Prospect Ramblings: Scouting Notes on OHL Prospects

Peter Harling

2019-11-19

Last week I had the chance to take a hockey road trip across Western Ontario to take in some games. The showcase games of course were the Canada Russia Series games during the OHL leg of the tournament. Between games I managed to to take advantage of geographical proximity of the GTA to watch several OHL league games and here are the players that stood out to me in each game.

Russia vs. OHL

Game three of the series was held in Kitchener, a great rink and atmosphere. Sitting with local Kitchener media they let me know that this was a regular occurrence as each game is a sell out, something I am not used to living in Kingston. But on to the players…

For Team OHL Guelph Storm goalie Nico Daws played a good game and was recently the OHL player of the week. Daws was passed over in the NHL Draft as he has been the backup in Guelph until this season as he has inherited the crease for the Storm. Daws is a hopeful for a shot to make the Canadian World Junior Team, but at 18-years-old he will have a much better shot next year if he can continue to trend in the direction he is going. Daws is a goalie you may want to keep an eye on if he is a over age draftee at the Montreal 2020 NHL Draft.

Speaking of the Draft, first time eligible prospects Jamie Drysdale, Quinton Byfield, and Cole Perfetti all looked like they belonged on this team and made good bids for WJC consideration. The only one that has a really solid shot IMO is Byfield. He was running the first OHL power play they had and really looked comfortable reading and controlling the play. His size is easy to see and while he could be a little meaner he does use it well to  gain possession and protect the puck with his big reach. Despite having such a long stick, his puck control skills are also evident. He takes bad passes, has smooth toe drags and manages the puck in close, with one hand, I could go on. What was most impressive to me is his skating. Often you hear things like “skates well for a big man” which I never like. You skate well or not. Byfield skates very well. He has excellent balance, power in his stride, graceful in pivots and cross overs and has both good first step pop and top speed. 

Ryan Merkley (SNJ) has been shroud in controversy during his career, he started the season being traded out of Peterborough and is now on his third OHL team in London. Merkley was a first overall OHL pick of Guelph as he has exceptional offensive skill and is a sublime skater. With the puck on his stick, he is one of the more exciting players in the OHL. His offensive vision is NHL level, his ability to move the puck up the ice and drive offense is evident and elite. When asked who on this team stood out to the media after the game, Quinton Byfield said “Ryan Merkley, mad a couple of rushes and its just incredible what he can do with the puck.” Based on skill alone, Merkley would be a lock to make the Canada WJC roster, but I will be ve