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 East Division Preview.
You can check out all of this year’s Top Shelf Prospects articles here.
OHL East Division
Top Two Teams (In Predicted Order of Finish)
The 67s went all the way to the OHL final before falling to the Guelph Storm last year. They return a very strong squad and are looking to take the next step this year. The defence is led by a pair of NHL prospects in Kevin Bahl (Arizona) and Nikita Okhotyuk (New Jersey). Noel Hoefenmayer, an unsigned Coyotes draftee who is now a free agent, also returns for an overage season. The forward group features two more Devils prospects in Graeme Clarke and Mitchell Hoelscher. Marco Rossi projects as one of the top picks in 2020. In goal, veteran Cedrick Andree is back. He will be challenged by 18-year-old Will Cranley.
NHL Prospects Nicholas Robertson (Toronto), Zach Gallant (San Jose), Liam Kirk (Arizona), and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (Toronto) lead the Petes offensive attack. Jacob Paquette (Nashville) and Declan Chisholm (Winnipeg) are the main pieces on the blueline. The team also currently owns the rights to San Jose prospect Ryan Merkley, but he has had a falling out with the team and its unclear if he will play for the Petes again. They are trying to trade him but the situation is up in the air. Hunter Jones (Minnesota) should give them some of the best goaltending in the league.
Players to Watch
Arthur Kaliyev, Right Wing, Hamilton Bulldogs
A pure sniper, Kaliyev has a tremendous wrist shot. He picks corners with ease, and his quick release often fools goaltenders. He also has a very good snapshot and an excellent slap shot. Kaliyev can also score with an effective backhand. He is solid on his skates and not afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice. He establishes a position in front of the net and is tough to move out. Once there Kaliyev uses a quick stick and good hand-eye coordination to pounce on rebounds, tip in pucks, or quickly one-time a pass into the back of the net. Without the puck, he has a real knack for finding soft spots in the defence and getting open to receive a pass from a teammate.
Jan Jenik, Centre, Hamilton Bulldogs
Jenik has good size at six-foot-one but is underdeveloped at just 165 pounds. He plays an aggressive two-way game fighting in the corners for loose pucks and battling hard in front of the net. Jenik pressures defenders on the forecheck, forcing them to move the puck quickly and often causing them to make mistakes. He is willing to get to the front of the net and create traffic. When he has the puck, Jenik protects it well down low and creates in the cycle. However, he must bulk up to play that style at the NHL level. Jenik also has skill. His puck protection game is aided by his strong stickhandling ability.
Billy Constantinou, Defence, Kingston Frontenacs
Constantinou pairs his strong skating with very good stickhandling ability. He handles the puck well and is able to make plays while moving at top speed. He retrieves the puck quickly and starts the transition game. Constantinou has the ability to beat forecheckers and skate the puck out of dangerous areas in his own zone as well as lead the rush through the neutral zone. Constantinou loves to do so and is a big risk taker from the back end. Most of the time these risks work out for him, but he can make a big giveaway from time to time. He scored 33 points in 66 games last season.
Allan McShane, Centre, Oshawa Generals
A Montreal Canadiens prospect, McShane was known as more of a playmaker than a goal scorer when drafted. He is a smart player, very good at reading the play, anticipating which player will get open, and creating a scoring chance. He can make tape-to-tape passes through the smallest openings. McShane can also make effective saucer passes. On the power play, he quarterbacks things from the point, or from the half boards. McShane is not afraid to take a hit to make a play. He controls the puck well down low and makes plays in the cycle. While his strength is his playmaking, McShane also has a strong, accurate wrist shot with a quick release. The improvements in his shot led to scoring 34 goals last season.
Serron Noel, Right Wing, Oshawa Generals
Noel had a breakout season putting up 34 goals and 81 points in 68 games last season. He has a very hard wrist shot, as he generates excellent power. His accuracy is good, and he features a quick release. His snapshot is also a weapon. Noel uses his size to get to the front of the net. His quick hands help him finish in tight, with tip-ins, scoring rebounds, or making quick moves to beat a goalie in tight. Further out, he needs some work on his one-timer. He also needs to be more consistent in finding opportunities to get his shot off. Noel creates offence through his size and strength. He is very good on the forecheck, pressuring defenders and forcing them to make poor decisions.
Kevin Bahl, Left Defence, Ottawa 67s
Bahl’s bread and butter is his defensive game. His strong skating, agility, and long stick make him very hard to beat in one-on-one situations. His long reach helps him to take the puck off opponents with an excellent poke check. He has good positioning and that reach also cuts down passing and shooting lanes. Bahl is particularly effective down low on the penalty kill, where he can take away plays in and around the goal line and slot. Bahl is not the biggest hitter. He is disciplined and does not get himself caught out of position to throw huge checks. However, he is a man-beast on the boards, winning battles and clearing the zone. He also keeps the front of the net clear, allowing his goaltender to see shots and make saves. Bahl is not afraid to put his body on the line and block shots.
Graeme Clarke, Right Wing, Ottawa 67s
Clarke is a sniper, with an excellent wrist shot and release. He also maintains puck possession with strong work along the boards and in the cycle game. Clarke has soft hands and can make moves on opposing defenders to create space. This would be more effective if he can improve is skating. While Clarke has a good first few steps, he can improve his top-end speed and his agility. He is very smart though, and this helps him to get into the right positions and compensate for the lack of speed. Clarke also has good vision and passing skills.
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Centre, Peterborough Petes
Der-Agutchintsev barely made the cut for 2018 NHL Draft as a September 15, 2000 birthdate. He ended up being selected in the third round by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is a skilled playmaker. Der-Argutchintsev is an excellent stick handler who opens up passing lanes with quick feints, and changes in direction. He can put the puck through tight spaces and put it right on his teammate’s tape. Der-Argutchintsev has good anticipation and sees where his teammates are headed before they get there. He could be more dangerous if he can add some power to his shot. He also needs to bulk up to work along the boards and in front of the net.
Nikita Okhotyuk, Defence, Ottawa 67s
Okhotyuk is a good skater. He is also an excellent defender. He uses his edgework and agility to keep his man in front of him and maintain good gap control. Okhotyuk has solid positioning and a long stick. He has good balance and lower body strength. This allows him to win his battles on the boards and in front of the net. Okhotyuk only put up 17 points in 56 games with the Ottawa 67s this past season, up from his 11 points as an OHL rookie in 2017-18. He will likely never be a scorer at the NHL level but could be a solid shutdown defender with a gritty and physical game.
Hunter Jones, Goaltender, Peterborough Petes
Coming in at 6’4.5″ at the NHL Draft Combine, Jones has the size that NHL teams are looking for in a modern goalie prospect. His big frame takes up a lot of the net and minimizes the amount of space that shooters have to look at. Jones is an aggressive goalie who comes well out of his net in order to cut down angles and give a shooter even less open space to look at.
He is very athletic but his technique is a bit raw. He can sometimes come out too far and also needs improvement on his rebound control. This can lead to opponents having open nets on second-chance opportunities. His powerful legs move him side-to-side quickly, however, Jones has a tendency to overcommit and this can also get him out of position. At the junior level, his impressive athleticism can help Jones recover and make saves but he must improve this as he faces better shooters.
Nicholas Robertson, Left Wing, Peterborough Petes
Robertson has a non-stop motor and is always involved in the middle of the play. He is surprisingly physical for his size, getting in quickly on the forecheck and being an absolute wrecking ball against opposing defenders. His ability to cause turnovers and create havoc on the forecheck helps him to create offence. He is also willing to get to the front of the net and creates havoc there. Robertson is good at getting tip-ins, burying rebounds, or just causing goaltenders problems with his presence and ability to get under their skin.
Robertson is also skilled. He has good hands and can make strong stickhandling moves around a defender. When he creates some space, he is able to get off a good wrist shot and a quick release. He also has a very good snapshot. Robertson is shifty and this helps him to make passing and shooting lanes. When he gets the opportunity, he can create for teammates with a tape-to-tape pass in a scoring area. Robertson sees the ice well and reads the play effectively making smart plays with the puck. Without the puck, he is able to find open space and take a pass from a teammate.
2020 NHL Draft Prospects to Watch
Logan Morrisson, Centre, Hamilton Bulldogs
After being taken 18th overall in the 2018 OHL Draft, Morrison scored 14 goals and 37 points in 44 games. He is a great skater, with excellent top-end speed as well as the edgework and agility to elude defenders both with and without the puck. Morrison is a good stick-handler and able to combine this with his skating to be dangerous on the rush or generate effective zone entries. He is also a very good passer, with the vision to find open teammates and the skill to put the puck through tight passing lanes.
Jacob Murray, Defence, Kingston Frontenacs
The 13th Overall pick in the 2018 OHL Draft, Murray had just eight points last season. The tools are there, but Murray didn’t seem to put things together as a 16-year-old on a weak team. He is already 6-foot-3 and is an excellent skater for his size, with good speed in both directions and the edgework and pivots to play a 200-foot game. He also has good vision and passing skills to start the breakout. Murray has a good slapshot at the point as well. He will need to put it together and add some production this year.
Marco Rossi, Centre, Ottawa 67s
The Austrian forward is the best hockey prospect that his country has produced since Thomas Vanek. Rossi is just 5-foot-9, however, he is solidly built. His low centre of gravity makes him hard to knock off the puck and allows him to control it down low and create out of the cycle game.
Rossi is an excellent skater, with very good speed and edgework. He can take defenders wide and cut to the net. Rossi has excellent hands. He creates space by combining his quick fakes and with his quick cuts and changes in speed. Rossi is talented as both a playmaker and a shooter. He has a quick wrist shot with an excellent release as well as the passing skills to set up his linemates and make them better. His ability to extend plays through his work down low really lets him take advantage of these playmaking abilities. He gives his teammates additional time to get open for a tape-to-tape pass. Rossi is also good defensively. He is able to kill penalties and is particularly effective on faceoffs.
2021 NHL Draft Prospects
Francesco Arcuri, Right Wing, Kingston Frontenac
Arcuri is a very good skater who combines this with his stickhandling ability to make plays at top speed. He can quickly change angles to open up passing and shooting lanes. This makes him especially dangerous on the rush. An excellent playmaker, Arcuri can put the puck through tight spaces. He is a hard worker who digs in the dirty areas of the ice and never stops moving his feet. Arcuri can also develop as a goal scorer. He has a quick and deceptive release on his wrist shot. The power should improve as he grows into his frame.
2022 NHL Draft Prospects
Shane Wright, Centre, Kingston Frontenacs
Granted exceptional status, this 15-year-old was the top pick in the recent OHL Draft. Wright is an outstanding skater and stick handler. His ability to put pressure on defences opens up his playmaking skills and shows that he could be a franchise level player, both at the OHL level and eventually in the NHL. He makes passes through tight areas, even showing the ability to make tape-to-tape saucer passes over an opponent’s stick. Wright already plays a mature game, working just as hard in his own end as he does in the opponent’s end. His development will be key to the Frontenacs rebuild.
OHL East Division Main Photo:
REGINA, SK – MAY 25: Arthur Kaliyev #34 of Hamilton Bulldogs warms up with a shot on net against the Regina Pats at Brandt Centre – Evraz Place on May 25, 2018 in Regina, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)