While the majority of the OHL scouting eyes are looking at those playing in the OHL cup, I had the chance to take in three games from the Sudbury Wolves Minor Midget program over the past couple weeks. All three of these games came during the NDMHL playoffs, one in the first round against the Valley East and two in the second round against the Rayside Balfour Tigers. The team was a surprise omission from the OHL cup and some of its players could have likely benefited from the extra exposure. With that being said, here’s a recap of my thoughts on some of the top draft eligible players from the team.
Marco Lizotte | W/D | 6’1” | 185lbs | 5/26/95
All three games that I’ve had a chance to see Marco he’s played up front on the wing. Marco is definitely a player who likes to play with an edge to his game throwing his body around and is not afraid to get into the dirty areas. He could likely be criticized for being overaggressive, as in the two games I got to see him in the line-up he ended up being tossed from the game for fighting in both games and was suspended for the second fight when I saw the Wolves the following game.
While he does have a mean streak he can also contribute in other facets of the game. He shows good skating ability as well as an extremely hard and heavy shot. He seems to generally be very vocal on the ice both in aiding the play with his team as well as trying to get under the oppositions skin. While Lizotte likely won’t hear his name called early in the draft, I could easily see a team nabbing him with a late pick as he is a player who could very likely be a solid bottom 6 guy as a long-term projection.
Tyler Bertuzzi | C/W | 5’10” | 150lbs | 2/24/95
Tyler is a player who plays much bigger than he is, and plays with no fear in his game. He plays an extremely aggressive brand of hockey and is often seen flying into traffic at full speed. For his size he’s also reasonably strong on the puck all the while using his body to shield the puck from the opposition. Tyler shows good vision making some great passes down low a few of which lead to goals for his team. He’s also good at handling the puck and likes to go hard to the net with it.
He needs to work on keeping his head up; over the course of three games there were more than a few instances where he got hit hard with his head down. He will definitely have to add size before he can make the jump to the OHL; if he does add height and weight, he has the potential to be a good power forward type prospect. I’d likely expect to see Tyler get drafted by a team in the fourth or fifth round, however due to his potential I would not be surprised if a team stepped up and drafted him earlier.
Charlie Venedam | W | 6’0” | 180lbs | 2/24/95
Charlie is a player who over the course of three games was at times one of the better players on the ice and at other times almost invisible. While he does bring good size to the table, which combined with his great shot and good skating ability make him an intriguing prospect, his lack of consistency will likely be called into question. Charlie is a player who excels when the puck is on his stick; he uses size in order to protect the puck near the boards and down low and has a great wristshot with a quick release. As previously mentioned the consistency is just not there. He will likely be drafted in the front half of the draft due to his skillsets however his consistency and work rate will have to improve if he wants a shot at making an OHL line-up.
Ryan Erickson | C/W | 6’1” | 165lbs | 6/17/95
When you see Ryan Erickson on the ice, nothing initially sticks out about him; he seems to be a player with no true strengths. As you focus in on him you start to notice that he thinks the game on a great level. He seems to always be where he needs to be both offensive and defensively. He has extremely good vision and uses it to slow the play down to where he can make some great plays. Defensively he looked great on the penalty kill blocking shots and intercepting passes to clear the zone. While it’s hard to say where in the draft Erickson might go due to the lack of a wow-factor but given his solid all-around game it would not surprise me if he found himself in an OHL line-up within a few years.
Jacob Smith | C | 5’11” | 150lbs | 1/30/95
Jacob Smith seemed to get better each game that I saw him in. He showed great play along the boards and behind the net. He seemed fairly hard to knock off the puck as well. His puck handling skills are extremely good and lead to him scoring a handful of goals over the three games. While his hands are quite good, he was guilty of over-handing the puck which led to a few giveaways. Overall, Smith’s offensive game is extremely well rounded he’s equally adept at passing the puck as he is at putting it on net. Defensively, he has a great active stick and is great at picking off passes in the defensive end.
Brandon Langella | W | 5’10” | 150lbs | 2/13/95
The first thing you’re likely to notice about Langella is his skating ability he’s both a quick and agile skater. Langella has a fairly accurate shot which he’s great at putting on net on the rush. Langella competes fairly hard and wins a lot of battles for the puck despite his lack of size. While he does need to add size, he also needs to put a bit of work into his defensive game. Regardless he’ll likely be drafted on the basis of his skills with the puck.
Ryan Kujawinski | W | 6’2” | 185lbs | 3/30/95
Ryan Kujawinski is likely the most notable player on the Sudbury Wolves Minor Midget team and will also likely be the highest drafted. At this point in time the consensus is that Kujawinski will be select sometime between the mid to late first round. He brings an imposing size to the ice which he could definitely benefit from utilizing more often. His skating ability is top notch especially once you factor in his size.
He has a decent shot and loves to shoot the puck; however he can sometimes hold the puck on his stick for too long. His offensive instincts might also be an issue while he gets the majority of his goals from simply taking shots on net off of the wing; his creativity has yet to be seen. While he is not the most well rounded prospect the skills he does have are definitely top notch. It’s hard to gauge his impact at the next level, but give his skillset it will definitely be interesting to see.
Given the amount of talent on this team, and the lack of exposure from missing the OHL Cup it’s extremely hard to say how many players off of this team will get taken in the OHL Priority Selection. However a few other names to keep an eye on off of this team are goaltender Joel Horodziejczyk, forwards Josh Moore and Michael Laidley, as well as defensemen Shane Snow.
If you’ve seen this team I’d love to see more discussion about it in the comments below.