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Future Watch: 20 Prospects to Watch at the 2022 OHL Draft

The OHL draft is upon us, and despite some bumps along the way through COVID-19, the 2022 class won't disappoint.
Michael Misa

It's time.

Finally, after two years of absolute chaos, we got a (mostly) proper minor hockey season. 

The OHL draft is set to begin Friday evening, with one pick -- Michael Misa to Saginaw -- already known. It's customary for the team with the No. 1 selection to announce the pick early, and after Misa earned exceptional status, it was a no-brainer for the kid who broke Connor McDavid's OHL Cup scoring record.

The Erie Otters are expected to pick Malcolm Spence, Misa's teammate with the Mississauga Senators, second overall. Spence, in many drafts, would go No. 1. He's that good of a prospect. 

The rest of the draft is wide open. Sudbury selects third, Niagara is up fourth and Sarnia will choose fifth. Earlier this week, forward Michael Hage, one of the top prospects, signed a tender to play with the USHL's Chicago Steel for next season. Surely, a team will be willing to take a flier on him, but if Hage is trending towards the NCAA, it'll take quite the offer to make it make sense. Of course, some teams (ahhem, London) don't typically have issues convincing who they want badly to stick around.

Here's a look at 20 prospects to watch during the draft -- it's not necessarily a ranking, but it's a group of players scouts are fond of. It was difficult to track this group's progress after a lost year in 2020-21, but the talent shown this season didn't lack in the skill department:

Michael Misa, C (Mississauga Senators)
Oh baby, what a talent. Misa's hype has no bounds, and his ability to play with just about anyone in the Senators lineup has made him so effective. Misa is strong positionally, his speed is among the best in the tournament and his ability to adapt to just nearly situation makes him very versatile. After breaking McDavid's OHL Cup record, he's earned all the attention placed on him.

Malcolm Spence, C (Mississauga Senators)
The first thing you'll notice is just how dangerous his shot is: his release is quick, he's accurate, and is a confident shooter that can find room just about anywhere. Spence is a smooth skater that can hold his balance against bigger defenders and always seems to be moving. Spence is a hard forechecker that wants possession like his life depends on it, and you can't have enough guys like that around. Truly, he's an all-around great player and one with a bright future ahead of him.

Nathan Villeneuve, C (Navan Grads)
The Ottawa minor hockey scene is a bit unusual in that, unlike most of Ontario, there isn't a proper U-16 league. So Villeneuve, and the rest of the top Ottawa-area players, play against older competition in the HEO U-18 league -- and Villeneuve made everyone look goofy. Villeneuve is a tough, physical presence, leading the Heo with 79 penalty minutes. More importantly, he won the top prospect award after finishing second behind Benjamin Cormier in scoring for the Navan Grads with 67 points in just 30 games. He's an all-around sound talent that can work with just about anyone as a linemate and succeed -- and some scouts believe he's the most complete player available.

Sam Dickinson, D (Toronto Marlboros)
One of the best defenders in the GTHL, Dickinson is as close to a complete defenseman as it gets in the draft. He's a strong skater, smart puck-mover, can shoot the disk accurately and his defensive game is consistent and reliable. Dickinson doesn't give you much room to work with, and it's what makes him so effective.

Porter Martone, C/RW (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)
Scouts absolutely love Martone. No matter who he played with, he found ways to get the puck on net consistently while skating quickly, efficently and with good strength. "He's a box checker," a scout said. "He owns a great shot, can get physical and just plays an all-around strong, effective game."

Beckett Sennecke, LW/RW (Toronto Marlboros)
A skilled forward, Sennecke is tough to slow down thanks to his quick feet and can adapt to the play, no matter the overall pace. Sennecke likes to keep the puck on his stick, electing to hold possession instead of just moving it for the sake of creating a play. He'll be one of the better point producers in the OHL from this class.

Henry Mews

Henry Mews, D (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)
Mews rushes the puck up in a similar vein to Jamie Drysdale at the same age. He knows when to push on the attack without being too aggressive. Like any offensive defenseman, he can get back quick enough with good awareness. Smart passer, but can shoot the disk from the point with little difficulty. He'll be a minute-muncher at the next level.

Kevin He, LW (North York Rangers)
One of the best skaters in the draft class, He is a skilled forward that can compliment other top talent with how well he zips around the ice. "Star winger potential, no doubt," one scout said. He's shot is quick, accurate and seems to get a breakaway on a nightly basis. He didn't produce much at the OHL Cup, but scouts love his game.

Bode Stewart, LW (Mississauga Senators)
A hard-working winger, Stewart comes alive when games really start to mean something. The Senators trusted him to play with the team's top players in a variety of situations and the results speak for themselves. Stewart is a gifted offensive talent with quick feet and a blister of a wrister. Scouts believe he'll easily be able to translate his game to the OHL and be effective right off the bat.

Cole Beaudoin, C (Nepean Raiders)
"He's a total pain in the (behind) to play against," a competitor in the HEO said. At 6-foot-2 and over 190 pounds, Beaudoin looked like a man amongst kids in the Ottawa area this year with 90 points in 40 games between the regular season and playoffs. More of a playmaker than a shooter, Beaudoin makes those around him better. Some scouts believe he has some of the highest potential of anyone in this draft. Will a team get lucky?

Ben Cormier, LW (Navan Grads)
Need a goal-scoring machine? Cormier's your man. He had 38 goals and 72 points in HEO action to finish third in scoring and showed off with six goals in two games at the OHL combine last weekend. Highly competitive and smart with the puck, you won't find many players in this age group that can do a better job at getting pucks on target. His work ethic is noticable and his release is a challenge to deal with. If he can add a bit of strength, he could become one of the best forwards in the OHL one day.

Ben Danford, D (Quinte Red Devils)
One of the top defenders in this age group, Danford played big minutes with Quinte and looked great with 29 points in 26 regular season games. Danford was always matched against other top ETA talent and his quick footwork and high top speed allowed him to win many puck battles. "He's got some Ryan Ellis in him," a scout said. And if you remember Ellis at the U-16 level, that's a big compliment.

Anthony Cristoforo, D (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)
The Jr. Canadiens lost the OHL Cup, but scouts couldn't stop talking about Cristoforo. Match him up against any of the best players in the age group and Cristoforo can handle the challenge. An all-around smart defenseman, Cristoforo wins a lot of his puck battles, has the acceleration to get him quickly from out front of the net into the corner and can hold his own physically. The best word to describe him? "Reliable." Coaches love that.

Lucas Karmiris, F (Brantford 99ers)
Karmiris first burst onto the scene after scoring a highlight-reel goal at the age of 12. Since then, Karmiris' creative genes are evident, and his quick release can be deceptive at points, too. Karmiris is all offense all the time and he'll be someone to watch in major junior moving forward. Karmiris seems to always be in control of his own game: he's never wandering, continously seeking his own space and can battle hard along the boards without getting pushed around. He led the Alliance in goals this year with 37 in 27 games, and he'll have no issue putting pucks in the net in the future.

Zayne Parekh, D (Markham Majors)
Fun fact: this won't be the first time he's drafted into the OHL. The Owen Sound Attack mistakingly chose him last year, not realizing he was a 2006-born player in a 2005-born group. Had the GTHL played a proper season, he'd be playing up a year anyways, so it's not the craziest thing ever. Parekh is a smart puck-mover that can join the rush and has a direct, speedy wrist shot that he's not afraid to move from just about anywhere. Parekh isn't afraid to lay out the body and can play power play, penalty kill and in a shutdown role. He's versitaile, and easily moldible. 

Jack Van Volsen, F (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)
With one of the best shots in the GTHL, there's no wonder why teams love Van Volsen. The hard-working winger is a high-volume shooter and has one of the best one-timers in minor hockey. His skating is superb, with his powerful stride allowing him to win foot races fairly regularly, and it just feels like every play he makes with the puck is calculated. The brain is definitely there, and the pedigree – his dad, Mike, played for three OHL teams in the 1990s – definitely helps.

Ethan Procyszyn, RW (North Central Predators)
The ETA player of the year, Procyszyn had one heck of a campaign with 26 goals and 52 points in just 27 games with North Central. He even got into some games with the OJHL's Collingwood Blues and impressed with three goals in six games against older competition. The numbers are there, and scouts like his projectable frame at 6-foot-2. It won't be long until he's playing middle six for an OHL club.

Jett Luchanko, RW (London Jr. Knights)
Most eyes in London were on Ryan Roobroeck, the 2007-born forward that was seeked exceptional status after a fantastic season in the Alliance. His teammate, Luchanko, was one of his prime setup men. Luchanko's speed stands out, as does his ability to beat defenders cleanly 1-on-1. "You never know what he's going to do, and that's a strength of his," a scout said.

Luca Testa, F (Niagara North Stars)
The one term scouts love referring to him as is "bulldog". He can do just about anything his coaches ask of him – defensively, offensively, early in the game, late in a tight contest, etc. Testa has good speed and moves the puck well and has a nice wrister to boot. He's an everyday, everyman player and every team can use a guy like that.

Kieron Walton, C (North York Rangers)
It's hard not to be noticed when you're 6-foot-5. One of the biggest power forwards in the draft, Walton is tough to play against, not just because of his size, but because of his quick footwork that you'd see more from a 5-foot-11 winger. 

Other Notables: Riley Patterson, F (Mississauga Senators), Liam Greentree, F (Markham Majors), Justin Huynh, D (Mississauga Senators), Marek Vanacker, F (Brantford 99ers), Gabriel Frasca, F (Mississauga Senators), Caden Kelly, F (Mississauga Senators), Frankie Marrelli, F (Markham Waxers), Broden McConnell-Barker, D (London Jr. Knights), Carter Frost, G (Toronto Jr. Canadiens), Matthew Virgilio, D (St. Andrew's), Braydon McCallum, F (Brantford 99ers).

Some other great draft resources include Puck Preps, TheScout.ca, Neutral Zone, Brock Otten's mock draft and Recruit.

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