but I also believe with maturity and confidence, it will come to him.

While Kaliyev is known and will probably forever be known as a sniper first, one cannot ignore the strides made in his puck distribution skills. He has excellent vision, puck protection skills and a knack for finding seams. 28 of his 51 assists were primary assists, and that is a sign of ability regardless if it’s 5 on 5 or on the powerplay.

Troy added, “Kaliyev is a better play maker than he likely gets credit for, but again the benefit of the first team power play gives him more time and space to create. During the second half of the season, we witnessed Kaliyev turn a corner on being a consummate play maker, he’s really starting to make everyone around him better.”

Kaliyev isn’t overly physical for his size, but he is willing to battle when necessary. Troy took it a step further: “I’d like to see him win more one on one battles in the corners and in high dangers areas, but maturity and strength will improve that. Kaliyev doesn’t shy away from puck battles but I sometimes feel it’s not his favourite thing to do.”

The knock on Kaliyev has always been his defensive game. But I go back to the question: Has he shown improvement year over year and throughout his draft season? I let Troy answer (agree with me): “There are nights you expect a 17yr old hockey player to disappear from the radar at times and Arthur Kaliyev still has those nights, particularly in the defensive zone. He has made a noticeable improvement during the latter half of this season, chasing down offenders inside his own blue line and shoring up his half board responsibilities in the D zone. Things are improving.”

Troy closed out our chat by saying “There’s no doubt Kaliyev will play professional hockey, but at the moment there is still work to be done on his 200ft game for a team to make a generational top 10 pick. I have Kaliyev slotted around 15-20 for the upcoming draft, which would mean he would be drafted by a team that is in a position to give him time to continue to craft his game and become a more well-rounded prospect.”

As they say, time will tell.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

 

Eric Uba – Flint Firebirds – Player Profile

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 196 pounds

Date of birth: December 17, 2000

Hometown: Kitchener, Ontario

Position: Right Wing

Shoots: Right

OHL Draft: Round 9, 164th overall, 2016 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: Not ranked. Mid-term: 150th North America

Kitchener Ontario native and Flint Firebirds right winger Eric Uba played his Minor Midget AAA hockey with the Kitchener junior Rangers during the 2015-2016 season. In 33 games, Uba scored 17 goals and added 28 helpers. He would add 6 goals and 6 assists in 13 playoff games. The Firebirds would use their 9th round pick to select him at the 2016 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

During the 2016-2017 season, Uba would ply his trade with the Ayr Centennials of the Provincial Junior Hockey League. There, he would appear in 40 games and notch 28 goals and 42 assists. He would add 7 goals and 5 assists in 16 playoff matches, helping the Centennials win the Schmalz Cup.

Uba began last season in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, lacing his skates up with the Wellington Dukes. He appeared in 39 games and scored 9 goals and 13 assists. In late December 2017, Uba committed to the Firebirds and signed an agreement. While the Dukes were on the Holiday break, Uba appeared in 4 games for the Firebirds recording an assist.

Eric Uba of the Flint Firebirds. Photo by Terry Wilson - OHL Images.
Eric Uba of the Flint Firebirds. Photo by Terry Wilson – OHL Images.

It was a certainty that Uba (pronounced you-bah) would make the Firebirds roster full time this season, so a trade deadline deal on January 10,2018 saw the Dukes trade him to the Oakville Blades on his return to the OJHL. He appeared in 12 games for the Blades, scoring 6 goals and 6 assists. He would add 2 and 2 in 13 playoff games.

Uba would appear in all but one game for the Firebirds this season and score 19 goals while assisting on 23 others. While he finished the season a minus-13 it must be noted that the team as a whole was a minus-138 on the year. And Uba had the best plus/minus of any player on the squad to appear in at least half the Firebirds games. It is a testament to the work he puts in on the defensive side of the puck.

When breaking down his stats further, Uba scored his 19 goals on 162 shots, or 11.7%. He was at 6.7% from high danger zone areas, 22.2% from mid danger zone areas and 10.9% from low danger zone areas with the large majority (129) of his shots coming from the low danger zone areas. It shows he has confidence in his shot and that he can beat netminders from anywhere. His primary assists to secondary assists were 14-9.

At 6’ tall, his size is okay. But at 196 pounds, Uba is filled in and like most players at this level, won’t be needing to add the bulk most of them require. He is a straight line north-south player who likes to use the middle of the ice and I am sometimes left wondering how his game would translate to the middle.

Uba is a player who can be trusted to play in any situation, be it the powerplay, the penalty kill, or going up against the best the opposition has to offer. He’s smart and understands defensive responsibilities. He plays high tempo, high energy at both ends of the ice. His anticipation skills are very good and he can create turnovers, close up passing lanes and transition to the attack. He led all draft eligible players in short handed goals.

Offensively, Uba sees the ice very well and can make a very good pass. As mentioned, he can shoot the puck from anywhere. His shot isn’t exactly over powering, but it is accurate and has a deceptive release. If there is one area offensively that I’d like to see him work on it is taking the puck to the net more often and getting himself into position in those high danger zone areas to put the puck on net. Of his 162 shots on the target, just 15 came from those high danger zone areas. Maybe it’s a confidence issue or an experience issue.

Uba wasn’t on NHL Central Scouting’s pre-season or November’s Players to Watch list. But he did make their mid-term rankings at 150th among North American skaters. Based on his season since they published the list in January, he should be a bit higher. But he did get their attention. Unfortunately, the Firebirds did not make the playoffs so his opportunity to see his stock rise further may have come to an end.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

More stats form Prospect-Stats

Cole Schwindt – Mississauga Steelheads – Player Profile

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 175 pounds

Date of birth: April 25, 2001

Hometown: Kitchener, Ontario

Position: Right wing

Shoots: Right

OHL Draft: Round 4, 69th overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season, November: C prospect. Mid-term 131st North America

Mississauga Steelheads pivot Cole Schwindt is a graduate of the Kitchener Junior Rangers Minor Midget AAA squad where he appeared in 31 games during the 2016-2017 season. He scored 12 goals and added 15 assists and the Steelheads would select him in the 4th round, 69th overall at the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Schwindt made his OHL debut on September 22, 2017. He scored his first goal 3 games later and followed that by adding his first assist and multi-point game (1 goal, 2 assists) in his next contest. He finished his rookie campaign with 8 goals and 10 assists while appearing in 66 games.

Cole Schwindt of the Mississauga Steelheads Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Cole Schwindt of the Mississauga Steelheads Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images.

This season Schwindt appeared in all 68 regular season games with the Rangers. He notched 19 goals while assisting on 30 others. He hit the goal 150 times this season, which puts him at 12.6% shooting percentage. In the faceoff circle, he was 551 for 1041 for a 52.9% success rate.

Breaking down his numbers, you’ll find Schwindt was 5 for 27 (18.5%) from high danger zone areas, 6 for 22 (27.3%) from mid-danger zone areas and 8 for 101 (7.9%) from low danger zone areas. His primary and secondary assists were split evenly at 15.

At 6’3” Schwindt has some very good size but really needs to add some bulk. He’s got good mobility on his skates and his top speed is sufficient. I think he could add a little jump in his first few steps.

Schwindt is a strong puck possession pivot and very smart. He sees the ice extremely well and has an ability to slow the game down using his patience to wait for opportunities to sort themselves out. And this bodes well for him as I see him as a playmaking pivot.

Physicality is an area Schwindt does not shy away from. Whether it’s initiating contact, or taking a hit to make a play, you can count on him being involved. In the O-zone, he gets in on the forecheck and will take advantage physically against opposition defenders. In the D-zone, he’ll battle for pucks along the walls – something he rarely loses at. One can only imagine how much more effective he will be once he adds some needed muscle.

Defensively, Schwindt is above the development curve that you’d expect to be at this level – as he was in minor midget as well. He can be trusted against the top players on the other side and to kill penalties. He uses his hockey smarts to defend, knowing how to take away lanes, use an active stick and to use that long reach he possesses effectively. He has excellent anticipation skills and can create turnovers from it.

There is still room for Schwindt to develop offensively. And we can see a similar path taken by Guelph Storms’ Nate Schnarr. However, he has the skillset to be a defensive forward who can kill penalties and provide a touch of offense at the next level.

And that is not a bad thing to carve out a professional career.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

Stats from Prospect-Stats

Keean Washkurak – Mississauga Steelheads – Player Profile

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 184 pounds

Date of birth: August 16, 2001

Hometown: Waterloo, Ontario

Position: Center

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 2, 30th overall, 2017 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings: Pre-season: C Prospect, November: B Prospect, Mid-term: 134th NA

Mississauga Steelheads pivot Keean Washkurak played his Minor Midget AAA hockey for his hometown Waterloo Wolves during the 2016-2017 season where he compiled 17 goals, 21 assists and 34 minutes in penalties in 32 games. He would add 7 goals and 7 assists and 16 penalty minutes in 15 playoff games.

Washkurak would make his Ontario Hockey League debut on September 22, 2017 and score his first goal 4 games into the season on September 30th, 2017 in Owen Sound. He would complete his rookie season scoring 6 goals and 9 assists with 32 minutes in penalties in 61 games. He also competed at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 with Team Red and had a goal and a helper in 6 games.

Washkurak, Keean
Keean Washkurak of the Mississauga Steelheads. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images

Washkurak finished his regular season draft year (now in the playoffs) appearing in 66 games for the Steelheads. He scored 16 goals and assisted on 31 others while racking up 58 minutes in penalties. His 31 helpers were eighth among draft eligible players from the OHL. Perhaps more importantly, 17 of them were primary helpers.

Washkurak’s 16 goals came from 143 shots he fired on goal, good for an 11.2% shooting percentage. When broken down by difficulty, he shot 22.6% from high danger zone areas, 15.4% for mid-danger zone areas and 5.8% from low danger zone areas.  

Like the vast majority of players in this group, as a pivot, faceoffs are an area that Washkurak needs to work on. On the season he won 502 of 1019 draws for a winning percentage of 49.3%.

Where Washkurak stands ahead of most of his peers is his compete level, work ethic and willingness to do whatever it takes shift in and shift out. When it comes to these three areas, consistency is never an issue. However, producing at a consistently has proven to be an issue after starting the year at an excellent pace. Yet, if he is not producing he does so many other things well that he has an effect on the game and NHL scouts will certainly pay attention to those attributes.

Washkurak is an excellent skater with some explosiveness in his stride. Combined with his compete level, he hounds the opposition for the puck making him an excellent forechecker. Despite his 5’10 frame, he’s more then willing, and capable, of banging against much bigger players. And he won’t shy away when those players are coming at him. And yes, he’s been known to drop the mitts against bigger players as well.

Washkurak won’t dangle through players with finesse but rather uses good hockey smarts to make plays quickly. He’d rather drive through players and take the disc right to the net with surprisingly good results. But he can lure defenders in and then make a very good pass finding teammates. His pick possession skills are okay, but it’s not like he is prone to turnovers. Again, it’s quick thinking and quick movement of the puck that makes him most effective.

It’s difficult to predict what kind of career Washkurak will have at the next level. He has the tools to carve himself out a pro career. Sure, it would be nice to have produced more offense. But you’ve got to like the rest of the tools in the tool box.

Stat page from Elite Prospects