The Ontario U16 Tournament was a great chance to gain some familiarity with a good chunk of the Top 1995s eligible for next year’s OHL Priority Selection. It should be noted, however, that viewing players for the first time in an “all-star” team scenario, can make it difficult to get good reads on players who may have seen little ice-time in this tournament in contrast to the roles they will eventually play on their Minor Midget squads this season. Also consider that unlike standard minor hockey roster sizes, teams in this tournament were carrying a full team with 18 skaters and 2 goaltenders dressed for every game. With that being said, here’s a review of some of the player’s to watch from each club.
C Max Domi | 5.08 | 160lbs | 02/02/95 | Don Mills Flyers | 6GP 6G 9A 15P 6PIM
Domi, the son of former NHL fan favourite Tie, showed that he was the best player of the tournament, leading the scoring race and consistently displaying his high skill evel. Domi’s vision and ability to make plays was unsurpassed by any player. He’s a very crafty forward with a great head for the game. He skates well and competes hard and like his father, was never afraid to mix it up, even against bigger players. At this point, he’d have to be considered as one of the best players in the draft, but his size will be a concern as there is a chance he might never grow much beyond his current 5’8″.
F Nicholas Ritchie | 6.02 | 200lbs | 05/12/95 | Toronto Marlboros | 6GP 4G 4A 8P 8PIM
This big winger was certainly among the most impressive players in the tournament and could very well be on his way to a big year. Ritchie has a good frame but he does a great job of utilizing it. He’s good at getting up and down the ice, but he’s very effective at using his size in the corners to win puck battles. He finishes checks and goes to the net hard and is a tough player to contain. His puck skills were good and he showed a good shot, which all bode well for him moving forward. He’ll definitely be a player to watch this year as he could be an early contender for top honours.
F Bryson Cianfrone | 5.09 | 160 lbs | 14/02/95 | Toronto Marlboros | 6GP 1G 2A 3P 0PIM
Statistically, Cianfrone wasn’t much of a factor in the U16 tournament, not so unlike the rest of the team outside of their top trio of Ritchie-Domi-Hunt. Despite not putting up the numbers, however, Cianfrone showed that he has the explosive offensive ability to be a game-breaker. He has explosive outside speed and good puck control and had the ability to really make something happen in transition. While he may have flown under the radar a bit, he definitely showed some real good things in this tournament.
F Jordan Maletta | 6.02 | 199lbs | 30/04/95 | St. Catherines Falcons | 6GP 1G 3A 4P 8PIM
The captain of the OMHA team looked like he was fighting the puck a bit throughout the tournament, but he certainly saved his best for last, as he was probably the best player on the ice during the final game against the GTHL. Maletta is a player that oozes potential as he’s a big guy with great speed and good offensive skill. We were a bit concerned with some of his decision making as it looked like he might not be a natural goal scorer, but he’s a guy that could develop into a top pick as the year progresses.
D Michael Vlajkov | 6.02 | 180lbs | 03/02/95 | St. Catherines Falcons | 6GP 3G 1A 4P 6PIM
Vlajkov showed a lot of promise in the tournament and definitely made his presence known with his booming slap-shot. He was pretty adept in his own end and has a good break-out game, but his offensive upside probably had people talking the most. While his three goals is impressive, his shot selection could use some refinement. Often times it looked like he was just shooting for the sake of doing so, often from poor angles with no traffic in the shooting lane. Still, with a guy of his size having that type of upside, he should be one of the high-end defensemen in this draft.
D Steven Varga | 6.02 | 182lbs | 18/01/95 | York Simcoe Express | 6GP 0G 1A 1P 2PIM
Not a player that made an impact on the score-sheet, Varga is a guy that a coach loves to have on his team for his reliable play in his own end. He was very good on the penalty kill and did a great job of shutting down the opponent’s offense. His limited offensive upside is a bit of a detractor, but there will always be room in hockey for a guy that can play the shut-down role and do it well.
F Mitchell Amante | 5.08 | 154lbs | 14/01/95 | Windsor Jr. Spitfires | 6GP 7G 3A 10P 6PIM
A bit on the small side, Amante was the most potent forward for the Alliance team in the tournament. While he isn’t quite as flashy as some of the other big wingers who really marveled with their speed, Amante just did a great job of capitalizing on his chances and using his puck skills to make things happen in the offensive zone. Every time he had the puck he was a dangerous player and he has great sniper instincts, often finding the right place to be to convert on a chance.
D Marselis Subban | 5.09 | 185lbs | 11/10/95 | Cambridge Hawks | 6GP 0G 3A 3P 0PIM
A cousin of NHLer P.K., Marselis seems to play a very similar style as a fellow defenseman. While his nonchalant style can be awkward and give coaches headaches, he’s very good with the puck and is as elusive as his cousin. At the same age, he’s definitely ahead in terms of skill, and there’s no doubt that his upside will be a major attractor for OHL teams next May.
F Mitchell Fitzmorris | 5.10 | 171lbs | 21/04/95 | Elgin Middlesex Chiefs | 6GP 1G 4A 5P 4PIM
One of a number of wingers on the Alliance team who really impressed in this tournament was Mitchell Fitzmorris. He looked to be a little taller then his listed height, but he was a guy that did a good job of making things happen on the ice even though it looked like he was shaking off some rust and clearly was frustrated that he wasn’t able to capitalize on a few opportunities. A lot of the Alliance forwards looked very good which projects well for that league this year.
F Danny Desrochers | 5.10 | 160lbs | 22/08/95 | Sudbury Nickel Capitals | 6GP 4G 1A 5P 6PIM
A bit of an awkward player, Desrochers was a player that definitely grew on us as the tournament progressed. He spent time both on the wall and down the middle, but he was a relentless player that always seemed to be around the puck. His skating is a bit choppy and needs work, but his competitiveness and ability to make things happen were big assets. He came up huge in the NOHA’s games against the ODHA and Alliance, and was a force in the offensive zone.
F Brandon Langella | 5.10 | 135lbs | 13/02/95 | Sudbury Nickel Capitals | 6GP 3G 2A 5P 0PIM
Langella didn’t do a lot on his own, but seemed to have really good chemistry with Desrochers on the ice. He was always quietly lurking around the play and seemed to find the puck and make the most of it. He scored a couple of real nice goals with some quality shots and had good hockey sense. This year indicated that it’s likely going to be another quiet year on the draft front from the North, but these two kids along with a few others will definitely be looked at as the year gets underway.
F Nicholas Baptiste | 6.00 | 165lbs | 04/08/95 | Ottawa Jr. Senators | 6GP 5G 5A 10P 8PIM
He was probably my favourite player in the tournament as he literally managed to pick up an otherwise average team and really carry the load for the ODHA. He’s a real good skater who was dangerous every time he was on the ice. Baptiste showed that he could create his own chances as well as be a great distributor. At this point, he’s definitely a contender for the top spot and will be a guy to really keep an eye on this season.
D Evan deHaan | 5.07 | 125lbs | 15/02/95 | Ottawa Valley Titans | 6GP 0G 1A 1P 6PIM
I wanted to give a bit of a shout to deHaan, who at first glance, probably looks like he’s playing at least a few age groups up given his stature. While he’s still a major long-shot at this point, the similarities between his game and his brother Calvin’s at the same age were rather eerie, and he really showed a lot of the same composure and awareness that is a staple of Calvin’s game. I’ll be very interested to see how he comes around this season.
We only got a very brief look at the team from Northwestern Ontario, and couldn’t really report accurately on any of the team’s players.
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Tags: Brandon Langella, Bryson Cianfrone, Danny Desrochers, Evan deHaan, Jordan Maletta, Marselis Subban, Max Domi, Michael Vlajkov, Mitchell Amante, Mitchell Fitzmorris, Nicholas Baptiste, Nicholas Ritchie, Steven Varga