The OHL and the NHL Draft: Round 3
My look at the OHL players selected in the 2012 NHL Draft continues with the 3rd round as we take a look at the New York Islanders selecting Adam Pelech, the Winnipeg Jets selecting Scott Kosmachuk and the Oshawa Generals selecting goaltender Daniel Altshuller, among others.
Adam Pelech – New York Islanders – 65th Overall
Erie Otters – Defence – 6’2″ – 194 – Aug 16th, 1994
Daniel Altshuller – Carolina Hurricanes – 69th Overall
Oshawa Generals – Goaltender – 6’2″ – 191 – Jul 24th, 1994
Scott Ksmachuk – Winnipeg Jets – 70th Overall
Guelph Storm – Right Wing – 5’11″ – 185 – Jan. 24th, 1994
Tanner Richard – Tampa Bay Lightning – 71st Overall
Guelph Storm – Centre – 5’11″ – 176 – Apr. 6th, 1993
Richard is a player who came into the league after being passed over in last year’s NHL Draft. As soon as he entered the OHL, you certainly can see that he had the skill, but needed to refine other aspects of his game. His biggest asset is without a doubt his intelligence level. He is strong at reading a play 2-3 plays ahead, and adjust his game accordingly. He knows where to go without the puck to put himself in a position to finish off a play. He shows good vision with the puck, and although he does not possess absolute top end puck skills, he makes good reads of the ice and has the ability to make some pretty strong passes in the offensive zone. He always brings a high compete level, works hard at both end of the ice and shows a strong work ethic. He is not shy physically and willing to mix it up down low or on the forecheck. He has some room to develop with his mobility. He is not a poor skater by any means, but his first few steps could use some development. He also lacks that explosive second gear that many top end offensive players possess. His transition footwork and his lateral mobility also have some room to grow. He also needs to continue to work on his strength, as he has the will to compete, but sometimes struggles with his ability to outmuscle opposition forwards. He may not have the long term potential as some other players drafted this year, (which is why he fell to the third round), but I certainly can envision him being a smart, two way depth forward at the next level who provides some good secondary scoring. He may take a while to get there, but the potential is there.
Justin Kea – Buffalo Sabres – 73rd Overall
Saginaw Spirit – Centre – 6’3″ – 212 – Feb. 7th, 1994
A lot of people were truly surprised to see Justin Kea selected as high as he was this year. To be honest, I can’t say that I was any different, as I thought of Kea as more of a mid to late round selection. That said, it’s hard not to like what Kea brings to the table. When the Spirit hired Greg Gilbert to replace the departed Tom Watson, he had Kea focus on his play away from the puck, developing into one of the better shut down centres in the league in a very short time.
He does have some interesting skills that he brings to the table. First and foremost, his large frame and good mobility and agility make him a prospect that automatically attracts your eye. He is a very good north to south skater who gets the most out of his stride. He has good overall feet, and although he has room to develop his first few strides and lateral movement, his skating is a definite asset. He is always aggressive when on the forecheck, and good down low at cycling the puck. He has limited offensive upside, as I don’t think he will be a player who can play on your top two lines, but if he continues to develop like he has in the past 2-3 months, he could find a niche role in the bottom six of an NHL team. The key with him is paitence and time. Allow him to develop his hockey sense and refine his positional play. He could be a player who takes 4-5 years before he makes an impact at the NHL level.
Jake Paterson – Detroit Red Wings – 80th Overall
Saginaw Spirit – Goaltender – 6’0″ – 176 – May 3rd, 1994
Since his days in the Toronto Marlboros organization, Jake Paterson has been a goaltender that has always been on the radar. At a young age he was always projected to be a top goaltender in the OHL, and at this point he seems to be on the right track. He has all the projectable tools that you look for in a goaltender at the next level. He shows top end poise and composure, and has always maintained a high level of focus, dating back to his bantam and minor midget days. He is very sound positionally and quite effective at playing square to the shooter. When he is aggressive within the crease and playing with his feet at the top of the crease, he is effective at taking away space from opposition shooters and using his athleticism to recover if there are any large rebounds. He is extremely effective from post to post, and may have the best feet of any goaltender drafted from the OHL in this years draft. He pushes off the posts and strong at moving quickly across the crease.
At this point he is a bit of a project, only in the fact that he has not played a high amount of games in the last few years. In his 16 year old year he played sparingly in both the OHL and NOJHL, while this year he did play parts of 42 games, most of his development in the last two years has come in a short time period. He also is not the biggest goaltender at 6’0′ / 176, so ensuring he is always out challenging shooters and not playing back in his crease, which has been an issue over the years. When he is playing deep, he opens up the upper portions of the net, which gives a lot of options for opposition shooters. He will enter next year as the Spirit’s starting goaltender, and if he against some muscle mass and continues to develop, he has the potential to be an NHL level starter in 4-5 years.
Jarrod Maidens – Ottawa Senators – 82nd Overall
Owen Sound Attack – Left Wing – 6’0″ – 178 – Mar. 4th, 1994
The biggest wildcard in this draft may just be Jarrod Maidens. He was limited to just 28 games this year due to what is being described as an ‘upper body injury’, but was heavily rumored to be a significant concussion. Pre-injury, he was a strong north to south winger who was at his best playing a strong, aggressive game. His best asset is his strength down low and along the boards. He is quite effective at working the puck into open ice and making a skilled play below the opposition red line. In limited viewing he has shown some decent tough around the net, as well as some very under-rated mobility and acceleration. A lot of people assume that since he plays more of an aggressive game that he needs to work on his skating, when in reality he has a very effective skating stride, quick feet and strong overall mobility. Heading into the season, he was projected as a top 60 selection for the NHL Draft, but his questionable health situation obviously was his draft stock fall. He is a total wild card at this point who could return to the Attack next year and continue his development, or not. At this point, it’s truly an unknown.
Matthew Murray – Pittsburgh Penguins – 83rd Overall
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – Goaltender – 6’4″ – 169 – May 25th, 1994
When I first saw Matt Murray playing with the Thunder Bay Kings as a 15 year old, right away he jumped out at me as a top end goaltender. You could see his immediate talent, but more impressive, you could see the long term potential that he possesses. That said, two years into his OHL career, not to much has changed. He started off the year well, but struggled with consistency, which has been an issue for him dating back to his days in Thunder Bay. After the Jack Campbell trade, Murray didn’t see as much action, but his high ranking by yours truly (I had him as the second rated goaltender in the OHL after Subban), was all about his potential level.
Murray has all the projectable tools that you look for in a potential starting goaltender at the next level. He has NHL size, is strong positionally, and when he is on and focused, shows strong reflexes and recovery skills. Moving forward, he has to work on his consistency level. From game to game you are never sure which Matt Murray will show up, which is something that should come with maturity. He needs to work on the technical aspects of his game, his lateral movement, as well as his rebound control. Finally, he needs to add some muscle mass to his frame. He has good international experience, starting for the U18 team recently, where he was outstanding by all reports (sadly, I was not there to see it). As I have said in the past, he is all about projectable upside, and could one day be the top goaltender in the age group if he hits his high ceiling.
Ben Johnson – New Jersey Devils – 90th Overall
Windsor Spitfires – Left Wing – 5’11″ – 188 – Jun. 7th, 1994
Ben Johnson is a player who has come a long way in a short time period. Heading into this season, I had heard a little about the Calumet High School Star, but had never seen him live or had the opportunity to really pick apart his game this year. One thing that really stood out for me right away was his speed. Outside of Maria Marcantuoni, I’m not sure if there is a better pure skater in this draft. To start the season, he struggled with his offence and the pace of the play, which is not surprising given the fact that it was a huge jump from high school hockey. After a few months and numerous live views, it quickly became apparent that he was ‘getting it’. He was adjusting to the pace of play and making decisive, quicker decisions with the puck in both the offensive and defensive zones. He showed a significant improvement in his finishing skills in the second half, and it will be interesting to see what he can become next year. He has some issues to work on. First, he needs to work on getting stronger and more effective at playing a strong, aggressive game. I’m still not sure what level of offense he brings to the table long term, but he does have some interesting offensive potential. He projects out as a top 9 forward, who could be a 15-20 goal scorer at the NHL level.
Daniil Zharkov – Edmonton Oilers – 91st Overall
Belleville Bulls – Left Wing – 6’3″ – 208 – Feb. 6th, 1994
Anyone who knows me knows my love of Daniil Zharkov’s potential. His combination of size, aggression and untapped puck skills made me extremely intrigued as to his long-term potential, and to the player that he could one day become. When I submitted my final rankings for the season, I had a strong feeling that Zharkov’s high potential would lead to him being selected in the late first or high second round of the draft. So you can imagine my surprise when I witnessed Zharkov’s fall to the third round, which in my opinion is a huge win for the Edmonton Oilers.
Why do I like Zharkov? Well, his combination of puck skills, size and mobility make him one of the highest ceiling players on Ontario. He is a strong skater regardless of size, and shows good acceleration and north to south mobility. He could be a little better with his transitional footwork and his lateral east to west movement, but that’s nit picking. He has a rocket of a shot that is effective within 10 feet of the net, which a nice release. He has a great stick. He is always stick checking opposition forwards and getting his stick in passing lanes. He uses his size well, and although he is not always consistent with it, can make an impact physically either on the forecheck or working the boards. He is raw offensively with the puck, and sometimes needs a little more time then some of his peers in making quicker decisions in the offensive zone. He also has a history of putting himself dangerous situations and being unaware of his surroundings, which is something that obviously needs to be looked at. He will head into Belleville next season as a top 6 forward, work on his issues and in three years could become a bit of a steal in the 3rd round.