OHLers making draft noise
Passing the Ontario Hockey League’s trade deadline, 2012 eligible prospects have had more than enough time to solidify their draft ranking.
In some cases, such as Radek Faksa, they’ve taken it a step further.
Faksa continues to be a huge riser for me. His combination of size, skills and mobility are impressing every time I see him. He is a player who I can see really taking off and rising into the top 10, and perhaps the top-5 of the draft. He is thriving in Kitchener and is already the teams top offensive performer this year.
Tom Wilson continues to impress as well. Its not so much what Wilson is doing statistically, but what I am seeing out of him that put him on the risers. His play and tools that are continuing to impress. Wilson’s vision with the puck is improving, his footwork and acceleration, and his confidence with the puck make him very interesting to watch moving forward.
Tanner Person is a name that has come out of left field this season. As hard as it is for re-entry forwards to make an impact this year, his skills are really impressing. He has always been an intelligent forward with a high skill set, but his combination of improved strength – and more importantly – and confidence, have made him one to watch moving forward. I still see him as a bit of an unknown and a wildcard. I have a feeling that the past six months may be the exception, not who he really is as a hockey player. We will be worth a gamble in the third round.
After a few down months, it looks like Scott Laughton is getting back to where I had him back in the pre-season. He is more aggressive offensively, and is confident once again. He has been moved up to the second line with Christian Thomas, who he has developed some interesting chemistry with.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Gianluca Curcuruto.
The progression of Curcuruto continues to worry. He is not playing poorly, and in fact he is playing fairly well, however what concerns me to this point is his lack of progression. I had given him a month or so to get his feet and make the adjustment after the slow start, however at this point his lack of production has become an issue. He is struggling at the point and his decisions with the puck. I would love to see him skate the puck up more often and make aggressive plays, but to this point he has not.
Eric Locke has had a tough year as well.
Its hard to look at Locke negatively after he was injured a month ago, but after seeing him play multiple times post injury, he is really struggling with consistency and getting things done. He is struggling with his timing and his vision, and once would have thought that he would have gotten back to where he was pre-injury.
Andreas Athanasiou continues to show red flags. His lack of willingness to play an aggressive, physical style isn’t a shock, but the issue that he will shy away from a hit or stay in non-physical areas. It takes away from his overall game. He has all the skills, but his continued lack willingness/interest in playing a physical game have hurt his draft stock.
Michael Clarke made headways at the start of the season.
He was showing strong two-way play and was one of the more interesting forward options in the Ontario Hockey League. Since that point, Clarke has cooled off, and is starting to show some long-term concerns. He has struggled with the puck in the last month, not showing the same vision and decision making in the offensive zone. He looks to be pushing himself a bit much. I still project him a s a strong two-way centre in the OHL, and a potential third line centre in the NHL, but he needs to get his game back to where it was months ago.
Whether Clarke can rebound, Athanasiou can get physical or Faksa can continue remains to be seen. With three months remaining in the season, there is still plenty of time to leave a lasting impression.
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