Giovanni Vallati – Kitchener Rangers – Player Profile

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 178 pounds

Date of birth: February 21, 2000

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 16th overall, 2016 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting pre-season:  B Prospect

NHL Central Scouting mid-term: 38th North American Skaters

NHL Central Scouting final rank: 57th North American Skaters

When it comes to the 2018 National Hockey League Draft and defencemen available from the Ontario Hockey League, this season is no different then any other. There are three distinct groups: those projected to go in the first round, the next group, and those that will get drafted but have a tough road to the NHL. Kitchener Rangers’ blueliner Giovanni Vallati is in that second group.

Depending on who you ask, Evan Bouchard, Rasmus Sandin, Kevin Bahl and Ryan Merkley are in that first group. The next wave is made up of Vallati, Declan Chisholm, Nico Gross and Sean Durzi. Vallati has the benefit of a deep playoff run although that is not reflected in NHL Central Scouting’s rankings as their list was finalized long before the playoffs ended. Yet they still managed to drop him 19 spots from their mid-term rankings to their final rankings.

Giovanni Vallati of the Kitchener Rangers. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Giovanni Vallati of the Kitchener Rangers. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Vallati played his Minor Midget AAA hockey during the 2015-2016 season with the Vaughan Kings. He played in 64 games and scored 9 goals while adding 27 assists. The Rangers selected Vallati with the 16th overall pick at the 2016 OHL Priority Selection. A year earlier, he was the 17th overall pick by the Gloucester Rangers at the CCHL Bantam Protected Draft.

OHL Central Scouting’s report at the time of the OHL Draft read as follows:

Giovanni is a smooth skating defender that isn’t shy to join the rush when given the opportunity to do so. He is a very strong skater with excellent mobility which allows him to beat a forechecker by himself. His defensive game has really improved since the beginning of the season and he has really simplified his game. He has very good skills and a hard, accurate shot from the point. Giovanni was relied on heavily by his team to help get them into a playoff position and to play in the OHL Cup. 

Last season, Vallati joined the Rangers out of camp and had a pretty good season for a rookie defenceman. He played in 59 games for the Rangers and scored 5 goals and 16 assists. He would add two more helpers in 5 playoff games. He also won a silver medal with Canada Black at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 where he had two assists in 6 games. He would be named to the OHL’s Second All-Rookie Team.

The question coming into this season was whether Vallati could take the next step offensively while continuing to improve other aspects of his game. He played in 65 games and scored just 3 goals but added 23 helpers, with 4 more in 19 playoff contests. Still, he managed to finish fourth among first time draft eligible defencemen in scoring behind Bouchard, Merkley and Sandin.

There isn’t much of anything in Central Scouting’s report you could argue with. Vallati is in fact an excellent skater with terrific mobility and very good speed. As mentioned, he can beat the forecheck with his skating alone. But he’s also very good at reading the play and is very capable of making a crisp, clean pass to exit the zone.

In the d-zone, Vallati has shown improvement from year-to-year. He has decent size and uses it well, although he is going to need to add some muscle. Despite that, he wins more then his fair share of battles and will only improve with the added mass. He anticipates extremely well and possesses an active stick – he will close lanes with his positioning or his twig.

Although Vallati plays a very safe game, he uses that same skating ability and decision making in the offensive zone. He is not averse to taking risks, however, he picks his spots. He can pinch to keep the puck in the o-zone. He can move any-which-way to find lanes and set up teammates. He walks the line extremely well and he has a rocket of a shot from the blueline that he takes with a purpose. He gets it through regularly but isn’t always trying to score but put pucks in places where there is going to be a rebound for his teammates. He has shown he can quarterback a powerplay at the OHL level, but the NHL is a different animal.

For Vallati, the draft in June will be interesting to say the least. He has size, the skating and the skill set. For him it’s just a matter of putting it all together. To be more specific, it will come down to whether an NHL team believes they can help him put it all together.

Few have seen Vallati as much as Kitchener Rangers analyst then Mike Farwell of 570 News. I asked Mike if he could share a sentence or two to describe Vallati. This is what he had to say:

I’d describe him as a smooth skater with an excellent first pass and a defenceman who thinks the game well. He picks his spots to pinch and does so very effectively.

Stat page from Elite Prospects

 

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OHL’s Draft Eligible Statistical Leaders: January

January 31 brings us within a hair of the three-quarter mark of the Ontario Hockey League season and there are many interesting individual races in a variety of statistical categories. As always, we look at players eligible for the National Hockey League Draft in June in Dallas Texas, for the first time. That is not meant to take away from players re-entering the draft. While I believe some of them will get drafted the second time around, history has shown that they are usually passed over the second time.

It’s hard to imagine, or maybe it is not, where Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts would be had he not missed almost two months with a wrist injury. Despite missing seven weeks and playing in twenty fewer games, Svechnikov leads all draft eligible players with 23 goals in 27 games. That’s two more then Aidan Dudas of the Owen Sound Attack and three more then Ty Dellandria of the Flint Firebirds, who both have played 47 games.

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

Thanks in part to Svechnikov’s absence, a pair of highly touted defensemen lead all players in points. Evan Bouchard of the London Knights leads the pack with 60 points in 47 games. He is followed closely by Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm who has 57 points in 47 games. Akil Thomas of the Niagara IceDogs comes in third with 56 points in 47 games.

Of course, it goes without saying that Bouchard and Merkley lead all defensemen in the point scoring race. Rasmus Sandin of the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds sits in the next tier by himself with 30 points in 34 games. Yours truly has made it no secret that Sandin would be my choice as the second defenseman taken from the OHL. Giovanni Vallati of the Kitchener Rangers comes in fourth with 20 points in 47 games.

Over the years, there has been a great debate over the value of the plus-minus stat. Whether you agree or not, there is some value to the stat. And Sandin leads the way with a plus-28. That’s a comfortable plus-10 more than teammate Barrett Hayton and Nathan Dunkley of the London Knights.

Serron Noel of the Oshawa Generals led the entire OHL for most of the season in shooting percentage. As of January 31, he drops to second, but still leads all draft eligible players at 25%. Svechnikov comes in second, scoring on 22.3% of his shots, while Cam Hillis of the Guelph Storm comes in third at 21.8%.

Bouchard leads all shooters in shots on goal with 211, which is good enough for second overall in the OHL. He has a comfortable lead over Dellandria (173) and Dudas (172).

While we take great care in compiling stats, always refer to the OHL website for official stats.

Points Leaders
Player Team GP G A Pts
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 16 44 60
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 47 12 45 57
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 47 13 43 56
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 47 17 36 53
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 47 21 25 46
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 47 18 28 46
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 47 17 27 44
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 47 20 21 41
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 40 15 24 39
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 27 23 15 38
Goal Scoring Leaders
Player Team GP G GPG
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 27 23 0.85
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 47 21 0.45
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 47 20 0.43
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 47 18 0.38
Serron Noel Oshawa Generals 42 18 0.43
Pavel Gogolev Peterborough Petes 43 18 0.42
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 47 17 0.36
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 47 17 0.36
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 16 0.34
Kody Clark Ottawa 67’s 38 16 0.42
Assist Leaders
Player Team GP A APG
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 47 45 0.96
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 44 0.94
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 47 43 0.91
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 47 36 0.77
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 47 28 0.60
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 47 27 0.57
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 47 27 0.57
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 47 25 0.53
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 34 24 0.71
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 40 24 0.60
Defencemen Point Leaders
Player Team GP G A Pts
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 16 44 60
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 47 12 45 57
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 34 6 24 30
Giovanni Vallati Kitchener Rangers 46 3 17 20
Merrick Rippon Ottawa 67’s 48 2 16 18
Peter Stratis Sudbury Wolves 49 5 12 17
Caleb Everett Saginaw Spirit 39 4 13 17
Kevin Bahl Ottawa 67’s 48 1 16 17
Plus/Minus Leaders
Player Team GP +/-
Rasmus Sandin Soo Greyhounds 34 +28
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 40 +18
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 47 +18
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 +17
Tyler Tucker Barrie Colts 40 +16
Adam Liska Kitchener Rangers 44 +12
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 27 +11
Alec Regula London Knights 47 +11
William Sirman Windsor Spitfires 46 +10
Ryan Roth Soo Greyhounds 49 +10
Penalty Minutes Leaders
Player Team GP PIM M/G
Tyler Tucker Barrie Colts 40 67 1.68
Kevin Bahl Ottawa 67’s 48 67 1.40
Daylon Groulx Owen Sound Attack 39 60 1.54
Merrick Rippon Ottawa 67’s 48 57 1.19
Curtis Douglas Windsor Spitfires 46 55 1.20
Ryan Merkley Guelph Storm 47 50 1.06
Max Grondin Saginaw Spirit 46 47 1.02
Faceoff Leaders  (Minimum 200 faceoffs)
Player Team GP FOA FOW %
Billy Moskal London Knights 46 445 266 59.8
Allan McShane Oshawa Generals 47 695 382 55.0
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 40 484 263 54.3
David Levin Sudbury Wolves 32 232 125 53.9
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 48 1043 556 53.3
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 47 761 405 53.2
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 47 985 500 50.8
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 47 662 326 49.2
Barret Kirwin Guelph Storm 48 659 324 49.2
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 48 776 379 48.8
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 McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 1/19 1/26 3 6
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 Merkley Guelph Storm 1/11 1/28 8 10
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 10/27 11/9 6 9
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 12/7 12/31 6 6
Longest Point Streak
Player Team From To Gms Pts
Ryan McLeod Mississauga Steelheads 10/6 11/10 14 20
Akil Thomas Niagara Ice Dogs 12/9 1/13 12 18
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
Shooting Percentage
Player Team GP G S %
Serron Noel Oshawa Generals 42 18 72 25.0
Andrei Svechnikov Barrie Colts 27 23 103 22.3
Cam Hillis Guelph Storm 48 19 87 21.8
Nathan Dunkley London Knights 40 15 74 20.3
Brady Hinz Peterborough Petes 49 14 73 19.2
Shots On Goal Leaders
Player Team GP SOG
Evan Bouchard London Knights 47 211
Ty Dellandrea Flint Firebirds 47 173
Aidan Dudas Owen Sound Attack 47 172
Riley Damiani Kitchener Rangers 49 133
Barrett Hayton Soo Greyhounds 47 131
Goaltenders Leaders – Goals Against Average (Min 10 games)
Player Team GP Min GA Avg
Jordon Kooy London Knights 17 827 40 2.90
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 11 581 30 3.10
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 12 569 32 3.37
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 33 1865 117 3.76
Cameron Lamour Saginaw Spirit 12 522 37 4.25
Goaltending Leaders – Save Percentage (Min 10 games)
Player Team GP SH  SVS SV%
Jordon Kooy London Knights 17 442 402 0.910
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 11 270 240 0.889
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 12 278 246 0.885
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 33 959 842 0.878
Marshall Frappier Sudbury Wolves 13 376 329 0.875
Goaltending Leaders – Wins
Player Team GP W L OL
Jacob Ingham Mississauga Steelheads 17 13 16 1
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 11 7 1 1
Jordon Kooy London Knights 17 6 6 1
Kai Edmonds Barrie Colts 12 5 4 0
Cameron Lamour Saginaw Spirit 12 5 4 0
Goaltending Leaders – Shutouts
Player Team GP SO
Nick Donofrio Hamilton Bulldogs 11 1
Mario Peccia Oshawa Generals 8 1

Bernard and Vallati added to Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that defencemen Xavier Bernard of the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Giovanni Vallati of the Kitchener Rangers have been added to 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game rosters for this week’s showcase taking place on Thursday January 25 in Guelph.

Giovanni Vallati of the Kitchener Rangers. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Giovanni Vallati of the Kitchener Rangers. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

An 18-year-old from Mercier, Que., Bernard is playing in his second season with the Voltigeurs after being chosen by the club in the first round of the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft.  Through 43 games this season he has 10 goals and 17 assists for 27 points.  Bernard is listed 37th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting in their Mid-Season Rankings for the 2018 NHL Draft.  He will join Team Orr and compete opposite two of his Voltigeurs teammates on Team Cherry including forward Joe Veleno and goaltender Olivier Rodrigue.

A 17-year-old from Ottawa, Ont., Vallati is in the midst of his second season with the Rangers who chose him in the first round of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.  In 44 games this season he has recorded three goals and 17 assists for 20 points.  Vallati is listed 38th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting in their Mid-Season Rankings for the 2018 NHL Draft.  He will join Team Cherry alongside fellow OHL rearguards that include Evan Bouchard of the London Knights, Nico Gross of the Oshawa Generals, Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm, and Rasmus Sandin of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

Bernard replaces Jett Woo of the Moose Jaw Warriors, while Vallati replaces Alexander Alexeyev of the Red Deer Rebels, both unable to compete due to injury.

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.

Storm’s Ryan Merkley named OHL Rookie of the Year

OHL Announces First and Second All-Rookie Teams

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that defenceman Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm is the 2016-17 recipient of the Emms Family Award presented to the OHL’s Rookie of the Year.

Merkley led all OHL rookies with 55 points in 62 games played scoring 12 goals and 43 assists positioning him eighth overall among all OHL defenders.  He became the first rookie in franchise history to lead the team in scoring, and is the first OHL defenceman since London’s Rick Corriveau in 1987-88 to lead all rookies in scoring.

Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL  Images.
Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

“It is an honour to be selected as the OHL Rookie of the Year,” said Merkley. “Knowing that there are so many talented first year players, makes the award extra special.  I would like to thank my teammates and the Storm organization for all their help and support.”

The 16-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., selected first overall by the Storm in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection, is just the second member of the organization to earn the award following fellow Storm first overall pick Jeff O’Neill during the 1992-93 season.  Merkley’s 55 points are the most by a Storm 16-year-old since O’Neill’s 79 during his first campaign.

“Being selected as OHL Rookie of the Year is a special honour, but one that Ryan richly deserves,” said Mike Kelly, Guelph’s departing General Manager. “Even as a 16-year-old, Ryan was a critical part of a very young Guelph Storm Hockey team, and he provided our fans, and fans throughout the OHL with some spectacular hockey memories.  As good as Ryan was this past year, he will be even more special in upcoming seasons.”

Merkley joined the OHL after earning GTHL Player of the Year honours with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and made an immediate impact with recognition as the OHL’s Rookie of the Month for October and December and represented Team Canada Red at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sault Ste. Marie.  He recorded 16 multi-point performances during 2016-17 and was voted third in both the Best Playmaker and Best Stickhandler categories in the Western Conference Coaches Poll.

First presented in 1973, Emms Family Award recipients include Wayne Gretzky (Sault Ste. Marie 1977-78), Joe Thornton (Sault Ste. Marie 1995-96), Rick Nash (London 2000-01), Taylor Hall (Windsor 2007-08), and most recently Alex DeBrincat (Erie 2014-15), and Alex Nylander (Mississauga 2015-16).  Merkley is the eighth player to earn the Emms Family Award after also earning the Jack Ferguson Award as the first overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection beginning with O’Neill, Patrick O’Sullivan (Mississauga 2001-02), Rob Schremp (Mississauga 2002-03), John Tavares (Oshawa 2005-06), Aaron Ekblad (Barrie 2011-12), Connor McDavid (Erie 2012-13), and Travis Konecny (Ottawa 2013-14).

The Emms Family Award was donated by Leighton “Hap” Emms, former owner of the Barrie, Niagara Falls, and St. Catharines OHL franchises.  The award is selected by all 20 member club General Managers.  Teams were asked to submit only one nominee from their own club for consideration on the ballot and were not permitted to vote for the player from their own hockey club.  Players received five points for a first vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote.

Merkley earned 75 of a possible 95 voting points ahead of forward Akil Thomas of the Niagara IceDogs who finished second with 44 voting points and forward Allan McShane of the Oshawa Generals who finished in third with 24 voting points. 

The Emms Family Award will be formally presented to Merkley at the OHL’s annual Awards Ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Thursday June 8.  He will be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Rookie of the Year to be announced at the Mastercard Memorial Cup on Saturday May 27.

Merkley was also announced to the OHL’s First All-Rookie Team alongside NHL Draft prospect Eemeli Rasanen of the Kingston Frontenacs on defence, and goaltender Jacob Ingham of the Mississauga Steelheads.  First team forwards include McShane at centre, Thomas at right wing, and Kingston’s Linus Nyman at left wing.  Second team honours went to NHL Draft prospects Adam Ruzicka of the Sarnia Sting, Alex Formenton of the London Knights, and Greg Meireles of the Kitchener Rangers at forward, while 16-year-olds Giovanni Vallati of Kitchener, and Owen Lalonde of the Sudbury Wolves comprise the defence.  Second team goaltending honours went to Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

The OHL All-Rookie Teams were also selected by the OHL’s General Managers.  Players were voted on initially by position within their conference receiving five points for a first place vote, three for a second place vote, and one for a third.  Top vote getters in each position made up the final ballot that was then circulated to all 20 teams. 

2016-17 OHL All-Rookie Teams (voting points in brackets):

First Team:
Centre – Allan McShane, Oshawa Generals (85)
Left Wing – Linus Nyman, Kingston Frontenacs (73)
Right Wing – Akil Thomas, Niagara IceDogs (93)
Defence – Ryan Merkley, Guelph Storm (91)
Defence – Eemeli Rasanen, Kingston Frontenacs (74)
Goaltender – Jacob Ingham, Mississauga Steelheads (73)

Second Team:
Centre – Adam Ruzicka, Sarnia Sting (51)
Left Wing – Alex Formenton, London Knights (38)
Right Wing – Greg Meireles, Kitchener Rangers (39)
Defence – Giovanni Vallati, Kitchener Rangers (44)
Defence – Owen Lalonde, Sudbury Wolves (39)
Goaltender – Matthew Villalta, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (70)