NHL Prospects

OHL Playoff Prospect Preview: Western Conference

(John Crouch/Icon Sportswire)

The second round of the OHL playoffs is underway, with teams fighting for the chance to go to their conference final with the NHL Draft Lottery—taking place April 30—looming. What better time for a refresher course on the top 2016 draft-eligible prospect on each team remaining in the race?

Remember: whatever prospect that your team drafts in June is unquestionably the best. That being said, the rest of these guys are pretty good too.

Erie Otters

The top team in the OHL also has one of the biggest—and most controversial, due in no small part to how not-actually-big he is—names in this year’s draft. Alex DeBrincat, ranked 25th by ISS in April and 20th by Central Scouting at midterm, started his McDavid-less season with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.

Prove it he has. His size—DeBrincat comes in at 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds—hasn’t kept him from topping 100 points for the second season in a row. Rather, his high hockey IQ and creative style of play has made him an offensive force who keeps the puck moving and rarely gets hit due to his agility. If a team is concerned about DeBrincat being too small, it might be to their benefit to go back and watch some of his highlights from this season.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Ranked 32nd by NHL Central Scouting at midterm, Boris Katchouk has managed to nose his way into first and second-round discussion in his first full OHL season. He plays a physical game, using his body to his advantage to protect or take the puck, and has terrific stickhandling ability, though he isn’t prone to taking risks. He’s been praised for his work ethic and his high energy level.

Because of this, he won’t be the first guy teams think of in terms of offensive creativity. However, his hard and accurate shot and quick acceleration make him an appealing option for teams picking early or mid-second round, particularly if they’re looking for a forward with both checking and offensive potential.

London Knights

What can be said about Matthew Tkachuk that hasn’t been said already? A standout amongst a group of highly-touted draft-eligible Knights players, including Jones, Pu, and Mete, Tkachuk has more than earned his spot near the top of multiple prospect rankings.

Because of his heavy shot, hard-nosed style of play, and the ability to play both a physical and offensively gifted game, it’s difficult not to think of Tkachuk’s father when watching him. But the Knights forward is definitely his own player, and is an appealing forward option for any team, no matter their personnel needs. We won’t know how the draft lottery will shake out until the end of the month, but any team who doesn’t get Matthews, Laine, or Puljujarvi isn’t going to be sad with Tkachuk as a “consolation prize”.

Kitchener Rangers

Ranked 57th by Central Scouting at midterm, Adam Mascherin will be a valuable pickup for any team looking for a creative playmaker with good vision. His elite shot makes him a scoring threat almost any time he has the puck, as he knows where he needs to be in order to beat goaltenders, and his accuracy is consistent. His coaches trust his play in at both ends of the ice, and he is able to control the both while both entering and exiting the zone.

Much like several other high-end prospects in this year’s draft, Mascherin has his height working against him. However, his strong two-way play this season should make any scouting staff worth their paycheck toss size concerns aside.

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