A Look at NHL Central Scouting’s Final Draft Ranking

So, I am not going to break down NHL Central Scouting’s rankings in its entirety, just those Ontario Hockey League players ranked (or not ranked). After all, this sight is all about the OHL, right?

Let’s begin in the blue paint. One name that we have been pushing on OHL Writers for most of the season is Patrick Leaver of the Oshawa Generals. We selected Leaver as our Draft Eligible Goaltender of the Year at the end of the regular season. Central scouting showed him a lot of love on their final list as Leaver had the highest jump among ranked OHL netminders climbing 13 spots from 29 on the midterm rankings to 16 on the final rankings.

Leaver wasn’t the only netminder with a massive jump. Niagara IceDogs Josh Rosenzweig went from unranked on the midterm list to 22 on the final list.

Of course, when you have risers, they must be accompanied by fallers and the OHL had their share. Brett Brochu of the London Knights dropped 15 spots from 16 to 31. Dom DiVincentiis of the North Bay Battalion dropped 10 spots from 14 to 24.  

When it comes to skaters, we have been big fans of Christian Kyrou of the Erie Otters since about the drop of the puck this season. We gave him serious consideration as our Draft Eligible Defenceman of the Year. In the annual OHL Coach’s Poll he was voted the most improved player in the Western Conference and the Most Underrated Player in the Western Conference as well as the second-best Offensive Defenceman in the Western Conference. Among draft eligible defencemen, he finished first in goals, second in points and third in assists. Central Scouting (finally) moved him up a whopping 131 spots from 179 to 48.

But that wasn’t the biggest jump. Matthew Maggio of the Windsor Spitfires jumped 149 spots from being not ranked (there were 251 players ranked on the midterm rankings so we used 252 as Maggio was not ranked) all the way up to 103 on the final rankings. Among draft eligible players, Maggio finished second in goals, assists and points. He was our runner up to Draft Eligible Forward of the Year. In the Coach’s Poll, he finished just ahead of Kyrou as the most improved player in the Western Conference and tied for third as the Hardest Worker in the Western Conference.

But the highest jump belonged to Amadeus Lombardi of the Flint Firebirds who moved up from not being ranked all the way to 94 on the final rankings. I can’t understand how he was not ranked on their midterm ranking, but they got this right.

Another player that deserves mentioning is David Goyette of the Sudbury Wolves who moved up 22 spots from 35 to 13. It’s a massive jump in its own right as that puts Goyette in the bottom third of the first round instead of middle second. And that’s a much-deserved spot for him. He deserves first round consideration.

Two of the biggest fallers are Ruslan Gazizov and Colton Smith, both of the London Knights who dropped from 62 to 149 and 129 to being not ranked respectively. For Comparison’s sake, Bob McKenzie had Gazizov at 15 and Smith as an honorable mention on his midterm rankings (only 80 players were ranked).

I do think that Central Scouting got a couple of Guelph Storm prospects correctly. For most of the season, Matthew Poitras was ranked ahead of Danny Zhilkin on a lot of lists. Poitras was ranked 23 on the midterm rankings and drops to 45 while Zhilkin was ranked 27 and drops to 35. We’re not saying we agree with the overall ranking, but that Zhilkin is rightfully ranked ahead of Poitras and we’ve been saying that for some time.

Vsevolod Gaidamak of the Ottawa 67’s was the highest ranked player on Central Scouting’s midterm rankings to fall off the chart on their final ranking. He went from 121 to being not ranked.

Nice to see a little love for James Hardie of the Mississauga Steelheads who moved up 56 spots from 204 to 148. But we are also surprised to see Tucker Robertson drop 53 spots from 109 to 162.

If you are looking for our final list, it usually comes out after the Memorial Cup. Until then, here is NHL Central Scouting’s rankings with their midterm and final ranking shown:

PLAYERTEAMNHL MIDNHL FIN
Shane WrightKingston11
Pavel MintyukovSaginaw56
Luca Del Bel BelluzMississauga118
Owen BeckMississauga1910
David GoyetteSudbury3513
Matyas SapovalivSaginaw1323
Michael BuchingerGuelph3630
Ty NelsonNorth Bay2532
Bryce McConnell-BarkerSoo2834
Danny ZhilkinGuelph2735
Vinzenz RohrerOttawa4642
Hunter HaightBarrie4744
Matthew PoitrasGuelph2345
Christian KyrouErie17948
Paul LudwinskiKingston2949
Gavin HayesFlint6851
Isiah GeorgeLondon4253
Servac PetrovskyOwen Sound5258
Cedrick GuindonOwen Sound7659
Jake KarabelaGuelph6162
Pano FimisNiagara7775
Spencer SovaErie2880
Jorian DonovanHamilton3981
Evan KonyenSudbury8885
Beau JelsmaBarrie13788
Amadeus LombardiFlint25294
Matthew MaggioWindsor252103
Lucas EdmondsKingston107104
Kiriil KudryavtsevSoo103108
Liam ArnsbyNorth Bay66115
Rodwin DionicioNiagara132118
Kocha DelicSudbury200122
Jackson EdwardLondon75123
Tnias MathurinNorth Bay152126
Zakary LavoieMississauga124134
Samuel MayerPeterborough120139
James HardieMississauga204148
Ruslan GazizovLondon62149
Aidan CastleOwen Sound155151
Brady StonehouseOttawa138152
Nolan CollinsSudbury252153
Kyle JacksonNorth Bay182158
Tucker RobertsonPeterborough109162
Gavin BryantOwen Sound160179
Bryce CookNiagara163183
Braeden BowmanGuelph217194
Kai SchwindtMississauga252196
Sam AlfanoPeterborough190207
Max NamestnikovSarnia219211
Landon SimLondon213215
Kasper LarsenMississauga252220
Kirill SteklovLondon196221
Roberto ManciniSaginaw195222
Caeden CarlisleSoo252223
Vsevolod GaidamakOttawa121225
Colton SmithLondon129225
Stuart RolofsOshawa142225
Bryce CookNiagara163225
Tyler SavardSoo183225
Brody CraneLondon188225
Ryan AbrahamWindsor210225
Nolan DannSarnia225225
Simon SlavicekFlintLV225
GOALIESNHL MIDNHL  FIN
Andrew OkeSaginaw89
Nolan LalondeErie1014
Patrick LeaverOshawa2916
Charlie SchenkelSoo1217
Jacob OsterGuelph1518
Josh RosenzweigNiagara3322
Domenic DiVincentiisNorth Bay1424
Marco CostantiniHamilton3329

Ruslan Gazizov – London Knights – Player Profile

HTWTDOBPOSSHOOTSIMPORTNHLCSCOUNTRY
5’11”1851-21-04CL12th62nd NARUSSIA
SEASONLEAGUETEAMGPGAPTS
2019-20Russia U16Avangard65914
2019-20Russia U17Avangard30182341
2020-21Russia U17Avangard64711
2020-21MHLOmskie13314
2021-22Hlinka/GretzkyRussia53710
2021-22OHLLondon Knights4591726
Ruslan Gazizov of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

During the 2019-2020 season, London Knights forward Ruslan Gazizov was just too good for Avangard Omsk in Russia’s Under-16 league so he almost immediately moved up to the Under-17 with Avangard. And he took that league by storm as well.

The following season saw him begin with Avangard Under-17 and again was playing above most others so he moved up once again, this time to the MHL (Russia’s equivalent to the CHL) but that transition was a little slow.

Last summer, Gazizov represented Russia at the Hlinka – Gretzky Cup and helped lead Russia to a gold medal with 3 goals and 7 helpers in 5 games.

Gazizov, the 12th overall pick at the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft has been a bit of an enigma in his first OHL season. While he has displayed on many occasions that he has the high-end offensive skills that can make him a dangerous weapon, especially on the powerplay, he isn’t always used as his skill set suggests. And that is typical of a Dale Hunter coached team because you have to give the 200-foot effort as well and that is lacking at the moment in Gazizov’ s game.  

I had hoped his skating was better than advertised. While technically, there aren’t any issues with his skating, he could improve all facets of his speed game. I’ve said this many times before, it’s not a big issue as I believe a good skating coach will bring him along.

Gazizov has some excellent hands and while he is at his best with time and space and using his vision and slick passing skills to create opportunities, he is also capable of stickhandling in tight and maintaining possession before distributing the puck.

While the offensive skills are there and he has shown the ability to be a creative playmaker, Gazizov projects to be a complimentary piece on a line rather than the driver on it. He could be a top six forward at the NHL level, but he’s going to have to put in some work in areas other than offence.