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Brett Slawson The Hockey Writers

Published on Tuesday, March 20, 2018





2018 OHL Draft Ranking: Final Top-20

The Sudbury Wolves may have hit the jackpot.

Sure, the Wolves finished last in the Ontario Hockey League this season, however, Sudbury and other franchises who played to dissapointment throughout the 2017-18 campaign now stand poised to reap the rewards made possible by an incredibly deep and talented class of incoming prospects. With a wealth of insanely talented forwards, defencemen, and goaltenders all available, each OHL team will boast the ability to nab a game-changing prospect in the blink of an eye come Apr. 7.

And, when the 2018 OHL Priority Selection commences, it will undoubtedly be led by Quinton Byfield. As an exceptional athlete who owns eye-watering speed, an overpowering shot, and innate offensive instincts, Byfield’s raw physicality and ability to think the game at a high pace has placed him well above his fellow teammates and rivals.

Sure to follow Byfield is a slew of incredibly promising forwards and defenders, all of which boasting the potential to become elite players at the OHL-level and beyond. Although a handful of which could opt to play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the future, these prospects will remain immensely valuable and attractive to OHL clubs come draft day.

Now, before we dive into this year’s final OHL Priority Selection Ranking, let’s take a closer look at five players sure to draw immeasurable interest in the opening round.

Five Prospects to Watch

We all know that Byfield will be selected first overall, so let’s take a moment to meet five other notable prospects.

Jamie Drysdale – #2

Well regarded for his ability to dictate the pace of play, Jamie Drysdale — the GTHL’s Player of the Year — is a defender of immense potential who will likely be chosen second-overall in the coming draft. As a smooth skater who sees the ice incredibly well, Drysdale’s complete two-way game allows him to stand as a threat at both ends of the ice.

Defensively, Drysdale utilizes a quick and active stick in order to jar pucks loose and is by no means afraid to unleash a physical edge upon his opponents. Once in possession of the puck, Drysdale can fire off excellent breakout passes with ease and has long proven himself as crucial to his team’s transition game. Further, in the offensive zone, Drysdale is a threat from the blue line owing to his ability to distribute the puck as well as fire it on goal through the thickest of traffic.

Although he would do well to add strength to his frame ahead of his OHL debut, Drysdale should have no issue jumping to the next level, as his on-ice intelligence and adaptability stands above most within his draft class.

Ryan O’Rourke – #7

Although he will likely be the third defender chosen in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, Ryan O’Rourke remains as a prospect of immeasurable promise.

Like Drysdale, O’Rourke is a fluid skater who has no issue traversing the ice. Capable of playing a strong 200-foot game, O’Rourke is an intimidating threat at both ends of the ice owing to his maneuverability, raw strength, and ability to create. As a menace within his own zone, O’Rourke is quick to smother opposing forwards — punishing them physically before securing the puck and moving it quickly to his teammates.

Thomas Harley

Thomas Harley led Vaughan into the OHL Cup last season, and O’Rouke helped the Kings achieve exactly such in 2018. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Once in the offensive zone, O’Rouke stands as a pillar on the blue line, where his quick release and heavy shot combine to make him a legitimate threat every time he graces the ice. Further, O’Rourke garners a wealth of ice time on the power play, where his ability to see the ice, move the puck, and pound it on net has long created nightmares for opposing netminders.

Owen Power – #10

If you’re seeking size, strength, and reliability, look no further than Owen Power.

Standing 6-foot-4, Power’s name speaks for itself. Seemingly impossible to knock off of the puck and capable of supporting his team at both ends of the ice, Power plays a smart yet simple game and rarely makes mistakes. In fact, it is in the defensive zone where Power shines the brightest, as his active stick and calculated movements transform him into an unsurpassable presence.

However, Power is far more than a defensive dynamo. Capable of firing breakout passes with ease, Power can also rush the puck surprisingly well, protecting it across the blue line before creating a legitimate scoring chance out of thin air. A ferocious puck-mover who is an excellent passer, Power’s versatility and ability to thrive in all situations should allow for a seamless transition to the OHL-level and a long major-junior career.

Evan Vierling – #11

Creativity and vision stand as the foundation of Evan Vierling’s game, who skated alongside Byfield with York Simcoe.

Despite playing in the shadow of this year’s first overall selection, Vierling established himself as a lethal offensive player and one capable of bulging the twine with remarkable consistency. In fact, Vierling concluded his 2017-18 ETA campaign having scored 27 goals in a mere 33 games played — a mark which stood as the fifth-highest in the league.

David Branch

Commissioner David Branch (right) will welcome Vierling into the OHL early in this year’s first-round. (Terry Wilson/CHL Images)

What makes Vierling such a dominant player you ask?

Well, in addition to his creativity, Vierling is a powerful skater who owns a strong and accurate shot. Aware of his surroundings and the positioning of his opposition, Vierling navigates to quiet areas of the ice before receiving the puck and blasting it on goal. Although he too would benefit from additional strength and weight, Vierling’s stellar skating abilities and adaptive hockey sense will allow for a smooth transition to the OHL-level.

James Hardie – #13

Only two players in the ETA averaged greater than one goal per game this season, and they are none other than Byfield and James Hardie.

Although he projects to be selected outside of the top-10 in this year’s draft, Hardie is a prospect of incredible skill and potential who could, one day, be regarded as the steal of the draft. Boasting an overwhelming shot and innate offensive instincts, Hardie can hammer the puck on net in a split-second and is devastatingly consistent in his placement of the puck. As a natural goal-scorer, Hardie shoots the puck with authority and is more than willing to battle in front of the net for loose pucks.

Creative, consistent, and versatile, Hardie’s ability to play a strong two-way game in addition to his offensive lethality has come to define him as a player. Having scored 41 goals in 34 games this season, Hardie stands as one of this year’s most talented players, as the youngster oozes raw skill and ability. In short, don’t expect Hardie to fall past 13th overall — he is that good.

The Top-20

Well, here they are, the top 20 prospects available in the rapidly approaching 2018 OHL Priority Selection.

Now, it goes without saying that this ranking is based strictly upon my personal opinion, so debate and discourse are not only welcomed but encouraged. If you would like to discuss any particular player or a specific segment of this ranking, feel free to do so in the comments below.


Player Position 2017-18 Team (Minor Midget)
1 Quinton Byfield C

York Simcoe Express


Jamie Drysdale D Toronto Marlboros


Cole Perfetti* C/RW

Vaughan Kings

4 Antonio Stranges* C

Detroit Little Caesars U16


Lleyton Moore D Toronto Marlboros
6 Dylan Peterson* C

CIH Academy White


Ryan O’Rourke

D Vaughan Kings
8 Cameron Tolnai C

Oakville Rangers


Will Cuylle LW Toronto Marlboros
10 Owen Power D

Mississauga Reps


Evan Vierling C York Simcoe Express
12 Stephen Halliday W

Toronto Marlboros


James Hardie LW Barrie Jr. Colts
14 Ty Collins W

York Simcoe Express


Reid Valade C Toronto Marlboros


Logan Morrison RW Guelph Jr. Gryphons


Cameron Butler RW York Simcoe Express
18 Zack Terry D

Oakville Rangers


Cam Peters C Toronto Marlboros
20 Ty Tullio C/LW

Vaughan Kings

* Indicates player committed to NCAA

** Daniil Chayka and Andrei Bakanov have yet to secure eligibility.


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