They may only be 16-years-old, but for OHL scouts the 1997 class is now in the rear view mirror with the 2013-14 season underway. As we continue to inch closer to that scary millennial age group, a talented group of 1998 birthdays has already begun to make their mark as they navigate their way to the 2014 OHL Priority Selection.
Throughout the season we'll provide snap-shots of some of the top prospects to help familiarize you with some faces you may see in the OHL as early as 2014-15.
After playing a year up with the ’97 Bulldogs last season, Saigeon appears primed and ready to flat out dominate this season. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound centre, has advanced size and a skill-set that should firmly entrench him as a potential top five pick this season. Saigeon has a unique on-ice presence and puts the opposition on their toes whenever he hops over the boards. His puck prowess and vision make him a consistent offensive threat and he is always looking for ways to attack the net.
Like Mascherin, Saigeon also has an excellent release with almost no delay before the puck is off his stick. He is showing signs of becoming better at finding his teammates when he has the opportunity as he is beginning to realize that there are openings elsewhere when the defense gravitates towards him. Having been through the Minor Midget circuit once already, Saigeon’s biggest challenge this year will be staying focused throughout the season and showing why he is considered one of the top players in the draft.
Mascherin comes to the Vaughan Kings by way of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and comes with no shortage of hype and pedigree. Long regarded as one of the purest goal scorers in the age group, Mascherin’s pro calibre (that’s right) release makes him one of the top offensive players available in the draft. The stocky centre checks in around 5-foot-9 but has a wide frame and impressive lower body strength that allows him to power through checks and drive shooting lanes.
With his exceptional release and shot power, Mascherin is a threat anytime he has the puck on his stick and has an advanced one-timer ability for a player at this age. The Vaughan centre currently projects as a sure-fire first round pick and slots comfortably into the top ten right now. That’s not to say there’s no room for improvement, however, as Mascherin will need to focus on improving his overall quickness and competing in all three zones on a more consistent basis if he wants to earn an OHL coach’s trust as a rookie next year.
Candella joins Mascherin on the Vaughan Kings this year also by way of the Jr. Canadiens; a season removed from where they were ultimately ousted in the Bantam GTHL finals in a highly competitive series against the Toronto Marlboros. Candella has optimal size for any level of play and plays a polished all-around game with upside in all three zones.
Willing to engage physically and impose his will on opposing forwards, Candella is also an above-average puck mover and displays adept offensive zone skills. His heavy shot is also an asset and he displays a strong propensity to get himself into ideal shooting positions. One red flag is that Candella is prone to over-committing and taking himself out of the play trying to initiate a big hit; rather than letting the play come to him. It remains to be seen how much potential Candella has moving forward, but right now he has to be considered a top 40 talent who should have a good opportunity to cement himself as a first round pick.
|1. C Sam Reinhart||Kootenay Ice|
|2. D Aaron Ekblad||Barrie Colts|
|3. C Michael Dal Colle||Oshawa Generals|
|4. C Leon Draisaitl||Prince Albert Raiders|
|5. C William Nylander||Rogle|
|6. LW Nick Ritchie||Peterborough Petes|
|7. D Haydn Fleury||Red Deer Rebels|
|8. D Roland McKeown||Kingston Frontenacs|
|9. LW Sam Bennett||Kingston Frontenacs|
|10. C Jared McCann||Soo Greyhounds|