2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Rosters Announced

40 top NHL Draft eligible CHL players will compete January 28, 2016, in Vancouver, BC
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Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League in association with the host Vancouver Giants Hockey Club, and title partner BMO Financial Group, today announced the 40 players that will compete in the 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Vancouver, BC, on Thursday January 28, 2016.

The 40 CHL players competing in the game were chosen by all 30 NHL clubs and divided into teams by NHL Central Scouting.  This season’s event marks the 21st annual showcase of the CHL’s top-40 NHL Draft eligible players featuring talent from the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League competing before hundreds of NHL scouts in attendance.

“The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is one of the highlights of the hockey season,” said CHL President David Branch. “Since 1996 the CHL’s top prospects have showcased their skills in this event providing NHL scouts, General Managers, and fans the opportunity to catch the next wave of NHL talent which in recent years has featured first overall picks Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Nathan MacKinnon, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. We look forward to January 28 with coaches Don Cherry and Bobby Orr, and 40 of the top CHL players eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft competing before the passionate hockey fans in Vancouver and to CHL fans across Canada watching live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.”

The Giants’ Tyler Benson and Port Moody, BC, native Lucas Johansen of the Kelowna Rockets are among the 20 players to suit up for Team Cherry along with Canadian National Junior Team member Julien Gauthier of the Val-d’Or Foreurs, and OHL top goal scorer Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters who won World Junior bronze with the United States.  Team Orr features World Junior gold medalist Olli Juolevi of the London Knights, fellow Knight and World Junior bronze medalist Matthew Tkachuk, Canadian National Junior Team Selection Camp invite Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, and Alexander Nylander of the Mississauga Steelheads who led Sweden in World Junior scoring.

“We are thrilled for the up-and-coming talent chosen for this year’s BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game,” said Michael Bonner, Senior Vice President, BC and Yukon Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. “As the Official Bank of the CHL, we’re proud to sponsor an event that allows Canadians to watch some of the top young athletes across the country, and we’re excited to bring them to Vancouver later this month.”

25 of the CHL’s 60 member clubs are represented on the rosters.  The 40 competing players include 20 from the OHL, 12 from the WHL, and eight from the QMJHL.  13 CHL Players who competed in the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in St. Catharines, ON, were selected in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft.  In 20 years, 278 CHL players from this event have been chosen by NHL clubs in the first round of the NHL Draft representing 47% of all players selected.

“The BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game provides a unique opportunity for NHL scouts and General Managers to evaluate top CHL talent for the 2016 NHL Draft in a best-on-best competition,” said NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr. “The game is also a unique opportunity for the players to take advantage of the spotlight in what is consistently an exciting and highly competitive showcase.”

Since the event was first introduced in 1996 the game has featured 13 players selected with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft including Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, Marc-Andre Fleury, Rick Nash, Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Thornton, and Chris Phillips.

2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game Rosters:

Team Cherry:

Goaltenders:

Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke Phoenix)

Zach Sawchenko (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Defencemen:

Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting)

Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings)

Sean Day (Mississauga Steelheads)

Samuel Girard (Shawinigan Cataractes)

Lucas Johansen (Kelowna Rockets)

Markus Niemelainen (Saginaw Spirit)

 Forwards:

Vitalii Abramov (Gatineau Olympiques)

Tyler Benson (Vancouver Giants)

Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires)

Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters)

Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets)

Julien Gauthier (Val-d’Or Foreurs)

Tim Gettinger (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Noah Gregor (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Max Jones (London Knights)

Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)

Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads)

Sam Steel (Regina Pats)


Team Orr:

Goaltenders:

Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)

Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes)

Defencemen:

Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen)

Luke Green (Saint John Sea Dogs)

Libor Hajek (Saskatoon Blades)

Olli Juolevi (London Knights)

Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires)

Logan Stanley (Windsor Spitfires)

Forwards:

Nathan Bastian (Mississauga Steelheads)

Will Bitten (Flint Firebirds)

Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)

Brett Howden (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Jack Kopacka (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville Tigres)

Alexander Nylander (Mississauga Steelheads)

Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters)

Otto Somppi (Halifax Mooseheads)

Simon Stransky (Prince Albert Raiders)

Matthew Tkachuk (London Knights)


The 2016 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game is proudly supported by title partner BMO Bank of Montreal, and CHL associate sponsors Cooper Tire, autoTRADER.ca and Sherwin-Williams.  The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.

For more information please visit www.bmotopprospects.ca.

BMO and the Canadian Hockey League:
BMO Financial Group and the Canadian Hockey League announced BMO as the Official Bank of the Canadian Hockey League in 2011. The sponsorship builds on BMO’s partnership with the CHL of more than 10 years and affirms BMO’s exclusivity as a financial services sponsor of the league in the retail banking category. It also engrains a presence with the 48 teams which currently participate in the BMO CHL Affinity MasterCard program, which enables CHL fans to support their favourite teams through a co-branded credit card.

Super series

Mid-season OHL’s Draft Eligible Rankings

The mid way point of the Ontario Hockey League season is upon us and it’s time for my mid-season rankings of players eligible for the 2016 National Hockey League Draft.

Jakob Chychrun of the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
1. Jakob Chychrun – Sarnia Sting

 

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 215 pounds

Date of birth: March 31, 1998. Boca Raton, Florida

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 1st overall, 2014 Priority Selection

 

Matthew Tkachuk of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
2. Matthew Tkachuk – London Knights

Height:  6’1”

Weight: 195 pounds

Date of birth: December 11, 1997. St Louis, MO

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 4, 64th overall, 2013 Priority Selection

Nylander, Alexander (1)
3. Alexander Nylander – Mississauga Steelheads

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 172 pounds

Date of birth: March 2, 1998, Södertälje, Sweden

Position: Right Wing

Shoots: Right

OHL Draft: Round 1, 12th overall, CHL Import Draft

 

Max Jones of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
4. Max Jones – London Knights

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 200 pounds

Date of birth: February 17, 1998, Orion, MI

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 18th overall, 2014 Priority Selection

Mikhail Sergachev of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
5.Mikhail Sergachev – Windsor Spitfires

Height:  6’2”

Weight: 205 pounds

Date of birth: June 25, 1998. Nizhnekamsk, Russia

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 6th overall, 2015 CHL Import Draft

Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
6. Alex DeBrincat – Erie Otters

Height: 5’7”

Weight: 160 pounds

Date of Birth: December 18, 1997 – Detroit, Michigan

Position: Right Wing

Shoots: Right

OHL Draft: Undrafted, signed as a free agent.

 

Olli Juolevi of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
7. Olli Juolevi – London Knights

Height:  6’2”

Weight: 185 pounds

Date of birth: May 5, 1998. Helsinki, Finland

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft:  Round 1, 45th overall, CHL Import Draft.

McLeod, Michael (2)
8. Michael McLeod – Mississauga Steelheads

Height:  6’2”

Weight: 187 pounds

Date of birth: February 3, 1998. Mississauga, Ontario

Position: Center

Shoots: Right

OHL Draft: Round 1, 5th overall, 2014 Priority Selection

Brown, Logan (1).JPG
9. Logan Brown – Windsor Spitfires

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 218 pounds

Date of birth: March 5, 1998, Chesterfield, MO

Position: Center

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 6th overall, 2014 Priority Selection

Bastian, Nathan (2).jpg
10. Nathan Bastian – Mississauga Steelheads

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 208 pounds

Date of birth: December 6, 1997. Kitchener, Ontario

Position: Center

Catches: Right

OHL Draft: Round 7, 127th overall, 2013 Priority Selection

All photos courtesy of Terry Wilson/Aaron Bell – OHL Images

OHL Announces 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series Rosters

The Ontario Hockey League in association with the Canadian Hockey League, the Owen Sound Attack, and the Windsor Spitfires hockey clubs today announced the Team OHL rosters for the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series.

 Team OHL will compete against the Russian National Junior Team in Game 3 of the series in Owen Sound on Thursday November 12, with Game 4 to be played in Windsor on Monday November 16.  The series also includes two games in the Western Hockey League prior to both OHL games, and ends with two games hosted by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Super Series36 players will represent the OHL in the 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series including 13 players who received invites to Canada’s National Junior Team Summer Showcase.  Headlining that group is Florida Panthers prospect Lawson Crouse of the Kingston Frontenacs who won gold as a member of Team Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.  Summer Showcase invites on Team OHL also include goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood of the Barrie Colts, defencemen Travis Dermott of the Erie Otters, Vince Dunn of the Niagara IceDogs, Roland McKeown of the Frontenacs, and Mitchell Vande Sompel of the Oshawa Generals.  The forward group includes New York Islanders 2014 first round pick Michael Dal Colle of the Generals, Philadelphia Flyers first round pick Travis Konecny of the Ottawa 67’s, Toronto Maple Leafs first round pick Mitch Marner of the London Knights, Arizona Coyotes first round prospects Brendan Perlini of the IceDogs and Dylan Strome of the Otters, Dylan Sadowy of the Saginaw Spirit, and the Frontenacs’ Spencer Watson.

 Both 2015 CHL Canada Russia Series hosts will be represented by a pair of hometown players.  In Owen Sound, Montreal Canadiens prospect Michael McNiven and Florida Panthers prospect Thomas Schemitsch of the Attack will dress for Team OHL on November 12, while the Spitfires’ Logan Brown and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Cristiano DiGiacinto will play before the Windsor crowd onNovember 16.

 Behind the bench for Team OHL in Owen Sound will be Attack head coach and 2014 Canadian National Junior Team assistant Ryan McGill along with Attack assistant coach Derek King, while Spitfires head coach Rocky Thompson and assistant coach Jerrod Smith will work the game in Windsor.  Serving behind the bench in both games is Spitfires associate coach Trevor Letowski who was recently added as an assistant coach for Canada’s 2016 National Junior Team.  Letowski previously served as an assistant coach for Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Under-18 Championship winning a bronze medal.

 The Team OHL rosters were assembled by a Selection Committee that includes Attack General Manager and member of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence Management Group Dale DeGray, and Storm General Manager Mike Kelly.  Both DeGray and Kelly worked in consultation with Hockey Canada Director of Player Personnel Ryan Jankowski.

 In 12 years of competition against the Russian National Junior Team, the OHL has a record of 20-3-1 in this series following a 4-0 loss in Peterborough and a 5-1 victory in Kingston last season.

  Team OHL Roster – Owen Sound – November 12

 *players competing in both games

 Goaltenders (2):

Mackenzie Blackwood (Barrie Colts)

Michael McNiven (Owen Sound Attack)*

 Defencemen (6):

Travis Dermott (Erie Otters)

Vince Dunn (Niagara IceDogs)

Garrett McFadden (Guelph Storm)

Roland McKeown (Kingston Frontenacs)*

Thomas Schemitsch (Owen Sound Attack)

Matthew Spencer (Peterborough Petes)

 Forwards‎ (12):

Nathan Bastian (Mississauga Steelheads)

Zach Bratina (North Bay Battalion)

Lawson Crouse (Kingston Frontenacs)*

Travis Konecny (Ottawa 67’s)

Andrew Mangiapane (Barrie Colts)

Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads)

Dylan Sadowy (Saginaw Spirit)

Dante Salituro (Ottawa 67’s)

Zachary Senyshyn (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Blake Speers (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Dylan Strome (Erie Otters)

Spencer Watson (Kingston Frontenacs)*

 Mitchell Stephens (Saginaw Spirit) – Originally selected but unable to participate due to injury.

 Staff:

Head Coach – Ryan McGill (Owen Sound Attack)

Assistant Coach – Trevor Letowski (Windsor Spitfires)

Assistant Coach – Derek King (Owen Sound Attack)

Athletic Therapist – Andy Brown (Owen Sound Attack)

 Team OHL Roster – Windsor – November 16

 *players competing in both games

 Goaltenders (2):

Michael McNiven (Owen Sound Attack)*

Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes)

 Defencemen (6):

Kyle Capobianco (Sudbury Wolves)

Jakob Chychrun (Sarnia Sting)

Victor Mete (London Knights)

Roland McKeown (Kingston Frontenacs)*

Alex Peters (Flint Firebirds)

Mitchell Vande Sompel (Oshawa Generals)

 Forwards (12):

Mike Amadio (North Bay Battalion)

Will Bitten (Flint Firebirds)

Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires)

Anthony Cirelli (Oshawa Generals)

Eric Cornel (Peterborough Petes)

Lawson Crouse (Kingston Frontenacs)*

Cristiano DiGiacinto (Windsor Spitfires)

Michael Dal Colle (Oshawa Generals)

Graham Knott (Niagara IceDogs)

Mitchell Marner (London Knights)

Brendan Perlini (Niagara IceDogs)

Spencer Watson (Kingston Frontenacs)*

 Staff:

Head Coach – Rocky Thompson (Windsor Spitfires)

Assistant Coach – Trevor Letowski (Windsor Spitfires)

Assistant Coach – Jerrod Smith (Windsor Spitfires)

Athletic Therapist – Joey Garland (Windsor Spitfires)

Equipment Manager – J.R Grant (Windsor Spitfires)

The 2015 Canada Russia series is supported by CHL associate sponsors, BMO Bank of Montreal, Cooper Tire, autoTRADER.ca and Sherwin-Williams.  All games will be nationally broadcasted live on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.

The schedule for the 2015 Canada Russia Series is as follows:

Game 1 – Monday, November 9 at Kelowna, BC
Game 2 – Tuesday, November 10 at Kamloops, BC
Game 3 – Thursday, November 12 at Owen Sound, ON

Game 4 – Monday, November 16 at Windsor, ON

Game 5 – Tuesday, November 17 at Rouyn-Noranda, QC

Game 6 – Thursday, November 19 at Halifax, NS

 For more information including how to purchase tickets please visit canadarussia.chl.ca.

Jakob Chychrun – Sarnia Sting – Player Profile

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 215 pounds

Date of birth: March 31, 1998. Boca Raton, Florida

Position: Defence

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 1, 1st overall, 2014 Priority Selection

Elite: a select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities.

Why did I begin with the definition of elite? It’s become part of a broad characterization loosely attached to players; it should be restricted to the best of the best. That’s not to say a player can’t have a particular elite skill such as: skating or shot quality.

Will Chychrun fit the definition elite? Yes.

If you expect a franchise defenceman, look no further than Chychrun.  He is everything you ask for in a defenseman and more. He has good size and fantastic skating to go along with it. As he grew accustomed to the faster pace of the OHL last season, the forward turned defenceman became harder to beat one on one.

He has elite vision and his hockey sense is unparalleled by any other defenceman in this draft class. He knows when to rush with the puck and when to dish off to a teammate with pinpoint accuracy. He is always one play ahead. Chychrun’s power play skills are also unrivaled.  He has an Al MacInnis shot with the accuracy of a Raymond Bourque.

Chychrun is a communicator on the ice and on the bench. Despite his young age he has no problem communicating with players on the bench or directing traffic on the ice. He has tremendous leadership qualities – he was named an alternate captain as a rookie – and will one day captain an NHL team.

Jakob Chychrun - Courtesy Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Jakob Chychrun – Courtesy Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Internationally, Chychrun played for team Ontario at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 in 2014 as a member of the Toronto Jr Canadiens – a rarity. He missed the tournament in 2015 due to an injury. He also sat out the Ivan Hlinka Memorial in August with an injury.

The above mentioned tournaments are not sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation; therefore Chychrun is not committed to play for Canada. He has dual citizenship and can play for either Canada or the United States, but once he commits, he can no longer switch allegiances. Chychrun has stated he wants to play for Canada and he should (will in my opinion) be a member of Team Canada at this year’s World Junior Championships. If he falls short, the US could welcome him with open arms if he so chooses.

All this has drawn comparisons to Aaron Ekblad – the first defenceman to receive exceptional status and the first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. Personally, I believe Chychrun has slightly higher offensive abilities than Ekblad and is a better skater. Ekblad is slightly ahead of Chychrun in other categories at the same stage of their careers, but overall, the slight advantage goes to Chychrun.

I spoke with two people who have an incredible eye for talent: Brock Otten, who has his own excellent OHL blog here and Brendan Ross, Director of Scouting for TheScout.ca and head scout for DobberProspects.

OHLW: Chychrun had the opportunity to, and decided against, applying for exceptional status with Hockey Canada. How do you think that helped him in his preparation for what turned out to be a fantastic rookie season?

Otten:  I’m of the opinion that if you’re talented and dedicated, it doesn’t matter what route you take, you’ll find success. By delaying his entry into the OHL, Chychrun was able to play for an exceptionally talented Toronto Jr. Canadiens club. While he missed the OHL Cup with a shoulder injury, he was incredibly important to that team. He also still got to suit up for the Team Ontario at the U17’s (as an underager), despite not playing in the OHL. Bottom line is that Chychrun likely sat down with his family and decided that he wasn’t ready for that jump yet. As others have found out (especially Sean Day recently), that exceptional status tag is a tough burden to carry sometimes. The expectations can be tough to deal with. By playing a year of MM and allowing his game to mature, he was able to grow as a player at both ends of the ice. So far, it’s proved to be a pretty smart choice.

Ross: From my understanding Chychrun grew up playing the game as a forward so opting against applying for exceptional status really allowed Jakob to focus on refining the aspects of his defensive game. He’s a natural athlete so adjusting to the physical demands of a different position came easier for him but the extra time gave him an opportunity to develop into a more complete player and that was evident throughout his minor midget draft year as he just kept improving with each passing game.

OHLW: There are some that believe entering his draft year that he is at the same level Aaron Ekblad was when entering his draft year. What are your thoughts on the comparison?

Otten: I actually thought that Chychrun was better than Ekblad during their 16/17 year old seasons. So I’d actually agree with that statement. Love Aaron and he improved so much over the course of his OHL career (especially as a skater and offensively), but Chychrun is the best two-way defender the OHL has seen since Drew Doughty IMO. Complete package and a true franchise defender. In comparison to Aaron, I think at the same age, Jakob displays a more natural offensive ability, in combination with better mobility. Just has to stay healthy.

Ross: The first time I watched Chychrun skate in his minor midget season I remember thinking and reporting that he appeared as good as (and possibly better) than the former Sun County Panther but that all has to be taken with a grain of salt. Although they play the same position, are similar in style and natural ability, they were certainly different kids with much different backgrounds and also playing in different leagues at the same age (Aaron in the OHL at 15 and Chychrun in the GTHL at 15). With that said, there are a lot of similarities with the two of them – first and foremost, their respect for the game and professional approach. One could certainly say that Chychrun is the better skater of the two while Ekblad likely holds the edge in power and strength. The elder Ekblad, as expected, is much more mature on the defensive side of the puck while Chychrun has the ability to create offense better on his own (end to end rushes, etc.) but that also comes with some risks. Comparisons aside, it’ll be a treat comparing these 1st overall OHL picks throughout their professional careers.

OHLW: What would you say his single greatest asset is?

Otten: That’s a tough question. The answer now may not be the answer at the end of the season. He’s such a complete player. If I had to pick something, I feel that his offensive hockey sense, in particular his ability to find holes in opposing defences to get in scoring position, is incredibly impressive for a player his age. He could score 25 goals this year.

Ross: Without a doubt his skating ability. His advanced and effortless mobility provides him advantages both offensively and defensively. Propelled by an elongated stride that provides both power and finesse in crisp edges, Chychrun is capable of bursting up ice in dazzling rushes and then quickly retreat to get back defensively. His ability to quickly close gaps is aided by quick changes in direction and high-end awareness. If I were to point to one single physical skill that makes Chychrun an elite talent, it’s definitely his skating abilities.

OHLW: If you can find a weakness in his game, or something that he needs to improve on, what would you say that would be?

Otten: Other than keeping that shoulder healthy, I think Chychrun is still learning to use his size consistently in the defensive end. This is something I expect a improvement in this year. He’s shown a willingness to engage off the rush and will throw the odd big hit, but playing with a ton of intensity in front of the net and in the corners is the next step to being a consistently physical defender. Showed that at times last year, but would love to see him become one of the toughest guys in the league to play against.

Ross: I had a feeling that this question was coming since everyone, including Jakob himself, is looking for areas to improve. Even after thinking long and hard, outside of his physical durability, it’s very difficult to pinpoint a weakness to his game. His injuries, specifically his shoulder problems, have been well documented over the last several seasons so it’s no secret that he’ll need to stay healthy in his draft season to dispel those concerns. Even with a well-rounded game, Chychrun can always find areas to improve. His natural puck moving abilities will certainly get people saying that he’ll need to improve his defensive game but in reality, his defensive awareness is very strong and an area he excels in. His tendency to activate into the rush presents opportunities for opposing teams to exploit his coverage but in today’s game where defenders are encouraged to hold the line and act as a fourth forward, that tendency is an asset. I think Jakob would probably tell you himself that he wants to become a defender that can be used in all situations at the next level but also one that can be especially trusted in shutting down top players. That is an area that even the most seasoned veterans must continually work on so Chychrun will make it a priority as well.

OHLW: Chychrun is currently ranked number two behind Auston Matthews in many draft rankings. Is there any scenario where you could see him seriously challenging Matthews for first overall?

Otten: Probably two scenarios. One, Matthews disappoints in Switzerland or he gets hurt. Or two, Chychrun has an incredible year, challenges for the Max Kaminsky (Top defender of the OHL), plays a role on the WJC team, and leads the Sting to a solid year…and a team looking for a franchise defender takes him first (god help us if the Oilers pick first again).

Ross: Absolutely. It’s a long draft year for these kids and there are too many examples of non-linear development curves. Matthews, Chychrun and several other eligible forwards all possess elite skill sets to challenge for 1st overall but at the moment, its Matthews followed by Chychrun. At this point in time, Chychrun holds a sizeable lead as the top defenseman available with only Olli Juolevi, Dante Fabbri and Kale Clague as contenders in his rear-view mirror. With Auston Matthews playing in the Swiss professional league, it makes the 1st overall watch especially intriguing. As previously mentioned, Chychrun needs to remain healthy and lead his Sarnia Sting team deep into the OHL playoffs to really challenge Matthews at the top.

OHLW: Chychrun’s game reminds you most of which current or past NHL player?

Otten: Not a big comparisons kind of guy. But…the guy that immediately came to mind was Rob Blake.

Ross: Player comparisons are the bane of my existence but I will bite. In terms of style, Jakob Chychrun plays a lot like Drew Doughty – possessing poise, confidence and great hockey instincts. Chychrun may be a better skater than Doughty but I see a similar NHL impact moving forward.

You can follow Brock on twitter here and Brendan here.

OHL General Manager’s Poll

A survey I have done in past seasons is to poll the General Managers of the Ontario Hockey League teams with this: List your top 3 goaltenders, defencemen and forwards and the order they would be selected in the 2016 National Hockey League Draft.

This season I have expanded the survey to include head coaches, goaltending coaches, and directors of scouting as well as assistant general managers.

Players were given 7 points for a first place ranking, 4 points for second place and 1 point for third place. Based on the number of responses received, the maximum points a player could receive are 357 points.

Jakob Chychrun - courtesy Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Jakob Chychrun – courtesy Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Only one player received unanimous first place votes from all respondents: Sarnia Sting defenceman Jakob Chychrun. Of those 51 respondents, the vast majority, 40, had London Knights defenceman Olli Juolevi as their second choice.

The battle for top goaltender was for all intents and purposes a tie. Dylan Wells of the Peterborough Petes and Evan Cormier of the Saginaw Spirit ended with 24 first place votes apiece. The difference being Cormier received one fewer second place vote and an extra third place vote.

Among the forwards, the London Knights Matthew Tkachuk was the overwhelming favorite receiving 50 of a possible 51 first place votes. Tkachuk didn’t receive a second or third place vote. Now some of you may think that’s a General Manager trying to get a better result for his own player, but consider this: The one vote that went against him went to his London teammate Max Jones.

Compared to polls from previous seasons, the battle for goaltender has never been so tight – there was always a clear cut favorite: MacKenzie Blackwood, Alex Nedeljkovic, Spencer Martin and Malcolm Subban to name a few.

On defence, the only time we’ve had clear choices were Aaron Ekblad and Darnell Nurse. Up front, of course there was Connor McDavid a year ago, but you have to go back to Gabriel Landeskog at the beginning of the 2010-11 season to find an overwhelming favorite.

Here are the results:

Goaltenders 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Dylan Wells Peterborough Petes 24 18 1 241
Evan Cormier Saginaw Spirit 24 17 2 238
Tyler Parsons London Knights 22 27 115
Honorable Mentions
Troy Timpano Sudbury Wolves
Joseph Raaymakers Soo Greyhounds
Defencemen 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Jakob Chychrun Sarnia Sting 51 357
Olli Juolevi London Knights 40 4 192
Michail Sergachev Windsor Spitfires 3 3 18
Honorable Mentions
Noah Carroll Guelph Storm
Markus Niemelainen Saginaw Spirit
Nicolas Mattinen London Knights
Forwards 1st 2nd 3rd Total
Matthew Tkachuk London Knights 50 350
Max Jones London Knights 1 41 4 192
Alexander Nylander Mississauga Steeheads 4 44 60
Honorable Mentions
Michael McLeod Mississauga Steeheads
Logan Brown Windsor Spitfires