Ruben Rafkin – Windsor Spitfires – Player Profile

Height: 6’

Weight: 190 Pounds

Date of birth: January 8, 2002

Hometown: Turku, Finland

Position: Defence

Shoots: Right

OHL Draft: Round 1, 14th overall, 2019 CHL Import Draft

NHL Central Scouting Rankings

Pre-season November Mid-term Final
C Prospect C Prospect 72 N.A.

We may as well get this tweet by Ruben Rafkin this morning out of the way first:

 

Rafkin signed a two-year deal to play professional hockey with his hometown team TPS in the Finnish Elite League (Liiga as it is known in Finland). The move follows teammate and goaltender Kari Piiroinen’s decision to leave the Spitfires and play for Tappara in their native Finland.

How does this affect Rafkin for the 2020 National Hockey League Draft? Well, there are two trains of thought here. One, you have to like the fact that he will be playing against men in a very good league for the next two years as opposed to Major Junior. Two, there is always some concern that players who sign European contracts at this stage may not always be willing to jump over to the NHL.

Ruben Rafkin of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Ruben Rafkin of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

Also coming into question is whether Rafkin will be considered drafted from the CHL or from a European League. The importance of that is this: Players drafted out of the CHL are not eligible to play in the AHL unless they are 20 years of age. Hence, it’s the CHL or NHL for them, whereas players drafted out of Europe are eligible for the AHL at any age after the draft. This is important should Rafkin have an out-clause to come back to North America at any time under this contract.

Think back to 2012 when Spitfires’ Alexander Khokhlachev returned home to Russia to play in the KHL. Half way through the season, he wanted to return to North America, but there were only two options available to him because he was drafted out of the OHL: return to the Spitfires or play in the NHL with the Boston Bruins. The latter had virtually no chance of happening, so his only option was the OHL.

Jim Parker of the Windsor Star has this quote from Rafkin:

“I just finished four years of high school in the States and I am ready for (the) men’s game,” the 18-year-old Rafkin said. “Also, (it’s) to be closer to see my little brother (eight-year-old Rafael) grow up and it has always been a dream to play pro in my hometown. I have nothing bad to say about Windsor.”

Rafkin played his Midget hockey in the United States. He put on the blades for the Selects Hockey Academy Under-16 squad during the 2017-2018 season and in 47 games scored 10 goals and assisted on 34. During the season, Rafkin received a tender to play for the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League for the 2018-2019 season, which he signed. Rafkin had previously committed to play for the University of Denver for 2019-2020.

Rafkin would play in 38 games for the Storm and score 2 goals and 8 helpers while racking up 90 minutes in penalties.

This season, Rafkin decided to forego his NCAA career and opted to sign with the Spitfires after they selected him 14th overall at the 2019 CHL Import Draft. He appeared in 59 games with the Spitfires scoring 4 goals and assisting on 27.

Rafkin is not a typical Finn that is about skating, passing and scoring goals. He’s a physical defender who, while at 6 feet tall, plays even bigger. In fact, he relishes that type of game and the more physical the game, the better he is. And he’ll be the first player to come to the aid of a teammate.

But he’s not just a physical player as he possesses some intriguing skills. Rafkin is a very smooth skater with excellent agility. He’s not a burner but he’s not slow. He uses his edges very well and he’s quick enough to step up on opponents and deliver a check. He’s strong along the walls, but needs to work on his net front coverage both in terms of positioning and strength.

Rafkin also has some very good vision, and when combined with the superb passing abilities he has, he is a threat at creating offense. He has the ability to quarterback the powerplay with those skills, but we didn’t always see those opportunities granted to him in Windsor.

Rafkin’s defensive abilities suggest he will be an NHL player. And playing against men for two years will further develop those skills. The only real question is whether his offence can improve and how much it translates to the NHL. That’s the million-dollar question for NHL Scouts. And how high do you draft a defensive defenceman.

I’m not suggesting Rafkin is just a defensive defenceman, that’s his strength right now. I’m just not sure how much offence he has for the NHL.

But the risk/reward may just be worth an extra thought.

Jean-Luc Foudy – Windsor Spitfires – Player Profile

Height: ‘6

Weight: 176 Pounds

Date of birth: May 13, 2002

Hometown: Scarborough, Ontario

Position: Center

Shoots: Right

OHL Draft: Round 1, 10th overall, 2018 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings

Pre-season

November Mid-term Final
A Prospect A Prospect 20 N.A.

Jean-Luc Foudy of the Windsor Spitfires and younger Brother of Liam Foudy (18th overall pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018) is a graduate of the Toronto Titans Minor Midget AAA system. During the 2017-2018 season, Foudy registered 25 goals and 35 assists in 52 contests for the Titans.

Foudy also appeared in both the OHL Cup (and the OHL Gold Cup, scoring 2 goals and 5 assists in 10 combined games. He would represent Canada on two occasions; first during the 2018-2019 season at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17 (1 goal and 3 assists in 5 contests) and second, at last summer’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup (2 goals, 2 assists in 5 games).

OHL Central Scouting had this to say in his OHL draft year:

Jean-Luc is a skilled, playmaking type of center that makes everyone around him better. He has elusive speed that catches defenders off guard at times He is quick to jump into holes for loose pucks and wins the majority of races to pucks. He is crafty with the puck and can stickhandle in very tight areas. Jean-Luc is one of the smarter players in the age group He is always in the right spot at the right time and the puck seems to follow him around the ice.

The 2018-2019 season was Foudy’s rookie year in the OHL and things were looking bright. He appeared in 63 games, scoring 8 goals and assisting on 41 others. His 41 assists led all rookies a season ago.

Jean-Luc Foudy of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Jean-Luc Foudy of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Luke Durda / OHL Images.

Foudy comes from a sports family. As mentioned, he is the younger brother of Liam who was a star with the London Knights and got a taste of the National Hockey League this season with the Blue Jackets. His father Sean was a defensive back in the Canadian Football League for 6 seasons. His mother, France Gareau was an Olympic Athlete at the 1984 Los Angeles games. She competed in the 100-meter race and won a silver medal in the 4 X 100-meter relay. She also competed at the 1990 Commonwealth Games.

As Foudy came up through the ranks, the general consensus was that he had all the tools his older brother exhibited and, in some cases, then some. But his numbers for the 2019-2020 season are a bit disappointing. He appeared in 59 games during the cancelled regular season and, while he virtually doubled his goal production to 15 from a year ago, his helpers took a nose dive down to 28.

Foudy is an elite skater with elite speed, maybe the best in the draft class. He is a puck possession beast at top speed. He is capable of exiting his zone with possession and speed and going on the attack. He gains the zone with alarming speed and it puts defenders on their heels. However, we think he plays on the outside more then we’d like to see. He has the vision and playmaking abilities to make plays from there and we think that at times, his linemates can’t keep up to his abilities. At the same time, he has shown the ability to take pucks into high danger zones, although the willingness doesn’t appear to always be there.

Foudy is dangerous on the powerplay, especially with the extra space on the ice. The tools are all there to run the powerplay from anywhere in the offensive zone. He’s a huge minute eating pivot who could log the full two minutes on the powerplay if need be. He also takes advantage of the extra ice on the penalty kill. He finds those open areas and gets to them as quick as anyone and he can fly up the ice making him a threat on the PK.

Certainly, all the tools are there for a first-round pick at the NHL Draft. And I think the general consensus was that Foudy was a legitimate first round candidate. The cancellation of the regular season and the uncertainty of the playoffs may have hurt his chances of proving he is worthy of that. All things considered, we here at OHLW think that it’s more likely Foudy is an early second round option.

Will Cuylle – Windsor Spitfires – Player Profile

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 202 Pounds

Date of birth: May 2, 2002

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Position: Left Wing

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 2, 3rd overall (Peterborough Petes) 2018 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting Rankings

Pre-season November Mid-term Final

A Prospect

A Prospect

21 NA

 

Windsor Spitfires left winger Will Cuylle played his Minor Midget AAA hockey during the 2017-2018 season with the Toronto Marlboros where he registered 33 goals and 29 assists in 43 games. He added 9 goals and 3 assists for Toronto in 6 games at the OHL Cup, leading the tournament in points and was named to the all-star team.

The Peterborough Petes called Cuylle’s name out with the third pick at the 2018 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection. OHL Central Scouting had this to say about Cuylle at the time:

William is your prototypical power forward that combines size, skill and skating. He is a powerful skater that gets to top speed quickly and has deceiving speed as most defenders don’t expect such a big forward to move as effortlessly as he does. His puck skills are elite and he has turned nothing into something on numerous occasions this season. He shoots the puck better than most junior players already. He has a lightning quick release with a very accurate shot.

But Cuylle would never where the Pete’s jersey as the Spitfires acquired him for 6 draft picks and a conditional 7th pick on August 31, 2018.

Will Cuylle of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
Will Cuylle of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images.

During his rookie season with the Spitfires, Cuylle appeared in all but 5 games scoring 26 goals and 15 assists. He added 2 goals and a helper in 4 playoff games. He was named to the OHL Second All-Rookie Team at the end of the season. Cuylle also represented Canada Black at the World Hockey Challenge Under-17. He scored twice and added an assist in 5 games.

Cuylle began this season with a solid but unspectacular performance with Team Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. He posted 2 goals and an assist in 5 games as Canada captured a silver medal. While we saw him as an early second round possibility, NHL Central Scouting had seen enough to rank him as an A prospect (first round potential) on their pre-season and November rankings. On their mid-term rankings, they list him at 21st among North American Skaters, which would make him one of the first picks in the second round.

With 18 goals and 19 assists through 56 games this season, Cuylle’s offensive numbers are not at the level we would have liked to see them or anticipated. His goal production has dipped from .41 goals per game a year ago to .32 goals per game. And while his assists per game have gone from .23 per game to .33 per game, his points per game have gone virtually unchanged (.65 to .66).

Despite not taking the next step offensively, we are impressed with the package and the potential Cuylle has. Everyone is looking for the next power forward, and Cuylle could be that next one. He has taken remarkable strides in using his big frame and strength almost to the point that the opposition has to be aware when he is on the ice. He hits hard, yet clean and looks to finish his check each and every time, something that was lacking early in the season.

You have to love Cuylle’s shot. Its hard, heavy and has an incredible release. It was an NHL shot a year ago and is even better now. If I have a knock on it, it is that he doesn’t utilize it as he should. He’s looking to be the playmaker more then the shooter now, and while he is capable of setting up teammates, his strength is his shot. That can partially explain the drop in goal production as well.

Cuylle is an intelligent player who understands the defensive game and is near perfect in his defensive positioning. He is very adept at breaking up the opposition plays especially when they are trying to enter the zone. He is also very effective on the PK.

We don’t see first line potential for Cuylle at the next level. His upside is that of a second line power forward who can give you second unit powerplay time as well as on the penalty kill.

OHL ANNOUNCES ACADEMIC PLAYERS OF THE MONTH FOR JANUARY

Academic players for January

Toronto, Ont. – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Tye Austin of the Peterborough Petes, Ethan Del Mastro of the Mississauga Steelheads, Logan LeSage of the Owen Sound Attack and Will Cuylle of the Windsor Spitfires have been named OHL Academic Players of the Month for January.

East Division: Peterborough’s Tye Austin is January’s East Division Academic Player of the Month. The 17-year-old netminder is taking grade 12 university-level courses in English, Functions, and Biology, and boasts a 100% mark in his Math class.

“Tye is extremely worthy of the Academic Player of the Month tribute,” wrote Kim Driscoll, Co-operative Education Teacher at Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School. “He works diligently on his school work whether that means staying up late after practice or a game, working on a bus during a road trip or working through lunch while at school.” Austin has future plans to pursue biochemistry and medical school.

In his second year in net for the Petes, Austin holds a 4.16 goals-against average and an .868 save percentage through his first 14 appearances. The Pembroke, Ont. native was a third round pick of the Petes in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection.

Central Division: Ethan Del Mastro has been recognized as January’s Central Division Academic Player of the Month. The Mississauga Steelheads rookie holds an 86% grade in his Accounting class, 80% in Biology, 88% in Data Management and an 84% in his Co-op program.

Head coach James Richmond praised Del Mastro’s performance. “Ethan has played in our top four all year against the other team’s best players night in and night out,” said Richmond. “To do that as a 16-year-old is very impressive.”

The 17-year-old defender is described as “quiet” and “diligent” by Philip Pocock Secondary School’s Guidance Councillor, Genevieve Wong.

Del Mastro has recorded five assists in his first 43 games with the Steelheads. He was drafted 12th overall in last year’s OHL Priority Selection following a 44-point season (8-36-44) with the Toronto Marlboros Minor Midgets.

Midwest Division: Logan LeSage of the Owen Sound Attack is January’s Midwest Division Academic Player of the Month. The 18-year-old centreman is a student at Owen Sound District Secondary School and has maintained a 100% grade in his International Business class. He also holds a 99% in Organizational Business, 97% in Leadership, and a 99% through two periods of Co-op.

His teachers commented that his assignments always exceed the stated expectations, and are completed with extensive research and extreme attention to detail. He’s described as an “absolute joy to teach” and a “leader among his peers.”

“Logan has demonstrated an outstanding effort this semester,” wrote Academic Advisor Sarah Rowe. “He always has a positive attitude and is the first to help other students who have difficulty.”

Through the first 10 games of his rookie season, LeSage has recorded one assist. He was a second round pick of the Attack at the 2019 OHL Under-18 Priority Selection, and spent the 2018-19 season with the Carleton Place Canadians where he amassed 35 points (15-20-35) in 39 games.

West Division: Will Cuylle has been named the West Division’s Academic Player of the Month for January. The Windsor Spitfires sophomore’s studies at St. Anne Catholic High School include Grade 12 Data Management, Grade 12 Business Leadership, and an online Accounting Class. He maintains an overall 80% average.

“Will’s academic achievement is a direct reflection of his work ethic and commitment to being the best student athlete that he can be,” wrote Windsor’s Academic Advisors. “He sets goals to improve and he applies the work to achieve that goal.” He’s described by his teachers as “an overall good character person” who shows respect.

The 17-year-old winger, eligible for this summer’s NHL Draft, has 16 goals and 32 points in 43 games. He was recently ranked 21st in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings among all North American Skaters.

2019-20 OHL Academic Players of the Month:

East Division:
January – Tye Austin (Peterborough Petes)
December – Cameron Tolnai (Ottawa 67’s)
November – Lleyton Moore (Oshawa Generals)
October – Shane Wright (Kingston Frontenacs)

Central Division:
January – Ethan Del Mastro (Mississauga Steelheads)
December – Giordano Biondi (Sudbury Wolves)
November – Jonah De Simone (Niagara IceDogs)
October – Pacey Schlueting (North Bay Battalion)

Midwest Division:
January – Logan LeSage (Owen Sound Attack)
December – Stuart Rolofs (London Knights)
November – Michael Vukojevic (Kitchener Rangers)
October – Zack Terry (Guelph Storm)

West Division:
January – Will Cuylle (Windsor Spitfires)
December – Jacob Holmes (Soo Greyhounds)
November – Ryan Mast (Sarnia Sting)
October – Cole Perfetti (Saginaw Spirit)

Last season, the OHL Centrally Administered Scholarship Program facilitated scholarships for 340 OHL Alumni at 69 different academic institutions across North America with a total scholarship payment in excess of $3.2 million. Since the 2007-08 season, OHL Scholarship payments have totalled more than $25 million.

Click here for more information about ‘OHL Players First’ programs.

Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings

CHL Top 10

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced the week seventeen edition of the Kia CHL Top-10 Rankings for the 2019-20 season.  The weekly rankings of the CHL’s Top-10 teams are selected by a panel of National Hockey League scouts.

Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings – Week 17

Rank: Team: Last Week Ranked: Total Weeks Ranked:
1 Ottawa 67’s (31-7-0-0) 1 15
2 Sherbrooke Phoenix (32-6-3-1) 2 17
3 Portland Winterhawks (30-6-2-3) 3 7
4 Chicoutimi Sagueneens (30-7-4-0) 4 17
5 Edmonton Oil Kings (29-7-5-3) 5 14
6 Moncton Wildcats (28-12-0-0) 6 11
7 Kamloops Blazers (27-11-2-1) 2
8 Everett Silvertips (26-11-2-1) 7 11
9 Windsor Spitfires (25-9-5-0) 8 7
10 Peterborough Petes (26-13-2-1) 10 9
Honourable Mention:
Kitchener Rangers (24-11-4-2) 0
Saginaw Spirit (25-12-2-2) 2
Medicine Hat Tigers (28-12-1-1) 5

Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings

CHL Top 10

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced the week sixteen edition of the Kia CHL Top-10 Rankings for the 2019-20 season.  The weekly rankings of the CHL’s Top-10 teams are selected by a panel of National Hockey League scouts.

Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings – Week 16

Rank: Team: Last Week Ranked: Total Weeks Ranked:
1 Ottawa 67’s (29-6-0-0) 2 14
2 Sherbrooke Phoenix (29-6-3-1) 1 16
3 Portland Winterhawks (28-6-1-3) 3 6
4 Chicoutimi Sagueneens (27-7-4-0) 5 16
5 Edmonton Oil Kings (27-7-5-2) 8 13
6 Moncton Wildcats (27-11-0-0) 6 10
7 Everett Silvertips (26-9-2-1) 4 10
8 Windsor Spitfires (24-8-4-0) 6
9 Guelph Storm (22-10-1-4) 9 5
10 Peterborough Petes (25-11-2-1) 7 8
Honourable Mention:
Kitchener Rangers (22-11-3-2) 0
Kamloops Blazers (24-11-2-1) 1
Saginaw Spirit (23-11-2-2) 2