OHLers push late in 2012

Jedd Jones2013 Draft Center, OHL0 Comments

December marked the final opportunity of Ontario Hockey League draft eligibles to impress in 2012 as the 2013 NHL Draft approaches.

And with the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game nearing, players are now in mid-season form and looking to impress.

As the OHL nears the half way mark of this season, it is a good time to look at a few players who will be hoping to impress the scouts on January 16th. These players have also been big parts of their individual team’s success so far this season.

If there was an award given for consistently battling and leaving it all on the ice, Kerby Rychel of the Windsor Spitfires would be a great candidate.

Standing six-foot-one and tipping the scales at an even 200 pounds, Rychel is the prototypical power forward in the making. His strong physical play, combined with his smooth offensive skills, make him a threat to score whenever he is on the ice. After notching an impressive 74 points, including 41 goals in 68 games in his rookie campaign last season, Rychel has not missed a step this season already amassing 39 points in 39 games.

With his skating ability and his uncanny ability to work the boards while protecting the puck, Rychel will have many NHL teams wanting his services for years to come. If he plays the way he is capable of night in and night out, look for him the be selected in the first round come this June.

If there was discussion of the best draft eligible goalies available in the OHL, Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads would likely top most lists. After only appearing in 15 games last season with the then St Michael’s Majors where he posted a 3.98GAA, along with a .885 SV% with two wins, Martin has come into this season firing on all cylinders. After 25 games this season already, Martin has a 3.08 GAA, and a .906SV% to go along with 12 wins.

Martin is a very athletic goalie, who uses his big frame to his advantage. His quick legs, and strong lateral movement make him a force between the pipes for Mississauga. After what was thought to be a serious knee injury occurring early in the season, Martin has erased any injury concerns and is ready to prove to NHL scouts that he should be the first goalie selected from the OHL.

When individuals describe a player as being an offensive defenseman, the name Jordan Subban should come to mind.

Jordan, who is the younger brother of both PK, and Malcom, is looking to be the third family member selected in the NHL Draft. Subban, who plays rear-guard for the Belleville Bulls, is a smooth skating and dynamic player who understands the nuances of playing an offensive defensive game. Whether it is making a great outlet pass or skating the puck into the offensive zone, Subban gives the Bulls many options from the back end. Weighing in at a mere 175 pounds and standing only five-foot-nine, Subban’s skating abilities are what make his so effective as a defenseman. Subban has already eclipsed his totals from last season, compiling seven goals for 27 points in 39 games. Look for Subban to garner a good amount of attention from NHL scouts based on his tremendous skating.

For the Erie Otters, there have not been many shining moments so far this season, except for the play of Stephen Harper.

Harper, who is another prototypical power forward much like Rychel, plays a big, gritty game, while still possessing a lethal scoring touch. Harper plays a consistent North-South game, and never takes shift off. He excels in the corners, and protects the puck nicely.

Harper does a lot of little things on the ice that are crucial to his team’s success. In his rookie campaign last season Harper tallied 35 points and 24 goals in 63 games, which is good considering Erie’s team last season. This year Harper already has 24 points in 40 games, including 10 goals. If he continues on this pace he will have problem surpassing last season’s totals.  As if he needed any more tools in his bag, Harper already has a pro caliber shot.

With OHL teams back to full rosters with the completion of the World Juniors in Ufa and the second half of the season commencing shortly, look for these players, as well as many others to have big second half’s in the OHL and boost their draft stock leading up to June.

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