Expect To See These Prospects Off The Board Early In The OHL Draft This Spring
As the calendar flips into February, eyes start to wander to some of the biggest upcoming events on the youth hockey schedule. One of those, most certainly, is the OHL Priority Selection.
Every season, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) member clubs take turns selecting the players who will fill out their future rosters. While each draft features a mix of Canadian and American players, the first step towards preparing for the OHL Draft is looking at some of the top “hometown” prospects.
Here is a look at some of the best 2006 birth-year players Ontario has to offer for the upcoming OHL Priority Selection (in alphabetical order):
Cole Beaudoin – Center – Nepean Raiders (Hockey Eastern Ontario)
Skating up with the Nepean Raiders U18 AAA team, Beaudoin has shown that he knows how to move the puck around and find his teammates for prime scoring opportunities. The 15-year-old has scouts impressed with his passing — the 6-foot-2, 190-pound forward has recorded 42 assists in the 23 games we have statistics for this season. With 12 goals, as well, Beaudoin has 54 points, with only six penalty minutes — displaying a clean, skilled game with and without the puck for the talented youngster.
Benjamin Cormier – Center – Navan Grads (HEO)
Cormier plays for the Nevan Grads U18s, and has a balanced 25 goals and 49 points in 22 games of HEO play. ProspectPipeline.ca has him ranked No. 3 heading into the draft, describing Cormier as “a lethal and versatile forward whose immense work ethic and raw competitiveness combine to make him one of the top players eligible.” Quite an endorsement, and traits any scout would love to see when they’re watching a Grads game this season.
Michael Hage – Center – Toronto Jr. Canadiens (Greater Toronto Hockey League)
GTHL stats are tough to come by this season, but Hage has been a player on a lot of people’s radars for some time now — all the way back to his better-than-two-points-per-game appearances at the World Selects Invitational in 2018 and 2019. Hage has impressed with his Jr. Canadiens club this year, and while his 6-foot, 172-pound frame isn’t intimidating, his presence is at both ends of the ice. A write-up on Hage in Sports Illustrated Prospects says it’s all about the wheels. “Hage’s greatest attribute is by far his skating. His pristine edge work, and excellent first three powerful strides allow him to be a quick, overwhelming player.”
Henry Mews – Defenseman – Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)
Staying on the Jr. Canadiens roster for a moment, Mews is arguably the top defenseman out of Ontario heading into the draft. He may patrol the blue line, but he knows how to find the opposition’s net, as well, as Mews registered 62 points in 29 games in 2019-20. PuckPreps describes him as, “An offensive force from the backend and should put up significant points feeding players like Hage this season. He has exceptional vision and more than holds his own in the defensive end.”
Malcolm Spence – Center – Mississauga Senators (GTHL)
Leading the World Youth Championship 15U in scoring in 2021 put Spence on the scouting map if he wasn’t there already. Spence posted 19 points in eight games in the spring tournament, after dominating it two years earlier with 15 points in seven games, too. He’s not the biggest — Spence checks in at 6-foot and 179 pounds – but his shot and his stride make him a dominant force. “His OHL-caliber shot is a great asset of his, he changes angles, and has a very quick release as well as it being very accurate and fairly hard,” from Sports Illustrated Prospects. “Spence is a phenomenal skater as well, his strides are smooth and natural, his edgework is great and his agility is an asset.” PuckPreps has Spence as their top Ontario-based prospect heading into the draft.
Nathan Villeneuve – Center – Navan Grads (HEO)
Ottawa’s own Nathan Villeneuve is the top prospect on ProspectPipeline.ca‘s latest projections, and it’s easy to see why. Villeneueve has 49 points in 22 games with his Navan Grads U18 AAA squad, along with 53 penalty minutes. You’re getting every inch and every pound of his 6-foot, 181-pound frame when he touches the ice, as his compete level is off the charts. “A lethal force on the rush and in the offensive zone, as well as a centre committed to securing his defensive end in the process, Villeneuve is unquestionably a highly talented OHL prospect of immense potential,” from ProspectPipeline. Scouts rave about his skating, as well, saying that Villeneuve has no problem getting from zero to 60 in a hurry.
Kieron Walton – Wing – North York Rangers (GTHL)
If you’re looking for a power forward, look no further than Walton. The North York Rangers forward checks in at 6-foot-5 and 203 pounds, and he makes his presence felt on the ice. “When he has the puck Walton has wonderful hands and hand-eye coordination which allows him to get around opposing defenders, however, he is smart and knows when to use his body to protect the puck,” from Sports Illustrated Prospects. “He uses this to bring the puck into the slot and fire off his shot.” Those nuggets are a big reason why he’s No. 2 on the board for PuckPreps in his region.
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