The OHL and the NHL Draft – Round 5
Seth Griffith – Boston Bruins – 131st Overall
London Knights – Centre – 5’9 – 180 – Jan. 4, 1993
In what was a common theme in the 5th round, the Boston Bruins selected draft re-entry Seth Griffith. Griffith was one of, if not the best pure goal scorers in the OHL last year, and seemed to really take his game to the next level. No one ever doubted his puck skills. Dating back to his days with the Chatham Kent Cyclones, Griffith was always been a strong finisher with a really strong shot, he has the offensive skills, but needed to work on other aspects of his game. They’re where two things that stood out to me right away that he improved upon on this seaosn, his strength, as well as his skating. Last year Griffith was more of a choppy skater who worked hard, but didn’t always get everything he needed out of his stride. I’m not sure what he did in the offseason, but he really looks to have worked the kinks out. His stride was much more explosive, really mzximized those first few steps. He looked stronger and protected the puck much better then last year, and was able to be more effective in the offenisve zone because of it. He still has issues, but really developed that aspect of his game. He still has room to grow, his defensive zone positioning, and has concerns (size and strength), but it was nice to see a player like Griffith work on his game and get rewarded.
Michael Clarke – Colorado Avalanche – 132nd Overall
Windsor Spitfires – Centre – 5’11 – 174 – Apr. 29, 1994
Clarke is a player who I have always been impressed with. From the first time I saw him playing as a Bantam in London, I thought he had some interesting, yet untapped potential. He always played a smart, two way game, and had some good overall puck skills. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2010 OHL Draft, Clarke played a handful of games as a 16 year old in Windsor, but was mostly playing with the London Nationals of the GOJHL. This year was his first full year with the Spitfires, and he showed those puck skills, as well as that two way play that I previously described. He showed some good vision wth the puck, and was a player who had the ability to finish off plays when they presented them. He has his issues, he struggles with consistency, he has some work to grow with his lateral, east to west mobility and first few steps, but had a pretty strong rookie season all told. I had Clarke going a lot higher then most did, just because he is a player who I think can cave a role out for himself. He has some room to grow, but the potential is there.
Garret Ross – Chicago Blackhawks – 139th Overall
Saginaw Spirit – Left Wing – 5’11″ – 169 – May 26, 1992
Another player who was selected the NHL Draft as a re-entry player, Ross was one of the more improved players in the OHL this season. He always has been a player who displayed good north to south mobility and skating, as well as a very high complete level, but he seemed to really struggle with his ability to finish off plays in close, as well as his overall vision with the puck. This year, Ross took a huge step forward in his play, specifically his offensive tools. He seemed to really improve his poise and confidence with the puck, and developed some nice hands in close. Most of his goals came from within 5-6ft of the net, however that’s not a negative, as he outworked and out positioned opposition defenceman to get in the right position to score. He still needs to work on his overall core strength, and you wonder how much he has left as far as offensive development. Desite that concern, you love the development this year, and hope that he continues to progress. A nice little gamble pick in the 5th round.
Clarke Seymour – Pittsburgh Penguins – 143rd Overall
Peterborough Petes – Defenceman – 6’3″ – 205 – May 18, 1993
In what may have been my biggest surprise of the draft (more on that later in this write-up), 93-aged defenceman Clarke Seymour was drafted in the 5th round to the Pittsburgh Penguins. I actually thought that Clarke would have been drafted last year in his original draft year, as he actually played better last year in my opinion, but was passed over. Nonetheless, Seymour is a player who has some interesting potential. He is strictly a defense first defenceman who is at his best in his own zone. He engages physically down low, and always has a high compete in puck battles. Effective at either leveraging opposition defenders off of the puck, or pinning them and allowing a teammate to come in for puck support. He has little to no offensive upside, and has some room to develop his agility and mobility, with a focus on his first few steps. As I said, very surprised to see him drafted, and interested to see what steps he takes next year to continue his development.
Cody Payne – Boston Bruins – 145th Overall
Plymouth Whalers – Right Wing – 6’2″ – 201 – Jan. 14, 1994
Anyone who knows me, knows my love for Cody Payne. When TheScout.ca released our 2010 OHL Draft rankings, I had him as a potential 1st round draft selection based on the high potential level he showed with the Mississauga Reps. He fell to the 3rd round due to some NCAA concerns and an invite to the US-NTDP, but eventually signed with Oshawa. Be it with Oshawa or Plymouth, Payne has displayed some great complete level and a willingness to do anything to win. He is aggressive on the forecheck, physical in positional battles in front of the net, or willing to drop the gloves to stick up for a teammate. He had one of the best fights of the year with former teammate Josh Brown in the GM Centre. Both with Oshawa and Plymouth, Payne has played limited minutes and has not had an opportunity to really show off his offensive abilities, but there is no doubt that in my mind he has the tools. He had them in Minor Midget, and shows flashes at times, butjust has not been put in a position to really show them off. He is still a real work in progress. He needs to work on his lateral mobility and agility, improve his foot speed and start to grow offensively, but I love the player who could one day become.
Ben Hutton – Vancouver Canucks – 147th Overall
Nepean Raiders – Defenceman – 6’2′ – 183 – Apr. 20th, 1993
Hutton was another name that surprised me in this years draft. The late birthdate defenceman spent the season in the CCHL playing for the Nepean Raiders. I only had a chance to see him play a handful of games over the past few years, but was a fan of him dating back to his days playing with the Upper Canada Cyclones. When he was drafted in the OHL, I liked his upside as a depth defenceman who had some good upside as a defence first defenceman at that level, which seemed to be the case in Nepean up until this season. This season he really took a jump offensively. Again, I only saw him play live twice, but I liked what I saw. He showed improved vision and confidence, and was more poised and decisive with the puck. He used his shot at the point well, and was strong at generating offense on the powerplay. Once again, I see him as a depth defenceman at the next level, but don’t discount the offensive jump he took this year, it could be a sign of things to come. He is committed to the University of Maine for 2012-2013.
Colin Miller – Los Angeles Kings – 151st Overall
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – Defenceman – 6’0″ – 175 – Oct. 29, 1992
Colin Miller. Full disclosure, I have not seen a lot of Miller over the years. First, he played minor midget before I was covering the league full time, and second, Sault Ste. Marie is not an easy place to drive to for yours truly. That said, when I did see Miller this year, he did seem to be one of the best defenceamn in the Soo, and looked to take some big gains this year. He was effective at playing a very smart, simple game and didn’t push things to much. He was good positionally, played with a high complete level and skates fairly well. He still has room to grow with his offense, as well as his core strength. It was a very interesting selection for the Kings, one that I am very interested in watching next year in the Soo.