We are just under the ten-game mark of the 2011-12 Ontario Hockey League Season. One of the most interesting things that has been happening thus far has been the performance of the 2013 draft eligible players. With the amount of OHL’ers sticking around in the NHL to begin their seasons, this year has the potential to be wide open for the 2012 draft eligible crop. Thus far though, it is the 2013 prospects that have been the ones showcasing their skills.
While many could have predicted that 2012 front-runner Nail Yakupov would be back to his old tricks from last season, many of the other players projected to go as first-round picks next June have sputtered out of the gates in comparison to the 2013 class in the OHL.
As noted, Yakupov has delivered as expected on a deeper Sarnia team capable of getting him some secondary scoring. Alex Galchenyuk however has yet to play for the Sting this season due to an injury to his MCL. Brendan Gaunce of Belleville has put up quality numbers for the Bulls, but players such as Andreas Athanasiou and Matia Marcantuoni have struggled to find themselves on the score sheet as frequently in the early going of the 2011-12 season.
On the same note, 2013 eligible picks like Sean Monahan in Ottawa, Max Domi in London and Kerby Rychel in Windsor have stepped up their game to another level.
Monahan currently leads the 67’s in scoring and is looking to have a productive season with the return of L.A. Kings prospect Tyler Toffoli. Mix in that Shane Prince is also back this year and that trio could be dynamite for Ottawa.
Kerby Rychel on the other hand, co-leads yet another solid Spitfires team in scoring this year. He has added another dimension to the offense in Windsor this year and should maintain that moving forward with the likes of Alexander Khokhlachev and others along for the ride.
Finally, Max Domi has silenced any critics with his play thus far. As a rookie to the league, he has quickly become an impact player for the Knights. He forced his way into top six minutes and hasn’t looked back since. His emergence and the solid play of both Matt and Ryan Rupert have bolstered the top two lines for London and subsequently had an effect on Andreas Athanasiou with respect to ice time and statistically speaking.
While the field should eventually even out as the season progresses, I fully anticipate that the early struggles will wear off. Players like Marcantuoni and Athanasiou in particular have too much skill and potential to not bust out at some point this year. This holds especially true in that it is their respective draft class and each will be gunning for a higher position next June.