Brett Hargrave has an interesting story. Playing in the Midget GNML league in Northern Ontario as a 13 year old, Hargrave has been on the OHL Draft radar for years. This past season he made the decision to come south to the Greater Toronto Hockey League and play for the Mississauga Rebels, a decision that in my opinion, did him well.
The story of Alex Galchenyuk is an interesting one. Originally born in Milwaukee while his father was playing with the AHL, Galchenyuk seems to be the type of player who was born and bred to be a hockey player. From an early age, he has traveled all over the globe training to be a top end hockey player. I first saw Alex at the 2008 Whitby Silversticks. Playing as a 94 against the 93 age group, he dominated the tournament on a wildcard Moscow Dynamo entry. The next year he was rostered on the U16 Chicago Young Americans team, and was one of the most offensively dominant players in minor midget. He was drafted 1st overall by the Sarnia Sting, and had one of the best rookie seasons the Ontario Hockey League has seen. This season was not as successful, as he missed almost the entire season with a knee injury. He did return later into the season and didn’t show much rust, but the missed year has definitely left some questions in scouts heads. Expectations are that he will be one of the first players drafted in the 2012 NHL Draft, and should return to Sarnia for another year of development.
Nail Yakupov entered the OHL through the 2010 Import Draft. Drafted 2nd Overall by the Sarnia Sting, he has been one of the most interesting and electrifying players in the OHL ever since. Usually teamed with fellow draft eligible forward Alex Galchenyuk (when healthy), Yakupov has shown an ability to be a game breaker. At this point I cant think of any other player who should be the first Ontario Hockey League player selected in the NHL Draft, and he projects out as a potential franchise forward at the next level.
Yakupov is the top OHL forward eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft. What makes him such a highly thought of player? His combination of mobility, dynamic puck skills and strong vision. His legs and mobility are his biggest assets. He has the ability to turn on a dime at top speed, and uses that to his advantage. He has a very quick release and a heavy, hard shot. He is also extremely smart with the puck on his stick, making skilled and intelligent plays with the puck. Some wonder about his second half of the season, but I have a feeling that he was not 100 percent healthy after missing a month after the World Junior Championships. Projects out as a top end offensive forward at the next level, and should be the first player selected at the next level.
Justice Dundas / Left Wing / 6’0″ / 190/ May. 2, 1994
Dundas is a hard working forward who seems to be the definition of a team player. He will always stick up for a teammate, and is the type of player that every team needs to be successful. He has carved out a nice role for himself in the OHL, but probably is not on the NHL draft radar at this time.
Nathan Mater / Left Wing / 5’11 / 170 / Mar. 3, 1994
Mater is a hard working forward who shows good aggression. He is willing to do what it takes to win. He should be a solid OHL level depth forward, but probably not on the NHL draft radar at this level.
Nickolas Latta / Centre / 6’1″ / 185 / Oct. 5, 1993
Latta depth forward at the OHL level. He has some good skill and shows some good abilities, but has not shown enough to be an NHL draft pick at this time.
Alex Galchenyuk / Centre / 6’2″ / 205 / Feb. 12, 1994
Galchenyuk is the biggest wild card in the NHL draft. He had a fabulous rookie season in Sarnia, showing high end offensive potential as a 16 year old. He had some of the softest hands in the league, and some of the best skills in his age group. This year was a different storey; he was injured in pre-season and only played in 8 games this year. Despite the lack of exposure this year, the dynamic puck skills that he showed last year where still present in the playoffs. In a draft that is lacking top end offensive talent, I can’t see Galchenyuk falling out of the top 5.
Brandon Hope / Goaltender / 6’1″ / 189 / Mar. 18, 1994
Hope is a goaltender who had an up and down season. Throughout most of the season he seemed to be struggling with his confidence and his focus. He was fighting the puck and seemed a bit off all year. He did show some flashes of the potential that he showed as a 16 year old in HoneyBaked, but those where few and far between. He probably will not be an NHL draft selection at this time, but could just as easily find his game next year and show that potential that so many saw in him years ago. He has the tools, just needs to put them all together.