The Ontario Hockey League is one of the premier leagues where players have tons of talent and skill. It gives them a great opportunity to pave their way toward the National Hockey League.
Names like John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Kane, Connor McDavid and Mitch Marner have all built themselves up in the OHL to be selected at the NHL Entry Draft. This year’s crop of talent is extraordinary. The league is always deep with top prospects and the players eligible for this year’s draft could be successful at the pro level.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
One OHL player has the potential to be a top-two pick, while the second one is unarguably the best defenseman in the draft. Here is a look at the top 10 OHL prospects for this year’s draft.
10. Tyson Foerster
NHL Central Scouting rank: 41st (among NA skaters)
If there was a player who came out of nowhere in the OHL, it’s Barrie Colts sharpshooter Tyson Foerster.
Foerster jumped out of the gate offensively to start the season. He led the team in goals (36), assists (44) and points (80) in just his second season in the OHL. This is a major improvement over the 10 goals and 23 points tallied as a rookie. What’s incredible is how he separated himself from the rest of the Colts forwards in offensive production. The next highes ranked player in goals and points was Ethan Cardwell, and Foerster had 13 more goals and 33 more points than him. Furthermore, 56.45 percent of Foerster’s primary points were goals.
His powerful shot and offensive instincts are what caught the eye of many scouts, and he will make a great pick for any team looking for an offensive presence. He also earned MVP honours at the CHL Top Prospects Game with two goals and an assist to help Team White win the game. With his increased offensive output and performance at the Top Prospects game, Foerster has more eyes on him than at the start of the season.
9. Jean- Luc Foudy
NHL Central Scouting rank: 20th (among NA skaters)
Jean-Luc Foudy’s family has sports is in their DNA. His dad, Sean, was a Grey Cup champion with the B.C. Lions in 1994. His mother, France, won a silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in the 4×100 relay. His older brother Liam is a first-round draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets and a World Junior champion.
Like his older brother, Jean-Luc builds his game on speed and creativity. That’s what makes him a real threat and hard to contain when he’s on the ice. His offensive production could use some work, and while he’s capable of being a strong playmaker, he needs to improve his shot and scoring ability. He almost matched his 49-point rookie season (43 points this season), but not being able to find any offensive consistency was his downfall. He’ll still be a great prospect to select early in the second round.
8. Ryan O’Rourke
NHL Central Scouting rank: 32nd (among NA skaters)
If there’s one thing that everyone should know about Ryan O’Rourke, it’s his competitive nature and ability to battle each shift to get under the opposition. As Mark Scheig writes, “He’s a pest in the best kind of way.”
In his second season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, O’Rourke was named captain at 17 years old. Being a top prospect and captain, with scouts watching closely, would probably be a lot for anyone to handle in an important season, however, he has stepped up and exceeded expectations both on and off the ice.
After scoring a goal and adding an assist en route to a silver medal at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, O’Rourke kept rolling with seven goals and 37 points with the Greyhounds. He has a great mix of defensive play and offensive presence that allows him to be great at possessing the puck. With his in-your-face style, O’Rourke will be a tough defender to play against in the NHL. This will sit well with scouts, and he will be one of the top defensemen selected in this draft.
7. Jan Mysak
NHL Central Scouting rank: 9th (among EU skaters)
Mysak is an offensive powerhouse, and his high-end shot and vision were evident with the Hamilton Bulldogs. He recorded 15 goals and 25 points in 22 games, which is good for a 1.13 point-per-game average. If he had played the full season in the OHL, he would have been among the league-leaders in goals and points.
Mysak started the season off with Litvinov HC in the Czech League, recording five goals and nine points in 26 games. He was a boy playing among men at 17 and was playing relatively well on a team that struggled. In addition, he wasn’t getting the ice time he needed to get better. After an average performance at the World Junior Hockey Championship, registering a goal and assist, he felt that Canada was the best option to improve and get better.
You rarely see a move like this mid-season. For Mysak, the transition was very smooth and improved his stock in the draft as many scouts have taken notice. His hands, speed and shot make him an extremely talented forward and possibly a first-round pick in the draft.
6. Jacob Perrault
NHL Central Scouting rank: 17th (among NA skaters)
The son of former NHLer Yanic Perreault, Jacob has a strong chance of being selected in the first round. The Sarnia Sting sniper possesses one of the best shots in his draft class as his goal totals suggest. He scored 30 goals in his rookie season and surpassed that number this year with 39 while also averaging a 1.23 P/G.
As mentioned, Perreault’s greatest strength is his shot. His release is quick and he has great accuracy no matter where he is on the ice. In addition, his skating is really strong as he has the ability to be a threat when carrying the puck in transition and in tight areas. The speed that he creates pushes defenders back and gives him ample time to make plays with the puck when he carries it in the offensive zone.
5. Jack Quinn
NHL Central Scouting rank: 9th (among NA skaters)
Much Like Foerster, Ottawa 67’s forwards Jack Quinn had a coming-out party, and he made the most of it, improving his draft stock as a high-end goal scorer.
After 12 goals and 32 points in his rookie season, Quinn easily surpassed those numbers this season with 52 goals and 89 points, where he was only second to Nick Robertson in goals in the OHL. Among draft-eligible players in the OHL, he ranks fourth in primary points per game (P1/GP) with 1.11. In addition, 71.01 percent of his primary points were goals.
What contributed to Quinn’s offensive outburst this season was his ability to get into the dirty areas on the ice and battle for the puck as 67’s head coach Andre Tourigny stated in a Q and A by Mark Masters on TSN. The drive and pursuit of the puck became more and more evident in Quinn’s game as the season progressed. Along with his high-end skill set and offensive awareness, Quinn is going to make an NHL team very happy.
4. Cole Perfetti
NHL Central Scouting rank: 4th (among NA skaters)
Only two rookies scored 30 goals during the 2018-19 season, Jacob Perrault and Cole Perfetti. Perfetti was dominant in his first season, leading all rookies in goals (37) and points (74).
He has been nicknamed “Goal” Perfetti after an outstanding performance at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup where he was a goal-scoring machine. He was most notable in the semifinal game against Sweden where he scored twice in regulation and three times in the shootout to push Canada into the Final. To top it off, all of his goals were breakaways. The Saginaw Spirit forward continued his draft-season dominance matching his goal totals from last season and surpassing his point total with 111. His P1/GP is third among OHL draft-eligible players with 1.31.
There’s so much to love about Perfetti’s game. Behind only Marco Rossi for the league-lead in points, Perfetti has soft and quick hands that allow him to deke out any opponent, as well as high-end speed which makes him extremely hard to contain. His play in tight spaces always freezes the opposition, and he is extremely crafty. He’s in constant pursuit of the puck in all three zones, which shows his ability to battle and he doesn’t take a shift off.
3. Marco Rossi
NHL Central Scouting rank: 5th (among NA skaters)
At 5-foot-9, size isn’t an issue when it comes to the OHL’s leading scorer. He plays a big game.
Rossi plays at such a high level that there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with his game. After recording 65 points in his rookie season, he almost doubled his production (39-81-120). Among players in this year’s draft, he’s only behind Alexis Lafreniere in terms of P1/GP with 1.53 and third at even-strength primary points per game (EV P1/GP) with 1.03.
Rossi’s high-end offensive production is what makes him a special talent in this year’s draft. But his play away from the puck is just as exceptional. His remarkable decision-making without the puck allows him to excel in so many areas. He’s able to provide excellent one-on-one coverage while also utilizing his speed to hunt and battle for the puck consistently. Teams are always looking for a strong two-way centre, Rossi is that player.
2. Jamie Drysdale
NHL Central Scouting rank: 3rd (among NA skaters)
From the beginning of the season, Jamie Drysdale was ranked the top defenseman in this draft. Ranked third among North American skaters, Drysdale’s name will be called early as he’s slated to be a top-five pick.
What makes Drysdale such an intriguing defenseman is his high IQ and decision-making, which was noticeable at the World Junior Selection Camp, WJC and in his GTHL days. He’s able to read plays quickly and everything he does on the ice seems to be the right move, with or without the puck. A pass-first player, Drysdale has the high-end vision that allows him to be a strong set-up player and an offensive presence. However, it’s his two-way game that stands out.
“Two-way for sure,” Drysdale said when asked about his game at the World Junior Selection Camp. “I’m perceived as an offensive [defenseman] for the most part, I think to develop my game into that two-way side would be really good for me and that’s the end goal. That’s what I want to be.”
That two-way side translates well as he’s always smart in his own end tying up the opposition and being in the right place at the right time. Almost 18 years old, he already has the elite skill set to be a great defender in the NHL.
1. Quinton Byfield
NHL Central Scouting rank: 2nd (among NA skaters)
While he has slightly fallen in some rankings, Byfield is still the projected number two player to go after Lafreniere. He’s also still considered the top player form the OHL in this year’s draft.
Despite missing a chance to improve his stock at the World Juniors, this shouldn’t deter scouts on Byfield’s skill set and potential as a prospect. He only played 45 games in his draft year, but he managed 32 goals and 82 points (1.82 P/GP). His offensive production and consistency should serve as some reassurance, as 73.44% of his primary points came at even strength.
Byfield already has the physique of an NHL player, and he likes to use that to his advantage. He’s a fierce competitor, and it’s always difficult to go head-to-head with him. He is the complete package with size, speed and high-end skills that make him worthy of being a second-overall pick and a future number one centre.
Statistics from Pick224.