It’s still October, but scouting for the 2013 OHL Priority Selection next April is already well underway. With some of the season’s biggest tournaments already in the book, we’ll begin to provide some scouting reports on some of the top 1997 YOB prospects to keep an eye on this season. In case that made you feel old, you did read that correctly, the next wave of OHL draftees weren’t around for Canada’s last great athletic triumph.
RC Mitch Marner | Don Mills Flyers
If you’re judging on skill and merit alone, Marner is likely a Top 20 player in 2013. However, a 5-foot-7, 130 pound frame will certainly create some doubt with OHL teams as to when Marner should be selected. Playing on a meddling Flyers team, Don Mills pretty much goes as Marner does. The diminutive center is extremely skilled and is more than capable of creating his own offense. Marner doesn’t have blazing speed, but he is more than adept and his stickhandling and agility make him very elusive against defenders.
Marner competes hard and always seems to find the puck on his stick. More of a “dangler” than a shooter, he’s already scored several highlite-reel goals this year. While the skill is certainly enticing, there is some risk to weigh as team’s will have to project how well his slight frame will hold up against bigger OHL bodies. Marner will have some work to do to convince teams he’s worthy of a Top 40 pick, but you can jot him down as someone who could go anywhere from the late 2nd to early 4th.
(RS) LW Nikita Korostelev | Jr. Canadiens
There’s not very many minor hockey leagues around North America where you’ll find players from Russia, but if there’s one that shouldn’t be a surprise, it’s the GTHL. Korostelev bursted onto the scene during the second half of 2011-12 where he saw time with a strong Vaughan Kings lineup. This year, Korostelev has gained some more size and is one of the more dynamic players in the crop.
Korostelev has an impressive presence on the ice and really commands the puck on a shift-by-shift basis. He has an explosive stride and strong puck possession which allows him to drive the shooting lane and utilize his heavy shot. Korostelev has a great release and an impressive shot which allows him to find the back of the twine consistently. One concern with this, however, is that Korostelev requires a high volume of shots to score. His shot selection needs to improve and his finish is an area to monitor as he will not have the same quantity of shots he gets at the MM level.
The real kicker with Korostelev at this point is whether or not he’ll even be eligible for the Priority Selection. As an import, he’ll need to establish residency requirements with the league but at this point it appears that should be a formality if the OHL is where he wants to play. If that’s the case, expect to hear his name called in Round 1.
RC Sam Harding | York Simcoe Express
Two words to describe Sam Harding best may be “active motor”. He’s not going to overwhelm with size (albeit he is 6-feet tall) nor will he overwhelm you with skill, but when Harding is on, he’ll overwhelm you with his competitiveness and never-give-up demeanor. The heart of a York Simcoe forward corps that is solid but unspectacular, Harding is a big-game player who can log heavy minutes in important situations.
Currently playing as a center, a lack of pure hockey sense will probably facilitate a move to the wing at the OHL level where his board play can be better utilized. Harding generates a lot of his offense from winning puck battles and creating opportunities or driving the puck to the net. Finish is an area of concern as Harding is by no means a pure goal scorer. Projecting as more of a two-way type player, expect Harding to probably be available in the early 2nd round where he’ll be the type of player who can step in and contribute on a 3rd or 4th line in 2013-14.