The Journey: Top Fantasy Prospects In the OHL
Welcome back, prospect enthusiasts. A few weeks back I brought you the top players emerging out of the QMJHL, which has six representing first-round North American rankings. For the next three weeks, I will be continuing that trend to bring you the top from the OHL, WHL, USA and finishing up with European skaters.
In case you missed it, Dobber writer Cam Robinson dropped his April draft rankings which had some interesting placements, so make sure you check it out. Regardless of whose rankings you follow, there is one thing that is for certain. The first round is jam-packed with high-end talent and should highlight a very promising fantasy crop.
Today I will be focusing on the OHL, a league that occupies a whopping 10 of the top 31 prospects in the final NA Central Scouting Rankings. The "O" has always been a thriving league for development and this year could go down as one of the brightest in the years.
I won't lie, there are some very good prospects coming out of the CHL this year, so I will likely drop a part two of this series before the draft. Therefore, if I do not cover someone you were hoping for, please let me know, or wait for the second installment for a deeper dive.
Position – Center
Fantasy Upside – 10
NHL Certainty – 9.5
The projected No.2 of the 2020 entry-draft has been head-to-head with Alexis Lafreniere since rankings for this year have come out. While many have Lafreniere as a clear cut number one, there are just as many who have Byfield going tops this season. Draft spot aside, there is no doubt in anyone mind that the Ontario native will be a prominent player in the NHL, perhaps as early as next season.
At 6'4', 224 pounds, he has the size and reach to instantly step into the show while his 164 points in 109 OHL games speaks for his offensive capabilities as well. For such a large specimen, he shows off fantastic hands with a high-level shot to boot. Even with an impressive reach, he is able to protect the puck in tight spots and deliver spot-on passes. He is a high-level talent and when compared to existing NHL players, there have been rumblings of Evgeni Malkin-like tendencies.
It will all depend on who does the honor of selecting him. However, at this point, it seems like a waste for him to head back to the OHL as he is clearly outgrown this weight class. Make sure to be drafting him with your first pick, and you may even get to enjoy him instantly.
Position – Right Defence
Fantasy Upside – 9.0
NHL Certainty – 8.5
Drysdale is the consensus rearguard in this year's draft. At 5-10, the Toronto native relies heavily on his strong skating and high-level offensive talents. In his second year with the Barrie Colts, the 18-year-old has tallied 47 points (9G+ 38A) in 49 games.
The right-handed Drysdale is the epidemy of the "new age" defenceman. He is somewhat smaller in stature, but makes up for it with excellent skating and even smoother hands. Power-play points are definitely on the menu, as he carries all the attributes to run his own special teams unit and has done so his entire career. He is able to make crisp tape-to-tape outlet passes and tends to make smart plays with the puck. His point production is a sure bet to be at the top of this draft class, giving him a very high ceiling. Of course, there has been knocks on his defensive play and he very rarely throws his weight around, therefore, peripherals are not prominent here.
If you are in need of a solid young blueliner, Drysdale is your unanimous go-to. Depending on who drafts him this June (assuming the draft runs as planned), he could take a year to develop before transitioning to the pros, but will definitely be worth the wait.
Position – Left Wing
Fantasy Upside – 9.0
NHL Certainty – 8.5
With a nickname like "Goal Perfetti", I am sure you can imagine what his bread and butter is. Yet, oddly enough, it's his playmaking ability that has been showcased this season. The 18-year-old is coming off a stellar season in the OHL with an impressive 74 assists and 111 points. He has definitely emerged as one of the most coveted players emerging out of the league.
Goal scoring comes reasonably easy to Perfetti, who has potted 30-plus goals in each season since entering the O. He carries an NHL ready shot and knows how to utilize it well. It's important not to sleep on his playmaking ability, as it may be just as solid as his scoring, which is evident in his totals. I would not count a 80-point ceiling here, given the right deployment.
Now for the bad news. Perfetti holds some very bad habits that he will have to work on should he make the jump to the next level anytime soon. His decision making is far from stellar, and he has tendencies to be lazy in the defensive zone. The talent is obvious here, however, the reward will come with its risks so be ready to sit patient.
Position – Center
Fantasy Upside – 9.0
NHL Certainty – 9.0
Rossi is shooting up the rankings and taking names along the way. The Austrian forward is an offensive threat who would not be a surprise to be a top-5 pick in June, despite being ranked outside. With 120 points in 56 games, the 19-year-old has led not only the entire OHL, but the entire CHL, topping projected first overall Alexis Lafreniere by eight points.
At just 5-9, 183 pounds, Rossi must rely on his other attributes to generate his game, and boy does he ever. With excellent skating, he is able to find his way past defender, leaving them flat-footed and lost. Once he gets in tight, it is likely already in the back of the net with his sneaky snapshot. However, his shooting is considered the secondary weapon in his bag. With his extraordinary vision, he is able to find teammates with excellent precision, even thru the smallest of gaps. With 81 helpers on the year, it's safe to say that his playmaking is as close to godlike as you can find.
With so many intangibles, Rossi is a must-own and provides you with a heavy fantasy upside. Fantasy owners, be ready to pick him quickly as he shows no signs of disappointing.
Position – Right Wing
Fantasy Upside – 7.0
NHL Certainty – 6.5
If you are looking for a goal scorer, look no further. With 52 goals on the year with the OHL powerhouse Ottawa 67's, Jack Quinn is considered one of the purest goal scorers coming out of the league. There have been arguments that his success this season has been a product of playing on a top-heavy team, considering his goal totals jumped from 12 to 52 over a summer. However, the Ottawa native has still managed to impress scouts and should easily be taken in the top 20.
His shot is elite and has the ability to beat goalies from afar. Yes, the 67's ice some very skilled players, which would definitely attest so some increase in offensive numbers. However, even on a struggling team, it's likely that a goal-scorer such as Quinn would still light the lamp for 35-40. He is that skilled. His work on the other side of the ice could use some polishing. While he does kill penalties and does so with success, it is his work at even-strength that he will need to improve as he has tendencies to float in his own zone.
He may take a few seasons to work on his defensive game, but snipers like him do not come around every day. Once he finds his game at the pro-level, he is sure to provide some nice fantasy value, especially those in points-only leagues.
Thanks for tuning in. As mentioned, these were the top-tiered players who will provide instant fantasy notoriety. Stay tuned for a deeper dive on some later potentials in the future.
Stay well and as always, don't forget to catch me on Twitter @hall1289.
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