Every year, I always put together a preliminary list of the top OHL draft prospects.
There isn’t a ton of public information about these top prospects, all though great resources continue to pop up every year that make it a more open conversation. And I love it. The U-16 age group is a blast to watch because everyone has something to prove. Everyone wants the best opportunities, whether it’s to make the jump to major junior or to earn NCAA scholarships.
It’s still early, and a lost season doesn’t help. But from what we’ve seen out of the 2022 OHL draft group, it’s hard to believe the Mississauga Senators won’t lay a beating on the rest of the competition. Since minor atom, the team has a 305-33-20 record, and in 2019-20, they finished with an unbelievable 56-1-1 run with a goals-against-average of 1.08 and a goals-for rate of 5.6 goals a game.
I haven’t gotten a chance to see a ton of players from this age group, but I’ve seen much of the top of the class. And that’s why we’re going to break down some of the best options for the 2022 OHL draft:
Gabriel Frasca, F (Mississauga Senators)
From the people I’ve chatted with, it’s either Hage or Frasca who looks like the top prospect right now, with Frasca getting the better nod right now. A scoring whiz with the dominant Senators team, Frasca is as complete as it gets as a center with very few concerns about his game. He’s got quick hands, a great top speed and hustles back to become engaged in his own zone. From my viewings, he doesn’t lose a ton of 1-on-1s and while he isn’t a big kid, he’s got enough strength to muscle his way past defenders with the puck.
Michael Hage, F (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)
Hage has the best speed in the draft by quite a bit. His puck-handling matches his pace well and from looking at video, he’s got the creative genes embedded in his play. Even when he runs out of space, he often finds a way to get out of the mess. Defensive play is something forwards his age struggle with nailing down but he’s often the first guy back on a play. Once he grows a bit, he’ll be a more complete player, but it doesn’t really matter if he can throw a hit or not. His skill is what’s going to make him the big bucks in the NHL one day.
Malcolm Spence, F (Mississauga Senators)
The biggest piece from the dominant Senators team so far, Spence isn’t too far off of Hage at this point. It’s still early in his development, but there aren’t a ton of glaring weaknesses in his game. His shot already looks good enough for the OHL and his top speed and overall skating with the puck is ahead of the curve. Spence doesn’t lose many puck battles and can even throw a big hit or two, although it’s his hands that’ll make you take notice.
Kieron Walton, F (North York Rangers)
Walton is no stranger to big performances. Always a top offensive threat in tournament play, Walton is equally good as a shooter and a playmaker and has good speed to work with. Walton is a skilled, big kid that plays a strong power forward with an aggressive forecheck. He has some similarities to Quinton Byfield at this point in his development.
Zane Parekh, D (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)
For a defenseman, Parekh has skill to kill. Parekh played with the U-15 JRC team that featured many top players from the 2021 OHL draft and he deserved to be there with the talent he has. He’s creative, smart at dishing the puck out and gets back quickly after rushing pucks in. Parekh was temporarily property of the Owen Sound Attack at the draft last weekend before it was realized that he wasn’t supposed to be selected due to his age, but it made for a funny moment. Still, there’s a lot to like about his game right now.
Justin Huynh, D (Mississauga Senators)
Another key contributor from the Senators, Huynh has offense on his mind more often than not. With a release you’d expect from any top defensive prospect, Huynh already has a shot well above most in his age group and he’s a good skater, too. Huynh shows some similarities to Jamie Drysdale in his ability to run a power play, so that’s a good sign.
Nathan Villeneuve, F (Ottawa)
From watching footage, Villeneuve looks like a player that can command a shift and completely dominate if needed, especially late in a game. His shot looks ready for the OHL right now and doesn’t seem to slow down against other team’s top defensive pairs. Villeneuve has that game-breaker ability deep within him, and it’s exciting to see what he can do this year.
Bode Stewart, F (Mississauga Senators)
The Senators don’t lack talent and Stewart is one of the heavy hitters. A dynamic goal-scorer that seems to show up in the scoring column almost every time he hits the ice, he has varied offensive tools in his arsenal to make him a challenge to defend against.
Henry Mews, F/D (Toronto Jr. Canadiens)
Mews played in the Ottawa area growing up, but as Ryan MacArthur reported earlier this month, he’s expected to join JRC – and that’s a huge boost to an already strong program. When it comes to offense, think Erik Karlsson during his strong years in Ottawa. In fact, Mews actually has spent a ton of time playing forward, allowing him to rush in from the point without putting his team at a disadvantage when he does transition back to the point.
Jack Good, F (Markham Waxers)
It’s great that his name is fitting to his performance because, truly, Good is among the best in his age group. Good is a smaller forward, but his speed and skill allow him to take things over. Good finds his teammates while playing at a high rate of speed and can take a pass while moving swiftly without much hesitation. From a skill perspective, Good is one of the better options available.
Kevin He, F (Toronto Titans)
He is one of the fastest pure skaters in the draft and he uses that to create scoring chances for a good Toronto Titans squad. Add in the fact that he can send wrist shots while still moving his feat at a high rate is something that makes him stand out from the crowd. He can get physical and often spends time being an integral piece of special teams units, so He is a well-rounded option at this point.
Dean Letourneau, F (Ottawa Valley Titans)
A stout playmaker, you could always count on Letourneau recording over a point per game in league play. He sees the ice really well for his age and is anything but a puck hog, which is good for a teenager. Letourneau has good top speed and, as a general basis, his game is rather rounded. Now let’s see what he can do in his draft year.
Lucas Karmiris, F (Brantford 99ers)
Karmiris was making headlines as a 12-year-old for his ability to score highlight-reel goals and nothing has really changed. He’s so tough to read as a defenseman and wastes little time getting shots off wherever he sees fit. Karmiris will have a lot of eyes on him this season, and for good reason.
Roarke Gilmour, D (Upper Canada Cyclones)
The top defenseman out of the HEO, Gilmour is an exceptionally strong player and while he’s undersized, he can be really tough to slow down. Gilmour eats ice time for breakfast and even late in games, he has the agility to stay relevant in the play. He’s one of the better two-way defensemen in the draft as of now.
Rowan Topp, D (Toronto Titans)
Topp’s biggest asset is his brain. He doesn’t have many weaknesses in his game, but Topp especially knows how to move the puck out of danger and doesn’t surrender many high-danger scoring chances against. Topp can hit a high top speed and he’s strong when skating back on a reverse attack.