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A Scout's Life: Next wave of OHL stars

Daniel Catenacci is a potential No. 1 pick in the upcoming OHL draft.

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Daniel Catenacci is a potential No. 1 pick in the upcoming OHL draft.

“I think OHL teams are taking a longer look at the smaller puck-moving defensemen like other leagues. You can have one of them, but I don’t know if you can have two or three of them. You still need those big guys back there who are mobile.” – Ontario League head scout.

As discussed last week in A Scout’s Life, the Western League draft this summer is loaded with high-end defensemen who will be part of the next wave of talent sweeping across that circuit. This week we’ll take a look at the upcoming Ontario League draft, which also is chock full of tough blueline talent.

The exact order everyone will go, of course, depends on who you ask. The final rankings aren’t yet completed, either, because the biggest stage these minor midget-aged kids will play on all season has yet to come.

The OHL Cup will be played at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont., from March 18-22 and pits the best teams against each other in a showdown scouts flock to. It’s there we’ll see who takes their game to the next level. The tournament will ultimately help finalize the draft lists from each OHL team.

Though one scout said the top five is generally already set, the tournament in Mississauga will go a long way in shaping picks six through 25.

Whenever you have a discussion about the 2009 OHL Draft, though, it has to start with a special forward: Daniel Catenacci of the York Simcoe Express. Below is a list of draft eligible players and what OHL scouts think of their skill sets. You’ll start to see these guys appearing in the OHL over the next couple of years and being mentioned as candidates to go in the NHL draft before too long.

In the meantime, the OHL Cup is the place to catch a glimpse of the future or you can always check out THN.com’s Prep Watch to get more information on a few of these future stars.

Daniel Catenacci, C
– “He’s an explosive skater with tremendous puck skills and scoring ability. He was actually suspended for two games recently, so he’s got that edge as well. He can go through a team and can make others on his line better.”

Scott Harrington, D
– “A good puck-moving defenseman who is as close to a can’t-miss as you can get in a defenseman. He’s 6-foot or 6-foot-1, 180 to 185 pounds and played up last year as a bantam with the minor midgets where he was their best player. He skates well and moves the puck very well, too. At the minor midget level he’s putting up points, but I just don’t see him as a power play guy; he’s going to be a solid No. 2 or No. 3 shutdown defenseman who will match up against the other teams’ top lines down the road.”

Justin Sefton, D – “He won’t get out of the top three. A big, 6-foot-3 kid who is one of the best skating kids in the draft. He has a mean streak and plays the power play out in the Notre Dame program. Those reasons are pretty much why he won’t go out of the top three; not many defensemen are tough, can skate and have a good skill set.”

Ryan Murphy, D – “He’s 5-foot-7 on a good day and skates better than any kid in the draft basically. When he has the puck he can really control the game. He’s actually almost as valuable as Catenacci on the York Simcoe team.”

Matt Puempel, RW
– “He’s the most natural goal-scorer in the draft. He played on a bad team so they got knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. The kid is probably 6-feet tall, skates real well and he’s just got that natural goal-scoring instinct. He also has an absolute cannon of a snapshot; he snaps the puck better than most kids do. He doesn’t play physical; he’s got the size of a power forward, but he doesn’t play that game. He’s not soft by any measure, he just scores. Catenacci is more explosive and can create more offense by himself, but Puempel is more about finding space and picking spots. He won’t skate through a team.”

And with other youngsters such as Boone Jenner, Dougie Hamilton and Andrew Fritsche to name a few, the future is bright for the OHL.

And before you know it, the 2011 NHL Entry Draft will be upon us and these kids could very well be among the headliners of the first round.

A Scout's Life is a weekly look at the world of minor and pro scouting throughout North America. Each week we'll talk to different scouts from all levels of the game, getting a first-hand perspective of the different aspects of talent evaluation.

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