Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects. It’s that time again, major junior hockey is back and we’re here to preview the new season for you. All three leagues recently kicked off their new seasons. With that in mind, we will start our division previews today and make our way around the country. Today, we bring you our 2019-20 OHL West Division Preview.
You can check out all of this year’s Top Shelf Prospects articles here.
OHL West Division
Top Two Teams (In Predicted Order of Finish)
The Spirit might be the best team in the OHL and should absolutely run away with this division. Upfront they have one of the top 2020 Draft prospects in Cole Perfetti. He gets plenty of support from NHL Prospects in Cole Coskey (New York Islanders), Damien Giroux (Minnesota), Blade Jenkins (Islanders) and Nicholas Porco (Dallas). The blue line features a veteran group led by Bode Wilde (Islanders), Mason Millman (Philadelphia) and overage player Reilly Webb. Tristan Lennox is young but ready to take over the net. He is a talented goalie even at 17. There is also still a chance Ivan Prosvetov returns for an overage season depending on what happens with the Coyotes goaltending depth.
The Spitfires are also led by a top 2020 Draft Prospect in Jean-Luc Foudy and a second talented 2020 prospect in Will Cuyle. They also have NHL prospects providing depth in Tyler Angle (Columbus), Egor Afanasyev (Nashville), and Curtis Douglas (Dallas). Rookie Wyatt Johnston could also make an immediate impact. On the blue line, veteran Connor Corcoran (Vegas) leads the group. The Spitfires also have import Ruben Rafkin and overager Thomas Stevenson. The Spitfires goaltending is a question mark but the organization has never been afraid to make a trade to improve the club in-season.
Players to Watch
Ty Dellandrea, Centre, Flint Firebirds
A first-round pick of the Dallas Stars in 2018, Dellandrea is an excellent skater. He has the top end speed necessary to pull away from defenders and create odd-man rushes. His quick feet give him excellent acceleration, and he reaches that top speed in just a few strides. Dellandrea has the agility and edgework to make quick cuts and changes in direction. Dellandrea scores goals with an excellent wrist and snapshot. He has the hockey IQ to find soft spots in the opposing defence and gets his shot off from the high slot. His shots are powerful and accurate. He also has a good backhand.
Ethan Keppen, Left Wing, Flint Firebirds
Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks, Keppen plays a power game. He gets to the front of the net, both with and without the puck and creates havoc. He has the hands to score goals on one-timers, deflections, and rebounds. Keppen also battles hard in the corners and is strong on the puck in the cycle game. He could stand to improve his skating.
Vladislav Kolyachonok, Defence, Flint Firebirds
An outstanding skater, Kolyachonok uses this as the basis of a strong two-way game. Kolyachonok uses his skating to move the puck up the ice. He combines this with good stickhandling and puck protection skills. Kolyachonok can skate past forecheckers and out of dangerous areas in his own zone. His speed and agility allow him to create passing lanes and move the puck up the ice on the breakout. He is also able to lead the rush and generate clean entries at the offensive blue line. His skating allows him to maintain good gap control and he is difficult to beat one-on-one. He often plays big minutes for Flint, going up against the league’s top players. Kolyachonok is willing to play a physical game, throwing hits along the boards and battling in front of his net.
Jamieson Rees, Centre, Sarnia Sting
A Carolina Hurricanes second-round pick, Rees creates offence due to his outstanding skating, excellent hands, and relentless work ethic. He is a very good stick-handler and can make plays while moving at top speed. This allows him to open up passing and shooting lanes, especially off the rush. Known for his playmaking ability, he has good vision and the passing ability to find teammates in good scoring areas. He works hard to win battles along the boards, creating turnovers, and quickly getting the puck to a teammate in front of the net. Rees is always in the middle of the action, no matter where it is on the ice. He does not let his lack of size prevent him from playing a gritty and physical game.
Blade Jenkins, Centre/Left Wing, Saginaw Spirit
Jenkins plays a power forward style of game. He is quick to get in on the forecheck and can hammer a defenceman into the boards. Jenkins pressures defenders into mistakes and can pounce when they do. He is willing to aggressively drive to the front of the net both with and without the puck. Jenkins uses his body to protect the puck down low on the cycle game and make plays. He is willing to try a number of creative passes, through tight areas. However, Jenkins has a tendency to try and do too much, and can often give the puck away on a play that is not there. Jenkins also has a hard and accurate wrist shot. He goes to the front of the net and create havoc for goalies.
Nicholas Porco, Left Wing, Saginaw Spirit
Porco is a playmaker off the wing, with good vision and the ability to extend plays and wait for teammates to get open before feathering them a tape-to-tape pass. He reads the play well and makes good decisions on when to make that pass to an open teammate. Porco’s speed makes him dangerous off the rush, however, he also controls the puck well in the cycle game and works hard down low.
Bode Wilde, Defence, Saginaw Spirit
Wilde pairs excellent size with smooth-skating and two-way ability. He is strong on his skates defensively, with the physicality to clear the front of the net as well as win battles in the corners. His speed and footwork allow him to keep attackers in front of him, maintain good gap control and force them to the outside. He also has very good acceleration in both directions. This also allows him to join the rush. Wilde also shows good edgework and pivots. He transitions quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He also has the agility to walk the line, opening up shooting and passing lanes on the power play. Wilde has an absolute bomb of a point shot and understands how to keep it low and on the net to give teammates an opportunity for a deflection or rebound.
Barrett Hayton, Centre, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Currently in Arizona Coyotes training camp, it seems likely that Hayton will get at least a nine-game NHL tryout and might even stick with the team all season. If he comes back to the OHL, he will be a dominant player.
Hayton is not afraid to get to the front of the net. Once he gets there, he battles hard for position and has the soft hands to finish plays in tight. Hayton scores on tip-ins, quick one-timers and by quickly pouncing on rebounds. He can even score on his backhand. Hayton plays a straightforward game. He protects the puck well on the cycle and has some soft hands. However, he is not the type of forward to dangle a defenceman and get past him in a one-on-one situation. Instead, Hayton looks to keep the puck moving, find the open man, and then get it to the net. He is a smart player, who makes smart plays with the puck on his stick. He is also good on the forecheck.
Egor Afanasyev, Left Wing/Centre, Windsor Spitfires
Afanasyev plays a power game. He gets to the front of the net, creating havoc, pouncing on rebounds, getting tip-ins, and making himself available to take a pass and fire a quick shot on the net. He can also score goals from further out and has an excellent arsenal of shots. His snapshot and wrist shot are both powerful, accurate and feature quick releases. He also has a very good slap shot and one-timer. Afanasyev can also play the role of a playmaker. He protects the puck extremely well down low. Afanasyev uses his big body to hold off defenders and combines this with a long stick and effective stickhandling. This extends plays and allows teammates the opportunity to get open.
2020 Draft Prospects to Watch
Evan Vierling, Centre, Flint Firebirds
The second overall pick in the 2018 OHL Draft, Vierling had just six goals and 27 points in 60 games played. He started off slowly but seemed to get better as the season went on. Vierling is a quick skater who also has power in his stride and protects the puck well. He is at his best working the puck down low in the cycle game. His puck protection skills allow his teammates to get open and he can hit them with a strong pass. Vierling plays a strong two-way game. He is a strong back checker and supports the defence well down low.
Cole Perfetti, Centre, Saginaw Spirit
The fifth overall pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Draft, Perfetti led all OHL rookies in goals and points last season. He was named to the OHL All-Rookie Team. Overall he had 37 goals and 74 points in 63 games. Perfetti also added eight goals and 14 points in 16 playoff games. He was part of Team Canada White at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, scoring two goals and nine points in five games. He had an incredible eight goals and 12 points in just five games at this summer’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.
Perfetti has outstanding hands. He can make moves in a phone booth. Perfetti also has very good edgework and combines his hands with the ability to make quick cuts and changes of direction. This makes him extremely dangerous in one-on-one situations whether it be working out of the cycle or coming in off the rush. He uses his quick moves to create shooting and passing lanes. Perfetti sees the ice extremely well and only needs to create a small amount of space to be able to set up a linemate. He also has a very good wrist shot, featuring a quick release.
Jacob Perreault, Right Wing, Sarnia Sting
The 19th overall pick in the 2018 OHL Draft, Perreault surprised many with an outstanding rookie season. He scored 30 goals and added 25 assists for 55 points in 63 games as a 16-year-old. The son of former NHLer Yanic Perreault, he is a dangerous offensive player. Perreault has slick hands and is dangerous in one-on-one situations. He can score in a variety of ways, with the moves to beat goalies in tight, an excellent wrist shot with a deceptive release, an outstanding one-timer, a very good snapshot, and even a strong backhand. His vision and hockey IQ are also very strong for his age. He gets open without the puck and makes smart passes to teammates when he has it.
Jaromir Pytlik, Centre/Right Wing, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Pytlik is strong on his skates and protects the puck well with his good stickhandling ability. He fights off checks and can make plays in traffic. With good vision and passing skills, he can make plays in tight spaces. Pytlik also has a very good wrist shot and the quick release to beat goaltenders. With his soft hands, he can also score in tight to the net, whether that is beating a goalie with a quick move, pouncing on a rebound, one-timing a pass to the back of the net, or getting a deflection. Pytlick is strong in the face-off circle and willing to work in his own end of the ice.
Ryan O’Rourke, Defence, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
A strong defensive defenceman, O’Rourke is already six-foot-two and 181 pounds. He might need to add some muscle to his frame but at just 17-years-old, there is plenty of time for that. He plays a physical game on the boards and does a good job clearing the front of the net. Solid lateral agility makes O’Rourke tough to beat in one-on-one situations. With a quick stick, he is able to create turnovers. Once a turnover is created, O’Rourke is able to quickly transition the puck and start an offensive opportunity. He also has a strong slap shot from the point and put up eight goals last season.
Jean-Luc Foudy, Centre, Windsor Spitfires
The younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Liam Foudy, Jean-Luc Foudy was the 10th overall pick in the 2018 OHL Draft. Last season, he put up eight goals and 41 assists for 49 points in 63 games. He led all OHL Rookies in assists. Foudy added one assist in four playoff games. He represented Team Canada Black at the U-17 WHC putting up a goal and three assists for four points in five tournament games.
Foudy is amongst the fastest players in the OHL, with quick acceleration and outstanding edgework. Foudy can generate breakaways by getting behind the defence. He will need to work on improving his hands and his shooting to pair with that skating ability and become a truly dynamic offensive threat. Foudy is an effective playmaker with good vision and passing skills. His ability to make quick cuts and change speeds can be used to open up passing lanes and change angles. With good vision and passing skills, he is able to set up teammates for high-quality chances. He is also well-advanced defensively for his age.
Will Cuylle, Left Wing, Windsor Spitfires
The third overall pick in the 2018 OHL Draft, Cuylle is already six-foot-two and 201 pounds. He is a power forward in the making. He has an excellent array of shots, including a strong wrist shot and a powerful snapshot. Both feature excellent releases. He gets to the net both with and without the puck. Once he gets there, Cuylle can score in tight with good hands. Cuylle has a powerful stride and can fight through checks and control the puck. He is more likely to go through a defender than to make a number of moves to get around them. Cuylle could stand to work on his passing and vision.
2021 NHL Draft Prospects to Watch
Brennan Othmann, Left Wing, Flint Firebirds
The second overall pick in the OHL Draft, Othmann is a natural sniper. He has an excellent array of shots including a good wrist shot, a quick snapshot, and a powerful one-timer. He has a real knack for getting open without the puck but can also stickhandle and make plays to create his own shot. Othmann has decent size and is tough to clear from the front of the net. He also does well along the boards for his age. Othmann will only get better as he gets stronger and gains experience.
Wyatt Johnston, Centre, Windsor Spitfires
The sixth overall pick in the recent OHL Draft, Johnston is a smooth stickhandler who can beat defenders in one-on-one situations. His ability to make quick moves with the puck and change angles allows him to open up shooting and passing lanes. Johnston has a good wrist shot and his deceptive release can fool goalies. He also has good vision and can set up teammates for scoring chances.