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Hall early leader among OHL's top Draft prospects

by Adam Kimelman /
While John Tavares dominated the spotlight among Ontario Hockey League prospects for the 2009 Entry Draft, there is ample room for a score of top players heading into the 2010 draft season.

Chief among them is Windsor Spitfires center Taylor Hall, who made the biggest impression in 2009-10 by helping his team win the Memorial Cup.

While Hall's name likely will be first in any discussion of top OHL draft prospects, it certainly won't be the only one mentioned.

Taylor Hall -- After finishing sixth in the regular season with 90 points, Hall's picked up right where he left off this season, with 8 goals and 17 points in his first eight games.

At 6-foot and 186 pounds he doesn't have dominant size, but his skills are among the best in the league.

"He's a brilliant skater, fast skater, a scorer -- he does it all," Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire told

Hall led the OHL in playoff scoring with 16 goals and 36 points as Windsor won the league title, and he had 8 points in six games in leading the Spitfires to the Memorial Cup and winning the tournament's MVP.

"This guy is a high-end prospect, there's no two ways about it," added Central Scouting's Chris Edwards. "Puck skills, skating -- there's really nothing you don't like about the guy.

"I would expect him to be better and better, and have a better season, then he did last year, and after being MVP of the Memorial Cup, that's a pretty tall order. He's such a skilled guy and a dynamic guy you would just hope he's going to continue to get better and keep producing the way he has been.

If the fans want to see a guy that's going to come out and compete hard every night and produce highlight goals, Taylor Hall is a guy to watch."

J.P. Anderson -- The Mississauga St. Michael's Majors goaltender is splitting time with veteran Chris Carrozzi, and in three games is 2-1-0 with a 3.38 goals-against average.

Last season, he led OHL rookie goalies with a 2.94 GAA and replaced Carrozzi in the first period of the playoff opener. His 2.50 GAA was the best of any goaltender in the OHL playoffs, and in the second round he went save-for-save with Brampton goalie Thomas McCollum, a first-round NHL draft pick.

"He's an athletic, strong kid," Central Scouting's Al Jensen told "He is so smart and quick and fluid, it's unbelievable. He's got excellent goalie instincts."

Cam Fowler -- There's been no transition time for the 6-2, 195-pound defenseman, who debuted with Windsor this season after playing for the U.S. Under-18 squad last season.

Fowler leads all OHL defensemen with 12 assists and 13 points through the first eight games.

"He'll be a big, solid defenseman in the league," Edwards said. "His puck handling and poise is very good. I'd expect him to be a top-two guy in Windsor this year on defense. With him, there's not much not to like. He's a physical guy, uses his size well, his mobility and speed -- he's a very good skater."

Fowler had 32 assists and 40 points in 47 games with the U.S. U-18 team last season, and was voted the best defenseman at World Under-18 Championship last season, when he finished with 7 assists, 8 points and a plus-8 rating.

One member of USA Hockey called Fowler the second-best defenseman at an August camp that will go a long way in deciding the roster for the 2010 World Junior Championship.

Alexander Burmistrov -- Barrie Colts coach Marty Williamson admitted it was a gamble taking the Russian forward with the No. 12 pick of the 2009 CHL import draft, but the early results have been outstanding.

Burmistrov had 3 points in his first OHL game and has 11 points through his first seven games.

"His vision is excellent," NHL European Scouting Director Goran Stubb told "He sees the ice very well and his passing skills are outstanding."

"He skates very well, excellent agility, good puck handling in traffic, passes the puck very well forehand and backhand," Edwards said. "You could see he has the skill."

Erik Gudbranson -- Here's just how highly Gudbranson, a 6-3 3/4, 195-pound defenseman with the Kingston Frontenacs, is viewed -- as a 16-year-old rookie, he opened last season as team captain.

"This guy is a high-end prospect, there's no two ways about it.  Puck skills, skating -- there's really nothing you don't like about the guy."
Central Scouting's Chris Edwards on Taylor Hall

"Coming in as a rookie you don't ever expect that, it's never in the book that a rookie gets a 'C,'" he said early last season. "It's a true honor and I'll wear it with pride."

He did just that, finishing with 22 points in 63 games, and followed that with 4 points and a plus-5 rating for Canada at the World Under-18 Championship. He started his season by winning a gold medal at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August. In his first eight games this season, he has 5 assists.

"The one thing I've seen in him that I didn't see last year was his toughness," Edwards said. "He threw some solid hits the other day, big open-ice hits. You really like to see that. ... There's no mistaking his physical presence on the ice. He's tough in front, tough along the boards, finishes checks with authority."

John McFarland -- The Sudbury Wolves center has used a strong performance as captain of Canada's entry at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament to a good start to the OHL season, with 4 goals and 11 points in his first seven games.

"His skating ability is excellent," Edwards said.

The first pick of the 2008 OHL priority draft, McFarland had a solid rookie season with Sudbury in 2008-09, finishing in the top 10 among first-year players with 21 goals and 52 points. He was even better at the Under-18 tournament, finishing second for Canada with 8 points, and leading with a plus-7 rating.

McFarland was second on the team at the Hlinka with 5 goals as Canada won its second straight gold medal at the event.

Bryce O'Hagan -- The 6-2, 190-pound netminder has earned his minutes with a Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds team that won its first seven games. O'Hagan won his first four games and led the OHL with a 1.92 GAA.

After splitting time last season as a rookie with veteran Cody St. Jacques, it was expected he'd do more sitting this season behind Robin Lehner, a 2009 second-round pick of the Ottawa Senators. Instead, O'Hagan has played more games.

Last season, O'Hagan went 10-16-0-1 with a 4.33 GAA, but the Greyhounds finished with the fewest points in the OHL. He did enough to earn a spot as a backup goaltender for Canada at the World Under-18 Championship, but never saw the ice.

"I picture O'Hagan as a Carey Price-type of goalie, a blocking style," Jensen said. "Strong positionally, covers the net well, a don't-beat-yourself type of guy. He's solid."

Tyler Seguin -- Seguin has parlayed a strong summer of hockey into a monstrous start to the OHL season.

After the 6-foot, 180-pound center had team-bests of 7 assists and 10 points to lead Canada to the gold medal at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament, the Plymouth Whalers forward has exploded out of the blocks with OHL-highs of 11 goals and 18 points in his first seven games.

"The one thing I've seen in him that I didn't see last year was his toughness.  He threw some solid hits the other day, big open-ice hits. You really like to see that. ... There's no mistaking his physical presence on the ice. He's tough in front, tough along the boards, finishes checks with authority."
Central Scouting's Chris Edwards on Erik Gudbranson

"That's pretty unbelievable," Edwards said. "I can't think of anybody that's had that kind of production. (John) Tavares, (Eric) Lindros, they may have."

No one's ready to put Seguin in that class of player yet, but there certainly is a track record for success already established. Seguin had 67 points last season, and his 18-game scoring streak was the longest among OHL rookies last season and third-longest among all players. And in the OHL playoffs, he had 5 goals and 16 points in 16 games.

"He's a skilled forward," Edwards said. "He's a guy that's obviously a top-line forward with all kinds of puck skills and playmaking abilities. ... He sees the ice very well, excellent passing through traffic, protects the puck well. Not a physical guy but he wasn't hiding from it. He would get involved but he would win the battles using his reach and pulling pucks out. He's an elusive guy in traffic, avoiding checks with the puck. Not too much bad I can say about him."

Ryan Spooner -- The 5-10 1/2, 174-pound center with the Peterborough Petes was third among OHL rookies with 30 goals last season, and his 58 points were third on the team. He started the 2009-10 season by earning a spot on Canada's team for the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament.

"He's a solid guy, he battles and competes and gets involved," Edwards said. "He's grittier guy than some other guys. ... He plays with good energy, he's up and down. He skates very well and has a good skill set."

Tyler Toffoli -- The 6-foot, 183-pound right wing had 46 points in 54 games for the Ottawa 67's last season, and earned a spot on the OHL All-Rookie second team. Toffoli also played for Canada at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament, playing on the top line with McFarland and Seguin and finishing with 3 goals and 8 points.

He's had a slow start to the OHL season with just 2 points in his first seven games.

"He's a skilled forward, skates well," Edwards said. "With him you'd hope he's going to produce and work hard and be effective. ... He's another guy that we're going to be talking about in our first round come January."

Austin Watson -- Playing on a stacked team in Windsor, Watson only gets third-line minutes, but he's produced 3 goals and 6 points in his first eight games.

The 6-3, 180-pound right wing had 10 goals, 29 points and a plus-15 rating as a rookie last season with Windsor, and really opened eyes at a USA Hockey player development camp in early July. His performance earned him a spot on the U.S. team for the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament.

"He handled the puck very well, he's big and physical," said Edwards. "He's able to get to the puck and make good plays."

Brock Beukeboom -- Brock is the son of four-time Stanley Cup winner Jeff Beukeboom. At 6-feet and 197 pounds, Brock has size similar to his father, but has more of an offensive flair. Shifted from wing to defense as an OHL rookie with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds last season, he had 11 points in 55 games.

"He's a skilled forward.  He's a guy that's obviously a top-line forward with all kinds of puck skills and playmaking abilities. ... He sees the ice very well, excellent passing through traffic, protects the puck well. Not a physical guy but he wasn't hiding from it."
Central Scouting's Chris Edwards on Tyler Seguin

"You wouldn't have known it was his first season as a defenseman," Hockey Canada Head Scout Al Murray said. "He was well-positioned and very calm with the puck and made smart decisions and moved it. He's a big defensive defenseman who has some bite."

This season, he's sixth among OHL blueliners with 8 points in seven games.

"He was steady, both power play and penalty kill, kept his game simple, kept the puck in front, made good outlet passes," said Edwards, who also complimented Beukeboom for his work ethic and competitive level.

Joey Hishon -- The 5-9 1/4, 172-pound center led Owen Sound last season with 37 goals, 44 assists, 81 points and 15 power-play goals, and had 4 goals and 7 points in four playoff games. His hot play continued at the World Under-18 Championship, where he led Canada with 5 goals and 10 points.

"He's a high-energy, hustle bug," Edwards said. "He's got pretty good skill. ... He's one of those guys that is real noticeable when you see him play because of his work ethic and the energy he brings every night."

Stephen Silas -- Silas has 7 points in his first six games for a rebuilding Belleville team. After debuting in the league last season with 17 points in 63 games, he's grown physically (6-foot, 190 pounds) and in skill.

"He's a solid guy," Edwards said. "He got lots of opportunities last year to play in the top four defense and power-play and penalty-kill units and I would expect he's going to be a top-four or top-two guy again this year. He's going to get lots of opportunities to produce. He's got lots of skill, moves the puck well, he's got a good shot, lots of energy. Can play physical when he has to, but I see him more as a puck-moving guy."

Jeff Skinner -- The Kitchener Rangers' right wing certainly knows how to put the puck in the net. He led the team and was fourth among OHL rookies with 27 goals last season, he led Canada at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August with 6 goals in four games. This season, he leads the Rangers and is tied for fourth in the league with 7 goals in four games.

"It looked like he was a good, skilled forward," Edwards said. "He's showed he has good puck skill. Moved the puck well, skated very well, elusive, good wrist shot."

Ivan Telegin -- The import right wing was taken by Saginaw in the CHL Import Draft over the summer and has not looked out of place since leaving Russia. The 6-3, 185-pounder leads all OHL rookies with 5 goals and 7 points.

"He's a big guy, really plays physical," Edwards said. "He's got good hands, his work ethic is very good, he's an up-and-down guy. He showed good pucks skills, he's a good skater. His energy level is very good. He's a guy that you notice when he's on the ice; he's always doing something."

Christian Thomas -- The son of 20-year NHL veteran Steve Thomas, the Oshawa Generals forward has 3 goals and 11 points in his first six games.

Thomas had an eventful rookie season. He had 4 goals and 11 points in 32 games with the London Knights, and then was dealt to the Oshawa Generals in the John Tavares deal. In 27 games with Oshawa, the 5-8 1/2, 162-pound right wing had 4 goals and 14 points.

"He's a hard-working, up-and-down guy, but he didn't have a whole lot of opportunity last year," Edwards said. "He's aggressive, plays a two-way game, gets involved in battles and goes to the net."

Contact Adam Kimelman at

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