OHL Prospects: Preliminary Top 50 for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft At this point, Ryan Suzuki and Arthur Kaliyev seem neck and neck for that top spot from the OHL this year, a fact that surprises no one because it was expected to be that way. Even with both having terrific starts to the year, there's no guarantee that both are top 10 selections...or even lottery picks. This has many prompting (and perhaps rightfully so), that this is the weakest group of OHL players available for an NHL draft in some time. I still think that it's too early to make a remark like that. But it's not looking great. It's also important to note (for those that aren't familiar with my lists), that I don't include 2nd and 3rd year eligible players on the list (like North Bay's Matthew Struthers or Saginaw's Cole Coskey). I do a year end list for those players. I'll post the top 30, with write-ups on the Top 5. Check the link for every write up and the complete top 50. 1. Ryan Suzuki - Forward - Barrie Colts As I said, it's neck and neck between Suzuki and Kaliyev but I'm still giving Ryan a slight edge because he plays the more coveted center position, and I think that his skill set is a little more well rounded. It's obviously tough not to compare Ryan to his brother Nick, and there are definitely some similarities. Terrific playmaking ability, puck possession poise, and the potential to be solid two-way players, for example. But Ryan is definitely the better skater and it gives him an electrifying quality off the rush that I'm not sure Nick truly possesses. Going back to his playmaking ability, for my money, Ryan might just be the best pure playmaker in the OHL and that includes Morgan Frost and his brother Nick. He consistently finds seams that don't appear to be there, and he just seems to be one step ahead of defenders out there. His decision making with the puck is truly terrific. The offensive production has been fantastic so far, but in order to truly break into the top 10, I think Suzuki's play away from the puck needs to be more consistent. Being that guy who is hungry on the forecheck and the backcheck, who can truly take charge in all three zones. 2. Arthur Kaliyev - Forward - Hamilton Bulldogs Right there with Suzuki thanks to his electrifying start to the season. A totally different kind of player though and that, in part, makes it hard to compare them. Kaliyev plays a power game on the wing and is the type that can go through you with his size or puck skill. At 6'2, 185lbs, he's just so hard to stop once he gets a head of steam going and is so good at protecting the puck and putting defenders on his back. Of course, you have to talk about his shot and release which is top notch, part of the reason why he can work the point on the powerplay, or the slot. His skating is not elite, but he's a very intelligent player who seems to find those soft spots easily enough. And because of his puck protection ability, he's able to outwork opposing defenders to get his scoring chances. Additionally, heading into this year, the one area that really needed work was his playmaking ability and recognition in the offensive zone. That has improved leaps and bounds IMO. Saw a great stat the other day from the awesome Mitch Brown who said that Kaliyev has improved his scoring chance assist total exponentially this year. Like Suzuki, Kaliyev will need to continue to work on his play in all three zones to really elevate himself into the top 10. There are definitely times that he appears lazy away from the puck. If the physicality that he occasionally flashes, can become a truly consistent part of his game, it would make him a more attractive option. 3. Blake Murray - Forward - Sudbury Wolves At this point, I'm sticking with Murray for the #3 spot. He's certainly not feeling the love of late from scouting agencies (like a 'C' rating from NHL Central Scouting), and his slow start is likely the reason for that. But I still believe that because of his size and skill down the middle, he needs to still be ranked pretty aggressively. Especially considering he seems to be turning things around lately. I've seen Sudbury twice this year. First game, early in the season, Murray was not great. He seemed to lack drive and tenacity without the puck, and was forcing plays in order to open up lanes to get his shot off. But in the second viewing (recently), he was terrific without the puck; completely engaged and dangerous on the forecheck, using his size and speed to push the pace and was making quicker decisions with the puck. If the peaks and valleys continue and consistency becomes an issue, then Murray will most definitely drop. Until then, I still like Murray's package of size and skill as a prototypical power center who could carve out a very successful pro career. There's just too much to like about his game. 4. Thomas Harley - Defense - Mississauga Steelheads No doubt, this is an aggressive ranking; perhaps even against my better judgment. I wasn't incredibly impressed with him as an OHL rookie and had him ranked 28th coming into the year. So it's rare that you see me bump a guy up this much based on early season play. But Harley's pro potential and production this year can not be ignored. This is especially true in a down year for the OHL, where Harley looks like he could be one of the league's few potential first round picks. No question, he's been one of the most impressive draft eligibles that I've seen this year. Two things really stand out above the others. First is his skating ability given his size at 6'3. Extremely fluid skater who accelerates up ice effortlessly. Glides around and covers so much ice given his size and reach. Second is his ability to quarterback the powerplay. Looks extremely confident working the point, using his mobility to open up shooting/passing lanes. It's rare to see this much poise from a young kid who saw minimal powerplay action last year. Bottom line, Harley has the potential to be a mobile top three, two way defender at the NHL level, and given his late August birthday, we may just be scratching the surface of what he's capable of. 5. Billy Constantinou - Defense - Niagara IceDogs If you read my preseason rankings (see above), you'd know that I'm a huge fan of this mobile offensive blueliner. His potential as a play creator is through the roof because of what he can do with his feet. His decision making with the puck has really taken a big step forward though. Among the highest point producers from the blueline 5 on 5 this year so far because he's evading the forecheck, consistently has his head up, and is looking to push the pace with stretch passes or his legs. He's really picking his spots well too, showing restraint when necessary and as such, has really limited his turnovers in the neutral zone from trying to force rushes. Still want to see more from him running the point on the powerplay. And with his size, his defense, specifically his ability to defend down low, will continue to be scrutinized. But Constantinou possesses really nice potential and is having a great start to the year. 6. Connor McMichael 7. Mike Vukojevic 8. Nick Robertson 9. Nick Porco 10. Matvey Guskov 11. Graeme Clarke 12. Philip Tomasino 13. Tag Bertuzzi 14. Jamieson Rees 15. Nikita Okhotyuk 16. Joe Carroll 17. Cole Mackay 18. Daniil Antropov 19. Hunter Jones 20. Keean Washkurak 21. Mitchell Brewer 22. Vlad Kolyachonok 23. Mack Guzda 24. Kari Piiroinen 25. Cole Schwindt 26. Jack York 27. Ethan Keppen 28. Kyen Sopa 29. Petr Cajka 30. Lucas Peric Again, check the link for the full Top 50 and reports. Happy to answer any questions, provide more clarity on things.