The OHL and the NHL Draft: Round 7
With that said, onto the 7th round.
Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds – Defence – 6′ 0″ 195 – Feb. 25, 1994
Curcuruto is a player who came into the season with some pretty lofty expectations. The 2010 OHL Draft 1st round selection had a very successful rookie season with the Greyhounds, and the hope, and belief, was that he would continue that growth and develop into a potential 1st round selection in the NHL Draft. Invited to the NHL Research and development camp, Curcuruto had a very slow start to the year, and seem to struggle with his game. He didn’t look focused and struggled mightily with his decision-making ability. He lost his confidence early, and the rest of his game seemed to flounder. In the second half of the year he looked a little more confident with the puck, and a little more sound in his own zone, but at the same time, he still has not progressed nearly as much as some would have hoped. He projects out as a smart, defence first defenceman who can make a good outlet pass. He has the abilities to play in the NHL in 4-5 years of he gets his game back in order, but he has a long way to go.
Jamie Phillips – Winnipeg Jets – 190th Overall
Toronto Jr Canadiens (OJHL) – Goaltender – 6’1″ – 170 – Mar. 24 1993
Phillips is hardly a household name, however probably a name you have heard if you’re a follower of my OHL Draft reports. I first saw Phillips playing with the 2009 St. Catharine’s Jr. Falcons, a team that featured Boston Bruins 1st round pick Dougie Hamilton. He had all the tools that you look for in a potential starting OHL goaltender, and I had projected him as one of the first 5-10 goaltenders selected in the draft. Drafted by the Sarnia Sting, he played Jr B in Welland and then moved to the Pembrooke Lumber Kings, where he really established himself as a potential NHL level draft pick. This past season he split time between the Powell River Kings in the BCHL and the Toronto Jr Canadiens of the OJHL. I’ve only seen him sparingly over the last few years, but what I like is his upside. He has the size and athleticism, but needs time to develop given that he has not seen a ton of ice over the last few years. He is headed to Michigan Tech, so the Jets have 4 years to make the decision on him.
Brady Austin – Buffalo Sabres – 193rd Overall
Belleville Bulls (OHL) – Defenceman – 6’3″ – 234 – Jun. 16th, 1993
Brady Austin is a player who really stood out to me all year. Acquired in a trade in the offseason for the Erie Otters, Austin has always been a player who was about projectable upside and not always about ‘now’. Dating back to his days in Central Ontario of the OMHA, he always was a player who I thought had NHL level upside, but just seemed to struggle with playing that smart defensive game. The move to Belleville did him well this year, as he was able to simply focus on playing a strong, physical brand of hockey and not worrying as much about the offensive size of his game. What I really liked about his game this year was how aggressive he was. In the past he seemed a little passive in puck battles, but this year he seemed to develop a mean streak. He doesn’t have much offensive upside, and needs to really focus on his footwork. He struggles with his transitional footwork and his east to west lateral movement. He is a project, but an interesting one.
Nick Ebert – Los Angeles Kings – 211th Overall
Windsor Spitfires (OHL) – Defenceman – 5’11″ – 200 – May 11th, 1994
There is not much to be said that has not already been mentioned with regards to Nick Ebert. At this point, anyone who is visiting this blog knows the story, and understands his fall from grace. I first had the opportunity to see Nick play with Waterloo of the United States Hockey League. At the time, I had him rated 1st for the OHL Draft, and I was not alone. After a successful rookie season in Windsor, I had expectations that he would make a big push to be a top selection in this year’s draft. He had an injury in the summer that limited his off season training, and came into the year in fairly poor hockey shape. He struggled mightily with his play in the early months of the season, looking lost at times. In the second half of the year, he looked to be making better decisions and bringing his game to an acceptable level, but at that point, the damage was done. Ill say this, I truly believe the hate is too great on Ebert. He certainly struggled with conditioning and his hockey sense was exposed, but the skills and mobility is there, and if there is a player in the second half of this draft that I would put money on making an impact at the NHL level, its Nick Ebert.
Stay tuned to the ProspectBlog, as I will soon be posting my thoughts on the 6th round of the NHL Draft, with an OHL focus.