Prospect Ramblings: Looking at the OHL’s top 2022 undrafted players

Curtis Rines

2022-11-12

The 2022 NHL Draft was an interesting one in regard to the OHL. Due to the pandemic, the OHL skipped the entire 2020-21 season, which meant the players that would be eligible for the 2022 Entry Draft missed their entire rookie season. Losing a whole year of development is impactful, any way you put it, but it is even worse when you are in one of the only junior leagues in the world not to play a single game.

This meant scouts had less watch time on these OHLers than anyone else they were watching for the draft. Due to this, some pretty talented players went undrafted when they were not expected to. 

Fast forward nearly 20 games into the 2022-23 season, and there are multiple undrafted OHLers off to hot starts, so let’s take a look at a few of them that you should keep your eye on the rest of the year.

Zakary Lavoie, RW (Mississauga Steelheads)

Lavoie is a goal-scoring winger who works well in the offensive zone and has the instinct to create space for himself. He possesses a solid shot that has been on display to start the year. Lavoie kicked off his season with a hat trick and an overtime winner against the Niagara IceDogs in the Steelheads’ season opener. 

With eight goals and six assists through 15 games, he is currently on pace for 63 points in 68 games, a jump from 44 points in 64 games last season. His production does not jump off the page for a DY+1 player at this point, but his skill set gives a lot to like for a player you could get late in the draft or potentially sign as a free agent. 

His defensive game needs improvement, but his offensive talent, his effort levels which continue to be on display game in and game out, and his skating gives you a player that could grow into a bottom-six player at the NHL level. 

Keep an eye on Lavoie and his goal-scoring production as the season progresses. If he can creep up to a 40-goal pace (currently at 36), more eyes will likely start to watch him. He needs to grow more consistency in his game than the streakiness we have seen early in the year.

Ryan Abraham, C (Windsor Spitfires)

Abraham currently leads the pack of DY+1 players with 21 points in 16 games, a 90-point pace over an entire OHL season. 

Abraham was one of the players that you could see was heavily affected by the pause in play caused by the pandemic. By his standards, he had a very slow start to the 2021-22 season, as he was scoring at a lowly 0.5 points per game pace for the first half of the year. As the season progressed, he started to play closer to a point per game and really started to come into his own.

Abraham is an intelligent offensive player. He has underrated puck skills, which allows him to fool defenders instead of trying to speed by them. This has made him a powerful transitional player. He isn’t afraid to carry the puck through the neutral zone and be the primary puck carrier into the offensive zone. Abraham is not the faster skater around, which can hold him back, but he is not a bad skater by any means. 

 

Abraham possesses above-average playmaking skills, and his improvement in the goal-scoring department this year makes him an intriguing player to watch the rest of the way. At this point, he is stapled to the 1C spot for the Windsor Spitfires, which will give him plenty of opportunities to show scouts they were wrong to pass on him the first time around.

Pano Fimis, C (Niagara IceDogs)

The last player I want to highlight is one of my personal favorites from the 2022 NHL Draft. Fimis is a solid two-way pivot man with sneaky good puck skills and above-average skating skills. His 44 points in 54 games last year may not seem unreal for a draft-eligible player, but he did that as the first-line center on a terrible Niagara team.

Playing against top-line competition most nights, he did not look out of place. He has the ability to steal the puck off the opponents with ease, which made up for his lack of positional awareness at times. The one gripe I had with Fimis last year was that he seemed so determined in the defensive zone but would consistently lack that same effort on offense. So far, he has improved in that area of his game.

On a slightly better but still bad IceDogs team, Fimis has started his season with 14 points in 14 games. He looks more engaged offensively while still doing what he does best in his own end. Is he ever going to be a top-six NHL player? No. But he has a toolset that, for some reason, I really enjoy and could see translating into a complimentary depth piece at the NHL level with the proper development. 

NHL teams already have an eye on him, considering he was invited to Toronto’s development camp, so he is a top candidate as a re-entry eligible player in the upcoming draft or, at worst, an undrafted free agent. 

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter @curtis_rines for Nashville Predators prospect content and more!

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