It’s starting to become clear who the top prospects are for the 2012 NHL Draft. What else is become clear is that there is a strong crop of rookies and prospects that are making a push to be at the top of the 2013 NHL Draft.
The story of Sean Monahan is one that fascinates. Not only was he not considered a first round pick early in his OHL draft year, he was one of the most frustrating players to watch. Monahan showed flashes of what he could be, but lacked consistency.
That all changed on a weekend in March, when he took the underdog Mississauga Rebels on his back and won the 2009 OHL Cup. Winning the MVP, Monahan showed he could deliver the goods under pressure put him into the first round of the OHL Priority Draft.
Riding that OHL Cup waive into the Ontario Hockey League, Monahan has became a more consistent, dominant player, and at this point, is widely considered to be the top forward option from Ontario. What attracts the most attention to his game is his combination of size, mobility and puck skills. He makes extremely strong plays with the puck at higher speeds, and shows some of the next puck skills in the Ontario Hockey League. His progression over the past few years has been phenomenal; will that progression take him to new heights next year? Time will tell.
The 2011-12 season has been a breakout one for Kerby Rychel. With graduating players like Zach Kassian and Kenny Ryan graduating to the next level, it was time for players like Rychel to step forward and show why he is a key piece for the Spitfires moving forward.
He’s done just that. Rychel can play whatever game you want of him. He can be aggressive on the forecheck, he has the ability to be a strong penalty killer, and most impressive, he has extraordinary offensive skills. His growth from last season to this season show that the kid is ‘getting it’ and developing very, very quickly.
Another famous last name for the Draft is Domi, more specifically, Max Domi.
Heading into his rookie season, the one thing we did know about Domi was that he was going to be given an opportunity, what he did with that opportunity was still in question. Given that he scored three goals in his OHL debut, the question was answered rather quickly.
So what makes Domi a potential first round talent? When has on, he may be the most offensively dynamic forward in Ontario at this age group. His vision and patience with the puck are off the charts, and he has the ability to control a game in his offensive zone. He has question marks, specifically his size and strength, but to have a player with that skill set could be quite the coup for any NHL franchise.
Another familiar name to NHL fans is Subban. The ‘first family’ of the OHL, the Subbans seem to have a high pedigree for talent and skill.
Jordan Subban has come into the OHL and hasn’t really missed a beat. He is playing top-4 minutes with the Bulls and is showing an ability to create offense from the back end. From a pure style and skill point of view, he reminds many of Kitchener Rangers defenseman Ryan Murphy. If he continues to gain confidence with the puck and grow with his two way game, he could be another puck moving defenseman that rises up the NHL draft charts.
One word sticks out when watching Sault Ste. Marie defenseman Darnell Nurse – potential. Nurse, a six-foot-four, 180-pound defenseman has all the projectable tools you look for in a top end defenseman.
It’s rare that you see a player who combines a large frame with top end offensive tools. He is a strong skater who has the ability to skate the puck up the ice and make crisp, skills outlet passes, while combining some strong defensive play in his own zone. He has room to improve, he’s not the most aggressive player in his own zone, and struggles with consistency, but that’s not rare for 16-year-olds. If Nurse his the gym, puts on some weight and comes into next year ready to take his game to the next level, he could be the biggest riser of anyone in Ontario next year.
The list continues with OHL talents such as Nick Baptiste of the Sudbury Wolves. Baptiste is a skilled forward who is strong on the puck. Windsor Spitfires’ Jordan Maletta – an intelligent two-way forward who has NHL potential – is another to watch. Bo Horvat, a member of the London Knights, has the characteristics to become a great leader.
The trio are just three more examples of what’s to come out of an exciting class for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.