January was a big month for OHL prospects with their eyes on the 2018 NHL Draft.
There were there moves up and down the rankings, and the CHL held its annual Sherwin-Williams CHL Top Prospects Game.
January OHL Prospect Power Rankings for the 2018 NHL Draft
10 different OHLers recorded a point in the game, while plenty of familiar names were sprinkled across the Skills Competition. Some names are familiar because of the rankings. In terms of unfamiliar names? Ottawa’s Kevin Bahl and London’s Liam Foudy finished second and fourth respectively in the off-ice standings.
One name continued to dominate off-ice (third), on the ice (four assists), and in the rankings once again. Evan Bouchard kicks things off once again.
1. Evan Bouchard, London Knights – TI Score: 84.5
December Rank: 1st, 64.5 points
Another month and another number one ranking for the Knights’ captain and top blueliner. Bouchard has been on an absolute tear since October. After one month of the rankings, he had a score of just 12.5. He was a full three points away from being an honourable mention. Since then? He’s been first every month. Bouchard gained a full 20 points on his index score between December and January thanks to a three-goal, 11 assist month. He saved things a bit with a four-assist game against Owen Sound, but he’d still have a healthy lead otherwise. He looks primed to be the first Canadian OHLer off the board come June’s NHL Draft.
Lots of defencemen expected to go near the top of the 2018 draft. Here's the highest ones from the CHL via Bob McKenzie: Evan Bouchard, Noah Dobson, Ty Smith and Ryan Merkley. pic.twitter.com/AYKOdJUd1C
— Colin Cudmore (@CudmoreColin) January 30, 2018
2. Akil Thomas, Niagara IceDogs – TI Score: 73.5
December Rank: 4th, 47.5 points
Thomas, who has consistently held the fourth spot in the rankings, bumps up to two this month. That’s what a month with points in all but one game will do for you. Thomas had three two-point and two three-point games in January. He recorded a point in 11 of 12 games. During a seven-game goalless stretch, Thomas still posted 10 assists. That led to him finishing the month with 15 helpers and three goals. While this is ignored in the rankings, Thomas was also a monster on faceoffs. He finished just three games below 50% in the faceoff circle, and there were four games where he lost just five times in 14 or more faceoffs.
3. Ryan Merkley, Guelph Storm – TI Score: 65.5
December Rank: 3rd, 49 points
Merkley is three points off of Bouchard’s point total, but his +/- continues to hold him in third. Merkley leads Guelph in scoring with 57 points and capped January with a seven-game point streak. His -16 however, is second worst on his club. It’s also the worst mark of any player with 40 or more points in the OHL. That being said, the pure skill offensively is hard to ignore. Merkley leads the OHL in power play assists with 27, the only defenceman with more than 20.
Ryan Merkley vs Evan Bouchard today in an OHL matinee.
(2nd Star) Merkley 1+2 3SOG, +2, now up to 57 points (12+45) in 47 GP
(3rd Star) Bouchard 1+1 8SOG, -1, now up to 60 points (16+44) in 47 GP. #2018NHLDraft
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) January 28, 2018
4. Ryan McLeod, Mississauga Steelheads – TI Score: 64.5
December Rank: 5th, 46 points
The Steelheads have started to turn it around and could have their sights set on fifth in the East. Amidst a four-game winning streak and an 8-2 mark over their last ten, Ryan McLeod has been key. Despite going scoreless in the fourth game of that stretch, McLeod had two goals and an assist in each of the three wins before that. It was his fourth three-point game of the month, as McLeod continues to obliterate his previous career highs. With 20 games to go, McLeod can only build on his 17 goals and 36 assists.
5. Barrett Hayton, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – TI Score: 60
December Rank: 2nd, 49 points
Anywhere else, Barrett Hayton’s season may be a bigger story. That’s not to say that he’s going unnoticed in the Soo, but with so many stars he just blends in. Hayton’s 43 points have him fifth on the Greyhounds in scoring, and he is three goals shy of being the team’s sixth 20-goal scorer. Realistically, they could finish the year with eight. He slowed down a bit in January with two goals in ten games, but three two-assist games gave him nine points for January.
And the forwards (aside from Svechknikov/Zadina above): Joe Veleno, Barrett Hayton, Ryan McLeod and Serron Noel. pic.twitter.com/73gD838l4b
— Colin Cudmore (@CudmoreColin) January 30, 2018
6. Aidan Dudas, Owen Sound Attack – TI Score: 57.5
December Rank: 2nd, 42.5 points
Dudas’ January started off hot, with points in three-straight to go along with a three-point effort. After notching just one goal in four games, he closed out the month with four points in four games. Dudas continues to steadily produce as the season goes on, and sits third on the Attack in scoring, and tied for second in goals.
— FC Hockey (@FCHockey) January 28, 2018
7. Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie Colts – TI Score: 53.5
December Rank: 10th, 34.5 points
While first may be out of reach, don’t be surprised to see Svechnikov rise to third or even second in the rankings by season’s end. He has points in nine of ten January games, but that’s not even the most impressive thing about his month. From January 18 to 27 he played in five games, recording two points in each of them. The Russian is proving to be nearly unstoppable, posting five goals and five assists over that stretch. He’s going to continue to score, cementing his top prospect status. TSN’s Bob McKenzie has him pegged as the number two prospect overall, and it would be surprising to see him slide any lower than fourth.
8. Nathan Dunkley, London Knights – TI Score: 52.5
December Rank: 6th, 44.5 points
Dunkley hasn’t really skipped a beat since shifting from Kingston to London. Acquired at the deadline, Dunkley left the Frontenacs with 33 points in 31 games, and has six in nine so far for London. With the way the Knights reshaped their roster in early January, Dunkley will have plenty of chances to improve his stock down the stretch. While they’re at different points in their careers, Dunkley’s time with the Knights could mimic the man he was traded for at the deadline, Cliff Pu.
9. Rasmus Sandin, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – TI Score: 51.5
December Rank: 9th, 35 points
Like Hayton, Sandin continues to truck along in the Soo. He had an eight-game point streak that spanned the end of December and beginning of January. Then he added three points over four games from the January 19 to 28. Sandin has given the ‘Hounds a deep blueline, even before Jordan Sambrook was brought in from Erie. Even if starts to slow down towards the end of his first year in North America, the Soo can afford to give him some time to recharge.
The top 25 adjusted NHL points of the #2018NHLDraft class (Defenseman)
1. Evan Bouchard (29.5)
2. Ryan Merkley (25.7)
3. Calen Addison (24.2)
4. Ty Smith (22.7)
5. Rasmus Dahlin (21.9)
6. Rasmus Sandin (21.5)
7. Noah Dobson (20.9)
8. Alexander Alexyev (19.9)
— Finlay Sherratt (@FinlaySherratt) January 23, 2018
10. Allan McShane, Oshawa Generals TI Score: 45.5
December Rank: 8th, 41.5 points
McShane has cooled off since a great start to the season, but continues to flash offensively for the Generals. January was a slow month with just five points in 11 games, but it was a slow month for Oshawa as a whole. Locked in the thick of that battle for fifth, the Gens were 3-2 in games McShane recorded a point. He finished the month with points in back-to-back games, so maybe Oshawa’s third-leading scorer is gearing up for another hot stretch.
Flint’s Ty Dellandrea finished 1.5 points out of 10th spot. He had a pretty sizable jump in January, moving up from a score of 29 ranking points to 44. Five two-point games in your last six will do that. Curtis Douglas has settled in nicely with Windsor. The former Colt has eight goals and eight assists in 17 games. He also finished January on a seven-game point streak. Kitchener’s Riley Damiani continues to produce despite a loaded roster. A three-point game led him to an Index Score of 43 with two months to go in the season.