Chatham-Kent Men’s Hockey Prospects Update
We’re taking a different route this time around with our prospects list. We’re going to list players to watch at multiple levels, but dig into a few up and comers deeper.
After that, we’ll list 10 players we’re watching closely.
The jump from Junior hockey to Canadian University hockey is hard. USports is becoming stronger by the year with NHL draft picks, players with pro experience, and CHL captains and stars filling rosters. That said, a few locals, are off to a solid start. Ross Krieger (Toronto) is playing well as a freshman in the OUA, continuing his ascension in the hockey ranks, and his trend of producing at every level. Windsor has a large group of locals including Brady Pataki and Trent Fox who are playing regular minutes. Others including Nolan Gardiner (Windsor) and Brendan Harrogate (Western) are getting their feet wet at the USports level. Out East, James McEwan is in his second season with the Country’s top ranked program at UNB.
Evan Wells (Chatham Maroons) is playing key minutes in Chatham, and proving he can handle a bigger role on both sides of the puck in Junior B. He looks to be a player the organisation can continue to build around as he plays in all situations for the team. Tate Bowden (Chatham Maroons) is always noticebale on the ice with his imposing size. As he rounds out the rough edges to his game, he’ll be a powerful Junior B player. Matt Cunningham made the jump from ‘AAA’ to Sarnia’s roster, where he’s working to win ice time. Bryar Dittmer is also in Sarnia, but has missed a chunk of games to open the year. In Leamington, Thomas Michaud and Lucas Fancy are putting up points, while we also wait for the return of Darby Lemieux. Michaud plays in all situations, and is an on ice leader both killing penalties, and offensively for the Flyers. Fancy’s speed is always on display, and he deceptively generates offense for a top tier Leamington squad.
Brady Stonehouse and Zander Veccia are dominant in the Minor Midget ‘AAA’ loop with the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs. They are the only two sure-fire OHL picks from the area. Both are among Alliance ‘AAA’ scoring leaders. Stonehouse, who is a workhorse, driving the puck hard to the net, playing with a chip, and using his puck possession skills and edges to create open ice and scoring opportunities has high end potential. He had 4-points in his first Junior B call up. Zander Veccia, who is a pure scorer, also has high end potential, finding openings in the offensive zone, and possesses a solid release to terrify opposing goalies. Neither will wait until the second half of the draft, and both could easily already be in our top 10 players to watch.
The Chatham-Kent Cyclones Minor Midget team are struggling, but they do have a few local bright spots in the sizeable Ayden Blain and Ryan Gagner. Two-thirds of their top local offensive threats, this duo has the best shot at the draft at forward. Blain has been the strongest and most consistent player for the Cyclones this season. Captain Cameron Gardiner and Alec Webster have been strong on the blue line and will garner draft consideration. Webster has shown growth and played well while called up to the Chatham Maroons. Forward Beau Depencier, and Cameron Graham have also shown glimpses of promise.
At the Major Midget ‘AAA’ level, Anthony Lucarelli is growing his game with the Eglin-Middlesex Chiefs, being selected as an All-Star. Kayne Gagner is also with the Chiefs, while Alex Park is playing for the Windsor Jr. Spitfires, and has already AP’d for the Chatham Maroons.
In Major Bantam, Declan Waddick looks to be in the discussion for the top offensive player in the Alliance in his age group. He’s dynamic, and controls the game for the Sun County Panthers. Brayden Degelas looks to be the top prospect for a competitive Major Bantam Chatham-Kent Cyclones team that features several players who will earn discussion for next season’s OHL Draft, including locals David Brown, Tre Altiman, and Brenden McKay.
Daniel Fraleigh is off to a strong start with the Mooretown Flags. He has the skill to compete at the Junior B level now, but will benefit from a season playing against older competition. Luckily for him, he’s on a talented Mooretown team. Joining Fraleigh are all-Ontario champions from Wallaceburg’s Midget team, Brodie Conlon and Brody Genyn. The duo are producing for the Flags, and look to have promising Junior careers ahead of them.
Breck Rainey (Dresden Kings), Will McCracken (Blenheim Blades), and Brody Fraleigh (Wallaceburg Thunderhawks) are the local 16-year-olds, along with Daniel Fraleigh, playing Junior C.
10 Players To Watch
10. Grant Spence – (Georgetown, OJHL) – 2000 – Chatham – Putting up decent numbers for Georgetown, Spence hasn’t had a full on breakout yet, but we’ve seen players make college commitments later than this. He is a well rounded player, who once he adds consistency to his offensive output, will be a recruit on one side of the border or the other.
9. Adrian Stubberfield – (Chatham Maroons, GOJHL) – 2002 – Chatham – Off to a fantastic start with the Chatham Maroons. Playing on the team’s top line at times, first power play unit, penalty killing, he’s doing it all. He also possesses an ability to draw penalties, and antagonise opponents with an understated chip to his game. Hometown boy will have options next season.
8. Cameron Welch (Komoka, GOJHL) – 2001 – Chatham – An all around player. Welch impacts the game in all areas, offensively and defensively. His leadership, scoring, face off abilities, and defensive responsibility make Welch a coaches dream.
7. Craig Spence – (Georgetown, OJHL) – 2002 – Chatham – Too many veteran presences and top young prospects on the OHL Mississauga Steelheads blueline had Spence pushed out in the opening weeks of the OHL season. He’s down in the Junior A OJHL and playing well. If injuries happen, or trades happen, Spence is waiting for his opportunity.
6. Lucas Vanroboys – (Bentley, NCAA) – 1999 – Thamesville – Not much offense yet for Vanroboys at the NCAA DI level, but he’s a freshman, and he’s known for his two-way game. This is the biggest step up and challenge he has faced, and the fact he’s seeing game time is a positive for a late to commit freshman. Still a player to watch.
5.Dylan Schives – (Quebec, QMJHL) – 2001 – Tilbury – Because Schives is now part of a young core of blueliners in Quebec, he’s seeing more time on ice. Without the learning curve he faced to start last season, Schives should see a spike in his development. Has outperformed expectations at each level, but still looking to establish himself as a next level player.
4. Evan DeBrouwer – (Arizona State, NCAA) – 1997 – Blenheim – After spending all of last year on the bench (except one game), DeBrouwer is starting games and playing well. Continued development for a goalie, especially one like DeBrouwer who falls into the ‘late bloomer’ category is key, and he’s obviously seen that since he’s off the bench and between the pipes at the NCAA DI level. Let’s see how an entire season goes. Strong numbers so far.
3. Grayson Ladd – (Windsor, OHL) – 2001 – Kent Bridge – He’s had an excellent start with the Spitfires. Points are coming, and he’s been a +/- driver. Even if it isn’t on the scoresheet, his time on ice is positive. If the Spitfires coaching staff gives Ladd a greater role and opportunity, he can handle it.
2. Brett Brochu – (London, OHL) – 2002 – Tilbury – He started on the bench, then he started. Brochu has done better than expected already with the London Knights. At every level, he has been a workhorse, and has excelled. If his season continues, as it started, Brochu will be on the NHL Draft radar. London recently brought in a veteran starter, which will give Brochu time to grow, without major pressure.
1. Deni Goure – (Owen Sound, OHL) – 2003 – Grande Pointe – There will be growing pains. Hasn’t produced like a top 10 pick yet, and missed out on a Hockey Canada call for the U17’s but as his confidence grows, Goure’s numbers will grow, as will his responsibility. He has electric skills, great edges, and an ability to carry an offense. Putting those tools together at the OHL level is next on the list.