There’s plenty more than Connor McDavid to get excited for if you’re a fan of both the Ontario Hockey League and the 2015 NHL Draft.
Boasting elite talent at the top, the likes of Mitchell Marner and Dylan Strome gives the OHL not only elite top-end talent surpassing that could go unrivaled, but the potential to be a banner year at the top of the draft for the league.
As part of Future Considerations’ coverage leading into the NHL Draft, here’s a look at the best that the OHL has to offer.
TEAM: Erie (OHL)
BORN: January 13, 1997
VITALS: 6’-1” / 190 Lbs
STATS LINE: 45 GP 43 G 72 A 115 PTS 46 PIM
Already tagged as the NHL’s next superstar, there isn’t much that can be said about Connor McDavid without understating his brilliance. His offensive gifts remind of Sidney Crosby, and his feverish scoring pace dizzied fans in Erie and had more than a handful of fans pulling for an NHL Draft Lottery win in April.
“McDavid’s draft season could hardly have gone better with an outstanding regular OHL season, exceptional playoff performance and even a World Junior Gold performance that cemented his status as the top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft,” Future Considerations scouting director Dan Stewart said. “His elite level skating, vision with the puck, exceptional smarts and offensive creativity that was seen all season in the OHL and international games will allow him to transition to the pro game easily. His star is set to rise as one of the top performers in the game.”
Using his tremendous speed, McDavid is lethal in transition and makes opponents step back because of his ability to burn them quickly. With soft hands and a shot used to hitting twine with regularity, the only thing more dangerous than McDavid’s ability to score himself, is his ability to put his teammates in a position to do so. Elite passing ability and incredible vision allows it.
McDavid was granted exceptional status into the OHL at age 15, and has been of exceptional status ever since.
TEAM: Erie (OHL)
BORN: March 7, 1997
VITALS: 6’-3” / 185 Lbs
STATS LINE: 68 GP 45 G 84 A 129 PTS 32 PIM
To avoid playing in the shadows, one must burn bright. That’s exactly what Dylan Strome did this season to avoid playing in the shadows of McDavid, his much-lauded teammate. Strome outscored McDavid — albeit McDavid missed time due to an injury and the World Junior Championship — and ended up with the OHL scoring title with 45 goals and 129 points in 68 games.
Strome moves exceptionally well with the puck and takes his speed to another level when the puck is on his stick. He oozes confidence with the puck and can deke out defenders with skilled moves and goaltenders with circus moves. He can shoot as well as he passes, making him a multi-option threat.
If there was every a concern about Strome, it would be his skating. While he can take his speed up a notch, that notch isn’t as fast as some of his peers. As a result, Strome relies on his size — at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds — and skill to get around defenders rather than blow by them like a jet. Having said that, his mechanics are good, and it’s very well possible his elite speed is simply missing leg strength, which is waiting for him in squat rack.
POSITION: Right Wing
TEAM: London (OHL)
BORN: May 5, 1997
VITALS: 5’-11” / 165 Lbs
STATS LINE: 63 GP 44 G 82 A 126 PTS 53 PIM
Not to be undone by the dynamic duo in Erie, Mitch Marner dazzled scouts and fans alike with is assertive offensive style and knack for racking up the points.
Marner saw his OHL scoring title stolen on the final day of the regular season by Strome, finishing as the second overall scorer in the OHL with 44 goals and 126 points in 63 games. Marner actually managed a better point-per-game average than Strome, if that’s any consolation for the 5-foot-11, 165 pound winger.
Marner is an extremely versatile player, seeing time in all situations; including being positioned on the point on the power play and not only being in London’s top line scoring threat, but also centering the fourth line simultaneously on many nights.
He’s is explosive offensive dynamo, possessing game breaking speed and phenomenal lateral agility, not unlike a running back in football. While his shot won’t smash any records, it gets where it needs to be, and many a time Marner need only deposit the puck into an empty net after dancing through each and every opponent.
Size has dogged Marner is entire career and won’t stop being a focal point, as his lack of strength can be a noticeable weakness, especially in puck battles. His great skating and agility makes up for it a lot, but time in the weight room is a necessity to take the step to the next level, for Marner.
POSITION: Left Wing
TEAM: Kingston (OHL)
BORN: June 23, 1997
VITALS: 6’-3” / 215 Lbs
STATS LINE: 56 GP 29 G 22 A 51 PTS 70 PIM
Few prospects in the 2015 NHL Draft have been as polarizing as Lawson Crouse. He finished the year below a point-per-game pace, and many ferociously question his ability to score at the next level.
But scoring a pile of points isn’t where the 6-foot-3, 215 pound winger succeeds. Rather, it’s his all around game that has scouts excited. Crouse is an extremely responsible forward, who skates well for his size and hits like a truck. He’s equipped with a quality shot and good vision, and by no means is he offensively inept. Rather, he’s an opportunistic player who pounces on opportunities and makes the most of them.
All this after ensuring all is well in his end. Crouse is not the guy who leaves the zone early to try and create an offensive scoring chance, he’s the guy dropping in front of a shot to block it, regardless the shooter.
While there will always be opportunities for Crouse to capitalize on, concern lies in creating his own offense, which Crouse struggles to do. Nonetheless, the powerful winger offers a two-way package few teams will be able to resist come draft day.
TEAM: Ottawa (OHL)
BORN: March 11, 1997
VITALS: 5’-10” / 170 Lbs
STATS LINE: 60 GP 29 G 39 A 68 PTS 34 PIM
The former first overall pick in the OHL Priority Draft in 2013 wont repeat that draft position this June, but the captain of the Ottawa 67s’ play has ensured he won’t be waiting awful long to hear his name called.
Although undersized at 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, Konecny is a fearless warrior on the ice, never afraid to engage opponents in puck battles. Konecny has the high-end vision and hockey sense to make the right decisions on the ice, and a loaded arsenal of weapons to create offense with. His shots are crisp and accurate; his passes the same.
“The smaller winger has shown time and time again that his size should not be questioned,” Future Considerations scout Daniel Deschenes said. “Aside from this, I see no deficiencies in his game, and as someone who does not care about the size this kid possesses, I would be taking him early on. The drive, leadership abilities and skills that this kid possesses will take him far in what should be a long career.”
Although hardworking and not afraid of anything or anybody, Konecny’s size limits him in some situations and can at times just simply get outmuscled. Teams will be wary of this when considering Konecny for their pick, but the rest of what he has to offer will undoubtedly outweigh the size concerns for a team very early in the 2015 NHL Draft.