The 2019 NHL entry draft was a down year for prospects from the Ontario Hockey League. It wasn’t until the 18th pick, when the Dallas Stars selected Thomas Harley, that an OHL player heard their name called, and only four OHL players taken in the opening round. The 2020 NHL draft shapes up to be a different story, with four probable top ten selections, and eight or nine possibly chosen in round one. Let’s take a look at some of the top prospects from the OHL.
Sudbury Wolves star center Quinton Byfield is the consensus number two prospect in various draft rankings. Although statistically, he trails other 2020 NHL draft-eligible prospects in league scoring, the combination of size (6’4″; 215 lbs.), speed and skill represents a higher upside than those players. His puck protection skills are top-notch as a result of his size and mobility. He sees the ice well and possesses a hard, accurate shot. Byfield missed time due to injury this season but has still managed 74 points in 40 games thus far.
Ottawa 67’s center Marco Rossi may lack size (5’9″; 179 lbs.), but his skill is humungous. The Austrian-born speedster plays a complete 200-foot game with an extremely high hockey IQ. He is both dangerous off the rush and with the man-advantage. A terrific shot and exceptionally gifted hands are other strengths of his game. He is averaging over two points per game with 105 points in 50 games to lead the OHL in scoring.
Another player likely to be selected in the top ten of the 2020 NHL draft, is Cole Perfetti. The Saginaw Spirit center is hot on the heels of Rossi in the scoring race, currently sitting in second place with 102 points in 56 games. Perfetti is also slightly undersized ( 5’10”; 185 lbs.) but likewise makes up for his stature with immense talent. He has an extremely high hockey IQ, terrific vision and is a tremendous passer. His skating is only average, but he possesses the ability to make those around him better. However, his shot is elite.
Erie Otters’ defenseman Jamie Drysdale is undoubtedly the top defender available for the 2020 NHL draft. His prolific skating and ability to run the powerplay are the characteristics that distinguish him from all others. Along with the highest offensive upside is his ability to shut down the opposition. His elite edgework allows him unparalleled mobility in all directions, which will enable him to close gaps and cut off passing lanes in an instant.
The most prolific goal scorer available for the 2020 NHL draft from the OHL is Ottawa 67’s winger Jack Quinn. His ability to find open ice in the offensive zone, coupled with his quick release on a deadly accurate shot, are his strongest attributes. The 47 goals he has managed thus far in 56 games are a testament to those skills. Quinn is making a strong case to be drafted in the top 15 next June.
Since arriving at the OHL, Jan Mysak is scoring at an exceptional rate. Mysak joined the Hamilton Bulldogs from the Czech Republic after the conclusion of the 2020 World Junior Championship. In 20 games played thus far, he has totalled 15 goals and nine assists. Mysak possesses a heavy shot and positions himself well to find time and space to utilize it best. His shoot-first mentality makes him a better goal scorer than a playmaker, and his play without the puck is a work in progress. I expect to see him selected in the 12-20 range in the upcoming draft.
Following a superb showing at the CHL Top Prospects game, Barrie Colts’ forward Tyson Foerster has emerged as a possible candidate for first-round selection. At nearly 6’2″ and 195 pounds, the big-bodied forward continues to lead the Colts in scoring with 74 points in 58 games. His massive one-timer shot on the powerplay is a weapon to be feared, as 15 of his 32 goals have come with the man-advantage. Foerster has decent straightaway speed and loves to drive to the net. However, he scores in streaks and needs to find consistency in his game for his draft ranking to continue its’ upward trend.
Sarnia Sting pivot Jacob Perreault possesses a hard, accurate shot. His 37 goals lead the Sting, with 14 of those markers coming on the powerplay. Jacob is the son of former NHL player Yanic Perreault, and he developed his keen hockey sense by being around the rink at an early age. His skating and playmaking ability are only average. Expectations are for a selection late in the first round.
Soo Greyhounds’ defender Ryan O’Rourke plays a well-rounded game, skates well and is difficult to play against. The first round of the 2020 NHL draft will be heavily loaded with forwards. However, O’Rourke is one of the few defensemen who may hear his name called in the opening round. His combination of size and mobility, along with his ability to transition the puck are attributes worthy of that distinction.
Rick Warman is a Vancouver Canucks and prospects contributor for Overtime Heroics. Follow him @statman1956 on Twitter
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