Scouting Report: Running Down The Minor Midget Cyclones
While recent rosters have seen highly touted prospects such as Deni Goure, Grayson Ladd, and Brett Brochu steal the show, this season’s edition doesn’t have a sure fire 2020 OHL Draft pick, but they do have a handful of prospects worth watching.
Jacob Julien who has led the Cyclones for much of the season in scoring, lacks flash, but makes up for it with a solid positional game and hockey sense. He has good size, with a reach that enables him to pull pucks out of traffic, and get into lanes, and his acceleration with the puck makes him a threat. His on ice demeanour and lack of flash is likely what caused him to play ‘AA’ in London last season, not his lack of talent. He may go unnoticed for much of the night, but when you look at the scoresheet, there is Jacob Julien. He was also the team’s lone representative at the Alliance All-Star weekend.
Ryan Gagner has more flash. He has good edges and deceiving acceleration that puts pressure on defenders as he approaches with the puck. Not afraid to engage physically, Gagner buzzes around the ice, often a step ahead of his teammates. When he chooses to assert himself, he can take a rush from neutral zone to net with surprising pace and creativity. Gagner would be more dangerous with more high end offense surrounding him. He’ll be a good Junior player.
Ayden Blain has third line checking forward, with upside at a higher level written all over him. Sizeable, responsible, and worthy combatant, Blain can change games from the other side of the puck. He is a relentless worker, who puts pressure on pucks, angles well on the forecheck, and finishes with the body, using his size as an advantage. The six-foot-three forward finds his way into offensive positions using his speed and body positioning to protect the puck. If he adds some finish, he could have the highest upside of any CKC player.
Cameron Gardiner, Noah Szabo, and Alec Webster are integral to the Cyclones blueline, as the team is often left battling in their own zone, and struggles to transition.
Gardiner can be seen on the powerplay and penalty kill. He moves the puck up the ice well, and is not afraid to slow things down. In front of his own net, Gardiner is a competitor using body positioning and an above average compete level to help his goaltenders see pucks, and protect rebounds.
Alec Webster has seen time at the Junior B level this season, scoring for the Chatham Maroons. He has a good shot from the point, and is the Cyclones’ top offensive threat from the backend in the o-zone. Handles pressure well and makes simple decisions to get the puck out of traffic and danger areas. The defensive simplicity of Webster’s game often has him go unnoticed, but on a losing team, that’s not a bad thing. His offensive upside will likely make him a late round draft consideration, and have Junior teams looking to slot him into their lineup locally next season. If not, a season of Major Midget ‘AAA’ will have him ready for the next level.
Noah Szabo is a similar story to Jacob Julien. Coming from St. Thomas, he hasn’t always skated at the ‘AAA’ level, but that doesn’t mean he’s incapable. Likely Chatham’s best skater on the blueline, he can be seen moving the puck up the ice on the PP. Szabo is also unafraid to battle in his own zone, blocking shots, taking away passing lanes, and engaging top lines on a daily basis. He projects to be a good bet to play Major Midget ‘AAA’ for a season before jumping to Junior B, although if his progress continues, he could make the leap sooner than later as teams are always looking for mobile defenders.
Other players worth noting on the Cyclones roster include Ryan Richardson, goalie Maddox Nazwaski, Beau Depencier, Trent Rickwood, and Cameron Graham.