The Dean’s List has returned after (too long) of a hiatus and it’s proud to feature a few promising prospects for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. To kick off the season, TDL features five forwards that should garner first round consideration and all of them compete in the ultra-competitive Ontario Hockey League.
Sean Monahan (C, Ottawa 67’s)
Profiled here at DobberHockey in The Dean’s List (TDL) series almost exactly one year ago, Sean Monahan begins his draft year as TDL’s top ranked OHL prospect. For NHL teams looking for a complete player capable of becoming the face of the franchise, they do not have to look much further than Ottawa 67’s centerman Sean Monahan. Selected 16th overall in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Monahan has just been doing his thing since joining the major junior circuit and that “thing” is playing a consistent skilled game.
After ripping off an easy 46 goals and 90 points in 47 games playing for the Mississauga Rebels AAA Minor Midget squad, the 6-foot-3 pivot came into the OHL as a freshman and posted an impressive 20 goals and 47 points and often showed his ability to score timely goals. Monahan will be highly coveted come June when the annual draft takes place in New Jersey, as scouts absolutely love his all-around game and high compete level. The Brampton native owns great wheels, envious size, a tremendous hockey IQ and the raw offensive skills to project as a productive top-six centerman.
Monahan truly will be a luxury item for whichever team selects him as NHL teams adore these types of big skilled responsible pivots to build their team around. Monahan has shown well early in his draft year notching three goals and seven points through his opening four games. It’s a big year for Monahan after posting career highs in goals (33) and points (78) last season as he looks to prove to scouts that he can carry the bulk of Ottawa’s offensive load after the team lost snipers Tyler Toffoli and Shane Prince. Look for Sean Monahan to make an appearance on Canada’s World Junior squad in Ufa, Russia come the holiday season.
Early Pro Projection: Top Line Centreman
Kerby Rychel (LW, Windsor Spitfires)
The son of former NHLer Warren Rychel, Kerby enters his draft year with some lofty expectations after filling up the stat sheet with 33 goals and 74 points in his sophomore season. Drafted 21st overall by Barrie in the 2010 OHL draft, Rychel debuted in the OHL with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors registering 8 points in 30 games before being dealt to his fathers’ team in Windsor. Rychel would find his place playing in Windsor as his play improved and opportunities continued to increase.
Blessed with good size, Kerby Rychel (6’1”, 201 lbs) adopts a playing style that looks as though he could develop into a power forward. But don’t be fooled, he does not fit that typical mold. Rychel has a soft touch around the net with a knack for scoring goals but he lacks the initiative to engage physically that is often an attribute of a typical power forward. Make no mistake, Rychel does not shy away from contact and he will battle for pucks in the corners but he prefers to employ a skilled game rather than a hard-nosed one.
From my viewings of Rychel he actually performs better when he does choose to engage himself physically as he becomes more involved and does not disappear, as he has a tendency to do at times. Rychel is an opportunistic winger who thrives on smart positioning and a complte shooting arsenal (snap, wrist, slap and backhand shots) that keeps opposing goaltenders on their toes.
Early on, Rychel has struggled to start his draft season as he has recorded only one goal and two points in a half-dozen games. He’s without his wingman Alexander Khokhlachev (Bruins) this season and many scouts are watching closely to see whether this big winger can thrive without his Koko’s presence.
Early Pro Projection: Top six winger
Max Domi (C, London Knights)
The second offspring on this list of a former gritty NHLer, Max Domi is in a much different mold than his agitating father, Tie Domi, was in his playing days. If you are a fan of skilled players then Max Domi is one player to follow. As a Don Mills Flyers Minor Midget star, Max Domi caught the attention of scouts with his effortless skating style and knack for offensive creativity. Domi possesses great edge work and is a stable agile skater which helps the diminutive forward to elude the opposition.
Like his father, Max plays the game with the feistiness scouts like to see in smaller forwards as he does not shy away from the physical areas of the ice. As an OHL rookie, Max Domi netted 21 goals and 48 points on a deep London Knights team, which traded for the Toronto-native after Kingston drafted him 8th overall in 2011. Scouts will be watching Max Domi closely as his draft season progresses to see if the creative forward can add a much-needed element to his game – the ability to utilize his line-mates more shaking the selfish individualist approach Max sometimes plays. Domi’s biggest knock is his habit of trying to do everything himself and as a result he is subject to an increased turnover rate.
The flash and dash is prominent in Domi’s game and those offensive skills are sought after but if the young Knight can add some maturity and versatility to his game he could challenge for a top 10 selection.
Early Pro Projection: Top six forward (will be more effective as a winger)
Bowie Horvat (C/W, London Knights)
Beyond Sean Monahan, Bo Horvat is likely The Dean’s Lists’ favourite OHL forward entering the 2013 NHL Draft. Why, you ask? The answer is simple. Bo Horvat entered the OHL last season as a rookie that earned the trust of the Hunter brothers in London as they leaned heavily on Horvat to shut down the team’s top offensive player.
On top of his astute defensive game, Bo Horvat has become a model leader at whatever level he’s competed at – Minor Midget, the OHL, or Team Canada, where he’s wore a letter of respect on numerous occasions. Early in his sophomore season, Bo Horvat continues to log tough defensive minutes and as a result, his offensive skills continue to be buried due to London’s tremendous depth. Horvat is a sturdy forward capable of playing up the middle or on the wing and his attention to detail has really caught scouts’ attention. The Dean’s List dubbed Horvat Team Ontario’s most outstanding player last winter when he competed at the World Under-17 Championships in Windsor, Canada.
At the tournament, Horvat not only showed his responsibility in the defensive end winning almost every faceoff but the Rodney, Ontario native also showed his underrated offensive skill set that has TDL excited about his potential. Bo Horvat may not receive the offensive minutes this season to project himself into the top 20 of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft but I have seen enough of him to conclude that he owns the offensive skills (great skater, heavy shot with a quick release and soft patient hands) worthy of such a selection. Horvat is a first round talent and he will show that sooner or later…if it’s later, then he will be a steal. Book it.
Early Pro Projection: Top six pivot, high NHL likelihood
Ryan Kujawinski (C, Kingston Frontenacs)
It was at the 2011 OHL Priority Selection Draft that the Sarnia Sting drafted Ryan Kujawinski with the 4th overall pick, adding a high potential centerman to a team featuring several popular names including Nail Yakupov (Oilers), Alex Galchenyuk (Canadiens), and Reid Boucher (Devils). The franchise decided early last season that it would be attempting to make a run at the OHL Championship and continued to add veteran depth at all positions throughout the opening months. As a result, Kujawinski, 16 at the time, saw limited minutes and failed to gain any sort of confidence as a member of the Sarnia Sting.
Fortunately for the Iroqouis Falls player, Kujawinski was named to Team Ontario’s Under-17 team and really boosted his game with increased opportunity scoring three points in five tournament games. As a member of Team Ontario, Kujawinski was showing a willingness to engage his big body physically, carrying the puck with poise and taking shots that he’d otherwise be used to passing off in Sarnia. Kujawinski was a totally different player and was beginning to tap some of his high potential. Before he could return to Sarnia after the tournament, the team had traded the young forward to the Kingston Frontenacs for veteran OHLer Ryan Spooner (Bruins). It was a trade that worked out perfectly for the Frontenacs and a trade I would be willing to bet that Sarnia would like to have rescinded. Upon arriving in Kingston, Kujawinski immediately posted two points in his debut and started a five-game point streak where he recorded seven points. To put those numbers into perspective, Kujawinski had only one goal and six points in 29 games with the Sarnia Sting. The big two-way pivot would go on to tally point-per-game numbers with 30 points in as many games.
Kujawinski is a smart player with good skating skills and has a tremendously accurate shot. He is a player that plays smart taking few risks offensively and capitalizing on his offensive chances quickly. There are times when Kujawinski disappears as he can suffer from short bouts of inconsistency but his overall game has “pro caliber” written all over it. At this point in time, Kujawinski has to be considered a late first round or early second round selection in a draft class loaded with game-breaking talent.
Note: Ryan Kujawinski earned OHL Player of the Week honours in week two after posting 2 goals and 5 points in two games.
Early Pro Projection: Top six pivot
Be sure to continue to follow The Dean’s List series as it continues to feature the top-end talent available for the upcoming 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Follow @RossyYoungblood on twitter for more prospect information and visit Dobber Prospects for exclusive prospect profiles.