We were fortunate that April and May offered a heavy schedule of events for the 2008s, but June was a quieter month for scouting that age group. The only key event was the Ontario Draft Day Prospects Showcase which offered us a great opportunity to further explore the depths of the 2008 birth year in Ontario. As such, most of the changes on our rankings are from Ontario players seeing upticks from strong performances or working their way onto our updated 2008 rankings.
Braidy Wassilyn On The Rise
Braidy Wassilyn was previously our 5th ranked North American skater, and after a tremendous showing at the Draft Day Prospects Showcase, he was bumped up to the third spot. It's always an ongoing challenge to calibrate our rankings across regions, but seeing Braidy at the same event as some top American players was what we needed to give him the edge. There is still a strong possibility Braidy will emerge as the #1 2008 in our North American rankings, but time will tell when and if that occurs.
Maximus Crete easily had one of the top performances at the Draft Day Prospects Showcase, resulting in an increase of 56 spots into the 4.5-star category. He used his blazing speed to push the pace and create so much offence and was a core piece to Ottawa's championship.
After an outstanding showing at the Draft Day Showcase, Nathan Amidovski skyrocketed over 100 spots into the 4-star category. Previously his ranking was based on a low sample of one week of the Prodigy Elite League, and while he was excellent in that viewing, it's tough to place someone super high after just one game. His play at the Draft Day event indicated that he was a top-end player in the Ontario region, and as such, he saw a significant increase.
Aidan Gray rose 62 spots into the 4-star range on this month's 2008 rankings updates. Aidan is a player who I adored back at the Port Huron Silver Stick in January, and I had high hopes for him moving forward. It's always tough with viewings so far apart, and there is a risk you may remember them slightly more favourably than in reality. As such, I may have set the bar unreasonably high, as I was underwhelmed by his play at the WSI U15 event earlier in the spring. However, he was right back on track at the Draft Day Showcase, using his speed to dominate in transition and fly up and down the ice. Whether it was a bad showing for him at the WSI or I just needed to recalibrate expectations,
Ethan Belchetz saw a minor uptick moving only up 13 spots, but that increase was sufficient to bump him into the 4.5-star tier. Seeing his dominance in person made it evident that he was a notch above his peers. Sometimes it can be challenging to see some intricacies over video, and the live viewing of Ethan solidified that he is a top-calibre player in the 2008s.
Seven Ontario players were added to our rankings following the Draft Day Showcase. All of them fit a similar theme of players we were familiar with through one of the events this spring, but the Draft Day event solidified them as a top players in the province. Luca Blonda was the highest debut at 100, placing him in the 4-star category. He's the most interesting storyline, as at some events this spring, our viewings were mixed, but his play at the Draft Day Showcase was fantastic. Initially, I was a tad hesitant about slotting him onto our list, but he rightfully earned himself a spot after a strong performance over that event.
Matthew Ross, Carter Hicks, Jalen Lobo, Aiden Atkinson, Gage Brandon, and Conor Dervin are not too far behind. These players have been on our radar throughout various spring events but solidified their positions after increasing our sample size over the Draft Day Showcase.
Barring any major standout over the summer, this will likely be it in terms of new additions to the 2008-born rankings from an Ontario perspective. I have gathered plenty of names to be included on my eventual longer 2024 OHL Draft list, but the 2008 rankings are reserved for the top tier of talent from a specific region. At this point of the summer, it's challenging to differentiate a potential 3rd-round pick from a 7th-round selection, so I am erring on the side of caution to avoid removing names from the rankings in a few months. I will certainly be adding more names to the 2008 rankings down the road, and I would like to hold off on expanding the list any deeper until I gain more confidence in the depth of the talent across the province.