As the clock has turned to November, the OHL Draft season is well underway and the storylines are being depicted more clearly. Coming into the season, the dominating narrative was the strength of this '02 crop, one that has been proven true thus far as this year's OHL Priority Selection shapes up to be the strongest since at least the '96 birth year.
Let's shift focus for a second, though, as we're pleased to unveil our first top-10 ranking of the season for this '02 crop. If you didn't already see it on the homepage, here it is:
|1||Quinton Byfield||LC||York Simcoe Express MM|
|2||Jamie Drysdale||RD||Toronto Marlboros MM|
|3||Antonio Stranges||LW||Little Caesars 16U|
|4||Dylan Peterson||RC||CIH Academy U18|
|5||Ryan Kirwan||LC||Avon Old Farms Prep|
|6||Cole Perfetti||LW||Vaughan Kings MM|
|7||Daniil Chayka||LD||Jr. Canadiens MM|
|8||Owen Power||LD||Mississauga Reps MM|
|9||Cameron Tolnai||LC||Oakville Rangers MM|
|10||Ryan O'Rourke||LD||Vaughan Kings MM|
We'll get back to this, but we're also here to announce our Ranking Release Dates for the 17/18 season, which are fast approaching. Keep in mind, these later release dates may be subject to some minor change.
| 2002 OHL DRAFT RANKINGS |
- Wednesday November 29th: Preliminary Top-100
- Monday January 8th: Mid-Term Top-200
- Wednesday March 28th: Final Top-200
| 2003 BTM/14U OHL DRAFT RANKINGS |
- Wednesday January 17th: Mid-Term Top-200
- Wednesday April 18th: Final Top-200
So, with the housekeeping items out of the way, let's talk about a bit of what we're seeing with this '02 crop through the early junction of the season thus far. Quinton Byfield finished last season as our 1B, and it hasn't taken him long to grab hold of the top spot, exlusively. On pace to be the first 100 goal scorer in MM since Steven Stamkos, Byfield is also shaping up to be arguably the best 1st overall pick since Connor McDavid, who also suited up extensively for the York Simcoe Express in his youth years. As a formality, Byfield would be the first YSE player to go first overall since Daniel Catenacci did it back in 2009.
Speaking of Stamkos, if you look back at the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, you may notice another interesting trend: Six defenseman went in the top-10 - technically, 9 - picks, a feat not matched since.
There's the segway to this year's storyline, as we could see at least four defenseman with legitimate promise to be off the board in the top-10 picks, if not more. Jamie Drysdale is the big winner of the season thus far as the top-15 rated player for us last season has taken his game to a whole new level, essentially entrenching himself as the top defenseman available at this point.
We've made the decision to include Russian-born Daniil Chayka, a newcomer to the Jr. Canadiens, in our ranking despite the fact that he is not currently draft eligible. Sources indicate that it's widely expected that the Russian will be made eligible for the draft, and with no shortage of precedents over the past few years, it's very likely this will be the case. He slots in just ahead of Owen Power as a player who presents a little more offensive upside and transitional ability, as well as the pro size and tools that should see his career take him beyond junior hockey. The aforemnetioned Power, and Ryan O'Rourke continue to hold down top-10 spots from last year, although there's going to be some pressure on O'Rourke to overcome a bit of a rocky transition back into the '02 age group.
Antonio Stranges and Cole Perfetti, two Michigan commits that both played up last season have worked their way into the top-10, and then some. Both were blue-chip prospects for us in bantam, but we wanted to see how the transition back into their own age group worked out this season. The early returns? Highly favourable. Aside from being two major variables in terms of how the actual OHL Draft shakes out, these two forwards are both excellent sources of offense who have considerable promise of racking up a lot of points beside their names down the road.
Ryan Kirwan was pretty good at the Select-15 camp this summer, but we'll see how his eventual transition to Avon Old Farms works out for the 6-foot-2 centre. We'd still like to see the skating improve, but Kirwan is a player that drives the offense in ways that few other players in the age group can emulate. He slots in just behind Boston University commit, Dylan Peterson, who's U18 season with CIH Academy hasn't exactly been a banner one. While points have been hard to come by and frustration has been apparent, we liken Peterson as the Owen Tippett of this draft, as a player who has undeniable physical tools that still could really see him playing in the NHL as an 18, or 19-year-old one day.
Also, a mention goes out to Oakville's Cameron Tolnai who also sneaks into the top-10 this season. He's still a little rough around the edges in terms of his skating and movement in general, but Tolnai is clearly one of the draft's premier goal scorers and that ability has been on full display this season.
While this is how the top-10 shapes up right now, as a sign of the depth in this draft class, it's clear that there's still a group of at least 8-10 players behind this one that could all factor into this top tier before it's all said and done. In other words, don't expect this group to stay static for long as we continue to accrue viewings of the crop and see them progress through the next phase of the draft year, which will primarily focus on the OHL/HPHL Border Battle and Whitby Silver Stick at the end of November.
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