It was a November to remember for 2013 NHL Draft eligibles from the Ontario Hockey League.
As we look back on the month that was November, a number of the players have been making strong impressions on not only in the OHL but also in the minds of NHL scouts. The players have been making strong pushes thus far this season to prove that come next June at the NHL draft they will be hearing their names called earlier rather than later.
Chris Bigras is one such player.
Standing at six-foot-one, 181-pounds, Bigras is a big, strong, and steady two-way defenseman who plays for the Owen Sound Attack. Coming off a strong rookie campaign in 2011-12 which saw him collect 19 points in 49 games, Bigras has continued his strong play thus far this season as he has already eclipsed his point total from last year with 20 points – including 17 assists – in only 30 games.
He shows a strong offensive upside, which still needs to be tapped fully, while taking care of business in his own end with his strong positional and smart play. He makes quick smart outlet passes and also has no problem skating the puck into the offensive zone. His biggest asset is that he consistently makes smart high percentage plays in all three zones and rarely gets caught out of position.
Bigras’ strong play from the back end is a big reason why Owen Sound is the sixth-ranked Canadian Hockey League team. As the season continues, look for Bigras to climb higher on many NHL scouts radar.
The Attack also have another player well worth mentioning as making some noise in his draft year.
Zach Nastasiuk is that such player, after a rookie campaign in 2011-12 that saw the six-foot-one, 191-pound winger net 11 goals and 19 points in 68 games. Nastasiuk plays a hard-nosed, aggressive and physical game. His work down low in the offensive zone is where his game really shines. He battles hard for pucks and does not back down from physical play.
He has come into his own offensively this season thus far and looks much more comfortable with the puck on his stick. His 16 points in 24 games, including eight goals, have him on pace for a breakout season when it counts the most.
Mississauga Steelheads goaltender Spencer Martin has made a big impression so far this season and is garnering a lot of attention throughout the OHL.
After having an injury scare early on in the season, Martin has seemingly rebounded to be one of the best draft eligible goalies this season. With a save percentage of .913 and a goals against average of 2.83 in 20 games played, Martin could be the best OHL goalie available in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Martin is a mix of athleticism, strong positional play, and overall size. His big frame allows his to challenge shooters and cut down on angles. His quick reflexes and rebound control limit second chances from in close, and he poses a swift glove hand. His consistent play and overall composure in the net are big things NHL scouts look for in goalies. If Martin continues his strong play look for him to be the top ranked goalie in the OHL come next June.
After seemingly going unnoticed until his arrival in Kitchener to begin his rookie campaign with the Rangers, Justin Bailey has been making the most out of his draft year.
The six-foot-four, 190-pound Bailey is the type of player who has the ability to bring fans out of their seats with his electrifying plays. On a Rangers team packed with veteran talent, Bailey has been able to enjoy time adjusting to playing in the OHL while still showing his undeniable offensive abilities. With the potential to be an offensive dynamo at the next level, Bailey is a quick skating, mobile, and strong forward who protects the puck very well. His offensive instincts are off the charts and his ability to win puck races is uncanny.
If he continues to grow and improve his overall game as the season progresses, look for Bailey to be a first round selection come next June. After all, Bailey does have all the raw talent to be a top six forward in the NHL.
With every game becoming more and more important as the OHL season continues look for many more draft eligible players to continue their strong play and secure their draft stock as the NHL Draft next June inches closer and closer.