There has never been a harder time to follow the OHL draft.
Unlike the NHL draft where most of the top developmental leagues did operate this season in some capacity, minor hockey in Ontario was at a standstill. Very few teams played any meaningful action this year, and some other kids in other areas only got to play in 4-on-4, non-contact hockey.
There are only so many video clips of practices that you can watch before you realize it's not conducive to the most accurate representation of players – especially when so many players experienced major physical changes over the past year.
But still, the OHL draft is ready to kick off on Friday, with many teams having to do more homework than usual to narrow down their draft lists to the best of their abilities. From watching footage from previous years to other smaller events along the way, the teams that dug the deepest to find the best raw talent available will be the ones that prosper in the near future.
As a result, this isn't a mock draft, although the list is more or less what is believed to be the best players available for the draft. For a proper mock draft, check out Brock Otten's two-round selection process that I, and others, took part in. For a great guide to get to know the top talent in the draft, check out Raine Hernandez's draft guide, or the U-16 Pod to hear from many of the class' top talent.
We already learned that Quentin Musty of the North Jersey Avalanche will go first overall on Friday evening, the first of two days for the draft process. For a full profile on the top prospect, read Ryan Kennedy's profile on him here. From there, the draft is wide open, with everyone's draft lists – public and private – seeing some significant differences.
Had the year gone on as planned, the Oakville Rangers, Toronto Titans and Toronto Jr. Canadiens would have been among the top teams in the province. Instead, only a handful of teams actually got to play, and no relevant championship titles were handed out.
Without further ado, after talking to many big voices in the OHL draft sphere, including coaches, scouts and others involved in the space, here are 20 players to watch in the draft and a host of other notables to know about:
Quentin Musty, RW (North Jersey Avalanche, AYHL)
In a normal year, the Sudbury Wolves likely wouldn't have been selecting first overall with someone like Quinton Byfield doing the damage he's known for. So grabbing Musty is a big deal, especially with Byfield already having a year of pro under his belt and ready to fight for an NHL spot next year.
Calum Ritchie, C (Oakville Rangers, SCTA)
He's been the No. 1 2005 from Ontario for a few years now. The first thing that stands out about him is just how smart he is, with and without the puck. He's hardly out of position in the offensive zone and while he does a lot of his damage around the slot, he can shoot confidently from most high-danger areas. His overall release is both quick and powerful - he's got one of the best wrist shots out of Ontario, if not THE best. The way he shoots, he feels like a pitcher with how deceptive it can be at times. By that, few of his wrist shots in succession look the same in the way he uses his release. Away from the puck, he's everything you'd expect out of a top prospect: reliable in his own zone, backchecking by all costs and while he's not physical, a lot of his damage is getting into open lanes and clogging them up.
Carson Rehkopf, F (Toronto Jr. Canadiens, GTHL)
Rehkopf is so smooth-skating down the ice with the puck - he’s fluid, can hit a high top speed and is hard to push the puck up thanks to good upper body strength. Rehkopf makes it a habit to rush to the net and doesn’t like to be much of a bystander. There aren’t many forwards that can compete with his ability to take over a shift and create dangerous scoring chances. If he wasn't off to Muskegon of the USHL, he'd be a top pick.
Colby Barlow, F (Toronto Marlboros, GTHL)
An all-around reliable forward, Barlow was a standout at first glance at the Draftday Prospects Showcase back in 2019. I saw him get a pair of breakaways on the same shift and while both times he came out on the losing end, he made both of those plays happen because of his hard work ethic. He battles along the boards and he can be a bit feisty, too. Decision-making at high speed isn't a concern here because he's typically the fastest guy on the ice and if he doesn't have someone to pass it to, he'll shoot it himself. His wrist shot and slap shot are equally impressive from a power standpoint, and it doesn't take much effort for him to unleash a shot. From a talent perspective, there's a ton to like. Just needs to iron out his inconsistencies when setting up teammates. Sometimes can be a turnover machine, but when I last saw him play, you can tell he had a raw skillset that'll transition well to junior.
Cameron Allen, D (Toronto Nationals, GTHL)
Allen is a prototypical offensive defenseman that'll have no issue at the next level. He'll rush the puck up a few times a game and in the vein of someone like Jamie Drysdale, Allen has the speed and awareness after the play to get back into position without costing his team - especially noteworthy at a level where some forwards might not think to rush back to the blueline. Really competitive kid, strong on the puck. When he's on the top of his game, Allen makes life miserable by sending you towards the boards and taking your high-danger opportunities away. You can hear him talking to his teammates a lot on any given shift - he sees things well on the transition. I think with the right coaches around him, his true capabilities will be unlocked.
Luca Pinelli, F (Toronto Jr. Canadiens, GTHL)
Might be a little lazy to just compare a player to their brother, but there’s a reason why they’re so similar. Both are incredibly skilled with the puck, with most of his goals coming off of a highlight-reel play. Pinelli puts a ton of muscle into his shot and doesn’t take much time on his release to get the puck on net and can do so while skating at a high rate of speed, too. Pinelli is very smart moving the puck and reads plays really well - you can tell he does his homework, watching videos of his opponents and NHLers very closely. Even at a smaller size at 5-foot-9, he doesn’t get pushed around a lot and his skating works to his advantage to create plays at a high rate of speed. A bit more body mass would do him well and needs to get a bit more engaged in his own zone.
Christopher Barlas, C (Navan Grads, HEO)
If anyone is going to rise up the NHL draft ranks in the coming years, Barlas could be it. Finished with nearly two points per game with the Ottawa Jr. 67s in U-15 play and had a goal in both games with Navan’s U-18 program. Barlas has the ability to make just about anyone around him better: he found chemistry with whomever he played with. He’s got one of the best offensive skill sets in the draft and when he has the puck, the defense typically draw to him - but that never seems to slow him down because he’s just so smart with the puck. Fair to say he’s equally good at setting his teammates up as he is converting on a scoring chance in close. Absolute spark plug, energy-wise. Once he irons out some of the defensive deficiencies in his game, he’ll go far based on his talent.
Tristan Bertucci, D (Toronto Marlboros, GTHL)
The first thing you’ll notice watching him, or chatting with him, is his confidence. You can tell he’s a leader, and the “A” helps solidify that. Has a nice first pass and doesn’t give the puck up often. If you need him late in the game to stand in front of your own net and clean the crease, he can do it. Need him to join a rush, he’s capable. Not a big kid by any means and he’ll lose puck battles on the boards against bigger forwards, but his speed will often make up for it. In one word, he’s reliable. You know what you’re getting shift to shift and he’s often best when he’s quiet.
Noah Cochrane, D (Barrie Jr. Colts, ETA)
Cochrane has been a standout defenseman for a few years now. Cochrane played a year up with the Barrie Colts’ minor midget program and was the team’s best player on many nights, trailing Charlie Fowler for the team lead in points by a defenseman. Cochrane loves to engage himself in offensive rushes and there are a few clips out there of him stealing the puck for a breakaway chance. Physically, Cochrane can hold his own, but his true strength lies in how he handles the puck – whether it be shooting with his quick, dangerous wrist shot on the power play or the way he sets up forwards at a high pace.
Owen Outwater, C/LW (Oakville Rangers, SCTA)
The Rangers were quite stacked, so Outwater wasn’t always the center of attention. Speaking of center, over the past few years, he has shifted to the wing at points and that seems to be a good fit when he doesn’t have to be the main man on a line. Outwater is a strong finisher that finds open space well, especially on the power play. He’s a hard fore-checker and while he’s not always the most engaged on a given shift, when he’s moving, he’s tough to slow down.
Luka Misa, C (Oakville Rangers, SCTA)
A player that I really wish we could have seen play a full season. You can tell he has the raw talent to be the best player on the ice but just wasn’t able to do it on a consistent basis in bantam. Misa’s game is built around speed, but the Rangers relied on him to play a smart defensive game and he rarely flubs the puck when he’s under pressure. Compared to other centers in the draft, that’s something he has really figured out over time. His decision-making at speed is above average and uses his acceleration to create scoring plays. Hard to miss him when he has the puck on the ice.
Luke McNamara, F (Bishop Kearney Selects)
McNamara has been on the draft radar for a few years now after a couple of great showings at showcase events, namely the World Selects Invitational in 2017. McNamara grew to 6-foot-3 this year and while he’s still trying to figure out how to maximize his game with his size, his added strength is a nice bonus. Just needs to fill out his frame a bit more. With the puck, stick-handling is a positive in his game, allowing him to make clear, precise moves to beat defenders or set up his teammates while under pressure. McNamara is an impressive playmaker that can be flashy without getting too fancy. It’s hard to predict his wrist shot, and he used that to his advantage against some of the less experienced goalies in prep. He has a knack for finding holes the naked eye can barely notice.
Cole Brown, C (York Simcoe Express, ETA)
One of the better players outside of the GTHL or from Oakville, Brown is a smart centerman that seems to have zero fear skating up the ice. His quick acceleration makes him tough to slow down and even at a high speed, he can unload a hard shot that can beat even the best goalies. Along the boards, he can hold his own physically but he's better when his focus is on setting up plays or finishing off a scoring chance. Of this draft class, few players see the ice as he does.
Marco Mignosa, F (Toronto Nationals, GTHL)
It's always a good sign when a prospect spends his key developmental years playing a year up and Mignosa did just that. Mignosa likely would have been one of the better forwards in the GTHL had the season actually happened, highlighted by his breakneck speed and fantastic hand-eye coordination. He's the prototypical goal scorer – not big, but a good shot, great hands and always buzzing around the net. He'll be someone to watch.
Nicholas Sima, LW (Toronto Jr. Canadiens, GTHL)
A big kid at 6-foot-2, Sima already has good size for his age that should allow him to adjust to life in the OHL quite easily. A pure goal-scorer with one of the better shots in the draft, Sima is a handful at speed and isn't afraid to shoot from just about anywhere. His overall speed could use some work, but you'll love him around the net because he'll do whatever it takes to bang in a rebound or move the puck where it needs to be to help out a teammate.
Carey Terrance, C (Kemptville 73s, HEO)
Terrance moved to the Ottawa area after previously playing with the Toronto Titans of the GTHL and despite an odd year, Terrance didn't disappoint. A terrific skater, Terrance's game is all about out-working his opponents and wearing out the opposing defensemen. His release is quick enough where you can't really tell what his plan is until it's too late. He seems confident when controlling the puck around traffic and has a knack for finding lanes even in a crowded scoring lane. There's a lot to like here.
Cam Mercer, F (Barrie Colts, SCTA)
With most players missing out on the 2020-21 season, the nice thing with Mercer is that he got a full year with the U-16 Barrie Colts a year ago. His biggest asset is his wrist shot: just quick, accurate and without much of a windup. Just watching his highlights, there are more than a few clips where he's gotten the shot in the net before the goaltender could tell a shot was about to take place. Despite his great shot, he's not a high-volume goal-scorer and will need to figure out the consistency portion of that, but he's at a good spot in his development right now. Mercer doesn't make many mistakes finding teammates with the puck and creating his own space is a positive of his game.
Declan Waddick, C (Waterloo Wolves, Alliance)
The word "dynamic" gets thrown around often for prospects, but Waddick definitely represents the term well. He may not be the best player in any specific category, but he's good at almost everything. The jack-of-all-trades type player is used in all situations and even though his offensive skillset is the thing you notice first in his game, he's got a very defensive-oriented mind that helps his reliability.
Ethan Miedema, LW (Quinte Red Devils, ETA)
At 6-foot-4 and 185-pounds, there aren't many kids with his size at this age group that can play at such a competitive level. He uses it to fend off smaller defenders and while he's not a bruiser, he can completely take control of a shift. That might not transition at the same success rate once he reaches the OHL but as a playmaker, he's quietly one of the better options in this draft. His stride is smooth and powerful and his work ethic is top-notch for this age group.
Owen Davy, G (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, Alliance)
It's unlikely that Davy goes in the first round, but he's definitely one of the best goalies available. Formerly of the London Jr. Knights, Davy moves exceptionally well and while he isn't a huge goalie, he plays bigger than his size in the way he sets his arms up on a shot. Each movement seems calculated – he doesn't push himself out of position too often and moves fluently without hesitation. It'll be interesting to see where he lands because he looks poised to be a No. 1 in the OHL before too long.
Honorable Mention: Taya Currie, G (Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, Alliance)
When watching the Chiefs this year last year, all eyes seemed to be on Owen Davy, one of the top goalie prospects in the system this year. But they quickly transition to Currie, who is looking to become the first woman to ever be drafted to the OHL. Currie has spent the past few years playing boys AAA hockey and while many young women eventually back out before they get to the U-16 level, Currie stuck with it and has earned a ton of talk ahead of the OHL draft. Currie is
Other notables: Matthew Soto, F (Oakville Rangers, SCTA), Bronson Ride, D (Oakville Rangers, SCTA), Grayson Tiller, D (Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs, D), Mathieu Paris, F (Navan Grads, HEO), Alex Pharand, F (Sudbury Nickel Capitals Wolves), Oliver Bonk, D (Carleton Place Canadians, HEO)