Jared McCann grabs the attention of fans with his smooth playmaking skills. (Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
In the big Ontario minor midget tournament of the year, the Mississauga Rebels defeated the Toronto Marlboros 2-1 in an overtime upset to win the OHL Cup. The Marlies brought a team stacked with potential Ontario League first-rounders and while the Rebs have some great talent of their own, netminder Liam Herbst’s performance turned the tide in the suburban squad’s favor. The MVP of the tournament was Toronto’s Connor McDavid. Soon after, the 15-year-old was granted exceptional status for this year’s draft, meaning he will enter the OHL a year early. John Tavares (whom the rule is named after) and Aaron Ekblad are the forbearers of the exception.
McDavid plays an excellent complete game and has a knack for the important goal. In a round-robin contest against the Great North Selects, he stripped a defenseman of the puck and cruised in alone on the goalie for a beautiful shorthanded goal that essentially salted the game away. Here’s a look at some of the other players I saw live last week who you can expect to hear about at the OHL Draft. Prospects I did not have a chance to see live include defenseman Jacob Middleton of the Huron Perth Lakers and Andrew Abou-Assaly from the Ottawa Jr. 67’s.
Though teammate Joshua Ho-Sang was thought to be No. 2 with a bullet in the draft, multiple insiders told me it will be McKeown going second overall (after McDavid) now. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound blueliner skates very well, plays in all situations and makes smart decisions. He and McDavid were clearly the best two Marlboros in the tourney, though Ho-Sang showed brilliant stickhandling skills (and an unfortunate temper).
Physical and tenacious, Lindo’s 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame is a great weapon for his rambunctious style. Keeping in mind most of these kids are still growing, Lindo has the chance to be an imposing force in a short amount of time.
Playmaking doesn’t get much prettier than when McCann has the puck. In a game against Hamilton, the Knights star drew the entire defense over on a rush before firing a behind-the-back pass right on the tape of a teammate for an easy tap-in. McCann’s overall puck skills are unbelievable and you can tell they come instinctively.
A defensive defenseman with a great feel for the game, Kotsovos was like a field general on the ice, especially on the penalty kill. He uses leverage to keep attackers from even getting a chance to do something in front of the net and at least one GM I talked to loved his compete level.
Speedy and very dangerous, Fabbri’s the type of player who draws a lot of attention when he’s on the ice, creating room for his linemates. The kid’s got a wicked shot and he led his team in scoring at the OHL Cup with eight points in seven games.
A North Bay native now living in Mississauga, Hargrave has the chance to make an immediate impact in the OHL thanks to his advanced 6-foot-4, 204-pound frame. Sometimes his stride looks awkward, but he’s one of those big players like Anze Kopitar who blows by opponents without seeming to do anything. Great hands, too.
The Great North team didn’t make a lot of noise, but Cooper was a standout thanks to his size and his snarl. The 6-foot-3 defenseman can destroy players with his physicality and he drove Ho-Sang up the wall at the end of a loss to the Marlboros, leading to a two-game suspension for the Toronto superstar when he tried to two-hand Cooper.
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