Here is a look at Chatham-Kent’s top 15 men’s hockey prospects.
15. Eric Carter (Dresden Kings, PJHL) – Carter had a good first Junior season, putting up 25 points in 40 regular season games. He’ll likely have Junior B offers next year. Added some size to his frame, Carter is now more effective in the difficult areas on the ice, and was willing to show some physicality against older competition this year. He should be able to replicate similar growth in Junior B next year.
14. Thomas Michaud (Windsor Jr. Spitfires, AAA) – He’s got slick hands, and improved his output this season with another year of development in AAA. While many peers made the jump to Junior C, Michaud benefited from the faster, more skilled game in Midget AAA, and helped his Spitfires to an incredible year.
13. Kyle Dawson (London Nationals, GOJHL) – A deft two-way player, Dawson put up good numbers as a GOJHL rookie. He’s always been skilled, and willing to play any role a coaching staff asked. Former Junior C rookie of the year, Dawson will undoubtedly have an even bigger impact at both ends of the rink next season. His Nationals teammate Trenton McGrail could and should also be on this list, but needed more games with London this season.
12. Brady Pataki (St. Thomas Stars, GOJHL) – Once called a player by his first OHL team, the Sudbury Wolves, who would certainly be an NHL pick, Pataki has struggled to find an opportunity to showcase the skills that saw him skyrocket up the OHL draft ladder a few seasons ago. Ending the year in Junior B with St. Thomas, Pataki can only hope injuries or opportunity re-open a door for him with the OHL’s London Knights, who currently own his rights. Otherwise, he’ll have to earn a spot this offseason with London, or another club.
11. Levi Tetrault (Guelph Storm, OHL) – He’s an intelligent and positional player, but Tetrault has not stolen a top 4 spot in the OHL, and many nights struggled to stay in the lineup, missing time due to injuries, and as a scratch. His offseason will determine his fate. Never flashy, his consistency has always been a calling card, and selling feature.
10. Nolan Gardiner (Ottawa 67s, OHL) – A hardnosed, hardworking player, Gardiner has played a depth, checking line role for the 67s in his first OHL season. He’ll need to fight for his spot with the 67s as young prospects emerge, and is likely destined to use his education package in the OUA, where he can continue to grow his game.
9. Trent Fox (Mississauga Steelheads, OHL) – This hasn’t been a dream season for Fox. Traded again, Fox has found himself down the lineup more often than up. He’ll need a great offseason effort, and a refocusing at the OHL level to rebound from this season. All the tools to be a pro, needs to want it himself.
8. Alec DeKoning (Sarnia Legionnaires, GOJHL) – Small, intelligent, skilled. Similar to Ross Krieger, DeKoning uses a high hockey IQ, and a skill set superior to his bigger peers, to succeed in Junior. He could be a candidate to follow Krieger to the OJHL, especially if he wants an NCAA DI commitment. Sarnia’s success this season was almost always riding on DeKoning’s shoulders.
7. Grant Spence (Windsor Jr. Spitfires, Alliance AAA) – Spence has made the most of his season in Midget ‘AAA’. One of the league’s top goal scorers, and All-Star game MVP, Spence has done what he can at the Midget level. He should have been with the Chatham Maroons this year, but a bad decision by the team’s coaching staff, now the team’s former coaching staff, pushed him to Midget. Spence will have an opportunity to impress the Oshawa Generals in the offseason, but may end up starting next year in Junior B or Junior A.
6. Brendan Harrogate (Mississauga Steelheads, OHL) – He scored at the ‘AAA’ level, scored at the Junior B level, and looked to be finding his touch midseason in the OHL. Playing on a stacked Mississauga team, Harrogate has more than doubled his career totals, but went more than a month without a point to start the new year. Look for another production bump next season. Slower development does not equal no development. Harrogate is taking his own path, and how high he climbs in his career, will be a result of the work he puts in.
5. Evan DeBrouwer (Nanaimo Clippers, BCHL) – Having a solid season in the BCHL, widely considered as Canada’s best Junior A loop, DeBrouwer continues to climb the hockey ranks, and push toward a college commitment. Goaltender development takes a different path, and nothing DeBrouwer has done to this point would suggest he won’t make it to a much higher level.
4. Ross Krieger (North York Rangers, OJHL) – A change of scenery was all Krieger needed. After being traded to the OJHL’s North York Rangers, Krieger hit his stride, and started hitting the scoresheet on a nightly basis. Producing more than a point per game, Krieger has again helped his NCAA hopes. His on ice intelligence is a step above, and he’s produced at every level.
3. James McEwan – (Guelph Storm, OHL) – After missing some games early in the season, McEwan also missed a step, which he’s since regained with the Storm. Attended NHL camps this past summer, and will continue to be watched as a late blooming prospect. Expect him to put up big numbers next season as a 20-year-old in the league.
2. Grayson Ladd – (Chatham-Kent Cyclones, Alliance AAA) – We never put an underage player on this list, but Ladd has earned it. He’s projected to be drafted between picks 15-35 in the upcoming OHL draft, meaning he’s destined to be playing in the OHL next season. Playing on a weak Chatham-Kent Cyclones group, Ladd is the backbone of his team. A fluid skater who makes an intelligent first pass, he is looked at as a top prospect not only in the Alliance, but Nation wide. Also spent time with the GOJHL’s Chatham Maroons.
1. Joseph Raaymakers – (Soo Greyhounds, OHL) – Having a strong season, and backstopping a contender, Raaymakers continues to make some analysts and scouts scratch their heads as to why he wasn’t drafted by an NHL club. That might change this season, but if it doesn’t, the highly athletic goaltender, who is starting to find the consistency that was his main criticism in the past, will still have an abundance of pro and USport options when his OHL career comes to an end in a few years.
Watch List: Noah Labonte, Trenton McGrail, Blake Blondeel, Ian Faubert, Geoffry VandenBoorn, Nolan VandenBoorn, Michael Vanek, Brendan Johnston, Blair Derynck, Blayne Oliver, Brady Campbell.