TORONTO, ONT. -- Four months of hockey gone by, and still a whole lot of question marks out there.
That's the story of this '03 crop thus far, a birth year that has proven to have no shortage of parity in the ranks through the midway mark of the season. Coming on the heels of an '02 crop that - relatively speaking - has remained pretty stable from bantam to minor midget, don't expect that to be the case with this age group.
The Mid-Term ranking is broken out into a Top-200 + 34 Limited Viewing players. It currently includes more than 6,000 words of commentary on the Top 125 players, which will later be updated with additional commentary on the remaining 75 players + those with a limited viewing designation.
Limited Viewing, you say?
Yeah, as much as we'd love to be able to see every game across the entire OHL Draft area, we can't. Rather than include players we're not yet comfortable with, we assign them the LV to indicate that we either need some additional viewings, or that we have an idea of what they are but won't be able to see them again this season.
As a testament to this draft class' unpredictability, the Top-10 contains a group in and of itself that is still very much in flux. Despite being four months into the season, there's been limited separation even at the top, and you'd be naive to think that there aren't going to be a lot of different viewpoints on how this crop is shaping up.
That being said, here's how it shapes up for us right now:
|1.||Shane Wright||RC||51||Don Mills Flyers '03 (GTHL)|
|2.||Francesco Arcuri||LC||13||Toronto Marlboros '03 (GTHL)|
|3.||Connor Lockhart||RC||73||Ottawa Myers Automotive '03 (HEO)|
|4.||Dylan Duke||LC||25||Compuware 14U (HPHL)|
|5.||Davis Codd||RC||43||Little Caesars 14U (INDEP)|
|6.||Brandt Clarke||RD||55||Don Mills Flyers '03 (GTHL)|
|7.||Roman Schmidt||RD||27||Mississauga Rebels '02 (GTHL)|
|8.||Daniel Michaud||LC||9||Quinte Red Devils '03 (ETA)|
|9.||Liam Gilmartin||LW||11||Shattuck-St.Mary's 14U (INDEP)|
|10.||Sam Volturo||RD||7||Compuware 14U (HPHL)|
What you need to know
Based on our top-10, there's a few important things you need to know:
1) Shane Wright: If his YOB was 2003, make no mistake that he's the clear-cut #1 in this crop, in our mind. Unfortunately that's not the case, as his January 5th, 2004 birthdate won't make him automatically eligible. That being said, being the top player in the '03 age group, we've decided to include him in our '03 ranking for the bantam season and will make a similar determination next year. Ultimately, the OHL and Hockey Canada may have to make a decision on whether or not that's the case. It's pretty clear they missed an opportunity with Jack Hughes, although it's ambiguous about how that all went down, but with Joseph Veleno and Sean Day still on the books, the jury is out as to whether or not they'll go down this path again.
2) The Missing: The two potentially obvious names you won't see there are Dylan Gratton and Matthew Argentina. The two 03's who are playing up in the 16U loop, it's fair to say that both are likely members of this group. That being said, we haven't seen them enough just yet this season to make such a determination, and as such, we're going to hold off on their inclusion until the Final Top-200. Expect most of our other LV's to also have their status cleared up by then.
The bigger story
We saw this tale play out a bit with the 01's, and we believe we'll see it even more with this '03 crop: The Door is Wide Open.
What do we mean by that? Well let's just say that the ranking you see today is not going to stand the test of time. In this crop, volatility is at an all-time high and the difference between players as much as 40 or 50 slots apart is not nearly as big of a gap as the numbers would indicate.
There's considerable opportunity for players to assert themselves, or come out of the weeds, and we fully expect that to be the case. As our coverage of the '03 age group continues to ramp up right through the OHF Bantam Provincials, we look forward to seeing how this story plays out into the summer.
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