G Jordan DeKort – Windsor SpitfiresCatches: L | Height: 6.04 | Weight: 190lbs. | OHL Draft: WSR (2/30)
DeKort comes into the season with some relatively high expectations after he was nothing short of spectacular during his OHL Draft year two seasons ago. DeKort is an impressive physical specimen with great size and athleticism, consuming significant net space even when in the butterfly. DeKort had an indifferent 16-year-old season in the GOJHL and the numbers certainly weren’t pretty when he got his feet wet in 3 OHL games, but the potential is most certainly there.
This season, DeKort’s mobility and rebound control will be critical to his success. Two areas of his game that could be considered weaknesses in the past, DeKort will need to show considerable improvement in these areas as OHL forwards will pounce all over him if that’s not the case. With DeKort, an NHL team is looking at a bit of a long-range prospect that will need some good coaching moving forward. Like Matt Murray from the SSM Greyhounds, what DeKort may lack in polish, he makes up for in high-end potential. With a decent season of 25-30 starts, you can expect DeKort to contend for a spot in the Top 5 Rounds.
G Ken Appleby – Oshawa GeneralsCatches: L | Height: 6.05 | Weight: 195lbs. | OHL Draft: OSH (2/35)
Continuing with the theme of large draft eligible goaltenders, we travel several hours east on the 401 to find another potential NHL starter in Oshawa. Appleby hails from North Bay, Ont. and after a stellar draft year with the North Bay Trappers, he spent last season tending the crease with the Kirkland Lake Blue Devils …err Gold Miners. For those who don’t know, there was a bit of a situation that caused the team to go over a bit of a facelift mid-season.
With that aside, Appleby can rest assured he’ll have more stability with one of the greatest CHL franchises of all-time in Oshawa. The Generals are shaping up to have one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference and while the starting role is entrenched by Carolina draft pick Daniel Altshuller, Appleby should manage to see about 15-20 games throughout the season.
Like DeKort, mobility in the crease is a bit of a work in progress and he’ll likely have a bit of an adjustment period as he faces the increase in speed at the OHL level. With that being said, Appleby is very solid technically and does a great job of squaring up to shooters and making difficult saves in traffic. Jot him down as another potential Top 5 round pick when for next Summer.
LW Anthony DiFruscia – Niagara Ice DogsCatches: L | Height: 5.10 | Weight: 185lbs. | OHL Draft: NIA (2/40)
Last but not least in our spotlight is Niagara Ice Dogs’ winger Anthony DiFruscia. A stocky winger, DiFruscia spent 2011-12 at Salisbury Prep School in Connecticut before electing to sign in the OHL this year. The Welland, Ont. native was an impact player in Minor Midget where he played alongside Guelph Storm 1st rounder Hunter Garlent.
DiFruscia is undersized, but his strength and pro style frame make up for most of those concerns. The 17-year-old is intriguing as he combines his strength with a great shot and a sniper’s mentality. This year he’ll see plenty of opportunity in Niagara, and as long as the Ice Dogs hang onto guys like Ryan Strome and Steven Shipley, he should have some great pivots to work with.
After a strong pre-season, it is not out of the realm to expect 20+ goals and 50+ points from DiFruscia this season. His style may remind you a lot of former Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Dale Mitchell, now lets hope he can continue to progress where Mitchell stagnated.