If you were away from Hurricanes hockey for the weekend, our 2017 NHL Draft coverage kicked off with two articles scouting the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for players who could turn up on the Hurricanes’ draft slate this weekend. The first article featured ‘from the rink’ QMJHL insight from Mike Barrett from Dobber Prospects and Future Considerations, and the second article leveraged the QMJHL scouting of Scott Wheeler from the Toronto Star.
Today’s Ontario Hockey League article is one of two today. The other is HERE.
To see a complete menu of 2017 NHL Draft coverage articles this week, please bookmark our “Carolina Hurricanes 2017 NHL Draft Central” where you can find up to date clickable links for all of our draft coverage.
About the Scout/Writer
Brock Otten (Twitter=@BrockOtten) is the man behind OHL Prospects, a blog that has covered the OHL extensively since 2008. Here you’ll find draft rankings, player bios, interviews, and other OHL-related news.
Scouting the Ontario Hockey League for the Hurricanes 2017 NHL Draft
Canes and Coffee: Who do you see the Hurricanes taking at #12 overall?
Brock Otten: In my mock draft, I have the Canes taking Kristian Vesalainen at #12. Now, I know the team took a somewhat similar player in Julian Gauthier last year, but with all the talented young playmakers that Carolina has, I figured you could never have too much size and skill on the wing. I was really impressed with his play at the U18’s and I think he’s brought himself back into lottery consideration. Two OHL guys I’d expect them to consider would be Owen Tippett and Nick Suzuki, but I’ve got both going before #12 in my mock. Could also see them going with players like Martin Necas, Lias Andersson, Klim Kostin, etc. I think the Hurricanes will select a forward in the first round in 2017.
Canes and Coffee: Which OHL player(s) could be relevant at #12 in the first round? What are the pros and cons of each player?
Brock Otten: As mentioned, I could see Owen Tippett and Nick Suzuki going around that #12 mark in the draft. Tippett is one of the better scorers available in the draft this year. He has size, skating, and an absolutely lethal shot (best wrister in the OHL in my opinion). But there are concerns about his overall play and his ability to utilize his teammates and find scoring lanes consistently at the next level. Suzuki has everything you want in a player except elite size and elite skating ability. He thinks the game one step ahead of his peers and is a terrific two-way player with a non-stop motor. I recently read someone comparing him to Patrice Bergeron recently, and I think that’s a decent comparison. If teams are looking to reach for size, defender Nic Hague and winger Isaac Ratcliffe could also surprise in that range in my opinion.
Canes and Coffee: Which couple OHL players do you like in the second round which is currently scheduled to be a busy one for the Hurricanes who currently have three second-round selections?
Brock Otten: So the Canes have that one mid second, and then the two late second rounders. There will be a LOT of OHL talent going in that range. I could honestly see the OHL taking up a third of the first 90 picks or so this year. Jonah Gadjovich is a guy that the Canes could look at if they don’t go with a big winger in the first. He is a hulking winger who is incredibly dangerous 5 feet from the net. Mackenzie Entwistle is another guy in that range who I really like. The general public has always been tough on Entwistle and see his modest stats and don’t get the hype. But he has performed exceptionally well against his peers (Hlinka, Top Prospect’s Game, U18’s), and I think there is more offensive potential than some give him credit for. Entwistle is a big kid who can skate, plays both ways, plays all three forward positions, and has underrated hands and puck skill. Ivan Lodnia is another player that the Hurricanes could target. He played a multitude of roles for Erie this year and did whatever he was asked, but he’s extremely skilled and is going to explode offensively next year when he moves up in the lineup to fill in for Strome, Debrincat, etc.
Canes and Coffee: Which couple OHL players do you like in the third round where the Hurricanes currently have two picks?
Brock Otten: Again, I see a lot of OHL players going in that range. There are a couple of defenders who probably go in the 3rd round who have great value and potential. Dmitri Samorukov and Markus Phillips. Both had sensational second halves of the season. Samorukov is very raw. One day he looks lost. The next he dominates. But those poor showings were less and less as the season went on. Then he went and had an outstanding U18’s for Russia. Samourkov has a lot of potential as a two-way defender in my opinion. Phillips is a guy built a bit like former Leafs pick and current top prospect Travis Dermott. He is extremely mobile and is a very fluid skater east/west and backwards. Phillips is also very difficult to beat off the rush. During the second half of the year, he was one of the highest scoring defenders in the OHL.
Canes and Coffee: Who do you see as 3-5 OHL sleepers who might be available in middle to later rounds (rounds 4-7) of the 2017 NHL draft?
Brock Otten: I’ll start with a couple of re-entry candidates in Stephen Dhillon and Drake Rymsha. Dhillon is a massive goalie who’s really improved his agility and reads. He was one of the busiest goalies in the league and one of the league’s most improved players. He was one of the youngest available last year when he went undrafted. Rymsha is a former highly thought of prospect who battled injuries last year in his draft year, but who came back very strong this year, showcasing his scoring potential and regaining his tenacity and aggressiveness to go with great skating ability. As far as non re-entry guys, I’m not crazy about the depth the OHL has to offer this year. It really depends on which guys fall. A defender like Jacob Paquette has long been a favourite of mine. He didn’t have a terrific year, but he possesses all the qualities that you’d want in a future shutdown defender who can still move the puck. A real dark horse would be Erie’s Gera Poddubnyi. He was buried in Erie’s lineup this year, but the Import got better and better as the year went on. Next year he’ll have a bigger role and could really explode offensively.
Canes and Coffee: Do you have any additional thoughts on the 2017 NHL draft as relates to the Hurricanes?
Brock Otten: As one of the teams with a good number of picks inside the top 75, it’ll be interesting to see if Carolina is a team that tries to really hit some home runs by reaching on a few boom/bust types. GM’s have been very open about how average they feel this draft is. Does that mean a team like Carolina might consider taking a guy like Samorukov with that mid 2nd, knowing how much potential he has? Or does Carolina consider packaging a few picks to move up in the draft? I could really see a lot of movement this year.
For other information on OHL prospects and the 2017 NHL Draft, check out Brock Otten’s blog at OHL Prospects that has his top top 50 (plus 19 HM’s) OHL players eligible for the draft this year; of course complete with scouting reports. You can find the Top 10 of 50 HERE.
Canes and Coffee extends a huge thank you to Brock Otten from OHL Prospects for generously sharing his ‘from the rink’ insight on Ontario Hockey League draft prospects who could be part of the Carolina Hurricanes 2017 draft class!