Chatham-Kent Men’s Hockey Prospects
There are a variety of prospects waiting to claim their spot on this list including Cole MacKinnon, Aidan Lachine, and Nolan DeKoning, and a next wave of 2002 players who will be drafted this season. For now however, here are our Top 20 CK Prospects.
20. Evan Wells – (Windsor Jr. Spitfires, AAA) – 2001 – Showing that Junior C isn’t always the best route for development, Wells takes this spot over his former teammates who made the step to Junior, but haven’t had the chance to shine this season. Wells is a top performer on one of the Alliance’s top teams. He was an all-star, and will be a highly sought after prospect next season. A possible OHL U18 draft candidate.
19. Alec DeKoning – (Sarnia Legionnaires, GOJHL) – 1998 – Wallaceburg – He’s missed some time this season, but when in the lineup, DeKoning is dangerous. Watch for his brother, Nolan, to make this list at some point showing he’s a solid netminder at the Major Midget ‘AAA’ level, and a possible candidate for the OHL U18 Draft. The Legionnaires are a more dangerous team with his speed and creativity in the lineup.
18. Lucas Fancy – (Blenheim Blades, PJHL) – 2001 – Chatham – Despite the Blenheim Blades’ off ice struggles, which have continued for several seasons, Fancy has continued to produce through team slumps, and proven his size is not a barrier at the Junior level. He’s a creative forward, who sees the ice well, like a Ross Krieger ahead of him. The jump to Junior B can’t come quick enough out of Blenheim for Fancy.
17. Thomas Michaud – (Chatham Maroons, GOJHL) – 2000 – Charing Cross – He’s underperformed, but he’s not invisible. Michaud sees the ice well. He thinks the game well, but he needs to get into those areas of the ice that aren’t fun to play in. The skill and hockey sense are there for him to become an elite Junior B player, and someday a CIS player.
16. Bailey Smith – (Wallaceburg Lakers, PJHL) – 2001 – Chatham – When you put aside team success, or lack thereof, Smith has quietly had a good season on a bad team. He’s started to take more risks in the second half, and they’ve paid off, showing he has a higher upside than previously predicted. He still has fine tuning ahead, as many young defenseman do, but his mental toughness through this season will prepare him for a role at the next level.
15. Bryar Dittmer – (Lambton Jr. Sting, AAA) – 2001 – Chatham – He was an Alliance All-Star, and has continued to show his varied skill set this season. A smaller defenseman, he moves well on the ice. Sometimes, Dittmer could benefit from simplifying his game, but he projects as a top end Junior B defender, and college prospect. The time he has spent developing his skill set shows.
14. Eric Carter – (Chatham Maroons, GOJHL) – 2000 – Ridgetown – Carter has had a good rookie season at the Junior B level. He’s showing he’s more willing to enter the corners, and muck it up in the slot than he was in Junior C. The best is yet to come for Carter at the Junior B level. He possesses a high level shot, and will add to his offense next season.
13. Dylan Schives – (Chatham, Maroons, GOJHL) – 2001 – Tilbury – He has been completely reliable for the Junior B Chatham Maroons. A surprise to make the team, Schives hasn’t looked out of place. He’ll block shots, he’ll jump into the play, and yes, he makes a few mistakes, but as an underage defenseman, he’s doing more than enough to prove his worth among older competition.
12. Cameron Welch (Windsor Jr. Spitfires, AAA) – He has looked very good at the Major Midget ‘AAA’ level in Windsor. One of the Alliance’s top scorers, Welch plays an intelligent and controlled game, which helps him slide into scoring positions, and be where the puck is going. While with the Chatham Maroons as an affiliate, he’s looked like a legitimate Junior B calibre player. He is a prime candidate for the OHL’s U18 Draft.
11. Lucas Vanroboys – (Nanaimo Clippers, BCHL) – 1999 – Thamesville – After a bump down from the BCHL, he’s been up with Nanaimo of late, but still isn’t producing big numbers. He plays a skilled, thoughtful game, and has a few years of eligibility remaining. Watch for a production increase in the near future.
10. Nolan Gardiner – (Baie-Comeau Drakker, QMJHL) – 1998 – Tilbury – Another second chance story in the QMJHL like Pataki. Gardiner is a hard worker, on and off the ice. That has never been a debated fact. He earns everything he gets, but has he got everything he deserves to this point? We love reclamation projects, and hope Gardiner proves his worth in a new league.
9. Grant Spence – (Chatham Maroons, GOJHL) – 2000 – Chatham – He’s proved he was a Junior B player before he arrived in the league. Among the Maroons’ leaders, Spence is a nightly threat. When he’s taking the puck to the net, he’s at his best. His next step is a question mark. He could be an OHL player, but the NCAA might be a good fit for this budding power forward.
8. Evan DeBrouwer – (Prince George Spruce Kings, BCHL) – 1997 – Blenheim – It’s so difficult to categorize DeBrouwer. He’s among BCHL league leaders. Most players who have that sentence on their resume, are NCAA DI committed. DeBrouwer might not get that chance, unless a team sees this late bloomer for what he is. Otherwise, he’ll be a CIS hot commodity, and still have a pro future ahead.
7. Ross Krieger – (North York Rangers, OJHL) – 1998 – Pain Court – Having a strong season, again, in the OJHL. The only player outscoring him in North York is an NHL draft pick. He’s clever on the ice. Thinks the game well, and has an IQ that lends well to all levels of play. He could play NCAA Division I hockey, without a question. We hope he gets the opportunity to prove that.
6. Brady Pataki – (Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL) – 1998 – Wallaceburg – He’s having his best Major Junior season to date. Period. That says something, and shows that the hype Pataki had heading into the OHL wasn’t just talk. A big, professional frame, Pataki is a presence on the ice. His time in Sudbury didn’t aid his development, but he’s shown signs of the prospect he was predicted to be in Moncton.
5. Brendan Harrogate – (Oshawa Generals, OHL) – 1998 – Chatham – After being traded to the Oshawa Generals, Harrogate’s numbers appeared to be on the upswing. That will need to continue to solidify his spot as an overage player in the league. Much like Fox ahead of him, it’s not the offensive talent, it’s the other aspects of his game that are one step away from being an elite threat. We love second chances however, and Harrogate has the opportunity to shine in Oshawa.
4. Trent Fox – (Mississauga Steelheads, OHL) – 1997 – Thamesville – It hasn’t been the break out year we predicted, but Fox is still a dangerous OHL player. He has the size and skill to be a pro player. Once he figures out the intangibles, he will have an opportunity to make an impact with a team. Look for him to start in the ECHL next year.
3. Grayson Ladd – (Kitchener Rangers, OHL) – 2001 – Kent Bridge – It’s hard to say the OHL was the best spot for Ladd this season, as he’s found himself in the stands for roughly two-thirds of Kitchener’s games. He’s young, and needs to play. He’s practicing, and learning about the OHL lifestyle and day-to-day business, but the lack of playing time can only hinder his development at this point. The Rangers are a team known for development, and have given him more time recently. Let’s hope that added time, and added responsibility are in his immediate future. Ladd has a bright future ahead, and sometimes, slow but steady wins the race, so no need to panic here.
2. James McEwan – (Guelph Storm, OHL) – 1997 – Chatham – After a great offseason, that saw him stick around with the Montreal Canadiens longer than many of their own signed and drafted prospects, McEwan has put up so-so numbers back in the OHL. In his overage season, he needs to produce in the second half. Still a solid pro prospect, likely looking at an ECHL deal somewhere to start next season.
1. Joseph Raaymakers – (London Knights, OHL) – 1998 – Chatham – Talk about a rebound (or a lack of rebounds). Raaymakers has revitalized his new team the London Knights, and is without question, one of the best netmiders in the OHL this season. He has given London a chance to win each night, and has taken on a workhorse load with the team, lifting them out of the OHL basement. NHL teams may take a longer look at the determined goalie, now that he’s showing the consistency that was his major question mark prior to this season.