Our rankings of Ontario Hockey League players eligible for the National Hockey League draft continues today with part 4: The top 10 skaters. Our previous rankings included the top goaltenders, top skaters from 21 through 40 and the top skaters from 11 to 20.
Once again, this list is comprised of skaters eligible for the first time – players previously passed over are not included. You will also see where the player ranked in our previous rankings, where they ranked on the NHL Central Scouting mid-term rankings and their stats at the end of the season.
The previous rankings can be found here:
Here are our top 10 skaters eligible for the draft:
10. Justin Bailey – Kitchener Rangers
Previous Rank: 10
Central Scouting: 12
Date of Birth: July 1, 1995
Hometown: Williamsville, New York
Stats: 57GP 17G 19A 36PTS
In my opinion, Bailey is one of the most intriguing players in the OHL for the draft. He came into his first OHL season loaded with potential and “star” status and hasn’t disappointed playing 4th line minutes in Kitchener. One could only imagine the type of season he would have had without a couple of injuries to set him back. He finished 11th in goals among draft eligible players while coming in fifth in plus/minus – as a rookie.
Bailey has a tremendous work ethic – a win at all cost mentality. His intention is to try and score on each shift without being a liability in his own zone. He has a tremendous shot. Skating isn’t a concern, but he’s more of a hard working skater than he is fluid. His physicality isn’t what you’d expect from a 6’3 power forward, but once he fills out his frame, he could be a force.
9. Chris Bigras – Owen Sound Attack
Previous Rank: 9
Central Scouting: 6
Date of Birth: February 22, 1995
Hometown: Elmvale, Ontario
Stats: 68GP 8G 30A 38PTS
He has an unbelievably high hockey IQ and that is his greatest asset. This season he has shown he is able to contribute offensively. He plays in any situation and is successful at them. His defensive game hasn’t suffered with the added offense. I’ve often referred to him as this year’s Matt Finn. In my opinion he has top four potential in the NHL.
Bigras is one of those players that doesn’t excel at one thing but is good at all things. He’s one of the most positionally sound defensemen in the draft. He knows when to attack and when not to attack. You won’t see any flash from Bigras but he’ll get the job done effectively and intelligently.
8. Ryan Hartman – Plymouth Whalers
Previous Rank: 11
Central Scouting: 8
Date of Birth: September 20, 1994
Hometown: West Dundee, Illinois
Stats: 56GP 23G 37A 60 PTS
Hartman is a pest first and foremost and successful at it. But it’s his skating, offensive touch, work ethic and willingness to battle in every area that make him what he is. He has very good speed, isn’t afraid to take the puck to the net, a very good passer, will battle along the boards and plays much bigger than he is. He has continued to climb all season and a strong playoff will solidify his standing.
Hartman has been on a tear since joining Team USA at the World Junior Championships. I don’t think there has been a single player who has benefited more from the tournament and since then. The most noticeable difference: In the first half of the season he was more interested in being a pest, taking unnecessary penalties – for the longest time he led the league in penalties. But he’s learned that he’s of no help in the box. Still a pest, but just a smarter pest.
7. Jason Dickinson – Guelph Storm
Previous Rank: 4
Central Scouting: 4
Date of Birth: July 4, 1995
Hometown: Georgetown, Ontario
Stats: 66GP 18G 29A 47PTS
Position: Left Wing
It’s been an up and down season for Dickinson which has been reflected in his bouncing around on this list from time to time. A solid first half statistically had people excited but a second half drop has raised some questions. He has some very noticeable skill with good size – although he needs to fill out, a very good skater with a good shot and some very noticeable leadership qualities.
Dickinson is able to play any role and in any situations. He’s shown flashes of brilliance at times. He’s loaded with potential but needs to find the heart and competitiveness to do it on a consistent basis. It’s there, he has to want it and now, it’s up to him.
6. Nikita Zadorov – London Knights
Previous Rank: 7
Central Scouting: 10
Date of Birth: April 16, 1995
Hometown: Moscow, Russia
Stats: 63GP 6G 19A 25PTS
I constantly get knocked for ranking Zadorov where I do. Like I’ve said before it’s based on personal preference. He’s an excellent shut down defenseman with tremendous size. He’s an excellent skater for that size. He possesses offensive ability and we’ve seen spurts of it, although in my opinion sporadically.
Zadorov comes loaded with potential and if he comes close to that potential he’ll be a great pick up for an NHL team. He’s a physical specimen that can throw devastating hits. He keeps guys close and is able to keep them from attacking the net with his pure strength. The scary part – he’ll only get stronger.
5. Kerby Rychel – Windsor Spitfires
Previous Rank: 5
Central Scouting: 5
Date of Birth: October 7, 1994
Hometown: Tecumseh, Ontario
Stats: 68GP 40G 47A 87PTS
Position: Left Wing
Consistency was Rychel’s biggest question mark until the return of Alex Khokhlachev from the KHL and then his game blossomed. Rychel is not the go to type but a very nice complimentary piece. At times he had trouble creating for himself or for teammates but it really showed that once all the pressure wasn’t on him how well he could really do.
Rychel already has good size. He possesses a very good shot – NHL quality. His skating is questionable but not something that can’t be worked on and improved. If he can improve on that and his work ethic, he’ll become an excellent two way winger in the NHL.
4. Bo Horvat – London Knights
Previous Rank: 6
Central Scouting: 3
Date of Birth: April 5, 1995
Hometown: Rodney, Ontario
Stats: 67GP 33G 28A 61PTS
Position: Center/Left Wing
Mr Horvat and Mr Consistency could be considered the same person. From the beginning of the season right through to the end, Horvat has probably been the most consistent player on this list. He’s superb already defensively and does very well offensively – owning the second longest point streak in the OHL this season at 17 games.
Horvat has great character with great leadership qualities. His win at all costs attitude is his bread and butter. He’ll do whatever it takes, kill penalties, block shots, make a big hit or take one to make a play and yes, he’ll even score the big goal. He can play center or the wing which makes him versatile.
3. Max Domi – London Knights
Previous Rank: 3
Central Scouting: 7
Date of Birth: March 2, 1995
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Stats: 64GP 39G 48A 87PTS
Position: Center/Left Wing
There is a greater debate going on about where you rank the three London Knights on this list relative to each other more than on the entire group. Here, Domi comes out on top. You can’t teach his pure offensive ability and the heart that he plays with. Some knock his defensive game, but we feel that’s an area that can be coached.
He’s not the biggest skater but he has unbelievable lower body strength. Coupled with his excellent skating and tremendous heart it makes him hard to contain. That allows Domi to create scoring chances for himself and his teammates especially with his quick release and shot. His vision or at least his ability to use his teammates more has helped his overall offensive game. He finished tied with Rychel in points among draft eligible players and second in goals behind Rychel.
2. Darnell Nurse – Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds.
Previous Rank: 2
Central Scouting: 2
Date of Birth: February 4, 1995
Hometown: Hamilton, Ontario
Stats: 68GP 12G 29A 41PTS
We jumped on Nurse early this season ranking him number two at the end of September and he hasn’t disappointed. There are some lists that even have Nurse at number one at this point. His development curve has been on a consistent rise and he is loaded with potential and is still raw. With that comes a certain amount of risk so it becomes a debate.
But Nurse has all the tools to be successful. He has the size most scouts prefer. He’s an excellent skater especially for his size. His strength will come once he fills out that 6’5” frame. He plays a very solid shut down game and although he finished second in points among draft eligible defensemen in points, he still has plenty of untapped offensive ability. He has a very high hockey IQ, anticipates well, reads plays extremely well and can get out of trouble by skating or making a smart and very good first pass.
1. Sean Monahan – Ottawa 67’s
Previous Rank: 1
Central Scouting: 1
Date of Birth: October 12, 1994
Hometown: Brampton, Ontario
Stats: 58GP 31G 47A 78PTS
There isn’t much left to say about Monahan at this point that hasn’t already been said. Some believe that since the Ottawa 67’s didn’t make the post season, it may hurt Monahan slightly. Fact is that we’ve had two excellent seasons in which to watch Monahan at his best. Some missed time – notably a 10 game suspension – hurt Monahan’s statistics slightly, but in the end he was right there with Rychel and Domi for the lead.
The only knock on Monahan could be his skating. But what he lacks in that department he makes up with his smarts and vision. He’s accomplished in all three zones and is the most NHL ready player on this list and we could possibly see him in the NHL as early as next season. He’s a great leader and his work ethic showed this season orking hard each and every night knowing he was playing on a last place club.