Names to know as OHL Draft approaches

Sean Day (right) has been approved to enter the OHL Draft early. (Photo courtesy of Compuware/Andy Copp)

By Matt Mackinder -

When the annual Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection takes place this Saturday (April 6), expect many Michigan-born players to see their names pop up on the draft list of the online-exclusive event that starts at 9 a.m.

Seeing how many of those Michiganders wind up in the OHL is another story, as past history has shown that taking Americans in the draft can be a roll of the dice. Just because they are drafted, it doesn’t mean the player will wind up with the OHL club holding his rights.

The Saginaw Spirit has the eighth selection in the first round, while the Plymouth Whalers choose 16th. The Ottawa 67’s hold the first-overall pick.

OHL Michigan scout Kevin Hess recently sat down with MiHockey to discuss who he feels are the top 20 prospects from Michigan born in 1997 heading into Saturday.

Players are listed in alphabetical order.

Matt Acciaoli – Belle Tire 16U – Defenseman

“Smaller defenseman that plays the game like he is much bigger. He plays a fairly complete game from the back end being a player that his coaches can put on the ice in any situation. Acciaioli is a good skater that is very good on his edges.  Despite his size disadvantage, he is not afraid of physical contact. He wins his battles for loose pucks and contains his man along the wall with hockey sense, his skating ability and a quick and active stick.”

Austin Alger – Cranbrook Kingswood High School – Forward

“Excelled this season playing versus older, bigger and stronger young men.  He plays for an outstanding coach (Andy Weidenbach) that teaches him how to compete in all three zones of the ice.  He is the type of player that accepts any role his team needs fulfilled.  He has regularly played versus the opponent’s top line, shutting them down while chipping in offensively.”

Nick Azar – Belle Tire 16U – Defenseman

“Smart defenseman that can play in any situation.  Plays a good 1-on-1 and makes a very good first pass.”

Doug Blaisedell – Honeybaked 16U – Defenseman

“Big-bodied defenseman with a good offensive upside.  Has the ability to take over a game when he wants to.  He is a good skater for his size with average speed.  He has good feet for a big guy.”

Nick Boka – Compuware 16U – Defenseman

“Good skating defender that plays on the edge.  He is a punishing defender that finishes a high percentage of his checks.  Great offensive instincts with a heavy shot from the point.”

Sean Day – Compuware 16U – Defenseman (exceptional status draft entry)

“First USA Hockey-registered player to gain exceptional status in the Ontario Hockey League (and thus, will enter the league one year early).  His skating stride is the best I have seen in my eight years of scouting.  Has the skating and skill level to bring fans out of their seats.”

Jared Domin – Belle Tire 16U – Forward

“Powerful north-south skating winger who is among the top three fastest players in the age group.  Finishes a high percentage of his checks.  Works hard both on and off the ice.  As one of the only Michigan-born players to attend the OHL Combine, set high scores in the power grip test and skating sprints.

Grant Gabrielle – Compuware 16U – Defenseman

“His game got better and better as the season progressed. Has the potential to be a very good two-way defenseman at the next level. Has good offensive instincts and makes a good outlet pass to get his team’s offensive rush started.”

Jr. Gates – Compuware 16U – Forward

“Skilled center that possesses quick hands and good skating speed.”

Jake Gingel – Compuware 16U – Defenseman

“Prototype stay-at-home defender that plays a spirited, physical game. Tough player to play against who contains well in his own zone.  He is the type of player that you love to have on your team and hate to play against.”

Gordie Green – Compuware 16U – Forward

“One of, if not the best pure goal scorers in the age group.  If I need a goal, I am putting the puck on his stick.  Sees the ice extremely well.”

Ryan Larkin – Honeybaked 16U – Goaltender

“Butterfly-style goaltender that has played very consistently throughout the season.  A very big reason why his team won the state championship. Very good at controlling his rebounds and smothering loose pucks.”

Ryan Moore – Belle Tire 16U – Forward

“Explosive skating, highly-skilled center that makes every player around him better.  Great four-way mobility that lets him make something out of nothing.  Plays bigger than his size indicates, finishes a high percentage of his checks and plays with an edge.”

Zach Osburn – Honeybaked 16U – Defenseman

“Highly-skilled high risk, high rewards offensive defenseman.  Osburn is a very good skater with a good stride that eats up ice.  Has the ability to score in a variety of ways.  Possesses great hockey sense and seems to be in the right place at the right time – all the time.”

Brandon Scheiman – Honeybaked 16U – Defenseman

“Plays a very simple, yet very effective game. He has a tall, lanky frame that he should start filling out in the next few years.  He is a good north-south skater with a solid fundamental stride.  He plays a very tight gap on his 1-on-1s, getting the turnover high in his own zone and moving the puck up ice quickly.”

Tyler Sensky – Compuware 16U – Defenseman

“He is a technically sound skater with good speed.  Possesses a good shot from the point.  Does a good job of finding a lane to get the puck to the net.”

Brody Stevens – Compuware 16U – Forward

“Physical forward that plays an honest two-way game.  Stevens competes at a high level, doing a good job of finishing a majority of his checks and winning a high percentage of his battles for loose pucks.  He does a good job on his draws, rarely losing a draw cleanly.  Sees the ice very well and goes into high-traffic areas without hesitation.”

Chaz Switzer – Compuware 16U – Defenseman

“Good-skating, solid overall defenseman.  He can play in any style of game and be successful. “

Brendan Warren – Compuware 16U – Forward

“Powerful skater that has that elusive fifth gear that allows him to separate from defenders.  Is good on his edges and gets up to top speed quickly from a dead stop.  Plays a complete 200-foot game.”

Zach Werenski – Little Caesars 18U – Defenseman

“Young man that has never played in his own age group.  Was a dominant player at the U-18 level this season.  Has the ability to take over a game from the back end.  Great offensive instincts sometimes overshadow his solid defensive zone play.”