97′s shine at the Allstate All Canadians Exhibition Game
With that in mind, on to the writeup.
Dylan Strome – Forward – Toronto Marlboros – 6’1″ – 159
As everyone who knows the OHL, or follow hockey in general, knows the last name Strome. Most know the 93 born Ryan was a top 5 pick in the NHL, but not everyone is away of his brothers Dylan and Matthew. Strome played most if not all of the game down the middle. He struggled a bit to start the game with his poise and vision, but once the game got into the second and third periods he showed some good skill level. He has some soft hands and shows some great puck skills, specifically in the offensive zone. At this point, it’s a pretty fair estimate that Strome will be a top 20 selection in the 2013 OHL Draft. He is expected to play this year with the Marlboros in the GTHL.
Brett McKenzie – Forward – Eastern Ontario Wild – 6’1″ -170
Currently one of the top north to south wingers available for the 2013 OHL Draft, McKenzie showed a few flashes today, but he was a player that I really had to look for every time he was on the ice. He struggled with his foot speed a bit, and did not really display a high compete level. Wouldn’t look too much into it, as, as i mentioned, one of the cardinal rules of scouting is that you should never base the long term potential of a player off of a live view. He is expected to play this season with the Oakville Rangers of the SCTA after playing last year with Eastern
Ontario of the OEMHL
Kyle Capobianco – Defence – Toronto Marlboros – 5’11″ – 155
Capobianco displayed some good skills. Right away you could see that he is a player who is at his best skating the puck up the ice, reading the ice and generating offense as he crosses the red line. He is a pretty good skater who displays good acceleration and above average footwork. He did struggle with the physical battles, looked to be a player that need to work on his body mass, as well as his upper body strength. He also struggled at times with his decision making as to when to pinch and when not to pinch. He will be an interesting player to watch as the season starts out. He is expected to play with the Oakville Rangers of the SCTA after playing with the Toronto Marlboros of the GTHL.
Blake Speers – Forward – Soo Thunder – 5’8″ – 145
I really liked what I saw out of Speers. He displayed some high-end offensive puck skills, and looked to be one of the better players on the ice for team Tavares. He was very strong at picking up puck up in the offensive zone, skating the puck into the offensive zone and creative offense where it wasn’t. He would use his strong mobility and footwork to force opposition defenceman out move with him, opening up passing lanes. He also showed a very strong shot that was effective within 10ft of the net. Also looks to be a nice finisher around the net. He will have to work on improving his body mass, gaining strength and working on his ability to win battles for loose pucks. I’m not 100 percent on his plans for next year, but I would expect him to play with the Sault Ste. Marie North Stars of the GMHL, or with Sault Ste. Marie’s Minor Midget travel team.
Connor McDavid – Forward – Toronto Marlboros – 5’11″ – 170
There is not much to be said about Connor McDavid that has not already been mentioned. As expected, McDavid was the best player on the ice all day, looking like a man among boys. His skills are incredibly off the chart. His puck control and elusiveness is the best that I have ever seen. He has that innate ability to draw in a player, take him out of position and with make a skilled read of the ice or simply walk past that defender. Numerous times he would skate the puck into the offensive zone use his high-end mobility and footwork to drive the net. He has the best vision with the puck that I have seen at this level. After being granted exceptional status last March, he will be playing next year with the Erie Otters of the OHL after being selected 1st overall in this past OHL Draft.
Daniel Sprong – Forward – Wilkes Barre/Scranton Knights – 5’10″ – 165
Sprong really impressed me a the game played out. He looked to be a player with a pretty high-end skill set, with strong puck skills and finishing skills. He was effective at skating the puck into the offensive zone and making a nice pass, or skating into the offensive zone and finding open ice. He needs to work on improving his defensive zone play, as well as his overall strength and body size, but I love the potential. I’m not 100 percent certain, but initial projections had him playing with the Oakville Rangers for the SCTA this year after finishing off last season with the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Kings. There was some conversation today that Sprong will be playing in the Quebec Midget league. We will find out for sure in September, but if he is eligible for the 2013 OHL Draft, he has the potential to be a top selection.
Jansen Harkins – Forward – North Shore Winter Club – 5’11″ – 150
Harkins was a player who I knew nothing about heading into this game, however he really stood out all game long. What I liked most about his game was his combination of high compete level coupled with intelligent three-zone play. He was intelligent in all three zones, showing an ability to finish off plays or back check hard and take away a scoring opportunity from opposition shooters. He has some room to develop his overall body mass, but that’s to be expected for 15-year-old hockey players. He is expected to play midget hockey next year after signing with the Prince George Cougars, who made him their 2nd overall selection in this years WHL Bantam draft.
Travis Konecny – Forward – Elgin Middlesex Chiefs – 5’10″ – 155
Konecny was one of my top performers today, and really stood out as a player to watch as the 2012 Minor Midget season commences. He may have had the highest compete level of any player on the ice, and was always playing a high tempo, hard working style. He showed some strong puck skills and vision, but didn’t have a lot of opportunities to show it off given the players he was surrounded with. He was smart positionally in all three zones, and displayed strong anticipation skills and hockey sense. He scored the game-tying goal by making a smart read of the ice and driving the net. He is expected to play next season with the Elgin Middlesex Chiefs of the Alliance, and as long as he continues to show the same compete level and puck skills that he showed today, could be a top selection for the 2013 OHL Draft.
Cameron Lizotte – Defence – Copper Cliff Redman – 6’1″ – 170
Lizotte is a player who I was a lot of in the past year. Skating as an underage player with the Copper Cliff Redman travel team, he showed a high potential level as a smart, defense first defenceman who was at his best in his own zone. He had some room to grow with his skating and puck skills, but the potential was there. Fast forward to today, and I really was impressed with the type of game that Lizotte played. He was one of the best defenceman on the ice in my opinion, playing his role well. He was one of, if not the only player who showed an ability to limit Connor McDavid. There were a few times that McDavid tried to go wide on him, but Lizotte was able to contain him, which is a lofty feet. He also showed much improved mobility and footwork, and looks to have really moved forward with his mobility. He also was one of the only players who made a regular physical impact. He has some room to grow with his puck skills, making skilled plays at a higher speed, but I love how he has developed over the past 12 months. Not sure where he will be playing next year, but I hope I have the opportunity to see him continue that development this season.
Mitchell Stephens – Forward – Toronto Marlboros – 5’11″ – 170
Stephens is another player who saw some significant time with the 96 age group last season. As expected for any player who plays a year up, Stephens played more of a depth role. He showed some interesting potential given that he was a year younger than everyone else on the ice. He played the wing on his game and displayed a good compete level and intelligence. He is a smart player who knows where to go on the ice at all times. He shows some good puck skills, makes effective reads of the ice, and has a pretty effective shot. I’m not sure if he has the high end potential as some of his peers in this game, but I liked what I saw, specifically in the second half. Next season he will be skating for the Toronto Marlboros of the GTHL.
Ben Blacker – Goaltender – Brampton Battalion – 5’10″ – 155
Blacker was the only goaltender selected to participate from the Ontario region. He played the second period and didn’t get a lot of breaks. He is a smaller goaltender who looks to be effective positionally. When challenged, he looked to be aggressive within the crease, taking space away from shooters and displaying strong athleticism. He faced 4 penalty shots, and was beat in the 5 hole on two of them. He also struggled a bit with his rebound control. He let out a few juicy rebounds. It’s pretty unfair to judge a goaltender based solely on an all-star game, so the results are not really what matter. What you like is his positioning, aggressiveness and athleticism. It will be interesting to see how he progresses this season, given that the goaltending position is probably the hardest one of get a gauge on.
Adam Craievich – Forward – Lambton Sting – 6’0″ – 188
Craievich is a forward who has been on the radar for the past 12 months. Last year playing a year up with the 96 age group, he showed strong puck skills and an ability to finish off plays around the net. I have always liked his ability in the offensive zone, as he probably has some of the best skills in the 97 age group. He didn’t have a spectacular or poor game, but he did show all of the attributes that we saw last year. He has room to grow with his skating, his first few steps and his ability to create space from opposition skaters. He will be playing with the Oakville Rangers of the SCTA this season after playing up a year in
Aaron Luchuk – Forward – Greater Kingston Jr. Frontenacs – 5’10″ – 175
It was hard for me to get a read on Luchuk. He showed some good vision in the offensive zone, and an ability to read the ice, but he didn’t really seem to have the puck that often. He displayed some good intelligence and a nice shot, but I struggled to get a good read on him. He is expected to play next year with the Greater Kingston Jr Frontenacs of the ETA.
Nathan Noel – Forward -Shattuck St. Mary’s – 5’10″ – 155
Noel was pretty disappointing this game. I didn’t really see much of a spark in his play. I had to look for him in order to notice him, which is never a good sign when you’re talking about a prospect. At this point he is projected as the #1 prospect for the upcoming QMJHL draft, and is expected to play the season in Shattuck St. Mary’s
Mathew Barzal – Forward – Burbaby Winter Club Bruins – 5’10″ – 160
Outside of Connor McDavid, the most noticeable player on the ice for either side was Mathew Barzal. As someone who has never had a chance to see Barzal live and wouldn’t assess a player on video, this was a bit of a treat for yours truly. I’ve heard some great things, but never had a chance to really sit down and assess the player. What stood out with Barzal right away was his skating ability and hockey sense. He is a top end skater who shows strong footwork and acceleration. He moves, almost glides on the ice, and has that important second level of mobility that is key for any top end hockey player. He is also one of the smarter players that I saw today. He anticipates the play extremely well, and has that ability to think a play 2-3 plays ahead, and adjust his course of action because of it. On top of those, he has incredible vision, top end offensive skills and nice finish around the net. At this point he looks to be only behind McDavid as far as skill and future potential. He was drafted by the Seattle Thunderbirds first overall in this years Bantam Draft.