The fact most players in the OHL missed out on the entire 2020-21 season will have a lasting impact on the NHL Draft for another two seasons.
Despite the time missed, however, there seems to be plenty of hope for the late 2004-05-born players in Ontario.
A return to prominence of the Ontario-born player should result in a number of native OHLers being selected in the top half of the draft with a few of them slated to go high in round one.
While travel is of little concern in the bunched-together OHL, a number of the Eastern Conference's top players will have a chance to strut their stuff against the traditionally stronger Western Conference. The east produced last year’s league champion in the Hamilton Bulldogs but the balance will shift back to the west this season.
The OHL features a nice balance of positions for its 2023 draft eligibles and — as was the case last year — there are certainly a few late bloomers or second- and third-year eligibles who will draw interest as a result of the developmental time missed. The OHL also had a number of prominent players produce for Canada to win gold at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup tournament.
Here’s a sampling of some of those players, plus a few others, who should make some noise during this, their draft year.
OHL Top 10
1. Cam Allen, D, Guelph Storm: Projects as a two-way D, who makes life difficult on opponents with an aggressive style of play. A natural-born leader as evidenced by being named captain for Canada’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup gold medal team.
2. Calum Ritchie, C, Oshawa Generals: A cerebral player who possesses a number of weapons to be used on both sides of the puck. Doesn’t consistently display a dynamic element to his game, but that doesn’t seem to impact point production.
3. Colby Barlow, RW, Owen Sound Attack: Is this the next Mason McTavish? Earned a reputation as a 29-goal scorer at 16 but showed layers to his game including the ability to work the PK while representing his country.
4. Quentin Musty, LW, Sudbury Wolves: Has great puck and stick skills for his size. Could stand to play a bigger game where the frame is used more as an asset.
5. Hunter Brzustewicz, D, Kitchener Rangers: While there will competition for ice-time, the calculated move from Michigan to the OHL should pay huge dividends for both player and team.
6. Beau Akey, D, Barrie Colts: A fluid skater who is efficient in taking away time and space. There’s plenty of physicality in his game.
7. Carson Rehkopf, C, Kitchener Rangers: A super serviceable player who has the body and skills to play up and down a lineup. Is a detailed player who’s at his best when engaged physically.
8. Oliver Bonk, D, London Knights: Has transitioned from a point-producing defenceman in Jr. B to a more defensive-type player upon arrival in London. Scouts will be looking.
9. Denver Barkey, LW, London Knights: Proved to be a defensive specialist for Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. Is skilled enough with a low centre of gravity to get to the net and stay there for a more balanced blend in his game moving forward, in a full season in London.
10. Ethan Miedema, LW, Windsor Spitfires: Moves fairly well for a big man and has some goal-scoring ability, but most of his tools still have a raw element to them. There’s plenty of growth potential with this player.