Scouting the CHL – TheOilKnight.ca
 

Category: Scouting the CHL

By the OilKnight 08/23/19

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The London Knights kick off their training camp on Monday officially, but in the meantime here is a preview of what their roster might look like in 2019-20, and who to watch out for as potential surprises.

credit: Sean Patrick Ryan
credit: Sean Patrick Ryan

 

The losses in personnel this year are like most years in London – significant. Evan Bouchard, Adam Boqvist, Joey Keane, and Alex Formenton all move on the pros. William Lochead, Kevin Hancock, and Joseph Raaymakers were overagers last season and are now ineligible. That means London’s Top pair and 4 of their Top 5 defencemen, won’t be back. In addition, there is a chance Liam Foudy sticks with the Columbus Blue Jackets full-time, which would mean London would be missing their Top 5 playoff scorers from last season. They need a new captain and they need to replace their entire 5 man Top Powerplay unit. But, never say rebuild in London – it’s simply a restocking. 

Last season, four 16 year olds got into games and this season at least another four should get an opportunity at some point. This is a very young team but as usual, they are still very talented. 

 

 

THE FORWARDS

A lot of what London is able to do offensively should stem from the play of Connor McMichael (WSH, 1st rd). After only registering 16 points as a 16 yr old (between two teams), McMichael exploded last season for 36 goals & 72 points. He had a terrific start to the season but did fade down the stretch and in the playoffs. Of course, the return of Alex Formenton and acquisition of Kevin Hancock mid-season did play a factor in that as his role was somewhat reduced. Consistency all year round should be a major focus for McMichael this season. He typically has a high compete level, soft hands, excellent speed, and a great knack for tips and rebounds in front of the net. He can also be a bit of an emotional catalyst with his goal celebrations. He will undoubtedly become a leader for this team up front. 

McMichael should be flanked by his common linemate last year in Matvei Guskov (MIN, 4th rd). Listed as a center, Guskov played mainly at RW with McMichael and finished the season with 12 goals & 30 points. He brings a solid 2 way game and shows flashes of high end skill. However, he needs to take a more determined approach and attack the net with more authority. Guskov skates very well, has a very good shot and a bit of physicality in his game. Be interesting to see what he can do on the Powerplay as he barely got a sniff there last season.

At left wing, there are plenty of options but it would be nice to see Antonio Stranges step up into that role. Stuck in basically a bottom six role for the majority of last season, Stranges still managed to pot a respectable 13 goals & 34 points. He also got very little Powerplay time as indicated by the 4 PP assists he finished with the year with. Stranges is a fabolous skater with tremendous skill. His backhand is the best in the draft and his playmaking ability is outstanding. He is probably the most talented player the Knights have had since Mitch Marner. A full season in the top six and on the top PP would give Stranges a real chance to beat McMichael’s mark of 72 points last year. Could sneak into the Top 10 of the 2019-20 NHL draft by June. 

courtesy of TheOilKnight via Youtube

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Beyond those three, there are several veterans and a few young guys who could step up and provide that secondary scoring punch. Wingers Nathan Dunkley and Cole Tymkin are two solid OHL vets who should be able to help pick up some of the slack. They had 23 and 22 goals respectively, and should be good bets to get close to 25 again. C Billy Moskal and C/LW Josh Nelson both have excellent speed and might be able to chip in close to 20 each if everything goes right. Then there’s Johnny Gruden (OTT, 4th rd), who recently committed to playing in London this season after playing in the NCAA last season. While not known as an elite scorer, he does play a very solid 2 way game and should be able to chip in close to 20 goals too. C Alex Turko is a very solid penalty killer and 4th line center. Not a flashy group but several solid, experienced vets who could help lighten the load up front. 

The real wildcards here though, are Luke Evangelista and Sahil Panwar. Drafted in the 1st and 2nd rounds of the 2018 OHL draft respectively, Panwar actually had the greater success as a 16 yr old last season. He registered 5 goals & 8 points in 26 games and showed off his terrific puck skills and soft hands. He can play center or the wing so depending on what happens with Foudy and Vegas 4th rounder C Paul Cotter (who is eligible to play in the AHL), he could get an early shot in the Top 6 with a good camp.

Evangelista, was actually the first player drafted for London in 2018 ahead of Stranges and Panwar. He has tremendous ability but struggled to generate much offence in his rookie season albeit in very limited minutes. He’s billed as a speedy playmaker and should get much more opportunity to impress and earn his coach’s trust this season. 

2018 Knights draftees: Gerard Keane, Antonio Stranges, Sahil Panwar, Luke Evangelista

 

Rookies Stuart Rolofs (1st rd, 2019) and Max McCue (2nd rd, 2019) should also be in the mix. Rolofs is a sniper who has a terrific shot and release, very good speed & can dangle a bit too. McCue, is the better playmaker of the two and has great vision and high hockey sense. Playing time for rookies is usually limited under coach Hunter so I wouldn’t expect too much from either player this season. 

Overall, it’s a solid group of veterans complimenting the Top line, along with a few promising young players who if they can step up their games, would give this team 4 solid lines. If Liam Foudy returns like Formenton did last year, it should make this one of the Top units in the OHL.

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THE DEFENCE

Evan Bouchard and Adam Boqvist had 36 goals and 77 assists between the two of them last season and that included 48 powerplay points. Which means regardless of who London deems as their replacements, they are going to have a hard time trying to replace that kind of production from the back end. One things for sure though, steady rearguard Alec Regula (DET, 3rd rd) will continue to be an integral part of this defensive group. 

#72 Alex Regula of the London Knights

Regula, has certainly become one of the most reliable defenders in the OHL the last couple years. He plays a very poised game now, is physical and moves the puck quickly out of his own zone. For a big guy he’s actually pretty mobile too. He got some valuable PP time early in the year that might help him moving forward this season. However, his real value is on the Penalty kill where he has excelled. He’s played a lot with Bouchard in the last 2 seasons more in a defensive role but he has sneaky offensive upside. Be interesting to see how he’s utilized this year as London is very young on D. Regula is a good candidate to replace Bouchard as Captain of the Knights. 

Recently signed Hunter Skinner (NYR, 4th rd) out of the USHL will look to fill some of the offensive void left by Bouchard and Boqvist. He is billed as an athletic, offensive defenceman who likes to join the rush and could add some pop to the Powerplay with his big shot. It’s very possible we could see him on the top pair with Regula shifting over to the left side like he has done so often in his OHL career thus far. 

Another kid that should make an immediate impact on the blueline for London, is Russian import Kirill Steklov. Steklov, represented Russia in the most recent Hlinka-Gretzky Cup and had a very positive showing. He’s a big kid that moves real well and GM Mark Hunter compared him a lot to Nikita Zadorov when he played in London. He is NHL draft eligible this year.

17 yr old RD Gerard Keane played 29 games for the Knights last season, and should get an opportunity to play Top 4 minutes this year. The younger brother of Joey Keane who also played in London, Gerard is an excellent skater with good hockey sense and puck moving ability.

The rest of the group should consist of basically rookies and inexperienced players with one exception. 20 yr old Riley Coome, who has played 107 OHL games the past two seasons, likely slots in as one of the Top 6 defencemen on this team. He’s not flashy but he’s a big body & is efficient defensively.

One of the most interesting training camp battles should be between 16 yr olds Bryce Montgomery and Logan Mailloux. Both are big kids, both shoot right handed, and both will be vying for a spot on the 3rd pair. Mailloux, is the more highly touted of the two having recently been drafted in the 2nd round of the 2019 OHL draft. He’s big, has good speed & and owns an intriguing skill-set. He’s a good puck mover & possesses a heavy shot. However, don’t count out Montgomery who has a lot of those similar traits including size and tremendous skating ability himself. He’s also recognized as a player with a high hockey IQ. Realistically, both will likely make the team and get their share of playing time. 

18 yr old Liam Whittaker has only played a couple of games for London the last 2 season but is looking to make a good impression while 16 yr old Benjamin Roger got into 1 game last season and has an outside shot at making the team out of camp. 

Connor Federkow (3rd rd, 2019) could be the biggest sleeper here. He made a good impression with a few big hits in the U17 camp for Team Canada. He’s weighed at only 148 lbs but throws every pound of that frame around and plays bigger than his size. Probably doesn’t have any outstanding traits other than his compete level which gives him a chance. 

Overall, the Knights will likely sink or swim based on how quickly this relatively young and inexperienced unit is able to gel. 

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GOALTENDING

#31 Jordan Kooy of London (Getty Images)

Jordan Kooy (VGK, 7th rd) is clearly the man in net for the Knights this season. After splitting the duties with overager Joseph Raaymakers last year, Kooy took over in the playoffs starting every game. He’s big and very athletic for his size. He seemed to gain confidence as the year went on, and appeared to be tracking pucks much better. A lot will be riding on his shoulders this season especially early as the young defence in front of him gain some valuable experience. He should ultimately be one of the top goalies in the OHL by years end. 

Brett Bochu, was drafted in the 6th round of the 2018 OHL draft and is expected to be the backup this season barring a trade.  

 

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2019-20 OUTLOOK

This London Knights team is young but still loaded with talent. With Connor McMichael, Matvei Guskov, Antonio Stranges & potentially Liam Foudy up front, they should be able to score plenty of goals. On the back end, there will be some growing pains but if Hunter Skinner & Kirill Steklov can come in and provide some stability and take some pressure off of Alec Regula, they should be ok there too. Jordan Kooy should be able to keep the young Knights in most games but at this point, there are plenty of “ifs” heading into training camp.

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To comment, please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight

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The 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup is now in the books and the Russians backstopped by the 17 yr old phenom Yaroslav Askarov, are the tournament Champions after defeating Team Canada 3-2 in the finals. It is their first victory in this tournament since 1995. 

#1 Yaroslav Askarov of Russia, courtesy of tsn.ca

It was a short but exciting tournament that gave many draft enthusiasts an opportunity to see how far a lot of these kids have progressed over the summer. All the prospects with late 2001 birthdates were not eligible to participate, but it was still a good preview of many of the top ranked players in their draft class.

In terms of rankings, there is still much debate among pundits whether this tournament should even really matter in the grand scheme of things. Vasili Podkolzin & Philip Broberg proved last year it certainly matters to some GM’s and scouts as both ended up Top 10 overall NHL draft picks thanks to outstanding performances at this tourney. First impressions can be lasting ones. If nothing else, this tournament should be considered a good starting point in tracking a prospect’s progression throughout the course of their draft year. A measuring stick if you will, where you can identify strengths & weaknesses of a player skill-set wise, and track their progression or regression in those specific areas. Typically, these kids develop fast at this age & many experience an offensive spike during their league play. We’ve seen glimpses of that already with a few players in particular who looked primed to explode in their draft year. This tournament was a small sample sure, but could also be a preview of big things to come. 

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The Top Performers

courtesy of TSN.ca

Yaroslav Askarov – If there was any doubt who the best goalie in the world was for this upcoming draft, that has evaporated. Askarov was the tournament’s best player hands down after limiting a loaded Canadian squad offensively and leading his team to the Gold Medal. His combination of athleticism & positioning combined with his ability to track the puck and limit rebounds makes him very difficult to beat. If you consider what he did against a loaded U.S. team last year at the U18’s & now this tourney, Askarov seems like a virtual Top 10 lock regardless of what happens the rest of the way. He posted a .960 SV% in 4 games started.

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courtesy of TSN.ca

Cole Perfetti – The leading goal scorer and point getter of the tournament, Perfetti was simply outstanding for Team Canada. He had 3 multiple goal games including a shootout thriller where he scored 3 times. He displayed tremendous hands & a variety of highly skilled moves in tight. Terrific offensive instincts, excellent vision and poise. His speed also looked like it improved a step from last year. He was however, held off the stat sheet in the Gold Medal game where he was just unable to beat Askarov despite multiple chances.  

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courtesy of TSN.ca

Hendrix Lapierre – You could argue, no one helped improve their draft stock and overall ranking more after this tourney than Lapierre. Paired with Perfetti the entire tournament, Lapierre showed off his tremendous hockey IQ and terrific 200 foot game by creating several turnovers with his smart positioning and great anticipation. He made several beautiful passes to setup his teammates, and his speed and puck control also looked much improved since last season. A real force the entire tournament, his game looks so reminiscent of a young Jonathan Toews

 

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courtesy of utv.ru

Alexander Pashin – Despite being only listed as 5’8″, 154lbs, Pashin proved to be a beast for his Russian squad by scoring 7 goals in 5 games including the game winner in the Gold Medal game. In fact, his whole line was terrific all tournament. Pashin has tremendous speed as he blew by defenders routinely this whole tourney. He also showed off his quick hands and deceptive shot and release. Ranked 89th overall by Future Considerations going into last week, you’ve got to think his stock has shot up dramatically. An explosive player with a little bite to his game, Pashin was the biggest surprise at this year’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. 

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Other Promising Prospects

Since we are quickly becoming your #1 trusted source for all CHL prospects, we’d be reminisced to not talk about some other European players who stood out & will be playing next season in the OHL, WHL or QMJHL.

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Vasili Ponomaryov (F)

Having just committed to Shawinigan of the QMJHL, Russian sniper Vasili Ponomaryov had an excellent tournament playing on a line with Alexander Pashin & Pavel Tyutnev. He created a ton of chances and flashed an excellent 2 way game. He finished the tournament tied for 5th in scoring with 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points. He should immediately contribute in a Top 6 offensive role and on the PP in for Shawinigan. 


Michal Gut (F)

One of the biggest surprises of this tournament, Michal Gut flashed tremendous skill and explosiveness. He showed off some sick mitts in the shootout and scored a variety of ways throughout the tournament. He finished the tourney with 3 goals & an assist to lead the Czech Republic. He will be playing for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL this upcoming season.  

 

Kasper Puutio (RD)

The 2nd leading scorer on Finland with 4 assists in 5 games, Kasper Puutio will be taking his talents to Swift Current of the WHL after being selected 1st overall the most recent Import draft. He is an excellent skater, has a big shot from the point and good leadership qualities. 


Keanu DeRungs (LW)

Tied for the team lead in points (2), Keanu Derungs flashed some high level skill with a highlight reel goal and a terrific setup for Switzerland. He’s a hard worker who shows excellent puck control and isn’t afraid to go hard to the net despite his light frame. He will be playing for Victoria of the WHL this upcoming season. 


Simon Knak (LW)

Though it didn’t show up on the scoresheet, Simon Knak was one of the most dangerous players for the Swiss team in this tournament. He forced several turnovers and created a lot of chances he just couldn’t find the back of the net so finished with a disappointing 1 assist. He has an excellent shot & release and can play in all situations. He should be a key contributor for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL


Noah Delemont (D)

Noah Delemont is an excellent skater but can be classified as a “riverboat gambler.” He made some real questionable decisions and got caught in this tourney. But, the athletic skill-set is there he’ll just have to work on his decision making moving forward. Loves to join the rush. Very active stick. Should be entertaining to watch either way. He will be playing for Acadie-Bathurst of the QMJHL

 

Giancarlo Chanton (LD)

Giancarlo Chanton had a nice assist for Switzerland but was relatively quiet for the most part. He did struggle defensively quite a bit but has some nice tools. He will be playing for the Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL this season. 

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Oleksii Myklukha

The talented Slovakian Oleksii Myklukha scored a couple of goals and left a lasting impression with his speed and playmaking ability. Also displayed excellent hockey sense and a strong 200 foot game. He’s actually not draft eligible till 2021 but recently committed to Rouyn-Nouranda of the QMJHL

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Other tournament notables:

Ivan Ivan (QMJHL – Cape Breton) – 1 goal in 4 games.

Ruben Rafkin (OHL – Windsor) – 1 assist in 3 games

Oliver Suni (OHL – Oshawa) – 3 assists in 3 games

Kirill Steklov (OHL – London) – 1 assist in 5 games

 

 

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To comment please do so via Twitter, @TheOilKnight

By the OilKnight 06/17/20

The 2020 OHL draft class is is one of the deepest OHL groups in years. Want proof? Since 2012-13, there have only been THREE OHL prospects who had 25 goals or more in their Draft -1 year – Connor McDavid, Alex DeBrincat & Arthur Kaliyev. Last season alone, there were FIVE players that surpassed that mark in the OHL. There were also EIGHT players who registered at least 40 points on the season which is an uncommon feat. This group is deep and they’re of high quality. Here’s a list of the Top 30 OHL‘ers going into next year’s draft:

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#1. Quinton Byfield (C)

Byfield has the size/speed/skill combination that makes scouts drool. The pace he plays with at his size is rare. He has terrific speed, agility and edge work. Combine that with his excellent hands and he is a real threat to opposing d-men to defend. He also possesses a real hard wrist shot with a deadly release. His sees the entire ice extremely well and is capable of pinpoint passes. 52.1 FO% as a 16 yr old is exceptional. While he does a good job of shielding opponents & has some physicality in his game, Byfield still needs to put on some more mass & use his big frame more to his advantage. No reason to think that doesn’t happen as he continues to grow and develop. He is a legit candidate to go 1st overall in the 2020 Draft.

courtesy of ALLSPORT mixtapes via Youtube


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#2. Jamie Drysdale (RD)

Drysdale is such a tremendous skater with blazing speed & acceleration, it makes him dangerous at both ends of the ice. He moves the puck around so effortlessly. His vision & passing ability are elite. Defensively, he is very aggressive; consistently challenging the puck carrier with his explosiveness. He excels at breakouts & transitional play. Offensively, he can quarterback the attack and also possesses an excellent wrist shot from the point. Drysdale skates a lot like Quinn Hughes and has the ability to be better all-round than Bowen Byram. Potential franchise #1 defenceman.

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courtesy of HSD prospects via Youtube

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#3. Cole Perfetti (C/LW)

Perfetti has tremendous offensive instincts reminiscent of a young Steven Stamkos. His numbers as a 16 yr old (37G, 37A, 72 Pts) weren’t that far off from a 16 yr old Stammer (42G, 50A, 92 Pts) either. Perfetti is such a strong skater who sees the ice extremely well. He has a very good shot & a knack for scoring big goals. He’s so smart and has a fantastic work ethic, he forces a lot of turnovers as he’s very solid in all 3 zones. Perfetti isn’t the flashiest player but he might be the most complete in this group. Potential Top 10 pick next season.

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#4. Marco Rossi (C)

Rossi is one of the oldest prospects in the 2020 draft as he just missed being eligible for the 2019 draft by just eight days. Regardless, he is still an extremely talented playmaker, and a fabolous skater. He’s not a burner but is so smooth & agile it makes him incredibly shifty and tough to contain. His vision and offensive instincts are top-notch. He has a deadly shot & release and some highlight reel passes. Rossi is also a PP specialist – he led rookies in PP points with 20. He plays a pro style game already. Solid in all 3 zones. +51 as a rookie. Excellent faceoff center too – 54.2 FO%. Due to his size, & age compared to his peers he may slide just outside the Top 10 come draft day but shouldn’t fall much further.

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#5. Antonio Stranges (LW)

Stranges is the most talented London Knight since Mitch Marner. His combination of skating, agility & stickhandling is incredible. Stranges “2 and 10” skating ability is extremely rare. It confuses defenders & makes him completely unpredictable as he is capable of shooting or passing from it. His shot and release are electric, his backhand is the also best in his class and maybe several years. Stranges has this keen ability to make tape to tape passes look easy. He has incredible offensive instincts & shows good commitment to defense. There’s no question he has Top 5 skill in this draft. His teammate Connor McMichael exploded for 72 points in his draft year after registering 16 points as a rookie. If Stranges gets anything close to that this year, he should be a Top 10 lock.

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#6. Jacob Perreault (RW)

Perreault is the son of former NHL‘er Yanic Perreault. He is not a speedster but is a powerful skater with a big shot and a dynamite release. Terrific one-timer. He also possesses good playmaking ability. Looks like another one of the new age power forwards. Not afraid to muck it up in the corners or finish a check. Battles hard along the boards. Defensive game needs a bit of work in his draft year but the willingness is there. Tough, determined, power forward who can rip the puck. He’ll be an intriguing option in the Top half of the 1st round. If improves his overall speed & quickness he could climb quickly. Trending better than Arthur Kaliyev at this point.

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#7. Will Cuylle (LW)

Cuylle is viewed as a shooter and a goal scorer, but there is more to his game than just that. Yes, he led all OHL rookies in SOG with 187. Yes, he has an elite shot and release already. But, Cuylle also has tremendous puck skills, and terrific awareness on the ice. He can beat you with his speed & shot from the wing but if you’re not careful he can walk around you too. He also has an excellent work ethic and was easily their best and more dangerous player in their short playoff run. Another prototypical power forward who just needs to work on his 200 ft game to be a complete player. Will be a hot commodity come draft day.

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Cuylle hat trick game

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#8. Jean-Luc Foudy (C)

Foudy is the brother of former 1st round pick Liam Foudy of the London Knights. Like his brother, he has blazing speed & acceleration. Unlike his brother, Jean-Luc is more of a playmaker than a shooter. In fact, he led all OHL rookies in assists with 41 (only 9 goals). He has terrific vision and a real knack for drawing defenders away with his speed, then setting up open teammates. He’s a breakaway threat & has some nice stickhandling but needs to bury it more. Hands haven’t caught up yet. Faceoffs are an issue (37.7%), and Foudy definitely needs to get stronger as he can be pushed off the puck quite easily at times. But, there is enough here to warrant a 1st round pick. A playmaking speedster with upside if hands improve.

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#9. Jaromir Pytlik (RW)

Pytlik is a bit of a Youtube sensation that has grown up in the Hockey Talent Academy in the Czech Republic. He has been filmed as early as age 5, performing hockey skills training. Last season, he joined the Soo in the 2nd half of the season and had immediate success registering 19 points in 26 games. Pytlik is a tall, lanky prospect with a long stick and excellent skill. He does a good job of shielding the puck and going hard to the net. Great hands in tight. Has some flashy moves. Speed is very good, nice edgework. Very creative center with good vision and playmaking ability. 41.7 FO%. Late 2001 birthday could explode offensively next season.

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#10. Logan Morrison (C)

The nephew of former NHL‘er John Cullen, Morrison might be one of the smartest players in the 2020 draft. He has excellent skill and a tremendous work ethic. His vision on the ice is exceptional. He has good speed and is very patient with the puck. Smart decisions in all 3 zones. Morrison has deceptive speed & a sneaky good shot and release. He started his OHL career slowly, then caught fire in the 2nd half where he registered 28 points in the final 31 games. He’ll have to work on faceoffs (40.6%) if he’s going to remain at center, but there is a lot to like Morrison. Smart, heady, well-rounded with some leadership qualities. If he continues to grow physically, he could be a dominant #1C in the OHL. Not flashy at all but very solid.

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Other 2020 Draft Eligibles on the radar

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