The OHL Cup is a showcase for some of the best talents available in the Ontario League draft, which is coming up quick on April 5. This year’s tournament is being held at Buckingham Arena in Toronto, with teams coming from all over the province and parts of the United States where players are OHL eligible. There has been some amazing parity so far, with only two of 16 teams still unblemished (Ottawa Jr. 67’s and Toronto Marlboros) and every squad playing at least twice, but the big story is the absence of Toronto Jr. Canadiens defensemen Jakob Chychrun and Victor Mete. Both are considered top-five picks, but got injured before the tourney began. Nonetheless, there were a lot of excellent prospects skating on Wednesday, where I put together some scouting reports.
Logan Stanley, D – Waterloo Wolves
On the first shift of his tournament, Stanley demolished a Guelph puck pursuer. Of course, that’s a lot easier to do when you’re already 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds as a 15-year-old. And while Stanley likes the way Nashville star Shea Weber plays the game, I see a lot of similarities to Tampa’s Victor Hedman right now: A tall blueliner who skates very well, plays with an edge and can rush the puck up the ice. He has a decent shot and could use it more frequently, but it’s the movement combined with the size that makes Stanley such an intriguing prospect.
“I’ve been bigger since I was younger and I wasn’t always a good skater,” Stanley said. “But I’ve done some power skating and getting stronger helps – the more muscle you have in your legs the easier it is.”
The cousin of Washington’s Michael Latta, Stanley will be a highly coveted pick in the draft and honed his athletic skills through diversity.
“I used to play lacrosse with the K-W Braves and that was a fun sport,” he said. “It helped me a little bit with hand-eye co-ordination and conditioning in the summer, but I’m not playing anymore.”
Which is probably for the best, since he looks like a player who can step right into a full-time role in the OHL next season.
Sean Allen, D – Guelph Gryphons
A big defenseman who plays with an edge, Allen has a pretty good shot and moves well around the ice. Most importantly, he logged a ton of ice time in Guelph’s win over Waterloo.
Connor Bunnaman, C – Guelph Gryphons
Brings a great mixture of grit, size and skill. The Gryphons had a host of good forwards and one, Austen Keating, is actually a 1999 birthday, so he’ll be one to watch for next year’s OHL draft. Bunnaman is viewed as one to keep an eye on for the early rounds of this year’s draft.
Noah Cameron, RW – Guelph Gryphons
Despite coming in at just 5-foot-8 and 150 pounds, Cameron threw one of the most devastating open-ice hits I’ve ever seen in person against Waterloo – a pure, Don Cherry Rock’em Sock’em classic. That wouldn’t be the last time he would bring the physicality and Cameron also went to the dirty areas to get the puck.
Brendan Schneider, C – Waterloo Wolves
Size is obviously a concern with Schneider, who stands just 5-foot-6 right now, but the kid has skill. Schneider scored an incredible goal in Waterloo’s loss to Guelph, stripping the defenseman of the puck, fighting off the other backchecker and then burying a sweet backhander while deking out the goalie.
Jacob Ramalho, D – Ottawa Jr. 67’s
Ramalho looks like an all-tools kind of defenseman. Player of the game in Ottawa’s win over the Northern Ontario All-Stars, he’s a big kid (6-foot-2, 206 pounds already) who can play nasty, but he also has great hands and nice rushing ability.
William Bitten, LW – Ottawa Jr. 67’s
The 67’s have a host of great offensive players and Bitten is at the top of the pile. An exciting and energetic player who is very active on the ice, the left winger scored a highlight-reel goal five-hole against Northern Ontario.
Zack Dorval, LW – Team NOHA
Northern Ontario always sends an all-star team to the OHL Cup and Dorval is the most highly acclaimed of the pack this year. Fast, offensively dangerous and willing to go to the dirty areas, Dorval also has a good hockey mind.
Tye Felhaber, RW – Ottawa Valley Titans
I only got a partial viewing of Ottawa Valley (games were staggered between two rinks), but it was clear why Felhaber is known as a player to watch. A quick, effective skater, he has the type of skill that backs off defenders. He scored four times in two games on Wednesday.
Luke Kutkevicius, C – North York Rangers
The most impressive player of the day for me. Kutkevicius is a big, talented two-way forward who works hard to get the puck when he doesn’t have it. His team lost to the Jr. Canadiens in overtime, but Kutkevicius nearly ended things in regulation on the rush and is the type of player who shoots the puck on net from one side and is somehow the first person on the other side to get the rebound.
Grigory Zhelobitskiy, LW – North York Rangers
One of two Russian brothers on the Rangers (Semen plays defense), Zhelobitskiy definitely has potential as a skilled power forward. He’s fast, skilled and physical, with the necessary frame (he’s already 6-foot-1, 180 pounds).
David Sherman, RW – Toronto Jr. Canadiens
A load to handle at 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Sherman is a big-bodied kid with surprisingly good hands and feet. Decent speed for a kid his size, too.
Travis Barron, LW – Toronto Jr. Canadiens
Another name to watch for early in the draft, Barron is a skilled forward who has that stickhandle-in-a-phone-booth thing going for him. At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, he’s already got decent size, too.